Learning Technologies Review: the next phase!

In 2009, the ICT Strategy Group established a Learning Technologies Review chaired by the DVC Student Experience. A scoping meeting held in October 2009, involving colleagues from LRIS and CeLT, identified the need to consider technology alongside staff development and curriculum innovation, and proposed review of the following technology areas:

  1. Virtual Learning Environment, to replace WebCT Vista
  2. Rich media content discovery, commissioning, capture, authoring and management
  3. Assessment and Feedback support tools, such as e-submission and electronic marking
  4. Personal and Professional Development support tools, such as e-Portfolio
  5. Classroom technology
  6. Information, Advice and Guidance
  7. Electronic Library services, such as reading lists and digital collections
  8. Collaboration technologies, such as synchronous conferencing
  9. Mobile technologies
  10. Systems Integration

To ensure decisions could be taken in time for the start of the 2010/11 academic year, proposals for a phased review were accepted and the initial phase focused on items 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Requirements and proposals were developed based on evaluation of current systems, focus groups, faculty road-shows, email suggestion boxes, user testing of possible solutions and input from Academic Development Committee. After detailed consideration of a range of options, the ICT Strategy Group decided that a vision of joined-up systems in which a core learning system could be extended through an expanding range of supported tools, would be best served by:

  • Creating a new Virtual Learning Environment for 2011/12 using the open source Moodle software with the Equella digital repository, hosted by University of London Computing Centre with an MMU-based Disaster Recovery facility
  • Upgrading the Library Reading List system to the new Talis Aspire system for 2010/11
  • Upgrading the pilot Apple Podcasting system to a production version for 2010/11
  • Developing proposals for a minimum technology specification for all teaching rooms
  • Allocating a budget for a further year of trials of e-Portfolio systems
  • Creating a focused organisational development initiative on digital literacy for academic staff
  • Reviewing other learning technologies, such as synchronous conferencing, in January 2011

Full details of the decision can be found in this post. Work is now well underway delivering the systems and actions approved by the ICT Strategy Group, and about to commence for the second phase of the Learning Technologies Review. This will focus in particular on:

  • Rich Media – building on 2010/11 work that improved the Apple Podcast server and purchased a university-wide license for Flashback software for screen capture and Powerpoint voice-over, this activity will focus on:
    • storage and indexing of audio and visual materials, including a review of current file servers and the possibilities of the new Equella repository
    • arrangements for off-air TV recording, including consideration of MMU’s ERA license and recent BUFVC developments with JISC and the Box of Broadcasts
    • arrangements for lecture capture, including requirements for fixed and mobile audio and video capture, storage and streaming
    • arrangements for discovering, re-purposing, commissioning and creating interactive, media-rich learning materials
  • Assessment and Feedback – building on 2010/11 work to establish the new Moodle VLE and integrate it with the Turnitin plagiarism detection service, this activity will focus on:
    • arrangements for submitting work, including publicising hand-in dates and absolute deadlines, confirming submission of work and electronic submission options via Moodle, Turnitin and other specialist services
    • arrangements for online assessment, including requirements for suitable locations, authoring software for quizzes, and options for formative and summative assessment via Moodle and other specialist services
    • arrangements for online marking, including lessons learned from recent trials with tablets and scaffolded, criteria-based marking
  • Portfolio – building on the 2010/11 pilot and evaluation work involving PebblePad, TalentOnView and findings from the Supporting Responsive Curricula project, this activity will
    • summarize lessons learned from the e-Portfolio pilots
    • present an options appraisal for institutional investment in software to support personal and professional development and showcasing talent
  • Classroom Technology – building on the 2010/11 work to establish minimum standards and to compare current provision against them, this activity will focus on:
    • classifying room types (large lecture, small seminar… etc), developing minimum standards for equipment in each and illustrating the affordances of the standard equipment for learning and teaching
  • Information, Advice and Guidance – building on 2010/11 plans for appointments to Learning Technology Support Officer positions and new information roles within ICTS, this activity will focus on:
    • arrangements for helping staff and students to make best use of learning technologies
    • opportunities for embedding use of learning technology within the academic staff PDR process
  • Electronic Library – building on 2010/11 work to establish a new reading list and digitisation support system, this activity will focus on
    • arrangements for supporting the discovery and embedding of Open Educational Resources
    • arrangements for reviewing use of recommended materials to ensure maximum return on investment
  • Collaboration Systems – this activity will focus on:
    • synthesizing requirements and presenting an options appraisal for collaboration technologies, such as synchronous conferencing
  • Mobile Technologies – building on 2010/11 work to establish a mobile version of the myMMU portal, this activity will focus on
    • synthesizing analysis of students’ access to and interests in using mobile devices for learning and teaching to present options for further development of MMU’s mobile presence
  • Systems Integration – building on 2010/11 work to support EQAL, this activity will focus on
    • developing proposals for an architecture, roadmap and user engagement strategy for integration of systems that support teaching and learning.

The second phase of the Learning Technologies Review will present its findings to the ICT Strategy Group on a subset of these items in late February, 2011. An action plan for undertaking this second phase will be published here shortly. Feedback from MMU staff and students will help prioritise and plan that work. We look forward to hearing from you via blog comments or the email suggestion box: ltreview@mmu.ac.uk

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