academic developer competences digital literacy Digital transformation (Dx)

Ed tech must reads: column #39

First published in Campus Morning Mail, 21st June 2022

Digital transformation is human transformation from Greg Satell (Medium)

It’s nice to read an article about digital transformation that doesn’t include phrases like ‘in this time of unprecedented change’. Of course, that is because this is a pre-COVID article and it isn’t specifically focused on education but it makes some important points. Referencing research that indicated that fewer than a third of digital transformation projects succeed, the author makes a strong case that this is frequently because the leaders of the change focus more on the technology than the ultimate outcomes. In the case of education institutions, this is, of course, ideally about better learning and teaching. Satell reminds us that we need to focus on the most important part of the system – the people.

A systematic review of teacher roles and competences for teaching synchronously online through videoconferencing technology from Education Research Review

This pre-proof article echoes the Satell piece by diving into the varied skills that educators need for online synchronous teaching, via a review of 30 previous studies. Grammans et al. refine a framework developed by Baran et al. (2011) that describes six key roles for educators teaching online: pedagogical, facilitator, instructional designer, social, managerial and technical. In this roles they identify 24 competency clusters that should be considered by institutional learning and teaching units in ensuring that adequate training and support is provided.    

Leadership in Learning Development from International Consortium of Academic Language and Learning Developers blog

Something that people working in institutional learning and teaching units often wonder about is how to have meaningful influence on organisational strategies. Many learning designers, education technologists and academic developers bring significant experience and expertise to the table but for a host of reasons work more reactively than proactively. This post from two learning developers – Carina Buckley and Kate Coulson – outlines some of their approaches to making a contribution from the Higher Ed ‘third space’.

Use of live chat in higher education to support self-regulated help seeking behaviours: a comparison of online and blended learner perspectives from International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education

Two of the most significant issues reported by online learners are isolation and not knowing how to find help. This study from Broadbent and Lodge explores the attitudes of both online and blended students to chat tools as ways for them to communicate 1-1 with their lecturers. It finds this to be an effective tool for facilitating help-seeking behaviour but does note that teacher attitudes and potential workload issues need further consideration.

PhD theory thesis

Research update #63: Where to put theory in the thesis

Spreadsheet describing name, key points and structure of doctoral theses

Hi everyone with an interest in Research – I’ve spent a few days poring over theses related to edvisor themes trying to work out how people talk about theory (and methods) and where they actually put this stuff in the structure. So I figured that I’d share what I found in the attached spreadsheet.

There are more than a few theses from the US – I guess just by virtue of population – and my notes may be scratchy (ID is instructional designers, by the by) but maybe there is something of value for people in this community in there. (I highlighted in blue the ones that I thought might be most useful in my research but you may have other interests)

In brief – mostly people (in my sample and my area of interest) put information about theory in the introduction chapter and they may expand on that a little in the subsequent lit review. Very few people at all have a separate theory chapter – though if some people are very theory focused or developing their own they might. A few people also checked back in on theory in the discussion section – sense checking their findings against what the theory suggests.

As I worked through these 40+ theses, I wished that I had done this many years ago but I also suspect that, at the time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and it might have been a little overwhelming. (Also I feel that there were fewer options in my specific area of research interest, which seems to have exploded in recent years)

academic integrity CAULLT ed tech implementation

Ed tech must reads: Column #39

First published in Campus Morning Mail 14th June 2022

Programme design and delivery through the lens of academic integrity from Quality & Qualifications Ireland

Kane Murdoch is the manager of the Conduct and Integrity Unit at UNSW and is responsible for investigations into student academic misconduct. This 18 min presentation to Quality & Qualifications Ireland encapsulates some of his experiences in the vexed space of student cheating and offers some surprising insights into what is needed in addressing this sometimes vexing issue. He questions whether the problem actually lies with students or with course and assessment design and offers some radical ideas for change.

11 digital whiteboarding apps from Lennart Nacke

Group brainstorming activities have long featured butcher’s paper and post-it notes but this is clearly less practical in online classes. This handy thread on Twitter from @acagamic steps through the basics and offers some simple comparison of functionality and features in 11 whiteboarding apps including Mural, Miro and Padlet.

Faculty perception of quality assurance in online courses (Thesis) from Theresa Mayper (Paywall)

While educators have been using online platforms to both support or entirely house their courses for some years now, the application of standards to ensure quality is often inconsistent or non-existent. Quality Matters from the US and, at a smaller scale, ASCILITE’s emerging TELAS scheme in Australia, offer frameworks to support this evaluation process but there has been little research on their impact on design. This doctoral thesis from Lamar University explores the perceptions of 12 academics in using the QM process as part of their course development. It’s dense but worthy.

Webinar Friday 17/6 12pm AEST – Leadership Perspectives: Mainstreaming Education Technology Research and Scaling Innovation from CAULLT

As one of the pioneers of MOOCs (among other things), George Siemens is one of the giants of research in technology in education. This webinar from the Council of Australian University Leaders of Learning and Teaching showcases Siemens and UniSA’s Shane Dawson in what should be a fascinating discussion of the contribution that university learning and teaching units could and should be making in the practical education technology research space and the vital work they do to mainstream innovation in their institutions.

NFTs explained in 25 seconds. While the NFT / Cryptocurrency buzz may be fading, many of us still struggle to understand what the point of non-fungible tokens is, how they work and why they are useful. This 25 second clip taken from the tv show Patriot offers the clearest explanation that I have heard yet.

AI AR/VR/XR Metaverse Twine

Ed tech must reads: Column #38

First published in Campus Morning Mail 7th June 2022

Is information power? Exploring the potential of data and analytics for student representatives from International Journal for Students as Partners

The Students as Partners movement seeks to engage learners in meaningful ways as co-creators of their learning experience. Academics like Kelly Matthews and Mollie Dollinger (among others) have worked tirelessly in support of these more equitable approaches. This paper from Rates and Gašević makes a strong case that giving student representatives in this process access to the rapidly expanding pool of learning analytic data in universities offers great opportunities for even more meaningful contributions.  

The problematic metaphor of the environment in online learning from Jon Dron

The upcoming paper stood out because it relates directly to a piece of work that I am currently engaged in. How exactly do we conceptualise the entangled network of technologies, systems and processes that sit behind learning and teaching to best understand it? The environment or ecosystem metaphor (Ellis & Goodyear, 2019) has been popular but Dron argues here that this way of thinking may lead to simply replicating the problems of the physical world in the online. I don’t necessarily agree but it is a thoughtful piece.

Understanding Group Behavior in Virtual Reality: A Large-Scale, Longitudinal Study in the Metaverse from 72nd International Communication Association Conference

This paper from ICAC (not that ICAC) explores some of the practical aspects of teaching in Virtual Reality environments over a period of time in terms of presence and engagement. Interestingly, providing learners with the ability to customise their avatars increased their sense of self-presence in the space but decreased their enjoyment.

Having fun with Twine from Laura Gibbs

Twine is a delightful open-source tool for creating branching stories – think Choose your own adventure books. This slide deck from Laura Gibbs provides a basic overview of the tool and then a rich set of exemplars of creative ways that Twine has been used to create interactive fiction.

All these images were generated by Google’s latest text-to-image AI from The Verge

The AI-based text-to-image goldrush continues as Google plants its stake in the ground. They have announced (but not yet made available) their tool for creating images from simple text prompts called Imagen. Clearly, they have cherry-picked the most outstanding results but this quirky selection shared in The Verge sends a clear message that the days of believing what we can see are long behind us.

AR/VR/XR mooc video

Ed tech must reads: Column #37

First published in Campus Morning Mail 31st May 2022

2021 to 2022: The Decade of the MOOC from Journal of Interactive Media in Education

Remember when MOOCs were going to be the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs of Higher Education? As with most predictions about the future of learning and teaching, that wasn’t the case but MOOCs have found an important niche in the ecosystem nonetheless. This review article from JIME looks over 25 MOOC related articles published in the journal, finding four key themes: situating MOOCs; learning design and roles; MOOCs and languages; and accessibility and inclusion. It’s an enlightening read.

What role will MOOC platforms play in UK universities online futures? From Neil Mosley

Having looked backwards, this post from Neil Mosley offers some valuable insights into the plausible future of the use of MOOCs in British Higher Ed in terms of university partnerships with key external providers as they gradually reposition their commercial purpose. Some of the big picture ideas that Mosley addresses include how the use of MOOCs might be used to further teaching and research agendas and how universities might expand access to lifelong learning.

The fine art of teaching with a ‘Light Board’ from Video Teaching

A major challenge in filming teachers teaching has long been the question of how to capture them writing on the board as they explain and work through concepts. Clearly, a recording in which someone has their back to the camera half the time is far from ideal and options like writing on a tablet can require messing around with multiple inputs that take the educator out of the moment. Lightboards put the lecturer on the other side of a ‘glass’ whiteboard, letting them write normally (the video is reversed) as they speak directly to the camera. This post offers some handy tips.

Combining Augmented Reality with Peer Learning Pedagogy: iPEAR Theoretical Framework from AACE Review

Much has been made of the potential of Augmented Reality (AR) in Higher Education, the use of mobile devices to add graphical overlays on reality to add meaning and context. There has been far less discussion of the pedagogical approaches needed to support it. This ambitious post in the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education explores some possible options for integrating AR technologies with peer learning

Webinar – Wednesday 1st June, 5pm (AEST) – Student perspectives on Audio Feedback from the ASCILITE Transforming Assessment SIG Feedback is widely recognised as one of the most important parts of learning yet often one of the most overlooked. There is a growing body of work around new ways to provide students with meaning, personalised feedback that will enhance their engagement in the process. This webinar on Wednesday features two presenters discussing their work in using audio feedback. While the results are mixed, there are some useful lessons to take away.

AI ed tech

Ed tech must reads: Column #36

First published in Campus Morning Mail 24th May 2022

Why is my lecturer a robot now? Using AI-assisted technology to teach from Teaching@Sydney

Some of my recent must reads about the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education might have painted a picture of a looming academic integrity quagmire. There is a far brighter side though to be seen in this post from Anna Boucher, a politics lecturer at USyd. AI-assisted voice technology is helping to mitigate a voice disability that makes it painful for her to speak for prolonged periods. The possibilities for greater equity for both staff and students are exciting.

So you want to create an online class independent of a school from Bryan Alexander

There can be any number of reasons to want to create opportunities for online learning away from organisational systems. Ed tech futurist Bryan Alexander recently posed the question of how to DIY this and this post summarises the wide range of suggestions that he received from the community.

The market fall of EdTech will have non-financial impacts from Phil on EdTech

Noam Chomsky once said that the best way to understand the world was to read the business pages. This post from Phil On EdTech describes the notable downward trend in many EdTech companies over the last year. I’m far from a financial analyst but I would have to wonder whether there was an artificial spike in valuations during the pandemic when online learning was everywhere. What we need to think about is what impact potential sell-offs and mergers of the companies behind the tools we use might have.

Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation from Western University Canada

The diversity of education technologies in the market and wild claims that some vendors make can make it challenging to know which tools to adopt in your institution. There are many factors to be considered in an evaluation process and this guide from Western University offers some straightforward ways to consider some of the most significant from a learning and teaching perspective. It doesn’t cover everything that your IT dept will need but it makes a strong start.

Preparing proposals for ASCILITE 2022 – Webinar Thursday 26/5 The call for papers for ASCILITE 2022 has been made and all around Australasia people with an interest in Technology Enhanced Learning are starting to consider what to work on. This webinar from ASCILITE’s TELedvisors Network brings together conference organisers and the authors of the best paper award winner last year to offer some insights and inspiration. There will also be time for people to discuss ideas and find collaborators.

academic integrity digital equity Education Technologist Uncategorized

Ed tech must reads: Column #35

First published in Campus Morning Mail 17th May 2022

14 Equity consideration for Ed Tech from Campus Technology

The process of introducing a new education technology to an institution can be lengthy, needing to balance pedagogical benefits with technological suitability and pragmatic requirements. While care is taken to consider bigger picture needs like accessibility, other factors that speak to the question of ‘what does this tool say about our institutional values’ don’t always get their due. This article from Reed Dickson offers a thought provoking list of questions for implementers to ask about fairness in the selection of tools for learning and teaching.

Strange research plagiarism from Twitter

One of my doctoral supervisors tweeted this story on the weekend about her finding a recent publication of hers about AI and human learning with a different title and authors (but the same volume of the same journal) sitting on ResearchGate. She shares screenshots of the two front pages and bewildered discussion ensues about what these (fake) people are actually trying to achieve.

Digital transformation and why it can’t be done without learning technologists from AmmieNoot

Anne-Marie Scott is the Deputy Provost of Athabasca University (Canada) and always has some entertaining thoughts about technology enhanced learning and teaching. In this post, she discusses how large-scale digital change happens in institutions and the ways that IT departments often put their own spin on things. She proposes a greater role in this work for learning technologists – experienced professionals (like me) who act as bridges between teaching and technology.

Pyscript- Python in HTML from TikTok

This is perhaps nerdy even for this column but I am aware that the programming language Python is often favoured in Higher Ed for its ease of use. A significant development in this language is the recent release of Pyscript, which for the first time allows coders to run Python in web browsers. This punchy tiktok video explains how.

Clancy@stackoverflow from Simon Terry I’ve been a sucker for bush poetry ever since my grade 4 teacher Mr Harris used to regale us with tales from Banjo and Henry on warm afternoons. So it was probably inevitable that I would have to share this updated version of Clancy of the Overflow – ‘Clancy’s gone Web3 coding’ (Thanks for finding this Wendy T)

academic integrity AI engagement Uncategorized

Ed tech must reads: Column #34

First published in Campus Morning Mail 10th May 2022

An online engagement framework for Higher Education from Online Learning

One of the most commonly expressed concerns about teaching online – particularly from educators more comfortable in a classroom – is that it can be much harder to engage learners. In 2018 Redmond et al. explored the research literature around this and identify five key themes – social, cognitive, emotional, behavioural and collaborative engagement. (Perhaps echoing and building on ideas of teacher/social/cognitive presence). They go on to propose a framework of strategies to bolster online engagement in this invaluable paper.

An Entangled Pedagogy: Looking Beyond the Pedagogy—Technology Dichotomy from Postdigital Science and Education

Another common issue raised in discussion around technology enhanced learning and teaching is about how we find the balance between pedagogy and technology when it comes to institutional decision making. Tim Fawns makes the worthwhile point that it isn’t an either/or conundrum. Technology and pedagogy are inextricably entangled and it is virtually impossible to discuss one without factoring in the other in practical terms.

Ouriginal chief defends Turnitin takeover against monopoly jibes from Times Higher Education

Something for the “Well he would (say that), wouldn’t he” files – Andreas Ohlson, former Ouriginal CEO, now Turnitin Senior VP downplayed suggestions that the recent merger of the two anti-plagiarism giants would be bad for competition while speaking at the European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism. Of perhaps more interest is the tidbit he dropped about the future focus for the company being on ongoing assessment – presumably in recognition of a need for support of wider assessment modes with the rapid growth of AI based services.

Why haven’t the students who complained about missing f2f lectures returned to them from Twitter

At the peak of the pandemic lockdowns, some students were highly vocal about feeling ripped off by their institutions in being denied face to face lectures, even calling for partial refunds. Anecdotal evidence is suggesting that, now that universities have largely returned to face to face delivery, many students aren’t turning up or engaging. This tweet thread from @Dr_Paul_Penn explores some possible causes and the extended discussion is well worth a read.

Wordtune – (A great) Artificial Intelligence based writing assistant from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning Coming back to the growth of AI based writing tools – Wordtune is freemium browser extension that offers suggestions for alternate wording for any writing done in the Google Chrome browser. It claims to support contextual rewriting, tone switching and shortening/expanding text. I maintain a healthy skepticism but it is important to stay abreast of what the students might be looking at.


Ed tech must reads: Column #33

First published in Campus Morning Mail 3rd May 2022

Enabling Online Learning: who are the educators? From The Open University

This chapter from The Handbook of Digital Higher Education is of interest for the way it blurs the idea of what ‘teaching activities’ are – placing a surprising number in the ‘third space’ between teaching and administration. Papathoma et al. examine teaching activities most commonly undertaken by 28 people teaching in MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform. Among these, they identity ‘securing funding for course development’, ‘allocating work’ and ‘ensuring rights clearance’ – alongside facilitating the course and presenting videos. It raises some interesting questions about what teaching is in the digital age.

Face to face lectures aren’t dead from Paul G Moss

Paul Moss (Uni Adelaide) makes an impassioned defence of students attending lectures in person, celebrating the cognitive and social presence they provide. He suggests that they should not be livestreamed but that students should still have access to recording for later review. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he has to say – even pre-pandemic, lecturers commonly complained about a sharp drop-off in lecture attendance after the first weeks of semester – but the pedagogical ideas are strong.

Developing feedback literacy: case studies from multiple disciplines from CRADLE

While the importance of good, timely feedback is slowly being understood, it is still not used as well as it might in Higher Ed. CRADLE at Deakin recently held a seminar focusing on Feedback literacy. This post from Juan Fischer Rodriguez summarises the key ideas emerging from this session, including the importance of equipping learners with the skills to take meaningful action informed by the feedback they receive.

Effects of captions, transcripts and reminders on learning and perceptions of lecture capture from IJETHE

Good accessibility (and pedagogical) practice demands the use of captions and transcripts whenever video (or audio) content in provided. For many years, this has unfortunately often landed in the too hard basket due to cost and technology limitations, with effort focused most on meeting legal requirements for disabled students. Fortunately this is slowly changing and we are seeing more research into the impact of wider provision of captions and transcripts. This paper in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education offers some quantitative insights into their impact.

Perusall Exchange 2022 May 16-27 from Perusall

Perusall is an online tool that enables learners to collaboratively annotate learning resources, supporting peer learning and deeper discussion of concepts. They are running a free asynchronous “social conference” from May 16 around the theme of Social Learning. This looks like a great opportunity to explore learning and teaching modes beyond our prevalent synchronous modes.


Ed tech must reads: Column #32

First published in Campus Morning Mail 26th April 2022

Intel calls its AI that detects student emotions a teaching tool. From Protocol

Phrenology was a popular pseudoscience in the 19th Century that posited that we might be able to predict mental traits based on the shape of people’s skull. In unrelated news, ed tech vendor Classroom Technologies, which sells an overlay for teaching in Zoom called Class (that actually isn’t terrible), has announced that they are planning to test AI based tools to measure learner engagement using facial recognition technology. This handy article outlines how it may or may not work.

Webinar 28/4/22 12 noon AEST – Shouting into the void? Student engagement in the online synchronous classroom from ASCILITE TELedvisors Network

The question of student engagement in online synchronous classes like Zoom has been a hot topic in recent years, with wide ranging debate about the ethics of forcing students to turn their cameras on. Dr Katie Freund, the TELT manager at the ANU medical school, will discuss some of these issues and offer some useful strategies in a webinar this Thursday for the ASCILITE TELedvisors Network.

Catching AI generated assessments from Brenton Krenkel (Twitter)

Brenton Kenkel is a political scientist at Vanderbilt University. He recently fed some of his essay questions into GPT-3, an AI text generation tool from Open AI to see what it might create. He shares the surprisingly high quality responses that he got back in this tweet, which leads into a fascinating discussion about the future of assessment and academic integrity.

CC4 Collaborate22 – Collaboration in Higher Education videos from Vimeo

The tendency for teams, departments and disciplines to exist in silos has long been recognised as a weakness of Higher Education, with institutional efforts to foster interdisciplinarity achieving varied levels of success. The University of Calgary recently worked with London Metropolitan University to run a symposium on the matter and these 17 videos (~15 mins each) capture some of the rich discussion about work in the field.

Why Wordle Works, According to Desmos Lesson Developers from Mathworlds

By now, many of us have played Wordle and the many variants (Quordle/Octordle/Sedecordle/etc) and possibly even moved on. This piece offers some nice insights into the ludological principles that make games like these so successful and the elements to consider (e.g. many paths to success, freedom to fail) in wider learning and teaching activities.