Category Archives: Co-Labs

‘The Twain Shall Meet’- Designing and delivering innovative employer work-based programmes

Conor Moss

Parallel session 4, CoLab 4.5

Short Abstract:

The last 20 years has seen significant growth in Work-Based Learning as a distinct field of activity within universities rather than purely as a mode of learning within disciplinary or professional fields. It has long been acknowledged that high-level learning doesn’t just occur in lecture theatres, classrooms and other physical locations on university campuses, but goes on in many other locations too. This was explicitly recognised in Section B3 of the QAA Quality Code for HE in 2012.

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Since 2010 we have seen a change of government and whilst there are different methods for addressing workforce development the general thrust for higher-level work-based learning has endured. The current focus is on the development of Higher Apprenticeships through BIS funding and trailblazer projects and in the Employer Ownership of Skills (BIS, £250m).  These initiatives are a threat to our existing provision; consequently we need to evolve our offer to maintain competitiveness and relevance to business.

As a result of the changing external environment for the HE sector it is necessary that Sheffield Hallam University is able to respond to an ever more competitive environment and react to opportunities in an efficient and effective manner. Consequently, we have developed an Institutional Work-Based Learning Framework (WBLF) enabling subject teams to develop accredited provision efficiently and with central support.

This is an interactive session aimed at exploring how YOU can use the WBLF in YOUR subject area. We are particularly interested in exploring the development of institutional resources and expertise to support the following:

  • credit-rating of employer provision,
  • negotiated work-based projects,
  • academic credit from CPD coursesand
  • preparing students for APEL
  • This is an opportunity to influence the implementation of the University’s Employer Engagement strategy. We look forward to sharing the experiences of colleagues from a range of disciplines and further developing the Work-Based Learning Framework.

Use of video: thinking outside the lecture

Claire Cornock & Mike Robinson

Parallel session 4, CoLab 4.4

Short Abstract
Various staff in the Engineering and Mathematics department have been using videos to enhance their practice. This session will include discussion, demonstration and hands-on experience of different technologies that can be used to create videos along with several case studies of how they are being used in teaching.

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Detailed Outline
In this session, we aim to give staff enough knowledge, experience and confidence to start producing their own videos to enhance their teaching practice. To this end, the session will include:

• outline of the advantages and disadvantages of using videos in teaching brief case studies based on current use within the department, including how technology has been used to address particular problems

• presentation of the available technologies for producing videos, to include desktop PCs, tablet PCs, Android tablets, iPads, and more traditional whiteboard and cameras
• hands-on practice with a selection of the available technology.

The opportunity for colleagues to use the technology to start producing their own videos is the key part of this workshop, along with the opportunity to establish links between staff with shared interests. It is hoped that one outcome from this session will be an ongoing common-interest group for staff interested in using videos.

Several case studies will be presented within the session. These include:

• Addressing the problem of trying to teach how to use technology within a lecture room by creating short video examples. This was within a first year module that centred around the use of excel. Physical constraints of having a large group within a lecture room meant that students were struggling to carry out tasks shown in lectures. Now students make use of the short video examples in their own independent study time and more of the students are attempting the more technical tasks in assignments. The students often make unprompted comments on the usefulness of the videos.

• Videos of mathematical processes. Doing mathematics is a process which often requires correction, modification, and thought, and yet the finished product is typically concise and static, and much of the thinking is hidden (this is particularly true of any attempts which do not lead to a solution). In lectures the process of doing maths can be demonstrated, typically with speech describing the thought process, and writing recording the finished product. Students understandably struggle to keep notes on this without losing some important details. Videos offer an opportunity to provide students with a reference source in which both the thought process and the final product are recorded.

• Providing video feedback to students. Typical feedback on mathematical problems might include a set of model answers, but as with the mathematical processes above, these often lack detail about the thought processes behind the approach. Producing model solutions using screencasting can provide students with an audio commentary alongside the concise formal solution and has proved effective at engaging students.

Within these examples, several different types of technology have been used. These include PCs, tablet PCs, Android tablets and the traditional whiteboard and camera. We will discuss and demonstrate how some of these can be used.

Ditching the dissertation? The patchwork text process as a more productive tool for assessing learning and engaging students

Stella Jones-Devitt & Ann-marie Steele

Parallel session 4, CoLab 4.3

Short Abstract
Workshop draws upon key principles of A Marked Improvement (HEA, 2012) calling for significant reappraisal of assessment processes through evidence-informed change.
• Introducing patchwork text assessment processes and exploring significance for student engagement
• Sharing lessons learned and how these can be addressed
Key focus: Gauging interest in further University-wide application

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Detailed Outline
Presents a critical account of some of the tensions inherent in designing appropriate assessment activities within a marketised university context; specifically linked to the context of the health and social care curriculum. It draws upon experiences of reconciling NHS employer-driven needs for reduced contact time for off-site employee development, counterbalanced against student expectations of enhanced contact time and assumptions about engagement.

The example concerns an undergraduate leadership course in which attempts have been made to turn these tensions into something more positive by using a ‘patchwork’ text approach to leadership development at meta level across a whole course. We will argue that the patchwork text (as introduced by Scoggins and Winter, 1999) – in which small episodes of learning are placed into a wider context by students ‘stitching’ together a justified meaning or narrative of their theory and practice – can provide a tool for wider critical thinking development; the process neither privileges the retrospective synthesis as illustrated by the dissertation nor the wholly reflective component as characterised by reflective diaries. Instead, the patchwork text draws upon synthesis and reflection concurrently to develop both student autonomy and application to practice.

The process is presented as a practical mechanism across a whole course for developing innovative assessment for learning processes, drawing upon notions that putting a complex theory into practice – or praxis – should be given more attention. The approach draws heavily upon key principles of the A Marked Improvement document (HEA, 2012) which called for significant reappraisal of assessment processes through evidence-informed change.

Workshop Outcomes:
• Introduce the concept of patchwork text assessment processes and explore range of application
• Share lessons learned about potential pitfalls and how these can be addressed
• Explore wider application and utility for participants’ own contexts

The workshop shares ‘lessons learned’ but argues that this continuous process is more effective than many traditional end-point assessment approaches such as the classic dissertation. The relationship to colleagues’ own contexts will be explored throughout and we will end by gauging interest in taking this process further within the University.

Team-Based Learning: A Strategy for Student Engagement

Simon Tweddell & Rebecca McCarter
@simontweddell / @beckmccarter

Parallel session 4, CoLab 4.2

Short abstract
This workshop aims to introduce participants to team-based learning by experiencing it just as a student would. TBL is a learner-centred ‘flipped’ instructional strategy designed to engage students.
By the end of this session, participants will be able to:
• Explain the essential elements that make up a TBL unit

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Detailed outline
Participants will experience Team-Based Learning (TBL) in this workshop. TBL engages students through a process of preparation, assessment and application of knowledge. It shifts the focus of classroom time from conveying course concepts by the instructor to the application of course concepts by student learning teams. A TBL unit consists of 4 components:

Students are allocated to permanent teams of 5-7 students, creating effective learning teams with diverse resources, who will work together for the entire module.

Pre-class Preparation
Students prepare by individually studying content that might previously have been delivered as lectures. Students are directed to learner resources chosen by or written by the teacher via a Student Study Guide.

Readiness Assurance Process
Students are incentivised to prepare for class through assessment. Students take a short, individual test on the content followed by an identical team test. In the latter they discuss their responses, agree on a team answer and receive immediate feedback. The discussion facilitates peer teaching and learning. Tests are summative, incentivising students to prepare.

The longest phase is the application phase. During class, teams work on identical application exercises, applying concepts to solve significant, challenging and authentic problems. Applications are designed to create in-team discussion and teams are forced to make a specific choice to defend. Finally, an interactive, teacher-facilitated debate follows as teams justify their answers to the class. Learners are engaged in team and class discussions throughout, enabling a deeper understanding of course content, promoting higher level learning and developing skills to enhance employability

00:00 Introduction
00:05 Team-formation
00:10 Readiness Assurance Process
00:25 Application Exercise
00:35 Discussion
00:45 Q&A
00:50 Close

Delegates will be supplied with a Study Guide entitled: ‘An Introduction to TBL’ for self-study before and after the workshop. The presenters will direct interested delegates to further resources.

Ready, Steady, Learn!

Dr David Smith & Dr Graham Holden
@dave_thesmith / @GrahamJHolden

Parallel session 4, CoLab 4.1

This workshop builds on a session devised and developed by Graham, and Professor Ranald Macdonald which then ran with academic staff at the University of Manchester.

Short Abstract
Come teach with us, share your practice and add a little bit of flavour to your teaching. Participants will be asked to design or redesign a teaching session. We’ll award points to all the sessions and feedback to develop further ideas and implementation. At the end of the workshop the session with the most points wins a tasty teaching prize.

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Detailed Outline
We believe that good learning experiences are challenging, risky, unpredictable, experimental, and are, above all, fun! These experiences occur individually as well as in groups, and everyone brings different knowledge, skills and experiences to the table.
In this workshop we will explore the metaphor of cooking in teaching and learning (hence the title) as this incorporate features that make learning more engaging. Learning, like food, can become dull and bland and the addition of an extra ingredient or combining ingredients in a different way can transform the experience. These changes don’t have to mean a complete redesign of the learning experience but can be about adding an extra dimension at the right time. Like any good meal it is the combination of a well-planned menu, good quality ingredients and the skill of the cook that makes the difference.

This session will explore the key elements of active learning and quality design of the learning experience; we will share ideas and techniques that promote engagement. We will do this be drawing on principles for active learning, our own experiences and examples from the University’s Inspirational Teachers. The best experiences, though, are those of the participants, so we ask you to come prepared to explore your own practices and to share your reflections with others. By the end of the session we will have a collection of recipes for engaged student learning and the beginnings of what we hope will be an active learning cookbook.

Subverting Multiple-choice Questions for Deep Learning

Lee-Ann Sequeira

Parallel session 3, CoLab 3.6

Short Abstract
The aim of this workshop is to show through examples and evidence how online formative multiple-choice questions (MCQs) can be used to promote conceptual understanding and peer learning for students studying in and away from the classroom.

By the end of the workshop, participants would have:
• Understood how formative MCQs can be used to promote deep learning in face-to-face and distance learning
• Completed a short online formative MCQ quiz to see how it works from a participant’s perspective
• Begun to construct an online formative MCQ quiz

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Detailed Outline
An online formative MCQ has key features that distinguish it from a traditional MCQ that is used to test recall of information.

• The topic for the MCQ should be complex and difficult to understand. It should be fundamental to that field/module, such that it is a conceptual building block on which more advanced concepts are built (eg. threshold concepts).
• As the aim is to further the learner’s understanding, it is advisable to create a set of MCQs – about five-eight MCQs – on a single topic that explore different aspects of that topic and/or increase in complexity.
• Similar to traditional MCQs, formative MCQs have a question stem, correct answer(s) and distractors. Distractors (incorrect options) are key as they help to identify areas of confusion or poor understanding.
• MCQs can have varying levels of pre-programmed, automatic feedback, for example, referring students to a particular topic in the text or explaining certain problematic parts of the question or inviting them to attend a mop-up tutorial to discuss problematic areas identified in the MCQs.
• MCQs are often created in a virtual learning environment (VLE) which tracks the learners’ responses and generates reports showing the learners’ attempts by question, user, overall class performance, etc. in real time. These metrics can be used by the tutor to diagnose which questions or topics the students are finding problematic and accordingly focus her/his efforts in that direction.
• Learning activities such as online discussion fora and webinars can be used to explain and clarify issues identified in the MCQs (determined by the metrics) and increases opportunities for learners to ask follow-up questions and discuss them, thereby advancing the learner’s understanding.

In this way, online formative MCQs are compatible with a variety of pedagogical purposes – peer learning, the flipped classroom, self-assessment and revision, etc. Examples and evidence will be presented from a number of disciplines – economics, health sciences, physics, education, etc., including feedback from students and staff who are involved in a pilot study.

This is the proposed outline for the CoLab session:
• Introduction to MCQs
(Types and features of MCQs, merits and limitations)
• Quiz time!
(Participants take an MCQ quiz to get an idea of how it works from a student’s perspective)
• Hands-on activity: DIY MCQ
(Participants begin constructing an MCQ quiz using the guidance provided.)

Online Distance Learning – Challenges, Conversations, Solutions

David Eddy & Dr Colette Fegan
@sonofedd / @colfegan

Parallel session 3, CoLab 3.5

Short Abstract
This workshop will explore the challenges and barriers associated with online distance learning (ODL). Examples of how Allied Health Professions teams have overcome these to offer innovative and engaging flexible learning opportunities will be shared. The collective wisdom of the group will be harnessed to draw out key emergent themes and considerations.

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Detailed Outline
A full online distance learning (ODL) experience is the default offer in the AHP department. This includes PG education aimed at physiotherapists, occupational therapists, therapeutic radiographers, diagnostic radiographers and practitioners working in the areas of prostate cancer care, vocational rehabilitation and supportive and palliative care.

This workshop functions as a ‘think tank’ and will explore some of the opportunities and challenges that ODL presents at SHU. It will offer a clear and structured framework for delivery and support of students undertaking a distance learning experience. The workshop will explore some of the myths around distance learning and also some of the barriers and how teams in the department of AHP have overcome these. Examples of innovation and engagement of an online community will be shared.

Prior to the workshop, participants will be sent an online survey to complete asking 3 key questions:

1) What is the 1 key ingredient for success in online distance learning?
2) What is the 1 key enabler which would support and encourage the development of an online distance learning programme?
3) What is the 1 the barrier which hinders successful development and/or delivery of online distance learning courses.

Respondents answers will be collated to utilise in the workshop
Workshop participants will be split into discussion groups, facilitated by the co-presenters, focussing upon strategies and approaches to enable ODL provision to develop, and flourish.
A plenary will bring together the collective wisdom and draw out the key themes which have emerged and identify any key considerations for the institution, faculties, departments or course teams.

If desired by the participants, we will carry on the conversations online and build a resource and support toolkit for developing ODL.

Whose flexibility? Being, belonging and becoming

Stella Jones-Devitt & Graham Holden

Parallel session 3, CoLab 3.4

See an animation which describes the project process on YouTube (opens in new window)
Project Overview .docx
Aggregated Responses From Key Informants .docx
Student Case Studies .docx

Short Abstract
This is a joint venture between Catherine Arnold, Jean Harris-Evans, Graham Holden, Stella Jones-Devitt, Rebecca Khanna and Ann-marie Steele.

The flexibility of our academic infrastructure, our pedagogies and our curricula are key enabling factors in learner engagement. This session will share the outcomes of a HEA-sponsored project aimed at gaining a better understanding of the University’s conditions of flexibility and the barriers to learner engagement.

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Detailed Outline
SHU’s diverse student population includes 10,000 part-time students (HESA 2013). The University strategy (2014-2020) has prioritised enhancing work with part-time students and employers as a key part of its flexible ambitions. The Learning and Teaching Strategy (2014) aligns by striving to provide students with a high-quality inclusive experience, facilitating high levels of engagement with their learning.

This implies going beyond the HEFCE definition of flexible learning which allows students to have information they need to make informed choices about what, where and how they want to study. This ‘information-marketplace’ approach fails to capture complex tensions identified by Barnett (2014) when constructing conditions of flexibility. Given the University’s strategic commitment to inclusivity, the approach resonates with Tinto’s (2008) recognition that access without support is not opportunity.

SHU needs to establish institution-wide responsiveness to the flexibility agenda to create a necessarily unique profile to establish conditions of flexibility. In response to this agenda, the University successfully applied in November 2014 for inclusion in the HEA’s Strategic Enhancement Programme (SEP) on Flexible Learning.

This session shares the outcomes of the resulting project Whose flexibility? Being, belonging and becoming which was established to scope a range of diverse voices in order to help us in beginning to understand what flexible learning might mean to the institution in both systems and pedagogy across the student lifecycle. These voices initially comprised a set of ‘key informants’ deemed able to offer often under-represented views such as those of in-work students and the institution’s staff committed to pushing boundaries for inclusive practice. They were asked to comment upon the 12 Conditions of Flexibility (Barnett, 2014) and nominate further key informants as part of a research snowball method in order to build an emerging understanding of some alternative perspectives. This evidence-base helps examine whether there is any cogent Institution-wide understanding concerning the significance of ‘flexibility’ in beginning to build a compelling rationale for future developments.

This session explores the methodology developed – within the constraints of time and resource – to appraise the widest range of stakeholder expectations for flexible learning. It will go on to explore the outcomes of this work and the implications of these expectations for our flexible learning offer and the University’s strategic ambitions concerning inclusivity.

Identifying confident and engaging approaches to course-based teaching

Caroline Heaton, Andrew Middleton & Nathaniel Pickering
@andrewmid / @nathaniel_P

Parallel session 3, CoLab 3.3

Short Abstract
Focussing on the context of course teams and ideas about confident and consistent teaching, this workshop aims to test and develop the findings of recent research into staff and student views of what constitutes ‘good’ teaching. Workshop outputs will contribute to a CPD resource for academic staff.

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Detailed Outline
In 2013/14 we began to clarify what we mean by “good, inspirational teaching” at Sheffield Hallam University in order to inform the professional development of our teachers.

As well as exploring the literature on teaching excellence and learner engagement, researchers in QESS carried out an analysis of student comments on teaching (submitted as part of the National Student Survey, 2013) and the results of a survey about the practice of our Inspirational Teachers.

Similar themes emerged from both student and staff feedback, and our findings suggested that we value confident teachers, who challenge students, whilst providing support and encouragement which enables them to develop and take risks. Our research, for example, recognises the need for,
• clarity to ensure that all students have a sound understanding of what is expected of them, and for
• course-based consistency to facilitate an equitable student experience and to reduce confusion and disengagement.

Our ongoing research, being conducted in Semester 2 (2014/15), involves us working with staff and students in four academic disciplines within the University in order to assess our findings. This CoLab workshop will build on this work with faculties, and will enable participants to peer review our concept of good teaching.

Attendees will be asked to work in groups to address questions relating to one or more of our identified themes, reviewing their validity and identifying associated values and characteristics which can be used to develop teaching that is high quality, engaging and course-focused.

Based on the outcomes of these activities, we aim to produce a brief handbook and rich media resource for staff which describes Good, Inspirational Teaching.

Using augmented reality to bring inanimate objects in your teaching to life

Mandy Brailsford & Deborah Clark

Parallel session 3, CoLab 3.2

Key themes:
Embedding augmented reality with intermediate-fidelity simulation; Increasing realism; Transference to clinical and teaching practice; Tablet-based teaching.

To demonstrate the use of Augmented Reality within programmes giving delegates the opportunity to create an example themselves within the workshop.
To explore the underpinning pedagogy behind the use of this technology for enhancing not only engagement but realism and transference to practice.

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Detailed Outline
This interactive workshop will discuss an innovative approach developed by technologists and academics at Sheffield Hallam University aimed at enhancing realism and student engagement within simulation-based activities.

The aim of simulation in replicating elements of real-world situations to develop learning through action and interaction is well documented (Gaba, 2004). However the degree to which participants immerse themselves in the simulated environment is likely to be influenced by authenticity and realism, particularly if those participants have limited prior real-world experience to draw on. Ailnier et al (2006) established the benefits of intermediate fidelity simulation within undergraduate healthcare education, however, due to the limitations of this level of simulation the educator is required to actively participate in the scenario providing the necessary interaction between the participant and the ‘patient’. This may act as a barrier when attempting to deliver a realistic clinical scenario. Alternative strategies for providing participants with key interactions whilst increasing the authenticity of simulation were therefore sought within the limited resources available.

The resulting approach taken by staff at Sheffield Hallam University was to integrate Augmented Reality (AR) with simulation in an attempt to improve authenticity and patient interaction. Computer generated imagery (CGI) and patient videos were superimposed on the simulated scenario via a tablet computer held by the participants. Multiple scenarios across a varied field of interprofessional teams were developed and utilised via a readily available augmented reality application.

By using AR within these intermediate-fidelity simulated environments, it has afforded the educator the ability to observe the students’, rather than having to participate actively within the scenario. This has enabled the educator to integrate student attitudes and behaviour towards the simulated patient within facilitated discussions, incorporating key elements such as communication and compassion.

This session will include audience participation to encourage the development and utilisation of resources as well as discussions for possible wider implementation. Augmented reality will be used by delegates to turn inanimate objects into people or pre-recorded media so that the delegates themselves can judge whether the use of this technology could enhance students learning in their contexts:

Some examples of potential possibilities are:
• Bringing any situation to life where the student can rehearse communication or behavior skills without the need for actors or an academic peer ‘role playing’ the situation
• Immersing the student in a situation where they are to respond to something they have seen