Innovating Elearning 2009 – Facilitating part of the JISC online conferenceHE

I’m delighted to be involved in this year’s JISC Innovating Elearning 2009 Online conference which is entitled Thriving, not just surviving. This year’s conference theme reflects the challenges facing further and higher education in the 21st century and it will features keynotes by Charles Leadbeater, Nigel Paine, and ELESIG members Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharpe. There are a variety of other sessions under two themes, each running over two days.

I will be facilitating a session on 24th and 25th November in Theme 1: “Develop me! Support me! Engage (and retain) me!” with Becka Currant, Neil Currant, Neil McKeown.

The session is about the excellent work that’s been and is being done at Bradford to support and introduce new students to the University, before they arrive, as they arrive and as they settle in. A Ning social network has been used to encourage students to talk to one another and to staff during induction, as well as special eportfolio features and learning objects to ease transition.

Research has identified that the initial experiences of University can have a significant impact on subsequent student engagement (Tinto, 1995; Longden and Yorke, 2007). Work at Bradford and Bournemouth Universities has identified that students who make early contact with academic and social infrastructures are more likely to remain involved in their course (Currant and Keenan, 2008). To support this process, the University of Bradford has decided to use new technologies and e-learning during the crucial initial induction phase, as well as to support and improve student academic skills to aid retention. Social networking, e-portfolios and reusable learning objects have been used to create an integrated package (Develop Me!) of transition, induction and study skills support for students to complement the face to face work. This session provides an overview of the Develop Me! approach and highlights some of the extensive evaluation that has been conducted into the approach. Participants will also have the opportunity to find out more about a new digital storytelling initiative (called U-SED) which aims to capture students experiences as they happen and provide insight into the process of engagement.

I’m looking forward to a lively debate about ways to support students, especially those in transition, but also about the pros and cons of using social media technologies such as Ning to support education. And the methods used to find out what the stduents thought of it are a third interest.

Last I heard this was going to be the biggest JISC online conference ever.  If you come along, do drop into our discussion!

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