Saturday, 31 January 2015

Jisc Digital Student

Investigating students' expectations of the digital environment

Following a call in November 2014, JISC identified almost 50 exemplars of effective practice in support of students’ digital experiences. The exemplars have been written up with the support of the staff (and in some cases students) involved. They are organised as 7 key challenges:

  1. Prepare and support students to study successfully with digital technologies
  2. Deliver a relevant digital curriculum
  3. Ensure an inclusive student experience, using technology to overcome disadvantage
  4. Provide a robust, flexible digital environment
  5. Develop coherent policies for ‘Bring Your Own’
  6. Engage students in dialogue about their digital experience and empower them to make changes
  7. Take a strategic, whole-institution approach to the digital student experience

The case studies for each of the challenges can be found here:

My colleague Chrissi Nerantzi and myself submitted a case study on our 'Cross-institutional open course: BYOD4L'. (short for Bring Your Own Device for Learning). This was accepted under the key challenge Develop coherent policies for ‘Bring Your Own’.

Challenge 5: coherent policies on ‘bring your own’In support of several aspects of the student digital experience we have identified that institutions need a coherent, whole-institution approach to ‘Bring your own’ (BYO): the use of personal devices, software, services, data and content in university settings. While it seems simple to advocate that staff and students use their own technologies wherever this works for them – and to make this as easy as possible – still there are several aspects to getting this right.

You can read the full case study here: 
We were delighted that JISC had also included the BYOD4L website as a key resource:

JISC key findings

Students who are using their own devices still feel that institutions should provide all the services and systems they need to complete their course work to a high standard. So they may have an ongoing expectation of – and attachment to – institutional computing facilities, particularly as sites for collaborative working, even while they use their own devices in the same places. They may want to find their own content but only if they have an ‘authorised’ bookmark stack as a place to start. They may share ideas online but prefer a ‘safe’ institutional space in which to practice expressing them in professionally or academically credible ways.
BYO introduces a tension for institutions between the benefits of gathering and managing learner data in closed digital systems and the desire to support students using systems that are under third party control. There are also tensions around ensuring the safety and ethical behaviour of students who are simultaneously in university space and in public/open digital space (via university networks). These tensions cannot be resolved in the long term by technical and legal constraints but by working with students to develop their awareness and repertoire of online behaviours.
(There are also of course legal and security issues which must be addressed in a BYO policy. They are not dealt with by this project which focuses on the student experience, but Jisc provides extensive guidance on these issues.)
BYO immediately creates a space for learning in which attention is divided between the face-to-face setting and the world online, as accessed through personal devices. This can be  distracting to students (and staff) unless the interface between the two is managed, for example by giving students specific tasks and cues. BYO does not mean that teaching staff must allow the use of digital devices at all times, though care must be given that students who rely on assistive technology are not disadvantaged by an instruction to ‘put devices away’.
BYO policies should, we feel, focus on academic practice. Consider what students need to be able to do with their devices and services in order to be successful in their studies. Then consider the preferences of different student groups, in particular some of the hidden needs that a BYO approach may exacerbate e.g. for students who lack experience of digital systems, or who have particular access needs or learning preferences. Finally construct a policy that puts personal technologies in the service of those requirements. Of course the needs and preferences of staff must also be taken into account, especially as students will take their cues from them.
BYO assumes that alongside personal devices students also bring their own services, data, apps/software, and their own skills in using them. Policies on BYO need to be considered from the standpoint of how students will develop their digital capabilities: their capacity to use a wide range of tools and applications, to adopt new ones and to recover from failures, rather than simply making sure they can use mandated systems.
‘Bring your own’ may be a threat to inclusivity and parity of experience. Consider how students without good digital access, experience or skills and be identified and supported.


  1. Gather requirements, benchmark, assess institutional and personal needs including the needs of different student groups before formalising a BYO policy and guidance.
  2. When implementing BYO, start from the academic practices learners need, then look at the data/services they need to support them, and finally ensure they can use the devices/apps etc they prefer.
  3. Provide for the long tail: consider how those without basic access and skills will be supported e.g. with loan schemes, continued fixed provision, drop-in surgeries. Similarly, ensure BYO evolves to meet the changing demands of digital pioneers.
  4. Ensure students have ubiquitous access to networks and power.
  5. Enable students to access personal services via institutional networks and to network their own devices easily in campus locations
  6. Assume networks and systems will become more hybrid (local/cloud-based) but continue to brand institutional services so students know what they are getting and feel supported.
  7. Ensure that students are aware of relevant policies and have opportunities to understand their responsibilities, as well as what they can expect to be provided for them.
  8. Layer IT support. At the ‘core’, ensure all have functional access and any necessary induction. For use of non-institutional software and services, provide on-demand guidance, well signposted (e.g. For more advanced users, support expert/interest groups. Drop-in workshops, buddies, IT champions to knit it all together.
  9. Make it safe for students to identify their needs at any point in their learning journey.
  10. Design/adapt learning and social spaces to support the use of personal devices and associated informal, collaborative, networked modes of learning.
  11. Invest in staff development and communicate the expectation that digital expertise will be embedded into academic practices and professional roles.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Creative Self Expression for Digital Scholars

One of the profound changes that is taking place at the start of the 21st century is the creation of many new affordances for creative self-expression brought about by the technological revolution that is carrying us into a new Social Age of learning and a new culture of participation, creation and co-creation. Aided by the internet and its associated technologies we are changing our habits of communicating and interacting through the on-line environments we increasingly inhabit.
Fundamentally, as a society we are changing the way we find, share and co-create information to develop new knowledge and meaning. The world is full of content creators and people offering their unique perspectives on anything and everything and full of opportunity to collaborate to co-create new knowledge, objects and relationships. The very act of communicating in the Social Age offers new affordances for creative self expression and examples are given below of some of the ways in which social media can encourage and enable creative self-expression for all digital scholars working in higher education.

Traditional channels to share achievements

The CV or resume has been used for many years as a means of sharing work experience, skills and qualifications. Typically the 2-sides of A4 paper CV is used as a means of selecting applicants for job interviews. In the last two decades we have seen a growth in the Company website which may offer a Who’s Who gallery. The purpose of these is to showcase the skills of those who work for that organisation. The digital CV for many is now having a LinkedIn profile and using the affordances for professional networking and publication that LinkedIn provides. This professional networking site has provided the space to host these since 2003.

Traditional channels to express scholarly activity

In the main these have been peer reviewed journal articles and books. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Whilst providing valued benchmarking information and reputational yardsticks, for use within the higher education (HE) sector and for public information, we must also consider how to highlight the excellent work that doesn’t make the dizzy heights of the REF. A further consideration is the time it takes for research to actually be published.
Professor Patrick Dunleavy argues that “a new paradigm of research communications has grown up -  one that de-emphasizes the traditional journals route, and re-prioritizes faster, real-time academic communication”. He goes on to introduce the blog as a useful mechanism to share a synopsis of your article, book or chapter. The likes of Wordpress and Blogger offer free blog sites and are supported with excellent online help guides to get you started. Web 2.0 drag and drop technology also enables us to very easily create our own websites to curate the products of our research (See for example Weebly).

Using social media to become and sustain yourself as a digital scholar

Social media is what it says on the tin. It is digital media that enables you to share information socially. By social this means enabling opportunities for interaction and dialogue. It goes beyond text as multimedia can be shared in the form of images, video and audio.
In a recent open lecture on Social Media and the Digital Scholar I suggested that providing bite sized links to your scholarly work can be helpful to others, highlighting topics of mutual interest. Examples might include:
  • writing a LinkedIn post and updates which include links to useful content
  • adding presentations to SlideShare and sharing also on your LinkedIn profile
  • adding your publications to your LinkedIn profile: articles, press releases, papers, books and chapters
  • adding projects you are involved in along with the names of those you are collaborating with
  • writing guest posts for other peoples’ blogs, websites and digital magazines
  • writing your own blog and sharing a link via Twitter
Taking this a step further and considering the technology so many of us have at our fingertips and contained within the mobile devices we carry with us, there are now so many more opportunities to become more creative in the way we share our scholarly work. Beyond text we can now easily capture images, video and audio using our mobile devices and share these on a variety of social media channels. Thinking about utilising a variety of rich media to express ourselves is the first step and will provide the means of adding your own creative mark to the work you are sharing.

Ten creative ways social media can be used:

1. Twitter

Having only a maximum of 140 characters per message (tweet) brevity is the word!. Adding hyperlinks to websites can provide the reader with more information. These links could also be to videos, audio or images. In addition you can upload an image of your choice and this will appear below the tweet. This is where you can become creative as you can design your own images. There is now an option to pin a tweet to the top of your profile page. Selecting one you wish to promote along with an image can be very useful. Opportunities for creativity abound in the messages and images you create, and the way you engage with others using this medium.

2. Slideshare

You can upload PowerPoint presentations, documents and infographics to Slideshare. If you are on LinkedIn you can choose to auto-add these to your profile. This adds a visual aspect that stands out amongst the text. You can also capture the embed code and display your slideshares in your blog or website.

3. Screencast-o-matic

Create guides in the form of a screencast video. Tools such as screencast-o-matic capture anything on your screen from a PowerPoint set of slides, a word doc, a photo, diagram or drawing along with a recording of your voice over. The recording can be uploaded to YouTube or saved as a file. It can then be shared via your chosen social networks.

4. Pinterest

Pin your visual assets - photos, drawings, sketches, diagrams of your work, book covers, presentations - on to a virtual pinboard. The image maintains the link to the site it was pinned from. You can create as many boards as you wish on Pinterest.

5 QR Codes

Add a QR code to your business card that links to your blog, website or LinkedIn profile. These can be made easily by using the URL shortener. Paste the URL you want to link to - click shorten and then click on details to reveal your QR code. Save this as an image. There are a number of free QR code reader apps that can be downloaded on to your smartphone.

6. Video

Capture short video clips about your work. These could be demonstrations of practical activities, talking head interviews or exemplars of student work. You could create a video biography or CV and then share on your blog, website or LinkedIn profile. If uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo you can capture the embed code and simply paste this into a blog post or on your website.
You may also want to experiment with Vine to create mini 6 seconds video clip. This is long enough to capture the cover or title of your book or any other artifact you wish to share. Vines can be shared via social media or embedded into a blog or website.

7. Podcasts

Tools like Soundcloud and AudioBoom are easy to use to capture audio narrations. Consider recording a synopsis of something you are working on. Share the recording via Twitter.

8. Images

An image can add context to an update shared via any social network. This could be a photograph or a digitised drawing, sketchnote, mindmap, diagram, CAD drawing and more.
Curate scholarly related images you create by adding to Flickr or Instagram. Go a step further and use them to create a collage using PicMonkey or an animated slideshow using Animoto or Adobe Voice.
Consider giving your images a Creative Commons licence so that others may use too. Also make use of the Creative Commons search facility for your own work to find images and music.

9. Host a Google+ Hangout

A Google Hangout is very similar to Skype enabling you to have a live video conversation with one person or a group of up to ten people. Google Hangouts on Air give you the opportunity to publicly share the hangout conversation that takes place and will auto record and publish this on YouTube.
Sharing a discussion is an excellent way to introduce others to research, teaching innovations, student work or anything else you think would be of interest to others.

10. Infographics

These are a great way to visually portray information including stats and data in the form of a digital poster. You can use PowerPoint or Publisher to create or tools like Piktochart or Infogram which give you a lovely choice of templates. Infographics can also be used to create visual CVs using VisualizeMe.

Useful background reading
1) Using Social Media in the Social Age of Learning Lifewide Magazine September 2014 Available on line at:
2) Exploring the Social Age and the New Culture of Learning Lifewide Magazine September 2014 Available on line at:
Re-blogged from a post published on the Creative Academic

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

There's more to C in CPD

CPD is an acronym for continuing professional (or personal) development. CIPD (which is the professional body for HR and people development), offer competence and competency frameworks which look at the skills requirements of a job, however whilst each employee may have met a skills set to get the job, these need to be reviewed. This can be done through ongoing or continuing personal and professional development, which could include the development of both both hard and soft skills. CIPD define CPD as a means of building confidence and credibility.
The benefits of CPD aren't felt just when you’re going for promotion; you can see your progression by tracking your learning. CIPD
For many CPD is a way of maintaining the knowledge and skills that relate to our professional life. The learning we need to undertake can be formal and structured or informal and self-directed. say that CPD
refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It's a record of what you experience, learn and then apply.
CPD therefore is not just what we learn, but how we apply this to develop our approaches to work, learning or research. Every individual's needs are different and the confidence each has in the various aspects of their working lives is unique. Only you can decide what additional CPD would be of benefit to you.
The Power of Positivity offers the 3 Cs of Life (as represented in the graphic at the head of this post):
  • Choices
  • Chances
  • Changes
As a starting point for CPD we have the choice to take ownership of our own CPD. There are many opportunities or chances to engage in informal learning online, in addition to those offered formally by your place of work or study. Many are free and offer a wide choice of development areas that extend beyond your immediate development needs for undertaking the job you do. CPD can help you look at making changes to the way you approach daily tasks, the way you communicate or provide development of new skills opening opportunities to perhaps change your job or career.
Professor Norman Jackson looks at the ecology of development and the components of an individuals' learning ecologies. He suggests the components include our capability (everything I know and can do or I am capable of doing) and contexts (the spaces, places and situations we inhabit). Learning happens everywhere both within the workplace and throughout our daily lives. Jackson's book Learning for a Complex World: A Lifewide Concept of Learning, Education and Personal Development helps us to understand the value of lifewide learning integrating formal learning, informal learning, and life (which is often complex) beyond the campus. The concept of lifewide learning includes using social media in the social age of learning we now live in.

Douglas Thomas and John Seeley Brown have written a book titled 'A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change'. They argue that learning (and this can apply to CPD) is changing as we move from the industrialised model of formal education to new and innovative ways of social and informal education. Technology is a driver for this kind of learning and therefore our approach to CPD is constantly changing and evolving.
My colleague Chrissi Nerantzi and myself have developed a social and informal short 5 day open learning course called Bring Your Own Device for Learning which offers an inquiry based learning approach to discovering how we can use our smart devices for learning, teaching and research as a CPD activity. Within this we use our 5 Cs Framework which provides a focus for the daily activities. The 5 Cs focus on how we can make more of the mobile devices many of us carry in our pockets to connect and communicate with others; how we can collaborate and curate when learning, and the value of being creative in this process.
  • Connecting
  • Communicating
  • Curating
  • Collaborating
  • Curating
MindTools offer 'The 7 Cs of Communication' which through open discussion has been extended to the 9 Cs of Communication. Both professionally and socially communication is part of all aspects of our daily lives. As individuals we need to develop the skills of communicating with others and the nine examples below are aspects to consider. Communication now extends beyond face to face and takes place in a wide range of digital forums including email and social media. We should seek to ensure our communication is:
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Concrete
  • Correct
  • Coherent
  • Complete
  • Courteous
  • and these are further additions (thank you David Eddy)
  • Credible
  • Contextualised
An essential part of our CPD is developing our digital literacy capabilities.
Digital literacy defines those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. 
(Helen Beetham)
Beetham says that defining a particular set of capabilities as a 'literacy' means that:
  • they are a pre-requisite or foundation for other capabilities;
  • they are critical to an individual's life chances;
  • they are essential to the making and sharing of culturally significant meanings;
  • as a result, there is or should be a society-wide entitlement to these capabilities at some level.
To add to this critical thinking, cultural awareness and cultural capital are also essential aspects to consider. We should not take everything at face value and critique what we find throughout our learning journey. It is important to respect that others we work or learn with and from may have different cultures, values and attitudes.
Cultural capital (Bourdieu) is simply defined by About Education:
Cultural capital is the ideas and knowledge that people draw upon as they participate in social life. Everything from rules of etiquette to being able to speak and write effectively can be considered cultural capital.
Routledge offer that: "According to Bourdieu, cultural capital comes in three forms - embodied, objectified, and institutionalized. One’s accent or dialect is an example of embodied cultural capital, while a luxury car or record collection are examples of cultural capital in its objectified state. In its institutionalized form, cultural capital refers to credentials and qualifications such as degrees or titles that symbolize cultural competence and authority."
We can therefore increase our cultural capital for example by undertaking and recording CPD activity which may lead to formal qualifications.
Doug Belshaw wrote his PhD thesis on digital literacies and argues that
We need to always talk about literacies in their plurality and that there are broadly eight essential elements to digital literacies.
Belshaw has written a book on the essential elements of digital literacies. He states that the definitions of these need to be co-created to have power. The 8 essential elements are:
  • Cultural
  • Cognitive
  • Constructive
  • Communicative
  • Confident
  • Creative
  • Critical
  • Civic
From my own perspective I have used social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter to develop a personal and professional learning network. Through engaging in discussions and conversations I have found a wealth of CPD and informal learning activities. You can find me on Twitter as @suebecks.
I hope this post offers sources of further reading for you to explore. I'd welcome any additional examples of other Cs that expand our understanding of CPD in the comments below.
This was blog post also posted on LinkedIn profile

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Introducing 'Bring Your Own Devices for Learning' an open CPD course #BYOD4L

Artwork by Ellie Livermore

Introducing BYOD4L

I'm really looking forward to the third iteration of BYOD4L which is short for Bring Your Own Device for Learning

BYOD4L 3: 12-16 January 2015 

BYOD4L was created by Chrissi Nerantzi and myself in 2013 and ran for the first time in January 2014 and again in July 2014. This time we are collaborating with even more universities and have introduced the Mentor role (previous participants or facilitators). Volunteers from each university have joined our growing team and together we will help to support participants that take part in BYOD4L. I am absolutely delighted that this time we also have Whitney Kilgore on the team along with Robin Bartoletti who are facilitators of Texas Educator Chat #txeduchat in the US.


Getting involved

If you would like to get involved, then these are my key tips. Take a look at the conversations that are already taking place in Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Find your favoured spaces. Look at the information about the course that is on the website. Interact by asking questions, contributing to the discussions, share resources and enjoy the experience of learning.

Bookmark and follow: 

The BYOD4L site:
  • Register for email updates to alert you about new blog posts
  • Take a look at the drop down menu under Topics and engage in a variety of learning activities. 
Follow @BYOD4L on Twitter
  • Also search for #BYOD4L and #BYOD4Lchat and save these searches
  • Use #BYOD4L in tweets about the course and #BYOD4Lchat during the evening tweetchat (8-9PM GMT) 
  • Follow other educators using these hashtags
  • Follow the list of BYOD4L facilitators and mentors


The tweetchats take place in the evening for one hour and provide a place to bring the BYOD4L community of learners together. A tweetchat is a discussion  that is stimulated with a number of questions posted by the facilitators (in this case using @BYOD4L). They start with an 'Introduction to BYOD4L' . 

Sunday the 11th of January, 8-9pm GMT, 2pm Central

Then during the course the chats will take place at the same time Each day will focus on one of the following themes: connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating. 

Monday to Friday 12-16 January, 8-9pm GMT, 2pm Central

To participate or listen in to the tweetchats, you will need to follow the hashtag #BYOD4Lchat. We hope you will join us. It is a great way to co-learn with others and an opportunity to share good practice and ideas of how you can use your own devices for learning. In the previous two iterations of BYOD4L I came away from every single chat having learned something new. 

Do consider writing a blog to capture the things you learn and your reflections. If you would like to, you can submit these blog posts to earn Open Badges. The very process of reflecting is very useful and a record to look back on. 

New to Tweetchats?

I have written a number of reflective posts about my experience as a facilitator and participant of BYOD4L and tagged these #BYOD4L. For me, being a part of what is now a growing community of learners that are sharing resources, ideas and engaging in conversations on how we can use our own devices for learning, has extended way beyond the duration of the two courses. The exchanges continue in online forums such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. I am looking forward to meeting new educators who I know will not only share new ideas but also new perspectives that will challenge the way I think and approach this topic. I hope you will consider joining us in this co-learning opportunity. 

I'd love to hear from you if you do. Also if you have any questions then please post them in the comments.