Monday, 16 November 2015

The EMA Nightmare at #M25LTG

Last Wednesday the M25 Learning Technology Group met at UCL for an afternoon of presentations and interactive sessions on the theme of 'Dreams and Nightmares'. While some presentations were really quite dreamy, Sarah Sherman and I decided we could present some of our ongoing work on assessment and feedback in Bloomsbury, specifically considering issues with electronic management of assessment. The slides below give a flavour of our presentation.

Storified tweets of the event below, courtesy of Vicki Dale.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

ELESIG London: Come Evaluate With Me! 11 November 2015, UCL

The second meeting of ELESIG London took place at UCL yesterday. Mira Vogel and I facilitated an interactive morning considering the nature of evaluation, why do it, and how it can be done. Our aim was for participants to move forward with their own evaluation plans, as well as hear about some interesting work, so plenty of time for discussion and networking was built into the schedule. The room was (as hoped) a hive of activity as participants discussed their own evaluation plans and gave each other suggestions. We also welcomed some special guest stars, with a couple of great presentations from Tunde Varga-Atkins from the University of Liverpool (unfortunately only via Skype, rather than in person, but it worked well), who discussed the use of nominal focus group technique, and Professor Amanda Jefferies from the University of Hertfordshire, explaining how to get the best results from learner video diaries. It was also great to have London-escapee Vicki Dale down from Glasgow for the meeting.

All in all I think it was an informative and enjoyable meeting, and has taken us a step further towards a local (but extended), networked, community of practice in learner experience research. Many thanks again to Tunde and Amanda for presenting and everyone who attended for participating.

Links for presentation slides:

A Storify of the tweets from the event should display below.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Farewell to the things I never wrote - ambition is good, but realistic goals are better (some thoughts for #acwrimo)

It's already been a week since I realised that November is #AcWriMo (academic writing month) and read some excellent pieces of reflection, advice and encouragement such as the writing is never done – a post for #acwrimo from Pat Thomson and Why I changed my mind about #acwrimo from Inger Mewburn, and lots of other great stuff on Twitter via the hashtag

And so, I thought (as I often do), I should write something about this. And then I didn't, because to be honest, I was writing too many other things. In fact what I have been discovering lately is that having finished one quite major writing (and editing) project (an independently published, open access book I've edited with Javiera Atenas), I now want to encourage people to discover and read it, and that means writing more about it. And that made me reflect on another idea for a piece of reflective writing I never wrote, which was about how I have really, really intended to get a lot better about posting on this blog more frequently (are you noticing a theme developing here?).

The problem is not a lack of things to write about. I have ideas, sometimes even paragraphs. But that's where I get stuck; when I have got somewhere that is already too long for a tweet, but not long enough to be an adequate blog post, or so I feel anyway. Maybe I should be more relaxed about these short posts and think of them as more akin to a workshop, rather than a lecture, where the purpose is to generate or engage in conversation, rather than deliver an argument. And I should also give myself permission to say farewell to the things I never wrote, and enjoy completing things a bit more. 

What I really want to do though, and this #acwrimo phenomenon has definitely made me think about this, is set realistic, achievable goals, rather than just have an ever increasing list of stuff I need to get done 'now'. Yes I realise I was supposed to start the month by doing that. But it's harder than it sounds. I am going to get on to that straight away. Well, after the next thing I need to get written and sent off urgently.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Turnitin User Group meeting, London, October 2015

I recenty attended the 2015 Turnitin User Group meeting, with the same idea as many in the audience, it seems, of finding out how things are moving along in relation to some long-promised developments, and some further information regarding the mysterious forthcoming iteration of the platform, codenamed Turnitin Next.  

The ‘backchannel’ of the conference on Twitter tended to reveal the frustration of the user community with the slow progress Turnitin are making on many of the more UK specific requests, such as non-numeric grading scales and multiple marking layers that would support combinations such as double blind marking. 

The UK HE community is putting a lot of effort and faith into the Jisc EMA project, and we are really hoping Turnitin as our key supplier in this space is watching closely and engaging. Worryingly this wasn't mentioned during the many presentations from Turnitin staff. We were advised that they have been extensively reorganised in both staffing and in their move from ‘waterfall’ to ‘agile scrum’ development, which should help them to clear their ‘technical debt’ (it was a bit like being at a party conference). As they remain the only company with a product that covers submission, originality and marking, they continue to be the default option for the sector. But I must say that the sense that markets such as the UK are not seen as high priority was not dispelled at this event.

There is a good capture of main points discussed at the meeting in this blog post from Dewi Parry Cardiff Uni TEL team.

Tweets from the event Storified below.