eLearning Digest No 172 – December 2018

This digest contains:

  • UK conferences & workshops
  • Online learning and adult education MOOCs
  • Short external news items

Professional Development

UK Conferences & Workshops

21-23 Jan Oxford 8th Academic International Conference on Multi-Disciplinary Studies and Education – AICMSE 2019. [CONAL]
30 Jan London 13th International Conference on Language, Education, and Innovation 2019. [CONAL]
30-31 Jan Birmingham STEM Conference 2019: Delivering Next Generation Teaching in STEM. [HEA]
13-14 Feb London Learning Technologies conference. [LearnUpon]
22 Feb Belfast Academics in the digital university: current trends and future challenges. [SRHE]
2-4 Mar Cambridge IEEE–2019 8th International Conference on Educational and Information Technology (ICEIT 2019).  [CONAL]
7-9 Mar London International Conference on Advanced Research in Education. [CONAL]
12 Mar London Next steps for widening participation in higher education.  [Westminster Forum]
16-17 Mar London FEAST Conference on Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence & Technology (AIT-19). [CONAL]
27-29 Mar London 2019 2nd International Conference on Big Data and Education (ICBDE 2019).  [CONAL]
28 Mar London Technology in HE: the future of learning environments, the use of AI and the impact of online courses. [Westminster Forum]
9-10 Apr London 4th ICRTEL 2019 – International Conference on Research in Teaching, Education & Learning. [CONAL]
30 Apr London Next steps for degree apprenticeships in England – funding, quality assurance and widening participation. [Westminster Forum]
29-30 May Milton Keynes Change Agents’ Network (CAN) 2019.  [Katharine Reedy]
10-11 Apr Galway OER19 Recentering open: critical and global perspectives. [ALT]
18 Jun London EdTechXEurope 2019. [EdTechX]
3-4 Jul Manchester CILIP Conference 2019.  [CILIP]
10-12 Jul Durham 4th International Conference on Information and Education Innovations (ICIEI 2019). [CONAL]
24-26 Jul Belfast Twenty-Sixth International Conference on Learning. [CONAL]
25-26 Jul London Sixth International Conference on eBusiness, eCommerce, eManagement, eLearning and eGovernance (IC5E) 2019.  [CONAL]

Online learning and adult education MOOCs

 

24 Dec (4 wks) Learning, Knowledge, and Human Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Coursera]
31 Dec (5 wks x 5 hrs) Learning to Teach Online, University of New South Wales [Coursera]
31 Dec (5 wks x 4 hrs) Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom, University of California, Irvine [Coursera]
31 Dec (4 wks) New Learning: Principles and Patterns of Pedagogy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Coursera]
6 Jan (4 wks) Teaching Adult Learners, Central Institute of Technology [Open2Study]
7 Jan (2 wks x 2 hrs) Learning online: reflecting and sharing, University of Leeds [FutureLearn]
7 Jan (4 wks) Literacy Teaching and Learning: Aims Approaches and Pedagogies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Coursera]
7 Jan (3 wks x 3 hrs) Understanding Diversity and Inclusion, Purdue University [FutureLearn]
7 Jan (4 wks) e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Coursera]
11 Feb (4 wks x 4 hrs) The Online Educator: People and Pedagogy, The Open University [FutureLearn]
21 Jan (9 wks x 1 hr) (HE) Applying & leading assessment in student affairs, Colorado State University [Canvas]
12 Feb (4 wks x 3 hrs) Qualitative Research Methods: Conversational Interviewing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology [edX]

Self-paced online learning and adult education MOOCs and BOCs

A selection of short courses can be found on the OU Learning Design self-paced learning webpage.  These can be studied at your convenience to fit in with other commitments.


External News

 As everybody is short of time this month, we have a small selection of short news items to share. Normal service will resume in January.


 And Finally…

[BBC]

For those who celebrate, seasons greetings! Just in case you need Christmas dinner inspiration, we’d like to share a selection of unusual options including the ‘three-course Christmas dinner pasty’, a deep-fried Christmas dinner and Christmas dinner pizza.

Obtaining student perspectives

One of the key areas of growth activity over the past year or so has been to gather more student input into the design process. To this end we have a number of core approaches to gathering student perspectives during design phases:

  • we administer the curriculum design student panel, which provides us with access to over 1500 OU students for rapid feedback
  • we support and advise on developmental testing, frequently working in partnership with colleagues in LTI academic, editors and the module team
  • we advise module teams on use of Real-Time Student Feedback for gathering input during presentation from students

The examples below demonstrate how we go about deploying some of these approaches in our design work with module teams.

Student perspectives on aspects of module design at PG level

Gill MacMillan (Senior Learning Designer)

In this example, we were able to use the Curriculum Design Student Panel to gather student feedback – during the design phase – on specific aspects of the structure of a Postgraduate module:

  • Effectiveness of a weekly introductory slidecast/video, in which an academic author sets the scene and outlines the key focus and discussions to be covered in that week
  • Usefulness of a ‘Planning your week’ overview table – outlining the activities in the week ahead (timings, type of activity etc.) in order to help students plan their study time
  • Student preference between two alternative layouts for the study planner

A relevant cohort of students was identified, and while the number who then actually responded was relatively small, the feedback was very consistent and gave a clear steer from students on all 3 aspects:

  • The majority of students found the introductory slidecast/video easy to use, informative and more effective than reading online text, and said they would start the week by looking at it in order to understand the aspects of the topic to be covered. (In addition, an issue was raised about the visibility of the transcript link when viewing the video on an iPad. This was fed back to the Learning Systems team who were already aware of the issue and have made improvements to the functionality).
  • All the students found the ‘Planning your week’ overview useful
  • The majority expressed a clear preference for the second alternative layout

In terms of the overall findings and impact, the Module Chair was happy with the results and the process, recognised the usefulness of getting this direct student feedback, and went on to implement the findings. So there was a clear impact from the panel’s input, and the Module Chair summarised this impact in a follow-up message to those students who had participated. Now that the module is live, Real-time Student Feedback is being used to get feedback from students as they study, enabling us to get further feedback on these, and other, aspects of the module design.

Testing innovative assessment

Yvonne Murphy (Learning Designer)

This testing was carried out as part of the Developmental testing that the LTD team in LTI Academic lead on. We work in partnership with the LTD team initially, and then work to co-ordinate the input of D&P colleagues in the testing. LTI Academic liaise with the module team to establish how the testing will run, recruit the students and set up the evaluation. Learning Designers then support by making sure the content is setup in an authentic manner on the VLE, and work with D&P to get the materials ready and presented to an appropriate standard.

For this particular testing relating to activities for a new WELS module (E309), a key part of our role was the qualitative analysis of student feedback.

The development testing itself consisted of two student activities

  • Creating a ‘digital badge’ using a PowerPoint template with embedded audio.
  • Creating an Infographic comparing two datasets using a PowerPoint template with embedded audio.

Both activities used Office365 and required students to work collaboratively in pairs. There were 11 student participants who completed the E309 activities and associated questionnaire, some students gave additional feedback by phone.

As a result of this, we had a lot of qualitative data from the student questionnaire which was analysed and captured in a table summarising issues per participant per activity. Following the initial analysis we contacted some of the students and arranged a phone call with them to engage and explore their feedback more thoroughly.

Some of the identified risks and opportunities were as follows:

Risk & Issues Opportunity & Mitigation
If using a personal Office365 account cannot ‘share’ with partner (using Office365 share function) if using an OU student account and vice versa (cannot share outside of organisation) Cannot use the ‘share’ function of Office 365 to collaborate. Advise to share via email and on Module e-groups
PowerPoint had to be installed for audio and the desktop version used (audio functionality not available online) Provide instructions to save PowerPoint to desktop rather than using the online version
Unsure how to record audio Provide additional resource:

  • One page visual document on recording audio
  • Have a session in tutorial one around Office365 and PowerPoint
  • Produce a Camtasia screencast on basic navigation

 

Students lack confidence in IT and PowerPoint skills
  • Use digital badge activity as a ‘practise’ ‘dummy’ TMA to prepare students for creating a poster in TMA01
  • Provide additional support and resources (as above)
Unable to collaborate with partner due to clashes in time commitment – one partner did most/all of the work Students to produce individual infographics for assessment but to collaborate with the preparation and research.

 

The module team implemented all of the recommendations coming from the opportunities documented above (except the one page visual document as it was felt enough resource was provided with the screencast, tutorial, template and instructions).

eLearning Digest No 171 – November 2018

This digest contains:

  • UK conferences & workshops
  • Online learning and adult education MOOCs
  • UK HE news
  • Commercial news
  • Industry news
  • Short news items

Professional Development

UK Conferences & Workshops

4 Dec Huddersfield Physical and digital library spaces: the final frontier. [CILIP]
4 Dec London The future for higher technical education in England – delivery, simplifying pathways and establishing Institutes of Technology. [Westminster Forum]
5 Dec Birmingham Immersive Environments. [eLearn Hub]
6 Dec London Introduction to Higher Education.  [AUA]
10 Dec Online Best Practices in eLearning for the Accidental Instructional Designer. [eLearning Industry]
11 Dec Online 2018 ALT Online Winter Conference. [ALT]
21-23 Jan Oxford 8th Academic International Conference on Multi-Disciplinary Studies and Education – AICMSE 2019. [CONAL]
30 Jan London 13th International Conference on Language, Education, and Innovation 2019. [CONAL]
30-31 Jan Birmingham STEM Conference 2019: Delivering Next Generation Teaching in STEM. [HEA]
13-14 Feb London Learning Technologies conference. [LearnUpon]
22 Feb Belfast Academics in the digital university: current trends and future challenges. [SRHE]
2-4 Mar Cambridge IEEE–2019 8th International Conference on Educational and Information Technology (ICEIT 2019).  [CONAL]
7-9 Mar London International Conference on Advanced Research in Education. [CONAL]
12 Mar London Next steps for widening participation in higher education.  [Westminster Forum]
16-17 Mar London FEAST Conference on Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence & Technology (AIT-19). [CONAL]
27-29 Mar London 2019 2nd International Conference on Big Data and Education (ICBDE 2019).  [CONAL]
28 Mar London Technology in HE: the future of learning environments, the use of AI and the impact of online courses. [Westminster Forum]
9-10 Apr London 4th ICRTEL 2019 – International Conference on Research in Teaching, Education & Learning. [CONAL]
30 Apr London Next steps for degree apprenticeships in England – funding, quality assurance and widening participation. [Westminster Forum]
29-30 May Milton Keynes Change Agents’ Network (CAN) 2019.  [Katharine Reedy]
10-11 Apr Galway OER19 Recentering open: critical and global perspectives. [ALT]
18 Jun London EdTechXEurope 2019. [EdTechX]
3-4 Jul Manchester CILIP Conference 2019.  [CILIP]
10-12 Jul Durham 4th International Conference on Information and Education Innovations (ICIEI 2019). [CONAL]
24-26 Jul Belfast Twenty-Sixth International Conference on Learning. [CONAL]
25-26 Jul London Sixth International Conference on eBusiness, eCommerce, eManagement, eLearning and eGovernance (IC5E) 2019.  [CONAL]

Online learning and adult education MOOCs

19 Nov 4 wks Teaching Adult Learners, Central Institute of Technology [Open2Study]
19 Nov 5 wks Basics of Inclusive Design for Online Education, University of Colorado Boulder [Coursera]
20 Nov 3 wks x 5 hrs Learning Analytics in Higher Education, uc3m/Universidad Carlos III de Madrid [edX]
26 Nov 4 wks Learning, Knowledge, and Human Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Coursera]
3 Dec 2 wks x 2 hrs Learning online: reflecting and sharing, University of Leeds [FutureLearn]
3 Dec 5 wks x 5 hrs Learning to Teach Online, University of New South Wales [Coursera]
3 Dec 3 wks x 4 hrs Blended Learning Essentials: Embedding Practice, University of Leeds/UCL Institute of Education [FutureLearn]
3 Dec 5 wks x 4 hrs Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom, University of California, Irvine [Coursera]
11 Feb 4 wks x 4 hrs The Online Educator: People and Pedagogy, The Open University [FutureLearn]

Self-paced online learning and adult education MOOCs and BOCs

A larger selection of short courses can be found on the self-paced learning webpage.  These can be studied at your convenience to fit in with other commitments.


External News

UK HE

[BBC; Wonkhe]

A recent news story that three UK universities are on the verge of bankruptcy is concerning for staff, but risks creating extra stress for students. Among these, young people – in the process of applying for a place – may even be put off committing tens of thousands of pounds because the government can’t write a blank cheque to guarantee a bail-out if the worst happened. What would happen in reality may be a different story, but the risk of sending a shockwave through the sector is a reminder of the banking collapse.

Adding additional uncertainty to the financial stability of universities, a review of tuition fees is underway and may result in a reduction of c.£2,500 for students—bringing fees down to £6,500 p.a. (£13,500 for STEM subjects). Analysing the impact of this is a question of supply and demand, but no doubt there will be winners and losers. However, a decision is not due until early next year so there is still time for some joined-up thinking.

Returning to the rising controversy over university offers this summer, one UK University will no longer make unconditional offers. The aim is to maintain entry standards after they discovered that a number of their newly enrolled students did not get their predicted grades. A spokesperson at the University and College Union talks of: unconditional offers forcing students to make snap decisions, inflated grade predictions and the system making a mockery of exams.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Commercial News

[Campus Technology; Tech Crunch]

YouTube has announced a plan to make an investment of $20 million in educational content called YouTube Learning. The initiative will support education-focused creators by supporting the production of multi-session educational series. Conditions for funding include the requirement to have at least 25k subscribers and an intent to “teach in a factual, informative and trustworthy manner”. This is likely to increase the quality of site content and add to credibility.

Samsung has revealed a prototype of the long-rumoured folding smartphone, the ‘Infinity Flex Display’ also billed as a ‘Phablet’. Despite critique that it’s probably doomed from the start, it’s a technology that would make online study even more portable so it’s definitely one to watch.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hologram Lecturers

[BBC]

Imperial College London has revealed plans for lecturers to teach from afar using hologram-like apparitions. The effect that has previously been used to transmit images of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley will work like video-conferencing, except the technology is expected to give lecturers a greater sense of presence. The real benefit is the ability to invite guest speakers from all over the world without the need for expensive travel. Other advantages include simultaneous presentations to students in more than one location.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Trial and error creation of 3D experiences

[Inside Higher Ed]

Since cycling through several approaches to 3D innovation, Yale has started a new project to explore the development and application of 3D experiences for teaching and learning. Their ‘hub model’ partners instructors with technologically capable students and uses a centralised pool of equipment and funding.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The future of podcasting

[Mike Collins; TechCrunch]

After a slow start, initial academic interest in podcasting peaked in 2008 due to low listener numbers. However, in the last ten years listener numbers have quietly risen enough to increase the potential for using podcasting in higher education, helped by the massive growth of smartphone usage and a surge in user-generated content. Listener numbers have increased to such a level that the podcasting industry is potentially headed for a Netflix-like approach to paid streaming services for exclusive content—an approach that, based on TV streaming, is likely to popularise the technology and make it part of everyday life.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Distance learning promotes success

[Audrey Watters]

Distance learning breaks down the barriers caused by life’s complications. There is no ‘typical’ distance learner—everyone has their own reason. When Afghanistan Veteran Jeremy Haynes, a paraplegic following a terrorist attack, told his psychologist he wanted to go back to school he was told to be realistic, he wouldn’t operate mentally like he did before. Happy to prove the psychologist wrong, Jeremy is now studying for a doctorate in business administration and flourishing as an online learner.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Is standardisation really more important than excellence?

[Inside Higher Ed]

ExtensionEngine’s Scott Moore puts excellence before anything else. He reports on the number of conferences and workshops he’s attended where excellence has been overlooked in favour of standardisation, adoption rates, faculty impediments and limited budgets. Standardisation hinders innovation, and this doesn’t work in an age of rapid technological change. You can’t meet student needs, now or in the future, if you don’t make the most of what’s available and plan for what’s yet to come. Excellence is continuous improvement and that can’t be standardised.


Shorts


 And Finally…

[Edsurge]

The ‘Edvation x Summit’ in Tokyo has revealed the latest innovations that could be enhancing Japan’s educational future. Among them, two stand out:

  • Robots that look like cute marshmallows and attend school on behalf of students who may be unable to attend in person.
  • Headsets with cat ears that measure brainwaves to gauge the wearer’s state of attention—alerting teachers at a glance when attention wanders. The fuzzy feline ears perk up when a student is at full attention and fall flat when they’re not.

eLearning Digest No 170 – October 2018

It’s almost time for the clocks to go back in preparation for what has been forecast to be a very cold winter, so it must also be time for the October edition of the eLearning Digest.  Other recent editions are listed here.

This digest contains:

  • UK conferences & workshops
  • Online learning and adult education MOOCs
  • UK HE and BrHExit news
  • MOOC news
  • Apprenticeship degrees
  • Digital accessibility
  • Commercial news
  • Industry news
  • Short news items

Professional Development

UK Conferences & Workshops

5-6 Nov London Wonkfest 18: two solid days of cutting edge debate and endlessly interesting discussion. [Wonkhe]
7 Nov London An Introduction to Agile Project Management for Publishing. [ALPSP]
8 Nov London The future for the legal education and training framework. [Westminster Forum]
15 Nov London Next steps for improving STEM delivery at university. [Westminster Forum]
22 Nov Online Action Learning Sets: what on earth are they? [CILIP]
23 Nov Loughborough Making Educational Escape Rooms. [CILIP]
29 Nov London Association of University Administrators (AUA) Autumn Conference 2018: Rising to the challenges of change. [Clayton Wright]
29 Nov London Higher Education Data Conference. [HESA]
4 Dec Huddersfield Physical and digital library spaces: the final frontier. [CILIP]
6 Dec London Introduction to Higher Education. [AUA]
11 Dec Online 2018 ALT Online Winter Conference. [ALT]
21-23 Jan Oxford 8th Academic International Conference on Multi-Disciplinary Studies and Education – AICMSE 2019. [CONAL]
30 Jan London 13th International Conference on Language, Education, and Innovation 2019. [CONAL]
30-31 Jan Birmingham STEM Conference 2019: Delivering Next Generation Teaching in STEM. [HEA]
2-4 Mar Cambridge IEEE–2019 8th International Conference on Educational and Information Technology (ICEIT 2019). [CONAL]
12 Mar London Next steps for widening participation in higher education. [Westminster Forum]
16-17 Mar London FEAST Conference on Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence & Technology (AIT-19). [CONAL]
27-29 Mar London 2019 2nd International Conference on Big Data and Education (ICBDE 2019). [CONAL]
28 Mar London Technology in HE: the future of learning environments, the use of AI and the impact of online courses. [Westminster Forum]
29-30 May Milton Keynes Change Agents’ Network (CAN) 2019. [Katharine Reedy]
10-11 Apr Galway OER19 Recentering open: critical and global perspectives. [ALT]
3-4 Jul Manchester CILIP Conference 2019. [CILIP]
24-26 Jul Belfast Twenty-Sixth International Conference on Learning. [CONAL]
25-26 Jul London Sixth International Conference on eBusiness, eCommerce, eManagement, eLearning and eGovernance (IC5E) 2019. [CONAL]

Online learning and adult education MOOCs

22 Oct (4 wks x 3 hrs) Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching, University of Southampton [FutureLearn]
22 Oct (5 wks) Basics of Inclusive Design for Online Education, University of Colorado Boulder [Coursera]
22 Oct (8 wks x 6 hrs) Instructional Design and Technology: Learning Theories, University of Maryland [edX]
22 Oct (8 wks x 8 hrs) Instructional Design: Digital Media, New Tools and Technology, University of Maryland [edX]
29 Oct (3 wks x 2 Hrs) Using Virtual Scenarios to create Effective Learning, St. George’s University of London [FutureLearn]
29 Oct (5 wks x 4 hrs) Foundations of virtual instruction, University of California, Irvine [Coursera]
29 Oct (4 wks) Learning, Knowledge, and Human Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Coursera]
30 Oct (6 wks x 5 hrs) Digitizing Higher Education, University of Texas Arlington [edX]
5 Nov (2 wks x 2 hrs) Learning online: reflecting and sharing, University of Leeds [FutureLearn]
5 Nov (2 wks x 3 hrs) Digital Learning: Learning meets service design, Deakin University [FutureLearn]
3 Dec (3 wks x 4 hrs) Blended Learning Essentials: Embedding Practice, University of Leeds/UCL Institute of Education [FutureLearn]

Self-paced online learning and adult education MOOCs and BOCs

A selection of short courses can be found on the OU Learning Design self-paced learning webpage. These can be studied at your convenience to fit in with other commitments.


External News

UK HE and BrHExit

[The Times; THE]

Further to the news over the summer about the massive increase in unconditional offers made by universities for 2018 entry, the headteachers of leading independent schools have raised concerns about the impact on A level performance.  When pupils know they don’t need to pass, a reduction in effort results in poorer grades for students and, according to the umbrella group representing 285 private schools that include Eton, risks damaging schools’ reputations.

Following an announcement in the summer about The University of Glasgow signing a deal to open a European study centre in Germany, further UK—Europe collaborations are planned.  Imperial College London has signed a partnership with the Technical University of Munich to have staff jointly appointed by both institutions.  The aim is to prevent barriers in the European scientific area and to keep access to EU research funding.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

M(O)OC News

[Audrey Watters; EdSurge]

Fifth largest MOOC-provider FutureLearn, owned by The Open University, is looking to raise £40M to invest in platform improvements that will provide better support for online degree students.  The platform has previously announced over 20 Masters degree and graduate certificates, and more recently a new Bachelor of Arts Undergraduate degree from the University of Newcastle that starts in February 2019.

In contrast, The University of Michigan is encouraging on-campus students to engage with MOOCs it has previously developed.  The purpose varies from personal enrichment to fulfilment of prerequisites, and it is expected that some professors may use parts of MOOCs as homework or as a background reading exercise to support learning technical subjects.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Commercial News

[Goldie Blumenstyk; Google; TechCrunch]

Four years after setting out to build software to save instructors time with marking, AI-assisted grading company Gradescope has joined the Turnitin family.  Both companies share a similar background story, founded by UC Berkeley graduate students who saw inefficiencies in student feedback.  The combined offering promises to make the lives of instructors and students ‘better and better’.

After seven years of operation, Google has announced that consumer Google+ will close.  The social networking platform was Google’s fourth attempt to break into the market after their earlier attempts with Orkut, Google Friend Connect and Google Buzz.  In the early days, growth looked promising but despite best efforts spam became such a major issue that even in 2017 users complained that the level of spam made the platform unusable.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Apprenticeship degrees

[Wonkhe; OfS]

The Office for Students (OfS) has carried out research to help with improving degree apprenticeship opportunities.  Looking at the profile of apprentices, using a sample of 1,750 enrolments in 2016/17, the OfS found the greatest density of degree apprenticeships in the North East and North West of England, a greater uptake by men than Women, and comprising a lower proportion of students from minority ethnic groups than similar HE courses.  The split of younger and mature entrants is roughly split, with under 21s more likely to opt for STEM-related apprenticeships.  The real advantage seems to come from the higher proportion of students coming from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, demonstrating the benefit of apprenticeships for social mobility.

If learners are to fully benefit from apprenticeships, a clearer strategy is required to offer a full range of opportunities from entry-level to degrees and higher levels.  In order to broaden the scope of apprenticeships and to enable progression, there is a need for credit transfers and a mix of work and study-based modules.  Although not a solution to the HE fees crisis, better designed apprenticeship degrees could play a part tackling the collapse in part-time and adult student numbers, but the quality of what is offered relies heavily on strong partnerships between apprenticeship providers and universities.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Digital accessibility

[ALT; Wonkhe; HEPI]

New UK legislation now requires universities to meet accessibility requirements and to publish an accessibility statement on their websites and apps.  While the Equality Act (2010) protects disabled students from discrimination, this new legislation specifically targets digital accessibility to ensure that content is designed to be compatible with assistive software.  This compatibility requirement is not just technical, but also covers the effectiveness of steps taken to ensure users are not hindered in their interaction with digital content.

Modern technology plays a massive part in supporting disabled students, and this may have contributed to increased participation of dyslexic students in HE over the past twenty years.  Between 1996-7 and 2016-17, the percentage of students with dyslexia increased from 1% of all students to 6%.  The recent Public Sector Bodies Websites and Mobile Applications Accessibility Regulations (2018) will ensure that more institutions support even more students with a range of different needs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Student debt and mental health

[Wonkhe]

World Mental Health Day may have passed but that doesn’t mean issues affecting mental health go away for another year.  For many, the reality of student debt is a source of ongoing distress—not just during their days of study, but well into their future.  Even with staggered repayments for current graduates in the UK, having a figure of up to £57,000 hanging over them is a huge burden.  In some cases, the problem doesn’t end there.  Increased social mobility often leads to the poorest students also turning to commercial finance, or worse, resulting in debt repayments that are not linked to income and cannot be deferred in the same way.  These pressures need to be taken into consideration with timetabling and when planning student workload.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The world’s first ‘blockchain university’

[THE]

There have been whispers of using blockchain in education for a while, and the world’s first blockchain university is due to start teaching early next year.  A team of Oxford academics are working with the pioneers at Woolf University to provide a system that is more affordable for students while paying more for teachers.  However, touted as a ‘borderless university’, there are doubts over how the concept will fit with European data protection laws.  Only time will tell.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Face-to-face versus online

[University World News]

Amid disagreement over what disruptive innovation in education looks like, personalised online learning and meeting individual students’ needs is likened to Swiss cheese, where students are left with holes in their learning.  While it cannot be denied that online education reduces peer contact and the social benefit of campus-based learning, online courses offer something more.  The ability to use real-time revision tools gives students more control, enabling them to identify specific gaps in their learning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Free tuition initiative at Cambridge

[University World News; THE]

Cambridge University plans to offer a year of free tuition to disadvantaged students who fail to meet the required A-level grades to meet their offer.  The ‘Transitional Year’ will be funded by philanthropists and aims to widen access to students who may otherwise be put off applying.  Participation will not guarantee the students an automatic place at Cambridge at the end of the programme, but Cambridge VC, Professor Troope, claims it will get them into a top university.  One Oxford College, Lady Margaret Hall, is set to offer a similar programme.


Shorts


And Finally…

[Wonkhe; BBC]

If you’re considering studying for leisure, you may like to consider one of the niche courses on offer around the world, such as Puppetry and bagpiping, Bruce Springsteen’s theologies or a whole course about Lady Gaga—among others.

Elsewhere in the news, a woman was kicked of a flight in the US because her emotional support squirrel was considered outside the realms of what is considered ‘acceptable’ on an aircraft, unlike the emotional support turkey who had his own special chair, a kangaroo and a miniature horse.

And it’s not just us humans who need emotional support.  Paradise Wildlife Park’s snow leopard had a bit of a shock recently when she woke from her nap to discover a new camera.  Luckily the said captured her reaction—available for you to watch on the BBC news site.

Innovate ~ Design ~ Enhance

This blog is protected by dr Dave\'s Spam Karma 2: 170 Spams eaten and counting...