‘Non-traditional’ learning (for higher education)…portfolios and badges

Cool dude with a badgeThe projects that I work on aren’t really projects in the technical sense.  I like to think of them more as adventures into the unknown.  They have a beginning and an end, but they don’t stick to specific milestones.  Nothing is rigid and the work I am doing involves people, which means that anything can happen, particularly within higher education. However, I do get results, or rather ‘they’ do get results.  This isn’t about me, it is about the students and how they manage their university experience. I am interested in how they bring together all the experiences that they have at university and how these translate into skills that they can use.

A way of capturing all of this is through ePortfolios combined with Badges.  You need both.  Yes, yes, you do.  The portfolio represents a bigger version of everything that the student is involved in, the badges are the specific sets of skills or activities, based around evidence, that capture what their contribution was.

Badges + portfolios = 3D student/person 

This balance of skills and context provides a lovely way of demonstrating who the student/person is, and what they have contributed to their activities.  I’m finding that students don’t just enjoy creating the portfolios, they are gaining confidence, they are able to articulate their experiences and they can see what they have achieved (as well as how they have grown) and are guided by their tutors through sets of Badges.  Examples of the work of the iChamps who have been working alongside academics to bring digital skills to life show this very well:

Charlie Cosstick

Ursula Grover

Courtney Rowan

Clarissa Chay

Rebekah Kulidzan (now at LSE)  

The use of Pathbrite combined with Badges is a project that will end in July 2017.   This has been applied with Geography and soon, Social Sciences students.   I’m supporting more and more interest in this combination of development and digital literacies skills as we move forward with this project but I hope that when it ends, that we can use this model to enhance more educational and research experiences in this innovative way.

Another good thing from Scotland – Badges (yay)

 

Things I love about Scotland:

  1. Lovely people
  2. Edinburgh with the CRA in June was beautiful. So much culture.
  3. I love that they wanted to stay in the EU.
  4. They rock Badges.

I was looking for resources about Badges for the session I am running tomorrow with UG students from Geography.  I gave the talk last year but this year I wanted to show the students what their Badge would look like and who else was issuing Badges.  Last year, I could tell them about IBM, Samsung, City & Guilds and the NHS.  I thought there must be more and there are.  I discovered a wonderful site from the Scottish Social Services Council.  Not only can you be issued a Badge through their site, but there is a webinar about Badges (and not just for Social Services practitioners) covering all aspects from what is a Badge, how they can be used, how to issue and even how to future proof your service.  The webinar is a full 60 minutes but there is so much information and if you listen to the whole thing you can get a Badge.  This is not a trivial, motivational use, in order to get the badge I need to say what I learnt from the webinar and how I will use it in my organisation. It made me think and listen.  Awesome.

What (one thing*) I learnt from the webinar

It was refreshing to hear from an organisation with a practical, real-world use of open badges.  In particular, my key takeaways are around usage and application.  Robert Stewart sets out clearly how Badges (with evidence) can be used to evaluate events.  I really liked the Bronze, Silver and Gold attendance badges.  If you attended you get the Bronze (thats the hook to get you to see what a badge is) Silver attendance is what did you learn and plans for action, as well as sharing; Gold – having attended the conference or event, what have you done in your organisation.  Then you have evidence of action as a direct consequence of your event and not via a survey but with evidence.  It made my heart sing!

What I plan to do

I am going to take the idea forward of sharing.  There is huge interest in the use of Badges to engage academically. In particular co-curricular activities and I will ask people that when they gain their badges to share what they have done. I really liked the use of # in the naming of the Badges.  This also ties in with ePortfolios (inspired by Katie Coleman) where the evidence is part of a bigger picture of the online identity of the person.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-20-41-10
The application has been submitted!

*I have a whole bunch of ideas but I need to digest all the things I have realised as I was listening, including format of presentation, resources etc

Lost in Disruption #DMLLExpo

IMG_4596The Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University is one of those places that when you enter it you start saying “WOW”.   I was there yesterday for their “Lost in Disruption Expo“, invited to give a keynote with Jacqui Speculand (raising her hand above) who is their Principal Project Lead. I met Jacqui when she came to Southampton University for our Open Badges in HE conference in March, although we had been in touch via Twitter we had never actually met before but our common interest in the use of Open Badges meant we had so much in common.

I have to say something about their Lab space.  On the top floor of their Lanchester Library (another link, we have a Lanchester building at Southampton University) named after Sir Frederick Lanchester   an important engineer of his time and soon to be featured as part of a Heritage Funded project at Coventry University.  This space is a complete conversion of the third floor of the library.  As soon as you open the door you feel inspired to learn. It has that feeling of open space it is light and well laid out with jazzy spaces for sitting, I think they called it the “Google hill” a wooden tiered structure for sitting and holding talks.  There are spaces for collaboration, sectioned off by huge whiteboards, tastefully designed and used by students all the time.  I have created a little video about the space here.  It is the sort of space that you are probably best describing with images so I’ll let that video speak for itself.  One of the takeaways I had from the space was that it was well designed, well used and because of the light and the layout it made you want to learn.  It is so true that your environment has a huge impact on how you feel and your behaviour.   Part of the space belongs to the DMLL team.  That is also a revelation.  The team consists of Subject Librarians, Teaching staff, Education Developers, technical innovators, I call them that, they are not their real titles but they are not Learning technologists, they don’t look after a VLE and get people to use it.  They are much more than that, the team is like an innovation engine, all working together, to explore ideas and get it right.  Jacqui mentioned that it was a safe space to fail, somewhere to try out a concept, tweak it and adjust it before it is no longer a project, where is can be rejected or adopted by the university. You so need that.   In addition to all of these people they had student interns working with them, and some of them they took on to be members of staff.

The Expo itself was held in the space, ably Chaired by Helen Keegan. There are teaching rooms all round the edges of the space, some with glass walls and some as regular spaces but all have Apple TV, so the use of iPads to connect wirelessly is in place and has been for some time.  Each of these rooms can be booked via the devices on the walls using Outlook as the booking system.  No need to complicate it by using the regular university-wide booking system.  We were talking in “The Grass” an intimate tiered space, covered in fake grass.  It was a completely different experience to talk to 60 0r 70 people and being able to see all of them.  People were not just sitting up, but they were relaxed and listening, genuinely listening, it was much more engaging to talk and listen here, again, because of the environment.  Yes, we could have a room with 70 people in it.  It is not the same, even the grass had something to do with it!

The talks were excellent – I listened to Brian Lamb talking about how the VLE has been designed to put is into the silos that we are trying so hard to get out of.  He also talked about “Splot“, a tool he has created to make it so much easier to write.   He spoke of Sandstorm, a collection of open access apps that are a toolbox of web-enabled tools for academia.   Jim Groom (DS106) talked about how we need to be more aware of how our data is used, he talked about lots of things including “A domain of ones own” project at University of Mary Washington to encourage academics to write more about their work so that they raise their academic profiles but they own their presence, and it is syndicated to the university.    MOOCs and their corporatisation. And he showed us the “back to the future” 80’s console room.  I could go on and on.  Both Brian and Jim gave inspiring talks , I even listened to the podcast by Jon Udell on the way home on the train.

There was so much to see and listen to I hope we can see it all again.  I missed some sessions because I was preparing for my talk, but the tweets looked really interesting.  They asked me what my takeaways were from the day and I said about the space because that just hit you as it was so different from the ‘usual’.    But I also think that it is essential for progress and for the students to experience something like that.  You need the space to explore and develop, and to meet the challenges of the new world of Higher Education.  We can’t keep doing what we have always done. We will become irrelevant and students need to have the benefit of this in their own space before they face the real world.   I hope that I can go there again and show others, and to work with the Innovation Engine that is the DMLL team.

The day captured in social media (Storify)

 

Residential reflections on TEL PhD Cohort 9 #Rocks

I’ve just got back from a week residential as part of my PhD with Lancaster University.  I am part of Cohort 9 and although we have been discussing and talking together online since January, this was the first time that we met face to face.  In the beginning we were all a little nervous, not sure what the week held, where we were going, but we would have a presentation on day 1 so we needed to get all of that behind us and get on with it.  I was extremely excited about meeting everyone and to be learning new things over the week, I was also keen to meet some of the previous years cohort, including some who I already knew, which was also part of the residential.

Day one came and I immediately felt like I had known some of them forever.  Such a lovely, funny and very clever bunch of people. I learnt so much from them all.   The week was set up to include social and academic activities, so after the first day of orientation and presentations in the pm, each morning we had a lecture with a member of staff or previous students on the programme.  We would then look at various academic skills necessary for the programme and we had feedback on our research proposals.  After listening to the speakers I found myself questioning what they were saying and applying perspectives that I hadn’t really thought much about before. I guess in my world, I’m just getting on with everything, but I now realise I can change things. I have an opportunity now to put some meat on the bones of the ideas that I had half formed in my mind and really push forward with digital literacies practices and challenge existing practice and beliefs.

It was only when I was on the train home and looking at the literature that I needed for my research project that I realised how much I had learned.  When I read one of the papers again, it made so much more sense and I think it was because of the jargon. Every community has their own jargon, whether you are in an institution or not, organisations, disciplines, etc all have a language that you use, that becomes familiar and it is not a barrier to learning.  After the residential, reading a paper I was looking for certain things, structure, chains of evidence, theoretical frameworks, all of these things I had read about before but not really deep enough to sink in.  But yesterday, on the train home, they did.   I have been inspired to explore and challenge, and I am excited to be on this journey with everyone (<– that was soppy, sorry).

As a student, I think Digital literacies skills are now more important for ever.  Notably, I practice what I preach and this morning I have already been adding and responding to our Deep Space 9 (Cohort 9, see what we did there?) Group on Facebook, chatted via What’s App to Margaret (fellow member of Cohort 9) and now writing this post, whilst doing a Mooc with Udemy on Leadership.  I’ve created a list via my Momentum chrome extension and am preparing further blog posts and a Keynote for next week, all of this will be recorded in my portfolio.

So, onwards and upwards.  Cohort 9, you are awesome and we’ve only just begun (cue The Carpenters here).

What is Leadership? – Seth Godin’s workshop

I have signed up for Seth Godin’s Leadership workshop.  A Mooc with Udemy.  It’s actually more of an online course for lots of people. It wasn’t free, it was £13 (special offer, 83% discount) so I thought I’d give it a go.

So each week I should be completing my leadership notebook, this week I have some question prompts to complete which I share on my blog.  All good fun, and hopefully I’ll learn something along the way.

An example of someone I respect leading

Miles voting for the first time, for himself!
Miles voting for the first time – for himself!

My son is now 21 and since he was 18 he has been encouraging and leading people to vote in local and national elections. He is a natural organiser and has been working tirelessly for the Green Party to encourage others to vote and to rally around and offer support. I was amazed that he was confident and willing to speak to the general public and he has inspired others his own age to stand for election and take an interest in local politics.

How I choose to lead

I am always looking at new and hopefully innovative and useful ways for engaging with technology enhanced learning. One of the ways that I have shown leadership is leading by example.  I am inspired by exploring and trying new ideas that I have read about or have experienced through talking to people or working with some amazing individuals, both students and staff.  In terms of the difference between managing and leading, for me its more exciting to be leading a new initiative, although I do find encouraging and working with my iChamps great fun too.  the difference is level of involvement and how much I can inspire while at the same time taking people forward.

Is leadership a choice? 

Is leadership a choice? er, yes.  Why would you not want to lead something as opposed to managing someone elses ideas initiatives?  Believing in the your work is a requirement to get anything to happen and why should anyone follow you if they don’t think that you can do it yourself? I hope I practice what I preach.

What change do I hope to make? 

In terms of what changes I am trying to make,  in terms of technology enhanced education, I am all about change for the better.  Taking forward ideas that doing the same things the same way as we have always done isn’t necessarily the right thing to do.  The world has moved on and HE seems to be the last bastion of resistance to changing practice. Opening up ideas and minds to the potential that we can teach and learn differently using technology and developing digital literacies skills to be more effective and efficient is what I am trying to do at Southampton.

Image: Photo by pedrosimoes7 – Creative Commons Attribution License  https://www.flickr.com/photos/46944516@N00