Day 2: Playing

Reading Time: 2 minutes
sheets of paper scattered on the floor.
Paper blogging with a large class – we had to use the floor to display them.

In the second #creativeHE post, Chrissie encourages us to start to think about play within the classroom asking, “Is there a place for more inquiry-based learning, play and games in higher education?

I can give one example of what I’ve been involved with, though I’d question whether or not I could really call it a ‘game’ – but, I hope the students thought it was fun. They looked as if they did! For many years now, mostly at University of Portsmouth, where I was teaching in the School of Computing, (that Second Life avatar with a purple mohican is me – another playing example!) I’ve encouraged students to blog.

Blogging was something that wasn’t always easy to introduce to students, it’s easy for beginners to get sucked into the technicalities – which button do I click? How can I add a picture? What’s this for? So, a couple of years after introducing blogging, I used an idea Leonard Low had blogged about, paper blogging. That made so much more sense to students! I’ve also tried using it for simulating twitter – so I just gave people small post-its.

Roll forward a few years, when I’d not really used the activity, till the start of this year, when several staff from DJCAD asked me about blogging, so we had a go at paper blogging. The students seemed to enjoy it, and get the idea of what the benefits of blogging are, rather than getting bogged down at the start with technical issues.

Colourful paper posts and comments on a pin board.
Paper blogging – done with a small group.


I’ve used an activity shared by Steven Bentley about games with students to support their understanding of Turnitin (we’re doing it again later this semester). Now, I’m trying to decide how to change this to work online with Distance learning students. [Collaborate Ultra & a Google Presentation is my current idea … ]

So, what ideas do you have?

Day 3: Creative learning outside the classroom.

Monochrome cloud
Reading Time: < 1 minutes
Monochrome cloud
Clouds – by Emma

Today’s post is looking at being creative outside the classroom. I’m fascinated by the idea of rich pictures from natural materials, as they’re something I first came across doing Soft Systems methodology in my MSc.

I’m now starting to think if that’s something I could use when I have to get people to look at their use of the VLE. Perhaps not outside, but definitely a rich picture from objects … I shall ponder on this and get back to it tomorrow. (I’m on leave on Wednesday – hence the shorter post).

How are others working creatively outside of the classroom (or, outside of their regular room?)

Day 4: Assessment and Feedback (that works)

Pastel coloured houses.
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Plain brick wall.
Shared on Pixabay with CCO licence.

In Day 4, #creativeHE looks at the perennial issue of Assessment and Feedback – in particular, how to include aspects of creativity into the process.

Sandra starts out by linking to a blog post using “Little Boxes on the Hillside” as an introduction to aspects of innovation in assessment (lyrics) – she then asks us to think of songs and how they could link to assessment.

My first thought was Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall (lyrics)

Thinking about how I’d link both to innovation in assessment didn’t take long. Little Boxes has learners being the same, Brick in the Wall has the teacher very much in control. Few staff believe in either, so it wasn’t unduly hard to make the links.

Lets start thinking about Little Boxes – how can I allow students to really demonstrate how they’re unique? In my teaching, I’ve always tried to be innovative, and have included aspects such as assessing contributions to discussion boards, participation in Social media etc, and have encouraged them to use those in ways that suit the way they’ve interpreted their learning.  One issue that I have struggled with other the years, if I am asking students to “reflect” – do they really reflect for themselves and their learning, or are they just following some kind of pattern for writing reflections – as NomadWarMachine notes in the blog post linked from the #creativeHE post above. [As an aside, I’ve used a quote by Rowling often in sessions on reflection for students – See page 3 of Reflective Writing Guidance notes for students (Watton, Collings & Moon 2001) ] It’s a difficult one, perhaps others can suggest how they’ve tried to get students to reflect for themselves – but to also share those thoughts with another. (It’s probably never going to work, few tell others what they’re “really” thinking)

If we now move to Brick in the Wall; how to move away from the teacher being seen as the one in control. For the last several years that I was teaching, I got students involved with the development of a rubric as part of the assessment.  I’d tried various different approaches, but, the final time I tried it, there were several stages. Initially, as a group they developed the rubric (each time I did the activity, I became acutely aware of how little students really understood the generic criteria in use across the University). Once developed, they had to use it for self & peer marking, and I also used it, to mark the same artefact. The final time, however, I added in as a final reflection on that process, getting students to think both about the value of peer / self reflection generally – and whether the final year was too late to introduce it, but I also got them to critique the tool they’d developed.

Pastel coloured houses.
“Little Boxes on the Hillside” flickr photo by Thomas Hawk shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Finally, a shout out for the next Learning X – which is going to be on Innovation in Assessment.

Day 5: Reflection – and moving forward

Dumbledore's Pensieve
Reading Time: < 1 minutes
The view from the Tower cafe - over the Tay, including the rail bridge.
View from the top flickr photo by Emmadukew shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Today, Sandra asks us to reflect on the week – in a creative way. While the Tower provided a good place to reflect and think over a coffee this morning, I didn’t have very many items with me to be creative in the way she suggests, and, I don’t really have the time today, as I’m busy planning the next Learning X – which is going to be on Innovative assessment – so I’m going to be avidly reading others’ contributions to yesterday’s activity.

I’ll give myself time to reflect over the weekend – and comment here then.

Dumbledore's Pensieve
Penseive in Dumbledore’s office. flickr photo by The unPixie shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

What reflections do you have on the week – how might you present this in a way you’ve not tried before?

Learning X sessions – Semester 2.

Staff looking at a shared screen.
Reading Time: < 1 minutes
Staff looking at a shared screen.
Looking at different criteria.

We are planning a number of Learning X sessions this semester.

Web based sessions.

These sessions are formed by having a series of web posts during a single week on a particular theme.

  • January 22nd – 26th
    #creativeHE – to tie in with a session that’s being run by a number of others across the UK – encouraging us to think about how we might engage creatively with students. As the Google+ introduction says “Creativity will help us get through the bad times and create good times!”
  • February 5th – 9th 
    Innovative Assessments – how can we be innovative in the way we assess students.

In March, we’ll be starting to think about the upcoming academic year, and how you can start to look at the way your modules are structured online. It’s going to be more, though, than just combining the Module Makeover and Searching, Using and Sharing sessions we did last year, we hope to go into far more depth.

Live Sessions.

We have a number of live sessions, mostly linked to related Learning X online sessions


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