Meeting expectations by curriculum development (3 Short Papers 0153, 0234, 0243)


09:00 - 10:00 on Thursday, 9 September 2010 in Room 3a


153 Opening up the conversation: creating a OPEN-i, an online community of practice for the photojournalism industry
Paul Lowe


234 Collaboration through Google Apps
Emma Duke-Williams, Emily Bennett, Susan Gibbs


243 Learning activity, coordination and curriculum design: some insights from emerging disciplines
Damien Markey, Adam Isherwood


153 Opening up the conversation: creating a OPEN-i, an online community of practice for the photojournalism industry
Paul Lowe
This presentation outlines an ongoing project to build a virtual community of practice called OPEN-i, an online learning and networking space for the photojournalism industry. OPEN-i is an international network, linking photographers, agencies, publications and educational institutions together with the aim of engendering a debate and discussion about the future of the medium in the world of Web 2.0. The network was established by a team from the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, and supported by a grant from the JISC Business and Community Engagement programme. The project is underpinned by Wenger’s model of how to cultivate a virtual community of practice by creating a ‘digital habitat’ (2002, 2009). OPEN-i runs a series of live webinars and discussion sessions using Wimba, presented by leading industry professionals to an invited audience of peers, academics involved in the critical debate around images, aspiring photojournalists from the majority world, and masters level students of photography. One need that was absolutely key was to make the forum for debate global, and to involve practitioners from the majority world as well as from the West. The webinars are supported by a social networking group on the Ning platform with discussion forums and personal pages. All the presentations are archived and available for later viewing online. Several types of live sessions have been developed, including panel debates, presentations by individual photographers on their work, regional presentations highlighting developments particularly in the majority world, and ‘working party’ sessions where smaller groups ‘roll up their sleeves’ and work on a particular issue or problem in a workshop format. One notable feature of the sessions is the almost instinctive way that the text box has been used as a ‘backchannel’ to amplify and comment on the presentations by the audiences. Without the intensity, flexibility and spontaneity delivered by live web conferencing this innovative model would not have been possible. The presentation will explore how we built the community and continue to evaluate and develop it, and will explore the role of the ‘technology steward’ (Wenger, 2009) as a key member of any online community


234 Collaboration through Google Apps
Emma Duke-Williams, Emily Bennett, Susan Gibbs
Since October 2009, students at the University of Portsmouth have had access to Google Apps. Initially, this was promoted as a replacement email system, with Docs/ Sites being an added bonus. However, a number of staff, many of whom had already been using Google Docs or Sites with students, realised that there was now a powerful tool that could be used with students to encourage a much greater range of activities, in particular those that foster collaboration. While these tools have been used with several different groups across the University, we focus initially on one project in particular that is using Google Apps to tackle the issue of making assessments ‘realistic’ or ‘authentic’. This is a unit called ‘Disability and Stigma in Education’, taken by Education and Sociology undergraduates. Previously students have had an essay for their coursework. To try to make this a more “real” assessment, students have been asked create a website using Google Sites, in pairs. Their websites aim to raise awareness of the issues faced by disabled students amongst education professionals. Each pair is allocated a target audience and disability, for example, ‘secondary school teachers supporting visually impaired pupils’. Crucially, a requirement of their coursework is that students consider accessibility and ensure that their website can be used by people with a range of disabilities. This provides students with valuable practical and real-life experience of meeting the needs of people with disabilities. This is emphasised further by the fact that this unit is popular with students who have disabilities; this year one hearing impaired and two partially sighted students are taking the unit. The websites were shared and assessed during an in-class presentation, and they will be published as part of a ‘Special Educational Needs' website. We have gathered feedback from both students and lecturers, which was generally positive, though there were some issues. Google Apps has also been used with other students round the University, from whom we have feedback, and we shall contrast the experiences of different groups of students.


243 Learning activity, coordination and curriculum design: some insights from emerging disciplines
Damien Markey, Adam Isherwood
As University curricula seek to keep pace with fast emerging professional areas, courses are emerging whose offer to learners is based around innovative activity designs rather than the repackaging of traditional learning content. This shift, we argue, puts a new spotlight on the role of activity in learning. We argue that critical thinking about activity unites deep thinking about knowledge with more ‘prosaic’ issues relating to student motivation and retention. From a technological perspective, focus on activity is consistent with learning activity coordination technologies (for example, technologies based around IMS Learning Design), and with recent work on AJAX technologies (for example, the Wookie Widget Server). Our critical inquiry sheds new light on the relevance of these technologies. As a case-study, we consider the emerging domain of ‘Special Effects production’. Learners on the University of Bolton’s Special Effects degree course work in teams based around multi skilled, mixed experience production groups where there is an inbuilt opportunity to learn from observation of more experienced artists on working productions. The course demonstrates high student retention and motivation, often from students who might be considered 'at risk' of dropping-out of traditional courses. Activity, we argue, plays a key role in providing a context both for this enthusiastic engagement, and the vicarious learning that characterises much of the educational experience. Through the design and development of a variety of online image based peer review and feedback activities, utilising a combination of widgets integrated with the VLE and other technologies related to Learning Design, we draw attention to the ways in which technology allows off-site experts to support teachers as mentors to individual students. Through combining specific 'Special Effects' activities with widget-based reflective activities a context has been created where learners have produced a visual journey of their development with mentors offering assistance/development support online. In conclusion, we argue that activity design – at least for special effects courses, but probably in other domains too – concerns the creation of an online context within which meaningful learning communications become more probable. Given this insight, the pedagogical significance of Learning Design can be articulated more clearly.