Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) or eLearning is concerned with using technology to support and enhance learning, whether that learning is local (on campus) or remote (at home, other study locations, or in the workplace). Technology can enable new approaches as to how learning is delivered and assessed and can make certain pedagogic approaches viable and scalable when considered for higher education that otherwise would not be.
Support in Using the Technology Enhanced Learning
Swansea University is committed to providing support for innovative and alternative delivery methods, and to promote a digital culture. This includes embedding flexible, distance and blended learning to support all students, with appropriate tools and training to support students on all aspects of their journey.
Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT) can provide support for a range of areas TEL development in a wide range of teaching, learning, and assessment and feedback practices. More information can be found on SALT’s website, including resources on technology, CPD courses and events and blog posts. SALT’s annual learning and teaching conference (usually held in June of each year) features a wide range of TEL development practice from throughout the University. Conference abstracts from past conferences can be found in Previous Events.
There is an optional TEL ‘path’ on Swansea University’s Postgraduate Certificate Teaching in Higher Education (PgCert HE). This two-year Level 7 programme is for Swansea University colleagues who want to explore and develop their teaching. In addition, it is a probationary requirement for those with less than 3 years full time teaching in higher education in the UK.
You can download a copy of the UK Professional Standards framework, which provide guidelines to improve teaching quality, from the HEA website. The Programme uses a flexible, blended learning approach where participants learn through a range of learning and teaching methods.
CASE STUDY – ACCOUNTING & FINANCE
The University recognise excellent teaching approaches, on an annual basis, through a number of Teaching Awards. The awards for 2018/19 saw Associate Professor Terry Filer, for her taxation module, win the Swansea University Course Award for Technology Enhanced Learning.
Professor Filer, and colleague Lesley Davies, implemented virtual reality (VR) into teaching delivery. Their approach gives students ‘real-world’ practical experience as part of a capital allowances taxation exercise. Using the technology, students get to experience tax in the real world by virtually visiting client premises to identify assets eligible for a capital allowances claim.
In-line with ‘Swansea Graduate’, Professor Filer implemented the approach to ‘ensure Swansea University students are work-ready and stand out compared with other applicants for graduate accounting or taxation roles’.
The approach also promoted the ‘Research-led, Practice-driven’ agenda through a collaborative partnership between the School of Management and School of Engineering. Winning one of four Best Paper titles, at the International Conference on Theory and Practice, the research looked at how VR increased student engagement and employability.
Central Learning Resources for Students
All students will have access to a variety of technology-based learning tools. However, the central repository is the Digital Learning Platform (DLP) (Formerly referred to as Virtual Learning Environments/ VLE). Swansea University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) changes from Blackboard, to Canvas, in 2020.
An effective Virtual Learning Environment is essential for student learning in the 21st Century and has a wide range of benefits, including promoting accessibility for and engagement with learning in a fully inclusive approach. Swansea University is currently exploring ways to make its curricula more flexible and student focused to promote personalised learning, an approach which aims to customise learning for each student’s strengths, needs, skills and interests. By personalising individual learning and approaches, the approach can encourage both inclusivity and student engagement.
To support the use of the VLE, the Virtual Learning Environment Minimum Standards offer guidance including setting out the minimum information that students can expect to find on the VLE pages and is relevant for students, academic staff, academic mentors and support staff.
Students say their priorities for an effective VLE are that navigation is simple and things are easy to find, there is consistency across modules, and resources are accessible, organised and designed to support their learning. This increased accessibility of resources better enables innovative teaching approaches such as flipped and blended learning to take place.
VLE Minimum Standards
Although the minimum standards are already in existence, the implementation of the new Canvas VLE has given all staff the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to use the platform and understand the key principles behind the minimum standards.
The standards outline the minimum expectations, in relation to accessibility and content, for the University’s virtual learning environment. The standards are designed to benefit both staff and students, through consistency of approach, and increased engagement levels and familiarity.
You can learn more by visiting either the Virtual Learning Environment Minimum Standards Implementation Checklist or the Canvas Project Homepage.
Why are there minimum standards for virtual learning environments?
Having minimum standards ensures a consistent layout, and experience, for both staff and students. Ease of access, and familiarity of content, can greatly reduce anxiety and ensure students and staff navigate through the platform as efficiently as possible. Having these minimum standards, particularly in relation to consistency of layout, encourages accessibility for all students. Having access to relevant information, whenever it is required, helps the University meet their inclusive practice aims and encourage a greater sense of community.
In addition, ensuring learning materials are available, before a learning session, gives students the opportunity to familiarise themselves with a given subject area and ensures inclusivity from the outset.
The Virtual Learning Environment Minimum Standards Implementation Checklist outlines what effective virtual learning materials should consist of and, where applicable, which other University resources (i.e. My Uni Hub, University Library) these materials should be linked to.
Regulations which Guide the Use of Digital Platforms
On 23 September 2018, Understanding Accessibility regulations came into force in the UK. All public sector bodies, including Higher Education Institutions, need to make sure their websites and mobile apps meet the accessibility standards. Websites/content published before this date must meet the requirements by 23rd September 2020. Accessibility standards are designed to meet requirements of the Equality Act (2010).
DLPs, including content (documents, lecture slides, recorded audio and video etc.), are covered by the requirements. Further information is on page 21 of the Policy Connect Report.
In-line with the implementation of Canvas, in September 2020, the platform and all content will need to meet accessibility requirements. Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching provide Digital Accessibility Regulations.
Role of Lecture Recording/ Lecture Capture in Technology Enhanced Learning
The University has a licence for Planet eStream software, and it has been installed in several teaching spaces on the Singleton campus and all centrally timetabled teaching spaces on the Bay campus. It allows staff to self-capture their learning sessions; typically, self-capture allows staff to record the audio and primary display (data projector) within the teaching space. Delivery of lecture recording is supported by the Swansea University Lecture Capture Policy and SALT Lecture Recording Guidance.
The academic benefits of lecture recording include:
- Allowing students to review material prior to assignment writing or examinations.
- Revisit difficult concepts or topics that student may have misunderstood and to reinforce understanding and aid revision and reflection.
- Catch up on missed content (notably for students with ongoing health issues, care responsibilities and TASS students).
- Used as part of face to face, blended, flipped classroom and online course delivery.
- Assist students whose first language is not English by allowing them time to re-visit a lecture, learning in their own time and, through mechanisms such as translation software, learn in either English or their first language.
- Assist students who have specific learning disabilities or differences.
These benefits can not only add to the teaching experience for staff but, through an enhanced learning experience, play a vital role in the student experience.
Recording learning sessions enables students to view the delivery of material later. If students are aware that a lecture is to be recorded and made available for play back it allows them to engage with the instructor and the content that is being taught. Lecture capture facilities are available in all teaching spaces at Bay Campus and a number of locations on Singleton Campus. The facilities typically allow for staff to self-capture their lectures – through audio and visuals (i.e. projector display) within these spaces.
A study conducted by Shaw & Molnar (2011) reports performance improved for all students but there was a larger improvement by non-native language speakers. It can also benefit students that have learning or physical disabilities, or those with mental health support needs, enabling them to review the content after the lecture.
How long will the lecture recording be available on planet e-stream?
Once the supplementary examination period has finished for the academic year, all lecture recordings will normally be deleted from the system. It is the responsibility of content creators to inform SALT if their recordings are to remain available from one academic year to the next.
Can I get training on using lecture recording?
Yes. In fact, staff are unable to use the Lecture Recording facility until they have either attended a training session or undertaken the basic online lecture recording course. Forthcoming training sessions can be booked in advance by registering on the SALT Events Page.
Further information on lecture recording can be found in the SALT Lecture Recording Guidance.
Students’ Responsibilities in Relation to Lecture Recording
Recordings may be used for personal study only. It is recognised that most students are responsible learners. However, if a student misuses any recording (audio or visual) in any way, for example, through malicious editing, by selling audio files of lectures or by posting on a social network or other publicly accessible internet pages or websites, existing disciplinary measures will be taken in line with the University’s guidelines on Social Media Safety.
Use of Technology in Marking and Feedback
Swansea University’s new virtual learning environment, Canvas, will empower staff by giving them the opportunity to provide both assessment and feedback in electronic format. The JISC report on Electronic management of assessment highlighted two examples of how technology made a positive impact on the marking and feedback processes within two HE institutions. Queen’s University Belfast’s School of English moved to e-submission and marking which saved 20 working days per year in administrative staff time (in a school with c.900 students).
Additionally, at the University of Huddersfield, a study showed that an administrator dealing with 1,620 students saved 137 hours per year or 3.7 weeks based on a 37-hour working week.
The University of Huddersfield commented:
“… the tasks that have been removed from the duties of administrative staff because of EMA are those that were particularly repetitive and therefore boring. These include date-stamping, logging and distributing assessment work. … The time that has been saved has also meant that administrative staff can be redeployed to do tasks that can offer extra support to students and academic staff.“
The Electronic Management of Assessments Guide, from JISC, offers guidance on why electronic assessment and feedback can have benefits for both staff and students. In the document, JISC outline some of the key benefits as:
- Greater transparency which has been shown to improve the standard and consistency of marking and feedback comments.
- Improved clarity of marking and feedback (especially the ability to include lengthy comments at the appropriate point in the text).
- Reduced administrative burden leaving more time to focus on individuals experiencing difficulties.
- The ability to moderate marks without having to physically exchange paper.
- The convenience of being able to undertake originality and plagiarism checking in the same environment as marking.
- Convenience of not having to travel to hand in assignments or provide feedback.
- Time savings and avoidance of anxiety about assignment submission.
A report by Sheffield Hallam University also outlined how their own research had shown how students at the University responded positively to technology in their marking and feedback experience. Their research found:
Students expressed a strong preference for feedback and grades online. It provides greater flexibility of access to feedback, enabling students to read and respond to feedback when they are emotionally ready and in relative privacy. The prompt return of feedback and grades also means students will be more inclined act on it because it is current, relevant and meaningful in terms of the original assessment.
The use of technology in marking and feedback can also have additional benefits for the student experience. Having access to technology-based approaches provides students with instant access to their mark and feedback. This is particularly beneficial in relation to inclusivity, accessibility and for enhancing the student experience.
Data Protection Laws
If a recording contains footage of individuals, data protection issues may arise. Images of an individual may be classed as personal data if the individuals can be identified, as such the University will need to ensure compliance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations (2018).
In order to process personal data, which would include editing, storing and or distributing the video if it contains personal data, consent from the data subject is required. It is therefore important to notify any audience that the lecture will be filmed and make it clear whether they will be filmed.
Guidance Resources, Further Reading and Directory of Effective Practice for Technology Enhanced Learning
- Artificial Intelligence
- Audience Response Systems
- Audio Feedback
- Camtasia (screen recording/screencasting & video editing)
- Digital Accessibility Guidance
- Educause Horizon Report 2019
- E-Portfolios & workbooks e.g. Pebblepad
- Lecture Recording
- Lecture Theatre Equipment
- Social Media for Learning
- Technology Enhanced Learning – Higher Education Academy
- Using Online Interactive Tools for Engagement
- Virtual/Augmented Reality
- Web PA for Groupwork
- Xerte (interactive learning materials)
For more examples, you can visit Academic Quality’s Effective Practice Directory.
EDUCAUSE (2008) ‘7 things you should know about lecture capture’
JISC (2016) ‘Electronic management of assessment’
Shaw GP. and Molnar D. (2011). ‘Non-native English Language Speakers Benefit most from the Use of Lecture Capture in Medical School’.