Monday, 12 August 2019

In conversation with Maren Deepwell

I recently had the privilege to be invited to take part in a short interview with Dr Maren Deepwell - a new series of 'In conversation with' posts that can be found on the ALT Blog

Having read previous posts where Maren has talked to Melissa Highton, David Hopkins, Elizabeth Charles and Maha Bali, it is fascinating to see the variety of responses to the same set of questions. I find it so interesting to hear about what others are working on. The #altc community have a common interest in the use of learning technology but the members have a wide range of roles. I think this is what makes it such a rich network and as I mentioned in one of my reponses, it is a very generous community that provides support and shares a wealth of information through the Jisclist, Twitter and events. 

Never sure who reads posts like this I was over the moon to find that Stephen Downes had picked up on this one and wrote a short post on his own blog

Maren Deepwell has posted a number of these conversations recently. The questions are pretty light ("Current recommended reading?", "In work travel, you are never without..?") and though we don't get to see a lot of substance, we get... some. For example: "The SMASH (Social media for Academic Studies at Hallam) team formed in in 2016 will be looking to share an open web site of resources and activities they have co-created." And "a weekly conversation on all things learning and teaching... take a look at"

Thank you Maren for inviting me to take part in this. 

You can read the full post here:

Sunday, 14 July 2019

The ALT Conference Preview - Radio EDUtalk

Radio #EDUtalk 10-07-19 Data, Dialogue, Doing #altc

I was thrilled to be asked by Maren Deepwell to take part in a ALT Annual Conference 2019 Preview  on Radio #EDUtalk, alongside Maren and Martin HawkseyJohn Johnston one of the hosts of EDU talk led the interview and the conversation flowed. I couldn't believe how fast the time went!
We talked about the themes of the conference and how these were developed by the conference chairs. I love how they engaged in 'Visual Thinkery' with the very talented Bryan Mathers which led to the beautiful Celtic inspired conference logo below.

The conference themes are:
  • Student data and learning analytics
  • Creativity across the curriculum
  • Critical frames of reference
  • Learning Technology for wider impact

We talked about the use of social media and Martin described its use as "turbo charging the power of the event". At last year's conference over 18k tweets were shared during the three days. The use of live streaming and recordings on YouTube of the keynotes and other talks certainly opens the conference up to those that are unable to make it and also presents the opportunity to rewatch. 

The conference programme is very exciting with a great selection of sessions to choose from. I'm really looking forward to learning more about how holograms and chatbots are being used. 

You can listen to the whole interview on Radio #EDUtalk

More about the conference

ALT’s Annual Conference 2019 is seeking to confront and challenge established assumptions, approaches and accepted truths in relation to key dimensions of digital education, and to advancing our practice and thinking through critical dialogue and reflection, closer scrutiny of evidence and theory, and a stronger commitment to values including creativity, community, social good, openness and porosity, and more democratic access to knowledge and learning.

You can read more about the conference themes here.

The conference will be hosted at the University of Edinburgh and co-chaired by:
  • Melissa Highton, Assistant Principal and Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services, University of Edinburgh
  • Louise Jones, independent
  • Keith Smyth, Professor of Pedagogy at the University of the Highlands and Islands. 

The conference venue
If I was a little nervous before, finding out where I will be presenting has sent my heart racing! I am experiencing feelings of both fear and excitement in equal measure. A sneak peak at where the keynotes at this conference will take place!

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Becoming a Certified Management and Business Educator #CMBE

I am delighted to now be a CMBE! 

The Chartered Institute of Business Schools launched a new scheme called the Certified Management and Business Educator (CMBE). This provides business school educators (and those subjects that include business) with a framework for continuous professional development and a designation recognising their commitment to excellence in teaching. It focuses on ongoing development and complements the HEA Fellowships and the PGCert in HE, giving educators a platform to continuously develop their practice as well as providing a recognised designation when this has been achieved. It also demonstrates a commitment to the quality of learning and teaching. Educators need to commit to 40 hours of CPD a year. 

Like other schemes such as SEDA and HEA there is an option for those who don’t currently meet the criteria. They are able to join the scheme through the Associate Management and Business Educator (AMBE) route. Individuals on the AMBE route can then qualify as CMBE after completing three years’ CPD.

The framework supports educators to develop their practice according to their development needs across enhancing teaching and learning practice; scholarship of teaching and learning; and academic leadership. What I like about this scheme is the need to record your CPD, and that this can be done in a way that suits you. Secondly the very process of doing this will be useful to reflect on at annual appraisals/PDRs. Thirdly and for me most important is that by becoming a Certified Management and Business Educator, I will demonstrate to my students that I value reflecting on my own practice and the need for continuous professional development and lifelong learning. 

Furthermore I hope to connect with other educators in the community who are also involved in the scheme and listed in the CMBE DirectoryI have added my certificate to my LinkedIn profile and shared via Twitter tagging @CharteredABS and #CMBE. Having been a member of the SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association) and ALT (Association for Learning Technology) for many years, I very much value the learning that can take place within these communities where the open sharing of our practice is so beneficial.   

To find out more about this scheme go to:

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Edge Hill University SOLSTICE Conference #SOLSTICE19

One of the highlights of my year as a Visiting Fellow at Edge Hill University is being invited to speak the annual two day SOLSTICE Conference. I feel so priviliged to be speaking alongside the other Visiting Professors and Fellows, as well as other international guests speakers sharing their practice. I can't thank the EHU CLT team enough for the warm welcome we received on arrival.  

2019 Guest Speakers:
  • Sue Beckingham – Sheffield Hallam University and Visiting Fellow
  • Professor Sally Brown – Visiting Professor
  • Dr. Mark Childs – The Open University and Visiting Fellow
  • Professor Keith Smyth – University of the Highlands and Islands and Visiting Professor
  • Simon Thomson – University of Liverpool and Visiting Fellow
  • Professor Peter Hartley – Visiting Professor
  • Professor Phil Race – Visiting Professor
  • Professor Pauline Kneale – University of Plymouth and Visiting Professor

The Programme

There was a rich and varied programme over the two days which included a great session led by Prof Sally Brown who asked us "Who are you and who do you want to be?" Sally reminded us that professional identity is not a fixed entity: we are likely to have a number over the course of our careers and often hold several simultaneously, so how can we manage these and maintain balance in our lives? It was a both a fun session (which involved designing our identities on a t-shirt) and an opportuity to explore these questions. Keith Smythe presented his work on the Digitally Distributed Curriculum which is based on the values of praxis, participation and public pedagogy, and which is constructed around the four dimensions of co-location, porosity, co-production and open scholarship. 

The wonderfully creative Sarah Wright led an active session on the creative deployment of technologies to enhance the student experience; Dawne Irving-Bell a hands on beginners guide to sketchnoting; Sarah Mersic a session on AR learning; and Suzanne Faulkner on the use of Snapchat for student tutorials. They all got me thinking about new ways to enhance my teaching with alternative approaches. That's why these events bring so much value to educators. It's not just hearing about new or different ways to do things, it is also the time to ask questions, reflect and consider how you might adopt something different. Making conections with people outside of your subject group or immediate teaching team allows you to learn from others, share your own innovations and potential develop new collaborations.  

This year I presented with my colleague Prof Peter Hartley a workshop on 'Communication revisited – new perspectives and their implications for our practice in learning and teaching.' More to come on this topic as we have been accumulating evidence and research findings to inform our revision of a text on interpersonal communication which was published before the avalanche of new technology and social media (Hartley, 1999). 

This is Your Life

A favourite part of the event was surprising Prof Phil Race with a 'This is Your Life' to celebrate his 75th birthday. The tweets during and after the event are captured in this Wakelet.  

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Reading habits: how do you bookmark a page?

Scott Ibberson tweeted a table of reading habits a few days ago and it got quite a few of us thinking about our own habits and how we bookmark a page in a book that we are reading. My initial response was also neutral good: uses scrap of paper/shopping list/receipts as bookmark.

I reshared the tweet and it was fascinating seeing how others responded. It also got me thinking about it more deeply and reflecting that I really engaged in a variety of the options depending what I was reading, why I was reading, where I was reading and when I was reading.

When reading academic books, especially when undertaking research, I like to use sticky translucent flags to mark interesting sections. They can be easily re-used and moved around and they don't spoil the book pages.

I tend to buy notebooks with a ribbon bookmark for work. I do like the moleskin notebooks that also have a pocket in the back page to hold extra bits and bobs like a mini ruler. I also use these kind of tabs to mark pages I might have to go back to for a meeting at work. 

When away for a beach holiday I can easily get through 8-9 novels so it's a Kindle is a good space saver. That said I do like to buy 2-3 from charity shops to take with me. Once read I then swop with other books where the hotel has a book corner for guests to do this. My chosen bookmark good be place face down if I decide to go for a dip in the sea or whatever scrap of paper I can find if the book needs to back in my bag. 

So revisiting the table I find I really have a a variety of my reading habits dependent on whether I am reading for leisure, study or work. Here are some of my reflections. 

Lawful good
uses proper leather bookmark embossed with initials
I've never had a personalised bookmark but would love one with gold initials. I do have a couple of 'proper' bookmarks that have been given to me as presents. For some reason (unbeknown to myself!) these have been saved for something special and sit on a bookshelf in my study. I also have some handmade bookmarks given to me as gifts and these are saved too as they are so delicate.  

Neutral good
uses scrap of paper/shopping list/receipts as bookmark
Typically this is what I tend to do as I reach for whatever is to hand. It could be anything from a local takeaway menu to a flyer that came through the letterbox.

Chaotic good
uses finger as bookmark; never actually books book down
Those moments you are gripped with a section of your book and nature calls - the book of course has to go with you and this is the quickest option to bookmark the page you have got to!

Lawful neutral
uses random implement to mark place e.g. pen, phone, fork
When the need arises - a pair of reading glasses, straw, icecream stick, hairpin...

True neutral
reads on ebook, bookmarks digitally
I read a lot of novels on my Kindle. It's light and great to take on holday or long journeys on the train. 

Chaotic neutral
leaves book open, face down, at last page read
Sunday morning reading in bed when I go and make a cuppa, I will leave my book open in this way. 

Lawful evil
dog-ears corners (but smoothes them out again when finished)
Maybe as a teenager...

Neutral evil
dog-ears corners, cracks spine, highlights fav passages
Not intentionally but have lost a few pages reading on holiday as the glue has softened!

Chaotic evil
Rips out each page once its been read 

Friday, 26 April 2019

My 10th Twitter Anniversary

Never in my wildest imagination did I consider what a huge impact Twitter and social media would have on my professional development! Ten years on and I have developed an international personal learning network and 11.6k followers. 

This was my first tweet in 2009 

To find your first tweet, you can use Twitter's Advanced Search. Go to and enter your username into the 'From these accounts' field under 'People'. Then to select the date. I added the date I joined Twitter in the 'From this date' section and the day after in the 'To this date'.  

Friday, 12 April 2019

What will the university look like in 2030?

In April I was invited by James Clay, head of HE and student experience at Jisc to contribute to Networkshop47 where a panel of students, staff and education technology experts offered their visions for the future. The audience was mainly networking and security people.

Panellists included:
  • Sue Beckingham, Principal Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Caitlin Bloom, Sector Analyst, Jisc
  • Jake Forecast, Jisc Student Partner
  • Mark O'Leary, Head of Network Access, Jisc
  • Amber Thomas, Head of Academic Technology, University of Warwick
  • Andy Powell, Cloud Chief Technology Officer, Jisc
  • Simon Wilson, Chief Technology Officer, Aruba

Our brief was to discuss which emerging technologies offer the most promise in helping with the challenges universities and colleges face. The panel session focus was to look at the wider student experience in 2030 and what this means for those who support the student experience through the use of technology.

How an we predict the future? James suggests we start by looking at the past. In 2008 the iPhone had just been out less than a year with 3G connectivity! In the panel disucssion we reflected on what we think will happen in the next 11 years, what the implications will be for universities, what this will mean for the student experience, and also the technical infrastructures that are going to enable this student experience. 

My vision for 2030

My vision of the future student experience is to have a virtual learning hub that is interconnected. All students would be provided with an intelligent device. This would be preloaded with activities: 

  • Active learning apps - things we might relate to in today's learning and teaching for example Socrative, Padlet and what ever they are in the future that allow learning inside and outside of the classroom, collaborative andindependent learning. 
  • Personal profile - the students would have a profile preloaded and would be able to personalise that, they can put in their interests. It would be searchable and allow students to connect with shared interests. 
  • Achievememts - the device would have a profile of their achievements - their marks, feedback and attendance
  • Student support -  it would enable chat (text or voice) and connect them to their academic adviser, their tutor, student support, careers adviser, wellbeing
  • Learning workspace - this might include a future version of the VLE and spaces like Google Drive for personal and collaborative work.  
  • Extracurricular - it would link to acvitivies outside of the taught curriculum so that students know what is available. 
  • Conversation - access to peer chat and video chat
  • Maps and wayfinding - where to find places (libaray. places to eat, classrooms etc) and linked to the student's timetable
  • Self help - utilising Siri or Alexa technology for FAQs, bite sized learning, revision
  • Virtual video meetings - connecting to others locally and globally, other students, and businesses and professionals in their field. This would come with subtitiles, translation and auto transcription
  • Digital feedback - students can record and save feedback (formative and sumative) from tutors, peers or others using multimedia in a format they choose. This can be tagged with keywords for later recall. 

There would be flexible learning spaces, so not defined as a lab vs a classroom (rows of tables and chairs). Students would take their device into the classroom where there would be charging mats on the tables, the ability to connect their device to a larger screen so if they wanted to work in 2s or 3s, or larger groups they could. Also interactive walls to capture collaborative work that syncs to the students device.

The device is not futurisic. My examples could use the technology that is already here and being used by us in our daily lives. It would need to bring these together in one space. A space that is secure and safe. 

Jisc News summarises my contribution as:  
"Sue Beckingham, principal lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, felt that every student might have an “intelligent device”, which becomes their personal, interconnected virtual learning hub. This will hold a profile of their academic and personal life, syncing all their work to their tutors, connecting to university services, and linking to their extra-curricular life and their peers. Students will also submit work and get feedback on this device, she said." 

You can watch the panel session in the recording below.