Teaching Matters is the University of Edinburgh’s website, blog and podcast about learning and teaching, for sharing ideas and approaches to teaching, and for showcasing our successes, including academic and professional colleagues who are leading the way in delivering brilliant teaching.
I am honoured to have been invited to join the Centenary Commission on Adult Education. The membership of the Commission is as follows:
- Dame Helen Ghosh DCB (Chair)- Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Previously Chief Executive, The National Trust; Permanent Secretary, Home Office; Permanent Secretary, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
- Sir Alan Tuckett OBE (Vice Chair) -Professor, University of Wolverhampton. Previously Chief Executive, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education; President, International Council for Adult Education.
- Melissa Benn- Author, novelist, journalist, broadcaster. Chair, Comprehensive Future; Council member, New Visions for Education Group; founder member, Local Schools Network; Advisory Board member, Oxford Women in the Humanities.
- Lord (Karan) Bilimoria CBE – Co-founder & Chairman, Cobra Beer; Chancellor, University of Birmingham.
- Dr Sharon Clancy-Chair, Raymond Williams Foundation. Previously Head of Community Partnerships, University of Nottingham; Chief Executive, Mansfield Council for Voluntary Service.
- Uzo Iwobi OBE -Chief Executive Officer, Race Council Cymru. Previously Principal Equality Officer, South Wales Police; member of the Commission for Racial Equality.
- Melissa Highton -Assistant Principal, Online Learning and Director of Learning, Teaching & Web Services, University of Edinburgh.
- Roger McKenzie-Assistant General Secretary, Unison. Previously Vice Chair, West Midlands Assembly; Midlands Regional Secretary, TUC; Race Equality Officer, TUC.
- Sir Ken Olisa OBE -Chairman, Shaw Trust; Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London; founder & Chairman, Restoration Partners; Deputy Master, Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
- Sue Pember OBE- Director, Holex (professional body for Adult Community Education and Learning). Previously lead Director for FE, Dept for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Dept for Education & Skills (DfES); Principal, Canterbury College of F&HE.
- Paul Roberts -Chief Executive Officer, Aspire, Oxford.
- Dr Cilla Ross- Vice Principal, Co-operative College, Manchester.
- Sir Peter Scott -Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education. Previously Vice Chancellor, Kingston University, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Education, University of Leeds; Editor, The Times Higher Education Supplement.
- Ruth Spellman OBE -General Secretary, Workers’ Educational Association. Previously Chief Executive of Chartered Management Institute, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Investors in People UK.
The whole thing is being facilitated by Jonathan Michie, President of Kellogg College.
We hope to provide authoritative, evidence-based, recommendations on how ‘lifewide’ adult education – i.e., for all aspects and stages of people’s lives, and not just for work – should develop over the decades ahead. Our remit is the same as proposed for the 1919 committee: “To consider the provision for, and possibilities of, Adult Education in Great Britain, and to make recommendations.”
The Commission’s report will, attempt to cover the following:
- The need for lifewide adult education. Globalisation, technology and the changing world of work; threats to democracy and social cohesion; new social movements; demographic changes.
- The state of British adult education today. Who provides; who takes part; who does not provide; who does not take part. What types of provision are made (subjects, approaches, locations, media, etc.), and what are not. The relative importance of different types of provision for different social groups.
- The British contribution to adult education. A brief discussion of approaches developed historically in Britain, and of new practices developing today, and their contribution to democracy, civil society and personal growth.
- What we can learn from international experience. From UNESCO to the OECD; key reports; the impact of the current ‘output and measurement’ craze; international research.
- The structures, institutions and systems we need. Types of provision. Priorities for government: legislation, regulation, fees, public spending. What non-governmental agencies might do: local government, voluntary organisations, FE and HE, schools, private companies, etc. Meeting the needs of communities and social groups. Strengthening democracy in teaching and curriculum development.
- Implementing the changes. How can the changes be brought about: overcoming the forces in government, media and society that have inhibited the development of lifewide adult education over recent decades.
That’ll keep us busy!
Actually, I didn’t dream it. I was there to present to Academic Senate. Senate means ‘old men’, in case you didn’t know. It’s from the Latin.
Our Senate at Edinburgh University is actually fairly mixed, and the room was packed for a discussion about ‘The Future of Distance Learning’, and that is my bag.
I have to say though, the AV technology brought in for the event, while lovely, and useful, kinda spoiled the point of the venue. St Cecilia’s is famous for its age and its accoustics. It is set out with amphitheatre steps to sit on around the sides like those Latin-speaking senators might have done in ancient times. I think we should have spoken from the performance area without ppt slides* and been our own projectors.
In case you are wondering , University of Edinburgh currently has about 2,920 distance learning students studying via online programmes at Masters level. We have 65 programmes – (with about 100 permutations).
In terms of cohort size, 7 out of top 10 are CMVM programmes. Surgical Sciences peaked in 2014/15 (155) and has returned to its previous steady state level (105). Yes, we do teach surgery online. Most other programmes teach fewer than 35 students per year.
For the demographic fans amongst you we have 62% women studying online masters compared with 57% of all masters students. Our online students are also older than our on-campus ones. 88% are over 25. We have students from 134 countries studying online. 60% reside outside the UK; but that is not very different from the domicile of our on campus students. The top 6 countries are all English speaking ( Scotland, England USA, Australia, Canada, Ireland) and account for 59% of students
A significant difference in the student mix is that there are few Chinese online students, whereas they account for 21% of campus based PGT students. Our MOOC learners come from all over the world… but despite there being 2million of them, only 80 apply for online masters.
Only 1.4 % of our online learners are our alumni.
Alumnus is also Latin, it means ‘foster-son or pupil’. Alumna is for women.
*I had lovely slides designed by Yujia in a colour scheme to match the venue as you can see.
I work in a place where people often make declarations about innovation and ‘creating an environment where it is safe to fail’.
I sometimes wonder what that means. What would a workplace in which it is safe to fail look like?
Would it look like a bunch of people being a bit crap at their jobs and experiencing no consequence as a result? No! it would look like a place where there was visible sign of recognition that when we learn from our failures we move forward as a result.
It would look like a place that hosts a ‘Fail-a-thon’.
When we start a project, we have a plan or idea how the project will pan out, what the outcomes will be, and the benefits of what is delivered. For various reasons however, things do not always go to plan and we should learn from those experiences. What and why did something go wrong and with reflection what could have been done differently? One platform to learn from each other is a Failathon. The ISG Innovation programme will hold a Failathon on Wednesday 28th June 2017 between 14:00 – 16:00.
“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise person learns from the mistakes of others”
Our Failathon is an opportunity for learning from each other’s failures outside formal routes. We’re running with the title “Beyond Failure”, sharing personal experiences of failures and setbacks in a supportive atmosphere. The session will focus on what we can do to improve as a community, working in small groups to develop prioritised agendas for change in how we use and create evidence.
This event is open to any Innovation project managers who are willing to share their experience of a project that has not gone as expected or planned. If you aren’t prepared to share your ‘fail’, you don’t get in. Share your experiences of when things don’t go so well.
You don’t need to do any special preparation, but you do need to be prepared to talk about your own mistakes, and respect the confidentiality of the session. This event will be held under the Chatham House Rule and hosted by ISG Director, Kevin Ashley.
Book your place now.
As Professor Sir Tim O’Shea is retiring I am putting together a timeline of learning technology developments at University of Edinburgh. Are there other things I should include?
- 2002? WebCT VLE on campus
- 20003 – ERA- Open access repository in the library
- September 2005, Edinburgh Law School launched its first online distance learning programme
- September 2006 – Launch of Online MSc Digital Education ( e-learning)
- Sept 2007 -online MSc in surgical sciences from Edinburgh University.The qualification is offered jointly by the University and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
- 2007 – Edinburgh University classes offered in Second Life virtual world
- June 2009- First pilot of automated lecture recording -CaptureEd
- 2009 Edinburgh joins ItunesU
- 2011 Manifesto for teaching online – Written by teachers and researchers in online education. University of Edinburgh 2011
- July 2012- we are the first UK institution to join Coursera to do MOOCs
- 2013 – Edinburgh’s excellence in distance learning has been recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education
- June 2013- Edinburgh joins the new Futurelearn Platform
- January 2014 – 14,200 Open Access publications in Library
- 2014- Edinburgh appoints (8?) Chairs of Technology Enhanced Education- including a Chair of Learning Analytics
- 2013- Launch of the Nobel Higgs MOOC
- 2014 -Edinburgh students begin working with Google Glasses
- May 2015 – Teacherbot is born
- June 2015- 2 million MOOC learners choose Edinburgh courses
- October 2015- launch of the Digital Education Research centre
- December 2015- University hosts the first Wikimedian in Residence in UK HE learning and teaching
- January 2016 – University of Edinburgh approves Open Educational Resources Policy
- 2016 – Manifesto for teaching online – Written by teachers and researchers in online education
- April 2016 – Edinburgh hosts a ‘Festival of Digital Learning’ featuring 3 large international conferences: OER16, LAK and Learning@scale
- October 2016 – we launch EdinburghX on Edx
- March 2017- Launch of UCreate Maker Space in the Main Library
- September 2017 – large scale implementation of lecture recording begins (if you’re lucky)
You may be interested to know what the LTW teams have been doing to support you in the last 6 months.
To support the development of digital skills since January 2016, the Digital Skills Programme has delivered 136 face-to-face courses, to c.1400 attendees, across all Colleges and Support Groups, using 40 tutors from across ISG.
To support capacity building for online learning 25 staff across the University have signed up for the recently launched CMALT programme for learning technologists.
To support online learning at scale we have delivered 8 pilot Learning Design workshops with 21 programmes interested in holding workshops in the future.
To support sharing and use of video MediaHopper now holds more than 5,000 video items uploaded by staff and students. Around 10% using a creative commons license (OER). 200 people have been trained to use the new media tools.
To ensure that users can understand and engage with our University we have published 51,000 published pages on Edweb.
To ensure that our students can gain work experience alongside their studies we’ve employed more than 20 student interns.
To make you more comfortable we’ve upgraded 300 open access PCs and refurbished 52 rooms and spaces.
To make the world a safer place we have launched MyLungsMyLife and Self-Help for Stroke web projects at the Scottish Parliament.
And that’s all on top of maintaining, running, patching and upgrading all the major systems and services you use for teaching and learning every day.
Edinburgh University is investing in the use of learning analytics for course design, attainment, and improving the student experience.
We think learning analytics and student data analysis hold great potential to address the challenges confronting educational institutions. By merging technical methods for data mining and with educational theory research and practice, learning analytics offer novel and real-time approaches to assessing critical issues such as student progression and retention, 21st century skills acquisition, as well as personalised learning.
The University of Edinburgh has a wide range of activities in the field of learning analytics. As shown in the diagram below, these activities cross many disciplinary, organisational, practice, and research boundaries.
The projects offer a heady mix of acronyms, names and aims. Just to prove that anything worth doing can be mapped across a 2×2 matrix, we have developed one to show the spread of our activity and projects.
Learning Analytics Map of Activities, Research and Roll-out (LAMARR*)
You can read more about each of them on the IS Learning Analytics Web pages
Led by the Vice-Principal Digital Education, Centre for Research in Digital Education, School of Informatics, Information Services, Student Systems, and the Institute for Academic Development, activities in learning analytics include University leaders, researchers, and practitioners from support, research, and academic units of the University collaborating on a variety of projects funded through both internal and external sources.
*As well as being a Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr also invented wifi and bluetooth #womenintech
This project asks: ‘How can University teaching teams develop critical and participatory approaches to educational data analysis?’ It seeks to develop ways of involving students as research partners and active participants in their own data collection and analysis, as well as foster critical understanding of the use of computational analysis in education.
The ‘Learning Analytics Report Card’ captures data from an individual student’s course-related activity, and presents a summary of their academic progress in textual and visual form. However, rather than manifesting through hidden and inaccessible institutional data aggregation and analysis, the LARC offers students an opportunity to play with their data; to choose what is included or excluded, when the report is generated, and how it might be presented.
Rather than simply empowering the individual, this process reveals the functioning of the algorithms that increasingly underpin and govern educational decision-making. A pilot LARC will be developed for the MSc in Digital Education programme at the University of Edinburgh, with a view to producing a packaged system that might be used in other online provision.
The first draft of the Learning Analytics Report Card interface is now complete, and is ready for testing with Moodle data and the phase 1 analytics. The interface is behind the EASE login, which will restrict access to the identified pilot students, as well as facilitate login information for the data capture from Moodle. At present, the options available to students reflect the 5 categories of analytics constituting the fist phase of development: Attendance, Social Interaction, Engagement, Performance, Personal.
If you want to know more, contact Jeremy in the project team.
Next year in April 2016 University of Edinburgh will host 3 major digital education conferences back to back. The city will provide a stunning back-drop for leading educators, policy makers and learning technologists to meet, share ideas and present their research. The calls for papers for each of the conferences is open now and the lists of keynote speakers and themes offer a tempting menu for anyone interested in open educational resources, learning analytics or the challenges of learning at scale.
The conferences are: the 7th Open Educational Resources: Open Culture. OER16 https://oer16.oerconf.org/, the 6th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference. LAK16 http://lak16.solaresearch.org/ and the 3rd annual meeting of the ACM Conference on Learning at Scale L@S http://learningatscale.acm.org/las2016/
Where else would you want be?
University of Edinburgh Innovative Learning Week (ILW) 2015 #ILW2015 will take place from 16-20 February. Event booking is now open!
ILW 2015 is our fourth annual festival of creative learning and is a chance for students, staff and alumni to develop skills, meet new people and celebrate innovation in our academic community.
This year’s programme includes a fine spread of events hosted or facilitated by LTW in conjunction with friends and partners across the university.
“Shoot the Uni” – Photography Competition 11:00 – 13:00 Mon 16 Feb
Open Courses with Open Resources 09:30 – 12:30 Tue 17 Feb
Peer-Reviewing Online 13:00 – 14:00 Tue 17 Feb
Driving Seminar Room Technology Various times Tue – Fri
What no Chalkboard? An Insight into Electronic Various times Tue – Fri
Extending the Boundaries – Virtual Classroom Spaces 13:00 – 14:00 Wed 18 Feb
Women, Science and Scottish History – Wikipedia Editathon 14:00 – 17:00 Mon – Fri
Smart-data hack with Informatics Various times Mon – Fri
ILW 2015 Fair! 16.30-18.30 Fri 20 Feb