Hartpury shouts about successes in online innovation to illustrious IT crowd!


There’s probably no bigger stage to shout about innovation online than the International World Wide Web Conference – the place where Google was unveiled to the globe!

And Hartpury University Centre had the opportunity to join world leaders in technology at the prestigious 2016 conference in Montreal, Canada, which was led by keynote speaker Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the world wide web, and also featured Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, the vice principal of the Open University who set up lastminute.com

Hartpury’s paper on the online training tool piloted successfully with higher education staff was one of only 16% of submissions accepted for the conference.

Head of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at Hartpury, Kate Mori, presented the paper at the ‘Teaching the Web’ strand of the conference. It set out how Hartpury had used a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to boost the knowledge and the resources available to lecturers through blended learning, supporting them to enhance their teaching.

A MOOC is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions.

While many universities and colleges use MOOCS, these are generally used by students to support remote learning and to form online communities with other students. Hartpury University Centre is among the first to use MOOCS for staff development.

At Hartpury, 16 lecturers signed up for the five-week course, which involved around four hours of participation a week. They took part in a focus group after three weeks and then had individual interviews about their experience at the end of the course. These lecturers included Jane Williams (pictured).

As part of the MOOC, lecturers used the ‘Padlet’ app to set up online communities where they and their students could create and collaborate with others – from other students to academics and people in industry.

Kate said: “The use of Padlet enables instant sharing of journals, articles, blogs and videos that helped bring learning to life in and out of the classroom.

“We trialled it in lectures with Animal Science and Sport students and they absolutely loved it. It’s basically a massive resource board, it’s entirely relevant to them and it’s such an interactive way of teaching and learning.

“As well as enabling students to drive the direction and content of the session, it can be used for research prior to lectures and then saved for future reflection. It also encourages input from the outside world, including employers and other industry specialists. It’s a platform for students to showcase their skills and potential to future employers but also to an academic community they could collaborate with for research.

“Using a MOOC is perfect for staff training as they can pick from a massive pool of resources to create something that works for them to support their teaching and their own development.

“It’s personalised to them, it can be specific to their subject area and it can fit around their other commitments. Plus it helps them stay up to date with the very latest knowledge and developments in their field and with the latest technology.

“The pilot has definitely given us food for thought when it comes to how we take staff development forward but also opportunities for expanding our blended learning as a whole. This approach is particularly beneficial for postgraduate students, especially those combining study with their careers, as their time on campus is limited.”

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