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February 9, 2011
» Avoiding getting the hump – our TEL Leaders CAMEL event

It was very useful that, as part of the JISC Building Capacity Project, the TEL team were able to facilitate a small get-together of our University’s leading lights with respect to Technology Enhanced Learning. What we called a CAMEL (standing for Collaborative Approaches to the Management of E-Learning) this ‘warts-n-all’ sharing experience really helped us hear from a group of staff who are totally enthused and excited at using technology in their professional practice.
The discussion ranged in breadth and topic area . . . from the technologies that learners have . . . identifying that most of our learners now have mobile technologies, with some staff actively encouraging students to use their own laptops. . . to realising that we also have very active staff using a range of hi-tech simulation technologies in nursing and healthcare whereby CCTV is used to record teaching and is then used in reflective learning techniques. Here, students can learn from the experts using a range of cognitive practice methodologies, which in some cases has become the accepted norm in classroom practice. We also heard how audience response systems are integrated with the simulation technologies and teaching sessions. For example ‘Turning Point’ is used with Microsoft’s Powerpoint, and is useful in simulation and very-large-audience conference presentations and video ‘What happens next?’ sessions.
It’s not all rosy though. Some staff don’t know what other technological systems exist throughout the University, as there seems to be a slight lack of dissemination of good practice. At least this is the view of some staff. A way around this perhaps is some kind of ‘sharing day’ whereby staff can hear about others’ work.
All in all it was a good way of finding out the positives, but also the niggles and annoyances that are impinging upon keen staff’s abilities to do even more innovative work. As Operational Manager for the JISC Building Capacity Project, hearing what staff were saying certainly gave me food for thought.

February 4, 2011
» Barriers and Opportunities

Moore (1999) described the ‘gap’ between the early adopters of technology and the lagging majority as a ‘chasm’, an analogy that works quite well when looking at ‘diffusion of innovations’ (Rogers, 1962) in terms of a normal distribution of individuals. However I see it more as a barrier – almost like a high brick wall! – with innovators and early adopters enjoying the fruits of technology on one side, and everyone else stuck behind the other side unable to see what all the fuss is about.

Photo credit: anomalousunderdog from morguefile.com

Ongoing research within the JISC Building Capacity Project at the University of Glamorgan indicates that one of the key barriers to engagement with educational technology is lack of awareness of the existence of available technologies and their capabilities. This echoes one of the key observations of Butler et al (2002) who found that academic staff are not prepared to commit time and money to technologies whose worth they are unsure of. Raising awareness of technologies for teaching, learning and assessment is therefore an important aspect of staff development and provides a ‘ladder’ to help them peep over the wall!

Photo credit: kevinrosseel from morguefile.com

Within the project, the Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at CELT have addressed this issue in several ways:

• Seminars to disseminate information and share knowledge amongst University staff and the wider community

• In-Faculty exhibitions for all faculties to provide opportunities for easy access to information and guidance

• ‘Self-help’ forums both for leaders in technology usage and for those who are starting to develop their skills so that good ideas and best practice can be shared

• One-to-one interviews utilising appreciative inquiry to introduce technologies appropriate to existing pedagogical approaches

These initiatives have taught the TEL team a great deal about barriers to engagement with technology, but have also provided opportunities to prop up a few ‘ladders’ and provide lecturers with some glimpses of the benefits that technology can bring. Hence, a lecturer needing to set up peer review of videos, and currently using a large DVD collection, is exploring a private YouTube channel; a subject area that had been dependent on paper-based methodologies is considering the use of online mind-maps to plan assessments; content within a level 4 module may become more accessible by means of text-to-speech; complex onscreen concepts can be revisited by learners with the aid of open-source screen-casting software. It will be important to follow up these tentative investigations to provide support where necessary and evaluate the technologies used in context.


Moore, GA (1999) Crossing the Chasm, Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customer .Revised edition. HarperCollins Publishers, New York.

Rogers, EM (1962). Diffusion of Innovations. Glencoe: Free Press

Butler D, Sellbom M (2002) ‘Barriers to adopting technology for teaching and learning’. Educause Quarterly 2, p22

January 26, 2011
» Curriculum Design through Technology Enhanced Learning

As indicated in the previous Learning Zone blog, January’s CELT seminar provided an opportunity for members of the TEL group (Trevor Price, Christine Davies, and Steve Woodward) to outline some of the work undertaken on the JISC Building Capacity project, and to highlight technologies that could be incorporated into the curriculum to enhance learning.

The JISC publication ‘Managing Curriculum Change’ makes it clear that curriculum delivery should aim to meet the challenges of ‘responding to changing learner needs, ensuring availability of high-quality learning resources and environments and delivering a more engaging and flexible learning experience’, and the JISC Building Capacity Project should help the University of Glamorgan to meet those challenges.

As indicated in the Introduction to the seminar, the project has several key objectives which are shown in the first figure. The importance of quality resources was the focus of a previous JISC blog, and a review of resources taken place within the project will result in easier staff access to a wide range of open educational resources (OER) and reusable learning objects, including the University of Glamorgan Digital Learning Objects catalogue.

Infrastructure and resources are also a key part of the project, and a survey of classroom technology revealed some really useful technologies as well as some weak points. Some of the characteristics of an effective classroom are indicated in the third figure. Lecturers are at the heart of the project: their usage of technology has a major bearing on the learner experience, and, as indicated by JISC research has a crucial role in guiding learners’ own use of educational technology.

As part of the project, academic staff who are already leaders in the use of technology are being encouraged to disseminate their good practice within their subject areas, and those have started to make progress are supporting each other and sharing their tools and tips. Informal one-to-one interviews are also taking place to identify barriers to engagement with technology, and to find out more about the lecturers’ teaching approaches and the ways in which technology could enhance them (for example, with simple tools to aid planning and collaboration).

There is a great wealth of technology available to support almost all aspects of teaching and learning, much of it free, though lecturers may not always be aware of this. However, the seminar audience had plenty of excellent ideas which were aired in the form of a ‘swap shop’.

Amongst technologies that received special mention were student feedback/voting systems (both using ‘clicker’ devices and websites such as Edmodo ), simulations to give learners a more interactive, realistic learning experience (for example, legal practice simulations from the JISC SIMPLE project ),virtual classroom/webinar tools such as Elluminate to communicate with distant learners; audio feedback using mp3 files; text-to-speech tools such as Orato to provide alternative formats for learners with auditory learning preferences. This last part of the session was not only enjoyable but provided a good source of ideas for the project, and some of the technologies discussed will be used to enhance course curricula within the University.

The full seminar presentation may be viewed here

January 22, 2011
» Achieving Effective Institutional Change

At the beginning of the University’s JISC Building Capacity Project I wondered if a short project could really achieve the ambitious targets we had set ourselves.

This week saw two events which reminded me that Archimedes was right when he said Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

The first event was the CELT Technology Enhanced Seminar entitled Curriculum Design through Technology Enhanced Learning during which the team who have been working on the project outlined their achievements to date and engaged academics from across the University in discussing the next steps in enhancing learning and teaching through technology. The slides from the event will appear on the blog in the next few days.

The second event was a project steering group meeting where our two critical friends, Paul Bacsich and Tony Toole provided us with feedback on the project to date which was positive and encouraging. For me it was an opportunity to listen to the team and the way the project had engaged them with JISC, JISC materials and our academic staff, so as to link the JISC resources with our own delivery of Technology Enhanced Learning.

So the project is well under way and the opportunity the project gives us for enhancement is taking place in a wide variety of ways, including a series of faculty focussed events started this week.

January 12, 2011
» JISC Building Capacity Project: OER and Reusable Learning Objects

Our first meeting with Professor Tony Toole, ‘Critical Friend’ to the project, gave the JISC Building Capacity Programme team useful insights into reusable learning objects and the educational use of web 2.0 tools that Professor Toole has been developing. He demonstrated web 2.0 based online learning environments that had been created for undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Oxford University and Swansea Metropolitan University and outlined a number of JISC and EU funded projects that he was involved in that were focussed on technology enhanced curriculum design and delivery .

The discussion covered the current JISC Open Educational Resources programme and similar initiatives and Tony described his work on reusable learning objects that involved the packaging of content for import and export between learning environments such as Blackboard and Moodle. His work on web 2.0 based learning environments had identified a range of applications that provided the functionality needed to effectively support online learners. His demonstration of Google sites as a web hosting service showed how, together with applications such as Google docs, Slideshare, Picassa, and Google groups, it could be used as an adaptable and highly cost-effective collaborative online learning environment. An example of how he has been using such applications can be seen at http://sites.google.com/site/mscndt . This work was the subject of a CELT seminar delivered by Professor Toole at the University of Glamorgan on 8th December 2010.

His current work on reusable learning objects is as part of an EU funded project to develop web 2.0 training modules for academic staff that will be used in five different EU countries in the first instance. Reusability in this case includes consideration of language, culture and context in addition to curricular and technical considerations.

October 22, 2010
» JISC Building Capacity Programme Update

22nd October, 2010

The Technology Enhanced Learning Team at Glamorgan in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) is undertaking a Building Capacity Project as part of a group of Welsh institutions building on the success of the HEFCW Gwella (Enhancement) project.

At Glamorgan our project, overseen by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning and Student Support), Professor Clive Mulholland, and managed by the Head of CELT is focussed on Curriculum Design through Technology Enhanced Learning.

Meetings with our ‘Critical Friends’, Professors Tony Toole and Paul Bacsich, have been arranged. This will give us useful insights into the broader context of Technology Enhanced Learning into which this project fits. Issues such as how best to deploy Reusable Learning Objects will be explored.

A critical review of the most pressing needs that staff identify is also underway. Within this, stakeholder groups at the University are being surveyed about how they fit into the Blended Learning Continuum, and importantly how they can move from where they are to using more technology enhancements in their learning, teaching and assessment.

Simultaneously, a programme of Faculty-based workshops where CELT’s TEL team are providing focussed technology-related training is underway, as are a number of bespoke, specialist TEL training sessions covering things like Web 2.0 technologies, Turnitin and ePortfolios.

Here’s a link to the JISC Programme page into which the project fits.

June 2, 2010
» Building Capacity Project

The Technology Enhanced Learning Team at Glamorgan in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) is undertaking a Building Capacity Project as part of a group of Welsh institutions building on the success of the HEFCW Gwella (Enhancement) project.

JISC is managing similar projects in Wales and England as part of the Building Capacity Programme.

At Glamorgan our project, overseen by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning and Student Support), Professor Clive Mulholland, and managed by the Head of CELT is focussed on Curriculum Design through Technology Enhanced Learning.

The initial focus of the project will be to identify the way the range of resources which have emerged from previous projects funded by JISC can be deployed at Glamorgan. At this point in the project we will be able to draw on two experienced ‘critical friends’ Professor Tony Toole and Professor Paul Bacsich.

Once the resources have been identified they will be used to build institutional capacity with three key groups:

  1. Those who are already leaders in Technology Enhanced Learning leadership – who will have the opportunity to showcase new and innovative technologies which can be utilised in the learning and teaching environment at faculty and course level
  2. Those who are already engaged with Technology Enhanced Learning – who will be given the opportunity to receive bespoke guidance and advice to enhance their current and future curricula
  3. Those who are less engaged with Technology Enhanced Learning – who will be involved in assisting CELT in identifying the barriers to further engagement, so that they can be addressed at an institutional level

The Building Capacity area of this blog will act as the project website and project progress will be updated here regularly as it progresses over the next few months.