Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Thing 10 - Viewpoints

After completing Thing 10
  • You will know what Viewpoints is all about
  • You will have reflected on how it can be useful for you
  • You will have tried applying it to one of your own courses
What is Viewpoints?

Viewpoints is a tool developed by the JISC-funded curriculum design project at the University of Ulster. The tool can be used during or at the end of a course/lecture/module/term in order to assess and improve it..., or it can also be used before designing a new course/lecture/module... in order to help you focus on different (pedagogical) principles.
In order to do that, Viewpoints makes usage of a set of cards, divided into different categories (Assessment & Feedback, Information Skills, Learner Engagement, Creativity in the Curriculum).

Different sets of Viewpoint cards

Each category exists out of a set of cards which basically represent different specific aims, objectives or activities that can be undertaken to fulfill that pedagogical principle and that you could consider including in your curriculum. Each card can also be turned over, which uncovers a whole set of practical activities that can be done in order to reach that goal.

Click on the following links to have a look at the (front and back of the) different sets of cards:

Assessment & Feedback cards

Information Skills cards

Learner Engagement cards

Creativity in the Curriculum

How is it used?

There's the original idea of Viewpoints, which is using a set of paper cards. However, that paper version is not always easy to work with as it involves a lot of printing and lots of note taking etc. Therefore, CARET also made an online prototype version (so still a bit of work in progress) of those same cards.
Although there's the difference between paper and digitalised cards, the method and overall idea is still the same.

The Viewpoints cards are intended to be used during a collaborative exercise where a group of people related to the same course (course organisers, lecturers, and perhaps even other people) would sit around a table with 1) all the sets of cards spread out over the table, and 2) an A1 print out of a timeline worksheet. This timeline allows people to divide the course/package they're focusing on, into different time slots; these headings on the timeline could be in weeks (e.g. Week 1 or Week 1-5), by mentioning the terms (Michaelmas,...), by mentioning the name of the Module,... and so on.

The people around the table would then discuss and come to an agreement of what the different aspects should be that have to be included, following these steps:
  1. Explore, discuss and decide on cards
    The front side of all the cards are spread out over the table (somewhat clustered together), as well as the big timeline worksheet.
    First of all, the information on the timeline should be filled out (i.e. deciding what the different time definitions should be; weeks/ terms/ module name etc).
    Then the different cards should get explored by the members and by collaboratively brainstorming, the different cards get decided (e.g. one could choose to have 'Give assessment choice', and 'Encourage interaction and dialogue' and so on.)
    At the same time, these cards can already be connected to a specific timeslot (e.g. members could decide that it's better to have 'Encourage interaction and dialogue' in 'Week 2-5' for example).

  2. Turn over cards and decide on activities
    Once decided on the main 'action points' (i.e. the different cards and those being linked to a time slot), the selected cards get turned over.
    On the back of each card there's an overview of practical activities and tips you can undertake in order to achieve that main 'action point'.
    Again it's good if the participants collaborate, discuss and decide which activities should be selected for that action point. Realistically, you probably won't select all of the activities/tips, but probably about 3-5 maximum.
    As it's a discussion, it's possible the team decides to leave some cards out after all, and it's good to prioritise the activities too; i.e. which of the activities/tips will you do first or are more important?

  3. Collect activities and action points into a workable checklist
    You probably want to note down all these points where you'll be drawing attention to.
    The paper version of the Viewpoints cards is somewhat cumbersome because you would now need to write down everything in a workable checklist, which you can then afterwards incorporate into your other course documents.
    The online version is much easier in that aspect that it automatically collects the set of information you ticked and saved into a printable document.
Have a look at some Flickr pictures taken during such a workshop to get an idea how those steps work in real life.

Step by step instructions

The online version is still a prototype, which means not everything is there yet (for example, only the 'Assessment and Feedback' category is in there at the moment) and some things might not work smoothly enough for you yet.
Therefore, we'd like to hear how it works for you and what should definitely improve on the overall ideas. Ideally this whole Viewpoints exercise should be carried out as a group exercise as in reality, a curriculum won't be changed by just one person but by a whole group of people who're involved. However, for this exercise and just for you to get an idea of it, it's already useful to explore it on your own.
  1. Visit the online version of Viewpoints cards here.
  2. Imagine you'd like to change the curriculum design for your course/ module / lecture..., or you could think of an old one which could need some improvements.
    Fill out the arrangement (which basically stands for the name of the 'course/ project/ module etc').
  3. You'll now land on the arrangement tab, which is the place where you'll do the main bit of the exercise: defining the timeslots (terms/ weeks/ modules), choosing the cards by dragging and dropping them into the appropriate timeslot.
    Don't turn over the cards yet; this stage is really first about deciding on the big action points.
  4. Now turn over the cards, explore the different activities/tips and select the ones which are appropriate or which you think should defintely be included. Realistically, you'll probably just select about 3-5 items per card as selecting all the items isn't feasible.
    At this stage you can also still decide to leave out some cards by deleting them, if you think they're probably not appropriate after all.
    You can also drag an drop the cards, as well as the individual activities on the back of the cards, into the right order (i.e. the most important ones could be dragged to the top).
  5. Click the Finish button. You'll now see a checklist of all the items you selected. You can also save and print them out if you want.
If the steps above are not clear enough, you might want to look at the following demonstration of Viewpoints Online:

Blog Thing 10

Below are again some questions about this Thing.
As Viewpoints cards exists in a paper version as well as an online version, we'd like you to review the whole Viewpoints idea, with particular focus on the online version and how that could be improved. Feel free to give your honest feedback on any usability issues/problems or vague wording...things that confused you on the online version; or give a comparison for each...whatever suits you best.
  1. What do you think of the ideas behind Viewpoint cards?
    What was your impression (of the idea as well as the online version)?
  2. In what way do you see this being useful to you as a course organiser? Would you consider using it (either the cards or the online version) when you would (re)design a course?
  3. Using the online Viewpoints cards, did you find it illuminating or frustrating?
    Are there any ways you would change it to better reflect what you want to do (e.g. wording, whole idea or concepts that don't work for you)?
  4. What tools do you currently use when (re)designing a course? How do you compare Viewpoints with those you're already using?
If you're interested...
  • Currently the online prototype has the biggest category in there (Feedback & Assessment).
    Have a look at the other sets of cards as well, which you'll find in the beginning of this blogpost.
    Do these sets (and the specific activities and hints at the back of the cards) make sense to you? Do you think they're useful for you or Cambridge needs?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Thing 9 - CamTools

After completing Thing 9
  • You will know what CamTools is all about (if you didn't already)
  • You will have tried out some tools within CamTools & have reflected on how they can be useful for you
  • You will have tried to embed some of the previous Things in your CamTools site
What is CamTools?

CamTools is a Virtual Learning Environment or platform used at the University of Cambridge; it's a collection of online tools to help you communicate and share materials with selected students, researchers, administrators, other lecturers, college groups and so on, by building up password-protected 'sites'. CamTools is based on the Sakai software, developed in collaboration with other Universities worldwide. This means you might recognise the functionalities in platforms other Universities are using as well, but maybe with a slightly different look, branding and so on.

The CamTools log in page: use the Raven button if you're a University member

Once logged in, you'll see your CamTools Dashboard with an overview of Sites you're a member of

An example of a site after entering it

People who have a Raven account can create a new site in CamTools to share lecture materials and information with students, fellow supervisors and lecturers, create a project site to collaborate with colleagues within a college or the University. You can also invite collaborators from outside Cambridge University to join your site, or make sites available for any Cambridge University member to join.
Although CamTools isn't focusing on Curriculum Design in the first instance, we wanted to introduce this to you in this programme anyway because CamTools is something that most Cambridge University members are already familiar with, and because we want to give you the opportunity to invest how CamTools can actually be used in a better way for curriculum design purposes.

How is it used?

When using CamTools, you might want to use it for different purposes. In order to answer that need, CamTools uses a functionality called 'Tools'. As there are different needs, there are also different Tools, such as the Files tool (to upload, download, share different kinds of files and resources), the Wiki tool (where you can type up any kind of text), the Forum tool, Blogs, Polls, and so on.

When focusing on Curriculum Design specifically, there are again some Tools that might be used to better meet that need. For example, if you would wish to organise and share course preparations with other lecturers, you could use the Files or Resources tool for that; or if you would wish to type up some preparations and some of your pedagogical practices, you could keep a record of that in the Wiki.
as well keep a record of that in the Wiki. You could also add some of the Things that you've been introduced to during the 13Things programme into a site.

Have a look at the following video of how you could use CamTools to fulfill some curriculum design needs:

Step by step instructions

We've created a CamTools test site for each of you (more information about it below), which means you can try out anything you like in this site; if there aren't any members added to your site, you will be the only one to see the things you're doing with it. If you already have a CamTools site with students added to it (e.g. for your course), then this is the way to try out some tools without them seeing it!
  1. Visit CamTools here
  2. Log in using your Raven account (as you're a member of the University, you should have a Raven account but if you don't have one, let us know).
    (Hint: if you're having problems logging in, have a look at this Tutorial)
  3. Once logged in, you should arrive on your Dashboard where you'll find a list of your Courses and Projects. Go and find the test site that we've set up for each of you (with the name '13 Things test site - your crsID ). Don't be surprised there isn't that much in your site: it's just a default set of tools and it's up to you to populate it with things you like.
    Get yourself familiar with this CamTools site and with CamTools in general (Dashboard etc) if you haven't used it much before.
  4. There are different tools you can try out, but for this task we'll just guide you through some of which we think might be of interest for curriculum design.

    Say you want to have some of the 13Things added to your CamTools site because they are an easy way to quickly assess some aspects of your course; you can add those websites to your CamTools site.

    The way to do that is the following:
    • Click on the title of your specific test site
    • Click on 'Site Info' on the left side
    • Click 'Edit Tools' in the top bar and now click 'Web Content' in the list
      (if you would want to have more tools added to your site, you can just tick those you want), click continue.
    • Add the URL of the website you want to add (e.g. the Pedagogy Profile Widget, http://www.rjid.com/open/pedagogy/html/pedagogy_profile_1_2.html), and fill in the Title as you want it to appear in your CamTools site navigation on the left (e.g. Pedagogy Profile Widget).
    • Click the 'More Web Content Tools' drop down if you wish to add even more sites and do the same thing as you did for the previous website. (e.g. you could do the same for Phoebe http://www.phoebe.ox.ac.uk/, CloudWorks http://cloudworks.ac.uk/ and the other online tools we've come across).

  5. Imagine you would want to have those Web Content Tools (i.e. Phoebe, Cloudworks etc) in your site in order to manage your curriculum design for each course in an easy and quick way (so that you wouldn't need to access each individual website separately), but you wouldn't want your students or other members of your site to see those Web Content Tools in your site if they're also member of that CamTools site.
    In order to do that, you can 'hide' some tools in CamTools, so that only the maintainers of a site can see those tools but students can't.

    The way to do that is the following:
    • Click on 'Site Info'
    • Click on 'Page Order' in the top bar
    • Click on the yellow light bulbs next to the name of the tools you would want to hide for non-maintainers
    • Click 'save'

  6. Other Tools you might be interested in, are 'Files' or 'Resources' (both are for uploading, downloading, sharing files and resources, but Resources is for slightly more advanced usage), and the Wiki tool. Have a look at those tools as well and play around with them.
    (Hint: Have a look at the Files Tool Tutorial if you're having problems using it, and have a look at the Wiki Guide if you're having problems using the Wiki Tool. We don't expect you to investigate it in such a thorough way, but you can do if you want to).
Blog Thing 9
  1. What do you think of the ideas behind CamTools (Sakai)?
    What was your impression? If you already used CamTools before, did it change your opinion?
  2. In what ways do you see this being useful to you as a course organiser? (i.e specifically about the ability of letting you pull together and use various curriculum design tools?)
  3. What would you like to see from CamTools?
  4. What do you think of the possibility of having a specific CamTools site where lecturers and course organisers could share curriculum design outcomes, preparations and ideas? (e.g. a specific CamTools site that would allow you to do that?)
If you're interested...

During the 'Step by Step instructions', we just introduced you to some tools that could be useful for Curriculum Design. There are many more tools though, that could as well be useful for teaching in general.
  • Try out more of the other tools. If you only have other sites in CamTools where there are already many more members part of, this is a good opportunity for you to try out those tools without having other people seeing what you're doing with it.
    If you get stuck at some point and would need some help, have a look at the Help Tutorials or written guides.
  • If you want to know how students would see you site, and to check whether they really can't see the hidden tools, you can always add a 'fake user', by adding one of your own email addresses as a Friend user. By default, they would have most of the permissions set as a student would. You can try it out yourself how to do this, but if you're not sure how to do this, it's good to have a look at item 8.2 in the Administrator's Guide for CamTools.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Thing 8 - Compendium LD

After completing Thing 8
  • You will know what Compendium LD is all about
  • You will have reflected on how it can be useful for you
  • You will have tried applying it to one of your own courses

What is Compendium LD?

Compendium LD is one of the tools that has been developed by the Open University Learning Design Initiative. It's a tool for helping teachers and designers to create and visually represent their learning designs, using a technique that's based on visual mapping techniques such as mind maps, concept mapping and so on.
If you've never heard of one of these techniques, it's worth having a look at the Wikipedia page on mind mapping for a perfectly acceptable definition.

One of the key aspects of 'mapping techniques' is that it prompts users to think thoroughly about what they're writing down, which means, in theory, you would also think things through more when using Compendium LD.This visualisation tool also maps the items of your course in a non-lineair (brainstorm type of) way, which is quite different to other tools you might already be using.
An example of how Compendium LD could be used

How is it used?

Compendium LD is a software toolkit which means you have to download it in order to use it. The tool provides a set of icons to represent the components of actors (e.g. students, tutors, lecturers etc), who perform actions (i.e. learning tasks such as discussion,...), making use of tools (e.g. forums, wikis,...) and resources (e.g. course texts). These icons can be dragged and dropped, and connected to form a map of nodes.

An overview of some of the icons and how they can be used

Have a look at the video below to get an idea of how these icons and Compendium LD in general are used:

If the previous video is not making you any wiser, then you might have a look at the following presentation on SlideshareDoing More With Compendium Ld

Step by step instructions

  1. Visit Compendium LD here
  2. Download the Software toolkit by clicking on 'Download' on the left hand side.
    You'll have to fill out some contact information, but again don't worry about being spammed or anything; the Compendium LD team just wants to keep a record of who and why people are using it.
    (Hint: If you're having problems downloading the toolkit, have a look at their Help pages)
  3. Once having downloaded, open the Compendium LD toolkit.
    Have a look around and play around with the icons to get an idea of how to use the system.
    Hint: If you're not sure how to use it, have a look at the videos above, or at these documentation pages)
  4. Think of one of your (previous or upcoming) lectures (or courses) and try to use Compendium LD for preparing a lesson plan. Think of the roles, the different activities and so on. You don't have to click any 'Save' button as the system is saving automatically from time to time.

Blog Thing 8
  1. What do you think of the ideas behind Compendium LD? What was your impression?
  2. In what way do you see this being useful to you as a course organiser?
  3. Filling out one of your own Compendium LD course visualisations, did you find it illuminating or frustrating? Are there any ways you would change it to better reflect what you do?
  4. How do you compare it with other visualisation tools for curriculum design (e.g. compared to others introduced in this programme such as Course Map, Phoebe ... or others that you already use yourself)?
If you're interested...

If you're interested, there are some more sophisticated things you can do with Compendium LD.
  • Upload the visualisation you just made as an image.
  • You can also add the 'time aspect' to your visualisation by editing the version you just made, or by creating another one.
    The video on their Documentation section should give you an idea of what you can do more with it.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Thing 7 - Phoebe

After completing Thing 7
  • You will know what 'Phoebe' is for
  • You will have investigated Phoebe's built-in and user contributed design templates
  • You will have reflected on how useful it could be for you
What is Phoebe?

Phoebe is an online tool intended to encourage university teachers to explore new approaches and tools in their pedagogy.  It does this by providing online course design templates, which course designers fill out with the help of accompanying suggestions and examples.

The templates are basically forms, with a series of sections and text boxes into which information concerning aspects of the course is entered.  Each section and text box can have supporting information associated with it and displayed during editing to help the designer.  The built-in templates are mostly about design at the class or lecture level and draw on course design resources developed by the Phoebe team specifically to accompany them, but it is equally straightforward to link to other resources. 

The different templates are provided to suit different kinds of course and levels of detail.  Some are built in, but many have been created and shared by other course designers. 

To make a new course design, you choose an appropriate template, click the 'create new design' button and set about filling in the various text boxes, aided by the prompts and help text.  For this the screen is split in half, with the template on the right side and wiki pages on pedagogic practices on the left. Alternative views are available in case you prefer them to the split-screen layout. 

Phoebe could be helpful on a number of levels.  By requiring a particular set of fields a template can help designers break design problems down in a tractable way, make designs more comparable and explicit, and prompt designers to consider aspects they might have overlooked. 

Created at Oxford University, Phoebe is a prototype and is not being developed any further, but it is still live and usable.  The ideas and benefits of Phoebe could be obtained in a variety of other ways also, but being open source it would be possible to have a version just for Cambridge.

How is it used?

Don't let Phoebe's  overwhelmed by the wordiness of the Phoebe system, once you've understood what it's about, it's really not that hard. This is usually the case with many online systems anyway. Have a look at the video below to get an idea of how Phoebe is used:

Step by step instructions

  1. Visit Phoebe here
  2. So that you can create and save templates and learning designs create an account by clicking on Register/Login at the top of the page and filling out the various fields. You won't be spammed.
  3. Log in
  4. Click on 'Manage your design templates'. You'll see a section called 'Other's templates', which is the list of all the public design templates. Some of them are created by the Oxford Phoebe team, others are made by users and made public. 
  5. Chose one or more templates to try for yourself (you might be interested in 'Cambridge Course handbook').  Click the 'create a design based on this template' button for your favoured template.  You will be asked to give your new design a name and description and then you will be placed in the design environment, complete with support material.
  6. Try out the design editing environment for yourself.  Click the 'click for guidance', 'click for book' and 'click for example' buttons to call up associated help for each field.

Blog Thing 7
  1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of standard template forms with built-in help, as curriculum design tools?
  2. After having tried it yourself,  how did your impressions change?
  3. Which template(s) did you think were useful?  Would you consider creating a template yourself?
  4. If you looked at a new design using the Cambridge Course Handbook template, how well do you think it could the module design process, or to improve the consistency of module information, or both? 
  5. What are your thoughts about using a standard to share Cambridge (or your course) specific templates and designs; as a tool to share your learning designs?

If you're interested
  • Create a new design based on one of the templates and try using it to describe a course you are familiar with. When you're done, make it public and tell us its name in your blog.
  • Create a template yourself: specific to Cambridge or even to your course. When you're done, make it public and tell us its name in your blog.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Halfway hall

Halfway Hall is how students in Cambridge celebrate the mid-point of term, so in that jubilant spirit our most recent meetup marks Thing 7-and-a-half of our 13 curriculum design Things programme. It was great to catch up with six of our busy participants face to face.

Halfway hall in one of the newer colleges? http://www.flickr.com/photos/nico_/2683453892/

This was a informal meetup and the aim was to catch up on each others' thinking about the Things so far, let everyone know what's coming up next, and to get some feedback ourselves the programme so far.

There was a great discussion about the Things so far and how they might work at Cambridge, and we heard many things we haven't seen in the blogs yet, probably, it was suggested, because being able to discuss them face to face is much more stimulating.  If you're reading this and wondering whether to come to the next meetup, this is your notice that the meetups are the most useful bit!

We'll be including this feedback and discussion in our summary of feedback at the end of 13Things.

In terms of the pace of the programme so far not everyone has had time to keep up with two things a week, so we're going to add some extra time at the end so that there's a chance to catch when exam season is behind us.

Keep it up, and we look forward to more fascinating posts!

Thing 6 - BYO

After completing Thing 6
  • You will have shared and described a curriculum design Thing you're using yourself

What do we understand under this 'Bring Your Own' exercise?

During the previous weeks you already got to know 5 Things to do with curriculum design, and we'll introduce you to some more in the coming weeks.
But for this Thing, we're interested in curriculum design Things that YOU are already using.
This could be any kind of tool, system, resource, guide and so on that you're using to help you with your curriculum design.
Just like we've been describing the what and how of the previous Things, we'd be interested to understand what your Thing is about, and how it's being used as well.

What tools do you use to help with curriculum design?

Blog Thing 6
  1. What is your BYO curriculum design Thing that you choose to share with us?
    Describe what sort of Thing it is (tool, resource, guide, system etc), what it aims to do and how it's being used.
  2. How did you find out about this (via a colleague, through training session...)?
  3. Why is it particularly useful for you? What aspects are less useful (for you)?
  4. In what way do you you see it being useful for other course designers?
  5. Add a link / image / upload a version so it's clear what the Thing is and other participants can try it out as well.

If you're interested...

  • Are there more curriculum design tools that you're using? Don't hesitate to add them too!
  • Which of the previous Things you mentioned are most useful in what situation?
  • Do you know any tools that your colleagues are using which are worth mentioning?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Thing 5 - Pedagogy Profile

After completing Thing 5
  • You will know what the 'pedagogy profile widget' is all about
  • You will have tried applying it to one of your own courses
  • You'll know whether it can be useful for you

What is the 'Pedagogy profile widget'?

The 'pedagogy profile widget' is another way of visualising the make-up of a course, developed at the Open University. The tool is designed to help instructors analyse their course by collecting its many student activities into seven categories. The time assigned to activities in each category is summed, giving a bar chart which shows the spread of types of activities within the course. The categories are derived from a learning activity taxonomy developed by Prof. GrĂ¡inne Conole at the OU that characterises the types of tasks learners undertake into six types of learning activity, plus assessment:
  • Assimilative: attending and 'understanding' content, such as reading, viewing or listening
  • Information Handling: e.g. gathering and classifying resourcing or manipulating data
  • Communication: dialogic activities, e.g. pair dialogues or group based discussions
  • Productive: Construction of an artefact such as a written essay, new chemical compound, sculpture etc)
  • Experiential: practicing skills in a particular context or undertaking an investigation
  • Adaptive: use of modeling or simulation software
  • Assessment: diagnostic, formative or summative

How is it used?

It's an online system which means you but you can download the results as .jpeg, or print it out. You can also 'save the data' so that next time you visit the URL, the information is still visible in the same way. The aim of the tool is to give course designers a way to assess the balance of activities across different ways of engaging with the material, but also to get an overview of the total time spent engaged in each kind of activity, and to make courses comparable in these terms. It is intended to apply equally to courses in development and established courses.

Step by step instructions

  1. Visit the 'Pedagogy Profile Widget' here
  2. Try it out for your own course, or a part of it, e.g. a single unit or lecture. You could reflect on a single course from some weeks ago, on a whole lesson package from last term, or maybe even on a course or lesson package you're planning to give in the near future as way to assess it before actually lecturing. Each row represents a chunk of your course - you decide what size chunks you want to use, depending on the scale of the course you want to analyse. A Tripos Part might be best broken down by terms, a single lecture by minutes, a module by lectures and labs. You can give your chunks titles by clicking in the appropriate row headers on the left of the table (e.g. lesson 1: xxx). For each chunk you then fill in the amount of time spent in each type of activity. Units are whatever makes sense for you, but hours are often effective. Fill in each of the cells in the matrix. Click 'add' or 'delete' to vary the number of rows. Click update to see the completed profile. Profiles can be printed or saved as .jpegs and uploaded.
  3. Done! Now blog about what you think.


    Could be divided into weeks...

    or in modules...

    or in terms... or in whatever you think suits you best!

Blog Thing 5
  1. What do you think of the idea of 'pedagogy profile widget'?
  2. What do you think of dividing the rows into 'modules', 'terms' and so on; or do you think the original idea of using 'weeks' works best?
  3. How does it compare with any other methods you're using to balance learning aspects across the spread of activities etc?
  4. Filling out your own pedagogy profile, did you find it illuminating or frustrating? Are there any ways you would change it to better reflect what you do?
  5. In what ways do you see this being useful to you as a course designer?
If you're interested...
  • Add the .jpg of your own 'Pedagogy profile' to your blog post (hint: use the 'save as .jpg' button and afterwards upload it to your blog post using the 'image' icon in your blog )
  • Look up 'Pedagogy profile' on Cloudworks (here's a link) and share your response directly with the OULDI team there