Learning Journeys: A Webinar (@JISC)

Outcomes from JISC Anytime Learning Literacies Environment (ALLE) project
What follows are my rough notes from the session:

‘A cast of thousands’

Explaining concepts – having them in one place… all digital literacies across the institution tied in with Learning Objects. Thought others would like this, so used materials from the OER community.

Brought in from RLO, CETL. Learnt a lot from JISC LLiDA

Taught students how to use them via the VLE – not f2f tutor time. 

Customize Learning Objects particular to our institution.

Used Peter Knight, Diana Laurillard, Wenger, e-moderating – in stages…

Example of weekly activity – pedagogic – designed by Diana Laurillard… (across the subject…)

How offer the information in a meaningful way – support their pace of learning. Put a tutor in their pocket rather than 24/7 on an email… Interactive Learning Objects… designed to be used across the sector.

Where didn’t reach agreement of a shared understanding, didn’t seek to create one – focused on the areas where is agreement.

Student digital skills had increased – but difficult to isolate impact from what they would already have learnt without ‘Learner Journey’

Based around sound educational principles.  Digital literacy skills – they need to recognize that they can learn from each other…. Made a huge difference…

This module is the start to the journey – then they’re expected to go and build upon that.

Happy to make skills/PDP module more widely available – took about 10 years to reach this point. The students progress well with it.

Re: staff – they get thrown into the module with the students and get up to speed by being immersed in it with the students. Always have experienced tutors in there with the students. Make them failsafe for students, often works well for staff! Allows interesting forum/discussion area.

Different levels of engagement from staff, with varying degrees of success … once they’ve had a go may be interested in using for their own modules as so easy to use.


Digital Visitors & Residents with @daveowhite #JISC

My live notes from the webinar this afternoon:

Dave White

Visitor = sees the web as a set of tools

Residents = sees the web as a space

It’s about motivation to engage, rather than a skills set, e.g. when people want to talk to their grandchildren, they use Skype very quickly.

Can you be a lurker as a visitor AND a resident?

More likely to be successful in formal education if you take a visitor approach.

Lynn Connaway


Questions asked: 


Lurking often gets defined as within one platform, but someone may be quiet on e.g. a forum, but take that data and be ‘loud’ with it on Twitter, etc.

Difference between confidence in the technology, and the confidence to engage with the topic being discussed (Î think this is what we often see with students)

Email: (see also:


Dave White

See: student very ‘resident’ in their social life, but in their formal study, they are more of a ‘visitor’ …

It’s possible to be a rounded, sociable human being without being in Twitter all the time!

Raising question as to whether this is a continuum, or whether there’s a range of factors which affect practice and behavior.

Not necessarily trying to turn everybody into a Resident, although that could be valuable.

amber thomas 2:30 PM
A thought rather than a question. dave says this is not about turning everyone into a resident. i think thats really important … in ed tech world we tend to see a continiuum and assume we need to change where people are on it.
Andy Powell 2 2:29 PM
@doug i don’t understand ‘resident’ vs. ‘visitor’ as being a ‘fun’ vs. ‘drudgery’ thing
Doug Belshaw 2:31 PM
@Andy If you can ‘play’ with something then you understand it. Surely?

How much of our behavior online is factored in by ‘stable personality traits’ and how much by the environment that we’re in.

To read:

Do you become more of a ‘legitimate’ ‘resident’ by becoming a participant – are you consuming or creating knowledge?

This is not supposed to be a theory for everything, this is specifically about ‘technology for learning’.

Lynn Conway

Sources students use

Wikipedia is popular… went off into a debate about ‘fear of Wikipedia’, and how much of this group see it as an acceptable first port of call, and to demonstrate to students the ‘contestation of knowledge’.

12-18 year olds: screenagers – said ‘emails are for old people’

Dave White 

We talk a lot about OERs, but what about ‘Open Educational Answers’.

Is education about the answers, or the process that it takes us to reach the answers?

Academic institutions have to accept that people ARE using Wikipedia all the time.  (Slide from Martin…)

If we keep setting homework which is ‘a short essay supported by verifiable sources’ – then Wikipedia provides the answers – we need to think about the assignments, etc we set.

iilan soon @xlearn 2:49 PM
I think in primary schools, they encourage process, then they kill this enquiry off in secondary school

If education is about getting the answers, and all answers are a couple of clicks away – what does that mean for education? Does education/homework need to contextualize/personalize the information more…

Education is about questions. The web is about answers. Does education then require ‘co-creation’? Need to look at tools such as… help students ask the questions.

The Learning Black Market :

sui fai john mak 2:55 PM
Education is about enculturating learners into the knowledge-creating civilization and to help them find a place in it. This is where institutions need to work on. Comments?


Amber: How do we move forward from guidance on ‘it depends’ on your learners, etc? What are the chances of providing a digital environment that all are comfortable with … we need to be comfortable with the idea that some will be resident, and some won’t. “One size fits no one”.

Some areas are ‘energy efficient’ – we’ve put lots of effort into ‘resident institutional approaches’ where interesting learning can take place, but not always helpful – e.g. students set up own Facebook group – they can get on with that.

Andy Powell 2 3:00 PM
we want people to become residents but we don’t have to build all their houses

What is the student motivation to encourage should be focused upon, rather than worrying about the tools that they are using.

Doug Belshaw 3:01 PM
Do we need some social housing for new Residents?

Or affordable housing?

Brenda Kaulback 3:02 PM
Can residents have many homes?

I thought this was a nice way to end: “perhaps residents should always have the kettle on and a nice plate of biscuits mmmm biscuits”


Turn it on to turn them off or turn it off to keep their attention (@adamrsc) #JISC have just participated in this very useful webinar on the use of mobile technology in the classroom with @adamrsc, and am even more keen to interview American Studies at the University of Winchester as they have been experimenting with encouraging the use of mobile devices in the classroom, and the feedback is generally positive. Below are my live notes from the session:

Mobile phones have no place in a learning space because all students do is misuse them to update their social media spaces?

  • Yes, lots do this, but this is more to do with how we engage students with their mobile devices.
  • 100% Senior Management found that they were useful oso it was how they use the devices.

Mobile phones disrupt classroom behaviour?

  • Isolated knowledge/skills with students – rather than addressing corporate change, and the need to address student behaviours.  Cultural change – if don’t address all those areas, nothing moves forward.
  • You manage how students use pen and paper in the classroom, and in the same way it can be a disruptive device (as mobile phones)

Mobile phones have not been shown to have any benefit for learning?

  • Graph demonstrates that there are significant effects on learning – National colleges – Fig 17/18 with/without mobile devices.
  • All research demonstrates that it can enhance learning if used well.

Equal access: are you advantaging the many or disadvantaging the  few?

  • Provide materials via mobile devices that enhance  the other materials (rather than only via mobile devices), in the same way that you would change your teaching style to meet different learning needs.

Who pays for the PAYG devices?

  • Use own devices/learning devices. Offer wireless network for student use.

Can this improvement be attributed to mobile devices?

  • Run with control groups, but not ‘overly scientific’ – but the weight of evidence rather than scientific rigour, that is useful.

Staff Development: Takes too long to learn how to use the technology effectively?

  • Can take time from scratch, and may not be time-efficient for institutions from scratch, but the best CPD would be to purchase one yourself, and it becomes an everyday device as pen and paper.

Manage safeguarding, where a student is showing the latest violent movie, etc.?

  • Ties in with safeguarding policies, same as windows/stairs, etc…
  • Need clear induction policies in which the ways these tools are used is outlined.

It costs a lot of money to invest in new trends – what makes mobile devices different?

  • More to do with the behavior of people, and how they use it.
  • If we’re talking about using resources effectively, the mobile phone is one of the most resource-efficient devices you can use – most more powerful than PCs … which brings in overhead fees for IT maintenance – if we had strategies for students using own devices in classrooms effectively – then the cost issue disappears.

Financial advantages, but what about security implications, if tied into an institutional network?

  • No security issues by using Google docs, etc. Revision notes in e.g. StudyStacks.
  • Can use if wifi networks are kept security free and separate from other networks.

How can we train staff to use these devices when they’re still not using VLES/PowerPoint well?

  • These are not the people who are going to use these devices well initially, have to take responsibility with own devices – preferably provided by institution – if use as part of daily life – as become familiar, can start to see how can use in the classroom.

Students often do not want their tutors using their social media/texts? How get past that barrier?

  • Lots of (anecdotal) evidence of this, but there is increasing evidence that there is positive engagement via this if using a ‘professional Facebook site’.  Good idea from one student tends to get picked up by other students.

A good space to get educational apps?

  • No generic site that lists good educational resources … Twitter does it fairly well in an ad hoc way. Android Marketplace – search.

Who drives the choice of devices?

  • Has to be driven by the students, can’t specify a particular device, so would need as an institution a platform independent approach.

Is there a danger that courses will be distorted to provide content that suits the mobile phone?

  • This tends to be to the tutors advantage. Benefits came from courses that were outside based courses, so courses changed in a positive way.

How teachers be supported to learn about different types of mobile devices?

  • Workshops within the organization (could be nice to introduce new staff within a Faculty), or attend JISC webinars, etc. Helps provide case studies.
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Digital Event

What are you saying? #JISCEL11

Below is a repost of a guest blog post that I did for ‘Letters from the Edge’ for the JISC Online Conference:

A theme that has already emerged in at the conference is one of the importance of the language that we’re using. The following themes have already appeared either in the chat themes, or emerged in my head after particular sessions:

  • Should we be using the term ‘digital literacies’?
  • Should we name sessions ‘technology for the terrified’ or ‘social media for the scared’ or does that reinforce the notion that it’s something to be scared of?
  • Should we use the term ‘assessment’, or ‘learning opportunities’?
  • Is there an overabundance of acronyms and ‘inside terminology’?

I’m fascinated by name origins, contextual and historical meanings, but I am also disturbed when the terminology gets in the way of achieving the aims. Ronseal has done us all a favour with ‘does what it says on the tin’, although many of us still work within a culture in which we use increasingly complex names.

What’s in a Name?

Recently, we have been discussing renaming my role from ‘Blended Learning Fellow’ (a term that appears to have dropped out of favour), and replacing it with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning Fellow’. The new name seems to be more meaningful in the current day, and more clarity for staff as to what my role is, but does this draw attention to the technology, when our concern is more with pedagogy. Noticeably the Plymouth E-Learning Conference is being renamed this year, I think to Excellence in Learning – the means of doing so is important, but although many attending will be learning technologies, ‘electronic-learning’ is not the focus.

Acronyms Ahoy

The LTDU (Learning and Teaching Development Unit) has become renowned for coming up with some decent acronyms, most recently our newsletter ‘LATTE’ (Learning and Teaching Transforming Education). Branding this was important, but first we had to be clear on the purpose of the newsletter: not only to highlight what the Unit itself was doing, but, moreimportantly, to highlight learning and teaching activities across the campus.

Social Media for the Scared

We had a good debate about this alongside the ‘Students as Agents of Change’ session, with the notion that ‘Technology for the Terrified’ reinforces the idea that technology is at the heart of what we’re doing, and is something to be scared of. I, however, run sessions called ‘Social Media for the Scared’ for those in the CofE, with a session outline clearly defining that by the end of the session social media should have been de-mystified, and fear should no longer have a place. It gets a lot of takers, and seems to do its job… now to do the same within the university setting.

The Bigger Questions

So, from the conference, two of the bigger questions that have emerged is about the terminology of ‘digital literacies’, and of ‘assessment’, two questions that are being considered within JISC-funded projects that I am working on at the University of Winchester, one with ODHE, and the other with University of Bath Spa, named FASTECH (another great acronym: Feedback and Assessment for Students with Technology).

So, how much thought do we put into the terminology we use? We need to ensure that we are helping communicate a clear message, but we also don’t want to get so bogged down in discussing the terminology, that we take no further action. What terminology do you find/see to be a stumbling block?

Digital Event

Ewan McIntosh #jiscel11

Live notes from the session (italics my thoughts, rest my notes): 

The danger of so much jargon in the world. I end up in 2 minds about this – sometimes it’s a shorthand that works for the community, but sometimes it excludes people.

Simon Cowell – how do we define his success – the amount of money he makes or the number of people he helps? In terms of education – how do we describe ‘success’ or learning.

University design – design for the person who will find it most difficult to use – in doing so – make it better for all.

Come up with an agreed definition of learning, so that we can all work towards making the experience great for all.

If struggling, it’s much nicer to struggle with someone else … the challenge of collaboration. But in HE still v much ineffective, and not real collaboration.

The danger of long-term plans. Incredibly hard for professionals to do, how can educationalists necessarily do this.

Look at what we want to say, to whom, and what do we want back from that person/what will that look like?

Team, do things together, networked gaming… people like to do things together. Facebook constructing knowledge with each other. People like them so engage, so they work…

Terry McAndrew: Academic collaboration with digital solutions in ‘spaces’ and networks can be recognised as good examples of scholarship with up-to-date educational practice under the new UKPSF This is open to being informed by the informal networks and ‘grey literature’ as well as published resources. IMHO It just needs to be made explicit to help institutions develop Open Educational Practice recognition.

Twitter a mix between a collaborative space, but also a publishing space – bridges  the gap…

With 4000 creative ideas put forward – 1% succeed, and the ones that succeed have to fail a lot oftimes to reach that point…

Rather than being problem solvers, look at being the problem finders.

Less than 1% of the population take a PhD. Most people have 17 years of formal education before being asked to solve problems – those who have greatest ‘success’ tend to be those who can do this.

Parents, teacher and students have all been taught that way – so not exposed to problems.

When go into the ‘real world’ – spend a lot of time ‘un-educating’ youth from prestigious schools so as to become more creative.

Feedback – tends to vary by educators. Many times the educator is doing all the learning – and that has to stop. How do we remove barriers and hand over the process of learning to the students.

We imagined something different and we made it happen.

Combination of techniques allows people to be able to express what wanted to say.

Trust the children to go in the right direction, and give them a little guidance.  Far less structure than we get now. Definitely think we over-structure – leads to spoonfeeding & lack of responsibility.

Can HE institutions ever give up control of learning and will they survive if so…

When, as educators, do we know when it’s time to lead, and when it’s timet o get out of the way …

Educators – be prepared to ‘meddle’ in education. Does that sound too idealist? Should not say ‘pah, idealist’ – we need to try…

Take evidence from their situation and shape it… and that’s hard work.

The feedback from events – say that when you let go of learning – the proof is in the pudding … Let the students take control.

Terry McAndrew: I’m begining to feel that the elephant in the room is management expectations of ‘good teaching’. If those in charge of our metrics can be given means to quickly  capture these innovative successes then we may have better allies.

Sally Graham #2: @Mark R ‘The difficulty lies not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones’ John Maynard Keynes

What personally are you going to do after this week full of information.  We want to be dreamers…