Thursday, May 14, 2015

Social media in education again already

Bluebottle I've just finished writing yet another invited review article on ... yawn ... social media in education. This paper could have been written 10 years ago. In fact, I think I did. Part of me wants to ask Why is this taking so long? 
And yet, the early days Internet analogy to the printing press answers that question. Wake me up when we've moved on.

Josefsson, P., Hrastinski, S., Pargman, D., & Pargman, T.C. (2015) The student, the private and the professional role: Students’ social media use. Education and Information Technologies, 1-12
Research has shown that students perceive a distinct divide between educational and private use of social media. The present study explores this divide by focusing on master students’ perception of roles when using social media in a higher education context. A qualitative method has been used, mainly comprising of analyses of home exams and interviews, which were conducted with students enrolled in the master’s course “Social media technologies”. Results support previous research stating that students perceived a distinct divide between educational and private use of social media, and furthermore provide a more detailed understanding of this divide. The results from the study also indicate that there is yet another type of use: social media as a tool for career-building purposes, or what is labeled as professional use. Implications of social media for use in higher education are described through the analysis of three roles as performed by the individual: the student role in educational settings, the professional role for career-building, and the private role.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dangerous words - critical perspectives on methodology in pedagogic research

Neoliberalism I'm off to give a workshop on pedagogic research this afternoon. Individual career trajectories aside, you might think that's a comparatively neutral activity. It turns out that "academics must develop a counter discourse to that of neoliberalism if higher education's wider societal responsibilities are to be served". This paper argues that:
"both the Structure of Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy and constructive alignment downplay the distinctive characteristics of different forms of knowledge. Learning conceived according to such a model can easily become co-opted into the production of employable subjects. Our analysis suggests that significant gaps remain in the basis for one of the most widely adopted perspectives on learning and teaching in use today."

Tin hat on then.

Critical perspectives on methodology in pedagogic research. (2015) Teaching in Higher Education 20 (4): 442-454. doi: 10.1080/13562517.2015.1023286
The emancipatory dimension to higher education represents one of the sector's most compelling characteristics, but it remains important to develop understanding of the sources of determination that shape practice. Drawing on critical realist perspectives, we explore generative mechanisms by which methodology in pedagogic research affects the sector's emancipatory potential. In this, we critique the research that led to the Structure of Learning Outcomes taxonomy. Our analysis here enables us to offer a revised version of the taxonomy that is sensitive to horizontal knowledge structures. We further consider a set of studies employing approaches to research that were sensitive to variation in knowledge across disciplines, social relations, reflexivity, corporate agency and other considerations, enabling us to illuminate the stratified basis for our explanatory critique. There is potential for our analysis to assist in developing approaches that are distinctive to research into higher education.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Teaching and communicating science in a digital age

Drosera capensis Teaching and communicating science in a digital age
This F1000Research channel brings together papers developed from presentations made at Teaching and Communicating Science in a Digital Age, a Society for Experimental Biology symposium involving Higher Education Professionals from across the globe to reflect upon the impact that digital technologies have and will have upon aspects of the communication of science:

  • Tweets from the forest: using Twitter to increase student engagement in an undergraduate field biology course: "Although students did not think they would use Twitter after the course was over, 77% of the students still felt it was a good learning tool, and 67% of students felt Twitter had a positive impact on how they engaged with course content."
  • Challenges and opportunities for early-career Teaching-Focussed academics in the biosciences: "We identify that there is a need for the learned societies to come together and pool their expertise in this area. The fragmented nature of the Teaching-Focussed academic community means that clear sources of national support are needed in order to best enable the next generation of bioscience educators to reach their full potential."
  • Digital collaborative learning: identifying what students value: "Here we present findings generated on PlantingScience, an online community where scientists from more than 14 scientific societies have mentored over 14,000 secondary school students as they design and think through their own team investigations on plant biology."
  • Interactive lectures: Clickers or personal devices? "We find that students prefer interactive lectures generally, but those that used their own device preferred those lectures over lectures using clickers. However, device users were more likely to report using their devices for other purposes (checking email, social media etc.) when they were available to answer polling questions."
  • Digital teaching tools and global learning communities: "We report on our ongoing efforts to develop a global learning community that encourages discussion and resource sharing."
  • Why do we bother? Exploring biologists' motivations to share the details of their teaching practice: "In this paper I explore the motivations of these individuals to disseminate the detail of their teaching practice. I reflect upon my own experience and my observations of the experiences of others and in doing so I explore common enablers/disablers to engagement with SoTL."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sustainable assessment revisited

Arse "Sustainability in education may be interpreted as a feature of educational systems. It is not just about sustainability of the physical environment, but also about the sustainability of educational practices, some of which may be too resource-intensive to survive in a constrained financial environment. That is, promoting teaching, learning and assessment practices that involve less face-to-face but perhaps more effective contact between teachers and students. However, such a view of education is too narrow and provision-centred. What is more important for the longer term is to look at the notion of sustainability from the perspective of learning. What educational practices are needed now in order to form and sustain learners who will be able to operate effectively in a complex society?
From such a viewpoint, sustainability becomes transformed into a question of whether educational provision equips learners effectively, not just for immediate educational requirements, such as what they need to be able to do in a course, but also for whether it prepares them for what might be required in the future whether that be in educational institutions or beyond. That is, in higher education do educational activities equip learners for the multiplicity of challenges they will face after graduation? From this perspective, the consumption of educational resources is judged in terms of their effect in producing students who go on to become self-managing persons who, in association with others, can draw on whatever they need to continue learning effectively beyond the end of the course and be able to make judgements about their own learning outcomes. Sustainable learning is thus a function of what students gain from education, not what inputs are put into the process.
This paper focuses on the particular role of assessment in sustainability debates within education. It considers what sustainable assessment means and what is involved in building such ideas into courses to support learning in the longer term. Teachers may well be teaching with the longer term in mind, but unless this work is actively supported through assessment practices, their good intentions can be inhibited. This paper positions sustainable assessment as a way of rethinking outcomes, curriculum and pedagogy away from a focus on disciplinary knowledge to what students can do in the world. It reviews literature that has taken up the idea of sustainable assessment and its implementation. While it is judged to be a successful intervention in thinking about assessment, it suggests that the implications of sustainable assessment have yet to be fully embraced. This paper considers where the emphasis for further development should be and what related ideas might also be considered. It concludes by identifying directions for embedding sustainable assessment in courses and it discusses some of the key issues to be considered, with a particular stress on the role of assessment design."

Sustainable assessment revisited. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 09 Mar 2015 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1018133
Sustainable assessment has been proposed as an idea that focused on the contribution of assessment to learning beyond the timescale of a given course. It was identified as an assessment that meets the needs of the present in terms of the demands of formative and summative assessment, but which also prepares students to meet their own future learning needs. This paper reviews the value of such a notion for assessment; how it has been taken up over the past 15 years in higher education and why it might still be needed. It identifies how it has been a successful intervention in assessment discourse. It explores what more is needed to locate assessment as an intervention to focus on learning for the longer term. It shows how sustainable assessment can help bridge the gap between assessment and learning, and link to ideas such as self-regulation, students’ making judgements about their own work and course-wide assessment.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gameplay Engagement and Learning in Game-Based Learning

Purple Earlier this week I listened to student presentations about the use of educational games, and very good they were too. But I'm a sceptic when it comes to games in education, believing that there's usually a better in answer. In spite of that, games won't go away, so this systematic review is about the best there is at telling you everything you need to know.

Gameplay Engagement and Learning in Game-Based Learning: A Systematic Review. Review of Educational Research March 25, 2015, doi: 10.3102/0034654315577210
In this review, we investigated game design features that promote engagement and learning in game-based learning (GBL) settings. The aim was to address the lack of empirical evidence on the impact of game design on learning outcomes, identify how the design of game-based activities may affect learning and engagement, and develop a set of general recommendations for GBL instructional design. The findings illustrate the impact of key gaming features in GBL at both cognitive and emotional levels. We also identified gaming trends and several key drivers of engagement created by the gaming features embedded within GBL, as well as external factors that may have influences on engagement and learning.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why do we bother?

Eclipsed I sense a change in the air surrounding SoTL, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. It would be nice to think that this is a post-REF shift, when we finally have time to focus on something more productive, but I don't think it is. I sensed the change during the later phases of the REF frenzy and it's been around for a while. Of course, the future is not evenly distributed, and it's never going to be - culture is local not global and Departments differ widely in their teaching quality.

Over the next couple of months I'm booked for a couple of runs of my PedR workshop. (I'm on trend as ever - bookings being taken, just contact my agent.) So this recent musing by Graham Scott is of interest as background to the current situation where SoTL is a box that must be ticked. It turns out the answer is quite simple - we do SoTL for the same reason as anyone does any research.

...I am not primarily interested in the mechanisms by which we disseminate our teaching practice – we illustrate symposium presentations using digital media, we disseminate through social media, we blog and we submit papers to online journals for example. Instead my primary focus is a desire to better understand our motivations to share our practice. In so doing I hope to gain some insight into our experiences as professionals who are often be viewed as being at the intersection of two areas of academic practice, teaching and research, and at the boundary that exists between disciplinary areas...

Scott G. Why do we bother? Exploring biologists' motivations to share the details of their teaching practice. F1000Research 2015, 4: 46. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.6129.1

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Want your science communication videos to be wildly popular on YouTube? Here's how.

YouTube I've had an on/off relationship with YouTube over the years. Effectively YouTube won and is the only game in town for videos (assuming you actually want people to watch what you produce). I'm currently on just over 1.6 million views with just under 700 subscribers, but I've never had the resources (mostly time) to devote to a dedicated push towards building a committed YouTube audience, preferring instead to focus my limited time on this (and other) blogs. Over the years I've thought about trying to figure out what would be required to achieve this, but apart from gut instinct, it's not easy to figure out. This is about the best analysis I've read of science communication on YouTube. It's not particularly good reading for science communication professionals, and certainly not for scientific publishers. Like me, they are clearly struggling with YouTube. Interestingly, the findings are a vindication of the Just Do It philosophy of the EduPunk days. Remember then?

Will Grant. (2015) Science communication on YouTube: Factors that affect channel and video popularity. Public Understanding of Science, 19 February 2015. doi: 10.1177/0963662515572068
YouTube has become one of the largest websites on the Internet. Among its many genres, both professional and amateur science communicators compete for audience attention. This article provides the first overview of science communication on YouTube and examines content factors that affect the popularity of science communication videos on the site. A content analysis of 390 videos from 39 YouTube channels was conducted. Although professionally generated content is superior in number, user-generated content was significantly more popular. Furthermore, videos that had consistent science communicators were more popular than those without a regular communicator. This study represents an important first step to understand content factors, which increases the channel and video popularity of science communication on YouTube.