Jing-tastic; Audio visual tool

During a summer of local and international educational development workshops ‘Jing’ has had many outings. I was struck to see how this really simple facility never fails to make people say – “wow, I can really use that”. It’s a low ceiling technology with transformative potential. From my summer ‘tour’ here are some thoughts on how Jing can be used productively by those involved in teaching and supporting learning.

Formative feedback – an assignment walk through
As described here and also by Russell Stannard , Jing can be used to offer feedback on actual assignment work by enabling a visual-voice combination to be used. Feedback can be given and related to the assignment on screen. Early signs are that this approach is widely enjoyed by students who particularly value the ability to play and replay the feedback; the personal tones of the feedback; and, the privacy and convenience of getting the feedback in a location that suits them.

Best bits and “no no’s”(one to many feedback)
To feed forward and enable one group to learn from another, Jing can be a way of presenting good practice and things to avoid. This needs a little care to avoid showing individuals up, but with careful doctoring any ethical issues can be avoided! This can be used as a group feedback method, and can be a useful interim form of feedback when individual comments can’t be provided in time to be useful for the next assessment. Such videos can be added to the VLE or sent direct to students.

In addition to providing feedback, Jing can assist with directly facilitating corrections. This, I find, is particularly helpful with very specific and detailed tasks. The visual element can help enable the recipient to use tools to make future changes. An example would be a student who has issues with alignment being shown how to use the facility in Word, which shows the spaces and tab marks. In discussion with colleagues I am advised that the same principles may carry to correction of language or sentence structure.

Peer feedback
Lots of attention s being given to teacher led Jing feedback, but this is freeware and as a result can be easily utilised for students giving peer to peer feedback. This might even help with communication skills and confidence.

Summative feedback – a tour of the mark sheet
Students have fed back their desire to know how marks have been allocated. One way this can be brought about is through the use of Jing to discuss the mark itself; perhaps by the tutor talking through the feedback sheet, one section or outcome at a time. In this way Jing can be a useful complementary technology.

A reflective tool for students (an audio layer in the battle against plagiarism)
One of the ways we can mitigate plagiarism, and encourage learners to reflect on their learning processes, is through the inclusion of an annotated bibliography in any assignment. As an alternative, perhaps catering for different styles and preferences, students could review their own assignment and create a walk through of any difficult points, any areas that they feel could be improved and any things they would do different in future. They could also comment on how they found particular readings cited in their work.

Recalling assumptions (project management tool)
As part of my role is project management, Jing also helps with remembering what we did and why. A two minute voice over on a spreadsheet means that when we go back and think how on earth did we arrive at x, y or z, that we have the detail captured from the moment. Jing is now, therefore, becoming a favourite of accountants and data managers as well as teachers!

Apps 2012


As I have progressed through my EdD my ways of working have got a little smarter. There are four apps that have served me well in 2012 for supporting my studies …

1. Reminders (so in the hours where I have too much to do I can remember what they were!)

2. Good Reader – managing my online library downloads and annotating my reading without reams of paper. By far the best reading app I have found (still).

3. Good notes – high levels of functionality, a great jotter and annotator – good for generating diagrams and mapping out thoughts.

4. Splashtop – allows my desktop (including Endnote) to be fully functional from my ipad or phone. Excellent when not wanting to be stuck at my desk.

Two more fab apps (not study related)  for 2012 have been

5. Screenchomp – Jing for the ipad – great for audio visual feedback for students and again this means there is no need to be desk bound.

6. Spelling – my best parenting app! So the kids can input the spelling list for the week and then run the tests until the spellings stick. Very motivational for kids who hate spelling.

Jing – Better late than never

Having used Captivate for screen capture I never really saw the need for any other software of this type. However I have been experimenting with Jing, after seeing it used by Russell Stannard, and I have been mightily impressed! Essentially this super simple software allows you to take a video of your screen with the ability to add real time audio, and then with a one click upload the video is placed in to a cloud space, thus generating an access URL for sharing. Super quick, super intuitive! As a cross platform user it is helpful to be able to use a single cloud account to upload from my different machines and without the need for Mac and PC licenses at a high cost.

So far I have used it to create a video of where to find information within our intranet and have created a ‘catch up TV’ screen cast for those unable to attend a face to face session last week.It is so easy to use; I have no hesitation now about using this to facility to offer formative feedback students submitting draft work.

Jing in action
Jing in action screenshot

Opinion on markets


There is an enormous amount of recoiling in horror going on tonight about the marketisation of higher education. It has been coming for some time – this should not be an unexpected theme – the emphasis on QA, market engagement, the increased importance of publicising the nutritional information of courses (to aid choice), massification and the simultaneous creep of fees, along with the rise of technology enhanced learning has has prepared the way for this move. This is perhaps not due to one or another government acting alone but more the global patterns unfolding.

There is an ever important global HE market with satellite campuses sought, internationally recognisable brands that look like their own state economies, transnational e-learning partnerships, niche network provision and the rise of highly efficient private universities, Laureate and Kaplan to name only two. We can press on and play or become an island but we cannot stop these trends.

UK universities have amazing attributes, but I fear some are sluggish, bureaucratic, compliant structures that have too many masters, a culture of short-termism that is not concomitant with long-term sustainability, and some follow scent trails of funding at the expense of losing site of the bigger picture. Critical thinking in leadership in some, not all, institutions is hampered by ‘playing the game’ and a culture of fads. These are the conditions of the system and are not individual defects!

Much of the concern will evolve from fear and a step in to the unknown. Tonight the bbc is asking threat or opportunity?

Some recent (albeit limited) personal insight into working with a private university gives me great hope! In studying with a private university, as a critical consumer, I have no suspicion of an alternative agenda or poor quality. Far from it. I have encountered amazing support, unprecedented organisation and attention to detail, a student experience from which many state funded institutions could well learn heaps. I don’t suspect an alternative agenda because their agenda is clearly twofold – profit and quality.

This opinion is not meant to rubbish current provision in any way. Uk provision has great integrity, tradition and freedom. But we cannot ignore the Market emerging globally whether through online transnational systems or HE permitting in China. Challenging, but very interesting times ahead.

The institutional development of ‘online’

I have been reading a paper by Orr, Williams and Pennington (2009) and it struck a chord with a recent project that I have been peripherally involved in. The paper analyses staff perceptions around the motivating factors for online engagement and the development online teaching. I wasn’t surprised by the paper but thought some points were worth noting given the fit with current work, summary of key points from the paper below with interspersed comment.

Compensation is well received by staff for development work but is not the primary motivator for work. Those who were going to engage would engage anyway, with or without compensation.
LA. Agree, Compensation isn’t the primary motivator but it is welcome and may help staff prioritise this work over other less essential activities as compensation recognises the value of the work undertaken. It can, I think, facilitate the completion of work as it adds a degree of obligation.

The complexity of web tools emerging means that a facilitating technical team is important for staff engagement; it’s a lot to ask staff to be discipline and technical experts, however some academics will want to fulfil both roles to keep control
LA. No doubt this is true, having seen a facilitating team in action recently such staff enable the translation of ideas and are able to facilitate outputs, such a team needs good pedagogic and technical skills. Fortunately and unfortunately I am probably in the controlling academic side as I wish to keep my hand-in with the technology, that said, a strong technical development team provide a mini- community of practice to raise standards.

Institutional leadership was uber-important for staff buy-in and for staff to feel that their work was valuable
LA: Inevitably so. At an event I attended recently where a management team had openly supported online development the staff seemed to present outputs very proudly and with a belief that their work was totally valuable.

It’s critical for departments to align with institutional goals. Where departments only tolerate staff engaging in online the motivating effect of institutional goals will not be fulfilled.

The primary motivator for staff engagement in online work is concern for student experience and in response to student need.
LA: Agree, but as the early adopters spread and champion, the other factors provide the conditions to make online happen.

Barriers are only barriers when staff begin their journey, thus motivation is always the key.

Orr, R.,Williams, M.R. and Pennington, K. 2009. Institutional efforts to support faculty in teaching. In Innovations in Higher Education. 34. 257-268.

Patchwork discussions

Really interesting to catch up with Kevin Brace earlier in the week. Kevin, based at Aston, and I met up to explore ideas about patchwork text (or, more accurately patchwork media) on the back of some ALT mail list exchanges.

Thoughts arising and articulated through our discussions ….

·      Patchwork media is about process and not just product (a focus on the produce dis-aggregates the learning).

·      Patchwork approaches are inseparable from the belief that learning is a journey constructed and are inseparable from social processes and dialogue.

·      Curriculum design and assessment design are inseparably interwoven for maximum impact.

·      Grading reflective portfolios is a messy business but can be made more simple by focusing on the meta-level attributes.

·      Buy-in to patchwork needs to be [sometimes, heavily] facilitated and does not just happen.

·      Templates for patchwork can be practical and solve a whole range of potential issues around logistics, hand-ins, learner scaffolding and perceived parity; however templating approaches may be as stifling as they are enabling.

·      Do not get consumed by the media! Encourage patch creators to think critically about their media choices and critically review choices in the light of experience. (How does this stack up with some marking ruberics?)

·      Attempting to create or re-create patchwork approaches from other study programmes may be extremely difficult as the nature of patchwork is that it is very much shaped by the subtleties of implementation (e.g. strategies for peer review, the place of technology, the immersiveness of facilitators, the use of structured vs. open patches). Perhaps better is to create a context relevant and practically achievable version of the approach.

·      Despite very many worthy efforts the use of rather cumbersome e-portfolio tools can perhaps, sometimes, act as a barrier to plain old discussion and sharing – simplicity in tools may be under-rated.

patchwork elephant


An approach to graduate development for employer engagement

We have been developing a series of online modules that may be combined to form a postgraduate certificate, a postgraduate diploma or even an MSc. One of the core modules is summarised in this ‘walk through’ along with details of how the module may be used and customised by employers or professional bodies to make it their own. The same principles apply to all the modules in the suite.
Modules are provided with generic resources maybe taken and customised to the employers requirements thus providing a bespoke graduate programme .

Find out more by downloading the explanatory document.

Professional Studies – A graduate development approach