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HeLF meeting: Personalisation of Assessment and Feedback

November 6, 2012 Leave a comment

In the last ten years, higher education has changed beyond all recognition and Heads of E-Learning will be critical to the significant changes to come.  These were some of the opening words by Professor Rikki Morgan-Tamosunas, DVC, University of Westminster, in opening the Heads of E-Learning Forum (HeLF) Meeting held on 31st October.  The theme for this year’s meetings is personalisation and E-learning Heads from around the country came together to explore Personalisation of Assessment and Feedback.

Lisa Gray from JISC gave an overview of the JISC Assessment and Feedback programme supporting and sharing results from numerous projects now running in the UK:

Slide outlining impact of EVS on teaching

Slide from Electronic Voting Systems Presentation

How do you avoid assessment bunching on courses? Catherine Naamani from University of Glamorgan shared their Assessment Diaries project designed to ensure assessments are fairly spaced and give students an overview of all assessments across their courses including type, submission date and feedback return date.  The tool linked in with BlackBoard.

Marija Cubric shared their uses of Electronic Voting Systems, known as clickers at City, for assessment at Hertfordshire.  This technology had on the whole been well received by staff and students.  The tool was deemed easy to use and made teaching and learning more enjoyable.

Gunter Saunders and Peter Chatterton finished the day with an exploration of their Making Assessment Count (MAC) project focused on feedback.  Their presentation highlighted a project at City within broadcast journalism enabling students to reflect on assessment feedback.  This project involves Kate Reader from the School of Arts and Social Sciences and here is a presentation about the work:

Slide from MAC project

Also discussed here was a change management curriculum design technique called Viewpoints that involved the use of cards with principles and examples that could be used to design modules.


Imposter Syndrome

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Do you attribute your success to something other than your own intelligence or ability? Are you afraid of being exposed as a fraud?  If yes, then perhaps you suffer from the Imposter Syndrome.  Around 15 staff from around the institution attended a day long workshop on the Imposter Syndrome in July at City.  It could be said that we were all highly talented, successful people who on occasion (or frequently) doubted we were up to the job or had fooled others into thinking we were.  However, I cannot speak for the other participants!

The Imposter Syndrome is gaining recognition and understanding across the sector.  The workshop facilitator, Dr Caron King, has become a perhaps reluctant expert in the field. Caron was a warm, friendly host who gave us a wealth of knowledge, anecdotes and interactivity to increase our insight into the topic and awareness of our own behaviour.

Having the Imposter Syndrome is not necessarily a negative thing and can contribute to future success.  The day was jam packed with activities and information so here are the top five themes I took away that are already proving helpful to me:

1)      If there is something you do not know, ask yourself, do I need to know it?  This concept has been very liberating to me.  As a learning technologist working with academics it can sometimes be perceived as a problem that I don’t have a PhD or research profile and so on.  However, do I need to have that background?  No, that is the field of the academic and s/he doesn’t work with me to achieve those goals.  They work with me because of the things I do know about.

2)      Feeling the Imposter Syndrome can mean that you are overstretched.  Caron talked about comfort zones and how we should aim for a 10% stretch into a new area.  This is sound advice and enables us to build up confidence without becoming overwhelmed.

3)      Know what success looks like.  If we haven’t defined success we cannot know if we have achieved it.  This can be quite important in giving realistic goals.  Perfectionism can be very detrimental and we need to recognise when good is good enough

4)      Caron introduced me to circles of influence.  There are a limited range of things we can conCircles of influence. Image taken from:,r:4,s:0trol, some that we can influence and others that we cannot control at all.  We need to focus on what we can do, what we can change and being positive within those circles.

5)      As a bonus, we also learnt how to create cartoons!  Was fun to try something new and made me think that I could use drawing more, perhaps in my PowerPoints.

CitySpace Switchoff Party

September 11, 2011 1 comment

After 8 years of service to the University, CitySpace has been switched off.  This event was commemorated with the collection of obituary entries on this blog from staff and students and a small party.

Susannah Quinsee and David Rhind 2004CitySpace, formerly known as City Online Learning, used the operating system WebCT Vista and was first used on courses at City University London in September 2003.  The E-Learning Unit (ELU) comprising of two instructional designers, an office manager, a systems administrator and director was put together to work in collaboration with staff across the institution to implement the system.  Obituary comments reflect on working with the system and the team over the years.  Many tell tales of frustrations and hours devoted to making CitySpace work while wrestling with the clunky interface.  However, this is also the story of transforming teaching and learning at City University London, creating user communities across the institution, and leading the way with learning technology across the sector.

E-Learning Unit Launch January 2004 including Susannah Quinsee and Brendan Casey

 Neal Sumner, David Rhind and Anise Bullimore 2004Staff and students were invited to the CitySpace Switchoff Party on 1st September.  Representatives from across the schools and central services attended to eat, drink, reminisce and say goodbye.  We admired the youth of the ELU team as evident in photos from the early years.  The guest of honour, Brendan Casey, now Director of Academic Services at the University of Birmingham who oversaw the initial purchase and implementation of Cityspace, gave a short speech.  He then symbolically switched off CitySpace using the professionally made (ahem) switch. Brendan Casey, Director of Academic Services at Birmingham University switching off CitySpace

After a successful first year of implementation, Moodle will now become the University’s sole online learning environment.

CitySpace Obituary: Olivia Fox

Olivia Fox is a Learning Development Consultant in the LDC:

“Aaah CitySpace – so many memories! I started working in E-Learning Services as a Support Officer in 2005 and a large part of my role was in supporting staff and students through the CitySpace Helpdesk. I was kept busy trying to resolve staff and student queries, setting up staff accounts and creating new modules. On the Helpdesk I used to get so many panicked queries around browser configuration when students were submitting their assignments online.


I was also responsible for updating the Teaching and Learning Online module which was available for all staff to support the effective use of CitySpace. I was happily updating the module with lots of PowerPoints and handouts from the ELS Breakfast sessions when my line manager Anise noticed that I’d not been using the File Manager to organise my resources into folders and had created a long unmanageable list of resources. I got a stern talking to about the importance of using the file manager. I think there may even have been a raised voice. But this has stood me well as I have been able to easily export my content from CitySpace. I have used these wise words (without the raised voice) from Anise when introducing staff to the CitySpace file manager. So thanks Anise J”


CitySpace Obituary: Julie Attenborough

Julie Attenborough, Head of the Educational Development Unit, School of Community and Health Sciences

Though much maligned over the years I retain a strange fondness for CitySpace. A bit like a first encounter (clunky, unsatisfying)it gave us a taste of what might be possible if only…. The slowness of the system in the University’s far flung outposts, the wrath and frustration of students and colleagues and the number of clicks of the mouse necessary to do the simplest task enabled us to really think about what we were doing in a virtual world where ‘hide’ meant ‘show’ and vice versa. Prohibition of the use of the back and forward buttons is so ingrained that some of us have needed encouragement to embrace them again. In the words of our School’s Learning Consultant from LDC; “you’re never more than 15 clicks away with CitySpace”. Farewell and thanks for all the clicks….

CitySpace Obituary: Neal Sumner

Here are Neal’s CitySpace memories:

CitySpace obituary

9.59 on January 5th 2004 and the clocks are ticking loudly in the 4 Drysdale computer labs where 250 silent students are sitting expectantly at their terminals waiting for their Informatics examination to begin. As the second hand moves towards the vertical, hundreds of pairs of eyes are staring at the screens waiting for the multiple choice quiz to appear. Tick… Tick… Tick…. 10.00, sixty seconds drip by… 10.01 comes and goes

Invigilators and students are getting fidgety, where is the quiz????

All had been set up back in December when, with customary thoroughness, my friend and colleague Steve Gallagher (who returned to New Zealand for the Christmas holiday) had collated the questions, set up the quiz, tested the processes to destruction and had me sign in blood that I would be there to provide the technology support on the day and that nothing could possibly go wrong in this, the first high stakes assessment using CitySpace for the department of Computing.

10.03 and still the screens are blank. What can possibly be wrong? We had looked at every eventuality but why wasn’t the quiz appearing?? Many more minutes of this and we would have to abandon the exam and faith in the CitySpace system would evaporate with it. The tension was tangible.

Of course in the end the resolution was blindingly obvious but it took three minutes of brain racing synapse stretching panic to finally identify the problem and, with a few clicks all became clear and the students started their exam at 10.05.

It was that marvellous selective release tool we all loved so much in CitySpace…. it had been set up for the right time, the right day of the month but hey, what’s this? It was set to be released in 2003!

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Innovation Creativity and Leadership – Research and Practice

Innovation Creativity and Leadership – Research and Practice                    13th June 2011

ICL cogs logo

Archived abstracts and slides:

This event showcased a diverse range of research and activity in this field.  It very successfully met its aim “to be a forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experience of innovation, creativity and leadership in both research and practice.”  Central to this was the vibrant attending crowd.  True to its interdisciplinary nature, the event enabled lively networking across the disciplines, between lecturers, services, students and researchers, between academics, consultancies, and companies, from City University London and beyond.  Among the many people I encountered were a MICL (Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership) student glowing about his inspiring and rewarding study experience and a creativity consultant that provided me with a list of useful techniques for change management.

The performance space proved to be an excellent venue although the area used for catering was a little cramped.  It would have been exciting to use the space to perform and have had sessions that enabled physical movement, interactivity and engagement with the actual techniques discussed.

Highlights for me included Patrick Jordan’s opening keynote.  He is described as a “design, marketing and brand strategist” as well as an academic.  His presentation was eye-opening and highly visual and exploded a number of assumptions about human behaviour in his discussion of bringing about change.

Clive Holtham co-created his slides with the audience using a crayoned flip book and invitations to interpret the symbols.Co-created slide with Professor Clive Holtham

Kathy Molloy and Kathryn Waddington explored critical reflection as a tool for learning about leadership.  This introduced me to the term ‘toxic leadership’ and also demonstrated how medical staff were able to embrace and benefit from the seemingly uncomfortable practice of reflection.

Sara Jones gave an excellent overview of the technologically enhanced spaces for creative conversations that they have been evaluating and experimenting with.

Above all I took away this quote shared by Andres Roberts that “there is no scientific evidence that seriousness leads to greater growth..”.  I left with a stronger conviction that bringing about change requires play and creativity.  This was an enjoyable day and excellent networking opportunity.  It was a demonstration of the kind of event that City University London should do more of and I look forward to the next one.

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