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Feedback

“The shrill sound created when a transducer such as a microphone or electric guitar picks up sound from a speaker connected to an amplifier and regenerates it back through the amplifier.”

One of the biggest items that is highlighted in the National Student Survey (NSS) is the lack of feedback.
Having been a student recently I can confirm that swift timely feedback is crucial to successful study.

I also know the idea that they aren’t providing swift timely feedback drives lecturers crazy.

I was thinking about this the other day when I had a problem with my macbook power supply.

NSS - student feedback wanted dead or alive

The problem manifested at 8pm, and I contacted the apple tech support line via an online chat, and was given the information I needed, told how to find the serial number of my macbook (which is on the “About this mac” screen, but you have to click the “Version 10.0.1” text to reveal it) and given an issue number.
I was advised to go into the store and a replacement would be provided – just take along the two numbers.
Excellent service, timely feedback – my issues were identified and addressed.

I nipped into the Covent Garden store on the way to the office and the first apple person I could find told me I needed to make an appointment – I assured him that the previous advice suggested a replacement could be made without any appointments.
He pointed me at the geniuses – however these took a bit of finding as the old Genius Bar no longer exists, instead it’s a case of asking anyone in a blue t-shirt if they can help. Eventually one group of four employees milling around told me I needed to speak the another group of four employees milling around.
The final four insisted I needed an appointment.
I had received feedback, but it wasn’t related to my issue, but the store processes.

This is how a student feels in the university system.

Whilst the feedback given by the Apple Genii was accurate and timely, it was also not related to my issue, but to the system itself. Quite a lot of the feedback that students get given doesn’t relate to their issue, but to how they can comply with systems.

As a customer of Apple I had no desire to work out their arcane rules, I wanted a replacement power supply.
As a student I don’t want to know about system issues, I want to have my specific issues addressed.

Next week I’m off to a Conference at the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Brighton Uni, which will be covering effective eFeedback amongst other things.
I’m looking forward to hearing about the systems in place at Brighton, and eventually working on them to try and hit that sweet spot, and who knows maybe improve the NSS scores.

UPDATE

Jisc have just circulated a new series of short guides  based on four key themes:

For a full picture of the challenges, approaches and findings from our recent work please see the full summary report ‘Supporting assessment and feedback practice with technology: from tinkering to transformation’.

Meaningful stuff

Meaningful Stuff – Designing longer-lasting material experiences – the inaugural lecture of Jonathan Chapman, Professor of sustainable design at the University of Brighton. Delivered at the Sallis Benney Theatre Grand Parade on Weds 22nd of January 2014.

Today is a day of contrasts.

I spent the day at BETT, the learning technology trade show, which took over (most*) of the Excel centre.
BETT is a chance for unwary wide-eyed heads to be dazzled by shiny baubles, and part with their slender budgets. It has evolved somewhat over the years, and now has a far more international feel, yet sadly fails to offer anything truly innovative, or well designed.
I’ve been told the patent on LEGO has expired which would explain the proliferation of robotics kits that mimic LEGO mindstorms… though lacking a certain build quality.
I did meet some old colleagues, which was delightful, and I dodged the loathsome Gove, who gave the keynote opening address.
I also had a useful chat with the Blackboard folk about their Mosaic product, which whilst it professes to be an institutional app builder requiring no coding, didn’t quite convince me – I need to see more.

In contrast the evening was spent at the inaugural lecture of Dr Jonathan Chapman, Professor of sustainable design at the University of Brighton.

P1010579
It felt very much like a commentary on the excesses of the morning.
Jonathan talked about the great illusion: a smart phone appears to weigh just 200g, but the cost of production is closer to 500kg, the weight of a horse.
Around 78kg of CO2 alone.
So when you lift your phone to your ear, you are in fact lifting a horse to your ear.
The problem is that finding out such facts is quite terrifying, and can be paralysing – what can we do in the light of such information?
Jonathan’s answer was to submit totally to the fear, and head off and live on a Buddhist community on Hokaido.
For a while he felt happy, he was at one with crickets and such like, having no impact on the environment, then the realisation struck him that having no impact was merely abdicating responsibility.
He returned to the UK to try to engage in teaching a better way of design.

40:1:98:6:1:0
it takes 40 tonnes of waste to make 1 tonne of consumer electronics, 98% of which will be discarded within 6 months. An efficiency of 1%.
The zero is the hope for the future.

The built-in obsolescence of consumer goods originally seemed like a cracking idea, it was proposed by Bernard London in 1932 as a form of quantitive easing. The idea was to get the 1% of folk who had money to spend it, creating jobs for the 99% who didn’t.
Unfortunately it continued, and now is endemic in systems like mobile phone production, where the average lifespan of a handset is just 18 months.

The question is why is something that we desire so much, is worthless after such a short interval. It seems we need to look at the narratives we tell about objects. Some like the worthless pasta necklace gifts from our children, take on such meaning personally that they become priceless.
So what is needed is a design philosophy that promotes meaningful attachments, engendering product longevity?

This theme of emotionally durable design is picked up in his book : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Emotionally-Durable-Design-Objects-Experiences/dp/1844071812
* the South side of the Excel was running a slot machine trade show, and the juxtaposition of banners for educational technology, with those for the arcades, (promising to squeeze every last penny out of punters), brought a grin to my face… the visitors to the arcade show seemed a lot happier, and far less earnest.

Back to the Future – building communities

Just finished doing a short spot as part of the “BETT Study Tour: e–Learning and Innovation in Technical Education and Skills” organised by the British Council.

The event runs from 19th to 24th Jan, and aims to:
• Share knowledge, information and good practie in the area of e-learning, innovation and digital simulation in technical education and skills in the UK.
• Explore how the use of e-learning technologies has enhanced management, learning programmes, assessment and overall quality and inclusiveness of skills education.
• Explore how e-learning technologies have changed the roles of teachers, trainers and learners and the UK’s approach to developing digital literacy.
• Share experience of how e-technologies have supported collaboration, including international collaboration.
• Provide delegates with opportunities to network with UK and international experts in the field of e-learning and innovation including attending the Bett Show 2014.
• Explore how technology, policy, strategies and approaches reviewed during the tour could provide useful models for delegates’ own national plans.

I spoke to delegates from a range of countries – including Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Eygpt, Trinidad and Tobago, Columbia, and Bahrain – on the importance of building communities to support the effective use of technology in education.
I looked back at the history of the curiculum champions list, which started way back in 2000AD.
The list seems to have succeeded for a number of reasons. It has maintained a focus on JUST FE, whilst list members have moved into other roles, and educational areas, the core of the discussion is on technology that supports FE.
The closed nature of the list means the folk who post are known – there are around 600 list members, and over a six month period they’ll be around 1000 posts, from around 170 different posters, so the active posters will be familiar, and those who give good advice will be recognised.
An analysis of the list shows that 15% of posts ask questions and 65% answer, which feels like a healthy response ratio.

As part of the talk I looked back to my first posting, and the replies, and was delighted to discover where I found out about my Beloved SONY Mavica disc cameras… and my fumbling attempt to describe an e-portfolio.

From:
Rob Englebright <rob.englebright@PLUMPTON.AC.UK>
Reply-To:
Curriculum Champions <CHAMP-CURRICULUM@JISCMAIL.AC.UK>
Date:
Fri, 15 Dec 2000 12:48:19 -0000
Content-Type:text/plain (16 lines)

We have recently put together a bid for the innovative IT projects fund which if successful should allow us to issue NVQ students with digital cameras to help create portfolio evidence.
The particular cohort have mild learning difficulties and the idea is to get them to record activities using pictures with a few words, so they don’t end up writing pages of evidence sheets.
Has anyone tried anything similar?
I was looking to get the photgraphs indexed and sorted using Hypercard? or some other software with a VERY simple interface.
A friend suggested creating a Database framework for this, but I’m loathed to create if there is something already useable, suggestions on a postcard….
I’ll probably need to create a hard copy of the evidence in case the TSC don’t like the electronic form.
Happy Christmas, students are nearly gone!!!
Rob

And the replies…. 

Subject:Re: Photographic indexing
From:Phil Illsley <pillsley@NORTCOLL.AC.UK>
Date:Mon, 18 Dec 2000 10:01:42 +0000
Content-Type:text/plain
text/plain (52 lines)

We’re in love with a Sony digital camera and use it to record evidence with similar students for NSP, NVQ and OCR Entry. e-mail me direct for more info if you’re interested. pillsley@nortcoll.ac.uk

Phil

AND

Subject:Re: Photographic indexing
From:Imogen Elms <ImogenElms@SWINDON-COLLEGE.AC.UK>
Date:Mon, 18 Dec 2000 11:18:14 -0000
text/plain (87 lines)

We use a Sony Digital Mavica FD85. It was about £500. It stores photographs onto floppy disks. This would be good for portfolio evidence as each student could have their own disk to carry around and to use at home. You do not need any download software; which we have found useful, as the College uses Windows NT and only technicians have rights to load software onto machines.

We got the camera in September and it is becoming the one of the most booked ILT resource. The camera automatically index’s the pictures (number order)in a web file that can be viewed on any web browser; or you can insert any picture into a Word file, add text and then print it off.

We are not yet using it for portfolio evidence but we are using it with students in Catering who have learning difficulties. We are creating
photograph libraries. Staff in this curriculum area who were previously ‘talk & chalk’ have been enthused and encouraged to get involved in ILT when they see how easy the camera is to use.

Imogen Elms & Nick Goodbun
ILT Instructors
Swindon College

Those Sony Mavicas definately made the difference for me… and my students… I might buy one off ebay

 

Whilst it says 1.3 Megapixels we used to use it set to 0.3 – 640×480, so we could have TEN pictures on a floppy 🙂

Image

 

 

 

Breakfast in Brighton

Brighton University Breakfast App swap. Brighton University Grand Parade Campus 8.30-9.30am Wed 15th Jan.

This morning I nipped down to Brighton Uni to join in the Breakfast App swap. It seems like the idea started at the Falmer Campus, where the Learning Technology Advisor Fiona MacNeill runs informal drop in coffee and chat sessions where folk share what they are using on their mobile devices. In my experience this peer support approach works really well, as people like to see how colleagues do things and trust them.
This morning’s session was at Grand Parade campus, and Adam Bailey linked up his iPad over air play using “reflector” –http://www.airsquirrels.com/reflector/
and showed a range of useful apps.
I’ve not used relector, and was impressed by the clear and simple interface. My screen sharing has been done through air server, which had previously let me down. However air server appears to have had a revamp, and now includes a “record” function, as well as the capacity to share with multiple devices.

Evernote got a good airing, https://evernote.com.
Evernote is a note-taking app, that will sync your notes across most devices (not sure if there is native support on Linux) allows photos and attachments to be added, and importantly is fully searchable – even the images, which it runs through an online OCR process.
I use it as a way of taking notes in meetings and at conferences, as the share button allows me to shot off my notes and any thoughts to the rest of the team.
What’s nice about Evernote is that they realised their core function was beginning to be overwhelmed, and they have redesigned the app to make the most common functions easier to undertake.

I bought an Evernote Moleskine Notebook which is rather nice, but I never used the additional features, chiefly because I don’t use OCR much – the notebook gives access to 3 months of the Premium Evernote account- and secondly because I gave the sweet little “smart” stickers to my niece, who made far better use of them than I.
To be honest I didn’t realise they allowed scanned images to be routed directly to specific folders.

Other apps got a mention too, including the Moleskine app itself, http://mymoleskine.moleskine.com/community/mymoleskine_apps.php and the Muji Notebook which seems like a cracking little collaborative work tool: http://www.muji.com/app/notebook/

MoooooC

Today I swung by the Bloomsberry Room at Senate House UCL for a lunchtime session on Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) by the Centre for Distance Education.

The session was titled “Practical considerations of running a MOOC”  and began with a rather pleasant lunch whilst Patricia McKellar gave an overview of their experiences running the MOOC: English Common Law: Structures and Principles through Coursera. The fragrant Pat Lockley *followed up with further details of the process.

Dr Matthew Yee-King talked about his experience creating: Creative Programming for Digital Media and Mobile Apps

The whole session was recorded and well worth chasing up once it’s been added to the CDE website.

A summary report can be found here: http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/mooc_report-2013.pdf

I was quite interested in Matthews feedback as I was a student on the Creative programming course, which looked at using ‘processing’ to build apps. Sadly I was one of the slackers who fell off the course a couple of weeks in duet work pressures. I will be revisiting the course though.

*Pat Lockley may not be fragrant.

You are spoiling us Ambassador …. (STEM)

Image

Prompted by @katiepiatt I signed up to be a STEM Ambassador, and rocked up to the induction session yesterday.
Basically being a STEM Ambassador sounds like ALL the fun bits I used to enjoy as a teacher, without any of the bother of admin, paperwork, assessment and class control.
There are nearly 30,000 STEM Ambassadors in the UK, 1100 in Sussex alone, and the Sussex folk undertook 700 activities last year, which culminate in a big Crawley STEMfest in June and July (and coveniently just down the road from me) and BIG BANG Sussex.
I went along to the induction feeling pretty full of myself (as per usual) and have to say I was pretty humbled by the stuff the other prospect-Ambassadors were into.
One guy had built the Olympics Velodrome, another worked on High Voltage systems across the South East, including giant wind turbines… I can code a little bit.
Anyway the CRB (or whatever it’s replacement is called) is underway, and in a few weeks I should be able to start volunteering. There’s a regular bi-weekly newsletter that identifies areas where schools want volunteers, and there are a couple of interesting antweight robotics sessions that are quite local. I haven’t built an ant weight since 2000, guessing the tech has changed a bit in the mean time.

Image
I will report my progress.

 

Analytical engines

Babbage never built his Analytical Engine… there’s a lesson right there.

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The costs were too high, and the technology too primitive, and frankly the proposed end uses were really rather dubious.

We are in a similar sort of situation with Learning Analytics, in that the costs of implementing solutions are high, with technology that promises a lot, but won’t provide information in a format or structure that will allow data/stats illiterate users to make better than random decisions… and certainly provides potential to justify unethical decisions based on “financial prudence”

I attended the #CDEInFocus Learner analytics and Big data event in Senate House at the University of London yesterday. If you want an insightful review of the topics discussed read Myles’ blog: http://myles.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2013/12/10/740/

Highlights for me were of course Adam Cooper of Cetis who gave a practical overview, and Doug Clow of the OU, who talked faster than me. Adam’s slideshare set says pretty much all you need to know:

Analytics is the process of developing

actionable insights

through

problem definition

and the application of statistical models and analysis against existing and/or simulated future data.

Doug looked at analytics through the experiences of MOOC participation and drop out, useful figures and pretty background pics: