Keith's Blog

Apps for Teaching - Learning - Research

Topic: Co-Design

An Experiment with Social Media

📥  Apps, Co-Design, Enagagement, Feedback, Peer Learning, Social Learning Network

Introduction

Study-Space is a Social Media/eFeedback type of app that I built which has been designed and coded in collaboration with students.  The idea was conceived about 18 months ago as a way to overcome some of the issues encountered with mainstream Social Media.

This blog represents the one year milestone since the app was first piloted, and is an opportunity for me to pause to review the impact and collate some of the comments from students and academics.  A total of some 600 undergraduates across the university have used the app, with some excellent feedback and evaluation results from students.

There has been significant interest both internally and externally. As a result, we are currently looking at extending the app for use by researchers, and for use at other institutions.

The first pilot commenced in March 2016 in the department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Since that time it has been used on a number of programme units across the university. Evaluation data is very positive, and there is strong agreement from students that the app serves as a complement to the materials on Moodle. Recently, the app has been used with Staff-Student Liaison committees, and we have just commenced trials with virtual spaces for groups of Postgraduate Research students. It is also being considered for use on high-profile courses such as the Executive MBA in the School of Management.

The app provides for virtual, semi-formal spaces where students and teaching staff can interact inside and outside the classroom. Available for iOS/Android/Web it is only available from the in-house app store (you won't find it on the global app-stores), and is an app that offers a safe space that provides two layers of protection for students:

  • Privacy - data is internal to the university. This is crucial for students because it does not impact on their mainstream digital identity
  • Anonymity - students are able to post questions without judgement by their peers.
The app provides a safe virtual space for teaching and learning

The app provides a safe virtual space for teaching and learning

A Student Viewpoint

Toby Barrat is a final year undergraduate who has coded parts of the app, and also used the app for study on a programme unit:

Developing Study-Space has really helped to open my eyes to the potential that lies in the app, and the wider benefits of improving student engagement in higher education. Study-Space acts as a semi-formal conversation facilitator between students and academics which can help make the learning process more efficient for all involved.

From a student perspective, the forums developing on the app reflect opportunities to gain answers to the questions you have, but also to the questions you wish you had. The anonymity removes the fear of asking questions which could be perceived as being simple, but also gives the chance to give honest feedback about your level of understanding.

On the academic side, conversations on the app can be used to tailor revision and problem sessions in the areas that are needed. In my opinion, the most exciting element of Study-Space is its ability to engage students in peer to peer learning, and I personally have benefited from a question asked and answered exclusively by students in the app; the exchange reminded me of something which ended up being in the exam, and I no doubt gained marks because of it. Study-Space acts as an extra tool to be used alongside the systems we have in place at the University, such as Moodle and Samis, and adds functionality in areas which are lacking in the current arrangement. It would have been great if I had had the opportunity to use Study-Space during my 5 years at the University.

Academics' Viewpoint

John Chew, Department of Chemical Engineering:

I have always been a firm believer of active learning and teaching. I started using the Study-Space App in two of the units that I teach this Semester. The students and I feel that the App allowed and encouraged staff-student and student-student interactions inside and outside of lectures in a simple but effective way. I have now decided to use it in all the units that I teach.

Dr Steve Cayzer, Department of Mechanical Engineering

I used Study-Space to promote student engagement on my MSc programme. I was impressed by how easy it was to post up questions and polls, gathering quick and anonymous feedback. I designed an agile workshop around the app, challenging students to discuss and propose high value change requests. I invited Keith to discuss the results with the students; the result was a highly interactive, deeply immersive learning experience for the students, also yielding valuable insights for Study-Space development.

Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo, Department of Chemical Engineering:

I believe that Study-Space is a brilliant platform to engage with  students and to allow them to interact to each others. I use it to ask them for feedback , to test their knowledge with a quiz, to clarify some aspects of my lectures, to post useful links and references or simply as a question/answers tool. I can see that the students like Study-Space by their level of engagement with it and by their positive comments during informal chats. By using Study-Space I do not need any longer to reply to lots of individual emails. Often students have the same kind of questions, which on Study-Space can be replied once and in such a way that everyone can read it! The app is of clear benefit to the students during both teaching time and revision.

I am currently using this app for three modules during the current academic year and I believe I'll keep using it in the next academic year.

Dr Felia Allum, Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies:

Study Space has added a new, extra and exciting dimension to my teaching as I seek to make my teaching more interactive, but in reality it has complimented it perfectly. It has given students and lecturers alike, a new and virtual way of engaging among peers and teaching; a constant, interactive and engaging form of communication in class but also during the week in preparation before class.

Recently, I have developed active learning in one of my 4th yr units. The whole unit is dedicated to students studying Italian mafias and designing their own student led role-play. This experimental teaching and learning approach moves away from traditional forms of teaching to enabling students to engage and learn in different, more stimulating ways. It was unclear to me how technology could help me in this. However, Study-Space has been the most appropriate app that has accompanied me in the development of this new way/format of teaching. Study-Space has been the perfect forum for this process, inside and outside of the class-room.

Dr Albert Bolhuis, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

As convenor for PA20024, the Study-Space app has provided a convenient way to engage with students outside of lectures, and enables staff to monitor how well students have understood the material that was taught. The app is easy to use and the workload is minimal. Importantly, students are not only asking, but also answering questions that have been posted, and the app thus facilitates a lively peer support community for the unit.

Dr Julie Letchford, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

As an academic delivering lectures, practicals and workshops on this unit, I’m always keen to obtain student feedback. The voting element built into this App provides a really useful way of easily achieving this immediately after the session.

Summary

The app started as an experiment based on previous attempts using main-stream Social Media for teaching and learning. By providing two layers of privacy for users, the app that we built seems to have overcome the barriers, and has struck a chord with both students and academics. It represents a platform that augments and complements our VLE by providing safe and secure social channels to enable peer learning both inside and outside the classroom.

Save

 

Student Co-Design using Agile

📥  Agile, Apps, Co-Design, Enagagement, social media, Software Development

Following an invitation from Dr Steve Cazyer, Director of Studies, I was involved with a session for the MSc Innovation and Technology Management. This involved some 30 international students studying the programme unit 'Managing Product Development'.

For me, it was an opportunity to find out the features that I should incorporate into the next version of Study-Space which is an enterprise app that is currently being developed and trialed at the university (including Steve's unit) and which shows some promise as a collaborative learning environment or Social Learning Network (SLN). For the students, it was an opportunity to engage and learn about Agile Software development using an authentic real-world example.

Part of the session involved an activity where the students as 'clients' were required to produce a list of enhancements for the app, which they prioritise and pass to the developer (that's me).

agile-students3
The results for each group reveal some really interesting ideas, such as the facility to upload study material to the app, and discussion boards. I never really expected these! Anyway, pulling these ideas together, Steve facilitated a vote for the top priorities from the entire group, which indicates that the facility to add pictures is the most requested enhancement:

agile-prioritiesI will be taking these ideas forward with the Study-Space development team which comprises of a small group of students that are currently developing the specification and coding the next version. So far,  the 'ground-up' approach seems to be working exceptionally well. The ethos is very much around the idea of 'An App developed by Students for Students'.

Many thanks to Steve Cayzer and the vibrant bunch of students enrolled on ME50236 who were full of creative energy and a joy to work with!

agile-students1

Save

 

Student Co-Creators and Digital Skills

📥  Animation, Apps, Co-Design, Digital Capabilities, Digital Skills, SSLC, student, Student Authors, Technology, Videos

A couple of years ago, I starting thinking about a Digital Skills Centre (DSC), where academics can go to get media developed, and where the work is co-created by students.  The students thereby gain digital capabilities to enhance their employability. Media might include videos, apps and on-line learning modules. The idea is to provide opportunities for our amazing students to develop Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) materials.

As a preliminary step to help further the DSC, funding has been confirmed for 5 projects that each involve students working as partners and co-creators, with input from academics and the faculty or departmental TEL officers. Although each project addresses a specific area, the overall objective is to establish a scalable working model for collaborative TEL development with students as partners and co-designers.

Students will acquire digital skills and capabilities by working on each of the projects. One aspect of evaluation is to map these to a framework, based on the JISC model, with a view to accreditation as part of the Bath Award that is available to our students.

Many thanks to everyone that has supported this endeavour. However, a big thanks to the project team involving students, academics and especially the Faculty TEL team who represent the Learning Technologists based in the departments and faculties.

Pilot Projects for the Digital Skills Centre

Our bid titled 'Pilot Projects for the Digital Skills Centre' was successful in achieving funding from the Teaching Development Fund (TDF) that encourages applications from teams that are cross departmental, and which involve students. The funding provides for 5 projects, each managed by a Learning Technologist from the Faculty TEL group.

The projects include 2 apps, several videos and an eLearning module. The images shown below are for illustration only, and show how the finished products might look, running on a smart-phone.


Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Science

Project: An app for the Staff Student Liaison Committees (SSLCs)
Project Manager: Keith Brown
Students: Toby Barrett and Harry Ball
The Study-Space app being piloted for SSLC

Based on recent trials at the university, the Study-Space app has shown some potential to forge a community of students around a programme unit. This project builds on that potential, and aims to deliver ‘the SSLC app’. This app will be specifically designed to enable reps to collect and collate feedback from students, and to feedback the outcome from SSLC to the students.


School of Management

Project: An interactive eLearning package to explain Stakeholder theory
Project Manager: Paul Pinkney
Academic: Johanne Ward-Grosvold
Student: Sam Turnpenny
stakeholder-blog

Stakeholder theory is a key theoretical premise of modern management practice. It is taught on a number of masters courses and the eLearning package could be used repeatedly

The project undertakes to deliver a module containing animations and a self-test. It aims to ensure that all students have the requisite knowledge of stakeholder theory before attending a given lecture.


Department for Health, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Project: Animation of Medical Issues in Disability Sport
Project Managers: Tracey Duffy and Geraldine Jones
Academic: Beenish Kamal
t6-disk

Existing text-heavy content is to be replaced by visually engaging learning content including videos and animations. The project also includes a social learning aspect where students use social media or forums.

This approach will be trialled on one unit in SPY, with a view to future application on other units within the programme and adaptation for other similar programmes across the university.


Faculty of Engineering & Design

Project: A Professional Practice app
Projet Managers: Yvonne Moore and Rachel Applegate
placement-app-blog

A large proportion of students in Engineering undertake a placement in industry as part of their learning, and in doing so are expected to develop their skills for professional practice.

A mobile app that can provide information in preparation for placement and which can subsequently support the students in placement could be beneficial to a large number of students.  It would also support the employability agenda by preparing graduates for the workplace using material in a form that is familiar to young people.


Academic Skills Centre

Project: Short video to illuminate expectations and perceptions of academic skills and to detail some of the resources and support available
Project Managers: Kevin Renfrew and Keith Brown
skills-promotion2

The aim is to deliver an animated video to capture the reflections and views of staff and students around academic skills. The animation will be co-designed and created by staff and students.