Monthly Archives: February 2015

OnCreate – collection of best practices

The first research activity of OnCreate was to collate best practices from within the consortium. The aim of this activity (which Lincoln was lead partner) was to identify common approaches and frameworks for fostering successful collaboration in online teaching and learning environments.

For this task, each university was paired with another institution to compare, discuss and evaluate best practices. This was done in a formal descriptive way, circulating a form where partners described their uses of online collaboration in course contexts and as dialogue interviews in virtual meetings. The two partners then returned their mutual comparisons to the rest of the partnership. Issues of best practice were described in detail and suggestions were formulated in a way that could be easily translated to the design requirements of OnCreate. All results were compared side-by-side to highlight similarities and differences. Whilst the tools and frameworks currently being used to facilitate collaboration vary between each partner, the collection of best practices from across the partnership has identified a number of common structural issues, technical requirements and relevant pedagogies for facilitating collaboration.

Summary of key findings:

  1. Learning Management Systems are in use at all participating universities to distribute and structure course material.
  2. The majority of the partners employ blended learning approaches.
  3. Innovative and intense forms of collaboration are driven by web-based tools, notably Facebook and Google Drive. Existing LMS are considered too slow and confuse users by a plethora of options.
  4. Online collaboration efforts at the partner universities use no formal hierarchies and peer-based learning concepts.
  5. However, the pace of adoption differs even inside the institutions. An important concern is the reservation of students and staff against using tools by large web corporations in an educational context, e.g. for privacy reasons.
  6. Self-assessment and peer consultation models also form an emerging trend among the participating institutions.


The consortium is currently preparing a number of outputs to disseminate the research findings, including publications at international conferences, peer-reviewed journals and open-access educational resources. Martyn has co-authored a paper with 5 other OnCreate partners for International Federation of Information Processing TC3 Working Conference, “A New Culture of Learning: Computing and Next Generations” to be held from 1st to 3rd July, 2015 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

OnCreate Update – Create Design Styleguide and Templates

co_LAB’s participation in the EU Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project: OnCreate has started to produce output beyond the scope of the internal project framework.

One of the tasks we are contributing heavily to is: Create Design Styleguide and Templates (O1-A4). The core outcome is to have created the identity and branding of the OnCreate project ready for when we are required to output work officially.

This task was designated to run from December 2014 – February 2015 with TAMK as lead. Early on in the project, we put forward the idea that we should set this as a competition brief for students who are enrolled on creative programmes within the partner institutions. This idea was suggested due to the success and enhanced participation encountered when we ran a similar task during MC2020.

All partners involved with this task agreed that this was an excellent idea but noted concerns that the students might not have the required grounding and knowledge of the subject of branding in order to produce work of a high enough standard.

During one of our all partner online meetings, a breakaway group suggested that it would be a great idea to collaboratively produce and deliver an online programme of 4 weeks to help educate and guide the students through the process using a mixture of blended and flipped learning pedagogies.

The Programme

The original intention was for 4 different institutions to work on each of the 4 workshops that represent a phase in branding research, design and development:

  1. Branding analysis/research
  2. Mood board creation
  3. Logos, Fonts, Images & Layouts
  4. Styleguide creation

Sadly it didn’t quite pan out the way we would have liked, and in the end only 3 institutions contributed to this task, but what was positive about this approach, is that now, all the partner institutions have access to a 4 workshop intensive programme on the subject of branding design that they are free to use and participate in whenever they like.

One vital lesson learned was to ensure communication was as clear as possible as it is clearly difficult in some instances to ensure all partners are fully aware of their expected contribution and participation in a task.

Distribution Platform

As each institution utilises a different Learning Management System (LMS) there was no possible way we could select one in particular to host the programme due to difficulties in providing appropriate levels of access.

Those institutions who participated in the IDEO HCD MOOC favoured the NovoEd platform as it provided intuitive access to workshop content and excellent integrated synchronous and asynchronous tools for collaboration. However, it is a commercial platform and, as such, we did not have the time, or inclination to explore that route. After-all, this is as much an experiment in collaboration as it is a useful programme of study.

In the end it was decided that we use the OnCreate Google Drive as a means to store and deliver the programme’s contents as it is free, provides plentiful storage, natively handles a good range of files formats and allows excellent access control. Folders for each workshop were then created as repositories for related content:


We even created extra content that introduced using Google tools for synchronous collaboration.

Workshop Content

Using the HCD programme as a model, which we all agreed seem to work well, it was recommended that each workshop consist of a video introduction or screen-cast of the content, a PDF that contains in-depth content on the topic, a task that requires demonstration of knowledge and provide each participant with an opportunity to discuss their responses to the task set.

We then uploaded our content to the appropriate folder and viola! a coherent programme about branding design, created by 3 different institutions:



Of course, the driving force behind this workshop programme is to provide students with the tools they need to enter their branding ideas for OnCreate to the competition brief. This is going to be published very soon.

In the meantime

While we are waiting for the students to participate in our collaborative branding programme, and then enter their responses into the branding design competition, the OnCreate project requires an online presence.

As co_LAB have experience in web design, we drafted up a basic placeholder webpage with the required vital information on it, outlining the key aims and objectives of the project:



Swivl ‘Flipped Learning’ Pilot Study

Alasdair is currently leading a pilot study on the Swivl (automatic tracking camera mount) for the Senior Teaching Oversight Group and the Disabled Students Allowance Working Group. The aim is to assess the effectiveness of this technology as a video content capture device and how it can be used to support students. This is especially pertinent for International students and those with mild learning differences. The Swivl device may also prove a useful tool for ‘Flipped Learning’. This is an blended learning framework that provides opportunities for students to engage with learning materials outside of the classroom prior to lessons, freeing up teaching time for more student-directed learning and the independent application of the taught content (as opposed to the traditional model in HE, whereby lecture content is delivered in class while students are left to fend for themselves outside of the classroom). The Swivl represents an opportunity to capture lecture content and enhance the videos with additional material (slides, interactive assessment points, etc.)

Martyn, Graham and James are all taking part in the study and have been recording content for the past few weeks, feeding back our experiences to inform a university-wide approach. Once the practical issues have been addressed the next step is to investigate how the ability to record teaching can impact on our pedagogy and potentially look to rethinking how we use our contact time with our students.