Shirley's Journal

I'm an online facilitator, currently working on the Ultraversity workplace degree programme. This is my personal journal and you are welcome to leave comments on the entries.


rss feed

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Learning Through Technology

During the revision of the degree course formerly known as BA (Hons) Learning Technology Research, the team was asked to find a new, more marketable name. The students starting from September 2009 are now studying Learning Through Technology.

Possible names included:

  • Professional Studies... with technology?
  • Professional Development
  • Professional Development with Technology
  • Professional Practice
  • Professional Practice with Technology
  • Work Based Learning
  • Professional Studies
  • Applied Professional Studies
  • Inquiry Based Learning
  • Applied Research

I found the process amusing and frustrating in turn, as each suggestion was turned down until the paperwork for the revision was almost at the final stage.

Although the problem of finding an acceptable alternative provoked some discussion, it has not turned out to have been useful. There was little that could be said, and much regret at losing the "birth" name of the degree course.

The main outcome has been a headache with the official paperwork and in trying to ensure that with students on both course that are identical but have different names, we don't accidentally add a layer of confusion.

As there has been no obvious sign of increased marketability, I wouldn't recommend a name change unless it is enforced.

Posted at 12:36 am by shirley
Add your comments here

Friday, October 16, 2009
Not ICT but Learning, Technology & Research

A student writes: I have considered using classroom behaviour for my action inquiry as this would at least help me to get through the module, however, will this actually have any bearing on this counting as an ICT degree?

Let's deal with a bit at a time:

ICT degree - I think what the student means is that some of those taking the Learning, Technology and Research degree (BA LTR) hope to use it for a career as an ICT teacher. This is not the most straightforward route to take, as anyone who has asked about it will be aware. To claim that the Technology element is enough to support an application for training as an ICT teacher, students need to be able to demonstrate that 50% of the course is based in Technology. There are BA LTR graduates who have used the degree to get into teacher training, specialising in ICT, but there is no guarantee because of competition for places. Even if you had an A-Level in Computing and a degree in Computer Science, there would be no guarantee.

50% Technology - in order to claim that 50% of your course is technology, you would need to provide your own evidence. Past students have been able to emphasis the technology element by being able to show technology skills in: presentation of work in a range of media (web site, video, podcast); improving the provision of extracurricular activity in ICT (lunch or homework clubs); action inquiry into improving ICT training or support for colleagues;

The evidence I have not mentioned is introducing improvement in timetabled lessons, as this is not suited to staff who are not timetabled to teach ICT. Many BA LTR students who want to train as ICT teachers have few opportunities to carry out an action inquiry in the ICT classroom - after all, that is the ambition and not the reality.

Improving your management of pupils' behaviour as an action inquiry focus: This is a popular and a very fine choice, as anyone who works in a school will have ample opportunity to improve. It will be invaluable for anyone who works with children. It is up to individuals to consider how to develop ICT skills, perhaps through exploring different media in the presentation of the module portfolio. You can also explore what is available on the Internet to support professionals in the management of behaviour (online CPD?) and show that you understand that international comparisons may have value in developing behaviour management skills.

I hope this widens the horizons a little.

PS:The degree course has been renamed BA Hons Learning Through Technology for new students.

Posted at 11:23 am by shirley
Add your comments here

Friday, July 17, 2009
CCTV in the classroom

In the Ultraversity programme (BA (Hons) Learning Technology & Research and other work-based courses), students apply research techniques to their personal career development. Although designed as a generic course that can be adapted to many work settings, the course has drawn interest from school support staff. Teaching assistants and ICT staff often ask about using video to collect data on the effect of introducing small changes to their practice, and the main barrier is in the ethical issues. Undergraduates are developing their understanding of the principle of informed consent, as well as privacy and confidentiality. This has led to interesting discussions in the online learning communities where the courses are discussed.
  • What is the purpose of collecting video data?
  • What might be learned from the video data?
  • What permissions are required?
  • How will the data be analysed?

    Although none of the students has yet mentioned being in a school where video is used in classrooms, it is a technology that seems to be moving from outside (playground security) to inside the walls. There seem to be two main reasons for using video in the classroom: professional development or behaviour management. A company brought to my attention today is Classwatch. This is being marketed as a management system that provides an easy way to make use of CCTV technology in the classroom; CPD Teacher Training Support, Behaviour Management, Anti-bullying, Asset Protection & Management. The web site information includes the statement that "Classwatch® is fully approved by educational authorities..." and implies support for OFSTED inspections. My feeling is that the purpose of using video would need to be very clear in order to develop a robust ethical policy

    Naturally, alternative perspectives about the use of video are not mentioned but these are essential in considering the wider view. In a time when there are news articles about parents prevented from making a video (or even taking photos) of school events, a teacher suspended for taking secret footage of pupils for a TV programme and pupils reprimanded for using mobile phones to capture images, it may not be reasonable to assume that classroom CCTV is without potential pitfalls.

    A critical view may compare similar schemes, such as School Closed Circuit TV as well as the dimension suggested by NO CCTV- campaigning against camera surveillance in the UK. A BBC news item about teacher concerns over school CCTV could be compared to the Guardian article available from the Classwatch web site. An article in The Register reports from a legal perspective.

    Undergraduates on the course are advised that it is acceptable to collect video data for professional development if the camera is filming themselves, not the pupils, and all permissions are sought. Data analysis must be considered at the planning stage, and the focus on staff development rather than pupils must be maintained.

    An example that might help to clarify the position is that where the aim of an inquiry is to develop skills in managing pupils: video might be used to analyse whether a proposed change such as the increase of affirmative comments has been made, and what further changes to an individual's practice might be introduced. Pointing the camera at pupils would require full justification of the research ethics, and might be rejected on the grounds that the data collected would not inform the inquiry question in any meaningful way.

    Should any less consideration be given to the situation with CCTV in the classroom?

  • Posted at 06:04 pm by shirley
    Add your comments here

    Next Page