I have recently returned from the ASCILITE Conference in beautiful Singapore where I heard the latest higher-educational research relating to video, podcasts, infographics, and learning analytics.
There were many other presentations, but these were my key interest areas. The conference proceedings include all of the papers presented.
If you haven’t heard of ASCILITE, it stands for the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, which, focuses on the innovative use of technology in teaching and learning in Higher Education.
Here are my key take-aways from the conference.
Instructional Videos as Course Content
This presentation was extremely helpful and further developed Mayer’s (2014) 15 instructional design principles to recommend the following to academics when producing instructional videos for their courses.
According to this analysis, instructional course videos should:
- Have high quality audio.
- Be brief. Shorter videos are viewed more by students. 30 seconds is the optimal length.
- Be coherent and focused. Stick to the point. Avoid tangents.
- Have activities integrated throughout the video. A tools such as H5P can support this.
- Be personalised and conversational. Produce videos that students will actually want to watch. Avoid speaking in a monotone.
- Give the learner control.
This presentation covered 25 Principles of instructional video design overall, which are definitely worth reviewing in the article.
Another excellent presentation explaining how setting infographics as an assessment can teach students how to synthesise and communicate accurate information.
From Dr Darcy’s experience, setting infographic assessments in public health postgraduate courses the presentation included the following benefits and risks associated with the process. (Darcy, 2019, p. 112)
- Makes complex information accessible
- Facilitates comprehension
- Authentic assessment type
- Relevant to industry and employment
- Reduces ‘death by PowerPoint’
- Novel and fun for students
- Easier to mark than essays
Having infographics as an assessment increases:
- Communication skills
- Digital Literacy
- Interdisciplinary skills
- Enterprise skills
- Participation and engagement
- Creativity and innovation
- Employment opportunities
- Steep learning curve
- Appear deceptively simple
- Significant time commitment
- Require scaffolded support
- Capacity to easily misrepresent/misuse data
- Can reinforce language barriers
Producing infographics can be a powerful learning experience for students, however, as explained in this presentation, students must be supported to understand why, how and best-practices so they can be developed in both an ethical and accurate way.
Again, it is definitely worth reading the complete paper in the conference proceedings.
This presentation focused on the use of learning analytics to send a ‘nudge’ in the form of a personalised email to students not engaging with the Learning Management System (LMS) such as Blackboard or Moodle. In courses with a large student cohort, it can be challenging for educators to check in with individual students if they seem to have disengaged.
The presenters shared the benefits of using a system they developed which combined learning analytics and mail-merge functionality to send disengaged students an automated but personalised email that is positively worded, as a prompt to focus on the course content or to seek assistance it they need to.
The prompts are set up at different stages throughout the course and are activated by the length of time it has been since the student last engaged with material in the LMS.
Some key points shared in this presentation:
- One-size fits all doesn’t work. Pedagogical context and approach has an impact.
- Analytical tools must keep evolving. It is never a case of set and forget.
- An analytics tool should be simple to use. People should not be required to follow detailed instructions. If they do, it is too complex.
The use of learning analytics to improve the student experience and to identify students at risk of dropping out was a strong theme throughout the conference.
This presentation focused on how podcasts can be used to support academics. The authors created a podcast series called Open Classrooms to support the academics in the College of Science, Engineering and Health at RMIT (Melbourne, Australia).
Featuring academics and students within the College, the podcasts are used to share experience with theoretical evidence used to support them.
- Is 20-30 minutes in length.
- Accompanied by blog post
- Is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. The focus is multi-platform accessibility
Podcast topics have included:
- Authentic learning
- Authentic assessment
- Reasons for design decisions underpinned by learning theory. Reflections on what worked
- 1000 listens
- Unlocked new communities and sparked culture change.
- People volunteering to be on when in the beginning it was a struggle to encourage guests.
How to make people care about the podcast:
- Solid storytelling.
- Good feels.
- Passion comes across in the voice.
It is worth listening to Open Classroom to get a better feel for how it can support educators.
This presentation shared some great advice in relation to the flipping of courses. In a flipped classroom, students undertake course tasks (such as watching a lecture recording) before attending a face-to-face classroom environment to work through activities.
My key takeaway from this session is exactly what I shared in the tweet below:
Flipped Classes: There must be coherence between all elements of the course content.#ascilite2019
— dr karen e sutherland (@kesutherland777) December 5, 2019
Each course component must relevant and scaffold learning in a logical way to ensure a smooth learning journey for students. It is worthwhile to test course content with a small sample of students before making it available to the entire cohort.
An e-Portfolio helps students to showcase their knowledge, skills, experience and expertise in a digital format, usually as a website.
e-Portfolios can be extremely beneficial to students and graduates because it requires self-reflection, articulation and communication of the knowledge, skills and experience they have gained throughout their degree inside and outside of the classroom.
Three important points that I gleaned from this presentation are:
- It is essential to teach students how to differentiate between what is relevant information to include in their portfolio and what should be omitted.
- Students/graduate must regularly revisit their e-portfolio to update it throughout their careers.
- e-Portfolios help to prepare students with their story to share with prospective employers in interviews. Developing an e-Portfolio can create a digital artefact and well-articulated responses as an added extra.
This year’s ASCILITE Conference theme was ‘Personalised Learning. Diverse Goals. One Heart’, which was clearly demonstrated in the range of presentations delivered.
The use of learning analytics to customise the student experience, maintaining pedagogical quality when flipping courses, using infographics as assessment tasks and producing video and podcasts to support the needs of students and educators are all interesting and important areas that I plan to focus on when developing courses in 2020.
What key areas will be your focus as you prepare for the 2020 academic year?