Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Month: July 2016

Planning changes to EDC3100 assignment 1

In the first half of the year there was a new assignment in EDC3100 designed to both enhance student learning, but also experiment with making the data produced by students and markers as part of the assessment process more accessible for manipulation by software. i.e. the students and markers entered data into a spreadsheet.

It’s a new semester, time to reflect on that initial use and see what changes should and can be made.

Student results

Let’s start with student results. (Note: this is all a bit rough and ready)

Overall the average mark for the assignment was 13.8 (72%) out of 19 with a standard deviation of around 3.  But that’s for both parts of the assignment.

Given current practice of using Word documents as assignment cover sheets, extracting out the specific marks for the checklist/spreadsheet assignment is difficult. But I have an Excel spreadsheet and I can run a script to get that data.

The average mark is about 9.5 (68%) out of 14, with a standard deviation around 2.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the three criteria that made up that mark. The three criteria were

  1. Mark – students use a checklist to evaluate a lesson plan and its use of ICT and pedagogy.
  2. Acceptable use – focused on students ability to identify a lesson plan they can use wrt copyright.
  3. RAT – students use the RAT model to evaluate the use of ICT and pedagogy in the course

The following table compares cohort performance on the criteria and overall.

Criteria Average % stdev %
Overall 68 15.8
Mark 75.2 17.2
Acceptable Use 63.2 16.7
RAT 59.3 17.8

The RAT question was where the students were least successful.  It’s also (arguably) the more difficult question. The checklist was the highest mark.  Acceptable use is also quite low and needs some work.

Those last two is where the focus will go for now.

Other thoughts and experiences

Student feedback

Student feedback included the following comments related to the assignment

Some of the items we were required to assess in Assignment One could have been better explained

more guidance was required for Assignment 1. I didn’t like the use of the Excel document

 The last point was connected to the issue of not being able to justify the interpretation, which links back to points raised elsewhere. The first point is one to ponder. The results above suggest that’s not where the real need lays.

Marker feedback

Feedback from markers included

  • Identifying use of an IWB, when in fact it’s just being used as a data projector.
  • Little understanding of what constitutes: an authentic problem, and connections beyond the classroom
  • Some surprise that even with 50 assignments to mark, there were few double ups of lesson plans.
  • Another liked the format in that it gave students a better handle on what to look for in an ICT-rich lesson and the RAT model was useful for framing an evaluation.
  • The wording and nature of the statements for the acceptable use and the RAT question need to be clarified – to confusing (for marker and student)

One aspect of the assignment that troubled one of the markers was that the lesson chosen by the student only had to include some form of ICT.  It didn’t need to be rich nor effective ICT. This was actually one of the aims of the assignment, to allow students develop some appreciation for the breadth of what is possible and just how narrow use often is.

Questions asked during semester

  • Struggles to find a CC-licensed lesson plan.
  • Clarity about what makes an acceptable lesson plan
    • e.g. Can an American lesson be used?
    • Linked to concerns about Q10 and distinguishing between an appropriate lesson plan and whether or not you can use it due to copyright
  • Questions re: term of use and uploading
  • What if I can’t find any information about copyright?
  • How can/should the lesson plan be put online?
  • The distinction between what a student is using an ICT, and when the teacher is using it
  • Explanation of how the checklist questions are marked – e.g. those that don’t apply
  • Reporting bugs in the formatting of the cells

Personal thoughts

Early reflections on the semester included

The spreadsheet worked reasonably well. The checklist within the spreadsheet requires some refinement. As does some aspects of the rubric. The duplication of a Word-based coversheet needs to be removed.

 Other thoughts during the semester included:

  • Students had a tendency to treat the free text questions as requiring an essay.
  • The “pretend” context for the task wasn’t clear enough.
  • In particular, a problem about the exact legal status of ACME’s server, links and making copies of files.
  • Issues with specific questions and the checklist
    • The “web applications” option under “What is used” causing confusion about overlap with “web browser” question
    • Q16 includes mention of print material around ICT
    • Q26 mentions embedded hardware, a question of it and the connection with IWB
    • Appears to be strong connections between Q22 and A46
    • The purpose of Q10 is not clear enough, confusion with matching curriculum etc.
    • A feeling that there are too many questions and perhaps overlap
    • Criteria for RAT question isn’t clear enough about the quality of the response
      • e.g. not mentioning all uses of ICT and Pedagogy
      • Missing out on themes
      • Incorrect identifying something as belonging to a theme
    • Suggestion for a drop down box around linkage of ICT to objectives: not related, somewhat related, essential, extends, transforms
  • More explicit scaffolding/basic activities around the evaluation questions
    • e.g. Is ICT being used to Question, Scaffold, Lecture, in an authentic task

Random suggestions

Due to institutional constraints (not to mention time) none of the changes to be made can be radical.  Keeping with that, some initial suggested changes to explore include:

  1. Pre-submission checks
    1. What pre-submission checks should I run?
    2. Can they be run? How does that integrate with the Moodle assignment activity workflow?
  2. Remove the cover sheet entirely, just use the spreadsheet
    1. Need to include the learning journal mark into the spreadsheet
    2. Would be nice to do this automagically
  3. Tweaking the marking
    1. The criteria for Acceptable use and RAT questions need to be improved
    2. Look closely at each of the points about the questions
  4. Student preparation
    1. Make clear the need not to write essays for the free text questions
    2. Finding CC licensed lesson plans
      1. Great difficulty in finding those that are CC licensed
      2. Provide a list of prior sites people have used
      3. Generate some sort of activity to test understanding of CC with a specific example
    3. RAT Model
      1. More activities in learning paths
      2. Better labeling on  the spreadsheet
    4. More questions/activities around specific terms and concepts within the checklist


Planning an EDC3100 "installfest"

The following documents the planning of an “installfest” for the course EDC3100. Implementation and reflection will come later.


The course encourages/requires that students to modify their learning process in the course to engage in Jarche’s seek/sense/share framework using a combination of a personal blog, Diigo, and the Feedly feed reader.

This is a radical departure for most students and a challenge for most. It results in a lot of time expended at the start of semester. For example, a past students shared her experience

I spent a lot of time trying to work out blogging, Diigo and Feedly and to be honest I am still only using the bare minimum with blogging

Not a good outcome and apparently what has been used previously, doesn’t work. So an alternative is required.

As it happens, the same student also suggested a possible solution

My thoughts on changes or additions to the course that I would have found useful, would have been to come to a workshop near the start.

I’ve been pondering this suggestion and how it might work with the next offering of the course that has around 100 online students. Being of a certain age I remember installfests and have been wondering if that might be a useful model.    Leading to questions such as..

Can something like an installfest be run in a online video-conference space? Will students participate? Will it help? How to organise it within existing constraints?

Design thoughts

Linux Installfest HOWTO

Interestingly, I came across the Linux Documentation Project’s Linux Installfest HOWTO, the following starts from that document.

The location will be virtual, not physical. So advice about preparing the physical location doesn’t quite apply. However, the features of the Zoom service will need to considered.

Consideration: Might the “other room” feature of Zoom be useful for organising people at different stages?

Bringing up the major constraint, there’s likely to be only me to fulfill the various suggested roles. With more time I might have been able to organise additional help, but let’s not talk about the one week missing between semester 1 and semester 2.

Consideration: Can the session structure be informed by the identified roles? e.g. a receptionist role could be taken by the initial part of the session which focuses on welcoming people to the space. Might also be useful to explicitly ask for volunteers who are a little further ahead than others, volunteers who might take on a Tier 1 support role.

Consideration: Can a Google document/sheet be used to get an idea of people’s knowledge, experience and comfort level with the various tools? Is completing this sheet part of the entry process? Perhaps something based on the data sheet?

Consideration: Have a space at the end for reflection? Perhaps in part people could do this on their blog?  It might even be a good exercise to start them making connections etc.  To see all the tools working together.

Fit with the course requirements

Course requirements to consider include

  • Blog
    • Which blog?
    • Posts and their model.
    • Feeds
  • Trying to help students develop an appreciation of the value of developing conceptual models of how a technology works, moving beyond recipe following.
  • Challenge of explaining how these three tools fit together.
  • What about seek/sense/share, and what that means for how they learn.
    Question: Do the why first? Too abstract.  Leave it until the end? Don’t know why and perhaps too late and too tired by everything else.  Perhaps show them how it all looks at the end?
  • Identity
    • anonymous or not
    • Professional identity
    • Not being an egg
  • How to demonstrate to people the process
    Select a volunteer and I help guide them through the process using some sort of scaffold (e.g. the slides or study desk)
  • How to give people the time to try it by themselves and perhaps get support
  • How to encourage/enable reuse of sections of the video to integrate into the learning paths

Questions to ask (form/spreadsheet)

  • Name
  • Are you will to volunteer to be guided
  • Blog
    • Do you have one set up?
    • Rate your knowledge about the blog?
    • have you written a blog post?
    • Have you customised your blog?
  • Diigo
    • Do you have a Diigo account?
    • Do you have a Diigo extension installed?
    • Have you book marked something using Diigo
    • Have you shared it to the EDC3100 Diigo group
  • Feedly
    • Have you logged into Feedly?
    • Have you imported the EDC3100 OPML files?
    • Have you tried following anyone else?


Initial design


First 5+ minutes focus on welcoming everyone and asking them to fill out the form.

Outline the purpose of the session.

Outline the structure

  • Welcome
  • Where are we up to, where are we going
  • Doing it
    • Diigo
    • Feedly
    • Blog
  • Pulling it all together

Where are we up to? Where are we going?

Explain the three tools and the seek/sense/share approach to learning, only briefly on why, focus on concrete illustration showing my use of the tools. Link this to professional identity and the idea of being anonymous. Which tools need to be anonymous?

We want you to be able to do this by the end of the session.

Show the sheet behind the form – link to an idea they can use, mention the Google spreadsheet links in the EDC3100 Diigo group.  Find out where people are up to, think about approaches, ask for volunteers to be Tier 1 support – perhaps on the chat?  Or perhaps in a breakout room.

Outline structure (easy first, to more difficult)

  • Feedly
  • Diigo
  • Blog


  1. Sign-up for account.
    Make sure go to learn more. — username and email (which email – personal or USQ)
  2. Join the EDC3100 group.
  3. Show the emails I get and the approval process
  4. Install a Diigo tool
    Recommend Diigo extension – but Diigolet will do
  5. Bookmark a page for yourself
  6. Bookmark a page to the group????
  7. Do minute paper


  1. Which account – link to professional identity
    1. Umail if only for University – this okay because it’s not visible.
    2. Facebook or other account if using for personal
  2. Visit Feedly – Hit the get started button – login
  3. Import the OPML files.
  4. Add some content – get them to search in Feedly for something they are interested in
  5. Make point about not reading the actual page, but a copy, show how to access the actual page
  6. minute paper


  1. Which blog service
  2. Which identity – anonymous etc.
  3. Go to your choice of blog provider
  4. Hit the equivalent of “Create website”
  5. Follow the process
  6. Choose your configuration
  7. Write your first blog post — maybe suggest it should be linked to this post and reflect upon it.  Work in some ideas about reflection.
  8. Register the blog on the Study Desk — probably shouldn’t show this in Zoom.
  9. Talk about WordPress reader and it’s relationship with Diigo
  10. Minute paper

Pulling it all together

  1. Can I get them to download the OPML file and into Feedly.
  2. Come back to the seek/sense/share processe
    1. Seek – Start with Feedly
      1. See discussion forum posts
      2. See posts from other students
    2. Sense – on blog
    3. Share – on blog and Diigo
  3. Another minute paper???


  1. Powerpoint scaffold for the session
  2. Google forums
    1. Where are you up to?
    2. Minute papers
      1. Feedly
      2. Diigo
      3. Blog
  3. Set up data system for EDC3100 S2
    1. Blog registration counter
    2. Creating OPML files


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