Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Microsoft Forms

I'm still trying to unpack the multitude of components of Office 365 and map them onto a vision of a loosely-joined VLE. Last week we figured out that OneNote Class Notebook (an administrative tool for OneNote) is an LMS add-in rather than a freestanding product. It's not clear whether the new Microsoft Forms is the same or not, but I'd certainly like to get my hands on it and kick the tyres.

Microsoft Forms - a new formative assessment and survey tool in Office 365 Education

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Student peer review

Peer review I'd love to add a peer-review layer to a module I teach in which student write research proposal - but with the salami slicing of module credits, who's got the time?

Student peer review: enhancing formative feedback with a rebuttal. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 13 Jun 2016 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2016.1194368
This study examines the use of peer review in an undergraduate ecology programme, in which students write a research proposal as a grant application, prior to carrying out the research project. Using a theoretical feedback model, we compared teacher and student peer reviews in a double blind exercise, and show how students responded to feedback given by each group. In addition, students wrote a rebuttal for every feedback point before re-drafting and submission. Despite students claiming they could tell if the reviewer was a teacher or student, this was not always the case, and both student and teacher feedback was accepted on merit. Analysis of feedback types and rebuttal actions showed similar patterns between students and teachers. Where teachers differed slightly was in the use of questions and giving direction. Interviews with students showed the rebuttal was a novel experience, because it required a consideration of each comment and justification as to why it was accepted, partially accepted or rejected. Being a reviewer helped students to learn about their own work, and it changed the way they understood the scientific literature. In addition, some students transferred their new peer review skills to help others outside of the ecology programme.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Unpacking a little more Microsoft Office 365 confusion

Office 365 Yesterday I wrote that I found Office 365 confusing. Digging around, I found this about some of the different options available:

  • Office 365 is a subscription service that includes the most recent version of Office, which currently is Office 2016. It comes with the applications like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, plus extra online storage and ongoing tech support.
  • Office 2016 is also sold as a one-time purchase, which means you pay a single, up-front cost to get Office applications for one computer.
  • Office Online is the free version of Office that you can use in your web browser. Try the Office Online apps.

It seems to me that any movement towards Office 365 as a VLE replacement is a group work requirement. Office 365 has groups:

On a related theme, I clearly need to get to grips with the OneNote Class Notebook, all the more so because MS has just announced that this is now available for Macs.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Microsoft Office Mix

Office Mix Microsoft Office Mix looks interesting, but after 5 minutes of scratching the surface, seems to have holes in it.

Doesn't currently work on Macs? (it's not even fully cross-browser compatible). It's not clear if it works with Office 2016 on OS X or not. That may have just killed it.

It's not clear what MS means by "polls". They seem to mean multiple-user input quizzes for online presentations (as in "Facebook poll"), rather than live event polls a la TurningPoint - but I may have got that wrong?

Welcome to the Future? Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNoteThe past 20 years of my interaction with educational technology is a story starting with radical experimentation with the Internet (not quite an Outlaw phase because nobody cared), then gradual codification into an institutional tool, another brief period of radical experimentation (Edupunk phase), and finally settling quietly into the bigbox institutionally-owned VLE because a) Facebook was just to difficult to scale and b) it worked, even if imperfectly. Now, for various reasons, that bigbox phase might be coming to an end and I'm starting to think about what I would like to replace it. (Not that what I would like means much.)

Do I want another bigbox (everything in one place, just "works", inevitable compromises and frustrations) or do I want a more agile collection of individual tools (inevitable compromises and frustrations of moving from one space to another)? The answer is I don't know. Just like the referendum, neither option is very palatable so which is the least worst?

There are institutions using Microsoft Office 365 as their VLE. We had an immediate need to get students to write project diaries, so rather than use older solutions we decided to experiment with Microsoft OneNote as a gentle toe in the water. What follows is very much first impressions after one week.

As an old skool Microsoft Office user, I currently find Office 365 confusing and threatening. Because namespaces (Word, Excel, OneNote) overlap in desktop/mobile cloud domains, I don't know where I am all the time, and more to the point, I don't know where my/student data is. Although the user interface is fine (if a little simplistic), other aspects of the system are real ugly. An example of this are system-generated URLs - which frequently contain the word Sharepoint (be afraid, be very afraid), whereas other URLs to the same classes of student-generated resources contain the words SkyDrive. Are these equivalent or not? Sharing is clunky - the price you pay for moving out of the bigbox - and notifications non-existent (so far, unless I've missed something), so resources start to look like silo destinations you have to track down and visit individually. Dashboard? What dashboard?

I hope these are just the ramblings of a tired academic at the end of a long hard year, and by the time Office 365 "clicks" with me I'll be happy to wander off into the sunlit uplands of the future. It's very important that everyone remembers that this contemporary reflection is intended to capture my current feelings so that I can assist others in future, and be able to look back on this and laugh at my naivety. Alternatively, it is possible that the future is a horrible as both sides in the referendum debate say that it will be.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The extent of students’ feedback use has a large impact on subsequent academic performance

... which you'd kinda hope it would! However, it's important to get empirical evidence that it does, and this well-conducted study proves that (only marred the the absence of Effect Sizes!). But since correlation does not equal causation, does feedback use improve academic performance, or is it just a proxy for engagement?

Are they using my feedback? The extent of students’ feedback use has a large impact on subsequent academic performance. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 19 May 2016 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2016.1174187
Feedback is known to have a large influence on student learning gains, and the emergence of online tools has greatly enhanced the opportunity for delivering timely, expressive, digital feedback and for investigating its learning impacts. However, to date there have been no large quantitative investigations of the feedback provided by large teams of markers, feedback use by large cohorts of students, nor its impact on students’ academic performance across successive assessment tasks. We have developed an innovative online system to collect large-scale data on digital feedback provision and use. Our markers (n = 38) used both audio and typed feedback modalities extensively, providing 388 ± 4 and 1126 ± 37 words per report for first- and second-year students, respectively. Furthermore, 92% of first year and 85% of second-year students accessed their feedback, with 58% accessing their feedback for over an hour. Lastly, the amount of time students spent interacting with feedback is significantly related to the rate of improvement in subsequent assessment tasks. This study challenges assertions that many students do not collect, or use, their feedback. More importantly, we offer novel insights into the relationships between feedback provision, feedback use and successful academic outcomes.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Heads of University Biosciences Annual Meeting

Heads of University Biosciences Annual Meeting
4-5 May 2016 College Court, University of Leicester
Special Interest Group of the Royal Society of Biology

Organised by Professor Jon Scott (University of Leicester) and Professor Judith Smith (University of Salford)


HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year: Finalist Case Studies
a) Dr Kevin Coward (University of Oxford) Problem based teaching the development of laboratory skills.
In a non-assessed activity, postgraduate students devise an experimental protocol based on a scenario which are then applied in the laboratory. Students take turns in acting as students and teachers. Links the syllabus to the "real world", both science and delivery of teaching.
b) Dr Lesley Morrell (University of Hull) Increasing feedback, reducing marking
In an undergraduate research skills module, staff explain their published papers to students in a seminar programme. Students write eight weekly 500 word "News and Views" summary articles on one of the published papers. Feedback is given weekly leading to feed-forward within a single module, together with a rubric-generated mark. To make the module sustainable, feedback is tapered as the module continues, anonymized feedback is made available to all students. Summative assessment is performed on two student selected articles from the course. There is statistical evidence of mark improvement during the course. Weaker students improve more than stronger students.
c) Dr Katharine Hubbard (University of Hull) Building partnerships with students WINNER
Students in practical classes suffer information overload. Levels of confidence vary considerably. Because the lab environment is stressful, student-produced pre-lab video tutorials and post-lab online revision quizzes were added. Students are involved at all stages - design, execution, evaluation and dissemination.

Dr Anna Zecharia (British Pharmacological Society) The Pharmacological Core Curriculum
The Delphi process used to build a consensus curriculum covering subject knowledge, research and practical skills, transferrable skills. Process is ongoing.

Session One Academic Integrity
Professor Jon Scott (University of Leicester) Introduction & Institutional Strategies
Spectrum from poor academic practice to cheating. Strategies range from deterrence through detection, education and assessment design.
Dr Phil Newton (Swansea University) Ghostwriting - Essay Mills
Essay mills now specialize in custom writing driven by an auction process. Average price for a standard essay starts from 100, turnaround time 1-5 days. Buyers market (Mechanical Turk). Claim to be providing model answers, if student submits the work provided they are committing the offence. Well established business run by many umbrella companies under many different names. Most important response is assessment design - increasing student numbers are a challenge.
Dr Irene Glendinning (Coventry University) European Perspectives on Academic Integrity
Findings of IPPHEAE Erasmus project, 27 EU countries, 5000 survey and interview responses. Wide variation in attitudes and responses across Europe, but very difficult to compare statistics. Inconsistent views on acceptable academic practice across Europe. "Academic Maturity Model" implies UK is doing better than most of EU due to emphasis on training.

Session Two - Designing out Plagiarism
Dr Erica Morris (Anglia Ruskin University) Designing out Plagiarism
Gill Rowell (Turnitin)
Dr Heather McQueen (University of Edinburgh) Plagiarism: The Student View
Session Three Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)
Professor Sean Ryan (Higher Education Academy-STEM) Achieving and demonstrating teaching excellence
Discussion Workshop - What does the TEF mean for us?
Unfortunately I was called away on departmental duties and was not able to attend this session.

Session Four Wider Outreach
Professor Andy Miah (University of Salford) The Pathway to Impact
Professor Miah talked about science communication.
Professor Adam Hart (University of Gloucestershire) Citizen Science
Awareness raising may be more important than the scientific output. Data generation is a bonus.