I wish to encourage others (in and out of academia) to take a look at the Hybrid Pedagogy online journal. I wanted to write this piece for some time, but was unsure where I could find an outlet to publish it. In my experience traditional journals don’t tend to be good outlet for reflective pieces, so I took to google and found out about Hybrid Pedagogy. Knowing nothing about the journal beyond what I saw on the website I took the plunge and submitted a short piece for consideration.
Hybrid Pedagogy is not only different in the sorts of article it publishes. Its peer review process is different from other journals I’ve published in. Rather than getting comments from anonymous reviewers, two editors from the journal, Sean Morris and Chris Friend, worked with me to bring the piece up to a publishable standard. They made suggestions, asked questions, asked me to expand certain sections and said what they thought was interesting about the piece and what they thought its shortcomings to be.
Hybrid Pedagogy is not only an open access online journal, but a different method of publication altogether. I would urge those with an interest in pedagogy or pedagogic research to take a serious look at the articles and consider contributing. There is even a section called 'Page Two' for non-peer reviewed contributions.
I have put many of my teaching resources in the humbox where anyone is welcome to download and reuse them. They are primarily used as handouts in face-to-face contexts, so most would probably need adapting to turn them into materials suitable for purely online context. Most are available under creative commons licenses, but please check first.
Further resources I have produced for sharing are on other project websites such as SPEAQ (Relating to quality assurance and enhancement) and Getting the Most Out of Feedback which has resources for students and staff on feedback and student evaluation.
I attended an interesting discussion about open learning led by Jon Dron from Athabasca University in Canada. We discussed open access, open learning in various forms, open educational resources and open source software. We also discussed why we do, or do not give away our knowledge, time and resources for free. (I’ll leave the ‘why’ for another post).
I am a big user of free software and, of the most part, a recipient of rather than a contributor to the various websites, blogs and forums providing knowledge about its use. However I provide a lot of my stuff for free. This is not to make any comments about its quality.
This blog: Not that one would expect blogs to be anything but free to access, but I like to think some for my posts cause others to reflect on their practice or solve a particular problem.
A database on open access articles about the teaching and learning of languages (YazikOpen). This directory is kind of “out there”. Most people see to be led to it through Google as far as I can see. I’ve had thoughts at various times about whether it is worth the effort to maintain it, but a handful of people have said nice things about it.
An online introduction to statistics book aimed at students in humanities. A project with which I’m still fiddling. Wondered whether or not to have a forum.
Teaching and Learning resources out together over the years mostly linked to my account in the humbox.
Various open access publications, plus short articles on other websites.
Headlines such as Times Higher Education’s “Ucas stats reveal languages decline” have become an annual ritual in recent years. Group R (European Langs, Lit & related) down from 22,486 to 21,248 applicants ( -1,238 -5.5%). Group T (Non-European Langs, Lit and related ) went from 6,678 students in 2012 to 6,241 in 2013 (-437 -6.5%).
I was struck by the vast increase (28.7%) in the number of applicants classified in Z. General, other, combined and unknown. In fact 297,071 students (11.9%) are classified either in a Y category (Combined arts, combined sciences, combined social sciences, sciences combined with social sciences, sciences combined with social sciences or arts, social sciences combined with arts) or in category Z. Given the high proportion of language students who are doing combined/ joint degrees I suspect (but can’t prove) increasing number of linguists are finding their way in categories Y and Z.
After ten years at the LLAS Centre (counting the centre in its LTSN/ HEA subject centre forms) I felt it was now time to move on and undertook a UK-wide job search. The end result was an offer from the Centre of Learning and Teaching at the University of Brighton. Last week I visited Brighton for the university’s internal teaching and learning conference and heard about a lot of the interesting things about some of the interesting things which are going on there. It was also nice to spend time getting to know some of my new colleagues as well.
Statistics for Humanities
This past year has been mostly project based. My Statistics for Humanities student ‘text-book’ is available in draft form and I am awaiting comments from the British Academy nominated reviewers. The British Academy agreed that I could put a draft online for a crowd sourced review. This has led to receiving many helpful comments, and one academic in particular has provided some very extensive feedback. I have long been dissatisfied with introductory statistics textbooks. I hope that mine will reach out to students (and academics) who struggled in the past. The examples in the book come from the humanities and I have attempted to write a book which uses a verbal reasoning-based approach which should resonate better with humanities students than some other texts.
EU Quality Assurance project
We are coming to the end of the second year of this 2-year EU-funded project, Sharing Practice in Assuring and Enhancing Quality (SPEAQ) which follows on from LANQUA (the Language Network for Quality Assurance). I didn’t work on LANQUA and hadn’t worked on an EU-project before. I was quite apprehensive about being involved in the project as I had seen colleagues undergoing the stresses of running a project which involves administrative complications (e.g. currency conversions and daily rates) as well as working alongside colleagues in other countries who work in very difference pedagogic, policy and quality environments. Fortunately our assistant director (and my line manager) Alison Dickens is an experienced director of EU–projects and our senior administrator Sue Nash has worked on them before, so, fortunately for me, I have been able to concentrate mostly on content issues.
In the first year of the project we developed a workshop in which staff, students and quality managers can participate together. I played a big role in this aspect of the project producing a dialogue sheet and writing facilitator instructions. Along with our Danish colleague Ole Helmersen from Copenhagen Business School I attended the EQAF Forum in Tallinn, Estonia where we tried out the workshop on a large group of quality professionals from a range of European countries.
As well as running the workshop the EQAF conference was a great staff development opportunity for me. As a QE person rather than QA person it was interesting the meet people who operate in very different QA systems. The UK seems to be fairly in the middle between those countries in which QA is very highly centralised and regulated through to countries where QA is virtually non-existent—at least in the way that I understand it. If there is one thing that all countries seem to have in common it is that QA appears very different from teaching. As one person I met pointed out, a poor teacher is not a quality issue as far as most university structures are concerned. Even at the Senior Manager level there is often a separation of roles between the person in which of QA and the person who in charge of teaching and the curriculum.
For the second part of the project each partner does their own small-scale project which meets a particular institutional need. At Southampton we decided to do a project on feedback, called "Getting the Most Out of Feedback" (GMOOF). The core principle of GMOOF is that everybody, whether a member of teaching staff, a student or a quality manager, is both a provided and recipient of feedback. The principles of good feedback: Relevant, Timely, Meaningful and with Suggestions for improvement (See Race online), apply to all feedback, not just feedback from teacher to student but also student to teacher, student to student, teacher to teacher etc., teacher to quality manager, teacher to professional body etc. etc. GMOOF is a website which focuses on giving good feedback and making the most of feedback from others rather than focusing on different job roles. (The website is under development at present). A workshop based on the project is being developed and will be piloted in Southampton in September – I’ll be in Brighton by then so will not be leading it(!) Additional material for the website includes a card sort (built using the free software nanDECK), a series of feedback videos with reflective questions (built in xtranormal and put up on youtube), videos of interviews about feedback with the project team and other colleagues at Southampton, and online quizzes for staff and students. There is also a section specific on how we at Southampton work to enhance the quality of teaching across the university.
My teaching this year has focused in two major areas. I have been contributing to the interdisciplinary Curriculum Innovation module “Sustainability in the Local and Global Environment"). 2012-13 was the first time this module has run and I benefited greatly from working with National Teaching Fellow Simon Kemp. It has been some years since I taught undergraduates and the modules made extensive use of technology (including Twitter, Panopto, Blackboard) and had a variety of assessments including a presentation, conference paper and group film project.
My other teaching responsibility has involved teaching research skills to (mostly Humanities) doctoral students. I have run numerous sessions on everything from putting the thesis together, preparing for the viva, ethnographic methods, critical thinking and applying for funding. Most of my materials are available in the HumBox under a Creative Commons license. Students produce critical reflections on the sessions, which also provide me with feedback.
I also presented at the LLAS e-learning symposium about my online open access language teaching research website YazikOpen. I have also been preparing materials for the LLAS annual Heads of Department workshop, which is entitled “Thriving for the Public Good”
At Brighton I am expecting to be involved in a variety of academic development activities including working with teaching staff to apply for the HEA Fellowships, blended learning and undertaking research. I will also being going to Plymouth in November to undertake PASS (Peer Assisted Study Session) Supervisor Training.
Do you make innovative use of technology in language teaching and learning? Have you been experimenting with MOOCs and wish to share your experiences? Do you use social networking sites, virtual worlds or mobile technology with your language students? Are you engaging students in the creation or use of open educational resources? If so, then the LLAS community would like to hear from you!
LLAS, Centre for Languages, Linguistics, and Area Studies welcomes proposals for presentations, workshops and posters at the 9th annual e-learning symposium, on 23/24 January, 2014. Abstracts for proposed presentations or workshops should be no more than 400 words.
Topics may include but are not limited to, the use in language teaching or research of:
social networking sites
MOOCs and open learning
blogs or wikis
open educational resources
virtual worlds, such as Second Life
virtual learning environments
online tools or courses
innovative online learning designs or environments
Now taking registrations for the annual language leaders workshop. Discount for early booking!
Impact and public benefit are key priorities for the public funding of higher education. For example, the 2014 Research Evaluation Framework (REF) requires universities to demonstrate that their research has benefits outside the university as well as within the academic community. The strategies of AHRC and ESRC emphasise the commitment to interact with public life and bring benefits to the country. The Finch report has called for all publicly funded research outputs to be open access so they can be read by anybody who wishes to read them without payment or library subscription. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement promotes the free sharing and re-sharing of teaching resources without copyright restrictions and MOOCs (Mass Open Online Courses) attempt to reach new audiences all over the world. The public benefits universities provide to their local communities through outreach work, continuing education and public engagement is a key part of demonstrating impact outside academia. Universities also need to have access agreements in place to promote university study to groups who have traditionally found it difficult to access higher education.