Monday, 5 July 2010


Many people gave their time and expertise to make the 10th Middlesex University Annual Learning and Teaching Conference happen. Enormous thanks and gratitude to everyone involved especially those mentioned here...

Conference organising committee
Above, l-r, Caroline Reid, Kirsteen Macdonald, Carole Davis, Steve Chilton, Judy Wilson

Below, l-r, Joanne Mullarkey, Professor Barry Jackson

Thanks to :

Laurie Johnson and Michelle Johnson for helping the day run so smoothly. They were completely unflappable unlike most of us!

Karen Ridout for sharing her expertise and support on the day

Kathryn McAnulty, Catherine O'Reilly and Maggie Walkowska for helping with registration

Angus Macdonald and John Parkinson for filming and producing the keynote sessions (Cat Hill for the loan of an extra camera)

All session presenters and chairs

Joyce Clancey for her guidance and support

Neesha Kodagoda and Yoney Kirsal for persuading participants to allow their conference impressions to be captured on video

Louis Slabbert, Leonard Miraziz and media support services at Hendon

Colleagues in the Centre for Educational Technology for their support, contributions and report writing

EFMS and Chartwells' Catering Services

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Barry Jackson's closing remarks

Summary of the closing session

Barry is our Pro-Vice Chancellor and Director of Teaching and Learning. His drive launched the series of Learning and Teaching Conferences at Middlesex ten years ago to celebrate good practice in teaching and learning, and to support the demand for continuing change and adaption. He stresses that there is no one solution to the challenges of Higher Education! This is Barry’s last week at the university as he is retiring, so many of us listened to his closing remarks with a touch of sadness.

However, his summary focused on this really positive day, which embraced the styles and beliefs of many varying speakers and presenters on the positive and negative aspects of the digital world on academic literacy. Consistent within all the conflicting viewpoints was the need to constantly promote student engagement in the information explosion in ways which are creative, self-enhancing and promote thinking.

One of the strengths of the day was the use of interactive media and Barry enjoyed the twitter feed - placing himself in the Digital Immigrant community. This concept was one we played with throughout the day. Whilst we were encouraged to be cautious with the generality of the term ‘Digital Immigrant’ it did provide a useful stereotype to which many of the audience could immediately connect. Interestingly all the keynotes made us question our stereotypical views of students and in particular consider the diversity in the expertise of our students interacting with the continual proliferation of online environments.

Many short video clips had been recorded throughout the day and are available on this blog. Barry introduced a couple of short clips which along with the tweets showed the speed in which technology can provide immediate feedback on events. An interesting reflection of Barry’s is that this feedback will be received differently by those who attend and those that view the blog of the day but could not make the event.

Barry was thanked for his contribution to Learning and Teaching and given a small token of appreciation from his Learning and Teaching colleagues. We wish him a wonderful retirement which allows him to explore and enjoy his artistic and musical talents.

Judy Wilson
Learning and Teaching Strategy Leader,
EIS, Middlesex University

Professor Barry Jackson, Middlesex University

Report on events of the day

Click to view the report on the ALTCMU conference by Nazlin Bhimani, Academic Liaison Manager (School of Engineering and Information Sciences and Institute for Work based Learning), Learning Resources, Middlesex University

Friday, 2 July 2010

Video from William Wong

Professor William Wong, Middlesex University

Report on William Wong's keynote address

What matters?
William Wong

(click to enlarge)

William Wong is Professor of Human Computer Interaction Design, and researches and designs computer based systems for use by people. He is concerned with creating positive human-computer interaction experiences. Historically within such study there has been a big focus on user goals, however now the wider concept of the user experience when actually working with technology and how this really manifests itself in the real world rather than in an experimental environment, is being sought. Thus William’s keynote explored the affective side of digital information and the sensory, sense making and emotional connections evoked for students engaging in digital literacy. The strong psychological component of such digital approaches to learning.

The ideas presented synergised with those of the preceding keynotes, whereby William's keynote aimed to provide empirical evidence for the key features necessary for successful research/study of those engaging, and interacting, with the use technology. Building on work undertaken to define the ‘seven habits’ required by a good researcher, William transferred these habits the role of students and teachers.

So what matters ? is the development of seven habits. Competence; control; courage and confidence; co-discovery; communicate; creative and initiative; critical thinking.

Competence, developing underpinning knowledge and skills. Control over how they act, respond and learn. Courage and confidence, courage to apply and ability to learn from their mistakes. Co-discovery, collaboration and working in teams to discover or accomplish together. Communicate, the ability to articulate ideas and to co-ordinate and implement them. Creativity and initiative, being a problem solver and lateral thinker. Critical thinking, slice and dice, analyse and dissect, distinguish between ‘shades of grey’.

Caroline Reid
Head of Learning Development (HSSC)
Middlesex University

Thursday, 1 July 2010

More feedback

Paula Bernaschina, Middlesex University

Nicola Barnard, Oxford Brookes

Carole Davis, Middlesex University

Slides for Paula Bernaschina's workshop

Report on Kristian Sund's workshop

Attendance, Employability and Learning Technologies: Are we getting it right?
Kristian Sund

Kristian Sund, Middlesex University

Kristian, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management in the Business School, had carried out a survey among final year undergraduate students and presented the findings as a starting point for discussion in this workshop. Low student attendance was evident to Kristian and with this study he wanted to explore some of the reasons students may have for this, and how the use of learning technologies may contribute to high or low class attendance levels.

Are our graduates ready for employment – or not? Based on to Kristian’s study, corporations expect graduates to have the soft skills, e.g. communication, interpersonal skills, team working skill etc. required for work when they start their job. So how will students further develop these important life skills during their time at university with low or even no attendance? If the attitude with some students is that there is no need to attend a class when you can down load all the materials then are we therefore making it too easy for our students to avoid attending?

What can academics, many of whom are ‘Digital Immigrants’ do in supporting these ‘Digitally Native’ students when using learning technologies and at the same time encouraging attendance? This workshop echoed some of Steve Wheeler’s keynote discussion, in particular, the development of a facilitator role for lectures where the boundaries of expert and novice are blurring?

Findings of this interesting study could not offer definite conclusions or solutions but it raised many important questions for all those working in HE. It also highlighted the worrying trend of low student engagement in their studies - and created some passionate viewpoints and discussion in the workshop.

Thank you Kristian – carry on the good work with your students!

Pirkko Harvey
National Centre for Project Management
Middlesex University

Video feedback

Martin Loomes, Middlesex University

Tony Side, Middlesex University

Harvey Thornycroft, Ministry of Defence

Report on Steve Chilton's workshop

Learning to Learn Online

Participants at "Learning to Learn Online"

This Workshop entitled: Learning to learn online was used to disseminate information regarding a new module being developed at the university to address certain core skills necessary for the ‘digital’ student to excel in a modern university. The workshop was not however just an overview of the module itself, rather a look at it’s pedagogical underpinnings as well as highlighting a number of points such a module would need to address in order to be a success. Points such as:

  • How to ‘teach’ students to keep on task and not to be distracted by other media.
  • How do we make Students aware of what Feedback is within a University and how do we make them realize when they are receiving it?
  • Online activities such as those to be utilised in an online only module (such as this) are great for ‘reflection’ – Caveat; do our students know how to reflect?
  • Students need to be critical – professionals demand ‘thinking’ not just knowledge.
  • Communication is more than just an exchange – it is a discussion of relevant question.
  • Students need the skills to be able to; select, analyse, critique and justify the use of primary sources.
  • The need for students to realise the necessity to take notes and have the ability to paraphrase.
Steve did offer forward one task he was asking the students to take the module to do in order to truly engage with a piece of literature. Students were to read a 1500 word document and to initially condense this into a short 100 word document. This meant they would need to analyse and be critical of the original and decide just what the major points were. On completion of the 100 word document students were to further edit this into a single ‘tweet’ (statement of 140 characters or less). This task was a point of discussion with the majority of people thinking it was an excellent way of asking students to engage with a piece of literature.

Finally, what I believe to be a very powerful point was made: We (as educators) do not currently reaffirm or reinforce the core academic skills often or adequately enough with our students.

Dave Westwood
e-Learning Research and Innovation
Middlesex University

Steve Chilton presents

Video from Steve Wheeler

Steve Wheeler, University of Plymouth

Report on Mike Howarth's workshop

The Self-Editor: A strategy for improving reflective writing.

Mike was inspired to create his self-editor ‘tool’ to help students who come to writing tasks as part of their studies having little or un-practiced writing skills. His own students were often submitting first assignments with poor writing but very valuable content.

His aim is to help students with the process of “externalising the internal mish-mash of story and experiences”.

The editing process

The self-editor process is based on a light touch ‘tricks of the trade’ approach to help structure content, rather than a more formal academic writing, or ‘basic skills’ approach.

Mike touched on some underlying concepts; the brain searches for clues (patterns) in words, chaining and linking (key words) and computer navigation (via text).

The session was enlivened with Mike’s ‘thole’ and other props in an effort to portray The Experiential Metaphorical Concept. The group were also immersed in an individual editing task, which included as one of the steps, the active process of walking around.

References: Chapman, 1987, p.83, Lakoff and Johnson, 1980, p.19

See information on The Self Editor at:

Louise Merlin
e-Learning Development
Middlesex University

Report on Anne Flood's workshop

Turnitin 2

Anne Flood previews Turnitin 2

Anne began the session with a rundown of some of the new features in the new version of Turnitin. The key changes are:
  • The format of the original submitted document is preserved
  • There is a new intuitive menu structure
  • Search results in the originality report are clustered (by Primary Sources) to reduce ‘noise’. An improved drill down system allows you to click on these clusters to see the matches within
  • There is a single view for all tools – the originality report, Grademark and Peermark can all be displayed on the screen together or separately
The Classic view will also still be available.

Anne then went on to discuss the various Turnitin implementation methods. Screening all submitted work for plagiarism ensures that the work is that of the student who submitted it, and means that plagiarism should be easily identified. However this can lead to an increased work load for staff involved in the submission of work and in dealing with the plagiarism cases thereafter. Some institutions prefer only to screen work that appears suspicious for some reason – this leads to less workload but some well-written plagiarised work may be missed by the initial checking. Screening a fixed percentage of work as a sample is a good method for quality checking but will miss most cases of plagiarism. Some institutions even pay the licence fee for Turnitin and use it as a deterrent to prevent students from plagiarising their work, but do not actually make use of it.

Anne recommended that Turnitin be implemented in a formative way, and that students are fully supported in its use. This way students will be more aware of the issues surrounding plagiarism and how best to avoid it in their writing, and will receive formative feedback in a timely manner. In a survey of 3,000 students, 87% of students supported the use of Turnitin for plagiarism checking, and 76% felt it would discourage the submission of unacknowledged content. Anne also stressed that the interpretation of originality reports is very important as the match percentage does not always tell the whole story.

Paul Smith
e-Learning Support
Middlesex University

Report on Steve Wheeler's keynote address and FULL VIDEO

Steve Wheeler’s keynote explored his take on Digital Tribes. He discussed transformation and inspiration – in an entertaining and informative session. His view was that we are preparing students for a future we cannot clearly describe. He characterised what is happening as the establishment of not one digital tribe but many sub-sets or virtual clans. There were interesting sidetracks into an analysis of Wikipedians and the modern nuclear family not sat round watching the TV, but still acting in a similar way (with a slide neatly entitled “Wii are the family”). On a more serious note he provided an excellent synthesis of some of the thoughts of many prominent contributors to the digital debate. One of his suggestions was that you could be your own VLE – IF you know how to bring the various tools that are available together. I recommend that you view the video of his keynote presentation, and view the slides to get the full range of his discourse. On a personal note I was pleased to see that he both credited all his impressive images with their sources, and also made the presentation available under a Creative Commons license, to allow folk to use the content with appropriate acknowledgement to the author.

Steve Chilton
Manager e-Learning Academic Development
Middlesex University

Keynote slides

(click to enlarge)

Video feedback comments

Jo Parker, Open University

Maureen Smojkis, University of Birmingham

Sarah Ison, University of Brighton

More video feedback

Jonathan Garnett, Middlesex University

Video from Tara Brabazon

Tara Brabazon, University of Brighton

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Delegate photos

Selection of ALTCMU delegate photos (click to enlarge)

Feedback on day so far

Ms Kelt, librarian from Glasgow Calendonia University

Lunch break photos

Selection of ALTCMU lunchtime photos (click to enlarge)

Report on Marian Clark & Maureen Smojkis's workshop

Digital Stories - Creating reusable learning objects to link theory and practice in health and social care education

Marian and Maureen, from the University of Birmingham’s Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health, shared with us their enthusiasm for digital stories; their medium of choice to create reusable learning objects.

Digital stories are short multimedia presentations. They use Photo Story 3, a quick and easy to learn free package (download from Microsoft), which facilitates the combining of images, text, music and voice. The resulting product is viewed as a Windows Media File.

Their Psychological Mindedness project asks the questions; what is knowledge? And whose knowledge is more important or valid?

The stigma of mental health often means that what service users say about their experiences can be discounted, dismissed or denied, so their aim was to capture the experiential knowledge of service users, which they value as a training resource. This user produced knowledge in the form of human testimony can benefit academic literacy with “the unmediated voices of mental health service users and sometimes carers”.

Maureen completed the session by facilitating a group collaboration to create a digital story. Please play Global Warming and also see the inspirational digital stories at

Global warming digital story

CEIMH provides interdisciplinary resources for mental health teaching and learning, including many digital stories available to all.

Louise Merlin
e-Learning Development
Middlesex University

Maureen Smojkis

Report on Alex Chapman, Caroline Reid & Alan Durrant's workshop

Web 2.0 for learning and teaching: the teachers’ tale

Alex Chapman, Caroline Reid, Alan Durrant

This workshop reported on 2 projects from within the university which have utilised the social media of Web 2.0; Blogs, Facebook and the use of small ‘Flip’ digital camcorders.

The first project discussed was the ERASMUS funded Mentoring in Nursing Europe (MINE) project conducted by Caroline Reid and Alex Chapman. This project focused around a 2 week intensive period of learning for nurses from four different countries.

The decision to embed Web 2.0 technologies into the course was taken for two reasons: Firstly, The students of the four cohorts had never met prior to the Intensive Period, and the use of a ‘private’ Facebook group allowed the students to ‘meet’ virtually prior to meeting face to face. This was reported as having worked successfully with the students reporting feelings of ‘knowing’ each other during the initial days of the face to face period. The second reason for using the Web 2.0 technologies was one of pedagogy. The course leaders constructed the course in order to allow for a cooperative enquiry approach. The use of the Facebook group allowed students to connect and enquire into others work and reflections in order to enhance their own knowledge and understanding.

The Second project discussed was taken from the experiences of Alan Durrant when embedding the use of Blogs into a Work Based Learning Professional Practice module.

The disparity between student’s view of Education (as a motherly guidance from a teacher) and that of the professional world (far more independent) was highlighted and the question of rectifying this imbalance was posited.

This module had looked to address this imbalance by using personal Blogs as the medium of delivery, assessment, feedback and reflection. Informed by the connective theory pedagogical approach, the blogs were embedded in order to connect disparate students in a constructive educational network of peers and tutors in order to allow them to view, comment upon and critique the work of other students thus redressing the disparity outlined above. The tutor would also highlight good exemplars from which students could evaluate their work and thus construct new knowledge and evaluate that which already existed.

The blogs allowed professional students a medium through which to develop and monitor a digital professional identity something which they will likely need to do throughout their professional careers.

Dave Westwood
e-Learning Research Developer
e-Learning Research and Innovations Team
Middlesex University

Discussion notes from session Q&A

Suzanne Docherty, Middlesex University

Report on Ellie Franklin's workshop

What does it take to teach 21st century kids from a 15th century textbook?
Ellie Franklin

Ellie Franklin, Middlesex University

Capturing students’ imagination and motivating critical thinking continues to be a crucial challenge in Higher Education. Ellie Franklin (Senior Lecturer, Middlesex University, Business School) provided a working example of how this was accomplished with a large student cohort.
The proposed strategy involves challenging students with the historical context of a subject and drawing parallels to current practice. Engagement and excitement is induced through online discussion boards, podcasts, and Personal Response technology.

‘Inspired’, ‘intriguing’, ‘opened my mind’ and ‘extraordinary’; student words describing their learning experience reveals the success of this approach. Even students with ‘I already know this’ attitude finding themselves shifted out of their comfort zone.

Impressing the audience with a creative way of surprising the learner, this approach demonstrates the potential offered by technology to engage students in learning.

Asanka Dayananda
e-Learning Academic Advisor
Middlesex University

Report on George Dafoulis' workshop

Effects of Social Networking in Academic Literacy: Myths and Truths
George Dafoulas

George began the session with a quote: “The only thing constant is change itself” – Heraclitus 500 BC. He emphasised how this can be applied to the use of learning technology, and much of the session focused on his struggle to keep up with the students in terms of their choice of learning platform. In his experience of lecturing it has become more obvious that students find it easier to engage with digital media than textbooks or Powerpoint slides, and will often be seen looking at their phones or other mobile devices during a lecture. George discussed how he decided to add social networking elements into his teaching as an additional ‘trigger’ to interest the students.

He discussed how the concept of the social network has evolved from the physical to the virtual, such as VLEs, and has now moved on to encompass a whole range of Web 2.0 technologies. Keeping up with this evolution means “becoming a digital citizen”, which entails forgetting old fashioned constructivism, student centred approaches and rigid learning styles, and considering the use of web-based platforms, game-like interfaces and mobile applications, with a focus on “smaller is better”. He then presented a summary of some examples of social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Flickr.

George also discussed the need to be cautious when sharing information on social networks, because once you publish something on the web, it could be shared between users on many networks without your knowledge. Personal information can be misused and inappropriate or illegal content may bring harm to others and damage an institution’s reputation. Social networks are difficult to moderate effectively and this lack of control is something which must be considered when using them for teaching purposes.

Paul Smith
e-Learning Support
Middlesex University
Effects of Social Networking in Academic Literacy

Report on Tara Brabazon's workshop

Podcasting postgraduates
Tara Brabazon
Dr Maureen Spencer, Middlesex University Business School and Professor Tara Brabazon

Tara Brabazon of Brighton University passionately conveyed her enthusiasm for podcasts for teaching and learning. Podcasts are easy to create and easy to access. Moreover, her main argument was that audio resources defamiliarise students’ learning environment in a constructive manner. Tara, together with colleagues, explored the various roles and functions of podcasting in postgraduate education. She presented brief audio accounts of her students’ work at Masters' and doctoral level and emphasised how important it is to keep podcasts brief and to the point. Following that, participants created their own podcast by introducing themselves and sharing their thoughts and experiences on podcasting. Many colleagues across different Schools mentioned improving formative feedback as an important objective, whilst others centred on affective aspects of learning. Other areas, such as students’ individual preferences regarding visual vs. audio media appeared to be more troublesome. But, quite often, so is learning.

Mike Mimirinis
e-Learning Academic Adviser
Middlesex University

Coffee break

After a lively morning keynote address, everyone had a lot to talk about at the coffee break.

Morning coffee break in the quad

Feedback from Michela Vecchi, Middlesex University

Feedback on Tara Brabazon's keynote address

Patrick Phillips, Middlesex University

Earle Abrahamson, Middlesex University


Theresa Bourne, Middlesex University

PGCHE Award Winners

Tara Brabazon awarded Ellie Franklin (Accounting and Finance Department) and Michela Vecchi (Economics and Statistics Department) prizes for outstanding work on the Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education.

Ellie Franklin and Tara Brabazon

Carole Davis (Programme Leader), Tara Brabazon, Michela Vecchi

Report on Tara Brabazon's keynote address

What an electrifying start of the day! Tara Brabazon has introduced us to the concept of electronic dieting and challenged our lazy habits of googling.

She threaded the metaphor of healthy eating through her talk - ‘we all know there’s better food, just like better information’

Tara argued that Google steers us to search for information that we already know and that it delivers information on the level the searcher is comfortable processing. While this may be an excellent way of finding the perfect pair of shoes on the internet, is this good enough for academia? Learning happens when we are tipped out of our comfort zones and are presented with new, provocative ideas or as she put it ‘Challenge builds learning, conformity builds ignorance’.

She also posed us the question ‘What if we gain more meaning from fewer media?’
Reducing the sensory environment and the choices learners are presented with can create a different sort of learning. She celebrated librarians for the crucial role they play in educating students (and all of us) in academic literacy.

Watch her presentation and decide whether you need to go an an electronic diet too :)
Full video to follow.
Agi Ryder
Research and Innovation Team
Middlesex University

(click to enlarge)

Tara Brabazon keynote address - FULL VIDEO

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Tara Brabazon's keynote address

A lively, thought-provoking, keynote focussing on moving away from the easy option to consider more appropriate options for tracking down information. Process must include level 1 students.

To video or not video

Here we are setting up to record the first keynote session. Conscious that it can be difficult to watch long videos, and that bite-sized chunks can work better. But feel it will be an excellent record of an event though so proceeding.
Update: keynote herself said she didn't like long clips!
(Full video recordings will be available shortly)

Setting up
John Parkinson (back - e-Learning Support) &
Mike Mimirinis (front - e-Learning Academic Development)

Registration and welcome

Welcome from Professor Margaret House, Middlesex University

The quad filling up with conference delegates
(click to enlarge)

Registered, got my goody bag and badge... Now? Relax...
Ready for Tara Brabazon's Keynote "Digital Dieting: a guide through information obesity"

The Two Steve's

Steve Chilton (Manager of the
e-Learning Academic Development Team, CLQE)and Steve Wheeler (Keynote at The Middlesex University Annual Learning and Teaching Conference)

Steve Wheeler's keynote slides

Monday, 28 June 2010

Final preparations

Expecting the Middlesex University Quad to be over-flowing with eager delegates tomorrow for the 10th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference - Engaging the Digital Generation In Academic Literacy.

It's going to be hot but we will have the air-conditioned heaven of HG19 to escape to for the keynote speakers - Tara Brabazon, Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) and William Wong.

Registration and coffee will be from 9.25am

Friday, 25 June 2010

Contributing to the ALTCMU

We hope that if you tweet and/or use a mobile phone to send sms messages you will contribute to our conference blog.

The hashtag for the conference is #altcmu. Make sure you include this in any tweets you post about the day for them to be picked up. We will be displaying the conference tweets on a screen in the Ricketts Quad during the day.

If you would like to make a comment by sms start your message with cetmu and send to 07786204949

We will be taking photos throughout the day and asking delegates (video) for their thoughts and comments regarding the keynotes and sessions they attend.

Countdown to ALTCMU

It is almost time for the Middlesex University Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. This years theme is ENGAGING THE DIGITAL GENERATION IN ACADEMIC LITERACY.

Looking forward to meeting you all via sms and tweet if not in person.

Annual Learning Teaching and Conference delegate bags