#ocTEL Week 6 – How to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of particular TEL approaches


Think about a TEL initiative you’ve been involved with.  How did you know it had been successful or provided benefit?

When the outcomes match the aims, or when significant progress has been made in a related, though not necessarily specified, area.

Was the initiative evaluated? If not, why not?


 If yes, what evaluation took place, what did you and your stakeholders need to know and how were the findings used?

The findings were used to ascertain whether additional monies would be found for further implementation of the project.  To establish this, we needed to know how both teachers and learners were using the technology, as well as how they felt about such use.

Reflect on the different ways you have come across for evaluating the effectiveness and impact of TEL, using the headings below. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?  What do you need to know?

Where this is agreement, and where there is divergence, between the views held by both teachers and learners.

 What evaluation methods could help you find out?

Interviews, focus groups, statistical analysis, online survey

 What advantages do these methods have?

A triangulated viewpoint from a range of perspectives, providing information on a range of different aspects.

What disadvantages do these methods have? E

Technology dependent; time consuming


Activity 6.3: Exploring enhancement and evaluation in practice

Find an example of innovation in TEL which interests you.

The use of electronic badges.

Contact the innovator and arrange a short conversation to explore (at least) the following issues: – what was the impetus and rationale behind the innovation?


what has the innovation achieved so far in terms of student learning?

For me, as a course attendee, the badges have acted as a driver.  They’ve been useful in looking at what is required, then ensuring I’ve done what is necessary.

what has its impact been on the staff involved and the wider institution?

Implementation of badges in my own college.

how do you know it has had this impact? What evaluation strategies and methods have been used?

Discussions, meetings, agreement of ways forward.

Through discussion and screen sharing with Martin Hawksey I gained some ‘inside view’ of the practical implementation of electronic badges and the ways in which they are, or are not, compatible with different platforms.  As a result of this discussion, I elected to implement badges through Moodle’s own system, rather than use an external one.  Most helpful, Martyn, thank you!



#ocTEL Week 5 – Leadership, Management & Keeping on Track

Who were your stakeholders?

The Project in question aimed to provide a web-based resource sharing tool.  This was primarily aimed at teaching staff but the focus of the project was on the creation of the resource.

What resources were used?

Self-created resources as part of the project.

How clear/achievable was the project plan?

Very clear and very achievable in terms of resource creation, less clear regarding how to get teaching staff to actually use the end product.  We had assumed they would be pleased to have such a resource and had not taken into account an unwillingness to share ‘their’ resources.

What methods did you use to evaluate your project?

A varied selection but, crucially, none which included end user uptake!

How did you measure project success?

Creation of the project resource and measurement of its use.

Did you celebrate your success and did this encourage further developments?

Yes we did, both internally and externally, but whilst this resulted in some minor, and temporary, external use, there was no uptake internally from teaching staff.


From the outset, the project should have focussed on the end users, as much as the resource creation.  Had this been built into the project design it may be that greater success would have been achieved in user buy-in to the resulting resources.


Explorer Activity 5.7: Student involvement in TEL (how students in your institution engage with and influence TEL developments)

All TEL developments are initiated through the lens of what benefits they will bring to students.  It is student need which drives such developments.  However, with students who have a range of learning difficulties and cognitive impairments, it is often difficult to ensure their true understanding of project information, and project ideas rarely come from the students themselves.  That said, students are included in all subsequent stages of project work.  This includes user testing, product development, and the provision of both formative and summative feedback.  Inclusion into project work holds value for the students in many ways, not least their perception of its value and status.


#ocTEL Week 4 – Supporting learners through assessment and feedback using TEL





Why did/would you choose a particular type of e-assessment? Describe why you think it is effective and how it can help deepen knowledge and understanding.
InStep is an Open Source video database assessment tool. Whilst InStep can be used for a range of learners, in diverse settings and contexts, it was originally conceived as a tool to provide reliable assessment measures for non-accredited learning for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LLDD), with an emphasis on learners being supported to recognise and record their own progress and achievement (RARPA). Many of these small steps of progress go un-measured, yet it is essential that learners are able to evidence progress which they have made. InStep combines an assessment continuum with a video database, where pedagogical aspects of implementing such a tool enhance learner development.

In your experience, what type of approach creates an environment conducive to self-directed learning, peer support and collaborative learning? How might technology help?
Traditional assessment methods are rarely appropriate for learners with LLDD, nor do they recognise that these learners make progress in many ways – particularly in increasing their confidence, in posture, social and life skills. Given the important role of appropriate and relevant assessment in special needs education – with stroke patients, those in rehabilitative recovery, and within speech and language therapy, for example – it is essential to develop additional forms of assessment which capture the achievements and attainments of such learners with authenticity, fairness and validity. Various e-portfolios offer a video database, however these are not combined with formalised assessment measures and, for learners with LLDD, they are largely inaccessible, being text-based. Whilst the use of video technologies in assessment is gaining momentum, and there is some clear evidence of the benefits and potential in using these devices as a tool for learning and teaching, further discussion around the development and implementation of video assessment is required.

What opportunities and challenges does this approach present to tutors?
Overall, the assessment continuum is seen as a valuable educational tool, though staff confidence in making assessment judgments based on video footage varies. Whilst the focus of developing InStep had been on the use of video evidence and the development of an assessment continuum, technical aspects played a more dominant role than had been anticipated. Initially, some staff had difficulty in capturing the required steps of progress within the limitation of 50 seconds per video clip and others had difficulty in taking quality, reliable video footage and performing basic editing and trimming procedures independently. However, all staff commented that as the project proceeded they learned how to limit their filming to that which was immediately relevant and pertinent. This is important because the ability to make an assessment judgment against a video clip is largely dependent on the quality of the video clip itself.

(Edited extract from: Fern Faux, David Finch, Lisa Featherstone in Computers Helping People with Special Needs (2012). InStep: A Video Database Assessment Tool)



#ocTEL Week 3 – Materials & Platforms for Learning Technology (#ocTEL)



Explorer Activity 3.5: Evaluating a resource in your area

As I am not currently in a teaching position, I have used the questions above to discuss an on-line repository (developed by specialist colleges) for easy read and accessible adult focused resources for teaching and learning for use by learners with a range of learning difficulties. Specialist colleges working with post 16 learners who have learning difficulties and very low levels of literacy find it difficult to find adult appropriate resources for a range of learning themes critical for independence and personal development and so http://www.ark-hive.co.uk/ was developed to help to address these problems. As can be seen on the site, learners can feed in comments and rate each resource against a set of criteria. The resources include visual, kinaesthetic and auditory materials and are categorised in such a way that quick searching accommodates the location of resources pertaining to both subject matter and pedagogical approach. Resources, which can be created and assessed by both staff and students, provide a copyright-free resource bank.


The impact of the provision of resources which are appropriate for learners both chronologically and developmentally, and which also meet specific learning needs, will be to greatly contribute to enhanced learner understanding of the subject matter. In order to achieve this, all resources undergo quality assurance where the following criteria are applied to all submitted resources:


Adult Focussed (post-16 age group) resources based on chronological rather than developmental age

Content Quality clear, unbiased, and accurate

Presentation Design not college specific/branded; consistent fonts; consideration of colour schemes; good quality audio and video

Accessibility single colour, plain background; clear fonts, suitably sized

Standards Compliance  as per site copyright/terms and license; no unauthorised screen grabs


#ocTEL Week 3

Take the perspective of a learner and spend some time using:

I looked at http://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/philosophy which was very clearly structured and, for as far as I watched it, maintained my focus with its range of different uses of  explanatory media (speech, image, media activity and so on).  Also, the post video interaction possibilities are designed to further engage the learner, offering opportunities for authentic discussion, and hence learning.


I selected this example: http://waterlife.nfb.ca/#/ and, actually, it is very lovely (well, with music by Eno what else could it be!) but, as a ‘user’, I was very passive.  It could do with working on aspects of its accessibility too!  Nonetheless, I can see that for some learners with cognitive impairments this might be a very good way to introduce a subject, or discussion around a subject.


I chose to ‘Play the Virtual Patient’.  We use this approach for some CPD at college and that, I think, is its proper role.  It is extremely useful for training (as opposed to learning) and generally popular with staff.  Although the user must make decisions along the way, ultimately, regardless of their decisions, all roads will lead to Rome, that is, to the required destination point.  However, when I have completed training of this nature, I generally race through the screens to get to the end, where I know I will find some summative testing – the sooner I can get that done, the sooner I’ve completed my ‘learning’.


Really … horses for courses!





#ocTEL Week 2


This week’s aims

  • Reflect on the nature of learning and fundamental differences in how learners undertake learning (see ‘If you only do one thing…’ below)
  • Distinguish between the different expectations and needs that individual learners can bring to learning and learning online, and explore the general implications for supporting effective online learning (Webinar, Activity 2.1, Activity 2.2, Activity 2.3)
  • Apply what we’ve explored in the above areas in the design of ‘authentic’ online learning activities that can engage learners in a ‘authentic’ learning experience (Be a TEL Explorer activities)

If you only do one thing…

Approaches to learning

Are you leaning towards one approach in particular on ocTEL, and if so why might that be? Perhaps you are employing strategies from more than one approach?

My natural approach to any learning which I decide to engage with is to take a ‘deep approach’ – anything else would be pointless.  However, that would always be in line with a ‘strategic approach’ – that’s only sensible!  But, in the case of #octel, there is a huge danger that I will veer mostly towards a ‘surface approach’ because of the limitations of time and circumstance in relation to my job role.  Also, I find the amount of time I spend trying to navigate the course also makes a huge dent in the time which is then left for actually acting on the course.  I do wonder if this is a particular danger of a MOOC …

Are learners who tend to take a ‘surface’ approach likely to learn more or less effectively online versus face-to-face?

Well … based on my own hectic schedule, it is much easier to take a surface approach to learning in an online environment where the immediacy and importance of the learning is far too easily pushed back behind other seemingly more imperative deadlines.  And this leads to a hasty scanning of material and pithy responses – such as this one!  I can much more easily be ‘invisible’ in this environment whereas in a face to face situation fear of public embarrassment would drive greater involvement.  And, ultimately, that will certainly result in less successful learning.

How might we encourage ‘deep learning’ in online contexts?

This paper (http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/e-jist/docs/vol8_no1/fullpapers/balancing_economies.htm) provides a really interesting discussion of these issues.  It suggests, for example, mandatory participation in interactive/contributory activities but I am achieving that, whilst still only really applying surface learning to what I am doing.  At this point in my life, I would not register for any formal accreditation because I recognise it is not the right time for me to be undertaking such work; however, for some reason I’ve yet to fathom, it seems that I do not count online learning obligations in the same way, and I am sure I am not alone in this!




#ocTEL Week 0

#ocTEL Reflections for Activity 0.1 Big and little questions
Whilst I am a qualified teacher, I rarely teach these days as my job role focusses on supporting others in the application of technology to teaching and learning. So I don’t have any explicit ambitions for using ocTEL to develop my teaching, but I do hope it will enhance my knowledge sufficiently that I am then able to share what I learn with those who may be in a position to apply it. However, even that is unlikely as I work in a specialist college where learners are largely unable, for a variety of reasons, to take part in much online learning. But all knowledge is good knowledge! And for a long time I’ve wished I had an authentic reason to immerse myself in a MOOC and experience it first-hand so that I might better understand it – ocTEL now provides me with that authentic reason. My questions are a long way from being ground-breaking, but they work for me, and I imagine that is what this is all about. So, they are:

Big Question? How to blend diverse modes of communication (different platforms/social media etc.)
Small Question? What is it like to be an active member of a MOOC?

My initial thoughts are that even as someone practised in technology use (it is a very large part of my job role) I feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of this site, of the amount of content, by the range of technological platforms, and all that it draws in through various feeds. Learning to navigate this may well take some time, or perhaps it would be truer to say that feeling comfortable in navigating it may take some time – we shall see! But I have already enjoyed seeing different uses of technology, for example the fantastic Twitter map, and this is exactly the kind of thing I want to learn more about.

I certainly can’t tweet all of this so I suppose I’m now forced into using the blog I set up years ago and have never really used! Still, a Friday afternoon reflective writing session …I like this! (So long as the day job continues to allow time for it!).


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