As an example of communication and collaboration, I would like to discuss a collaborative TEL project on using video for reflective assessment of professional skills. The project involved myself and a lecturer from my institution.
As part of a Modern Patisserie Techniques module in BA Food and Professional Cookery course at the University of West London, students are required to give a 10-minute demonstration of their skills in pastry techniques and submit a critical reflection on their performance, based on video recordings of their presentations and written instructor- and peer-feedback.
My collaboration with the lecturer involved identifying the best way of producing the recordings and sharing them quickly and securely with the students. This required careful planning and collaboration in identifying the technological and pedagogical requirements for the assessment process. In particular, we needed to develop a workflow that would allow the tutor to share individual recordings with the students in a straightforward and not too time-consuming manner.
The main purpose of our cooperation was to replace the old process whereby students’ presentations were recorded using an external camera and made available to students on USB sticks, which posed various problems related to transferring video files from a portable device to a PC and then to students’ USB sticks one at a time, USB sticks being misplaced, files corrupted etc.
After considering various available options, we decided to use Panopto lecture capture software the University already has in place. This eliminated or at least minimised some of the issues that had been experienced previously. The videos are uploaded to a Panopto folder automatically, saving time, and are available for viewing almost immediately. The file sharing, if done correctly, complies with data protection and confidentiality.
Communication and collaboration
The project involved a lot of discussions about the expectations and requirements for the project. To keep track of our discussions, I created a file on the University’s OneDrive for Business platform, which was updated regularly following our meetings and other relevant actions like tests and research.
The images below are examples of notes produced as a follow-up to our meetings and discussions (click the images to access a larger version – opens in a new window).
One of the outcomes of the project was a presentation we co-delivered at the Panopto Regional Conference in Derby on the 11th of July 2016 (this page provides a screenshot of the programme). We worked on the presentation together, sharing the PPT through OneDrive. The slides from the presentation are attached below.
My discussion of this experience has also been published on UWL INSTIL’s informED blog.
We are planning to take the project further next academic year, with a larger number of students and some improvements to the video sharing process.
Upon reflection, the communication on this project was successful as evidenced by achieving the objectives: creating and sharing the videos with students effectively, simplifying access to the videos (no complaints from students, 100% assessment submission rate) and producing academic resources – a conference presentation and a practice-sharing blog entry. I believe that the combination of face-to-face meetings followed by updating notes in the shared file as well as asynchronous communication such as emails and sharing resources and ideas through OneDrive proved very beneficial for achieving the objectives
Face-to-face interaction proved especially effective at the earlier stages of the project when clarity about the objectives and challenges was paramount. We met regularly to catch up on the progress and new ideas, and test the equipment and the workflow. These meetings were crucial for moving the project forward since we used them as the milestones when particular parts of the project needed to be completed.
Electronic communication, especially registering all interactions in a written form, proved invaluable for keeping track of the progress, motivating each other and exchanging ideas. Using OneDrive for Business was a very easy way to share files and update the project file, to which we could refer to refresh our memories and check at which stage we were in the project and what else needed to be done. All relevant ideas, research and notes related to the project were stored in one place, thus minimising the risk of losing important material.
We were lucky we had the possibilities to meet face-to-face, however similar collaboration could be possible using Skype or similar tools. What this experience has taught me is that it is crucial to keep track of conversations, meetings, issues discussed and problems encountered, in order to avoid misunderstandings and to make sure all relevant thoughts and ideas are registered and revisited when needed. This example also shows that successful collaboration between academics and learning technologists/academic developers is an excellent way of enhancing the learning experience, sharing good practice and exploring new avenues in learning and teaching.