Monday, 19 May 2008

Pathfinders projects

HEA funded projects : Pathfinders cluster F

The HEA pilot projects have already produced a series of interesting briefing papers summarising the participants experiences. A similar set of papers is planned for these projects too. Further information is available from the HE Academy pathfinder blog and associated wiki. The briefing papers are listed in the right hand column of the blog. Each cluster had a critical friend. For Cluster F, Professor Betty Collis was the critical friend. She has a free book co-written with Professor Jeff Moonen. On line @ URL

The 96-page book, An On-going journey: Technology as a Learning Workbench” was prepared by us to commemorate the end of our service at the University of Twente (1987-2005). The book expresses our philosophy about technology and learning after many years in the field. The first part of the book gives this overview; the second half gives a personal reflection on how we came to our shared view of learning technology.

The cluster F projects were:

  • Canterbury Christ Church, - DEBut project - A very exciting and innovative approach to changing the way staff dev is conducted. A move away from the "install new software and (attempt to) train everyone up to use it" blanket approach. They have adopted a much more pragmatic and "user centred" approach. Whereby, they discuss individual needs of volunteers to the program. They then gave them a choice of 24 ILT tools to use and then instruct the volunteers use at least 6 of these [in an attepmt] to improve their teaching and student learning. No pedagogy change, but at least they are using a wide range of tools , specific to individual needs underpinned by the digital literacy theory.

•The concept of digital literacy is at the heart of the DEBUT project.
•Digital literacy is the ability to understand and use the information which is conveyed from a wide variety of sources via an increasing array of electronic or digital tools.
•It is as much about attitude and application as it is about skill or process, and it is a relative concept.
•Allan Martin (DigEULit) defines the elements of digital literacy as:
•Awareness of the ICT and information environment
•Confidence in using generic ICT and information tools
•Evaluation of information-handling operations and products
•Reflection on one’s own eLiteracy development
•Adaptability and willingness to meet eLiteracy challenges

It's worked very well, and an excellent by product of this is the 24 page staff handbook they have created which summarises the tools (wiki,blog, flickr, etc) into 1 page summaries. An extremely well put togehter publication that we could all make use of. It's really very good. You could use each page of this booklet as a poster.

  • Exeter University , Talked at length about the use of different pedagogies and practical methods of video conferencing, across their remote campus'. Some useful pointers here to the use of protocols that map directly into the webcasting environment as well .

    They also have a good set of videos that have captured good practice in these new staff development sessions:

    nb. Somehow I can't help but think that video conferencing was a technology that appeared way before the networks had the capacity to make it operate correctly. Now that we have webcasting capabilities at a fraction of the cost, the technology is going the same way a Phillips laser discs., and other now defunct technologies.

    I purchased a polycom endpoint @ a cost of 25K recently, and all it was mainly used for remote meetings in China. Which did save money. When we used it for a live session covering experts in global warming, the system crashed because we had 1 weak link in the chain. Overall a very expensive "toy". Mind you, Staffordshire University are offering the use of their systems on a bookable basis if you want to experiment with the technology (which is what I should have done).

    • Kingston, Discussed effective use of CAA
      The Kingston R3 project conducted research on mobile technologies to supprot timely feedback and diagnostic and formative assessment. Various different tools were trialled, inlcudeing wireless keyboards, voting systems, ipods and mobile phones. THis also inlcuded encouragibg students (and us) to text questions (to an online number) that were answered at the end ofthe sessions. On the day we also saw how a wireless projector widget that plguued into the tabletPC, ensured that the tablet PC could be remote from the projector (roaming around the classroom). Overall an interseting presentation, but no real surprises. It seemd like they were having real problems getting people on board the project. Felt like a "fred in the shed" model of dissemination, and no real change in pedagogy. Apart from one lecturer, who was now podcasting his once traditional lectures. He now uses his lectures as a tutorial type of event, whereby the students discuss the podcasted lectures. Now thats progress.

      • Wolverhampton, discussed innovative use of ePDP in first year.

      This presentation discussedthe embedding of ePDP at level 1 using the PebblePad eportfolio tool. The cleverly uses mentoring model for developmental & organisational change. This new staff developement model was to use strong peer networks as agents for change. There were 5 stages:

    • Rapport building
    • goal setting
    • core period / progression
    • winding up
    • moving on

    The very successful stafff development retreat days were used to structure this model. Follow link for more information :

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