unconference was unboring


In a change to previous years, the learning and teaching in the sciences annual conference was organised as an unconference this year. It was an experiment and Stuart Johnson took his reputation in his hands to organise it. He needn’t have worried, we all managed to talk for two hours and eat the sandwiches, even though it was set up with only 10 days notice. We used a tag (#uollts) and several people from our various twitter networks joined in the discussion. We had twitterfall on the dataprojector and this did add to the discussion as well as providing a useful archive following the meeting (which I’m sure Alan or Stu will add to their blogs).

I thought we had a good discussion to say there were only around 20 people in the room and the very loose theme of ‘assessment’ to go at. I gave an impromptu demonstration of grademark (from Turnitin). I would have liked to hear more about the project in Geology experimenting with ‘keyboard’ examinations, so I am hoping that someone will capture a link for that and share it later.

This was my first experience of an unconference, and I rather liked it. When’s the next one Stuart?!


HEA Bioscience pedR event

The HEA Centre for Biosciences ran a session on pedagogic research at University of Leicester on 24 March 2009. Our twittering fraternity were out in force (@cjrw, @ajcann, @cwells1, @jon_scott) were all there and I am sure there will be other blog entries from some of them on the meeting. Unfortunately you will only get half the story here, as I had to leave just as it was getting interesting to collect the kids.

We had presentations on a wide range of topics, from the mysteries of social science research methodologies by Bonnie Green, with surely some made up terms in there (bemtology anyone?!) to case studies of practitioners looking at their own work in pedr in the biosciences. We tagged the meeting (#cfbres on delicious and twitter) and Alan invited the other participants to join our community of practice online.

As with most face to face events, the main benefit was in the networking and talking with people at the meeting. One of the feelings I was left with, was how can we harness this community of practice to greater effect? And what effect do we want to have? Is it solely to improve the teaching and learning for our students, or is part of it to improve the status of teaching and learning for ourselves?

There were two other home truths that beginning to dawn on me. Firstly, we need to stop moaning about educational research being impenetrable and just get on and get to grips with it (Paul Orsmond thought that we could do it if his second year undergraduates could!) and secondly, we need to write some grants and get in some money.  Unfortunately end-of-term-itis has hit and I need to make a calendar note to come back and read this post and put these into action when vim and vigor return!

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QR Codes Ideas Factory: Leicester

Andy Ramsden’s write up of the workshop he ran about QR codes with us today.


via QR codes at Bath by Andy Ramsden on 1/26/09

I ran the QR Codes Ideas Factory at UEA on the 26th January . The attendance was really good from across the institution. Thanks to Jo Badge for organising it. There were QR codes all over the building. The one on the meeting room enabled a link to the supporting documentation on a Blog. I quite liked this idea. It meant as I entered the room I could scan the link, get a handle of the workshop aims, leave comments etc., (link to image).

The outcomes of the session are available in two mind maps;

How might you use QR Codes? (png file)
What are the barriers to the use of QR Codes? (png file)

A couple of things struck me from the session. I was particularly interested the underlying theme … “using QR codes to enable people to access the required information as efficiently and effectively as possible. However, this quickly becomes a pointless activity because on many occasions we might direct them to resources and activities that are not appropriate for small screen devices. Such as web sites that do not render, or documents / pdfs which can not be read. Therefore, if the implementation of QR Codes is to be effective then we need to ensure that our material is accessible and usable on small screen devices”.

There was some discussion about student generation of QR codes and sharing these with each other. An interesting thing to observe was the sharing of QR codes in the session. Quite a few people had iPhones, and one individual captured as a photo a QR code included in my presentation. The person they where sitting next to then read the QR code from the iPhone and not my slide. This made me re-visit the scenario of collecting and managing QR codes from presentations. If I can’t scan the image (for what ever reason) then perhaps I should photo the slide (this is something that I regularly undertake during presentations) then upload them to Flickr, and later read them on my computer screen.

In terms of improving the support material, there were a number of questions raised. Firstly, the issue of size and the need to accommodate error handling, and secondly, the use of different colour QR codes.

Review of my 2008

Sounds like one of the myriad of TV shows that grace our screens in the that weird period between Christmas and new year when they aren’t sure what to put on, but yes, it is time to look back and see what on earth I have done in the last year.


Overall this has been a year of trying new technology on and offline. Web 2.0 has transformed the way I work. I have lost count of the number of services online I have signed up for (I have 35 listed in my clipperz account, but that is only a fraction of them!). Some have come and gone, others are now part of my daily life:

Twitter: I now have a community of twitterers to help me. My first tweet was in December last year, but it was March before I started using it seriously and June when it became obvious that twitter had become a major channel of communication for me. The experience of a lively twitter back channel at a social Learn event for the OU was amazing. Tweetstats shows your usage over time (my stats are here) – you can see the impact of school holidays.

Blogging: I’ve started two blogs this year, this one and one for the School of Biological Sciences.

PLE: as part of our research project on personal learning environments, my own PLE has undergone quite a shift over time since January 08 and now looks something like this.

PLE version 3
PLE version 3

Delicious: (jobadge) I’ve been using delicious much more over the last year.

Publications 2008

Badge, J. L., Dawson, E., Cann, A. J., & Scott, J. (2008). Assessing the accessibility of online learning. Innovations in Education and Training International, 45(2), 103-113.

Bevan R, Badge J, Cann A, Willmott C and Scott J (2008) Seeing eye-to-eye? Staff and student views on feedback Bioscience Education E-journal 12-1

Willmott C and Badge J (2008) Ethics and Plagiarism: helping students write right The Biochemist 30:12-15


Suffered from overkill in conference season this summer. Still, made a good impact and put Leicester on the teaching and learning agenda nationally 🙂

list of conferences attended and presentations made

Badge, J. L., & Scott, J. (2008). Plagiarism policies: Looking for intra-institutional consistency. Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, Harrogate.

Badge, J. L., Yakovchuk, N., & Scott, J. (2008). Consistent policy into consistent practice: A case study from leicester University . Keynote Paper presented at the Second Meeting on Institutional Polices and Procedures for Dealing with Plagiarism, Oxford Brookes, May 2008

Badge, J. L., Yakovchuk, N., & Scott, J. (2008). Academic culture in transition: Are honour codes a viable solution? Paper presented at the Third International Plagiarism Conference, Gateshead.

Badge, J. L. (2008). Electronic detection of plagiarism. Paper presented at the Preventing and Designing Out Plagiarism HEA Centre for Bioscience, 8 April 2008, University of Leicester.


lots of success this year with Alan Cann 🙂

HEA Centre for bioscience departmental grant: £15k to revolutionise the way we teach first year undergraduates about IT and numeracy using web 2.

TechDis HEAT 3: 10 iPod touches

Roberts fund: small world networks for postgraduate students.

Academic Integrity: continuation funding for research assistant to March 2009


All about the voting this year! Lots of problems with using the electronic voting system on cfs. now time to get it publically written up and move on to embed it’s use in the first curriculum. Interim report from first year of implementation.

#sciblog conference

from hapticflapjacks flickr stream
from hapticflapjack's flickr stream

Scienceblogging 2008 was an interesting meeting. The main thing I came away with is an insight into an excellent example of open notebook science (Jean-Claude Bradley spoke of his useful chemistry project). This is an area that could help those scientists wavering on the edge of the internet to take the plunge into the internet and something I will follow up on.

I did feel that there were two audiences: the converted (committed bloggers, though many only operating within the cosseted realms of network nature) and those who had thought about blogging and wanted to know how to get started. I think I expected there to be many more people live blogging and/or an active twitter backchannel, especially as a tag had been set up (#sciblog) for the purpose. There was a live webcast from Cameron Neylon and the Friendfeed room set up for the purpose was a good commentary stream for those not at the conference but attending virtually (like Alan Cann in Leicester or Mike Seyfang further afield in Australia). I guess I expected something closer to the twitter backchannel there was at the Socialearn event I attended earlier this year. However, even after only a day, the Friendfeed room is developing into more a discussion with people bookmarking their blog posts and replying to other comments.

In the final session Timo Hannay commented that perhaps blogging was just too new and scientists uptake would increase once technology had become more mainstream (just as email was foreign to many academics ten years ago!). Perhaps this was the nub of the meeting, there were pioneers and newbies and interested onlookers all joined together in this new arena which has not yet developed enough to know where it is going or what it’s purpose is. We will get there.

The final panel set a challenge to the audience – whoever convinces the most senior scientist to start and maintain a blog with a science basis (so presumably not just a record of what they ate for breakfast or what stamps they collect) can win a fully funded trip to SciFoo 2009. So look out FRS’s we are after you!

Science Blogging London 2008

Science Blogging London 2008 on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

I am at the Science Blogging one day meeting at the Royal Institute in London today.

The programme looks really interesting and on an unconference format following discussion on the nature network forum.

This means that some good basic stuff was sorted before we turned up – a universal tag (sciblog e.g. flickr, twitter) for attendees to use at and after the conference. Looking forward to a good day and ots of backchannel 🙂


Plagiarism strikes again


The 3rd international plagiarism conference in Newcastle was OK. I am trying to summon up more enthusiasm than that, but can’t quite manage it. I enjoyed it, met some great people, it was well organised and so on (apart from the horrible lack of sockets for my poor eeepc!!) but I wasn’t as inspired as I have been at previous conferences. This could be because the field hasn’t moved on much since last time but I suspect it was mostly to do with web 2.0 discussions.

There were several speakers who tried to address the issue, Jamie O’Connell from Acumen PI (thestudentroom.co.uk) showed the Micheal Wesch video on hypertext, which admittedly, not everyone had seen, then actually mentioned that communication was changing (yes!) and ‘lots of people’ were using twitter (hurray!!). However, when I shouted out and asked him for his twitter ID, he said it was MrBeaver.


The message about online identity management still has a long way to go then….. Jamie, this stuff isn’t just for you young funky people – I thought that was the point of the presentation?!

Gerry McKiernan, Iowa State university, gave a great presentation about disruptive technologies (re-mix, re-use, re-new), including lots of stuff from horizon 2008, but just as he was getting going, he stopped short of what for me is the real message – will we care about plagiarism when web 2 really takes over? Who should we attribute in the traditional way when 10 people have collaboratively authored a document online? How will students who work collaboratively be assessed individually?

it’s fine to talk about web 2, but I still feel that it is an experiential technology, and I am not sure that either presenter demonstrated that they were under the skin of these things. Garry Allen was closer in many ways. He admitted to finally getting a facebook account when he realised that RMIT Melbourne’s internet traffic bill had doubled in the last academic year and the largest proportion of that traffic was going to facebook. He recognised that experience was key to understanding.