Wednesday, 3 April 2013

#edcmooc & #aldcon: creative teaching, learning and assessment

For a long time we have been advocating creative approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. We have built active and creative learning strategies into our teaching – and share those with other members of staff as part of our CPD work in the University. The #edcmooc has been the final piece of the jigsaw showing how to really scaffold the production of teaching and learning resources or digital artefacts – and #aldcon was where we showcased the work.

Teaching, learning… and assessment
In practice, developing creative approaches has meant advocating the teaching of visual, key word notemaking and scaffolding reading for students in ways that foreground the active and interactive nature of reading and the ‘point’ of the task.

We teach drawing and writing as thinking and exploratory processes and encourage students to keep visually stimulating and useful learning journals. At every stage we  emphasise the ‘what, why and how’ of activities – for if people can understand these – they can decide for themselves what to do and how.

In the last few years we have been setting as an assessment the production of a teaching and learning resource as an alternative to a traditional essay – though we still offer the essay as an option for those who can express themselves well in this academic form. We like to set the artefact option for those who either do not particularly enjoy essays or who want to stretch themselves in other ways. We feel that at this moment the teaching and learning resource option allows for more creativity and originality.

The essay is a long-established academic assessment engine with a heavy load of expectations and assumptions. Whilst we know that students gain more marks when they successfully take risks – taking risks with form and style in the essay is generally a mistake! However, if we as staff can let go of some of our assumptions and expectations, we can allow students to take risks in the design of a resource – and this can stimulate their engagement and pleasure in an assignment.

The design of an artefact can involve more than regurgitating what students have learned – it can be a thoughtful condensation of what they see as the key aspects of a course or part of a course and a multimodal expression of how to get others to engage with the ideas.

Of course as the whole of teaching becomes more digitally literate this sort of work will be introduced in primary schools and the academy will colonise and corral it. However, at this moment and at this time – this has not yet happened. So this is an exciting time to be introducing this new form of assessment (and I am loving it).

#aldcon: A creative approach to producing empowered students
With colleagues Tom Burns and Chris O’Reilly, we brought this to the Association of Learning Development Conference, Plymouth, March 2013. In our presentation we explored our take on a creative approach to teaching, learning and assessment. This included a creative way for academic staff and learning technologists to work together in ways that allowed everybody to bring their whole person and all their expertise to the table – rather than, say, for the academics to assume all the pedagogic and curriculum expertise and to ‘use’ the ‘technologist’ to ‘only’ contribute the ‘e’ bit of the equation.

In our case, Tom Burns and I as Education and Learning Developers worked with Chris O’Reilly as the Information and Systems Services person as a Team. As resources get more and more constrained, it has never been more necessary to stress the real value of all the people in a University who contribute to the students’ learning experiences and to the richness of their learning journeys. We wanted people to see the complex nature of the work that we had undertaken together – and how this had happened over time – and that it worked both within and outwith the curriculum.

Picture 1: The Team: Sandra, Chris and Tom.

Over the last two years we have worked together to build resources, to shape new modules and to develop interactive workshops to support staff and students.

Specifically, we have:

* Built our ‘metaphor maker’, the AniMet Challenge – as an OER online resource designed to support students in the research and development of learning strategies and resources:

Picture 2: ‘Blind drawing’ of the AniMet Challenge website. NB: We use blind drawing to show that *everyone* really can draw something!

* Built and extended our Study Hub – our student-facing website that has resources and activities designed to stimulate student thinking about studying – and that this year we have started populating with student voices about approaches to study:
Picture 3: The Study Hub

* Produced our ‘New to Uni’ video to showcase student experiences of those first few weeks – and to link to the Study Hub. Scroll down to see video:

* Produced a 30-week, 30-credit first year module, Becoming an Educationalist’, that actively teaches creative and emancipatory practice, that uses this to seed real student research in to study strategies – and that supports students in the building of digital artefacts informed by their own research.

Picture 4: Becoming an Educationalist (blind drawing of my nephew – shh – don’t tell him – he looks nothing like this – but he is a student on that programme).

* Produced a complementary 15-week, 15-credit second year module: Peer Mentoring in Practice – whose students mentored the first year ‘Becoming’ students – and who received a shadow creative curriculum alongside their mentoring training such that they could reinforce creative practices if they chose with the first year students.

Picture 5: Peer Mentoring in Practice

* Encouraged those first and second year students to be videoed for the Study Hub – so that their voices were heard in the University and that they did start to feel that they were in partnership with us in this meaningful project. Check out ‘Studying at University:

* Developed Digital Artefacts workshops showcasing the ‘Creativity’ animation that Chris made and #edcmooc artefacts to reveal to students many different ways of producing their own artefacts.  Specifically, Chris made this:

And recommends this:

And now we’ve done these:

* The Artefacts workshops as well as building on Chris’ excellent work - are all supported by active reflection on – and using – the digital artefacts produced on the #edcmooc – and I really cannot think of a better way of preparing myself to support his new phase in my own teaching development. As I said in the blog post below (which also links to some really useful online resources with which to make digital artefacts):

The Conference Workshop
At the conference we discussed how we worked together – and what we think that we have achieved and why we did what we did… We pre-saged the final the activity by asking people at the beginning to make creative, visual, dialogic and heteroglossic notes upon the following:
What is creativity in teaching, learning and assessment?
What are the benefits of …
What are the potential risks…
What next?

Picture 6: #aldcon: workshop participants drawing their reflections.

For the activity, we asked people in their groups to use their visual notes and collectively draw their answers to any or all of the questions. We then filmed participants drawing their thoughts on the whiteboard – and recorded the participant’s commentary.

Picture 7: Drawing on the board – Chris filming – the story begins.

The film itself will be speeded up – and the voiceover put upon the final version. As I write this, Chris is still editing the films – and very soon we should be able to add them in the Comments below.

By jove – we’ve got it!
Hopefully everybody can see just how do-able is the making of a digital artefact. I hope it also demonstrates how at this moment if at no other, just how engaging and creative this process can be.

Picture 7: Connecting the pictures – telling a story

Picture 8: It all gets very dialogic and heteroglossic

Picture 9: Plusses and minuses of creative approaches

Here’s some #edcmooc stuff reprised 
Here is my artefact:
And a short one Andy made in GoAnimate of some of my text:

And here are some cool examples from my classmates:
With apologies to all the other brilliant ones out there that I have not seen – or that I did see and forgot to copy and paste here…
Two-minute video: Log In:
Angela’s Thinglink:
Fran Monaghan’s VoiceThread:
And June B’s blog plus vimeo artefact:  
And Ess Garland’s timeline: 
Theo Kuechel’s PinBoard:
The University Bog’s post and artefact:
Cathleen Nardi’s, Change your thoughts:
Amy’s Digital Life artefacts:

And finally…
If you have been engaged or intrigued or interested by any of these topics – please leave a comment with your contact details – or email us at London Met – and we are more than happy to discuss our work and share our resources with you – and even more delighted if you wish to discuss your approach and share your resources with us.

And do check out #aldcon for posts on the Conference – and the ALDinHE website – for the Conference resource will be available from there very soon.


e-purser said...

Bloody hell, brilliant :) absolutely love what you're doing and will be referencing it in current and upcoming publications! Definitely want to collaborate - no, co-operate - with you and share what's going on here in Oz, post edc mooc... well done you

Sandra Sinfield said...

Cheers Emily - me too! What, when, how? :-)

e-purser said...

well unfortunately probably not in your neck of the woods anytime soon (thanks for the invite, but can't visit the UK this year!)

but a googly hangout would be good I reckon... I have a very busy next few weeks, but after that am much more flexible so would love to plan one... meanwhile, I'll study your stuff in detail and chat about it here :)

Anonymous said...

I heard great things about this ALDinHE session - Wish I could have been at two sessions simultaneously, as I'm sorry I missed it! Thanks for blogging about it!

Sandra Sinfield said...

Here are the animations that Chris edited from the workshop:





I do hope you think that these have turned out very well...

Sandra Sinfield said...

Here are the animations that Chris edited from the workshop:





I do hope you think that these have turned out very well...