September 2016 – Work review

Start of term is on the horizon and for support staff the preparation is in full swing to ensure we’re ready to handle the questions and calls when colleagues begin using the services and start teaching again. September always seems to have time available when the diary is reviewed in July and August, but quickly fills up and the fight for time to keep on top of the strategic projects whilst also handling enquiries begins.

Conference paper: studying with lecture capture

I delivered a presentation at ALT-C 2016 (the major annual conference on learning technology), which this year was at the University of Warwick. The short paper, Strategies for supporting effective student engagement with lecture recordings, covered how I had taken my findings from a research project with regular student users of lecture captures and created a range of study-support resources. One of the key points was to encourage students to consider the role of the lecture as part of their wider studies, to enable them to be efficient and effective in their private study. Should students simply spend time reviewing captures, they would be under prioritising the more valuable learning activities such as laboratories, seminars, and assessment. The annotated slides from the session explain more, providing a framework for implementing such guidance, and the Storify captures some of the attendees feedback.

As in previous conference visits, my time for writing up my experience has been rather limited of late. Instead, I was tweeting “like a pro” (as one of my colleagues describes it). My full ALT-C 2016 Storify is a record of the salient points from the keynotes and presentations I attended, as observed by me and other tweeters. Aside from the slight ego boost when you manage to tweet a point faster than someone else in the auditorium, tweeting live during sessions is an incredibly useful and quick way to capture what I find interesting or provocative. I can also respond to other posts and questions, retweet their thoughts and file shares, and of course promote the good work at my institution when people ask for case studies of practice.

Preparations and pedagogy

September is my favourite time of year as I get to go out and meet up with academic colleagues. Whether that’s arranging training or briefing sessions, or finding time for one-to-one discussions, the month before teaching begins is when the pedagogical juices start a-flowing. The month began with a briefing-training session run twice for a department, designed as a refresher rather than a systematic walk-through for academic staff. As well as a skirting overview of the nuts and bolts of Blackboard, the session allowed me to highlight key recommendations for good practice structuring learning resources and VLE sites, considering the relationship of the online space to the taught module, and embed accessibility considerations – all aspects of the first chapter of the York Technology-Enhanced Learning Handbook.

As I write that I am very conscious of starting “the session allowed me”, which sounds very teacher-centric. However, I did poll staff as to what they would like to find out about and the second half of the session focused on formative submission of work and online quizzes. Indeed these two interventions have been picked up by a number of departments and has been the stimulus for discussions about the role of feedback, how work can be structured and the way quizzes can be used for both student learning benefit and to inform the lecturer on progress. This interest has forced me (I’m not sure if that’s reluctantly or with a keenness to up-skill myself) to review how Blackboard copes with delegated grading and anonymous marking using the standard assignment submission tool. In summary: rather convoluted. However, I’ve found a way forward and have demonstrated to a department how this could provide a mechanism for systematically providing space for formative assessment and help facilitate rapid turnaround of feedback. Expect an update to the York TEL Handbook anon. For the quizzes, I’ve found some useful guidance on writing multiple-choice quiz questions (ok Google found them, but they do explain well how to write questions for higher order learning) and popped those on the Quizzes page in the Handbook.

I have also been explaining some of the ELDT case studies (which I openly admit I didn’t write), contextualising them against the institution’s Learning and Teaching Strategy and implementation project: the York Pedagogy. I ran a session for one specific department, but also delivered the last of three runs of the York Technology for the York Pedagogy webinar (recording available and if you prefer not to listen to me, you can view the annotated slides).

Other activities in brief

  • Adding new links to the lecture capture system in the VLE and revising the guidance website.
  • Continued testing of the new lecture capture timetabling integration. An essential development to automate the handling of twice as many captures as in the previous academic year.
  • Supporting a small group of colleagues writing their CMALT portfolio as part of a peer-support group. This month the focus was on the often hard-to-write-reflectively Section 3: The Wider Context (see my previous advice on CMALT Section 3).
  • Delivering staff briefings on the new lecture capture platform (recording available for UoY users), summary written for the ELDT Blog (Replay Update – Autumn 2016) and supplemented with a webinar on some of the newer features available for lecturers (webinar recording).

Reading this month

Most of my reading was concentrated in the preparation for my ALT-C paper. Here are some of the key references from my talk that I commented upon:

  • Giannokos, M.N., Jaccheri, L., Krogstie, J. (2015). ‘Exploring the relationship between video lecture usage patterns and students’ attitudes’, British Journal of Educational Technology. Early View. DOI: 10.1111/bjet.12313.
  • Gorissen, P., van Bruggen, J. and Jochems, W. (2012). ‘Students and recorded lectures: survey on current use and demands for higher education’, Research in Learning Technology, 20:297-311. DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.17299.
  • Witton, G. (2016). ‘The value of capture: Taking an alternative approach to using lecture capture technologies for increased impact on student learning and engagement’, British Journal of Educational Technology. Early View. DOI: doi:10.1111/bjet.12470.

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