A collection of innovative and inspiring projects that have been going on at Cardiff University and presented at yesterdays conference.
Using video for Learning
A pilot project to capture lectures and make them available for students to revise from or catch up on if missed. The Echo 360 technology is installed in the lecture theatre. Lectures are scheduled in advance and then recorded as a combination of video (fixed camera of the lecturer), audio and presentation slides. After compression the lecture is made available as a stream, downloadable file or podcast.
This system is being used successfully at Newcastle and LSE, however, it is still only a pilot at Cardiff and investment will need to be made (technology and infrastructure) if this is to be expanded.
It was questioned if attendance of the lectures fall when recordings are made available. A participate reported that data is available to suggest that it does not. This links back to the familiar worries when Blackboard was first introduced and lecturers resisted adding presentations or lecture notes because the students would study those and not attend the lectures. Students will stop attending lectures if all the lecture material is available on Blackboard. It is therefore up to the lecturer to use Blackboard more creatively. Recording the lecture however does make available the entire experience. Again the lecturer must add more to the event itself to make it worth attending and the student must be aware of what they gain by attending. In later presentations there were a number of attempts to change the lecture format which feeds back into this debate.
Recent Developments in Dermatology eLearning
Sonia Maurer, Dr Maria Gonzalez, Nan Zhang MEDIC
This project has equipped the Dermatology department with video and presentation technology so that students can watch surgical procedures from a separate room to that of the operation. Previously very few students would be able to observe a surgical procedure at close quarters. With this technology the surgeon films the procedure and explains what is being done. This is relayed to another room where the students can observe and ask questions of the surgeon. These procedures are also recorded and are then available as revision resources.
The project has also been exploring video conferencing software for distant learning. They have trialled a number of applications and the most appropriate software at present is Elluminate, allowing text chat from participants and displaying of presentations.
Using Dimdim to overcome the barrier of distance for information literacy training
Lucy Collins INSRV
Dimdim is a free application that allows web conferencing. It was used to connect with students on a distance learning programme with the aim of improving their information literacy. It allows the tutor to speak to those connected, show the computer screen for web sites etc, presentations and text chat.
The sessions were limited to 10 students at a time, mainly because each student communicated to the tutor and class via the text chat and numbers above 10 would be difficult to manage.
Optimising Learning through Preparation
Blended Learning in the Medical Undergraduate Clinical Skills Laboratory
Brian Jenkins, Sian Williams MEDIC
This project needed to improve the teaching of skills in the clinical labs. They decided on Captivate to create learning objects as it could easily import PowerPoint slides without loosing the formatting and therefore not creating more work to re-purpose complete presentations.
The Captivate project is then exported as a Flash file for the students to access via BlackBoard.
Improving the effectiveness of face-to-face teaching
Stephen Rutherford BIOSI
The lecturer was using this project to explore how a lecture could be improved. Pedagogical thinking says that the standard lecture format is not the most effective way to teach.
SR’s idea was to prepare recorded files that explain the subject to be covered in the lecture. The students would be required to watch the preparatory material before the lecture. The format of the lecture would then be more of a discussion style to explore the subject further. This is obviously the same as asking the class to read a chapter before coming to the class. However, there is no way of knowing if the text has been read, and does not guarantee that it has been understood.
SR used Audacity to record a voice over and Camtasia Studio to edit together PowerPoint slides. The slides contained still images, animations and videos. The audio track could then be edited to remove mistakes etc. The complete presentation could then be exported to a Flash file and made available on Blackboard. Hosting the file via Blackboard than makes it possible to track who and when the file has been watched as well as scheduling its availability.
In some ways it seems that SR has simply made a e-lecture from what he would say and show during the original lecture time slot. Then uses the lecture time slot to challenge the expected level of knowledge.
By making these recorded presentations SR has also created a library of study aids which the students can revise from when required.
Calculations for Non-Medical Prescribing
George McWhirter SONMS
This project aimed to increase levels of success with mathematics. Previously the success rates had been low with little progress throughout a year. To address this issue tutorials were made available and more emphasis was put on students to use them to learn and revise. As a result the success rate has improved.
The tutorials were made within PowerPoint with a voice over to speak the words on the slide. As the calculations the students need to understand were quite complicated the slides needed to be presented in a logical and sequential manner. Colour was used to highlight particular values on a slide creating the effect of a visual map. The voice over provided a commentary and explanation of the equation. These tutorials could be used as revision or self test assessment.
This project highlights that simple everyday tools such as PowerPoint can be used to achieve similar results of complicated or costly software. The main point is that planning needs done beforehand to work out the aims, learning outcomes and format of learning before getting involved in software.
Simulations for Learning
Uncovering Chemical Secrets
Peter Hollamby CHEMY
I had seen a presentation by PH a few years ago, where he presented the same project. However then the learning object was a PowerPoint file. Today, he has used funding to hire a Flash developer and taken this project to a new level of professionalism.
This project takes university level Chemistry to the A-level classroom, in an attempt to enthuse the A-level student into taking up Chemistry at university. The learning objects that have been created in Flash starts off with a main menu screen and each lesson is a combination of text, still images, animation and video. Each screen has click-able links to more information and the student can take quizzes and self assessments to gauge their understanding.
Learning in 3D
Erica White SOHCS
A 3D projection system within a specially designed room. Students can either observe a 3D projection or interact with it on a stage area. The radiography system is displayed in 3D and as the students wear 3D glasses, they can see where and how the beam enters the body.
Problems have been found when wearing the glasses for a long time, such as dizziness and nausea, and so the sessions are mixed between the 3 and 2D environment.
Using 3D glasses to teach protein structure
Colin Berry BIOSI
CB uses free software to create 3D images from standard 2D images of complicated structures. The students are given cheap 3D glasses to observe in the lecture theatre.
Questioning, Assessment and Feedback
Engaging students through questioning
Dr Andrew Shore BIOSI
Used the TurningPoint audience response system to explore questioning within a lecture. the software can create reports and is used within existing software such as PowerPoint. The class can answer as individuals or can be split into teams, to incorporate teamwork or add a competitive edge to a lesson.
Uncertain answers can lead to further discussion, directional branching can allow the students to direct what they want to learn (within the lecturers constraints) and comparative slides can show how answers and opinions have changed over the course of the lesson.
QuestionMark Perception as a tool for formative e-assessment
Dr Peter Obee INSRV
Not available yet at Cardiff University but will be soon. Allows formative questioning, is not modular so questions can be pulled from a bank rather than be rewritten for similar modules, almost correct and misspelt answers can be designed into the assessment if needed.
Dr Rob Wilson MATHS
Previously RW gave his students paper based tests to assess understanding of mathematics. However, marking and feedback was slow.
With QuestionMark Perception marking and feedback is instant. Answers can be designed to be as detailed as necessary and comparisons can be made with tests done at a previous date.
Dr Tracey Wilkinson BIOSI
This is a formative way to assess students knowledge. In TW’s experience it improves student engagement and performance, it gives the teacher a tool to monitor and diagnose where more help might be needed and the students can get instant feedback.
The consequences of this system is that it takes time to set up and the instant feedback is limited. It therefore does not replace face-ta-face feedback.
Interesting aspects of the tool are the ‘matching question to answer’ and ‘drag and drop answer to question or area’.
Using Grademark to enhance the feedback experience
Dr Helen Pugsley MEDIC
Allows feedback to be added to students text within a web browser. Similar to inserting comments and tracking changes in Word.
Using PDA’s to support and enhance the clinical learning experience
Keren Williamson, Lynn Mundy SOHCS
This project attempt to use PDA’s to allow students to access all the study resources where ever they were. The PDA would store learning objects or access information via BlackBoard learning materials. Learning objects were constructed from text, moving images and voice overs within Microsoft Photostory.
The consequences of the project were that the learning object text was very small once viewed on the PDA and had to be redesigned to suit. The developer cost was very high and the students did not feel comfortable with a new device that they might loose or break.
The next steps for the project is to push information to student mobiles rather than PDA’s.
Naomi Dunstan JOMEC, Clare Davies DENTL, Barbara Evans BIOSI
A simple tool to send small amounts of information, text messages, to students mobile phones. Messages are usually relate to lecture cancellations or reminders. Could also be used for marketing and question/answer games.
Feedback from students has been good.
The funding for this runs out in July 2010 and further funding is not certain.
Students and Social Technologies
Social Engineering in a Technological Environment
Janet MacDonald PGMDE
This project aimed to use discussion posts within BlackBoard to encourage peer to peer learning for distance learners.
It found that there are different types of interaction from different types of students, such as those that actively interact, to those that lurk, looking at what has been said by others but not posting themselves.
If the reason for using the technology is on a sound basis then the discussion group process should still work but the tutor must be aware of the various styles of interaction and learning.
Integrating Web 2.0 Technologies with Blackboard
Dr Anne Marie Cunningham MEDIC
AMC attempted to use social networking tools to enhance self directed learning with 2nd year medical students.
Amongst the tools used were a discussion board on BlackBoard. This was not assessed and the amount of posts were minimal.
Bookmarks were to be shared from tutor to class via Delicious, however the names that the students registered with were mostly unrecognisable and so she did not know if she was sharing the bookmarks with her class or anyone else. Diigo was also used to share bookmarks with a bit more success.
SlideShare was used to mix PowerPoint slides with audio commentary.
Screencasts were created with Screenr to demonstrate how to do simple tasks . They were then posted to YouTube.
A Wiki was also available for the students to use. However the use was minimal possibly because there was no session on how or why they could use the wiki.
Mindmeister was used to allow students to create collaborative mind maps.
All this contributes to the possibilities of creating a PLE Personal Learning Environment.
Dr Sarah Williamson, Paul Wilby PGMDE
An adult elearning environment. SW’s experience of students learning with technology such as discussion posts or wiki’s is that you will usually get those that contribute and others that lurk and not contribute. However they all learn in their own way, by doing an activity or by reading about a subject.
Wiki’s and discussions boards were used on this module. Wiki’s were not used well by the group and the discussion board was used better.
The group used blogs with much more interest to reflect on their progress.