Posts Tagged ‘Educational Technology’
Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Indie Okoye, Student Ambassador, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
Going to UNC Charlotte University was a really great experience and part of me wishes I could stay because the experiences and the opportunities they gave to their students were just amazing. Not just from an educational standpoint but also from a social standpoint. It felt like they were working to create well rounded human beings that could integrate into society well but also leave university with the prospect of a work placement or even a great well paid job to match their degree.
On a social standpoint they offer so many different ways of integrating into society, confidence building and other things like that. From the over 350 societies, clubs and other events like The International Festival and social gatherings, they invest so much money and time to ensure that each student reaches their full potential.
What I found really amazing was through all this support that was offered you still found students that would give their free time to give back to their community. HCAP (Hispanic College awareness programme) are an amazing society that works without pay to support and increase the number of Hispanic students in Higher Education. This is something that I feel Kingston could really learn from. We have a huge volunteer department but educating their students about it more could enhance the number of students who participate.
From an educational standpoint they offer a lot of support to students including both the SoS (Students obtaining Success) and BEST (Building Educational Strengths and Talents) Programmes.
The SoS programme supports students that are on academic probation, giving them the chance to lift their grades and recover their academic situation.
BEST Learning Community works with first generation students and minority students supporting them through University life. These two programmes were my favourite because I fell that really captured what students really need to know to be successful in their university experience but they offered so much more to really support the student.
What should Kingston University do to improve student experience?
I believe that Kingston needs a better and stronger mentor programme. They need to cater to a lot more students from many different backgrounds and life experiences. I think they need to look at enhancing the social aspect of the university for the students investing in their future, and I think that will relay on to the academic side. I think things like a greater student union and activities for the students. More money needs to be spent to help students gain a rounded experience ready to work in society. It feels like Kingston runs on the mentality that you go to school then go home with nothing in-between to really create a well-rounded human being.
With the increase in tuition fees more needs to be given back to the students because not a lot is given at the moment. I also believe that teachers need to be supportive. In UNC Charlotte I found that teachers went the extra mile to support the students. Teaching was a 24-hour job. They completely focused on supporting students. Kingston may not be able to completely deliver this line of support but I feel something along the lines of this teacher support should be offered.
My plans for the future haven’t changed, I still believe Kingston University is a great university and I would like to stay and finish my education and go on to do my Masters maybe at Kingston. I
wouldn’t go to America because I feel our education is a lot stronger and better. In all my experience was amazing, I met so many amazing and new people and I am so happy I got the chance to experience what American university is like.
Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Craig Umenyi, Student Ambassador, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing
The trip to Charlotte was a great opportunity to see how the university experience differs outside of the UK. What really surprised me was the wide range of different extra-curricular schemes and programs on offer and how popular these appeared to be with students. There were various mentoring programmes where first year students were regularly helped and assisted by students in the academic years above. Not only did it surprise me how many
students participated in these as voluntary mentors but perhaps more so, how well those being mentored responded to this and embraced the support, both academic and personal, that their mentors provided. The SOS (Students Obtaining Success) program impressed me particularly, with mentors aiming to boost the academic grades of mentees which are currently below a 2.0 GPA and if this were to be maintained, would see them fail. This
programme has an extensive evaluation and research elements, including feedback from mentees and mentors, which helped inform focused action plans and targets set for mentees. Much of the extra-curricular activities I came across were also voluntary and
I was genuinely surprised at how passionate students were, not only about schemes such as this, but also about the societies they belonged to.
A program which we learned much about was UTOP (University Transition Opportunities Programme). This is a five week experience event held over the summer where incoming first year student live on campus and participate in a range of activities and workshops to
familiarise them with the university and what it entails prior to enrolling. Students invited are from ethnic minority backgrounds that are unfamiliar with what university entails e.g. first-generation university students in the family. The research results provided by UNC Charlotte show that those who participated were more likely to complete their university degrees and finish with a higher academic grade compared to ethnic minority students who did not.
Anecdotal feedback from students suggested that the social aspect of this also greatly helped by ensuring that they knew people once they arrived on campus to start their first year. I personally feel this is a great programme and could really be beneficial to students,
particularly first-generation university students who may not have anyone close to them to inform them of what to expect at university. We collectively acknowledged this would be
difficult to perform at Kingston University, with most students not sure of what university they
will be attending until they receive their A-level results in late August. However, a one week programme prior to freshers week could be easily accomplished I believe. Getting the most out of the student experience and having an extra-curricular and social presence within the university is heavily emphasised and appears as though these types of activities are not only
preferred by employers but almost expected. I personally feel as though the undergraduate degree system in the UK (with the final year being so heavily weighted towards final degree
classification) does not encourage students to do more than simply get a degree and therefore many undergraduates come out of university still lacking the inter-personal and life skills needed in the workplace.
With so much done towards building well-rounded, well-educated adults, it wasn’t a shock to find the university placed a large amount of effort into promoting career-based help, especially sourcing work placements and internships as well as encouraging students to
think about their prospective careers from early on within their first year. Career fairs are also common where local and national employers will come to meet students who could become potential employees. This could be done at Kingston University, but a lack of dedicated staff makes this extremely difficult. Career workshops where students can discuss these matters are very time restrictive.
An increase in concentrated effort and resource in regards to this would help although incoming budget cuts would make this difficult. I think it would take a culture change from the university and more importantly, students to encourage the building of CV’s beyond education and part time jobs. I do however feel that in my personal experience, the Faculty of Business and Law do a very good job in sourcing employability opportunities but more needs to be done to encourage students to take up work placements and internships during their degrees so they come out of university with the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to get their desired jobs, particularly in this increasingly competitive jobs market. I also think that although it would be difficult to hold our own career fairs at the university on a scale as large as UNC Charlotte’s, career fairs elsewhere in the country could be more heavily marketed and promoted around the university.
I think the trip has definitely made me think further about doing more extra-curricular activities, whether that be volunteering, new roles around the university or increasing time spent working on the student ambassador scheme but this is extremely difficult whilst being a third year student in the UK.
Friday, June 22nd, 2012
David Banfro, Student Ambassador, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing
After being invited to attend the UNC Charlotte tour in September I was more than curious as to what our partner university in the United States had to offer. We arrived in Charlotte on Saturday evening and we began our activities on Sunday morning. Once we had settled into our hotels and acclimatised ourselves with the area which didn’t take long, we were invited to an introductory lunch at the University on Sunday evening. We were picked up by the university Minibus and chauffeured to the university campus which was less than a 10 minute drive away. Once we reached the campus I was immediately struck by the sheer size of the campus.
We were informed that the whole site was just under a 1000 acres and that more buildings were due to be developed. The site had a feel of a new city centre just being opened with the pavements clean and the air surrounding the campus being quite fresh. The buildings were red bricked and new, and statues of former sport stars and Charlotte city legends were dotted around our route into the campus. As we drove into the campus we bypassed a huge
plot of land that was being developed for a 30,000 all seated American football stadium which would open in 2013, adding to the immense size and scale of the university. We met the alumni and staff members for the first time shortly afterwards and I was immediately struck by the level of hospitality and warmth we received from the UNC Charlotte staff. After we had been formally introduced to the staff we were invited by one of the students to watch a movie that night in the student union.
The student union by itself was impressive, fitted with its own cinema and four fast food restaurants, shops and an Apple store. They also had a Student Union shop which contained a Barnes & Noble bookstore alongside memorabilia of the university including
t-shirts, sweaters, hats, scarves and many other clothing items. And as we watched Steven Spielberg’s latest’s film in the 210 seated cinema, I was quietly excited and intrigued as to what more Charlotte had to offer.
For the next five days we were picked up in the morning by the university minibus and we were always greeted warmly by a member of staff who would be looking after us and chauffeuring us to and from different meetings during the day. Two members of the
university faculty stood out for me in particular; Dennis Weiss and Dr Sam Lopez and we had the pleasure of being in their presence for the duration of our trip. Dr Lopez in particular had a fantastic rapport and closeness with most of the students on campus which if I am
honest I have not seen from many staff members at Kingston. He organised many meetings and social evenings so that we could meet the students and integrate into the university life. I remember him taking us to an El Salvadorian restaurant on the outskirts of Charlotte where we were treated to good food and hospitality by the students. Another meeting Dr Lopez organized took place the following morning when I and a member of the KU staff, Rebecca
Lees, were asked to attend a learning community class. So without really knowing what to expect myself and Rebecca made our way over to the Lynch building. We were greeted by Terence who I later discovered was the Resident Coordinator for Hawthorn Hall. Terence
led us into the classroom where we met Tanya the coordinator for the group that day. We were soon introduced to the group which consisted of about fifteen students who were in the preparation stage before beginning the freshmen year. Once everyone had settled down Tanya took up her seat at the back of the room and three of the students led the group through a fifteen minute session on leadership. The session was completely student led and followed up by quick quiz on the presentation. Every student was fully engaged and involved in the quiz before eagerly participating in leadership games and activities. Every activity the group covered was done together and nobody was left isolated and alone. There was a genuine spirit of friendship and camaraderie between the students. Tanya finished the session with a five minute talk on leadership and looking out for each other, the session finished with socialising and students hugging each other. When I asked one student what made for the unique atmosphere he replied “we’re in this together, we are a team although some of us may take different pathways we’ll stick together because together were unstoppable!”
So in summary, never have I been received with such warmth and kindness as we have been given by the students and faculty at UNC Charlotte. Since our arrival in Charlotte we were treated to a real Southern welcome. We have been greeted, chauffeured, pampered, doted on and fed by the staff and students at the university. It surprised me what lengths the University had gone to, to make our stay a comfortable one. From the moment we met the
staff on Sunday they have made us feel more than welcome and have showed us the real meaning of Southern hospitality. We have been treated to good food movies, tours, and outings by the university. Before arriving in North Carolina I was aware of the term
Southern Hospitality, but I never envisaged how friendly it would actually be. I only hope we can replicate the same atmosphere of warmth when UNC Charlotte students and faculty arrive in Kingston. The visit to UNC Charlotte has definitely strengthened my belief that university is more than just a place for learning and graduating. In my opinion university is where you form relationships, rules, and build the foundation for your life. So just by
looking at the examples of friendship hospitality teamwork and selflessness that I saw at UNC Charlotte, I can truly say that I am glad to be a KU student as I see many of the same values on our campuses and I look forward to implementing some of the Charlotte programmes at Kingston. Thank You UNC Charlotte
Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Tim Linsey, Academic Development
As part of the UNC Charlotte study tour I followed my own technologies enhanced learning track for most of the visit. I got a fascinating insight into Charlotte’s use of technologies to support learning, covering both central departments (Centre for Teaching & Learning; Office of Disability Services; Office of Classroom Support; Students Union) and faculties / Schools (College of Health and Human Services; College of Engineering; College of Liberal Arts & Sciences – Department of Physics & Department of Earth Sciences & Geography; College of Education), including participation in staff development workshops and also joining a cross institutional panel to exchange experiences in addressing accessibility issues. There were many similarities in the types of learning technologies being used including a core VLE (based on Moodle), desktop video conferencing, electronic voting systems and interactive podium screens for example. I was impressed by the widespread use of student interns and the in-University part-time student employment opportunities. Examples included the use of a student team (4 interns) working as part of the ‘Learning MD’s (Multimedia Developers) programme to support staff in the development of video resources, and secondly a team of 11 students involved in the building, deployment and support of classroom podiums.
Staff development in technology enhanced learning was focussed in the Centre of Teaching and Learning (http://teaching.uncc.edu/ ) with a strong programme of events and I particularly liked their fortnightly podcasts recorded by teaching fellows and other academics (see http://teaching.uncc.edu/podcasts ), and we will look to establish something similar. I attended 3 very good workshops and of particular interest were two of the workshops that were run centrally and led by faculty academics including a session on the use of short videos in teaching sessions delivered by an academic from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences teaching in New Media for Communication Studies.
Secondly was a fascinating session delivered by an academic from the College of Education entitled ‘Workshop: Engaging the Millennial Student in Learning’. This workshop focused on who the millennial student was rather defining them by their use of technology. This included discussion on the impact of ‘baby boomers’ as parents.
I am also following up with Kingston colleagues with regard specific areas of collaboration that were raised on the visit including areas of engineering and geography. In addition I had discussions over piloting the use of Kingston’s One Community environment to support both Kingston University and Charlotte students on exchanges. I have provided a very brief overview of the staff that I met and the departments that I visited but please contact me if you would like to follow up on any aspect of what I have covered above.
Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Becky Lees, Principal Lecturer, Faculty of Business
The UNC Charlotte study tour coincided with the KU induction week, and at first I was hesitant to miss such an important week in the academic schedule. The first week of the KU semester is vital for enabling students to get to know each other, the campus and the staff involved in their teaching programme, and important in developing a sense of course identity and belonging. New undergraduates to UNC Charlotte don’t enrol on a course and don’t even have to declare a discipline to follow when they start their studies as the US education model is quite different to ours. Therefore the concept of identity is fostered in other ways by both academic and non-academic methods. As a fact-finding mission, I hoped the trip to UNC Charlotte would inform us about their initiatives to build such a sense of identity through the transition and support programmes they have introduced and the visit lived up to
its expectations. Some ideas that we may be able to adapt and adopt at KU include the concept of the Learning Communities and Academic Probation and Early Warning.
As part of the discipline based sessions I attended, I sat in on a class that was part of the Business Learning Community programme. This initiative is open to students who live on campus and have an interest in Business, and creates a community of students who live, study and revise together. All students are located in the same residence building, and along with formal classes, have compulsory mentor-led study groups that meet every week in their halls of residence. This is an intensive and integrated approach to building a sense of belonging and identity driven by an academic perspective, but with social and networking benefits.
The class I attended was led by a group of three students who gave a short lecture, held a quiz (that they wrote and whose questions were subsequently used in a formal class test) and ran a whole group activity. The class was facilitated, and concluded by the tutor, but really this was a ‘backseat’ role. Whilst such class activities are not new, the depth of integration with activities outside the classroom seemed to encourage a higher level of
student engagement within the teaching session. UNC Charlotte claim that students participating in such learning communities have a better general attainment and progression record than non participants. Whilst this model is not directly transferable to the UK model of HE, there are elements that we can build on to improve the student experience. As a first step, these could include using peer mentors to facilitate out-of-class study groups, with Studyspace support.
Academic Probation/Early Warning System
UNC Charlotte require all students who are not ‘in good standing’ with the university to be placed on academic probation. This is an intensive one-semester programme of advising and tutoring opportunities for students who need to improve their GPA or else they face suspension. At KU, this type of initiative could be directed quite formally at repeating students. The Early Warning System they employ is an integrated approach to monitoring the early academic engagement with students heavily supported by a non-academic advisor and extensive data analysis using both current and pre-university qualifications data, undertaken by a central academic office. Student activity is evidenced by information including attendance and in-class tests. At KU, there are many courses on which there are opportunities for such monitoring, but the administrative burden can be prohibitive
especially in monitoring a large cohort of students and access to data can be difficult. Again, the academic probation programme claimed to improve a student’s GPA by around 0.9 points and such interventions could be beneficial in retaining a larger proportion of our repeating students. In conjunction with a pilot of an Early Warning system, we could reduce the number of repeaters in the first place if we could identify, early on, those students at risk of falling behind.
The staff at UNC Charlotte could not have been more accommodating or sensitive to what we hoped to achieve during our visit, and these initiatives certainly provide some food for
thought in adopting different models of student support and transition programmes. Their return visit in 2012 should provide many further opportunities for networking and discussion of the implementation of ideas gleaned from our visit.
Friday, March 12th, 2010
One of the technologies that we currently support at the University is that of desktop video and audio conferencing. Anecdotal evidence would indicate that nationally usage beyond supporting distance learning and language teaching has been restricted to innovative pockets of practice. However in recent months I have participated in an increasing number of events using these technologies and I wonder if this is part of a wider trend. I have outlined a few recent examples below.
As part of the MoRSE project I gave a joint JISC seminar with Dr Richard Hall at De Montfort University on ‘Mobilising Remote Student Engagement: Institutions, Personalisation and Applications’ (see http://blogs.kingston.ac.uk/morse/2010/01/11/institutions-personalisation-and-applications/). Although this was a joint presentation we were over 100 miles apart when we gave it with the audience spread around the UK. Although this was restricted to live audio we did simultaneously broadcast our slides with a live text based discussion taking place. I found this more exhausting than giving a conference presentation but we had a very positive debate and engagement.
- Back in December in preparation for our Learning Technologies review a team of ADC and IS staff participated virtually in a one day event run by the Learning Environment Review Special Interest Group (LERSIG) at the University of Bradford on ‘Reviewing the VLE’. The video stream from Bradford was good quality and was displayed via a data projector at the KU end. This was a very positive experience with the local KU debate extending an hour beyond the end of the presentations.
In January I attended a one seminar on digital Identities at the British Library organised by Eduserv. One of the speakers, Professor Shirley Williams, University of Reading, was unable to attend due to the snow. However in conjunction with a colleague she was able to deliver her presentation from home and engage in a very interesting discussion.
We have also experimented with live streaming of video from field, though using slightly different technology to video conferencing, and I have also noticed recent conference calls were an option has been provided to give a presentation remotely. I would argue that there are many applications of this type of technology in learning and teaching beyond the obvious. If you wish to find out more about this, the technologies we support, loan technologies available and related staff development please contact Anne Law (email@example.com).
Monday, October 5th, 2009
When I joined the (then) Learning & Teaching Development Unit in 2000 (having years before been a member of the old Educational Development Unit) I was something of a Luddite. I remember one colleague jokingly suggesting that we get students to hand in work hand-written on tablet PCs, then to have staff write their comments on these tablets, and hand them back.
There were 6 of us, one drawn from each Faculty whose new roles were to aid learning and teaching through technology: ‘To achieve where no-one had achieved before’. This structure, alongside being seconded to a central department, proved very useful. Having one foot in the Faculty and one outside helped. It meant that you could share problems, look for solutions over the fence, offer solutions to problems that weren’t your own, and ask other people to solve your problems! This was enjoyable and led to interesting work. I also had a useful close working relationship with our Learning and Teaching Co-ordinator, and joint enterprises were often
However, if I had to state what the most important development was, I plump for the impact of Blackboard on students, rather than staff. During this time both ownership of PCs and access to Broadband were becoming ubiquitous, and this, combined with Blackboard, offered new opportunities. Importantly, and through the perspective of research (I was encouraged by a friend in the Faculty to embrace a research perspective on what was being attempted), I came to conclude that the biggest development was not so much any new pedagogies at this stage, but instead simply better access to key information on a 24/7 basis for students.
However, with the further developments in technology, communication and feedback which are so much more important than just the access to and delivery of information. The challenges are now different, but they remain challenges.
Faculty of Computing, Information Systems & Mathematics