#altc 2019 Winter Conference Day 2

Well that live notes/blogging yesterday was actually more fun than I expected!  Some great sessions yesterday and I’m looking forward to catching up on recordings that ALT are sharing openly.  For those interested, a photo of cat no. 2 (#altcat needs to become a thing!) will pop up on twitter at some point when he joins me.

So here’s my space ready to go to share sessions I’m following for day 2 (apologies if a bit messy, I’ll tidy it up later) …

Another warm welcome from Maren and Martin to start day 2 with an update that even more people have registered for the conference since the start yesterday taking figures to over 500!    Vicki Dale from University of Glasgow who spoke about the new Evaluation of Learners’ Experiences Special Interest Group (ELESIG) and is inviting people to join.  The group launched at the ALT-C 2019 conference in Edinburgh.  They are keen for representation from London and Wales to ensure representation across regions.  Contributions for blog posts, resource, a new learner resources handbook are very welcome.  You can also follow the group on Twitter @ELESIG

Exploring the potential of ePortfolios (Mahara) for developing key skills for University by Catherine Hartell (@chartell_edtech), Learning Technologist from the University of Gloucestershire.

Catherine shared the case study of Mahara being used on one of their module. Focused on L4 on the transition to university.  Reasons chose to use an ePorfolio was that everything was previously paper based and difficult to track students and provide formative feedback and track their progress, having the ability to provide feedback and assistance, or challenge them where needed.  Both staff and students enjoyed these aspects in Mahara.  In terms of sustainability the university was keen to do more things online and they were already submitting assessment in Moodle.

The biggest driver was around academic skills and digital skills and that digital skills were of equal value, and students were often found to be lacking them.  Assumptions were made that students would already have them, but there was evidence they couldnt always transition skills they had into an academic context and beyond.   Within the module digital skills were weaved in to the sessions across the module in parallel to the academic skills.  The ePortfolio then also have a summative assessment value and the expectation is that the digital skills development will continue through their course and beyond.

The module was reviewed in light of the ePortfolio, and so it didnt sit separately from it, it was weaved in to the objectives and the course team took ownership of this with support from Learning Technologists.  Templates were produced for students to use and it was paced slowly so they could gradually develop their skills.  One example of it use was students were tasked with gaining a digital badge, they had to find and complete the course, achieve the badge, add this to their ePortfolio but also then reflect on this and what they had learned on their ePortfolio too.

From student self-assessment there were low levels of general digital skills at the start of the module such as not being able to scan documents, nervous about taking photos, making a video.  At the end of the module there was a notable increase in confidence levels reported by students.

Student feedback on the use of ePortfolio was positive  with comments : “it allows me to see the progress that i have made throughout each session each week”,  “it helps me know where to put all my work.  You can keep track of your development”, “easy to do each week which takes pressure off at end of module”, “easy layout and easy to see what I have achieved”.

What next? So far this has been isolated to one course.  Other subjects are now adopting the portfolio design, including areas who have never considered using portfolio or Mahara.

Excellent work happening, I’m certainly going to be sharing this at my institution.

Fostering policy making in Open Education: The OER policy registry by Leo Havemann (@leohavemann), Digital Education Advisor at University College London.

Leo is doing research about what is happening with policy around open education and what we can do about it.   The question is, what is policy?  The term is used frequently but do we all understand it as being the same thing?  Academic work on policy shows there are lots of different perspectives and they are quite contextual.  Leo is researching institutional policies, but they can exist at all types of levels such as national made by governments.  Leo shared a qoute from Evans, M., & Cvitanovic, that generally policy can be thought about a statement of intent  but policy isnt only what you say, but also what you do.  It can also be implicit in the way that you operate.

In 7 things you should know about … Open Education (OE) Policy they say that OE policies are formal regulations regarding the support, funding, adoption and use of OE Resources (OER) and OE Practice (OEP).  This is the type of policy that Leo is interested in finding.

Coolidge and Allen (Advancing OER Through Effective Policy, 2017) say OER policies are laws rules and courses of action to facilitate creation use or improvement of openly licensed content.   The reflects a different view of what OER is and how it is seen in north america.

Policies themselves can fall into one of three categories: carrot, stick or sermon.  Ones that say you will be rewarded are carrots, ones with regulations which state a compulsory nature are sticks and then sermons are those which encourage something that policy makers feel is a good thing to do.

We don’t have a national level policy in UK, but we do have institutional ones.  Organisational such as UNESCO act as supranational and they are very active in the OE space and the hope is that what they do will cascade to nations and then down to institutions.

In order to look into this, Leo needed to able to find traces of documented evidence that exists.  For this Leo has used the OER Policy Registry which is part of the OER World Map which aims to be a platform to facilitate access to materials and knowledge to promote OEP and acting as a source of information for everyone interested in Open Education.  It is of course only as good as the information that goes into it.

The OE Policy Registry was initially gifted to the world map project by Creative Commons and since then the focus is on continuing to grow this space.

Javiera Atenas talked about OE Policy benchlearning, the intention is that the policies are not just stored but this space becomes a hub for them to be shared and compared with others to help others. The OE landscape can then be mapped and improved and existing policies updated.  Javiera and Leo welcome people to speak to them if they want support or pointers in this area to find other examples.

Analysis of the data in the policy registry is now taking place.  Policy types, level and their scope is able to be identified and analysed.

In terms of next steps the focus is on engaging with anyone interested in learning more about OE policy making and providing support.  Building the database on policies for others to explore, promote the benchlearning approach to foster development and conduct research to produce guidelines and good practice.

They are keen to do hear from anyone who is implementing a policy or has one already.  Leo will be putting out calls for people to participate in his research later.

FHEDAWG special webinar about accessibility by Hector Minto, Microsoft

I joined this session a little late but the run through of the ethos of designs for accessibility embedded at Microsoft sounds really impressive.   I’ll be catching up of the recording and adding notes here later.

Implementing a new VLE: Managing Management to ensure buy-in and support by Frances Boylan from Learning and Teaching Centre at Technological University Dublin (TUD).

TUD is a relatively new university as a result of a merger of multiple institutes.  These activities to move to a new VLE happened in 2018-19 but not all institutes have moved on to the new VLE yet.  The Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC) were the business owners of the migration from Blackboard (BB) to D2L Brightspace.

The evaluation of BB was prompted by a contract end date.  An evaluation of needs started in Nov 2017, once requirements were known it went to tender in April 2018.  In Aug 2018 D2L were awarded the contract and a project kick-off  started in Oct 2018, followed by a pilot in Jan 2019 and go-live in Sept 2019.  Though of course a great many other steps were between this.

How was the transition from one to another seamless?  Frances described that rather than a dictionary definition of ‘seamless’ the term seamless was defined as transitioning 20,000+ informed students and 1,300 academic staff (plus administrative staff) from one VLE to another in a way that would cause stakeholders the least amount of stress and little disruption to the teaching and learning related activities.

Keys to success were getting buy-in from senior stakeholders.  Senior management of the university (directors, heads of schools, directors, deans of colleges, heads of services and so on).  It was important they feel part of it and had input into how it was all crafted.  There were approximately 90 people across the institution at the senior management level to involve.  They had the power to positively influence the progress of the project, but also potentially to slow things down if they weren’t informed or didn’t have buy-in.  It was key to also ensure their expectations were managed.

In Aug 2018, communications to all stakeholder groups, including highest level management were all planned.  Heads of Schools were notified by personal emails of the D2L Brightspace contract award, as well as requesting a slot at school meetings to take questions face-to-face.

In Oct 2018 an invitation was issued to stakeholders for a project kick-off meeting to join the project membership.  There was great responses to personalised emails and there was a good turn out and challenging questions asked of D2L Brightspace.  Lots of good relationships have continued with senior management since.

In Nov 2018, the project team presented to academic council which also included allowed represented from different groups in one place so the message could be shared widely.

Heads of schools were kept informed of those who volunteered to be part of the pilot, both to thank them and ensure recognition of those taking part.

In Feb 2019, Heads of schools were advised of school-based training opportunities which had a good response and turnout.  D2L were also commissioned to run formal training and places were opened up through stakeholder groups to offer out places.

In Apr 2019 a transition plan was created through the project board, and sent out to all heads of schools and down through to lecturers to ensure everyone was clear on the gap between end of contract of BB and D2L starting Sept.

Moving forward : definite desire to continue this close working with schools.  The LTC continues to send regular updates to senior management and through to schools.

Really interesting session from Frances, and makes it sound … well completely seamless!  


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