what a richness of experiences or reflections on week 10 #lthesep12 @pgcap

[warning, first draft!]

This was such an exciting experience stretched over three days.  I  had the pleasure to work with academics from around the university as panel members and engage in such rich learning conversations with our current LTHESep12 students. It was truly fascinating.

LTHESep12 Professional Discussions, Day 1

our very first student making the very first Lego model to capture his learning journey on the module

1. How did I feel?

Felt really excited on all three days and was and still am really proud with what the vast majority of my students are taking away from this module. How they have grown in confidence and have become deeply reflective. Many mentioned how their practices are now transforming and I could see shift in thinking and behaviours on their Lego models and the conversations we had with them. In some occasstions students were nervous and this is always surprising me but then again how would I feel if I were in their shoes? Some said that it felt like a viva and very formal but I think that was before and while the webinar we did last week helped, I could still feel and see the nervousness. The Lego models did seem to help students to calm down and focus their thinking during the discussions and this confirms our findings so far on the Lego project with Craig.

LTHESep12 Day 2 Professional Discussions

sample Lego model from #LTHESep12 this reveals so much about Sian’s journey

Most of the stories were truly rich and authentic. We listened with interest to all stories and so many wanted to share so much with us that we felt guilty of interrupting as we only had a limited time with each student. But I do have to say that there was enough time to really find out how and to what degree the student did engage with the module, the intended learning outcomes, the UK PSF and how their reflection developed over the last 10 weeks. It soon became clear also that many of my students took so much more than what we expected from the module and this puts a massive smile on my face and I am sure many noticed that during the discussions 😉

LTHESep12 Professional Discussions, Day 1

our Linda showcasing work she is doing with some of her students. Experimenting with more creative approached to make her students think, engage and learn

I also felt fortunate that so many academics, Dr Tim Marangon, Dr Leslie Robinson, Prof. Paul Haywood, Angela Hook and Dr Martyn Clark made the time to be with me on the Professional Discussion Panels and felt re-assured that our judgement would be fair and objective. It was also a good opportunity for our external panel members to find out more about the PGCAP and our students, which I think was really useful for them.

2. What have I learnt?

I am so pleased that I changed the format of the Professional Discussions slightly. Up to now, these were all organised on the same day and I never had the opportunity to be on all panels before. This did present a challenge linked to assessment as the purpose of the discussion is to be able to create a richer picture of the student by somebody they know and somebody they don’t know and identify if they come to the same conclusions for assessment purposes so that assessment is fair, transparent and objective but also a process and a result of dialogue and negotiation between the panel members.

The Lego station worked really well and I have learnt that my learners are definitely self-directed and self-organised but also can follow instructions well and support each other. And they are a very creative bunch of individuals too who also love to have some fun!!! They had fun making their models and had conversations before and after their Professional Discussions. I think some of them were surprised that they could talk to each other and chat in advance of their Discussions. Would be interesting to find out why this was the case…

LTHESep12 Day 2 Professional Discussions

my happy creative students, this was our Lego station 😉

3. What would I do differently?

The room booking didn’t work and while I thought I had booked these at the beginning of the semester, I had a problem with one of the rooms on Day 1. This added to me feeling “a bit” stressed as I wanted everything to work smoothly so that we could all be more relaxed, including the external panel member and my students as well. I think I need to find a different location for the Professional Discussions and am now thinking of meeting rooms available in Student House. I have used them before and I think they are a more creative and bright and colourful environment and more suitable than the rooms I did use this time and up to now. The plan is to check if I could book these as soon as possible for semester 2.

LTHESep12 Professional Discussions, Day 1

Day 1 with Dr Tim Marangon, the room that saved the Professional Discussions, Tim studying students’ portfolios

The technology was a challenge this time and I think next time, I would use a laptop instead of the classroom-technology which didn’t work and delayed entering feedback. On one day we had to provide verbal feedback as the system was so slow that we had to abandom the idea quickly to save time. At least the students didn’t have to wait for it. Feedback was then added in the evening on the same day.

On day 3 also, I had prepared word documents as a template for the assessment feedback for the Professional Discussions and this was useful. The Google doc and copying and pasting to construct the feedback added to the complexity and it is something I want to change. Yes, keep the Google doc for panel members and students in preparation for the Professional Discussions but for providing feedback I am thinking of two options

  • a. continue using the Word document and then just copy and paste into the portfolio or
  • b. create a sample comment in advance of the professional discussions which would include the template and be unapproved as a comment already so that the feedback process is smoother

At the moment I think option B would work better and while it does involve some additional preparation from my side it is a process worth trialling next time. o I think I will go with this option.

A big thank you to my colleagues from around the university and my students for such rich learning opportunities and experiences this week.

This is it. Probably my last reflection for this semester linked purely to the LTHESep12 module but I am sure that I will share other bits and pieces until submission in January. Despite the difficulties we had at the beginning when for the very first time colleagues external to the instiution joined, we managed to come together as a cohort. I loved how my students learnt together and started creating closer professional relationships. The next weeks they will be working even closer with their feedback buddy and it will be interesting to observe how this will go.

All models and photographs from the Professional Discussions are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgcap/sets/72157632104255891/with/8228168204/

Key points for me to remember for next semester:

  • action learning sets and troubleshooting. Must refine my approach. Also investigate this further in the context of this module and start putting case study together with Sian, Liz and Will around our wikipedia task for book chapter
  • must decide on new location for the game, perhaps Bury Market? All day event! Or Media-City, then we could do the show-and-tell in the University Building. Now that the wheel is  not there anymore, it just isn’t the same and I actually feel that we now need a change! If you have any other locations in mind, please let me know.
  • Think Lab session: MUST find another way to get students involved
  • Contact our VC as soon as possible to identify how he can contribute to the programme as he has expressed interest
  • Contact PVC (Academic) to organise a session with him as well, and perhaps this could be the ThinkLab session with students but also an external speaker
  • External student to share experiences > Thinklab
  • Learning theories task: To refine approach but use the same model. Pick different learning theories > use same wiki, an opportunity to extend resources
  • Professional discussions: room bookings and panel members
  • Must start writing up my findings about the Professional Discussions (have data from 3 cohorts now) but also need to ask students.
  • Update portfolio creation guidelines, must include Flickr and Twitter widget so that everybody gets access to Twitter even if they don’t have an account!
  • Create clips about students experiences this semester focus on the Game, Professional Discussions, Portfolios, Use of Lego etc.
  • Must continue writing that paper with Craig about the use of Lego in our Professional Discussions.
  • There are issues with staff not getting enough time to even participate in all sessions. We as a Programme Team, I think need to contact all line managers and make sure that staff do get the time they need.
  • Need help with the observations as I did struggle to visit all classrooms. My colleague Cheryl offered to help and I am grateful for that!
  • Finish and submit the ethical approval form for PGCAP programme asap!

All I can remember at the moment…

Group feedback will be added to all portfolios in week 11. Looking forward to final submissions on the 8th of January. Well done to everybody so far!!!

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where is everybody or reflections on week 9 #lthesep12 @pgcap

This was a fully online week with an online asynchronous discussion, an online prep tutorial for the Professional Discussions and a webinar with Prof. Huw Morris on Tuesday evening. Our weekly theme was evaluating teaching in HE and we had a rich conversation during the webinar. But what about the online asynchronous discussion of this week? Not a single response there! I also noticed that while this week was online, on Tuesday morning, I noticed that most of my students started collecting out of my office. You will find out below why 😉

1. How did I feel?

First of all proud! Really proud of my students when I found out that they met on Tuesday morning to discuss the Professional Discussions and prepare together after Monday evening’s webinar. I wanted to give them all a big hug when I saw them. They stayed together approx. 3 hours and were deeply involved in conversations when I visited the classroom just briefly. I didn’t want to interfere and could see that they were happy with the progress they were making and the support they were giving to and receiving from peers.

week 9 getting ready for the Prof. Discussions

my students taking responsiblity of their learning, peer learning in action. This session has nothing to do with me!

But also a bit disappointed that the online discussions in Blackboard are generally under-used and some students have actually never contributed to these! Are they lurking? Do some feel uncomfortable to add their voice? Just wondering! Are people too busy? Do I ask for too much? Reflecting in the portfolio plus participating in online discussions? Is it because these spaces are disconnected? I have trialled the use of Voicethread with a previous cohort and perhaps this is something I should give more thought for the next cohort. Also looking into other possibilities at the moment.

2. What did I learn?

Learning online can be focused and effective. The webinar organised in preparation for the Professional Discussions next week was, I think, a good example. Despite the fact that I do miss the visual communication part. Seeing my students’ faces is important to me. We managed to connect visually with some and it made a difference especially in our first webinar this week, which was a tutorial. Perhaps, we could use Google Hangout next time so that we can all see each other as this platform enables up 15 individuals to connect visually.

at the beginning: how do you feel about the professional discussion?

capturing feelings about the Prof. Discussions at he beginning of the webinar

end: how do you feel about the professional discussion now?

Revisiting initial feelings and crossing out what is no longer applicable. We made huge progress! Really pleased.

I think the “How do you feel” activity was really useful and perhaps it is something that we could do more in our classes to track achievement and learning? It can be easily done in online and face-to-face settings and I think if it is a shared activity it is even more valuable because we can see that we are not alone and others feel similar to us. This is especially important if we have negative and/or uncomfortable feelings about something related to the session or the theme under exploration. Sharing our feelings with others in a group will help us see that we might not be that unique and others have similar feelings or fears. Together we can overcome these through opening up and sharing, supporting each other but also the tutor gains a valuable insight into students’ thinking and feeling and help him/her to tailor the learning opportunity or session so that negativities can be overcome together. This is what happened in our case. Revisiting initial feelings was so important and closed the cycle. We did get rid of anxiety, at least most of it and students felt more able and prepared for the Professional Discussions next week.

Just minutes before our second webinar this week with Prof. Huw Morris and while Huw was having problems connecting to the internet, Carol Yeager told me about the new Blackboard Collaborate (BC) app. This is so amazing. Finally we will be able to use BC on-the-go! And my colleague from Sweden downloaded it immediately and trialled it during our webinar. It worked! Yeh, this is exciting! No excuse anymore to miss a webinar, unless you don’t have a smartphone. Increasingly we rely on students using their own devices but what if they don’t have access to any? Could or should institutions look into providing these in some way? Maybe as part of the fee package? This is not a new idea and I know that it happens at other institutions. What about ours? And what about staff? Would there be value to make this happen here as well?

3. What would I do differently?

I think the preparation for the Professional Discussion would have worked even better if we had an ex LTHE student with us. Next semester, I need to try harder to find somebody who has gone through and share his/her experience with the cohort. In a way, the video clips we have on YouTube have that purpose but at this moment in time, I am not sure how many have watched these and if they were useful. This is something else I need to improve: the use of the video resources we have linked to the Professional Discussions and other themes we have prepared and are there as self-study resources. Maybe the problem also is that there are there and not brought in enough to what we do in class? Very possible.

During the second webinar with Prof. Huw Morris, which was interactive and enabled everybody to have a conversation with Huw and with peers around Evaluating Teaching in HE, I could have given my colleague from Sweden more time to talk. And while I have become more confortable moderating webinars and started enjoying them more as I feel more relaxed, I still find it hard to follow the chat box while everything else is going on at the same time. They say women multitask better than men… but can we really pay full attention to more than one thing at the time? So something I need to do is develop a strategy for monitoring the chat box more effectively. I was thinking to nominate one or two students who would help me with this and I think I will try this next time around. It is important to keep track of questions and observations and bring them into the conversation. I guess, that is why I am using more the BC whiteboard, as all responses can be kept on one screen which makes it easier to identify links and summarise. Am I more of a visual person? I am, but what does everybody else think about the chat box and how it was used? What about the whiteboard? We could give the chatbox a specific function and the whiteboard another one? Please comment if you participated in this webinar.

The online discussions in Blackboard are not used properly. So, I am thinking to review my discussion approach and go back to using Voicethread again in the next semester. Voicethreads could then be easily integrated into the portfolios as well, keeping all conversations together in one place. Instead of copying and pasting stuff from one platform to the other. As I write about this now, it sounds like a good idea. Must think a bit further about this and consider the details and then trial it. Students could be encouraged to embed the Voicethreads to their reflective journal and form part of the assessment. Would this work perhaps? While the online discussions in Blackboard are aligned to the assessment, I guess, there is an opportunity to make the link to assessment clearer and linking online spaces to evidence engagement and learning, as well as assessment as learning might be the way forward and encourage more students to actively participate in the conversations. The other bonus would be that the conversations could be media rich which worked really well when I tried Voicethread before.

Week 9 is coming to an end. The Professional Discussions start on Monday. Looking forward to seeing everybody again and engaging in reflective conversations with peers about their learning on this module. New this time is that I will be on all panels with an academic. This is why we had to stretch them over 3 days but feedback from students and my own observations suggest that this might be a better approach as the idea is that one panel member knows the student and the other one doesn’t. I am giving this a go and we will see what happens! We are using Lego again to invite students to capture their learning journeys as this worked really well last time around and made students feel more relaxed too. A case study written with Craig Despard is in preparation about the use of Lego in our Professional Discussions and there is now an opportunity openning up to further explore and investigate the use of Lego in Teaching and Learning with colleagues from other institutions (this is all very exciting!!!). New: Lego certificates for makers 😉

Getting ready

Will you get one too?

We can’t wait to hear your stories 😉