2 papers accepted for MoodleMoot IE & UK 2016!

I am so excited to be presenting not just once, but twice at this year’s MoodleMoot IE & UK 2016. Both Aurélie and I each had an idea for a paper – leading on one, supporting the other with theirs if they were accepted. Therefore we are so happy that both were approved and we get to share two Moodle stories with the delegates this year.

Our abstracts are below:

Presentation 1:  Tuesday @ 15:00 – room B
Enhancing group assessment with Moodle, Mahara and Turnitin

MMT2A group portfolio can sometimes appear as a disjointed collection of documents, often lacking a cohesive narrative running through it. At Cranfield Defence and Security (one of four schools at Cranfield University), the decision was made to trial an online collaborative space to compile a digital portfolio to be used as an assessed piece of groupwork.  The Module Manager for the Systems Engineering Workshop module, part of the MSc in Systems Engineering for Defence Capability, had used the Mahara ePortfolio platform in the past to create an online digital poster and wanted to see if it could encourage his students to work together more as a group to compile a richer and more structured reflective online Portfolio.

This presentation will show you how three learning systems, Moodle, Mahara and Turnitin, were collectively used to support and deliver the week-long module:

Moodle – the ‘lynchpin’
to provide pre-reading/activities to complete prior to the start of the module

Mahara – the student space
to give the students the space to compile their group portfolio, discuss ideas, and collect evidence and artefacts

Turnitin – the assessment & feedback tool
to allow students to submit their work and for the assessors to write their feedback

Feedback and reflections from the students, lecturer and learning technologists will be shared throughout this talk, along with a showcase of how Mahara was used to create bespoke learning resources, along with the students’ finished portfolios.

Presentation 2:  Wednesday @ 15:15 – room B
Improving Turnitin Inductions with Moodle and Open Badges

Turnitin BadgeCranfield Defence and Security is one of four schools at Cranfield University. Based at the UK Defence Academy, our students are all mature learners studying post-graduate qualifications in engineering, science, acquisition, management or leadership. 

All students submit all coursework to Turnitin during their studies. They undertake a face-to-face Turnitin induction in an IT lab at the start of their studies. This allows them to get an overview of the tool and to see how the useful features such as the filters, similarity matches and feedback options work, as well as going through the process of submitting a document.

In our presentation, we will show you how we used a Moodle course with activities to guide the students through their induction. Upon completion of these activities, the students are rewarded with an Open Badge. This badge has been shown to be a great motivator for them to complete the training. All those who fail to obtain the badge are reported to their Course Director and may be prevented from submitting further coursework.

We will also share how we refined our training during the academic year after evaluating the initial launch in September 2015 and the reaction from our staff and students to Open Badges. We will demonstrate how we set up the Moodle course for the automation to work.

This will be my second ever MoodleMoot – last one was over 5 years ago! Looking forward to seeing everyone there,

Sam x

 

eLearning in UK Schools – the future is looking good :)

Last week I had the pleasure to watch a great presentation from staff and pupils at the outstanding Perins Shool in Hampshire, England. During their studies, pupils undertake ‘Transform classes‘ that aim to develop creative thinking. I enjoyed hearing how the learners are encouraged to work together to solve problems using a variety of electronic media & devices:

  • Laptops and smart phones to capture and record information
  • Moodle to provide a framework, pose questions
  • The web/social media to research the answers & make connections
  • Mahara to combine and refine the answers (or ask further questions!)

What I love most is that the pupils are encouraged to work in ways that will enhance and develop their skills, skills that *most* professionals use such as effective group working, delegation and researching on the web. Anyway, the video below was played during their presentation and my jaw just hit the floor 😉

Mahara – the joys of starting again from scratch!

It’s been almost 3 months since starting my new post at Cranfield School of Defence and Security. Since being here I’ve been able to see the tools that I’ve been using for the past 8yrs with ‘fresh eyes’. One tool in particular would be the Mahara ePortfolio system which has only just been installed here since my arrival.

Some of you may be familiar with my previous work with Mahara at Southampton Solent University where the focus was very much placed upon visually appealing assessment outcomes that could be shared online with prospective employers. Due to the nature of the courses delivered at my new place of work (Military Vehicles, Defence, Explosives etc), much of our students’ work can’t be shared due to the sensitive nature of the content (think weapons design – you don’t want that falling into the wrong hands…). Our students are also multinational, multi-skilled and exclusively postgraduate.

After watching many excellent presentations from colleagues around the world (especially Kristina, Sigi, Linda and Pascale) I have decided to adopt a new approach to using Mahara. Many of our students are already on their career path, so employability skills aren’t so high on our lecturers’ agendas. What is important though is the ability to articulate what has been learnt during the modules and put it into real life context. Also, being able to constantly feedback on progress from a student-lecturer perspective can be key to improving the end result of their Masters Thesis submission.

I’m also exploring a ‘less is more’ approach to designing the support materials, something that has been repeated expressed by Learning Technologist Domi Sinclair from UCL. Students don’t want to be spoonfed every bit of information – they just want enough to get them going.

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With this in mind I have started to send out ‘feelers’ to see if any of our academics are interested in exploring Mahara further. I have created a handout that I have been taking with me to meetings, and will be shortly facilitating a couple of awareness sessions for lecturers and library staff:

What is Mahara

So, I guess it’ll be a case of ‘watch this space’! Fingers crossed that I’ll have something to talk about at the next UK Mahara Conference in November 🙂

Meet Monty!

mugse2Just a quick post to introduce our Mahara User Group South England (MUGSE) mascot Monty – created by Evonne at Catalyst HQ in New Zealand 🙂 We at MUGSE think he’s lovely!

Evonne is also working on a background banner for him that represents the diversity of South England… so watch this space!

To get involved with MUGSE go to:

My New Zealand Mahara adventure!

I’m now back at work after what can only be described as a ‘once in a life time’ opportunity and definitely the highlight of my career to date. Being invited to present at a conference is always exciting and an honor, but it’s even more of an achievement if invited abroad. This blog post may be a tad long (sorry) but I hope you will get a sense of how happy I am to have experienced what I did in Auckland.

Mahara Hui 2015 – See schedule

This was a wonderful conference and a great opportunity to meet those who I’ve only ever spoken to online – and of course to get together with the marvelous Kristina Hoeppner again.

I was fortunate enough to be involved in the pre-hui developers day hosted by Catalyst, where I delivered a workshop on re/designing mahara features. This was a great way of getting the developers and users together to discuss issues and wish-list items for Mahara, and look into ways of improving them. I hope it gave Catalyst plenty of food for thought 😉 (sorry Aaron!)

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(Pictures by @anitsirk)

My keynote was the following day, however it was at this point I became unwell. I managed to get through my talk, but unfortunately deteriorated afterwards. Many thanks to the staff and students of Solent who allowed me to share their stories and work with the world!

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(Pictures by @anitsirk)

You can see my presentation below, resources can be found underneath:

https://mahara.org/user/samtaylor/maharahuinz15

I saw so many fantastic presentations and case studies – too many to mention here, but in particular I enjoyed:

My main ‘takeaways’ are all to do with how Mahara can be used for so much more than just assessment. I hope to get cracking with it here at Cranfield CDS site at some point over the summer! Thanks to all the sponsors and organisers – and to AUT for hosting the event, and for my amazing mountain jade necklace xxx

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Auckland University of Technology

As part of my trip, I was invited to AUT for the day to talk about my experiences of using Mahara, going through the HEA Fellowship and CMALT applications, and any other Edutech topic that popped up. I also facilitated a workshop with academic staff at AUT based on a previous one I did at the Mahara Barcamp in Germany last year:

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I had such a wonderful time there and really enjoyed talking to members of the CfLAT team (especially Mark, Shen, Michele, Lisa and Jawyei x). Thanks for the gifts, food and great conversations!

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Exploring NZ

I did have a couple of days to explore Auckland and some of the surrounding tourist attractions with my hubby Gav, including Waiheke Island, Sea Life Aquarium, Hobbiton Movie Set, Glow Worm Caves, Auckland Zoo, Auckland Museum, The Star Dome Observatory & Planetarium, and the Sky Tower. Below are just a few of my pictures, but I won’t bore you with many.

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Thanks for the wonderful memories 🙂

I’m a Mahara Hui Keynote!

This week it was announced that I will be at the Mahara Hui 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand, presenting one of the Keynote presentations. I am so honoured and excited about this amazing opportunity, especially as I’ll be able to meet all the wonderful people that I’ve been speaking to online in real life.

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My talk is titled ‘Growing up with Mahara’ and will take you on Southampton Solent University’s journey from the start of our ePortfolio exploration in 2008, to where we are now, concluding with what will be happening next (we think). You can read my abstract via the Mahara Hui website. This presentation pretty much compliments my keynote that I delivered last year at the German MaharaMoot barcamp which looked at how we at Solent support such a large number of courses that use Mahara, giving its diverse and flexible nature.

If you intend on coming to the Mahara Hui and had some questions for me, please feel free to leave them as comments on the bottom of this page – I’ll do my best to answer them.

Anyhoo, time to start hunting down my trusty academics and students and recording their thoughts on film! Their voices are just as important as mine 🙂

Sam x

‘Healthy Communities’ – Supporting Health Education with Technology

2015 is already shaping up to be a very busy year for me!

I am excited to announce that a paper proposal my colleague (Andrew Doig) and I have written has been accepted at the first ever ‘Healthy Communities’ conference. The conference is being organised by the Solent Health and Wellbeing Network and aims to bring together local partners to share good practice:

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www.healthycommunitiesconference.org

Our proposal:

Innovating Health & Wellbeing Education with Learning Technologies

“Sam Taylor and Andrew Doig, along with their colleagues in SSU’s Learning Technologies team, have done a great deal of work supporting Health & Wellbeing teaching and learning activities. During this presentation they will demonstrate some of the projects they have been involved in, and suggest ways in which other practitioners present may enhance their student, client or external partner’s experience through the use of online and other technologies.

Within SSU, LT has worked with course teams to produce an Open Resource for the Social Work community showcasing student research, created ‘mock-up’ pages in the hope of securing external contracts, and will be piloting the use of ePortfolios with both the Health & Social Care, and Social Work degrees.

LT also work with external partners in the Health sector. We will demonstrate our strategy for working with externals to develop online distance learning courses that serve a variety of purposes, such as training in health techniques, or education in specific health fields. We apply the Solent Online Learning standards to support and train our partners in developing very high quality online learning experiences that have been used to educate patients, doctors and medical students.

Ultimately, it is our hope that by presenting our work, we can demonstrate and inspire ways in which educators and health practitioners attending the conference can innovate their teaching and training through the use of learning technologies.”

Hopefully I will be able to share our slides and feedback at some point after the event 🙂 How exciting!