Designing learning for mobile: Theatre for a Change

7Cs of Learning Design Workshop with Theatre for a Change

7Cs of Learning Design Workshop with Theatre for a Change

Theatre for a Change (TFAC) is a London-based charity engaged in training teachers to give instruction to middle- and high-school age students about reproductive health issues. TFAC is active in African countries including Malawi and Ghana. Their courses have taken various forms including theatre workshops, art, and radio programmes. After reading about our work to help deploy our Criminology’s MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development with its iPad and app model, TFAC contacted us to help them extend their reach to students in more remote areas by transforming to a mobile learning model.

We held a 7Cs of Learning Design workshop with TFAC in May 2013, and helped them to storyboard a new ‘mobile’ version of the course. I recall at the time the above photo was taken, the group was discussing how to ‘chunk’ each learning unit in a way suitable for mobile phones, how to refer students to audio-recorded material, and how to include feedback and discussion through mobile methods. Since that workshop, I have helped with transforming the material into mobile-ready formats, and working on using social media as a simple virtual learning environment / learning management system.

This project is a great opportunity to create a different kind of mobile learning model, and we are very much figuring it out as we go along. It was great also to think about designing for mobile learning, from the beginning. Designing the learning for mobile, from the beginning, has got to be the key to mobile learning success. I plan to update this blog as the project rolls out, so stay tuned!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

Free Open Access Medical Education

For some years now, I have noticed that medical educators are looking at learning innovations in their own unique way. I first became aware of medical education happening in virtual worlds and simulations, such as Coventry’s virtual maternity ward in Second Life, and St George’s paramedic training in Second Life. 

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 22.05.51

Damian Roland argues for the use of social media in a 26 June debate held at University of Leicester

Our own University of Leicester brought medical students into a virtual Genetics lab as a way of offering additional training in Genetics testing. Dr Rakesh Patel and his team developed a Virtual Ward (still going on today), in which students may visit virtual patients and practice coming up with a diagnosis. When I tweeted about these kinds of initiatives, I would receive replies using the hashtag #meded or #vitualpatient.

But last year I began to see a new one on Twitter: #FOAMed — Free Open Access Medical Education — or just #FOAM — Free Open Access Meducation. I began to follow people like Anne Marie Cunningham (@amcunningham) , Natalie Lafferty (@nlafferty), and Damian Roland (@Damian_Roland), among others who, as medics and medical educators, see the value of using social media in medical education, or the value of blogs, or the value of a crowd-sourced site of medical questions and answers such as Meanwhile, Rakesh was coming up with ideas thick and fast: why not tweet and record the Nephrology conference SpR Club this past April, and the TASME Meeting at DeMontfort University this past May? And so I did!

Then Rakesh and Damian got the bright idea to debate the motion: “This house believes that medical educators must use social media to deliver education.” The debate took place on 26 June at University of Leicester, and I was able to live-stream and record it, as well as join in the Twitter discussion. There were several remote participants including one from Canada, in addition to the approximately 20 attendees face-to-face at the Medical School. Not only did the debate spark real interest and a sense of challenge among those present (many of whom seemed to be new to the ideas of FOAMed and social media), the discussion continued on Twitter for a good couple of days, as the images below show. You can listen to and watch the video of the debate here.

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 21.00.43 Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 20.59.32Now the ASME Annual Scientific Meeting is happening in Edinburgh, and Rakesh, Natalie, and others are presenting a workshop on FOAM. My name is on the presenter’s list as well, and although I could not attend, I shall be eagerly watching for tweets from the conference. I have come to see, especially through the eyes of my medic colleagues, that Free Open Access Meducation is a better education than closed— better because more information is accessed the wider one’s network is, better because more learners are reached via open platforms than closed, better because open encourages interdisciplinary sharing and learning… the list of benefits goes on.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow

PhD students share research and encouragement

Ming speaks at PhD Day June 2013

Ming speaks at PhD Day June 2013

Today and tomorrow (24 and 25 June 2013), our PhD students are gathering in Leicester from far and wide to share their research thus far and to encourage each other on the journey. Tony Ratcliffe presented his work remotely via Adobe Connect from Canada. Nada presented her work before she returns to Saudi Arabia to continue field research there. Marion Waite presented her PhD topic on MOOCs and online learning, in her first time joining us in person. Grace, Yan, Brenda, Bernard, and Natalia also presented, some of these in preparation for the annual School of Education PhD presentation day which will happen this Saturday. The recordings from this session are posted here in order of occurrence:

A researcherʼs guide to social media

Last Thursday, I took part in a SkillsCamp at the School of Museum Studies. The SkillsCamp was called A researcher’s guide to social media and cultural heritage.

The day-long workshop brought together supervisors, PhD students and researchers interested in how social media (this was given a very broad definition) impacts upon research on cultural heritage.

Following an extremely useful – and illuminating – mapping exercise in the morning, the rest of the day was divided into three main areas: the researcher’s online profile; the Internet and especially the Web as data resource; and finally the methodological frameworks and ethical considerations of ‘researching on the Internet’. Fictitious case studies were use to highlight issues in each area.

The workshop was funded by the Collections Trust, and eight 10,000 word units produced as part of this collaborative project (the universities of Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow were also involved) will be available as fully repurposable OERs from their site early in 2011. These units, which cover topics such as Finding and using digital images and Using your mobile phone as a research tool, also contain teacher plans and notes.

Because the workshop brought together researchers of all ages and with a wide range of experiences (and attitudes), I found the sessions invaluable, even though I was attending as a representative of a research unit rather than as a  researcher. It was clear that the workshop brought to light issues that are prevalent throughout research in higher education.

I intend – with the help of my colleagues – to adapt this SkillsCamp as a Media Zoo offering, to sit alongside the Zoo’s traditional technology workshops and  Ale’s Carpe Diem. In addition to the projects housed in the Zoo (which are focused on new technologies and pedagogies), Beyond Distance also contains the experience of my research colleagues operating within this online environment.

But I don’t see this solely as participants coming the the Zoo to learn new skills from Beyond Distance staff. What really made last Thursday’s workshop useful was that everyone bought something along to the discussion, with debates ranging from the ethics of whether one should carry out an online participant observation study in forums (i.e. starting new threads, etc.) without revealing the motives for participating, to the importance of maintaining a good online research profile for future employment purposes.

Regardless of the discipline, the same questions are being asked, and a workshop such as this is ideal for those still uncertain about the value of the online research environment.

Simon Kear

Keeper of the Media Zoo

Adding Twitter to your digital footprint

If you have been thinking of getting started on Twitter but have been putting it off or don’t feel you’re getting your head round it, I hope you will find this short guide useful.

1. Create an account – Go to and click on Sign up. You will need to make a username for yourself, which is what will show up on Twitter. Give some thought to this choice. It is part of your digital profile, and you may likely wish to keep this account going as your professional career continues.

Once you have an account, it is a good idea to fill out your profile at least to some extent, by clicking Settings. Having a good, descriptive profile including a picture that is at least fairly recognisable as you will encourage people to follow you.

2. Start following people – At some point, Twitter will begin to suggest people to follow, listed near the upper right corner of your Home page. But you will probably want to follow more than just these. Click on Find  People at the top, make sure the Find on Twitter tab is selected, and type in actual names.

Check the profile to make sure that the person you find is indeed the person you want to follow. If you know someone’s Twitter username, you can search on that and be sure to find the correct person. Follow people who have interests similar to your own.

Tip: when you find someone whose interests match yours, have a look at the people they are following; you may wish to follow these people as well. For example, you might wish to follow me (even though I am not the most exciting person). To give you some information to help you decide, I am a learning technologist at the University of Leicester and my name is Terese Bird. My Twitter username is tbirdcymru.

When you follow people, they may follow you back. You may wish to follow those who follow you. Be aware:, you will notice followers who are salespeople or who are encouraging you to visit dodgy sites. They follow you in the hopes that you will be interested in what they sell. If you are not interested, it is best to either ignore (simply do not follow them) or even perhaps block such followers.

The point is to get good people to follow you back. By good people, I refer to those who will be tweeting about things you are interested in. Only those who choose to follow you will see your tweets

Generally, the best way to build up followers is to keep tweeting interesting things, and to follow those who share your interests.

3. Now you can start tweeting Remember, a tweet can be no longer than 140 characters. Here are some suggestions of what to tweet about:

a. Comment on something in the news that is of interest to you.

b. Call others’ attention to a website discussing something of interest to you. Include a link to the site where it is discussed. See number 4 below for some great ways to shorten the URL of links.

c. You may like to say what you are doing, but ask yourself, is it interesting to other people?  If not, think of something else to tweet about.

d. Tweet about your lecture or whatever you are working on now. This is the best way to show who you are and build your Twitter  around your interests.

e. Ask a question about something you are interested in. This can best illustrate the power of Twitter. Your question may get answered by a true expert in the field. Or, you may get no response at all. Don’t be discouraged if this happens. Just keep trying and tweeting. Sooner or later those who share your interests will respond. Twitter friends can be very loyal and eager to help.

f. Reply to someone else’s tweet. This is an excellent way to make friends and build followers. If you hover your mouse in the lower right of the box of their tweet you will see an arrow and the word Reply; click on it, and it begins a new tweet for you beginning with @ and the tweeter’s nickname. 

Whatever you now tweet, that tweeter will see it as a personal response to their tweet. This gets the attention of the original tweeter. If your interests match theirs and they do not currently follow you, there is a good chance they will decide to follow you. This is a nice way to discuss things with individuals, but it is not private. Everyone can read it. The advantage is that you have identified that you are replying directly to that particular person.

Incidentally, all tweets (including replies) which include @ just before your username will be collected on your Twitter home page at the right just under the word Home. Check this every time you log into Twitter; people might be directly speaking to you using that technique.

You can also Direct Message people who follow you; Direct Messages are only seen by the sender and the recipient. Check your own Direct Messages by clicking on your Home page, on the right, Direct Messages.

g. Re-tweet someone else’s tweets. This is also an excellent way to build followers. Re-tweeting means that you repeat the tweet so that all of your followers can read it. To retweet, hover your mouse in the lower right of the original tweet, and click Retweet.

You might also want to retweet and add a comment of your own. In that case, you need to Retweet by Hand. Just copy the original tweet, click into the box where you enter your own tweet, begin by typing RT @ and then paste everything directly after the @ sysmbol.  Finally add your comment at the end; it will have to be really short! Your retweet will look something like this:

RT @tbirdcymru New iPhone app lets you check your Blackboard site. – v cool!

4. To shorten a URL so it will fit into 140 character tweet, first copy the URL onto the clipboard. Now, go to: Where it says, “enter your long link or file here,” paste in the URL, then click Shorten. You will be given a very short URL which you can now copy and paste into your tweet.

Terese Bird

Learning Technologist and Assistant Media Zookeeper

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