Friday, 29 January 2010

Module Coordinator Experiences

This week we held a lunch time seminar to give staff a chance to learn about the project and to hear from two of the module co-ordinators that we have been working with. James Johnstone is module coordinator for a second year module - Principles and Practice of Sports Science and Hazel Wagner is module coordinator for Advanced Corporate Reporting a third year module. Hazel and James spoke about the issues with the modules prior to the ESCAPE project and took us through the process of re engineering that they went through in order to increase the amount of engagement that the students had with their assessments. We had alluded to this at the Ulster conference ( see previous blog entry) but it was really exciting to hear the people responsible for managing and applying the changes speak with passion about their modules. The presentations gave an indication of what was possible if to quote James " .......we leave the Rolls Royce in the garage" This is a reference to the work done by Win Hornby, of Robert Gorden University on efficiency and effectiveness in assessment .

The assessments developed by Hazel and James were effectively multi component designed to engage students on a regular basis over the whole semester. They have multiple opportunities for feedback to students and for students to engage with the feedback,using it to inform their application to the next component of their assessment.

One of the themes of the assessments is that it gives the chance for the lecturers to understand where the students are at each part of the module - to really get a feel for the students grasp of topics or issues. This reminded me of the example of when I walk Holly, my Springer Spaniel, we are only together at the start and the end of the process - where she goes in the middle bit I am not too sure - we meet again at the end. This is all to often what happens with our students -we know what they are thinking at the start of the lecture and we know where they are at the end - but they probably have not been following us all the way through.

The seminar finished with question and answer session with the audience keen to quiz James and Hazel on their experience of applying the new assessment.

Belfast Bound!

Last week Mark and I presented some of our observations from the ESCAPE Project at the University of Ulster eighth annual eLearning Conference. I had never been to Northern Ireland before and was excited by what I saw - it certainly challenged my preconceptions . Belfast is a vibrant town, new buildings and infra- structure projects were springing up everywhere - and there was a real energy to the city. The venue for the conference was the School of Art and Design. The campus consists of two buildings, one a turn of the century the other a much more modern one. The buildings are connected by a new covered walkway. They were really excellent learning spaces, well designed and resourced.

Our presentation, which we gave twice, looked at the background to the ESCAPE project and the wider assessment landscape. Mark spoke about the challenges of the project and how the extensive literature on learning and assessment should be informing teachers practice. I spoke about working with module teams and discussed some of the changes that teams had put in place as a consequence of working with ESCAPE. We also discussed the role Appreciative Inquiry played in the project .

On the way back to the airport the taxi driver took us to see the Thompson Graving Dock. This is where the Titanic, which was built at Harland and Wolf in Belfast, was brought and fitted out after she was launched.

I contrasted this with the the keynote address at the conference, where professor Paul Moore spoke about the changing technologies that we use and how they have influenced us, using an in car record player from his father ford Anglia to illustrate his point. He spoke passionately about the iPhone and contrasted this with his blackberry which he referred to as a " wheelbarrow for emails". His perspective was an interesting one and his excitement about the impending launch of the iPad was infectious. Paul felt that this device would have a huge influence on learning over the coming years - interesting times!
For those of you that have not realised - the flag at the top of the blog is that of the White Star Line, the shipping line that operated the Titanic.

Monday, 11 January 2010

A Brand New Year

It's been quite a snowy start to the New Year here at the University of Hertfordshire with the University being effectively closed for two days. The snow has started to clear and things are now getting back to normal. Christmas seems to be a fast fading memory.

There are four modules that the ESCAPE team are working with, that finish in semester A - which is in two weeks time. We will be capturing the module team experiences through interviews and running the student online assessment survey again to capture the student view.

Conditioning and Exercise in Sport is a level 3 module due to start in semester B. We are working with them - looking to use students to produce a series of conditioning and exercise techniques as part of the formative assessment process. It will be interesting to see how the students get on .We will be issuing students with flipcams to record their sessions.