Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Students come up with creative ideas for displaying their work

Helping a cohort of 52 business students to design and curate their exhibition of the 11 week Reflective Practitioner module provided an interesting opportunity for students to come up with imaginative ways of displaying their work.

Task   The exhibition design, artefacts and curation represented a piece of course work, and two streams of students were asked to make a joint exhibition. The two groups worked independently until week 10, only being able to liaise in week 11 and on the day of the event. Students elected to take on specific roles and tasks, and had responsibility for devising and making displays. A very large number of artefacts needed to be displayed.

Venue   The Drysdale Lecture Theatre, lobby area and boardroom. We had access one and a half hours ahead of the exhibition opening to the public.

Process   From week 2 students were introduced to the idea of the exhibition, and over the course momentum built, including a vital integrative workshop in week 10 when as many exhibits were prepared as possible. Students also worked in groups on a plan of the space, producing some excellent space designs. Students were mindful of providing a space that would enable up to 60 guests to circulate, plus a reception table, and space for visitors’ feedback.

How students came up with creative solutions

Living  Exhibits  Each student elected to wear a badge inviting guests to interact with them on a particular theme of the module.

Gazebo  For a fantastic central focus, the basic framework of a small garden gazebo was used to display 52 three-dimensional story cubes, representing the special qualities of each student but also, symbolically brought together into a single organisation.

Bathroom suckers We sourced plastic sucker “towel” hooks to suspend lines of cord, from which visitors added their handwritten feedback on luggage labels.

Boxes Large Cardboard boxes were designed by students to display quotes, images and photos.

Lessons Learned  

The opportunity to display their work afforded the learning from the module to be made visible to external guests, to the wider institution, and to prospective students and  parents (it coincided with an open day.) Our students have great ability to understand and collaborate together on designing and enhancing learning spaces. Given the success of this exhibition perhaps we should ensure that any future learning spaces build in to their design ways to display work. Simple ideas can turn a space into a display area, including hooks placed at the top of walls for hanging work, more flexible spot lighting that can be used to illuminate displays and better designed mobile display boards.



Blogs for Learning and Teaching: More then just a passing phase

January 3, 2013 3 comments

blog-wordleLearning and Teaching blogs

Over the last few years, you may have found yourself subscribing to various blogs. These tend to provide bite sized information on areas that interest you. For instance our educational vignettes(created by the Learning Development Centre) enables the dissemination of case studies, reviews, and guidance on learning and teaching in general. However you may have also found that in some cases, there are other blogs that your local edtech team produces too. 

In this article, I will provide a brief overview as well as the noted benefits of using blogs for research and/or teaching purposes. I will also provide information on how blogs are being used at the University and how you might like to set up your own blog.

History of Blogging

The origins of the blog is the subject of some debate, but according to Blood (2000), the phrase ‘web log’ was first used by Barger (1997) and the shortened version by Merholz in 1999 (Merholz, 2002). Blogging as a phenomenon started to increase steadily after this time, and then there was an explosion in the number of blogs when the first free, do it yourself blogging tools became available in mid-1999, most notably

Since 2003 there has been over 70 million blogs created, each with their own version of news. So the big deal about blogs is that it gives people like us the power of the media and has created a personal kind of news that appeals to a high number of small audiences. A simplified visual explanation of blogs can be viewed here.

The Benefits of Blogging

In relation to learning and teaching, blogging can be advantageous in a range of situations namely:

  • lecturers can provide feedback and monitor students performance more effectively;
  • it promotes self-assessment and continued assessment;
  • it promotes personal reflection and
  • it enables tracking of all the process (both by students and lecturers).

Priego a new lecturer at City London argues that blogging is the ultimate form of collegiality – if we understand collegiality as the relationship of professional colleagues united in a common purpose and respecting each other’s abilities to work toward that purpose. Priego suggests that blogging is already a multi-tool for today’s academic, whether early-career, established or somewhere in between. Useful for both researching and rehearsing ideas, it can even be an early form of publication.

How blogs are being used by students at City

At City, blogs are being used in various ways by both lecturers and students. Some examples of student blogs include:

  • recording Personal Development Planning (PDP) activities;
  • charting project progress;
  • managing group projects;
  • collaborating on the development of course resources;
  • commenting on lecturer-led blogs and
  • interacting with guest speakers.

The latest blog of blogs

Matt Lingard’s team at City have found a way to pull blogs that focus primarily on education and technology. There is now a new Education & Technology blog at the university. EdTech: Education & Technology is an innovative blog of blogs. It pulls together posts written by staff at the university from 8 different blogs (including this one!). So, rather than following 8 blogs, you can get them all in one place by visiting, by signing up for email updates or subscribing to the RSS Feed.

As noted, the blogs are a mixture of team, individual & more general ones providing a wide variety of posts including case studies, conference reports, technology news, teaching ideas & much more. EdTech: Education & Technology will be of interest to a wide audience both inside and beyond the university.

How does it work?

The EdTech blog is powered by RSS feeds (RSS or News feeds are links to web pages that are read by computers and allow content to be moved around the web). It uses a ‘plugin’ to the main university Edublogs service called FeedWordPress. This imports blog posts from the 8 source blogs via their RSS Feeds. It’s an automated process requiring only minimal human intervention to classify the incoming posts.

Variations of a ‘blog of blogs’

This blog of blogs model could be used for combining any collection of blogs or other RSS/news feeds.  For example a cohort of students’ individual blogs could be combined into a class blog or a collection of news updates from mainstream media could be combined create a single rich contextual resource for students.

How do I start blogging?

To request a blog, log your request with the IT Service Desk. You can set up a private blog to support learning and teaching activities or you can request a public blog to publicise the work of your department.

So over to you, if you’d like to share your thoughts on blogging please do so under comments. If you’d like to find out more about blogs and how they can be used to support your research and/or teaching, please do contact your ed. tech team or the LDC.

The MILL: Guest Starring iTunes U

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Words Associated with the MILL Launch

The MILL: Guest Starring iTunes U event was held on 1st November 2011 and was designed to launch both iTunes U and the MILL at City University London, making staff aware of how both can help to develop their teaching practice.  Coordinated by Sandra Partington, Steve McCombe, Siân Lindsay and Sara Reimers, who came up with the idea of a one-off launch with a film theme, the event attracted more than sixty delegates from across the whole range of Schools, including Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Curran and Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education Professor David Bolton.

The event took the format of a film-themed open day at which attendees were encouraged to explore the MILL and its facilities, getting involved with interactive presentations by LDC staff in each room.  Visitors were welcomed to the event in the foyer, and issued with a ‘ticket’ and popcorn to begin their cinematic experience.

Cinema and iTunes U

For one night only the MILL’s small training room was transformed into a cinema, where a showreel of some of the best examples of iTunes U episodes were screened to an audience treated to ice-cream and Haribo sweets.

To find out more about our iTunes collection please follow the link to our site or watch a selection of videos without downloading iTunes .

 Behind the Scenes  

In the MILL’s Office, Sandra Partington and Mo Pamplin offered a rolling programme of 15 minute demos, which focussed on both equipment and programs such as the iTunes U Live site, iPads, video cameras and editing software.


The MILL’s podcasting rooms were transformed into studios in which Olivia Fox and colleagues demonstrated some of the uses of Adobe Presenter and Adobe Connect. Julie Attenborough (SHS), Ian Glover (SOI), and Charles Watson (SOI) showcased some of the best examples of assessment feedback including the use of audio and video.

TV Studio

In the MILL’s state of the art TV studio (recently seen on the BBC’s One Show) Steve McCombe gave staff a tour of the facilities and they had the opportunity to test out its blue screen function.  Through the magic of technology staff were transported from the Eiffel Tower to the moon and back, and encouraged to think how these technologies could help their students engage with their subject in a new and creative way.

 iTunesU & Mac driving test

In the large training room staff were invited to take a web quest, acquainting themselves with the mac computers and answering questions as they went along.  Everyone who completed the quest was entered into a prize draw for the opportunity to win a £20 Odeon Cinema voucher, Pascale Colanna-Cesari (SHS) was the lucky winner. 

Coffee Shop

The MILL’s meeting room was transformed into a coffee shop for the night where guests were treated to coffee and cake, as well as more movie-themed confectionary such as ice-cream, popcorn and sweets.


In the five months since the event staff from across all Schools have signed up to attend workshops and training offered by the MILL, twenty six of whom used the new online booking system put into place as a result of the launch.  We also now have an online evaluation form, which will make the feedback process quicker and easier.  In addition to training, the MILL has also seen a significant rise in the number of equipment loan requests made by staff, and a considerable number of bookings of MILL spaces such as the podcasting rooms and TV studio.

The MILL has supported various filming projects including an award winning film project made by Optometry students, available to watch on YouTube.

Other departments such as Careers and the Students’ Union have also used the MILL as part of an exciting project called City on Screen. Farzana Latif (SHS) and Steve McCombe (LDC) recently collaborated on a video pitch for JISC funding, watch the video here.

It has also attracted the attention of staff external to City University London, with the Society for Research in HE booking to use the space and the BBC’s The One Show using the studio for filming in late 2011.  The MILL is also at the forefront of pioneering new technology, taking part in the Lecture Capture pilot project being run by SASS.

The MILL has also been out on the road, launching its popup cinema at theLDC’s Showcase in January, something that it will be repeating at other venues in the near future.

The Future

The MILL continues to go from strength to strength, reaching an ever-growing number of staff from across the University.  Over the next year we aim to:

  • Expand the number and range of courses
  • Increase the use of the MILL spaces
  • Raise awareness of the MILL with academic staff
  • Become a growing presence in the University as a hub for collaboration

We will continue to gauge our impact and research the needs of our colleagues, to ensure that we provide the training and facilities to best support the changing needs of staff at City University London.

Sandra Partington, Educational Developer

Sara Reimers, Learning Development Support Officer


Ketso is a beautiful, tactile tool that can be used to run workshops and create action plans.  The main benefit of Ketso is in enabling all participants to have a voice.  The website describes Ketso as “a toolkit for creative and effective engagement. It is designed to encourage creative thinking, and to engage people from different backgrounds and experiences, so diverse groups can work together enjoyably and productively.”

This vignette reports back on using this tool in a workshop in January 2011.  Ketso kits can be rented or bought and have applications in teaching and learning, workshop and research contexts.

Ketso Workshop January 2011


Grainne Conole from Open University @ Moodlemoot 2011

May 9, 2011 1 comment

New Pedagogies for Social and Participatory Media

Conole’s keynote explored open resources for enhancing teaching and learning. How increased use of the extensive open and online tools that are available could enable us to build on each others ideas and research. She promotes the idea of mixing the use of closed institutional tools with open resources.

Open design, delivery, research and evaluation

  • Fostering creativity
  • Needing new online skills for lecturers and students
  • Keeping up with fast changing technology

Sharing tools

  • Allows peer critique, creating valued critical info for research.
  • Discussions on teaching and learning i.e. OU’s use of Cloudworks ‘a place to share, find and discuss learning and teaching ideas and experiences.’ How a quick question can develop into a flash debate see ‘Is Twitter killing Blogs?’.
  • The Open Education Resource (OER)  movement was highlighted as an important move forward.
  • Conole advocates a mix of closed institutional tools and open options. Personalising our own resources, but shifting from design as individual to one that is sharable.
  • Opal Project focus on practices around use of OER, what support, design, guidelines are provided to help teachers.

Diversity of students

  • Consider that while many students are digitally aware, some don’t use social media appropriately whilst others may lack the criticality for effective use.

Relating pedagogies of e-learning to online tools- See slideshare for more details

Grainne Conole@Moodlemoot 2011

Relationship between the tools and users

  • Allowing reflective dialogue, aggregation, interactivity and characteristics and preferences of users should be evolving practices. ‘Learning through play.’
  • Developing new forms of creative practice i.e. Twitter technology simple but to use effectively is complex and personal.
  • Technologies are not being fully exploited. Predominance of old practices. Why is this happening? – lack of time, resources, skills, support?

The Solution – Open technologically mediated learning

  • Sharing of content and research. Making raw data available so others can manipulate it.
  • Focus on open practices. Speak to peers to find out what went right or wrong.
  • Look at the delivery and use of free tools.
  • Encourage reflectivity.
  • Use research repositories such as, a semantic wiki for open research.

Favourite Tweets from the keynote

@TechCzech: My take on the importance of community for open research #mootuk11

@tutor2u_econ: Your top open web resource? I have put a few here

@TechCzech: Great example of Twitter for keynote notetaking

View Conole’s Moodlemoot Slideshare Presentation here.

%d bloggers like this: