Issue: Volume 9 Issue 1

Research paper

The craft of feedback in a complex ecosystem

Lydia Arnold
There is an underrepresentation of academic staff in the discourse around assessment feedback. More needs to be done to understand the experiences of lecturers who often have responsibility for providing feedback. This paper begins to explore the practice of academic staff who work with technology to support feedback provision. It reports on an interview study involving sixteen lecturers working in five different UK higher education institutions; each was using a different combination of tools and technologies. Lecturers describe the decisions made in the formation of practice, and they share the factors that shape both their feedback and their technology use. Influences include underlying beliefs, personal biography, academic identity, and recent experience of family members, collegial networks, and quality management systems. Together these components form an operational feedback ecosystem in which the lecturer mediates the complexity and aligns their choices about feedback with their beliefs and values. The creation of feedback through technology appears to be a work of craft. The findings are especially relevant for academic managers, developers, learning technologists and others who seek to support feedback practices using technology.

Research paper

Grandfathers, cogs and goop: learner choices for designs of companion agents

Dr Mark Childs, Anna Childs, Lizzie Jackson and Phil Hall
“The Shift” project aimed to provide a participatory online learning environment, one aspect of which is an online embodied companion agent (or bot) to support the learner, provide advice, and direct the learners to relevant learning. This paper presents the findings of workshops with potential users of the system to identify the preferred appearance and functionality for the bot. The findings revealed a range of attitudes towards both appearance realism and behavioural realism in bots and the functionality that learners desire, and specifically do not want. The students showed high resistance to an anthropomorphic appearance; participants describing the nature of the agent in terms that match the literature’s discussions of “the uncanny”. Realistic behaviour such as personality produced a strongly positive response. The learners therefore preferred realism but not anthropomorphism and these are often blurred together in the literature.

Research paper

Chaordic learning systems: reconceptualising pedagogy for the digital age

William M. Roberts, SFHEA, Sean Longhurst, Benjamin Franks, Dr Natasha Taylor, SFHEA, Dr Anthony Bush, SFHEA and Will Roberts
This article focuses on an explorative and experimental project seeking to implement Chaordic Learning Systems (CLS) as a pedagogic approach in Higher Education. We outline a project that embraced technologies of Web 2.0 to show how both physical and virtual spaces can be used to support and develop a strong and dynamic learning community in which staff and students work alongside each other to co-produce learning resources. Drawing on theories of Communities of Practice and Situated Learning a new teaching framework was introduced to a Level 5 undergraduate module (7.5 ECTS credits) that had not, until this project, used both face-to-face and online learning tools to engage students in the critical and discursive debates pertaining to sport and physical culture. We undertook this project with the belief that Higher Education should be concerned with answering the calls of an increasingly digital society for whom learning is not restricted by the physical boundaries of the university or the political landscape within which learning finds itself.