Where’s your third space for learning and teaching?

Good friend and colleague of many here at GCU, Professor Keith Smyth, University of the Highlands and Islands, gave his inaugural professorial lecture last week in Inverness.

Title “it’s third space, Jim but not as we know it”, Keith gave a very entertaining and informative overview of changes in access and expectations of education, interwoven with  an overview of the many projects he has been involved in around developing approaches, practice and frameworks around effective learning and use of technology in education.

Including wonderful examples from his own children of how the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence is creating cross disciplinary, self directed learners,to open collaborative practice, to the nitty gritty of how open education can actually widen and not just amplify educational opportunities, to the impact of third space, Keith gave one of the best overviews of what digital education can and could be.

Watch the video and think about your own third spaces.


Exciting times and big plans

Well, it does feel as if a number of things are starting to move forward now across GCU. Last week there was a cross-university consultation event led by Bernadette Kelly, CIO, on the direction of travel for GCU’s new Digital Strategy. Lots of ideas came through about making the student/staff experience more effective and coherent, and ensuring our various business systems are fit for purpose and more ‘joined up’. The learning and teaching aspects still need fleshed out a bit, especially the alignment with the Strategy for Learning, but no doubt these will develop further as discussions continue. Learning and teaching is after all our core ‘business’.

The consultation builds on last year’s discussions around what it might mean for GCU to become a Digital University, based on the work done by Sheila MacNeill and colleagues Prof Keith Smyth (UHI) and Dr Bill Johnson (formerly Strathclyde). The key themes that emerged then are still relevant –

• Digital Infrastructure
• Digital literacy (for students and staff)
• Policy and guidelines
• Learning Analytics
• Open Education & Digital participation
• Need for a GCU definition of ‘Digital University’

These are all big issues which need to be taken forward, but it does feel now as if there is some positive momentum building up and a sense of common purpose emerging.

The day after the consultation event we had a demonstration of some of the features of Lynda.com which provides extensive online resources for a wide range of software applications and approaches to blended learning. A number of us will be piloting and demonstrating these videos and courses to colleagues in June, with a view to deciding whether to go ahead and purchase a university wide licence for staff and students. Extending digital capability is key to moving GCU forward.

The development sessions for the new online postgraduate programmes are also continuing with the 5th in the series taking place next week on the 21st May. Local workshops on curriculum planning have also been held with programme teams in Schools. Marketing, and Governance and Quality have also been involved in looking at some of the broader issues such as marketing and branding, and quality processes for online programmes.

Exciting times indeed. Work on all of these areas will continue over the summer. Summer break? What summer break?!

Presentation from Jisc Learing Analytics Network Meeting, 8 May

The University of Edinburgh hosted the latest meeting of the Jisc Learning Analytics Network last week.  I gave a short presentation highlighting some of the challenges we are facing here at GCU in terms of getting work around learning analytics off the ground.

We are struggling a bit in terms of getting time and support to move forward, however the Jisc Effective Analytics solution could potentially be a very timely stepping stone for us in this respect.  I’m hoping we will be able to bid to be one of the case studies for this work.

All the presentations were very informative, The University of Edinburgh are doing some great work in this area.  Once again showing what a difference investment and clear leadership around online learning and teaching, not just infrastructure can make. It’s so refreshing to hear about work that is not obsessed with retention, or as Wilma Alexander called it the “deficit model”.

Nicola Osbourne also live blogged the event, and I  would recommended reading her post from the day as it provides as something as close to being there as you can get.

If you are a GCU member of staff and are interested in developing approaches to learning analytics, or just finding our more about it, please get in touch with us in the Blended Learning Team in LEAD.

Below is my presentation.

It’s all about BOB

We had a lively discussion at the Coffee Club meeting yesterday around the Box of Broadcasts (BoB) service.  Marian Miller from the library led the discussions by giving us an overview of BoB, some of our GCU useage stats, the clipping, citation and transcript features.

Karla Benske has already written an excellent overview post (available here) of her mini love affair with BoB, and it is definitely worth a read.  One issue we did touch on yesterday was that this is very much a UK based service. Students not based in the UK can’t access the service due to the licence it operates out of. So that is definitely something to consider if using BoB for a flexible, online course.  That said the potential for our UK based students is very compelling, and it is a fantastic way to easily access some rich content.

Marian’s Slides