While I’ve been working at City I’ve also been studying on the MA in Academic Practice (MAAP) programme run by the Learning Development Centre and I am now on the final ‘dissertation’ module. I wasn’t looking forward to writing another dissertation and thankfully there is a publication option that requires a conference presentation and published paper instead, and, having chosen this route, I decided to look at an area that has attracted some interest recently but that I hadn’t had a reason to investigate – Gamification in Education. I have just received confirmation of my paper being accepted for presentation, and thought it was a good excuse to put something up on this blog about it.
Since 2002, the New Media Consortium (NMC) has been undertaking the Horizon Project. This involves soliciting the views of a wide range of influential people in the educational technology community (and beyond) on technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on education over the next 5 years. Each February reports are published which provide an overview of the chosen technologies, their significance to specific domains and the timescale over which it is expected adoption will take place. In advance of the main report the NMC also publishes the shortlist and a preview of the main report and the 2013 Higher Education preview is now available. What follows are some of my thoughts on the items selected for the Report.
Last month I gave a presentation on Social Media for students, teachers, researchers & job-hunters to staff & students at the School of Engineering at the University of Greenwich. The talk was organised by the Greenwich Student branch of IEEE who were great hosts. There is a recording of the talk on their IEEE branch website. It’s a bit of a messy talk because of the mixed audience I was trying to reach and it suffers for that.
New Handbook on Social Media
A Handbook of Social Media for researchers and supervisors was recently published by Vitae. It’s a mammoth (140-page!!), comprehensive guide. If you want to dip in I’d suggest start by reading chapters 2 & 3 which highlight the research findings. I’ll try to summarise them here too.
The handbook is based on research including surveys of 105 researchers & 45 supervisors as well as a detailed literature review. Their findings show that researchers are using social media tools for research discourse related to six functions:
- formal dialogue with supervisors
- informal interactions with peers and supervisors
- documentation (authoring, storing, exchanging)
- space for reflection
- engaging with the community
- keeping themselves informed
The handbook also reports:
- Firstly the traditional: Face-to-face interactions with supervisors and peers are key in research dialogues; Email is the most important tool; Preference for traditional mailing lists
- But: Wide scale adoption of social media tools; Advantages of participating in and interacting with social media tools such as bringing dispersed researchers together; Experimenting with different combinations of tools, evaluating them and giving up some of them
- Relationships: Researchers introduce each other to technologies; Sometimes supervisors block the adoption of technologies; Researchers choose technologies and adapt as per their supervisors’ preferences
- Concerns include: Intellectual property, the time spent on social media tools, Maintaining professional and personal boundaries, storing files in the cloud.
Over the next few months, Farzana Latif (School of Health Sciences) and I will be investigating the possible uses of OpenBadges at City. OpenBadges are based on the same idea as the ones awarded to Scouts: they are a visual recognition that a person has mastered a particular skill. Skills acquisition is a very important part of learning, but formal qualifications often mask these in favour of examination results, so we want to look at whether there would be benefits in introducing a badges-based mechanism to enable students to show their skills and competencies, in addition to their grades. This project is being supported by the Learning Development Centre as one of their Learning Development Projects for 2012/13, and would be interested in hearing from City staff and students who want to give us their views.
OpenBadges been developed by the Mozilla Foundation (makers of the Firefox web browser among other things) specifically with education in mind, and so have security and verification features built into them which mean that it very difficult for a student to fake their award. They can also be set to expire automatically, so could be used for other purposes such as limited-time authorisations.
Skills are acquired in all disciplines, some of them common to most, such as academic writing, and others specific to particular ones. The following is a list of example skills that badges could be used to expose and ‘certify’, and how they might benefit students and staff:
- A nursing student is required to learn particular clinical skills, but on completion of the module the specifics skills learned become clouded by the grade for the assessments. With badges, it would be possible for the student to build a public profile that showcases the specific skills he acquired during the module.
- A mechanical engineering student needs to have undertaken general safety training and a specific training session prior to being able to use a particular piece of equipment, and needs a refresher every year. With badges, it becomes possible to check whether a student has completed the necessary training before allowing them on the equipment. The badges would automatically expire each year and so the badges would always be current.
- Two computing students are on the same programme. One takes elective modules in advanced programming and the other takes electives on systems analysis. On completion of their modules the students are awarded badges that highlight their chosen specialism.
- A student is elected president of one of the student union societies. On completion of her term of office she is awarded a badge to ‘certify’ this fact.
- A supervisor uses badges to help identify whether a particular student has the necessary skills to undertake a proposed final project.
One institution that has already implemented a badge-based recognition system is Purdue University in the US. There, students can earn badges and then produce profiles which show of different combinations of them, so that employers can see the ones that are relevant to them.
There is growing interest in the use of badges to recognise informal learning and skills acquisition, and this project should allow City to make an informed decision about whether they are right for us. So please add any comments you may have below.
Google Scholar is a service that I really like and find extremely useful, and for the last 12 months or so there has been a little used feature that allows anyone publishing research to get much more from it – Author Profiles.
Last week I was at the annual conference for the Association for Learning Technology (ALT-C) and, while I’ll write a more detailed summary of the event (including my two presentations) soon, there was a keynote by Natasa Milic-Frayling from Microsoft Research, Cambridge that showed a very interesting Open Source add-on to Excel that is worth having its own post.
Network graphs are a method of showing the links between things (a.k.a. Nodes), typically people or computers, which can be analysed to extract data about relationships between Nodes that may not be explicitly visible elsewhere. Earlier in the summer I posted about a tool that can automatically create network graphs from Moodle discussions, and at ALT-C we heard a keynote presentation about an Open Source template for Excel which can help automate the creation of network graphs, NodeXL.
By filling out the spreadsheet, it is possible to create many different types of network graph automatically, but the big selling point is that NodeXL supports automatically importing data from Social Networks, such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, which can then be graphed and analysed. This is could be a very useful tool for staff and students in Mathematics (the tool has been used to help teach students about graph theory) and for staff and students conducting research into online Social Networks. If you are interested in these topics then I would recommend taking a look at NodeXL (and the SNAPP tool from my earlier post).
OU Report highlights 10 areas of focus in the near future for Pedagogy in the online, digital world.
Innovating Pedagogy 2012 is the first in a series of reports written by staff from The Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology (IET) and the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology. The authors acknowledge inspiration from the future looking US Horizon Reports but suggest:
…those explore how innovations in technology might influence education; we examine how innovations in pedagogy might be enacted in an age of personal and networked technology
The 10 areas the report identifies are:
- New pedagogy for e-books
- Publisher-led short courses
- Assessment for learning
- Badges to accredit learning
- MOOCs: Massive open online courses
- Rebirth of academic publishing
- Seamless learning
- Learning analytics
- Personal inquiry learning
- Rhizomatic learning
On Monday (16/7/2012) the association of UK research funding bodies, Research Councils UK (RCUK), announced its new Open Access policy. Essentially the new policy mandates that publicly funded research must also make its results freely available to the public. There are a few options for this, including paying journals an upfront fee for open access, publishing in open access journals, and uploading a copy of the paper to an open institutional repository after a 6 month embargo period. This applies to articles published from 1 April 2013.
RCUK includes the EPSRC and BBSRC, so this will likely have impact on many researchers in our schools. More >
I’ve just finished giving my presentation at Ed-media 2012 in Denver, Colorado.
Despite the time of day, the extreme heat, and the wildfires raging nearby, there was a reasonably good turnout and at least one person wants to evaluate the tool further. So not a bad result!
Guest Post by Neil Stewart, the Digital Repository Manager here at City University Library, introducing City Research Online (CRO), City’s recently launched institutional repository for research.
Broadly speaking, CRO has two functions:
- To record all of City’s research outputs in all its forms, via a Current Research Information System (CRIS).
- To make as much of this research openly accessible as possible to anyone who wishes to access, read, build upon and cite it, via an open access repository.
The general principle behind the open access repository is that if you make your research openly available, more people will access and hence make use of it. This is borne out by the download statistics for the repository – we receive roughly 100 downloads a day from visitors from all over the world. For an example of a very heavily downloaded paper from authors in SEMS, see: Andriotis, A., Gavaises, M. & Arcoumanis, C. (2008). Vortex flow and cavitation in diesel injector nozzles.
The Centre for Mathematical Sciences has been enthusiastic in providing the open access repository with research papers- members of the Centre currently have 228 papers in the repository & the School of Informatics has 191. This compares to Engineering’s 33 papers- so Engineering have some catching up to do!
If you haven’t yet made your papers openly accessible, you can do so by emailing “author final” copies (final drafts, post-refereeing) to the City Research Online team at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also upload papers direct to the CRIS- for full instructions on how to do this, see our guide [Word doc].