Wednesday, October 04, 2017

#cogcdigisymp Some Quick Wins

CC Devon Poole 2nd Year Photography City of Glasgow College 

Yesterday, I was kindly invited to chair the afternoon discussion session at the City of Glasgow College's Digital Symposium. In the morning we bounced around the very familiar landscape of the gulf that still exists between the needs of the computing industry and the outputs from all parts of the education sector ( schools , colleges , universities ) . I am of course sorting that out in another blog post.

My solution would be to get Colleges to work more closely with industry but with staff development and a much greater cascading of skills with the resources going through the arteries that exist for staff development and the shaping of qualifications - rather than inventing new and I'll say it probably not very sustainable new models but I can hear a civil servant being satisfied and saying ' at least we got the money out of the door' and the disappearing footsteps of a politician moving on to the next big task having built a new service as a personal legacy.

It might seem faster to create shiny new organisations or new kinds of apprenticeship - but without deep engagement and some retooling and re-skilling of the existing organisations, agencies and staff - the money will run out before we have achieved the system level change that is required. My favourite anecdote comes from a primary teacher who loves all the coding stuff and the folk who come to the school, as it allows more time for marking and a cup of tea. The skills transfer that is happening is zero, perhaps this will be picked up soon.

While from College staff I heard that some of the links between vendor awards and SQA qualifications have drifted apart again and that staff need some focused formal re-training , a bit more than the half day taster sessions on new technologies that are currently on offer. We wondered out loud too who is training the vocational assessors in the University sector - graduate apprenticeships sound great but they do require quite a sharp change in University assessment processes. And apprenticeships are based on national standards not institutionally validated ones or interpreted ones, hope some external verification arrives with these.

Why are we still talking about giving appropriate recognition for all the teaching staff who do the Apple , Microsoft, Google and many more programmes in becoming a digital educator ? This probably has more impact on learners than many of the academic programmes on offer. And from conversations around the gathering still lots of digs at education leaders who can't cope with the technology -I  hope that an understanding of  the application of technology in learning features highly in any leadership programmes perhaps this is as important as learning and modelling your management style . There must be sensible bridges built here.

In the afternoon we had some great discussion around digital literacy and changing the delivery models  in schools , colleges , universities and work-based learning. That is bit I was chairing.

From that session I  promised I would list the things I said on the day. The things that as a College you could do now.

Here they are , in no particular order;

  1. Edx - We discussed the inability of our system to do more that mark multiple choice questions using artificial intelligence. I am not sure I like using AI in context of what in assessment jargon is automated MCQ.  There is a solution at hand but I've never found an organisation with the appetite to adopt it and use it in anger. Give it a sample of 100 essays and it then marks and grades them at a high degree of reliability.  ( I'd actually stop using essays as a means of assessment but that is another blog post) 
  2. Content creation - I've been plugging this for a while most teachers with a power point will be able to cope with  Most staff should of course have a reflective blog,  that would make using Lumen5 even more compelling. 
  3. If you have staff who are a bit more adventurous get everyone using you can create engaging learning materials and port them straight into your virtual learning environment. 
  4. If you want to see what AI can do at speed to build serviceable on line courses then catch a demo of Donald explains how it works on the website 
  5. Make sure your organisation has a Wikipedian You can find out how to do this here and get some advice  If you have a wikipedian they can register your College IP address and this means that you can use wikipedia and other tools properly in the classroom. It all about collaborative creation. It is much more than wikipedia - check out all the things that wikimedia can bring to you on Ewen McAndrew's blog.
  6. Learn how to harvest , harness , create and publish open educational resources from Scotland and the OER global community - there are just too many links to add here. But here is a local start to get staff creating. 
  7. Get ready for open text books  a raft of content about to arrive and the programme is looking for Scottish College partners. If you would like a workshop in your institution, you can email  One for all Colleges in Scotland would be good. 
  8. Have a look at the UNESCO action plan . Open Scotland and others will keep pushing for the adoption of  a policy change across Scottish Education - but look at the bits you could do now as a leader of learning , as a classroom practitioner , as a signatory to the Open Scotland Declaration.Get moving ! 
  9. Remember you don't have to be Edinburgh University to open up to learners - but have a good look at and embrace the way of working. Start learning too about open research and knowledge  and how to access it - it will enrich learning at all levels.
  10. Discover and use Learning Wheels and look out for the announcement on 10th of October  
  11. Don't reinvent the wheel check out things like and make it better 
  12. Give more love to your learning technologists and give them appropriate staff development and let them out to meet other learning technologists - it will help you move forward at all levels . Join and encourage relevant staff to work towards 
  13. Have a look at There is a competency framework that should be embedded in what we do with learners and in staff development and in how Colleges are inspected - schools too ! 
  14. Think passed where you are now - for some, perhaps the computing department the future should be in the cloud and virtual machines , for learners a domain of their own,  but  for the institution it might be looking towards 
  15. And finally a MOOC is about to start for the Vocational and Training sector to develop blended learning skills

Grateful to the creatives,  doing some great things in the main area of the conference, for capturing me in zany mode. I hope these links and reflections are useful.

Apologies too to all the great initiatives from Jisc and some of the other organisations I work for and with - it could have been a much longer and more technical list.

I am looking forward to seeing all the slides from the day.

If you understand learning needs to be creative and engaging for staff and learners I'm always ready to help you do better things in new ways.

Thanks to City of Glasgow College for hosting the International Symposium.

No comments: