Designing learning: from module outline to effective teaching

I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for the new, updated Butcher, C., Davies, C., & Highton, M. (2019). Designing learning: from module outline to effective teaching ( 2nd edition). Routledge.

You’ve been waiting a long time. The last one was written in 2006. Writing with Chris and Clara has been just like old times.

You’ll be thinking loads has changed in the techniques of learning design and use of technology to support learning and teaching……

For most teachers the main technology to support teaching on campus is still the VLE, but in this edition I’ve managed to include up to date examples from lecture recording, maker spaces, OER, online reading lists, diversity in the curriculum, inclusive design and learning analytics.  Course leaders still need a really good grounding in learning design though, if their teaching is going to be successful. We have  a Learning Design Service at Edinburgh which is growing from strength to strength.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, this fully updated new edition of Designing Learning offers accessible guidance to help those new to teaching in higher education to design and develop a course. With new considerations to the higher education context, this book uses current educational research to support staff in their endeavour to design and develop modules and degree courses of the highest quality.

Offering guidance on every stage, from planning to preparing materials and resources, with a focus on the promotion of learning, this book considers:

  • Course design models and shapes, and their impact on learning
  • How the external influences of learning and teaching are translated by different institutions
  • How to match the content of a course to its outcomes
  • Frameworks to enable communication between staff and students about expectations and standards
  • Taking into account the diverse student population when designing a course
  • The place of Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), communication tools and systems for monitoring students’ engagement
  • The importance of linking all aspects of the taught curriculum and wider co-/extra-curricular activities to support learning
  • Ways to evaluate and enhance a course and to develop oneself as a teaching professional in HE.

Providing advice, illustrative examples and case studies, Designing Learning is a comprehensive guide to designing a high-quality course. This book is a must-read for any academic looking to create or update their course or module.

 

Award winning ‘Attraction and Resourcing’

Satu, Kevin, Jeanette and me with our award which weighs a ton.

We are delighted to win the Scottish HR Network Magazine  Attraction & Resourcing Award of the Year 2019

Here’s the work wot we won for:

Executive Summary:

The University of Edinburgh is committed to providing employment opportunities for Edinburgh students. The student workers in our organisation transform the culture, bring new viewpoints and diversity to our teams and provide unique student perspectives on our services to help us improve. Increasing the number of students who work in our organisation is part of our strategic ambitions and a vital part of enabling the University effectively to meet future challenges.

For the last 4 years we have had specific programmes in place to recruit and support students into our data, digital and IT jobs as interns over the summer and as part time workers throughout the year. Students work in our organisation in a wide range of roles including: as web developers, IT trainers, media producers, project support officers, help desk staff, graphic designers, AV fit-out technicians, data analysts and learning technologists. We aim to develop a strong and vibrant community of young staff who are supported, valued, developed and engaged.

Students are also the main consumers of our services. By employing them to work on projects that affect them we benefit from a rich source of productivity and innovation to help shape and improve these services.

The work on this initiative is ongoing and growing. Team managers are finding opportunities to attract and work with students across more and more projects.  They say:

“It started with a single summer internship analysing some data from our MOOC courses. Since then we’ve had summer interns developing media migration tools, capturing case studies on how media is used, assessing chat bots and where they could fit into our work, and helping with the roll out of lecture recording. This year we also had a team of around 30 students working with us over the start of term to support lecture recording use in large teaching spaces.”

“Personally I loved the experience of working with students again, and in a brand new area of IT support. I find their enthusiasm for the role and energy is infectious and I’m always looking for ways to challenge them and help them grow in the role”’

The work we have done at Edinburgh University is easily transferable to other institutions and there is a sector imperative now to build and grow talent in organisations. The competition for new graduates is fierce and the investment in students now yields return for the future. Students bring a new diversity to our workforce and contribute to a change in workplace culture enhancing our ways of working across intergenerational teams.

Our CIO has set a target within the Strategic Plan to employ at least 500 students over the course of each academic year.

Supporting Evidence

  1. Evidence of a particular recruitment project that has impacted positively on the organisation including evidence of the planning, delivery, evaluation and return on investment

University of Edinburgh HR colleagues have planned and delivered more than 300 employment opportunities so far this year as part of this project. Because we are responsible for all the digital services across libraries, IT, learning technologies and study spaces in the university we are in a perfect position to offer flexible, 21st Century skills employment to our students.

The impact on our organisation can be seen several ways:

  • The experience we are gaining in developing our scheme in response to feedback from our student workers has led to improvement in practice. We have a staff network for interns and managers to share experiences and learning.
  • Our projects and services improve as a result of the skills, creativity, input and ideas brought by the students.
  • Our understanding of our users is improved by the perspective that our students bring to the workplace. Their outside perspective is useful in terms of challenging and broadening our thinking.
  • Our student workers are now a growing group of ‘Alumni’ who have worked with us and may promote or choose our organisation in the future.
  • Some of our student workers are now returners who return to work with us each year in different roles.
  1. Demonstrate the positive outcomes in planning for future skills and abilities being assessed and delivered

Positive outcomes can be seen in the work being done to generate a sustainable pipeline of talent. Giving individuals the platform they need to excel is critical to our long-term success and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community.  Providing work experience and supporting employability empowers our students, which we hope we may benefit from in the future.

We support a positive employment experience for our student workers and encourage them to create LinkedIn profiles to evidence their skills and to engage with their peers through promotional videos and blogging about their work experience. Every student who works with us should leave able to describe an experience of working in a professional environment, on a meaningful project, with real responsibilities, and have a good non-academic referee to add to their CV.

Students can also complete an ‘Edinburgh Award’ – a wrap-around reflective learning framework that helps students to articulate their work experience. We can measure the impact of our student employment initiatives through the ways in which the students reflect on the value of their experience.

The cohort have also become a loyal group of workers who identify us as their employer of choice.

  1. Evidence that the recruitment & selection process contributes to overall effectiveness of the talent strategy

The University is one of the largest local employers, covering multiple sectors and job roles. The University of Edinburgh has a Youth and Student Employment Strategy 2017–2021, which presents our whole-institution approach to employability skills.

The University is committed to long-term goals in creating, promoting and delivering opportunities that enhance the employability of our students.  The University recognises the shortage of highly skilled data, digital and IT workers and is therefore safeguarding for the future and building a sustainable talent pipeline, which addresses current and future skills requirements. In addition, this gives our students the platform they need to excel, which is critical to our long-term success, our competitive advantage and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community. This is particularly important for sectors with national skills shortages such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and this is an opportunity to ‘grow our own’ in these areas.

The National Student Survey (NSS) and Edinburgh Student Experience Survey (ESES) results have highlighted areas for improvement in recent years. Developing more student employment opportunities is one way to improve the student experience and expands the employment prospects of our graduates.

  1. Evidence of the organisations commitment to diversity and assessment of skills to ensure organisation performance and culture fit

Universities are well placed to employ students in flexible ways, but often we assume that these will be in fairly low skill jobs in our shops, bars and residences. In exploring digital, library and IT opportunities we have opened up a variety of roles and reaped the benefit of a vibrant new group of staff with new ideas for our organisation.  Our students are amongst the best and brightest in the world. We are lucky to have a pool of such talent and creativity available to us.

As an employer within a university we are afforded unique opportunities to engage our student body, including delivering learning technologies used in curriculum, improving their study spaces and access to research.

Students are sensitive to image and want to work for organisations that wear their ‘inclusivity-heart’ on their sleeve, so we have promoted a cultures of equality and diversity, as part of our change agenda, to ensure that our reps on campus reflect these values.

By empowering our students they become champions and ambassadors for our work, which brings business benefits as we strive to roll-out new technologies and the cultural changes associated with these different ways of working.

  1. Evidence of effective interview techniques and the role of induction offered to new employees

To identify and attract the best candidates and provide a positive experience for both interviewers and interviewees, ISG supports and promotes best practice in our recruitment processes.  We think about how we can:

  • Be targeted: writing tailored questions for different audiences is time-consuming, but really effective.
  • Be distinctive: with so many opportunities out there, be clear about what makes your organisation different.
  • Be aware: of your own non-verbal communication and unconscious bias.

We want each student to get the most out of their employment experience with us, so as part of our induction process, we have collaborated with our Careers Service and HR colleagues to create a ‘digital student guidebook’.

To help line managers and staff support these groups, we’ve developed ISG ‘student experience’ resources, as well as collated a list of useful tools and platforms to enhance professional development and support students balancing employment alongside their studies.

In addition, we run ‘career insight’ sessions, to get staff talking about their career/role (what a typical ‘day in the life of’ looks like, how they got here etc.) with the objective that it will provide new employees with an understanding of the diverse range of careers available and create a space for them to ask questions.

data for measuring change in equality and diversity

We began the PlayFair Steps four years ago in ISG to bring a culture change and raise awareness of E&D issues.  We’ve been lucky to have an impressive selection of academic colleagues and researchers come to give talks and seminars about age, race, disability, sexuality, religion, class and policy issues in the workplace.

Diversity efforts  which are systemic and structural  in organisations take time. Long-term culture change requires a significant commitment of resources and leadership.  We need to conduct regular employee attitude surveys about E&D  to understand how our culture is changing. Or not.

Organisational-level change take time to materialize, given the risks of setbacks and variable commitment over time. Very few organisations actually publish cultural audit survey data, most  keep the data internal for fear of negative publicity or other adverse outcomes.

We surveyed in 2015 and have just done so again in 2019.

This year 76.1% of you agree that our workplace is inclusive, compared to 40.1% in 2015. Those of you who have worked here 3 – 5 years are most likely to remember the launch of PlayFair Steps and the E&D change theme;  83% of you now agree that ISG inclusive.  

This is a really positive change. Please continue to get involved and give us feedback.

You say:

‘ It’s a great way of meeting new people, or simply feeling like you are part of a workplace where there are like-minded people.

The events are consistently thoughtfully organised and insightful. They cover a range of topics, most of which I have limited experience with but interest me a great deal”,  

it is really important as a colleague and a manager to take time out to listen to others’ perspectives in the workplace’.

We are going to do more with our data too.  This week we are interviewing for a new post: Data and Equality Officer.

Data and Equality Officer 

“At University of Edinburgh we want to use our data in inclusive ways. We are looking for a Data and Equality Officer to join our IT central teams.  

You will help us to ensure that we have the data we need to understand the experience of our diverse staff and students in the University. You will have a passion for data, good data handling skills and knowledge of gender equality, diversity and inclusion issues.   

This a new role, created as part of our digital transformation and our commitment to ensuring that our IT services and projects challenge the structural biases and assumptions of the past. ”

It’s a strong field, so I hope we will get someone to fill Dominique’s fabulous shoes.

You can read more about the PlayFair Steps https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/playfair-steps/

open to movement

Next week I’ll be back in Madrid at the OOFHEC 2019 conference of open universities.

The OOFHEC2019 conference will focus on trends and high impact factors in the global and European higher education.

In a combination of plenary keynotes by key players in higher education at institutional and policy level and parallel presentations and workshops, OOFHEC2019 will cover latest developments under the following topics:

  • Blended and online education
  • Micro-credentials for continuous education and MOOCs
  • European university networks, internationalisation and virtual mobility
  • Learning bots
  • Equal opportunities and inclusion

It’ll be lovely to see so many European colleagues again. I’ll be keynoting about the progress we are making at Edinburgh in online and distance learning. There will be much talk of The European Commission’s eU.University hub for “online learning, blended/virtual mobility, virtual campuses and collaborative exchange of best practices” is now built by the OpenU consortium, led by Panthéon Sorbonne Paris1, in which University of Edinburgh is participating. This hub will connect European universities to facilitate ubiquitous access and free movement of students and learners. It will also empower European university networks for collaborative online education and virtual mobility.

They say:

Blended and online education is a main factor of innovation and change in European higher education, as is shown by the Changing Pedagogical Landscape studies. It creates new possibilities for teaching large groups of students and at the same time to intensify education in small learning communities. New learning formats support the mission of universities to link education, research and to enhance the quality of education. Innovation contributes as well to a balanced use of resources and cost-effectiveness if accompanied by organisational change and support.

(International) micro-credentials are already awarded to  programs worldwide (Micro-Masters, nano-degrees ) organised by universities and MOOC platforms.  Jointly with the growth of blended and online education, innovative modes for mobility are created as a complement to physical mobility enhancing the learning experience and opening new opportunities for intensive collaboration between universities.

The European Commission is supporting this innovation. In the Erasmus+ 2019 call, virtual mobility is defined as “a set of activities supported by Information and Communication Technologies, including e-learning, that realise or facilitate international, collaborative experiences in a context of teaching, training or learning”. Blended and virtual mobility is stimulated in many Erasmus+ actions, in particular in the “European universities” initiative, “strategic partnerships”, “knowledge alliances”, “sector skills” and “capacity building”.

Equal opportunities and inclusion in a diverse society are a continuous task in European society, especially with regard to gender, disadvantaged groups, migrants and refugees. This requires specific measures at all levels of education, last but not least in higher education. This is to be realized by specific organisational support for these groups, mobilizing expertise across the institution.Above all, this requires that equal opportunities and inclusion are considered as a core dimension in the design of courses by paying attention to enough flexibility and personalisation.

Open universities have a unique and long tradition in this, while they are also continuously innovating policies, organisational frameworks and teaching and learning in this respect.

genderED

Because I’ll be in Madrid I’ll miss the genderED 2nd anniversary showcase.

Dominique and Ewan will be there showcasing their work.

This event brings together educators and researchers working on gender and sexuality studies from across the University of Edinburgh. We are delighted to celebrate the second anniversary of genderED, the University’s interdisciplinary hub for gender and sexuality studies. This reception will include an interactive showcase of research, teaching and institutional initiatives, inviting attendees to learn about gender and sexuality studies work across a wide range of disciplines. genderED’s work and directories span the whole University, and the showcase will give a snapshot of exciting and varied ongoing work.
Dominique will be speaking about the gender equality work we do in ISG in The PlayFair Steps
Ewan will be speaking about the gender equality work we do in ISG in Wikimedia

Scottish Witches data

We are getting a fair bit of media coverage about our witches data project https://witches.is.ed.ac.uk/. You’ll remember that at the start of the summer we advertised for a ‘witchfinder general’ intern.

The project is now complete and the work done by our Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan alongside our Witches GIS Data Intern, Emma is properly impressive.  It offers whole new ways of engaging with this historical data collection.

Read more about it here:

https://www.cdcs.ed.ac.uk/news/wicked-findings-witchfinder-general

https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/ecarroll3_witchcraft_visualisation/

https://ammienoot.com/brain-fluff/some-witchy-history-and-a-very-smart-woman-in-data-science/

Emma presented her work at the recent ALT conference , to an audience of interested learning technologists. We’ll be speaking about it again on Saturday at a series of lectures on why open source is the future: edin.ac/open-edi-talks (EASE login required) and at genderED annual interdisciplinary showcase 21 October.

Media: https://www.scotsman.com/heritage/map-of-scots-women-accused-of-witchcraft-published-for-first-time-1-5009814

Mary Somerville Data Centre

As part of our activities to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day this year, and to mark the occasion of the completion of a major upgrade project in the James Clerk Maxwell Building  data centre, we are going to name the data centre after Mary Somerville, so it’ll be the MSDC at the JCMB.

I’ve written about Mary before, on this blog  and on Wikipedia. While it is exciting to think of Ada Lovelace as a pioneer, she was not actually a crusader, nor a feminist actor on any political stage. If you are looking for a a female scientist and activist to celebrate, Mary Somerville is your woman. Mary Somerville played a key role in defining and categorizing the physical sciences, was one of the best known scientists of the nineteenth century and a passionate reformer. She was the author of best-selling books on science and a highly respected mathematician and astronomer. She was a very clever woman and was for several years Ada’s tutor and mentor. A staunch supporter of women’s suffrage and a great advocate of women’s education in 1868 Mary was the first person to sign J.S Mill’s petition to Parliament in support of women’s suffrage.  I’m very pleased that we are able to  name our data centre after her.

Mary Somerville (26 December 1780 – 29 November 1872), was a Scottish writer and polymath. She is the person for whom the word scientist was invented. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was admitted as one of the first female members of the Royal Astronomical Society.  She campaigned for votes and education for women.She wrote a number of influential and interdisciplinary science books and when she died in 1872 The Morning Post declared “Whatever difficulty we might experience in the middle of the nineteenth century in choosing a king of science, there could be no question whatever as to the queen of science.[James Clerk Maxwell himself later commented: “The unity shadowed forth in Mrs Somerville’s book is therefore a unity of the method of science, not a unity of the process of nature”.

She said:

Mathematics are the natural bent of my mind

and at aged 90:

Age has not abated my zeal for the emancipation of my sex from the unreasonable prejudice too prevalent in Great Britain against a literary and scientific education for women

There’s a very good book called ‘Mary Somerville: Science , Illumination and the  Female Mind‘ by Kathryn Neeley which  describes some of the challenges in categorising Mary because her life and work crossed boundaries and assumed roles. She was a devoted wife and mother as well as eminent scientist. She was sociable with a wide network of connections which included eminent mathematicians and scientists of the day. While formal science education was already closed to women, science itself was not yet so formalised as it is today and many of the discoveries of the day were by ‘amateur’  scientists working privately and sharing their findings socially.

When we write the biographies of women scientist for their wikipedia entries, often we find ourselves telling their story as  ‘translator’, ‘helpmate’, ‘illustrator’, ‘junior partner’ in scientific work of their father, husband or brother. This was not the case for Mary. Neither was she writing for female audiences to engage other women in science or for children or teachers. She had a privileged position in society and was at the heart of her scientific community. Amongst her community of friends were Caroline and William Herschel, Mary and Charles Lyell ( whose notebooks have just been bought by University of Edinburgh), Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace and  Annabella Byron.

 

ALT-C 2019

It was my pleasure to welcome the Association of Learning Technologists back to Edinburgh. We hosted the conference here in 2001 and I am very pleased that we are able to do so again.

University of  Edinburgh and ALT have a long standing relationship, a long standing commitment. As well as providing a venue we have also provided some top quality speakers.  Sir Tim O’Shea was a keynote speaker in 2006, Jeff Haywood in 2014 and Sian Bayne in 2017   and there are more than 20 Edinburgh University colleagues presenting here this time.

We also have a long standing commitment to CMALT , some of us have had our CMALTs for a very long time, others are shiny new getting their awards at this conference . I am proud that we have so many CMALT holders working at Edinburgh, an important part of ensuring the professionalization of our learning technology staff who provide services across all the schools. Its that discipline of reflecting on the evaluation, context and policy environment in which they work which ensures they are able to work as part of a community of shared knowledge within the institution and that is a unique business advantage for us.

Delegates were impressed by our venue, the gorgeous McEwan Hall. The name, yes it is it is name of the brewing company.William McEwan paid for the building in 1897 with the profits from much pale ale, export and 80 shillings. You may be able to tell that its been recently renovated. We had 19 miles of scaffolding in here so that the conservators could clean and restore the paintings.

The central piece of art is known as “The Temple of Fame”  it has the names of muses,  philosophers and students. And if you look up you will see the inscription:

Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her and she shall bring thee to honour. (Proverbs 4:7).

You might see this proverb in knowledge creation organisations. It’s also around the dome of the Manchester Central Library and the Library of Congress. I think it means that while knowledge and education have their place, it is wisdom that makes people successful. Knowledge is the accumulation of information, understanding is the comprehension and interpretation of that information, but wisdom is the application. Wisdom is learning how to take the knowledge given and apply it to our lives in a workable manner, so that it benefits us, and benefits the lives of others.

I asked delgates to look up, but  also to look down.

As you leave McEwan Hall and head across to other sessions  in Appleton Tower,  as you go out the door look down.  You will see one of our newly  commission pieces of public art .The work is by Susan Collis it is called ‘The Next Big Thing is… a Series of Little Things ‘. It is a meandering series of little shiny dots that might go unnoticed.

It reminds us that thinking of big ideas is tempting, its exciting to imaging a technology, a magic pill or silver bullet, that one thing we are doing wrong but can correct with a single change and consequently improve the world we work in, but we should not ignore the small things.  The steady drip of work which wears down things that were set in stone and changes the shape of  what we do. That’s often where success starts.

A couple weeks before the conference ALT published an interview conversation with CEO Maren Deepwell and me, and the day the conference began we wrote a piece together for Wonkhe.

If you missed the conference you can catch up with the best bits on Youtube

 

 

in the running

EdFuturist Award

We are currently in the running for 2 more awards:

The University of Edinburgh Lecture Recording Team has been shortlisted for the ALT Community Choice Award. Check out our submission video and vote for us here: (link: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2019/awardsvoting/)  #LTA6  The awards are generously sponsored by EDINA and will be given at The Association of Learning Technologists Conference in Edinburgh in September. Every vote counts!

Also, Jeanette, Laura and Kevin have made it to the shortlist in the Scottish HR Network awards 2019 for our employing of students in the ‘Attraction and Resourcing’ category. Attracting around 800 HR and people professionals and regarded as ‘the’ event in the HR calendar. The event is in November.

In July I was runner up in the 2019 EdFuturists Awards as an individual ‘who embodies a vision of where education could be 20 years from now’. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.