What Sheila’s seen this week

The first week back at work after the Christmas break is always a bit of a struggle, and having had a bit of an extended trip to Australia just in early December I do kind of feel the work part of my brain has been in hibernation mode for normal thank longer. However this week has got everything switched back on (almost!).  Our blended learning team here at GCU Lead is now complete with Jim Emery  now part of the team, and it’s been great to be able to start having some really good discussions about our plans for the coming year interspersed with a few about the new episodes of Sherlock.

At this time of year there’s lots of reviews and predictions around. Alastair Creelman has written a useful summary of the key points of this year’s NMC Horizons preview report.

My first thoughts on 2014 Horizon Report http://t.co/aItsL9xARJ (earlier tweet had wrong link)

— Alastair Creelman (@alacre) January 8, 2014

Online, hybrid and collaborative learning is one of their “fast moving” trends, which I think working in a blended learning team is just part and parcel of my everyday job. This is intrinsically linked to one of the “slow trends” (in the next 5 years and beyond) of making online learning natural~ the increased use of audio/video communication is the key to this according to the report. Whilst I fully advocate the development and integration of non text based approaches it’s more than just “communication” that needs to be natural, the workflows and practices of teachers and learners should be too. It’s not enough just to have the tech in place people need to be comfortable with recording/listening/watching to themselves and others in an educational context.  I agree with Alistair that this is more of a medium trend. Like many others,here at GCU we are having a lot of  (quite heated) discussions about the merits of lecture capture and will be making decisions fairly quickly. We’re also seeing (and actively encouraging) the use of alternative feedback methods primarily audio.  The report also highlights the some of the challenges in increased adoption of TEL approaches including scalability and recognition and reward.

Lack of career development and incentives in TEL is also highlighted in the “Charting the development of technology- enhanced learning development across the UK higher education sector: a longitudinal perspective (2001-12) which I picked up on via a tweet from Peter Reed. The paper reviews the key findings and trends from the annual UCISA TEL surveys and is another good read.  Particularly around the tensions between central and local provision of technology within institutions, consistency of delivery versus more innovative approaches and the many remaining challenges around “developing course delivery models which focus on active student learning, maximising the opportunities that web and mobile technologies now offer for interactive, student centred learning design” .  Going back to lecture capture data from the UCISA surveys indicates that it is one of the emerging centrally provided technologies but “usage data indicate that the values of these tools is still to being determined by staff. . .”  So the fight goes on to support our staff and students from  technology  “being used to replicate or supplement existing teaching practices, rather than support structural change in instructional practice which transform the learning experience” .  As the report highlights MOOCs maybe are a catalyst for interest in TEL (particularly from senior management)  but there’s also a lot of work to be done in terms of ensuring that senior management really see beyond the hype around MOOCs  and that they not are the ultimate manifestation of TEL.

The central, departmental provision of technology of course is now expanding to incorporate byod.  Mobile devices can provide a way to use technology more imaginatively and engagingly, which brings me nicely onto the BYOD4L course. This “open magical box’ for those who don’t like the term ‘course’ very much, for students and teachers (nothing is locked away or private and you won’t even need to register) who would like to develop their understanding, knowledge and skills linked to using smart devices for learning and teaching and use these more effectively and creatively.” From 27th to 31st January this will be actively moderated and supported by a great team of people.  I may well be tempted to join in.

I really do wish I could do all the data stuff, maybe one day when I grow up I can be a data scientist. In the meantime, Shayne Lynn has pulled together a great online curriculum  for would be data scientists.  In the meantime I’m valiantly working my way through the left over Christmas chocolates in the office kitchen …

Left over Christmas chocolates

and there has been a small edutechie rush of activity of blip photo so hoping that along with others I can fulfil this year’s 365 challenge.

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