More institutional design (3 Short papers 0270, 0203, 0249)


09:00 - 10:00 on Thursday, 9 September 2010 in Room 2


203 A qualitative study of staff perceptions of Second Life as an effective environment for learning and teaching
Rose Heaney, Megan Arroll


249 A classification of Web 2.0 approaches: identifying the role of twitter and other technologies in Higher Education
Guy Saward


270 International benchmarking of practitioner ICT capability in Further Education – pilot study
David Kay, Seb Schmoller, Kevin Donovan, David Jennings, Angela Saunders


203 A qualitative study of staff perceptions of Second Life as an effective environment for learning and teaching
Rose Heaney, Megan Arroll
This paper describes a qualitative, phenomenological study of academic staff's experience of Second Life (SL) as an environment for effective learning and teaching in higher education. Teaching staff took part in semi-structured interviews pre- and post- their SL session to elicit their preconceptions and actual experience of teaching in SL. By the time of the conference, interviews will have been subject to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith & Osborn, 2003) which uses a case-by-case technique followed by comparison across cases to uncover themes within the data.__ Emerging super-ordinate themes within the pre-teaching interviews centre on the barriers and, conversely, the advantages of using SL as a teaching medium. Barriers include the technological and training requirements of using SL as a teaching environment, both for the academic staff and the students, issues surrounding the navigation of SL and difficulties therein (including ‘motion sickness’) and debate on how to ensure student up-take of the virtual classes. With regard to the positive aspects of using SL as a learning environment, participants noted that the virtual context of SL could benefit distance learners and those with physical disabilities, the anonymity of the virtual world which may allow students to feel more confident in class interaction and the flexibility that SL affords for lecturers. Post-teaching interviews highlight the importance of structured recruitment for the virtual sessions, positive feedback from students following the tutorials and discussion of how to integrate this technology in higher education. Hence, we hope to have reached some tentative conclusions as to the suitability or otherwise of SL as a teaching medium in a context where other media (virtual and physical) are also available. A secondary focus is to establish the support needs of staff teaching in such environments for the first time. This paper should be of interest to anyone considering synchronous group teaching activities in virtual worlds such as SL, particularly informal tutorial or seminar sessions. It will also be of interest to those who are involved in researching the educational merits of virtual worlds and those interested in IPA as a methodology to investigate educational activities.


249 A classification of Web 2.0 approaches: identifying the role of twitter and other technologies in Higher Education
Guy Saward
The exponential rise in the use of Web 2.0 technologies, as noted in JISC’s report (2009), is part of the sea-change in the structure and use of the Internet that is the conference theme. Practitioners responding to these developments must rise to the challenge identified by JISC of being at the centre of developing new approaches. Early adopters are clearly engaged in this process, but new or established practitioners can struggle to develop knowledge, understanding of and competencies in the wide range of available technologies. While criteria exist for the selection of specific products (e.g. accessibility), we are concerned with the selection of classes of technology. We present a classification of Web 2.0 technologies using communication and content as independent, orthogonal characteristics. This approach bypasses the perennial question of blogging versus wikis and goes beyond treating communication and content as opposite ends of a spectrum (Vrasidas, 2000) or considering which is ‘king’. Our classification allows assessment and comparison of the relative merits of different technologies in order to assess their use in supporting particular learning activities, e.g. contrasting the use of blogs, with tumblogs or microblogging. Our approach is currently being trialled with new lecturers as a method of making sense of available technology, whether a constructivist or objectivist approach is taken to learning design. Staff are asked to map technologies onto the classification scheme as a self-diagnostic/ awareness tool, before being asked to select technologies that may be suitable for a specific activity or to reinforce a particular characteristic of a learning interaction. The latter can be used in conjunction with different educational frameworks, such as the Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, 2000) with its natural affordance with Web 2.0 socially generated content, or principles of good curriculum design. Follow-up is planned to investigate whether learners have benefited from an improved understanding by staff in the selection and use of technologies to support learners. The intend outcome is to enable staff to address the question identified by JISC of the selection of Web 2.0 technology and pedagogy appropriate to the learning objectives being pursued.


270 International benchmarking of practitioner ICT capability in Further Education – pilot study
David Kay, Seb Schmoller, Kevin Donovan, David Jennings, Angela Saunders
Becta commissioned research and other studies suggest that, used properly, technology improves teaching, learning and business processes; learners are more motivated, potentially making faster progress and getting better results; learning providers are more efficient and can offer better services. Learners and employers increasingly expect technology to play a major role in learning. For learners to make the most of technology in their learning, the education workforce requires up-to-date skills and knowledge, comparable with their counterparts in other countries. This small scale benchmarking pilot, undertaken by Sero Consulting on behalf of Becta, arose from those ambitions. Focused on teaching staff in general FE institutions, the 2010 pilot survey engaged over 2000 practitioners from the FE and Skills sectors in England, Austria, Denmark, Portugal and Sweden. The survey took account of indicators used in broader exercises assessing such as institutional e-maturity and system-wide ICT focus as well as frameworks for 21st Century skills and UNESCO standards for teachers use of technology. Importantly, the indicators and data gathered are intended to provide comparisons and add value to the local and national findings of the annual Becta and Lifelong Learning UK surveys and to the Generator leadership tool. This paper, drawing on the Becta report (June 2010) examines the evidence from this significant comparative research exercise and suggests new approaches to developing capability in the UK. Findings of relevance to teaching practitioners, managers and curriculum designers in FE will be presented – some as applicable in HE and in schools as they are in Fete presenters will focus on the relationships between personal capability and the various influences of the learners, the curriculum and the institution. Is practitioner capability in itself enough? How do practitioners learn and develop their ICT skills? Is learner readiness perceived to be a factor in the successful uses of technology for learning? To what extent is effective use of ICT also dependent on critical factors such as subject area, institutional culture and support? Do the developmental factors differ from country to country? Not least, is the use of ICT regarded as professionally helpful in different contexts and settings? The underlying research paper will be published by Becta in May 2010