Final leg

We are now into the final 3 months of the project and everyone is busy finishing off their respective investigations. It looks like most of the team will be continuing with the work they have been doing during the project once we finish at the end of March. Annette and Chris gave presentations at the e-Learning Showcase at Bradford yesterday and both indicated that audio feedback to students would continue to be used after the project had ended. Claire’s students on the distance learning Dementia Masters course have each been given a mp3 voice recorder to record reflections of their practice and we are looking forward to getting there feedback on this.

Both Mary and Abigail at Hertfordshire are starting to wrap up their work. It has been interesting to see how things have evolved at Herts as the project has progressed and I suspect that, once we come to analyse the data, we will have some interesting findings and a stimulus for further study.

Apart from finishing of each of the project investigation, collecting and analysing the data is going to be the major task between now and the end of the project. Yoeri, our Project Researcher, has been busy doing focus groups, telephone interviews and data analysis over the past few months.


ASEL and HEA Engineering and GEES Subject Centres

As part of our project dissemination we were invited to bid for some additional funding by the HEA Engineering and Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences Subject Centres back in July. This funding came from the JISC Widening Stakeholder Engagement call under the EMERGE UIDM project. This bid was successful and a call went out on the HEA Engineering Subject Centre website inviting departments to take part in the project.

There is funding to support up to 6 workshops and these will be used to demonstrate what we have been doing with regard to the use of audio to support teaching and learning.

ASEL project – what’s it all about?

The ASEL project is JISC-funded under the Users and Innovation: Next Generation Technologies and Practices programme. It started in January 2008 and will run until March 2009. There are two partners – the Universities of Bradford (lead institution) and Hertfordshire.

Audio is emerging as a key area of development across the HE sector in meeting the individual needs of an increasingly diverse range of learners, to promote active engagement, to enhance learning and to enrich the learning environment.

The increasing adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and social software, e.g. Facebook, Ning, Flikr, and YouTube, allied with pervasive technologies such as mobile phones, wikis and blogs, recognise and support the need for personalisation of learning environments, tools and learning communities.

Recent JISC studies (Creanor et al, 2006; Conole et al 2006) on learner experiences of e-learning show that learners are increasingly using these technologies as tools in their everyday lives; however there is also evidence from the Students Expectation Study (JISC, 2007) that they struggle to see how these same technologies could be used as a learning tools. Tutors need to be able to adapt their practice in order to use Web 2.0 technologies to enhance the learning experience by adding value through personalisation, choice and flexibility (Doolan, 2007a). Students also need guidance and support on how to make best use of new technologies to help them learn in ways they have not experienced before (JISC, 2007; Doolan, 2007b).

There is a need to understand the impact of the increasing use of audio on this interplay of new technologies and their use and transferability between personal, social and learning contexts.

The ASEL project will develop, implement and evaluate the use of audio within next generation technologies to support, enhance, and personalise the learner experience. It will also capture effective lecturer and learner practices from across the domains of teaching and learning that will help inform future practices across the HE sector.

It addresses four key challenges for the HE sector:

o harnessing next generation technology
o embedding these technologies in order to enhance the student learning experience
o transforming curriculum design and teaching practice
o personalising learning

The focus of this project is the changes in practice, both for tutors and learners that are necessary to achieve this enhancement, transformation and personalisation. The outcomes of the project will help transform and shape next generation learning, and to this end, the project will focus on using audio within next generation technologies in three key areas: self reflection, assessment, and collaborative learning.