What Sheila’s seen this week

Last week was quite busy, with lots of things that caught my eye and interest both internally here at GCU and out in the land of learning technology.

A post from David Hopkins at Leicester introduced me to a project he is involved in with colleagues from Loughborough college exploring definitions ov learning technologists, by learning technologists. There have been a number of very thoughtful responses which are collated here.

I was pleased to see that a pretty comprehensive draft report of a study on students’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment by Helen Beetham and Dave White is available from the Jisc Design Studio. I need to go back and read this in more detail, but I know this will be invaluable to us as we move into our next phase of planning technology provision and support for teaching and learning. Some of the findings from the study include:

*Students are largely ignorant of the range of services, software and support available to
them at university
*Students are so used to seamless access they do not understand when they are crossing
boundaries e.g. between institutionally-paid-for to free-on-the-open-web services
*Students rarely use technology for advanced knowledge-related activities or problem
solving unless they have been required to do so by their course or tutor
*Students want more guidance on academically credible sources and academically
legitimate uses of online content
*Students are familiar with aps, not applications. Academic software and specialist systems require structured introduction in the context of meaningful tasks.
*Students place a high value on experience with work-place technologies and research-like digital practices
*Students learn important and valuable digital practices from other students 

It wouldn’t really be a week without a couple of MOOC “things”, and this week was not exception. The ALT MOOC SIG had it’s first meeting/conference on Wednesday.  Mainly exploring experiences of Future Learn, it was great to be able to join remotely via the live stream. Fiona Harvey’s storify  gives a good overview of the day.  

Later in the week  I also joined  one of the JISC/ALT Digital Literacy webinars, which featured Sian Bayne and Jeremy Knox, University of Edinburgh, who gave a refreshingly different  and intellectually challenging presentation on MOOCs and digital literacies. Luckily the fabulous live blogger Nicola Osbourne was there too and I will be going back to her notes to ponder more on the sociomaterial aspects of MOOC participation. 

Closer to home I was delighted to meet some of this years Caledonian Scholars here at GCU and to hear about the innovative teaching and learning  projects they are working on. The Caledonian Scholars scheme is providing a way to encourage and recognise staff in developing innovative ideas and approaches in teaching and learning.

Rounding off the week, my colleague Sabine McKinnon organised a seminar on Friday morning with John Rubin from the COIL Centre  at SUNY University.  Once again it was refreshing to talk about online collaborative learning without using the “M” word, and once again to hear about examples of international projects based here at GCU.  I hope over the coming year we will be able to develop some more collaborations with the COIL centre and add to their impressive list of case studies

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