Transcript

Efficiencies, enhancements and transformation: how technology can deliver

Presented by Kim Catcheside

University of Bristol Students

It was alright because we had e-biolabs prepare us videos and stuff – showed us what to do – we knew what kind of equipment we would use before we did the practical – so it was helpful

Kim Catcheside

And did it decrease the fear factor for you?

University of Bristol Students

Yeah definitely – like Rachel said – being able to see the different pieces of equipment on the internet before you went into the lab, meant you knew what you were doing – and it’s good – bio labs is like my second most visited web page!! (laughter)  what’s your first most visited? Facebook (laughter) well that’s not bad (laughter).

Kim Catcheside

In the medical science laboratory at Bristol University, first year students are describing their experience of e-biolabs – a set of digital tools that helps them prepare for experiments and research in the real lab.

University of Bristol Students

Because we’re first years we’ve only experienced e-biolabs so we only know it from that point of view, but speaking to other years, I think they found it harder going in and not quite knowing what you’re doing and then having to do a post lab write up rather than ours which is just uploading to the internet and it’s quite user friendly – especially as we’re the technology generation so it’s really good.

Kim Catcheside

Welcome to JISC on Air. In this edition I’ll be exploring efficiencies, enhancements and transformation: how technology can support the delivery of the curriculum in Higher and Further education.

I’m just outside Lewisham College of Further Education, where some of the students are gathering before their afternoon classes. I want to know if they are familiar with the newlearner portal, called e-Me which has recently launched here.

Lewisham College Student – Shelby

Hi my name’s Shelby and I use e-Me for parts of my course work. It’s just there for students and basically helps with your course work – if you need help it has certain information on there that can help you.

Lewisham College Student – Alexis

My name’s Alexis, I do use e- Me to keep a track on my course work, my attendance and my EMA, cos I can check if I’m going to get paid or not – and if not why not. And if I didn’t I’d have to keep coming down to the campus office – and that is like a long thing to do, so it’s really helpful to have eMe

Kim Catcheside

These young students don’t need any prompting at all – it’s clear from their enthusiasm that e-Me is a valuable aid to learning, and it’s also important for other aspects of student life.

Jo Burbridge

eMe is using the Moodle platform, but it’s really bringing together three different applications

Kim Catcheside

Jo Burbridge is projects and innovation manager in the e-learning team here at Lewisham College, and Project Manager for the ‘Making the New Diploma a Success’ project

Jo Burbridge

We’ve got Moodle which provides the platform and the teaching and learning resources, we’ve got Mahara which is the e-portfolio and we also have an EDPD which was developed by  ULCC  – it’s an electronic personal development plan which basically enables students to set their targets, their goals and to review these regularly on line with their tutor. The EPDP also give students access to their timetable and their attendance – so they can check whether they’re going to get  their EMA payments

Kim Catcheside

Also important in the design of this learner portal  is its interactivity which encourages students to collaborate, socialize and share their interests with each other …

Jo Burbridge

There are groups on there – students are able to go on to Mahara and set up special interest groups – knitting, Arsenal football group – which students can create on their own and invite others to join, or join in with others

Kim Catcheside

Mahara works well for students who may be more shy, they can connect with other students about things they are personally interested in and can, perhaps, express themselves more freely

Lewisham College Student -Sybil

I created a group on Mahara for who was interested in Japanese. A few people joined and we exchanged ideas, but I mostly put my stuff on it

Kim Catcheside

Lewisham College’s ambition with eMe is to support students at all levels – but can this really work? Isn’t the link a student has with the college or university via a virtual learning environment actually more tenuous than real face to face contact? Andrew Comrie is Educational consultant in the HE and FE sectors

Andrew Comrie

If you design a course where all the student is expected to do with the VLE is to log into it to check attendance or to download a piece of content or check to see if a class is running – of course that’s tenuous. But if you start to use some of the other tools that are available in these technologies, like the collaborative tools or discussion forums… a good example of that is that I’m doing some work with the Scottish Royal Academy of Music and Drama right now and there’s a community music module where music students go out into the community on work placement and do fantastic things with school kids – invent songs and devise little shows with music and write music, scores all sorts of fantastic things. Now there was never an opportunity for different students at work placements to share their work as it was happening and what the tutor has done is create a wiki site so that as students are creating stuff they can upload their work on to the wiki  so that students can see what other groups are doing and in fact  that generates ideas for these other students and they can then incorporate them – so you’ve got scores, audio podcasts, kids singing, pictures – it becomes a much more thrilling, enlivened learning experience and interestingly, the teaching staff in the school are now saying, what a fabulous resource, we can now use this in our own teaching, our own course work, after the placement has finished.

Kim Catcheside

Here at Lewisham, the music department is one of the most popular and for students, the chance to share music examples via Mahara has brought about a greater engagement with their courses.

Adopting new technology can be very exciting, and the decision to implement a new learner portal here was initially driven by the need to provide access to personalised and course information from different locations as part of the delivery of the 14-19 vocational diploma, but has since revitalized the wider curriculum.’ This is exactly the sort of project that JISC could help support from an early stage.

Patricia Forest, head of e-learning and innovation at the college,could see that a more flexible system was required.

Patricia Forest

The VLE only allowed us to host materials and communicate with the students – so support students in teaching and learning – but it didn’t allow us to use all the extensive tools that technology deliver – in terms of making sure students were supported inside and outside the college; making sure that students could progress through the employability skills gaining through e-portfolios and so on. So we decided there were limitations and we wanted to extend access to technology in a much more cohesive way. Making sure learners were at the centre.

Kim Catcheside

Did you find that all staff were equally enthusiastic? Or were some more than others?

Patricia Forest

The majority were enthusiastic – all the people that attended the awareness sessions which were a large representation from teachers. However you always get a few people that resist change – changing from one to another, having to learn something new on top of the daily teaching is difficult

Kim Catcheside

Establishing how technology can help deliver the curriculum is the day to day job of a dedicated e- learning team –but you can see why lecturers and teachers might feel exhausted by the prospect of engaging with e-learning, given the amount of work they already have in any working day.

Lisa Gray

Yes, definitely. Teachers have busy jobs already and time to continue to re think how to enhance your teaching is a big job and needs time and space

Kim Catcheside

Lisa Gray is a programme manager within the JISC e-Learning Team.

Lisa Gray

What’s really key is leadership and institution recognizing  that in order to take forward continued enhancements in learning and teaching practice, that’s technology supported, teachers need  time and space, to continue to innovate

Kim Catcheside

Innovation is a vital component of individual or institutional development but it can be hard to justify particularly when resources are constrained. Patricia Forest, won the support of both senior management and staff at Lewisham College for various reasons

Patricia Forest

We also sold the learner side of it. We said that this is what learners would like to get out of these systems to help them learn better and support them better. We gave them a choice, we said we don’t have to do this in 4 months, the only thing is that if we don’t do it in 4 months then that will delay us another year and they all said, let’s go for it. We’ll train the key people first and we move stage by stage and I think the adoption has been phenomenal

Kim Catcheside

Patricia and her team helped staff throughout an intense period of change, but the process also relied on real commitment from teaching colleagues, in terms of their time and determination. I’m here with Helen Lord, a full time senior tutor at the College.

We all know how busy your life is and how much you already work outside the school day, can you think back and think what went through your mind when you were told that you were going to have to learn to operate an entirely new virtual learning environment?

Helen Lord

Well be to quite honest, it was complete terror. I was horrified because I had my course all set and so many documents that had taken a long time to produce and upload – so yes, it was terrifying

Kim Catcheside

Then what happened

Helen Lord

I’m senior practitioner for the department and I knew that people would be coming to me to find out how to use this VLE. I did do some research myself so I could get to grips with how it worked and what it was and start to experiment and play around and how we could use it.

Kim Catcheside

In terms of time, what sort of commitment was that?

Helen Lord

Huge, I don’t want to think about it.

Kim Catcheside

So it is worth it?

Helen Lord

Yes, definitely – there’s so much you can do – there are niggles I miss like how to label files – like being able to give a narrative, when uploading it, which you can’t do , but I have found a way around that – I use glossaries to do that.

Kim Catcheside

But for all the staff input,  are the integrated systems that make up e-Me paying off?

Patricia Forest

We’ve got a tangible example in the school of hospitality leisure and tourism. We deliver work related learning qualifications to a local school – so the students attend one day a week to the college and the rest of time their  at school, so we’ve got NVQ level one for example the achievement for that cohort has gone up by 43%.  And the progression to level 2 has raised to 100%.

Kim Catcheside

Are you sure that’s because of e-Me?

Patricia Forest

Yes. We have examples from a case study with examples of support students achieved at school during the week in terms of electronic ILPs and Mahara, really prepare them for the next lesson – so when they came to the college they knew exactly where they were at and what to do next, instead of wasting time and seeing the tutor one by one.

Kim Catcheside

To find out more about these and other projects go to the Design Studio, a developing online toolkit which draws together existing and emergent resources around curriculum delivery and design

http://jiscdesignstudio.pbworks.com/

To find out how JISC can help enhance, streamline and transform the delivery of the curriculum at your institution, please visit www.jisc.ac.uk/elearningprogramme

Gus Cameron

The thing that’s making the noise is an incubating shaker.

Kim Catcheside

I’m at Bristol University, being shown around a medical science laboratory by Gus Cameron, Director of the e-biolabs project and lecturer in biochemistry.

Gus Cameron

Centrifuges, on the far side we’ve got some spective automatas

Kim Catcheside

Until recently, for many first year students, entering this lab and doing practical work was daunting.

Gus Cameron

Students were turning up with very little preparation so they were hanging  on to their lab scripts like life rafts and following the instructions without getting any real understanding of what it was they were meant to be learning or achieving.

Kim Catcheside

And in terms of skills – what was their skill level?

Gus Cameron

Skills are extremely variable these days and it’s one of the problems with today’s more diverse cohort – so some students were coming in with really quite excellent practical skills and had obviously been exposed to quite a lot of time in the lab, while others seemed to have absolutely none whatsoever and they were just suffering from cognitive overload really – strange place, strange environment, they didn’t know what was expected and a lot of them were just freezing.

Kim Catcheside

All students who make it on to this course have proved their academic abilities in medical science. But that’s no guarantee that they’ve had any lab experience at school or college – which increasingly is being cut from the curriculum because it’s expensive.

Gus Cameron

We’ve got a great cohort of students who have all done extremely well at A Level, but at the same time that doesn’t mean they’re confident with their hands, it doesn’t mean that they have a practical ability to see a problem and know to solve it and these are essential skills for scientists that we need to be developing.

Kim Catcheside

That’s interesting because that’s the hand eye thing and you’re getting people at a formative stage and that takes time to build.

Gus Cameron

It certainly does. If you’ve never had any practice of manual or craft work even people who’ve worked as waitresses or waiters in restaurants have that manual skill and know how to get a job done and that’s a very different skill to knowing how to pass an exam or knowing how to précis a piece of English.

Kim Catcheside

Having recognized the problem, how did you start going about solving it?

Gus Cameron

Well we thought that one of the things that would really help is if the students were able to prepare for the lab before they got in there and that doesn’t just mean knowing more theory, but it means knowing what the equipment looks like, and knowing what the techniques are that they’re going to be applying there. So we thought that if we created some very high quality resources that the students could interact with on line before they got into the lab, they would actually know what a spective automata looked like, they would know – at least in theory, they would have seen someone use a Gilson pipette and that would suffer less of a cognitive overload when they actually got in there and were told to actually start using these things

Kim Catcheside

I’m now on the site with Gus and able to see E-biolabs in action, the online resource that he and his colleagues have designed. What becomes clear is that, through a combination of animated diagrams and film footage, students can watch a skilled lab technician experiment with a guinea pig ilium or gut, alongside a real time animation of what the different equipment measures and how it works – BEFORE they go into the lab.

Gus Cameron

Students are going to use a real piece of guinea pig gut here – expensive for the guinea pig and for us because is this real animal work and not cheap to do. But it’s a vital part of pharmacology.

Kim Catcheside

So can we see that happening?

Gus Cameron

If we click on animation here – you can see that actually a really complicated process with different receptors responding in different ways and finally we see the smooth muscle cell releasing calcium through the membrane and at that point the muscle is going to start contracting.

Kim Catcheside

It’s absolutely fascinating isn’t it? I thought the animation earlier on was really beautiful and a great illustration of how the experiment actually works. And this here removing it into the video in the lab with your technician showing them how to manipulate the gut with the needle and thread – just shows how careful you have to be as well – how mindful – this is an atmosphere where you have to be mindful.

Gus Cameron

A certain amount of dexterity is required. As soon as you see a video of it you get a feeling of how it should be done. And because e-biolabs aims to show them everything, to give them all of the information that they need to succeed, they end up being really quite confident when they end up in the lab – yes they’ve gone right through it and understand from start to finish and know where they need to go.

Kim Catcheside

How much did it all cost in terms of actual time and money to do this?

Gus Cameron

A lot – these projects are very front loaded. In order to get all this information up there, to work out all the systems we needed to do it in,… well there was a £200,000 grant to start with and then we put in a lot more money internally there to develop the content, we’ve had money from the HEA Centre for Bioscience and other sources – so yes, hugely front loaded, however we have saved hundreds of hours of staff time and we will save that every year this is running and we’ve got much much more satisfied students and that’s really important to us.

Kim Catcheside

Students evidently benefit from and enjoy the new technology. The attention to detail with high quality animation, videos, and the digitization of complex layers of information was a major undertaking, but they have seen such fundamental improvements in student performance that they are now rolling it out across other departments and further afield –  for example at Exeter University – developed under JISC funding it is freely available for others to use – with the added benefit of lessons have already been learnt by the biochemistry team at Bristol.

Joining us in the lab is Judy Harris, director of  the Applied and Integrated Medical Sciences Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning – otherwise known as AIMS CETL-  in physiology and pharmacology here at Bristol University.

Judy Harris

When Gus developed the e-biolabs system for biochemistry, we decided to use some of the funding we had in the Cetl to extend that to physiology and pharmacology practical teaching – so we’re using a very similar system for preparing students better for their practical work.

Kim Catcheside

So what are the chances for colleagues in other departments who are now clamouring to get it for themselves?

Judy Harris

Well it’s a good question and depends very much on how much external organizations are prepared to put in because I think the other thing that we need to think about here is the employability agenda. I think we’re going to produce graduates who are better equipped to go on and do the sorts of jobs the country needs doing – the bench research scientists, pharmaceutical industry and so on – so I think this has to be seen as an investment in the employability skills of our graduates and of course the university itself needs to think about whether this is something they want to provide funding for because students who come to Bristol will have the benefit  of these very good learning resources. And any university could argue that

Kim Catcheside

Arguing is one thing, but securing investment is another. JISC’s support for e-biolabs attracted additional funding, and this will save money and time in the end, but with the squeeze on education ,  persuading some senior staff of the initial investment – even when the outcomes are so positive,  can prove difficult. Lisa Gray.

Lisa Gray

I think we’re in a difficult environment at the moment where everyone needs to do things a lot more effectively  and efficiently than they have done before – and with those drivers, it’s of increasing importance to make sure that technology is used in the most appropriate way to deliver some of the benefits and we hope that by providing much clearer evidence of what technology can offer as well as examples of how it can be done, and case studies and guidance to support other institutions, that we are going some way to help others achieve the benefits that we have within the programme

Kim Catcheside

E-biolabs is a fantastic resource – it’s real and it’s working and if, senior management gives support, can help other students here and elsewhere.

Gus Cameron

This is our dark room and over on the therimeter…we’ve got Sky Hodgeson, one of our PhD students

Kim Catcheside

Hello Sky, what’s your role here?

Sky Hodgeson

I’m just researching a protein called Clip B and how it uses its energy to do it’s job and how it’s involved in Alzheimer’s. Quite tricky sometimes, but good fun.

Kim Catcheside

So you must have noticed the difference before and after e-biolabs.

Sky Hodgeson

I definitely noticed it –before they started introducing e-biolabs, pupils would often come in unmotivated, slightly confused and not really sure about what they are doing. Now that e-biolabs is available for them, they can flick through it before, refer to videos – I noticed  seem more enthusiastic and more of an idea of what they’re doing.

Kim Catcheside

Just hearing Sky tell me he’s experimenting with a protein that might play a role in Alzheimer’s makes it clear why real lab skills are vital.

As Judy Harris said, investment in the practical skills of young scientists is not just the job of universities and colleges – it’s also critical that government and industry support this too.

Gus Cameron

Research scientists find their job fantastically exciting and the exciting bit is being in the lab, collecting data and looking at the results – but students were coming in skulking along – didn’t see the point of it – not enough of them – and that was depressing for most staff – and that’s why we really wanted to do something and it’s really paid off – the students are really working harder – so we’re getting them to prepare online – so that’s 20 minutes to an hour and a half – this is additional work – yet at the same time they appreciate the practical much more, value them much more because they understand what the point is.

Kim Catcheside

And you’re happy because you’re producing scientists and not future bureaucrats.

Gus Cameron

I couldn’t have put it better myself – ( laughter).

Kim Catcheside

Digital technologies can help transform, enhance and save precious time and money in delivering the curriculum.

JISC may be able to support your institution in exploring ways technology can help with specific challenges. You can mail us at (onair@jisc.ac.uk) on air at jisc dot A C dot U K

In the next edition of JISC on air, we’ll be looking at how technology is supporting Work based learning. Until then, good bye.