What Sheila's seen this week – rebooting CPD, poundland pedagogy, bricolage and more learning analytics

It’s been another busy week here at Blended Learning Towers, so this post is really a whirlwind reminder of where I’ve been this week and some things that have caught my eye.

On Tuesday I attended the ALT Winter conference – Rebooting CPD at the University of Edinburgh. There were a number of really great presentations as well as the opportunity to have a play with google glass, occulus rift and mincecraft. I was particularly taken with the presentation from James Kieft from Reading College about their staff led staff development programme. I’ve still to explore properly the open version of their Pass it on Friday site but I want to take some time to explore the reflective practices encouraged by activities such as “poundland pedagogy” and “open classrooms”.  There seemed to be a genuine (and growing) spirit of collaboration and sharing of practice. I’m sure there is lots we in HE can learn from our FE colleages.

I also enjoyed Nic Whitton’s “proceed with caution: the application of gamification to learning” presentation. As a “proper” gamer and educator Nic’s presentation gave a very entertaining overview of the  where, why, when and how to/not to use gaming in learning and teaching.  She also stretched my visual note taking ability with references to Mary Poppins.  All in all it was a grand day out and great opportunity to catch up with many colleagues. Thanks to all the speakers and all at ALT for organising what will hopefully be a regular calendar feature.  You can see all my visual notes from the day on my (CC licenced) flickr folder.

Visual notes from Nic Whitton presentation








On Wednesday I attended the Universities Scotland Learning and Teaching Committee to give a short overview and introduction to Learning Analytics ( you can access my slides here).  Not quite sure what to make of the meeting, there were lots of nodding heads and questions about cost but it just reinforced how early a stage we are at across the UK sector.  Here a GCU we are certainly still in the finding  and sharing our data internally stage in terms of more general analytics. I am ever hopeful that we will be able to start moving again quickly in the new year when we have a new CIO.  I noticed today too that Jisc has released a report on the ethical and legal challenges of learning analytics – something else to add to the reading list.

Yesterday we had another meeting of our Blended Learning Coffee Club and we had a really good discussion about the merits of open badges. So as part of #BYOD4L in January we’re thinking of running an open badge workshop for staff.  We also were discussed the OU Innovating Pedagogy report. We tried to do a very quick mapping of the 10 innovations listed in the report to actual practice here at GCU. There were some immediate examples including GCU Games On with event based learning, SMILE/SMIRK for learning to learn, lots of examples of bring your own device (including response systems such as nearpod, padlet etc). We had a bit of a smile about bricolage – it’s one of those words isn’t it? It makes you smile when you say it, doesn’t it?   Anyway,  we decided that actually bricolage was pretty much what most people did by default – particularly when they were trying to use technology in their teaching.

Hopefully a more thoughtful blog post soon there are lot of things brewing in my mind just now.  And just a wee reminder – why not take a few minutes to fill in the ALT annual survey? You can even get a badge.

Participate in the ALT Annual Survey 2014

Open Badges in Bb Open Education #GCUGamesOn

GCU Games On Gold Medal
GCU Games On Gold Medal

Our online event GCU Games On is now in it’s final week. Each week we have been giving participants the chance to win digital medals which are actually badges but as the event is about the Commonwealth Games it was too good an opportunity to use the term medals. Open Education from Blackboard has an integrated badges functionality with Mozilla open badges allowing participants to publish and share badges into their own Mozilla backpack.  So far so straightforward? Well yes and no.

Creating and issuing badges with Open Education is pretty straightforward using  gradecentre.  Adding metadata is easy, and unless you knew, you wouldn’t actually realise that’s what you were doing (always a good thing with metadata).  You can customise your badge (remember to use a .png file) or use one of the templates provided in the system.  We have 3 medals/badges (bronze, silver, gold)  but  decided to only make the last (gold) one a “proper” open badge.  Why only one I hear you ask? Why not all of them if it is so easy? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

Firstly we developed this “event” pretty quickly and we wanted it to be as easy as possible to get the almost instant gratification of winning a badge – which seems to have worked.

It’s really it’s that pesky email authentication thang in Backpack.  You need to use the same email address in both systems to enable your badge to publish into in your backpack. Which is fine up to a point. If you’re like me you probably have at least a couple of email addresses, and you probably use them for specific purposes.  When I set up my Mozilla Backpack I used a now defunct email address. So what’s the problem, just update your email address in your backpack I hear you cry. Well, yes, except finding where you do that isn’t that straightforward, you have do it before you log in and (well certainly when I tried) the option to do that doesn’t always appear, you can’t change settings when you are logged in. . .

Our “event” is not a course or one of those M things. It’s about trying to allow people to have a positive and fun online learning experience.  I’m sure just reading this all is a bit time consuming and a bit dull. We didn’t want to have to write extensive guidance about authenticating/creating a back pack. Our participants can just win their medal, and print a certificate (btw we aren’t charging for that like some others!) Then if they choose to, they can select the publish to Mozilla option. I suspect most won’t take this option as we deliberately haven’t given explicit information or guidance on it. However, a couple of people we do know have tried and are having mixed results. There seem to be some issues with using browsers other than Firefox, and quite a time delay. As is the way with these things, there’s not a consistent error and some people are able to do things today that they couldn’t yesterday  . . .

However, overall issuing badges through the open platform does work and we have learned a lot about the practicalities of creating and issuing badges within Blackboard. The 2014 update will have the same badge functionality, as does Course Sites.  If you want to see how it all works you can register and see if you can be successfully in our fiendishly tricky gold medal quiz challenge here .

If you have any experiences/thoughts/tips about badges then please let me know in the comments. Finally here’s my medal in my backpack (click on the image to go to my backpack page).

Mozilla back pack screenshot