Elearning@Ed has become a regular feature of the University of Edinburgh conference calendar – the first one was held back in 2003. I was really pleased to take part this year, to hear great speakers and to meet colleagues from across the University and to announce the CMALT staff development scheme – which I’m very excited to be part of.
Last Friday’s event offered a packed programme, my highlight was the keynote speaker – Dr Laura Gogia MD, PhD, (@GoogleGuacamole), Research Fellow for the Division of Learning Innovation and Student Success at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), USA. VCU is a large urban research focused institution with 31,000 students.
She described how in 2014 her institution started to offer RamPages “VCU’s connected learning platform” – a publicly visible WordPress site. Students maintain their own webpages and blogs. A significant portion of coursework is via blogging. Blogs are aggregated on course site, so students can use external sites if they choose.
Gogia explained that this model of teaching supports student agency and discovery. Students can peer into worlds they wouldn’t normally see in a course based structure. It supports authentic learning products. It was very similar to the approach I experienced as a student on the IDEL course, and I was really excited to see this implemented across a whole institution. It’s fascinating looking at the range of work that is posted on RamPages.
Gogia also discussed encouraging students to go beyond text as part of the course “Collaborative Curiosity, Designing Community-Engaged Research” #CuriousCoLab. She described ‘Creative Makes’ which challenges students to find visual imagery for abstract concepts, for example “community” – this was supposed to be a 15 minute activity but the students really enjoyed it and spent way more time on it, shared their creations and used the activity to network with each other. She also advocated multimodal final projects (something else I experienced and really valued, as an MSc Digital Education student) – for example students creating websites rather than essays – this meant students could follow their own interests.
Gogia’s own research has been around digital annotations, additional digital information added by students, so in Twitter this might be Hyperlinks, mentions, hashtags or sharing images and video. She analysed these annotations as a possible indication of networks and is considering if these are indicative of pedagogic connections?
This was a rich and inspiring presentation from which I picked a few tasty morsels of inspiration to share with you in this post. As ever the elearning@ed conference was a smorgasbord of inspiration which I will be dining out on for some time.
Dr Laura Gogia has reflected on her keynote with this great blog post which offers a close transcript of the full presentation: https://googleguacamole.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/in-search-of-connected-learning-exploring-the-pedagogy-of-the-open-web/
— Laura Gogia (@GoogleGuacamole) 11 May 2016