Small is beautiful: an antidote to big data #altc2013

Over the past year Cetis has been spending quite a bit of time exploring the context and potential of analytics within the education sector.  The Cetis analytics series is our on-going contribution to the debate. As part of our investigations we undertook a survey of UK institutions to try and get a baseline of where institutions are “at” in terms of analytics (see this post for more information ).


After eight very happy years working for Cetis based within the now sadly no longer with us CAPLE (Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement) at the University of Strathclyde my working life is moving a bit sideways over the next couple of months. The University of Strathclyde had decided to no longer continue its relationship with Cetis. See Lorna’s post for more information, and so my contract (like my colleagues Lorna and Martin) is terminating on Wednesday 31 July. Like Lorna I’d like to add a huge thank you to former CAPLE colleagues for all their support over the years.

Digital literacies toolkit

Earlier this year I presented at conference at the University of Southampton, and I was really impressed by the presentations, and work, of the students who were there, as I reflected in this blog post. The University is really pushing ahead in terms of providing real engagement opportunities for students with its Digital Champions project, and now the eLanguages Research and Development group have released their Digital Literacies Toolkit.

LASI . . . going to many homes

The Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI) is taking place this week at Stanford University. Although I’m not one of the lucky few attending in person, Doug Clow (from the OU UK) is leading the live blogging brigade and I’ve been enjoying catching up with the sessions via all the posts, and looking forward to reading more – thanks guys! A number of the sessions are also being live- streamed via the SOLAR website. [...]

New publication from Jisc on Enhancing Curriculum Design with Technology

Over the past four years I was part of the support team for the JISC Curriculum Design Programme. And I have to say it was one of the most fascinating “Jisc programme journeys” I’ve been on. Over the course of the programme the 12 projects all made significant progress and contributed greatly to enhancing more nuanced and shared understanding and articulation of the many aspects relating to curriculum design process from quality assurance to technical implementations. [...]

Open Scotland, the twitter story

Yesterday Cetis, in collaboration with SQA, ALT-Scotland and the Jisc RSC Scotland hosted the Open Scotland Summit. The event, brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers, will provide an opportunity for critical reflection on the national and global impact of open education (see Lorna’s blog post for more information and background to the event) . [...]

Inuagural Open Badges (Scotland) Working Group Meeting

Bill Clinton isn’t the only one creating a buzz about the open badges movement at the moment. Perhaps with slightly less coverage than the Clinton initiative, yesterday saw the first (Scottish) open badges working group meeting.

Organised by Grainne Hamilton at RSC Scotland, following the success and interest shown at their recent Open Badges Design Day, the meeting was very well attended with a group of really enthusiastic practitioners from across the Scottish education sector, many of whom are already implementing badges. There was also good representation from key agencies such as the SQA and the Colleges Development Network.

What struck me about the meeting was how much real buy-in and activity there was for badges from schools to colleges to universities. Whilst there was a lot of diversity in approaches (most people implementing badges are still at pilot stages), there were also a number of common themes of interest for future developments including badges for staff development purposes and the sharing of implementation of “badging” through VLEs in particular Moodle and Blackboard.

One of the great selling points of badges is their potential to bridge the gap between achievement and attainment of formal qualifications and give people (and in particular students) more opportunities to present things which aren’t recognised through formal qualifications. This was a prime motivator for many at the working group as they want to be able to allow students more ways to showcase/sell themselves to potential employers, and not have to rely on formal qualifications. This of course links to developments around e-portfolios.

There was also a lot of interest in using badges for staff development within colleges and universities. RSC Scotland is already paving the in this respect as they have developed a range of badges for their online courses and events, and a number of colleges are beginning to use badges for staff development activities.

Over the coming months a number of sub-groups will be forming around some of the key areas identified at yesterdays meeting, setting up a shared workspace and of course, most importantly sharing their work with each other and the wider working group, and of course the rest of the community.

If yesterday afternoon was anything to go by, there will be lots more to share around the development and implementation of badges. I’m certainly looking forward to being part of this exciting new group, and thanks again to Grainne and Fionnuala and the RSC for bringing this group together and their commitment to supporting it over the coming year.

Meanwhile back in the real world . . .

We’re all very guilty of getting caught up in our “own wee worlds” and sometimes it we all need to just “step away from the computer”. I recently did just that. I had a week’s annual leave, and came back to the usual overflowing in-box.

In one sense I felt I’d missed a lot, but have the reassurance of colleagues and networks who can bring me up to speed if necessary. It seems we are just about over the threat of MOOCs too (see Martin Weller’s post. Universities as we know them are no longer doomed – hurrah, people might even stop using the word – hurrah, we can all move on to the next shiny thing. But there has been a lot of (justified) concern about licences, terms and conditions (see Lorna’s excellent post on FutureLearn’s t&cs ).

But then yesterday I was sharply reminded that what I had missed in a week is really nothing compared to what is actually being related and shared to the wider community. So much just passes everyone by. I was asked to speak on a BBC Scotland Radio show about MOOCs. I know, not exactly hitting the big time, but hey it was the Fred MacAulay show :-) – he’s on Radio 4 sometimes and even gets on the telly every now and again. What struck me when I was speaking to the researcher and during the (very) short interview is how taken “normal people” were by the notion of having more and free access to education. In the UK anyway, most non ed tech people have missed all the hype (and angst) and are actually more interested in just finding out about how they can find ways to learn some “stuff”. So hopefully we can, as Martin says in his blog, take comfort that “back in the real world” people really do want more “access and experimentation and not hype and commercialism”. The big messages are getting across, however slowly it seem to us.

If you are at all interested the interview is available to listen to again via the BBC iplayer (the interview starts at 5mins 20 and last a little over 5 minutes and I did manage to blow the “MOOCs started in America” myth.