Durham Blackboard Conference – Day 1

Over the years, I’d seen the Durham Blackboard conference (#durbbu) crop up a lot in Twitter in early January; though, being a Moodle user at the time, I didn’t pay too much attention.

This year, however, I got to go to it; as Dundee is a Blackboard user. As an ex-Durham student, it was also good to revisit the city.

The theme of the conference was Assessment and Feedback. What pleased me was that quite a few of the ideas I’ve tried over the years at Portsmouth as an academic, were also being tried at various other institutions, sometimes via Blackboard, sometimes via other tools. But, clearly I wasn’t totally crackers for trying them!

When Malcolm Murray opened the conference with a series of Lego minifigs, it was always going to be a good one!

We then moved to Susie’s keynote, looking at many aspects of feedback, in particular the need for it to be dialogic in nature – which raises the issue of how to achieve that, in conjunction with the NUS push towards anonymous marking.

In the next session, Sharon Flynn was looking at something I’ve encountered both here in Dundee, and previously in Portsmouth – the difficulties of getting (moderated) marks from the VLE into the student record system, with the minimum chances of error (i.e. minimise the manual aspects of the process). This was a popular session, clearly I’ve not worked at the only two UK universities that didn’t have that in place.

Of course, there were many other hurdles to get through, primarily making sure that people didn’t fiddle with columns in Blackboard, but, they now have all marks (not just marked online submissions) in Blackboard, before they end up in the main Student record system. Danny has storified her talk in more detail.

York’s elearning team gave a whistlestop tour through a range of different approaches they have for online assessment, ranging from summative, online exams (via a custom install of Blackboard) through to innovative uses of blogs. Overall, they’re all things I’ve tried with students at various points as a lecturer, albeit with a different tool set. I think the one I’m most interested in at present is the way we can get students to develop assessable work in the public space (i.e. blogs etc), however, I know that for the present, most of my time will be spent with the support for Turnitin and related tools.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we returned (briefly) to Lego, as Malcolm introduced some of the gamification he was using with students – (so I roped in one of the CameraGirlz to take a photo). It’s a fascinating area, and one that I’d like to look at more (just as I’d like to do more than dabble with Lego Serious play) – but those are two things for the future.

The evening event was held in Durham Castle – despite having been a student (rather longer ago than I care to think about!) – I’d never actually done the formal Castle tour! So, I took the opportunity, followed by Dinner in the Great Hall. My last trip to that was for my Graduation!

Durham Dinner

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

 

New job!

When I left Portsmouth University in September, I’d never imagined that I’d have been offered a new job before Christmas (after all, the plan was to sell the house, move North, get to know the area, *then* start looking for work). However, a post as Educational Technologist came up at Dundee University – I’m now at the end of my first week here.
There are  differences between the two roles – Academic and Educational technologist – but also similarities. This week has been mostly getting to know people; where the best eateries are (The Tower Cafe wins for views); and starting to get to grips with Blackboard (not really that different from Moodle/WebCT/etc), ExamOnline and reminding myself about QuestionMark and Turnitin.

Day 33

Meanwhile I’m also getting used to using a managed Windows PC again (rather than a self managed Mac), and a shared office. (Good for getting to know people, especially if you’re opposite the kettle!)

I’m also hoping to get better at using this blog to post about eLearning developments – after all, that needs to be my focus right now. (That should link to the need to tidy up the million and one useful links I have scattered between Pocket, Diigo, Twitter likes etc).

Today, I’ve skim read the NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edn. As well as the predictions for 1 year etc, I like the “solvable” / ” difficult” / “wicked” challenges – in particular the concept of balancing connected and unconnected lives, which is, as perhaps expected seen as wicked; it’s one, though, that several of the other problems they list can feed into.