Things we’ve been reading about

Plagiarism (formerly the Plagiarism Advisory Service) set up by JISC, have launched their new site combining useful resources  for understanding plagiarism and promoting academic integrity, research papers on plagiarism and academic integrity and a blog. Although not a new resource as such, the site is a useful starting point for understanding and addressing issues around academic integrity. (Jilly)

Interesting interview with Salman Khan (of Khan Academy fame) on stepping away from the lecture paradigm and how new technologies might  help accomplish the same thing more effectively. Includes links to Khan’s TED Talk entitled Let’s Use Video to Re-invent Education and an example Khan Academy screencast. (Doug)

The rise of MOOCs has recently served to reiterate the challenges faced by online educators in ensuring fair play in online assessments. Different technologies have developed to address this, but they are not foolproof: perhaps the most effective option is still a simple technology which allows the assessor to monitor candidates in real-time, as in face-to-face exams? (Jilly)

Following my last post on the Leicester Council’s move to enhance secondary school education using technology, and particularly through arranging for students to use their own devices in the classroom; I was interested to read this article about the ‘iSchool‘ which has given all its students iPads and re-shaped teaching around this new tool. Although the author proclaims no specialist pedagogical knowledge, the outcomes appear very positive; with the cost of purchasing the devices being offset by reduced printing and administration costs, and increased student engagement. (Jilly)

The concept of the flipped lecture is now commonplace throughout school, college and higher education: this article explores whether it is time to ‘flip’ the academic as well. Although the model will not appeal to all academics, the author suggests that the flipped academic has much to offer in terms of community engagement and applied research. (Roger)

Having recently revisited the Learnhigher collection of online study resources for staff and students, I was struck by the comprehensiveness of the information available; including a guide on mobile learning for academics. As a useful source of information for students and staff alike it is worth drawing attention to. (Roger)

Event: ICT to support educational transformation in Leicester

By Jilly Broderick

The Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol host many events but I was pleased to be able to attend a talk by Josie Fraser, ICT Strategy Leader for Children’s Capital at Leicester City Council, about the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project.

The BSF project involved schools where approaches to teaching and learning are substantially different to those in Higher Education. However some key lessons learned by the project so far are relevant to any institution using technology enhanced learning, including the University of Bristol:

  • Prioritising digital literacy for staff and students is key to maximising the usefulness of technology enhanced learning
  • Learners’ perceptions of what constitutes effective use of learning technologies are not what we might expect: students want technology that works, not  ‘cutting edge’ technology, in education
  • The most important element of technology enhanced learning is to enhance, rather than replace, the face to face learning experience; therefore effective pedagogical approaches are crucial
  • Open access resources and active staff collaboration are key to supporting innovative development of technology enhanced learning practices

With a high proportion of young people in the local population (27% are under 19) and over a third of these living in poverty, education potentially has much to offer Leicester. To effectively target these young learners the BSF project draws on collaboration with local providers of lifelong learning, a sector which has embraced new technologies for their capacity to reach and engage adults in the community, and the opinions of local young people regarding the ways in which different technologies should be prioritised in education.

The findings of the latter mirror the trends of Bristol’s (2012) Mobile Survey, and other similar research: perhaps surprisingly, young people are less interested in being provided with high-tech devices to use for their studies and more interested in simpler technology ‘that works’. The main areas identified in the research preceding the BSF were

  • Improving infrastructure, including universal access to wifi in schools, and faster broadband connections
  • Flexible access to PCs outside of scheduled classes and in non-ICT classes, for example through a bank of laptops which teachers could book and use anywhere
  • More student-centred teaching using technology, including students having input into their schools’ internet policies, appropriate use of ICT in face to face teaching and the opportunity to collaborate with other learners across the world online

This evaluation prompted the BSF to focus on two main aspects of education technology:

  1. Prioritising digital literacy, for both staff and students: teaching learners how to select and use appropriate devices and tools needed to function in everyday society; including the use of relevant technologies, particularly social media platforms, to have an effective input into society. Tied in with building learner digital literacy is the aim of improving the effective staff use of ICT in everyday teaching
  2. Ensuring learners have equal access to the necessary tools and devices, both within and outside of school

The first aim, of improving digital literacy, has been addressed by improving ICT infrastructure in the schools; and where possible backing up fixed resources (computer rooms) with more flexible resource like banks of laptops which can be booked and used for any lesson in a school. A framework for understanding teachers’ perspectives on using ICT will provide regular checks on whether and how the attitudes and ideas of teaching staff change during the project: and how well it overcomes the well-documented teacher complaints of lack of confidence with learning technologies, concerns that they are over-complicated, and failure to see the potential benefit.

To achieve the second aim the BSF project has found the bring your own device (BYOD) model to be the least costly and most effective solution. The school identifies the most appropriate (not necessarily the most expensive or advanced) devices, and brokers with suppliers to negotiate a subsidy and financing scheme. Where necessary, financial support can be offered to low-income families but take-up of this has been found to be low. Parents have so far been found to be happy with this model; particularly where an element of choice is also offered so that learners can use a device they feel best suits them. Two important considerations maximise the value gained from the BYOD model: firstly the use of learning technologies must be supported by appropriate pedagogy and teacher enthusiasm; and secondly the school must also provide a few ‘backup’ devices for students to use in the short term if necessary.

It is interesting that a similar study at the University of Bristol found students preferred to choose their own devices for learning. This might be due to the fact that older university students have had more opportunity to get used to using certain devices or technologies, and are perhaps more likely to have their own devices prior to arriving at university. However interesting comparisons can be drawn between the effective use of e-voting handsets issued to some students at the beginning of the year and the BYOD model: student ‘ownership’ of a clicker has facilitated some innovative practice in feedback and informal assessment at the University and it is quite possible that similar outcomes could be achieved through a BYOD scheme.

A skills-sharing programme for teaching staff across the city offers the opportunity for teachers to share their own innovations and gain inspiration from others. All resources created under the scheme are open access, and CC licenced: it is hoped that this will help spread innovation not only within and also beyond Leicester.

Project website:

Things we’ve been reading about

Over the last two weeks The TEL Team have been reading about MOOCs, student perspectives on Higher Education and teaching the effective use of social media. We have also been learning new skills online!

Clay Shirky’s piece, Napster, Udacity, and the Academy, is one of the best I’ve read on MOOCs and OERs. He talks about how technology seems poised to change academia, and argues that these changes will be on the same scale as those already seen in publishing, music and television (“They just couldn’t imagine—and I mean this in the most ordinarily descriptive way possible—could not imagine that the old way of doing things might fail.”). Despite that quote, the tone is very balanced and unsensationalist. (Suzi)

An interesting aspect of digital literacy which is often overlooked: how to use social media and your ‘digital footprint’ to your advantage in the academic world and job market. This article looks at the key things to teach students about their online image and effective use of social media. (Jjlly)

This article, ‘Graduate view: ‘we are not customers”, written by two recent graduates of Hertfordshire University echoes the comments I have heard informally from many students – that we come to learn and don’t want to be treated as consumers by our Universities. (Jilly)

System Upgrade: Realising the Vision for UK Education – this report pulls out the key themes from a major research project into technology enhanced learning in UK education. (Roger)

A couple of members of the team have been using Memrise to learn new skills and facts – learners are able to create ‘mems’ to help remember each new piece of information, or use mems created by other learners. Memrise says good mems are “concise and vigorous. They evoke an emotion. They amuse, inspire or enlighten. ” (Joe (and Roger!))

Things we’ve been reading about

From the intricacies of open access research to the psychology of PowerPoint presentations: here is a round-up of the topics that have caught the imagination of the TEL team at Bristol this week.

I found this short video an interesting introduction to the challenges facing open access research. As a student who relies heavily on up to date research articles and journals I know well the frustration of being unable to access research articles, but as the video highlights the academic community first needs to overcome the complications of making research freely available.  (Jilly)

I was also interested to read Brian Kelly’s Top Ten Tips on how to make your open access research visible online, which outlines some approaches to address the issue of making open access research known and available outside of the institution and the ‘traditional’ academic journal. (Jilly)

These are the top 100 tools for learning are voted for by 582 education professionals  worldwide. Tools include those used for sharing and collaborating in research as well as in teaching and learning – the list offers some interesting insights into the tools which are most favoured; illustrating that it is not always the newest or most complex technologies which are preferred. The full list is available here. (Roger)

The Pearson Project allows academics to ‘pick and mix’ open educational resources, chapters from existing textbooks and published research, and their own uploaded content to create e-textbooks customised for their own courses and students. The cost is calculated on the basis of the non-open content. I think this is an interesting way of both enhancing convenience for students and creating personalised learning materials. (Jilly)

What would you like to see included in a new open course on Technology Enhanced Learning? Now’s your chance to vote – The Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning (OCTEL) are seeking input from teachers.  (Roger)

This video from  Ericsson on The Future of Learning – Networked Society offers a summary of a number of interesting ideas about the future direction of education. (Joe)

This brief summary of some research on psychological principles applied to PowerPoint (or go straight to read the full paper) – interesting that people found it relatively easy to spot bad PowerPoint when there’s still so much of it around. (Suzi)

Things we’ve been reading about

Things we’ve been reading about this week: academic integrity, information literacy and clever free apps…


The link between inadvertent plagiarism and the varying prior education experiences of international students is a central issue in the drive to promote academic integrity in UK universities. I was interested to read this guidance from the Higher Education Academy about the differences between international students’ experiences, and practical ways to introduce them to a British understanding of academic integrity. Interestingly, the ‘top tip’ was to use text-matching software for formative assessment, to teach students what constitutes plagiarism in the UK: the TEL Team at Bristol have been interested for some time in this emerging practice. (Jilly)


The QAA have produced a second edition of their guide to assessment for early career staff; which focuses on the contribution of assessment to maintaining academic standards in Higher Education. This edition of the publication includes a section on academic integrity in assessment. The recommendations made, although not ground breaking, outline pragmatic and practicable approaches to reducing the incentive and opportunity for both deliberate and inadvertent plagiarism in assessment. (Roger)


The LSE and Cambridge University are among those to have implemented  ANCIL (a new curriculum for information literacy) to audit students’ information literacy skills and to deliver effective teaching of these skills. A fuller definition of the curriculum and case studies from Cambridge and York St John Universities offer some insight into this process. The LSE’s current evaluation of the approach is raising big questions around the extent to which the purpose of an undergraduate degree is to prepare students to be masters of their discipline (as is believed here at Bristol) and how, and by whom, information literacy skills should be taught. (Jilly)


Have you ever wanted to take a snapshot of a long webpage, including what’s below the scroll? Do you sometimes need to grab a region of your computer screen, then add arrows or annotations to the resulting image? Two free apps that work within the Google Chrome browser make it easy. Not only are these apps both free, you can install them yourself within your browser rather than needing admin rights. Screen Capture by Google makes it easy to capture scrolling browser windows, as well as offering the usual screen grabbing options such as capturing a specific window or aExample screen grab showing arrows and annotationsn arbitrary region of the screen. Awesome Screenshot is also able to capture an entire scrolling webpage, and once captured, provides an easy interface for cropping, drawing on, adding arrows and annotating the resulting image. It also provides a handy blurring tool for obscuring portions of the image that might contain sensitive information. Both apps are easy to install in Chrome. (Doug)

Things we’ve been reading about

This week the TEL Team have been reading about:

Newcastle University’s newly launched mobile app, designed and built by a student at the University for all students but particularly to support the transition to HE. At this time of year supporting student transitions is top of every institution’s agenda, and I found this an interesting insight into how mobile can be effectively used to support students. (Jilly)

Preview version of  TechWatch Report on eBooks in Education is available for comments until 8th October. (Roger)

Education’s Digital Future – a class being run by Stanford looks like an interesting initiative. Not an online class, but much of the information is being posted online. (Suzi)

Two interesting (and complementary) perspectives on Higher Education, gained from participation in MOOCs – Jonathan Rees blogs about how the failings of online course discussion boards which are not structured or mediated by an instructor; and Kate Bowles questions the highly structured way in which learning material is delivered. As both these posts suggest, these observations apply to Higher Education delivered within institutions as well as through fully online channels: for example we already know that students do not use online discussion boards or blogs unless these are appropriately structured  and their relevance to the subject is clear. In view of the University of Bristol’s commitment to supporting active, collaborative and participatory learning, and learning environments which can be personalised, I feel that these are issues of great importance. (Jilly)

Here is a very interesting radio discussion on the future of the university, with particular reference to the impact of the Internet and online learning. Professor Mark Taylor of Columbia University makes some particularly interesting points about what it means in a higher education context to move from an era of mass production to something new that benefits from the modern potential for “mass customisation.” (starts at 35:18) Well worth a listen. (Doug)

Topics that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration within and between institutions, often facilitated by technology, are those which are relatively new: the Sustainability Exchange, of which JISC is a partner, and the University’s Sustainable Development open unit are both clear examples of this. What will it take to extend these practices to other, more ‘traditional’ disciplines? (Jilly)

Things we’ve been reading about

Things I’ve read in the last week:

Disrupting ourselves: The problem of Learning in Higher Education by Randy Bass.

If you have a spare 10 minutes read this article – it may offer a different perspective on the nature and causes of disruptive innovation in higher education.

ECAR study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2012 report

The findings included in the most recent ECAR report echo some of the priorities of our TEL strategy; the importance of supporting students to use their own mobile devices on campus, the need to use existing technology better (rather than “better technology”) and a focus on blending TEL with face-to-face teaching are all present. Interestingly in this US study staff  are decreasingly perceived as lacking the skills needed to use TEL effectively by their students.

Report on the 2012 Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning by Ucisa.

The Ucisa survey offers a rare glimpse into longitudinal data on TEL activity in post-compulsory education in the UK.  Some things are surprising e.g.  the decline in the perceived importance of local “champions” to promote TEL and  separate e-Learning strategies to define and shape TEL provision.

Less surprising is that the top ranked drivers for TEL are:

  1. Enhancing the quality of learning and teaching
  2. Meeting student expectations.
Key factors in encouraging TEL development:
  1. Availability of TEL support staff
  2. Central university and departmental senior management support.

—Access to tools (2nd in 2010)  and availability of local champions (1st in 2008 and  2003) are no longer key  for TEL development. (Hilary)



Things we’ve been reading about

The ever-present imperative of academic integrity gains precedence as students are increasingly perceived as ‘consumers’ of Higher Education. The University of Bristol is committed to treating students as academic partners rather than consumers, and promoting the positive attitudinal culture of academic integrity is central to strengthening this relationship

  • This video, filmed during the ICAI 2008 International Conference, summarises how academics perceive the concept of academic integrity and provides a clear, practical definition of the importance of academic integrity to both the ligitimacy of scholarly research and professional accountability. (Hilary)
  • The ICAI Fundamental Values Project collates quotes from academics defining each element of academic integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. (Jilly)
  • It is interesting to compare these to the student perspective portrayed in this video by Economics and Business students at the University of Sydney, and this one by a student at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Both mention fear of reprisal as a motivating integrity in their academic practice, but also offer more positive motivations relating to the intrinsic value of education and taking pride in their own work. (Jilly)
  • This article about a writer who made a living writing academic essays for students highlights some of the attitudinal challenges we face to promoting academic integrity in our ‘consumer’ culture. (Jilly)
  • In light of the tendency for discussions of academic integrity to focus upon plagiarism, I was interested to read this article about different forms of academic dishonesty in scientific research. Despite its slightly sensationalist tone the article does highlight the imperative for a more holistic approach to promoting academic integrity, at all levels. (Jilly)


An important strand of the University’s TEL strategy is to support active, collaborative and participatory learning

  • Some examples of ways in which this could be done were discussed at The EduWiki conference , including initiatives to encourage content creation from students as part of their learning, such as the Wikipedia Education program (Roger)


In line with Bristol’s approach of promoting TEL practices rather than tools, I was interested to read

  • This article by a school teacher about integrating technology into geography teaching. It emphasises the importance of using technology relevant to the task, and of letting students learn for themselves the relative advantages and disadvantages of different technologies. (Jilly)


Things we’ve been reading about

Consistency in TEL, promoting academic integrity, and support for maths-phobic parents: just some of the things the TEL team have been reading about over the last couple of weeks.

  • Following a recent team discussion around the relevance of invisible systems to improving consistency in TEL, this blog post on the importance of ‘invisible technology’ over complicated user interfaces is both interesting and highly relevant to the convenience element of the TEL Strategy. (Pete)
  • An interesting insight into the debate on formative use of Turnitin, from the other side of the fence: the perspectives of an e-learning technologist-turned-PGCE student on submitting work to Turnitin.  Part of ongoing research into the potential for formative use of Turnitin at UoB, to help students understand plagiarism and develop practices which strengthen academic integrity. (Roger)
  • With maths-phobia a much-talked-about issue, I was interested to read this article on a worksheet for maths-phobic parents – helping parents who find maths daunting to get their children talking about mathematical concepts from an early age. (Suzi)
  • With much attention currently focused on supporting student transitions into HE, I was interested to find this blog post by a postgraduate student offering advice to students on academic writing. It illustrates the pressure on students to produce high quality academic writing; and I think also implicitly supports the case for more formal teaching of study skills as part of a positive and ‘holistic’ approach to promoting academic integrity. (Jilly)

Things we’ve been reading about

Recent TEL-related picks from the team.