Thursday, 17 August 2017

What have YOU been doing this summer?

Me? Well, with Leo Havemann, I have spent a fair bit of time this summer putting together our long-awaited e-book, Assessment, Feedback and Technology: Contexts and Case Studies in Bloomsbury. The book is a amalgamation of the written outputs from the Bloomsbury Enhancing Assessment & Feedback project, which closed last year. The collection of research papers and case studies included offers a snapshot of the progress our Colleges have made in the processes around the Electronic Management of Assessment. This will (we hope) be of interest and real benefit to the education community at large.

The book will be freely available to download in the next few months - more details can be accessed here, including reserving a copy once it's available!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Working with learning technologies may mean that you have come across CMALT (Certified Membership of ALT), which is a portfolio-based professional accreditation scheme, usually completed within three to six months of registration. CMALT enables people whose work involves learning technology to:
  • have their experience and capabilities certified by peers
  • demonstrate that they are taking a committed and serious approach to their professional development.

More and more employers are now making the accreditation an essential or desirable criteria for learning technologist job specifications, since it demonstrates an individual is committed and places importance on his or her development as a learning technologist. It’s important however to note that the accreditation is not limited to learning technologists as the current cohort of CMALT candidates includes school teachers, researchers, technical support and teaching staff, administrators, managers, trainers, students, Further Education practitioners, consultants and lecturers from across the UK and a growing number of countries worldwide. You can find the list of current CMALT holders here.

As the E-Learning Officer at SOAS, I viewed the accreditation as a way to enhance my career prospects as well as gaining recognition of the work I have completed over a number of years across a number of universities. I was fortunate being part of a unique partnership to complete my portfolio with a cohort of colleagues from the local Bloomsbury Colleges (learn more). The Bloomsbury cohort was set up to assist and guide colleagues through each section over the course of six months from the initial introduction session.

Plan and set deadlines
During the six months, I worked through each section and collated as many examples as possible to provide evidence in each area. I aimed to have a draft ready to discuss with colleagues during our monthly face-to-face meetings, which helped to provide me with a set of mini deadlines.
Tip: don’t rush to submit your portfolio otherwise the assessors will just ask you to resubmit if sections are unclear or incomplete. Give yourself time to understand what is required using the guidelines, then collate evidence, write the sections and check your work.

Originally, I started by writing each section individually and then searched for examples to provide evidence of my practices however I found this method time consuming and tedious. So I decided to locate all the various pieces of evidence first and then brainstorm how each of them would fit into each section, which I found made it much easier. One of the areas that I remember struggling with at times is the reflection part which we all often neglect in this busy working life, so it was quite rewarding to take a step back and reflect how your practices have had an impact on teaching and learning.

Tip: go through your emails or ask people to send you a message as evidence if required. Provide screenshots, links to webpages, photos, videos etc. Ensure whatever you upload has the sufficient access privileges, i.e. not password protected.

Google sites and Google Docs
Although the guidance stresses that you can submit your portfolio in a number of forms ranging from Word document to a website; I found a useful Google sites CMALT template. I decided to use Google sites to present my portfolio as it was easy to use and I could utilise Google Docs to upload my evidence.

Tip: don’t spend all your time making your portfolio look nice as the assessor’s main marking criteria is the content. Make sure the sections are clearly labelled and navigation between them is obvious.

The future
I received my CMALT award on 5th August 2016; read my portfolio here.

CMALT registration remains valid for two years. After this point you will have to re-register if you wish to submit your portfolio. I have started collecting evidence in preparation for the validation of continuous professional development, which takes place three years after accreditation is awarded.
Tip: create a folder and save emails, screenshots etc so when you need to update your portfolio it will be much easier to draw upon the evidence contained here rather than having to search from scratch.

Twitter: @SOASBLETech 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

BLE Digital Student Tracker 2017

survey clipboard
Together with UCL, the BLE partner Colleges participated in the 2017 Jisc Digital Student Tracker Survey back in March of this year to collect feedback about our student's experiences of digital learning - both personally and at their respective Colleges. In total, 74 institutions across the UK education sector ran the Tracker, which elicited 22,593 individual student responses; while 10 international universities collected an additional 5,000 responses.

In Bloomsbury, the Tracker had to compete for student attention alongside other institutional surveys, such as the National Student Survey. This meant that the time available to run it was tight (only a month) and we therefore felt that since our individual sample sizes would be too small, we would join forces and conduct it as a consortium. It turned out that ours was the only consortium-approach in the UK. We treated the survey as a pilot and advertised it via a link on each College’s Moodle landing page as well as organising some social media promotion via the Colleges' library and student union Twitter and Facebook accounts. The survey generated 330 responses, which given our constraints was much more than we expected.

The survey comprised four broad areas: digital access, support, activities and learning. Most questions were quantitatively recorded, but there were four open questions, which produced qualitative data. We were also able to choose two additional questions to the survey, and we selected e-assessment, since that was a previous shared enhancement project (see and Moodle, since all members of the consortium use the platform for their Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Once the survey had closed and we were granted access to Jisc's national benchmarking report, we ran a workshop in July for representatives at each of the Colleges. It was during this session that we started to explore and analyse the results corresponding to the survey’s open questions. The workshop facilitated interesting discussions over commonalities and potential implications.

Moira Wright, UCL's Digital Literacy Officer and myself, have been working to produce a report
which will examine our collective responses to the survey in comparison with the national survey population. For confidentiality, each College will be presented with its own version of this document, containing the relevant data for their institution only and not the complete dataset. Each College will therefore be able to independently examine their own results in more detail. A disadvantage of the consortium approach was that we were not able to benchmark our individual Colleges against the national survey population as resources would not allow for this. In the future, the participating Colleges may wish to run the survey individually rather than as part of a collective as it was not possible to conduct deep analysis with this dataset.

Although the sample size collected by the Bloomsbury Colleges was small and not statistically viable, there is much we can extract and learn from this exercise. For the most part, our collective responses tended to fall within the margins set by the national survey population, which means we are all at a similar phase in our student’s digital capability and development.

In the next few weeks, the final report will be delivered to key members of staff within the Colleges - and we're hoping to make a generic version publicly available. For now, you are welcome to view the key findings from Jisc in this two page report, 'Student digital experience tracker at a glance' or the longer report, available here. Finally, you can see this collection of case studies, which features the Bloomsbury Colleges consortium, here.

Moira Wright
Sarah Sherman

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Are you one of the 1,000?

The first run of our 3-week MOOC, Get Interactive: Practical Teaching With Technology has almost come to an end. Over 1,000 teachers from all over the world* registered to find out how they can make their online courses more engaging and attractive to their students. By providing simple screencasts and materials clearly explaining a range of freely available learning technologies, we have helped participants try out new ways of interacting with their students in exciting, dynamic ways.

If you didn't sign up for the first run, fear not! The course starts again every 4 weeks - and you can enrol now for the next one, which starts on 29th May. By enrolling now, you'll get a head-start on the first week's materials.

For further information, see:

*Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar
, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, United Republic of Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States and Vietnam !!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Get In MOOC: Press Release

Get Interactive with new course about teaching with technology
For immediate release
21st April 2017

From 1st May, educators from universities, colleges and schools around the world will have the opportunity to learn how best to incorporate educational technologies into their teaching.

The Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) has co-designed the course Get Interactive: Practical Teaching with Technology, which will be delivered as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through Coursera. The course is a practical, hands-on introduction to teaching with technology, providing the opportunity to explore a range of tools and technology that support and engage students with dynamic and interactive learning experiences.

This course, which is available to educators worldwide, will help enable teaching professionals to stay up to date with the fast-paced technological world we live in. It is aimed at teachers, lecturers and instructors who have little experience using online tools and technology for teaching purposes but who have basic familiarity with the Internet and online learning environments.

The three week long interactive course consists of a series of video tutorials and activities which participants can work through at their own pace, with opportunities for discussion with their peers throughout.

Each week of the course focuses on a particular topic, and there is a weekly peer-reviewed assessment:

Week 1 – Enriching course content with multimedia:

·         The course will look at a variety of media that can be used to engage and excite students. These include creating images, videos and screencasts, and embedding Twitter feeds.

Week 2 – Student production of content: encouraging students to collaborate:

·         During this week, participants will explore how to encourage students to work together and actively participate in their learning.

Week 3 - Formative assessment and feedback:

·         In the final week of the course, participants will consider their experiences in the course and how they might adapt and develop their own practice.

Sarah Sherman, BLE Service Manager, said: “We are excited to launch our new course to help educators around the world take full advantage of the great technology we have available to us. This is a perfect opportunity to learn good practice and explore how to incorporate innovative methods into teaching, and engage students through technology.”

For more information about the course, visit: and to register, visit


Notes to Editors

Bloomsbury Learning Environment
·         The Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) is a shared e-learning service for six Higher Education institutions in central London, all of which are members of the University of London. The BLE is committed to innovating learning and teaching by sharing good practice in Technology Enhanced Learning and e-learning. It supports its partners by providing cost efficiencies, which are achieved by negotiating with software suppliers and sharing economies of scale. The BLE aims to work collaboratively, developing new and exciting ways of teaching and learning that would otherwise be difficult for the partners to achieve alone (the whole being greater than the sum of its parts).