DIAL Interim Report – Outcomes and Lessons Learned – April 2012

Outline any changes to practice brought about or influenced by the activities described in section two or by use of the deliverables described in section three.

Project related:

  • DIAL project or programme? (The DIAL project was always going to be bigger than a project and by acknowledging this and looking at DIAL as a potential UAL programme we can better build a case for developing a UAL wide digital strategy and sustainability plans to develop and maintain progressive digital practice at UAL. So DIAL will run as a programme and do its best to acknowledge as wide a spectrum of issues as possible although it can not address everything.
  • Ongoing and official baseline report being implemented by UAL across key departments (with DIAL board support)
  • Integration and alignment of UAL fellowships in DIAL related projects
  • New mode of delivery for the PGCert course – http://dial.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2012/04/29/e-learning-strategy-group-meeting-elsg-011211/
  • New platform to address Open and Flexible Learning practice at UAL, long term evaluation and reflection on progress (Nov 2013) – http://process.arts.ac.uk/category/project-groups/open-and-flexible-learning
  • Following inclusion of IT on the DIAL project board and hearing our objectives the DIAL IT representative would like to address and establish a more open presence in UAL to help communicate better their activities, they would also like to pilot improved online resources and more participatory online environments for IT support.

Outline lessons learned so far as the result of your baseline process and any other activities undertaken towards evaluation (section 4). Please include a summary of the findings of your baseline report. Include a link or provide a summary of any evidence that can support these lessons. 

Summary of the findings of your baseline report

The DIAL project was very timely in many ways for the University of the Arts London. The baseline helped highlight the degree of change it will be experiencing over the next two years across all of its key digital infrastructures. These include a new VLE from blackboard to moodle, its IT provision and a total overall of its web environment. UAL has also been involved in the JISC phase 2 and 3 UKOER programmes and has been trialing new online assessment and curriculum delivery support tools.  Although the UAL has acknowledged and is addressing these problems its also encouraged a culture of DIY course delivery and grassroots innovation which has produced a rich environment that’s siloed and hidden from view, there is a huge lack of openness, interaction and communication across courses, departments and colleges. Feedback from student surveys suggest students would like everything in one place, ideally a VLE that worked, this would making better use of both worlds, encouraging grassroots digital online innovation and embedding these into a new VLE.

Although staff development and training at UAL is of very high quality, there is a distinct lack of flexible/open/online learning opportunities for staff to learn and practice at a time and place of their choosing or in collaboration with others. Offering better flexible learning opportunities could also help address some of the issues that UALs time poor and busy staff face. The introduction of Lynda.com has had a huge impact on staff and students and has highlighted the need for more flexible options for staff and students. A review of the extent of flexible learning at UAL also highlighted the low level of flexible learning opportunities being offered to students. It’s hoped by improving the open and flexible staff learning opportunities this will also have a positive impact on the student experience as the benefits and first hand experiences of staff are past into curriculum design.

IT competencies. The University has revised its basic IT competencies, those skills that all users of a computer at the University need to have. You should be able to check your own skill level by printing off the skills assessment questionnaire http://my.arts.ac.uk/learn-it/2whatweoffer.htm), general policy and documentation is unclear and confusing. These competencies may be seen as having little relevance to practice based competencies, software creative applications etc. Some staff access the competencies of their students those that do, do it their way, there is no formal processes or standardisation for this in place. Students were asked ‘should UAL evaluate digital skill levels of staff and students?’ Opinion was divided 50/50, some students felt there is enough assessment and they don’t want to endure more others thought it a good idea for those who could benefit (so maybe it should be offered as optional?) There was a strong consensus throughout the feedback that staff should be assessed and better trained in this area.

  • The baseline report, student survey feedback and focus group meetings all highlighted student’s need for improved professional web skills in order to better represent and operate online in a professional context.
  • Student surveys helped inform the development of the project overview – http://dial.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2012/02/10/project-overview/
  • Following the JISC baseline, the DIAL project board has agreed to support the development of an official institutional baseline report for its digital provision across all colleges and departments. This will begin with each college developing an open blog to cluster baseline specific information about their college, an Institutional blog will also be developed.
  •  Outline how these findings will inform the project going forward. Do you have any updates to the technologies you plan to work with at: http://prod.cetis.ac.uk/search.php?search=developing+digital+literacies 
  • DIAL on process.arts to manage content communities – http://process.arts.ac.uk/category/discipline/research-practice/dial

Lesson’s learned project related:

We are piloting a DIAL work package brief for groups to communicate and compile their outputs (running funded groups as mini projects) – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qVtyAbhABw2b2QoP7eDutiqOEoI0hcBCBpJo097IWjw/edit. Each group is running independently and at a pace that is compatible and complementary to their day to day practice. The work package brief will be adapted based on feedback and offered to new groups if they wish to use it to report or as a guide to use for reference. DIAL ‘Projects’ have the potential to allow staff and student new to project management to gain experience with a small project. Please see – http://dial.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2012/03/27/introduction-project-management-dial-open-education-at-ual-case-studies/

Lesson’s learned projects:

Lessons learned about literacies for online reflective practice (Notes below from Lindsay Jordan – http://dial.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2012/04/28/online-reflective-practice-group-update/ )

Introducing online reflection as a compulsory element of a course has led to the development of the following elements of participants’ digital literacy:

  • Understanding the benefits and challenges of online reflective practice – as evidenced in terminal reflective assignments and ongoing exchange of feedback with participants.
  • Understanding the attitudes and approaches required to maximise the benefits of online reflective practice – as evidenced in the self and peer assessments.
  • Willingness to try new tools and processes – as evidenced on the blogs. Seeing group members posting images and videos often prompted participants to try this for themselves and/or ask each other for advice and support.
  • Willingness to find the answers oneself – whereas at the start of the course I would receive requests for assistance before a participant had even tried to find any information, by the end the requests I received were much more specific; participants had tried a number of avenues and had come to me as a last resort.
  • Greater tolerance of complexity – several participants who felt in the early stages that the course requirements were overwhelmingly complex seemed much more comfortable about the requirements in the latter stages. Four months in, we found we had to ask everyone to start logging in with their new student IDs to access their feedback, whereas we had assured them previously that they would be able to use their existing staff IDs. The response to this was nowhere near as negative as we expected – people seemed to just get on with it.
  • Tool-specific knowledge – e.g. how to add and edit blog posts and comments, how to create blog groups and subscribe to new posts, how to upload media and create hyperlinks.

Next steps

The next phase will be to look more deeply at the data from the tasks, the assessments, and from forthcoming surveys and interviews, to get a better understanding of the role of compulsory, course-based online reflective activities in developing particular aspects of participants’ digital literacy. It will be important to contact colleagues who deferred their studies to gain a better understanding of the factors that influenced their decision. I’m not anticipating that this information will be of much use (previous studies have shown that withdrawing students often cite external pressures and are unlikely to connect their attrition with course design, student support, etc..), but it’s worth a shot. One strategy may be to ask them to speculate what they would have found most challenging had the external pressures (work, family etc.) not been as significant. My major concern is that the online reflective activities were actually a little too challenging, and that this contributed to participant withdrawal and delayed engagement. If this is the case, I need to identify how best to address this; through greater applicant awareness, longer participant induction, different support structures, etc..

I am also interested in looking at the other end of the spectrum; those participants who are now continuing to engage in online reflective practice through their blogs now the units have ended. What are their motivations for doing this and how did these come about? Was it a particular aspect of the course that helped them over a particular threshold, and is this something that can be developed, or given more emphasis, for future cohorts? Was it a particular experience they had, and can this be replicated for others?

Video Presentation Skills group (Draft notes from Laura North below https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vrTfQYJ9XRAw5CLvFb2gNQMJFL0rk984YQ3FuKKCI0g/edit )

A key area that I felt needed more work was structure and content. Really structuring the content and knowing the key elements of your project is important to ensure the message is conveyed in this short period of time. An exercise where they have to practice their pitch and ensure that they are communicating the key elements could be built into the next workshop.

Areas requiring support

Need store(s) of video cameras for use on courses

Staff training with using Flips or smartphones for videoing – it is straightforward and if staff experience this then they may be far more inclined to work with video. Perhaps as part of Learn-IT/CLTAD, and as part of the halfday event we are organising

Open education at UAL

OER creation is a very good diagnostic tool to evaluate digital Literacy requirements for individuals and institutions. (details to follow and will be updated – http://dial.myblog.arts.ac.uk/category/open-education/ )

Key lessons from staff feedback form focus groups and meetings:

  • Let people know what to do and how to do OER at UAL
  • Open at UAL baseline – what is it like now. unconnected, no overall strategy, variable resources and responsibilities, specialist.
  • What it will be like, strategy and sustainable model, clear direction for UAL , Institutional shift ‘cultural change’

Please highlight any outcomes/lessons which are confidential (that you don’t want to be shared with the wider community through the JISC website) and require further discussion.  

Highlight any accessibility issues which have emerged and how you have addressed them in the project.

Extra staff resources

  • Speed up project support, processes and progress and reduce project management workload (approached project Director arrangements made to find/offer support)

Web development support (Online places for DIAL projects and communities to live)

  • There was no allocation in the original budget for DIAL networked project web space this will result in extra cost to the DIAL budget.  We were looking to develop bespoke web space.  We are now using/adapting to in-house resources using minimal funds – http://process.arts.ac.uk/

Equipment availability for project group use, working on funding for digital equipment packs for projects.

  • DIAL pilot groups and community are identifying equipment needs in order to practice and pilot there ideas and communities, for example mobile video cameras, software (screen capture) and iPads, the budget includes costs for supporting communities although some groups may need equipment and limited within the DIAL group budgets. (approached project Director arrangements made to find/offer support, was discussed at the ‘Information Strategy Steering Group’ meeting existing resources to be sourced and DIAL budget to fund some essential equipment packs.
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2 Responses to DIAL Interim Report – Outcomes and Lessons Learned – April 2012

  1. Thank you for sharing an update on project developments 🙂

  2. Thank you Mariana, Be good to talk about your ideas, I can come over to see you 8 June anytime before 2pm (pref) or 6 before 10am?

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