#uhmlg16 summer conference – TEF and LA

Oh my, #uhmlg16 is a gift that keeps on giving.

As well as all the opportunities to catch up with colleagues from around the country there were first class speakers (as usual!)

Murray Hope works for HEA, and he spoke about the forthcoming Teaching Excellence Framework. Quality assessment should be seen by institutions as an opportunity to reflect on what went badly as well as to showcase what went well. To simply sweep less successful outcomes under the carpet is missing the point, and might lead to a lack of innovation just in case it doesn’t work. It’s the same with only using metrics to measure success – they miss some of the nuance. So too much reliance on the National Student Survey is easy, but not enough.

A very brief overview suggests that in the first year TEF will be effectively a rubber stamping exercise to ensure institutions demonstrate they have processes in place.  Year 2 will require the whole institution to take part, but here’s the interesting part… Year 3 will be a pilot year for subject submissions as well as institution wide, and Year 4 will be a subject only badge.

The real opportunities are for subjects to shine in their own right, and there’s even more opportunity when specialisation increases. For example, there’ll be recognition for excellence in delivering courses by distance learning. Obviously the OU will be gunning for this, because it allows other aspects of the institution to be recognised. (could this be an opportunity for librarians and their services to be given recognition?)

We don’t know yet just how granular this process will be (eg delivery of ancient history teaching in a university might be a very different experience from the history teaching), but it’s going to become increasingly important that any teaching delivered and supported by librarians would be well supported by a formal qualification (the like of which HEA can provide).

The next session was from Sheila MacNeil of Glasgow Caledonian University on Learning Analytics – a brave new world or back to the future?  Her slides are here:

There was so much to take away from Sheila’s excellent talk – hugely engaging speaker. But ideas like the fact that learning analytics use trances that learners leave behind to help us improve their learning – what a fascinating idea.

She reminds us that people and process are much more important than the product or the platform, but most fascinating was the prospect of trying to accommodate and monitor the social learning that goes on and can have as much benefit for the student as the formal learning. [this makes measuring the impact of our contribution in the way that Alison Brettle was encouraging us to do yesterday all the harder, surely….sigh!]

The problem with analytics so much of the time is that, in true Voltaire fashion, that just because you can measure things doesn’t make them the most valuable, and sometimes the most valuable are things that are difficult to measure. And at the end of the day you can measure all you like, but if you don’t change your behaviour, then what was the point. And sometimes it’s ok to be good enough…. (dangerous thoughts!)

But then we got on to the idea of data literacy – ooh this was so interesting. To what extent are we all just handing over data about ourselves to whoever will give us a free online service or app or fancy new device (like a fitbit which I don’t own!). I wonder how much data literacy varies across generations, and how concerned or aware people are of what they’re giving away. This isn’t new – how long have supermarkets been handing out loyalty cards, and then using our purchasing habits to tempt us into spending more? And now things are only getting more complex and sophisticated (sorry it’s a link to a video on a Daily Mail page – how did this happen??).

Sheila also showed us DELICATE – a checklist for trusted learning analytics. and a JISC where they map the landscape of learning analytics and a gorgeous visual: data warehouse tube map.

Sheila left us with the reminder that analytics will increasingly be part of the core business of universities, but with the reminder that they should be used with students, rather than to students.


One Response to #uhmlg16 summer conference – TEF and LA

  1. […] UHMLG Summer Conference – nicely summarised by Isla Kuhn in her blog here, here and here. One topic that strikes me as particularly important – especially given the predicament of so […]

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