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Open access showcasing platform and the UKPSF

I have spent most of my career as a web programmer and digital developer. My teaching responsibilities have increased over the years and these things can cross over and weave together to support students. Creative Hive is a web platform that I developed to support students to create a blog and website to showcase their work. This project I believe ties in varying degrees with the UKPSF Areas of activity A1, A2, A3 and A4,K2 and K4, V2 & V4. These alignments came largely from help and support from staff and students to shape and inspire the project.

We have effectively created a community of practise (Wenger, 2007) consisting of staff and students that use Creative Hive for teaching and learning. I consulted members of this community with regards to its use and alignment with the UKPSF. I recorded a few thoughts on this subject but as the quality was not good I have included a Slideshare below. 

Creative Hive was developed originally in response to staff and student feedback. The platform has been particularly popular over the last few weeks and now approaches 1000 members, most of whom are Salford students. The original conception for the project was to allow students to showcase their work both on the web and in the virtual world of Second Life. The virtual world element never really took off. Denielsen (2009, p.7) discusses how Second Life has been used effectively for teaching and learning in over 190 HE institutions worldwide. Embedding Second Life carefully into modules can lead to some positive results and engagement. I think virtual worlds could potentially further enhance some of my teaching and ILO’s pedagogically. I’ve reflected in my previous post about using synchronous technologies like Collaborate in my sessions and virtual worlds can offer additional reflective and experiential learning (Moon, 2004). The video below shows Second Life in action from a launch gathering of students and others.

In 2011 I wrote a paper about what motivated people to join The Hive. I undertook a survey of the things that motivated students to join Creative Hive of their own accord (Fenton, 2011). Results concluded that students at the time were motivated to join and set up an advert free showcase of their work and connect with other people working beyond graduation. At that time I was not involved with teaching and consequently, I had not really considered how the project may benefit teaching and learning. I had effectively built a car but the car had no driver.

Providing an opportunity for students is only part of the real challenge – an experience without reflection and feedback is a somewhat empty experience. (Stephenson, 2001)

Having two years of teaching under my belt and an LTHE module has really helped my perspective on this. At that time, Creative Hive was purely an optional tool for students and if they were setting up a website, they were often choosing other more established and well known routes. Some of the pedagogic and operational advantages of Creative Hive over other platforms for teaching and learning are

  • it is simple to use, supported technically
  • open access
  • not time limited
  • free to use
  • allows a variety of multimedia to be embedded
  • allows group pages of students (example) to be set up.

These reasons have attracted several tutors around the University to trial out Creative Hive for activity and assessment within modules meaning that entire cohorts have been joining and using the system. I have run several workshops for students on digital literacy and showcasing work on-line using Creative Hive.

Creative Hive has been used and backed by our University, but it is not officially supported. This is also true of many other technologies used in HE. I wondered if this is in some conflict with the standards of The Quality Assurance Agency. For example, what is the contingency plan if these systems fail (QAA, 2011 P.59). This is a broader question raised once technology is embedded into modules – what is the Plan B and something that I will research and reflect on more over the coming weeks. Creative Hive really is aimed at widening participation (UKPSF v1-v4). It is open to people who are not currently studying at our University and also designed to work for people with disabilities. Beetham (2007 p.140) in a study of disabled users and technology notes that support for online learning materials that are tested to be accessible is crucial for people with disabilities. It is also a legal requirement to  make materials accessible to all.

Weaving into modules helps to address the issue of providing an empty experience (Stephenson, 2001). There are more opportunities for research, teaching and learning around Creative Hive both as a synchronous and asynchronous tool. My intention is continue to use and support this platform whilst it is pedagogically sound to do so. In other instances, I have opted to use other alternatives where they are a better match for the learning outcomes of a course. Ultimately, it is vital to choose the correct technologies to support pedagogy, operational aspects and learning outcomes and avoid creating an empty experience.

creative_hive_motivations

References

Beetham, H. & Sharpe, R. (Eds.). (2007). Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age. (London, Routledge).

Danielsen, J and Deutschmann, M (2009). Learning and Teaching in the Virtual World of Second Life. Tapir Academic Press

Fenton, A (2011). Beyond the closed e-portfolio: Designing for the digital curation of professional identities for lifelong learning , in: Education in a Changing Environment (ECE) 6th International Conference : Creativity and Engagement in Higher Education, 6 – 8 July 2011, The University of Salford

Moon, J (2004). A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning , Routledge Falmer, London

Stephenson, J (2001). Teaching & Learning Online: Pedagogies for New Technologies. Stylus Publishing, Inc., 22883 Quicksilver Dr., Sterling, VA 20166-2012, 2001.

The Higher Education Academy (2012). UK Professional Standards Framework. Retrieved 02/10/13 from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education (2010).
Collaborative provision and flexible and distributed learning,. Retrieved 06/11/13 fromhttp://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Documents/collab2010.pdf

Wenger, Etienne (2007) ‘Communities of practice. A brief introduction’.Communities of practice [http://www.ewenger.com/theory/. Retrieved 26/11/13].

Alex Fenton

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