Posts Tagged ‘JISC’

Feedback on TMA01

Lessons learned from TMA01:

‘I would not expect to see repetition of specifics of the actual cases here – only (possibly) very brief summaries in so far as they relate (and you show this) directly to the aims of the report. This criterion is NOT about retelling the stories of the various case studies’

Maybe I am in denial, but I really don’t think my report was that descriptive. I did try to give a general overview rather than refer in too much detail to any one case study.

Also, I put details about my institution in the second part of the report, as directed in the question rubric. Apparently it should have been at the start. It’s all about the learning process and I do feel I got a lot out of writing the report. Now I need to:

‘reflect actively on my thinking and evaluate and synthesise what triggers development of my work’

So here goes with TMA02!


Pie chart of technologies used in the JISC Case studies

I thought I would put together a quick tally of the different tools used in the JISC case studies. Interesting to see Moodle taking over Vista as the platform of choice. My next project is to create an online IELTS course in Moodle.

Use of e-portfolios and blogging in Teacher Education – Wolverhampton

This is a very thorough case study, justifying the use of e-portfolios on a teacher training course (PGCE), where students are on placement 2 days a week.

The use of Pebblepad technology for reflective journal writing emphasises a need to concentrate on informal/anecdotal as well as theoretical evidence of learning. This is backed up by theories including Winter (1999)’s patchwork text approach, which describes collecting small pieces of information to collate into a holistic end product (summative essay), and seems a suitable approach for synthesising information from the web.

What comes through in the report is the lack of institutional support or recognition of the value of e-portfolios as a reflective, learner centred tool and the desire of some to maintain the status quo within the established VLE.

“The University did not have, and still does not have a clear strategic vision for the use of this platform and there was considerable resistance from some colleagues who viewed the VLE as meeting their students’ needs. However, the VLE is still predominantly used as a content management and delivery system which positions the learner as a passive recipient of chunks of information. Discussion within this environment was highly formal, rigid and owned by the institution The e-portfolio’s emphasis upon learner ownership and control, feedback and dialogue was viewed with suspicion by some colleagues ‘ and continues to be so.

This scepticism and caution ties with Rogers’ description of the ‘late majority’ of adopters, who do not wish to make changes ‘unless there is pressure from the system within which they work’. In order for the e-portfolios to gain credibility as an assessment tool, they need to be incorporated into the mainstream syllabus and students given time to develop them. The writer’s frustration with lack of support led him/her to ‘go underground’ and find e-portfolio enthusiasts elsewhere, which led him/her to develop outside the confines of the ‘institutionally owned and managed’ VLE

A team-based approach to developing e-resources – Warwick

This was a blended learning initiative to help build staff familiarity and confidence using the kind of online resources included in undergraduate programmes. Self access materials complemented face to face sessions. A staff forum designed to gather feedback about the course represented the collaborative element of the design.  This provided the most tangible evidence that staff were beginning to adopt e-learning techniques in their teaching:

“The benefits of taking a strategic approach to staff development are already becoming apparent in the growth of collaborative (peer-to-peer) initiatives and the dissemination of outputs via the staff forum”

Editing of the resources themselves was limited to ‘a few individuals’ and it seems that, apart from the staff forum, this was ultimately an experiment in transferring paper based materials to an online format for ease of student access. Summary reports of staff training sessions were posted to the staff blog. Session updates and news were posted to the staff forum by the administrators.

I can’t help thinking that this project could have been more thoroughly exploited if staff themselves had been used as a resource and asked to reflect on their own practice in real terms, rather than being asked theorise about abstract questions such as:

‘How would you have felt if you’d been asked to share your clinical issue on the forum where others could read it, rather than submitting it individually? ‘


What use do you think you’ll make of the module web-site during this final phase?

Mention is made of the additional costs incurred at having to provide hot lunches as ‘an incentive’ to attend. This implies that extrinsic rewards were necessary to motivate staff to participate.

‘Providing a good lunch as both incentive and reward for attendance also had cost implications.’

The content of online staff development and activities integrates creation of forms, quizzes, forums, blogs, personalised content etc. I wonder if a discovery approach, whereby participants investigate a different resource each and prepare activities for the group would have been more effective in engaging them. Similarly, the online orientation activities planned for new academic year may work best if they draw on the experience of the students themselves.

The Learning Lab staff development initiative – Swansea

This project starts with a survey to identify staff and student needs and attempts to reconcile the two, through staff training. The ‘hands on’ aspect of the training was effective in encouraging staff to participate.

‘The underlying principal behind the Learning Lab website is that of Learning by doing’

Conducting the training itself using the tools that students were requesting (wikis, blogs and podcasts) and allowing staff to appropriate the virtual space by organising it themselves, was an effective way of achieving the longer term aim of ‘winning hearts and minds’. The ‘lunch and learn’ and ‘e-learning and cakes’ sessions also provided an opportunity for face to face socialization, community building and ideas sharing.

This is the most personable and end-user orientated case study I have read so far, as evidenced by the final quote:

‘A Community of Practice is about relationships, sharing, support, sometimes collaborating, openness of opinions and being social. Most importantly, it’s about people, not the technology.’

The technology used, such as HTML, RSS feeds, a Docuwiki and news blog also seem informal, cost effective and could be used independently of an institutional VLE.

Criteria for common themes

A useful overview of the case studies is presented in this JISC brief under these headings: Efficiency,Retention, Evidence, Inclusion, Other. These provide answers to the question ‘Does Investment Yield Interest’?

University of Hull – Online MEd in e-Learning programme

A good starting point to analyse the different case studies is to try to answer the question in the title: Does Investment Yield Interest?.

The MEd in online learning at Hull places

“specific focus and emphasis on (participants) professional working context”.

Tapping into participants’ professional scenarios is a logical way to stimulate interest and make their learning relevant. This is not always the case on Masters courses, which may be abstract rather than practical. Teaching, like nursing, is one scenario where ‘situated’ learning can be applied through periods of ‘practice’, in this case ‘e-practice’.

A common approach across the case studies seems to be the inclusion of an ‘e-dossier’ as either a personal or collaborative document on a negotiated theme. This kind of personal record is an effective way of encouraging learner autonomy but, from an institutional point of view, I wonder whether investment in specific software is needed for these portfolios and, if so, whether blogs like this one would be just as effective a record of students’ progress.

The opportunity for ‘significant informal interaction between staff and students’ afforded by the online environment alleviated the constraints of time, space and delays with student registrations. It also had a ‘democratising’ effect. At Hull, people from different departments gained a voice within the VLE and were then instrumental in implementing online modules in their own departments. The programme had a positive effect in and outside the course:

‘E-learning had a significant impact on the continued reputation of the department as well as our ability to attract and maintain ever increasing student numbers.’.

This is evidence that investment in the E-learning programme was successful in yielding both internal and external interest.