6th Plymouth e-Learning Conference – Day #2

Professor Stephen Heppell’s inspiring and humorous keynote, set the tone for the Day #2 of the 6th Plymouth e-Learning Conference. With being unable to stay for Day #3 due to other commitments, I was keen to make the most of Day #2 and continue to build on what I had learned, and the new ideas that I’d developed, over the course of the first day.

In particular, Stephen looked at a range of learning spaces that exist in schools, colleges, Higher Education (HE) and elsewhere, and sought to help the audience visualise what they might look like in the future.

In a world of new, social and digital media, I was struck by one Stephen’s closing items, which focused What is the equivalent to a 1,500 word assignment? The suggested he put forward were:

  • Managing an on-line discussion for a week
  • Editing a 10 second video
  • Scripting and posting a 3 minute podcast
  • Authoring an animated diagram in Flash
  • Annotating 10 website links
  • 750 words with 1 Augmented Reality object embedded
  • 500 words on a web page with SMS comments

Further to this, the question that I feel that (I) need (to) answer(ing) are: How can we encourage academic to take this approach? How might this work with university QA statements, in particular, current methods and modes of assessment (and feedback), and marking criteria? How can be ensure that a unit/programme’s learning outcomes are met with the assessment form isn’t traditional? Might any academic really want to take this approach?

Sharon Flynn (@sharonflynn) from NUI Galway presented on Clickers for Large Class Teaching which gave an overview of the approach that her institution have taken to the deployment of an Electronic Voting System (EVS) across particular department. Given my own interest, and work, in this area, I was keen to see how they’d been doing. One area that I still feel that we’re lacking in at the University of Bath is clear evaluation data from the use of Classroom Technologies as a whole, which might be used to support decisions made/taken in future. I think that I’ll be contact Sharon about the questions that she used!

My short paper, Looking Forwards Whilst Glancing Backwards: Institutional Deployment of Classroom Technologies, was well received by the audience and provoked a good discussion in the Q&A part revolving around particular deployment techniques and what might be expected of institutions and students technology-wise in five years time.

Whilst the presentation slides appear above, the full paper describing the work completed, is available from our institutional Publications Repository.

Following this, I managed to catch the end of Sarah Knight (@sarahknight) from JISC’s session on a Future focused curriculum which showcased their work on the JISC The Design Studio. Unfortunately, I didn’t managed to make too many notes from this session, so will have to investigate and reflect on this at a later date.

My final session attended was Mark Power (@markpower) and James Clay’s (@jamesclay) session Mobile Web Applications. The session highlighted for me the difference between a mobile app, and a mobile web app – and which might be most appropriate for an institution to deploy (if they were going down this route). Indeed, is the Apple App Store, or the Android Store, appropriate for delivering institution-specific apps?

Two HEIs have already embarked on the mobile web interfaces – MyMobileBristol (University of Bristol) and Mobile Oxford (University of Oxford) – utilising different frameworks. I know that within my own institution, a number of stakeholders groups are interested in the development and deployment of such an app, but nothing has as yet seen the light of day.

As I left Plymouth and headed back further up the south west, I reflected on another successful (alas, shortened for me) Plymouth e-Learning Conference, where future gazing and horizon scanning were both out again in full force. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and look forward to returning next years. My sincere thanks to conference chair Steve Wheeler and rest of his conference team, for such a fantastic and enjoyable conference.

6th Plymouth e-Learning Conference – Day #1

In the first of two conferences that I’ll be attending this month, I headed to the University of Plymouth during the middle of last week for the 6th Plymouth e-Learning Conference.

The Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth

With this being the third such conference I’d attended in successive years, I attended to the conference looking forward to catching up with familiar faces and meeting new colleagues.

The conference kicked off with some glorious sunshine on Wednesday afternoon with a Robotics Research showcase from research students at the University of Plymouth, who talked at some length about their work in this fascinating area.

In particular, the discussion around the development of emotional intelligence within such robots was of interest and gave an insight into some of the technologies we might see in the future.

My highlights from this session were undoubtedly seeing a robot attempting to take part a penalty shootout (England football players take note!)  and kids from local schools getting involved. As Steve Wheeler has already noted, these kids really added a fresh energy to conference proceedings this year.

Andy Black’s (@andyjbGadgets & Gizmos for Education presentation gave a fantastic insight into the technology journey travelled over the last decade or so, and where we might be headed. To think that Google is only 12 years old, when it is currently seemlessly embedded in a range of my working practises (Google search, Gmail, Docs, Chat, Reader – not to mention Google-owned YouTube) was a bit of a reality check. It is also emphasised that the students now coming into Higher Education (HE) are very much digital natives, from whom such tools have always been around.

Andy demonstrated a Chinese iPhone imitation, which included projection capabilities within the case, sparked some murmuring from within the audience. Indeed with Apple having patented such technologies as early as mid-2009, I’d be interested to see if Andy’s prediction of the iPhone 7 or 8 (released 2013/14) having such technologies embedded, becomes a reality. Does this mean that HEIs might be able to do away with projectors in some rooms and just equip lecturers with a iPhone which has a version of Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer (or something) installed? To work alongside Apple TV, perhaps? Unlikely, but who knows?!

Next up, was Zak Mensah (@zakmensah) and Doug Belshaw’s (@dajbelshaw) thoroughly enjoyable session on Exploring Mobile: Considerations and opportunities, where audience participation was encouraged, and indeed sought. At some conferences sitting in silence through sessions is acceptable, but at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference, such interaction is almost expected!

During the session, delegates were asked: What do you use mobile devices for? To be honest I surprised myself when thinking about a what I used my BlackBerry Bold 9780 for. In short, my list was as follows:

Texting, Phone, Photos, Email (two Gmail accounts and my work email via the BlackBerry Internet Service), Mobile Web, Twitter, Evernote, Facebook, BlackBerry TravelCheck,  Tube/Train times, Google Maps, Calendar (syncing with Google Calendar), Contacts (syncing with Google Contacts), Task list (syncing with RememberTheMilk), Weather app, Scan QR Codes, setting alarms, listen to music and podcasts.

As my group buddy Craig Taylor (@CraigTaylor74) observed, “we’re creating and consuming content”. And lots of it!

Are students doing the same? (Possibly? Probably!) Are they wanting their academic related content delivered in a mobile form? I’m thinking about access to Moodle and Panopto in particular here. But, can we (and/or do we need to) go further perhaps?

The Horizon 2011 Report as already touted Augmented Reality as the next big thing, and with the University of Exeter having already completed an evaluative study into the technology, will those students paying fees in the region of £9,000 from the 2012/13 academic year be expecting more innovative technological developments from their universities?

Day #2 report to follow…

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