5a: Specialist area 1 – Wikipedia
I had read about others editing Wikipedia articles and also for teaching and learning purposes I never had the right opportunity to implement any of it. In 2018 I put forward a proposal for a year 3 undergraduate medical education Student Selected Component, the topic was to cover digital and information literacy skills via editing Wikipedia. Following its acceptance, I reached out to the medical librarians to ask if they would collaborate to cover the information literacy aspect. Once they had confirmed that one of the subject librarians would contribute I was able to design the course. The teaching sessions included copyright, design, open education practices and resources, referencing frameworks and packages and photography. There was a bonus of the September iteration as the students were able to contribute to Wiki Loves Monuments.
In order to cover the Wikipedia elements, I added the University of Edinburgh webpages with guides and examples into the Teams area I set up. Then I contacted Wikimedia UK to ask for further advice. They sent me guides and also suggested I reach out to Wikimedia Ireland and connect with Rebecca O’Neill. Not only did she provide me with resources and advice but she also came up to Belfast to lead the first workshop and introduce the students to the wider Wikimedia projects.
Following her first workshop, I set up an account on Wikipedia and began making small edits and contributing to Wikimedia Commons. Then I organised a staff workshop which again Rebecca came up to facilitate.
Since moving to Ulster I have continued to edit when I can and created a video to encourage educators to think about the different ways to incorporate Wikipedia into their teaching, whether or not they are a fan or a sceptic. I initially put the video into our institutional Panopto repository but since people had to contact me for the embed code, I have now also added it to YouTube (both versions are linked below).
Staff Feedback from the Wikipedia workshop:
“I completely reevaluated Wikipedia as a tool for wider teaching/learning activities as opposed to just a repository of information…the session really made me think!”
“It was useful to see how Wikipedia can be used as a tool to teach and reinforce students’ information literacy skills.”
Made a short teaser video for the potential of Wikipedia for Teaching and Learning to share with staff. As always drawing on work from @wikimediauk @WikimediaIE @emcandre and @restlesscurator … https://t.co/v2NmeWCh9Q #OEP #altc pic.twitter.com/9LOqkJ3pes
— Clare Thomson (@slowtech2000) August 27, 2020
Being able to connect with a range of different people to collaborate on this project was something completely out of my day to day learning technology work. It also allowed me to directly teach undergraduate students.
Working with the students I learned just how easy it is to edit and contribute in many different ways from adding citations, linking photos from Wikimedia Commons or even simple proof editing changes. However, the challenge of addressing the lack of diversity is entirely different. Establishing whether someone has sufficient ‘notability’ according to the criteria is incredibly difficult for women and those from minority backgrounds. Knowing this the students preferred to choose medical topics or hospital sites.
It opened up a whole new interest and I only wish I had more time to research for more articles. My main aim is to increase the representation of local women and men on the site. Once we return to campus and the level of digital support requirements lessen, this is one of the projects that I hope to reinvigorate, perhaps getting a group together initially to add as many missing Northern Irish people, especially women, as we can. In the meantime, I will continue with my research as and when I can.
5a: Specialist area 2 – Inclusion and Creativity
Social and Engagement
As a developer, a large part of my role involved being creative but it wasn’t until I studied at the University of Edinburgh Digital Education programme that I brought that creative stream into teaching and learning. Being a student on a fully distance course was invaluable to experiencing different approaches aside from didactic talks. Being able to demonstrate to staff what methods were effective and what I or my fellow students struggled with was so beneficial and made for rich discussion. Their Manifesto for Online Teaching was especially useful and now in book format.
Over the years I have delivered active workshops for staff and students and also included short ice breaker type activities. These have included creating social media bios with Oreo cookies, LEGO® Serious Play® (which I will cover below in more detail), sending postcards, colouring in tasks. Even before the pandemic, I facilitated these both in group live settings and also online, so I did feel prepared to do them online and I can’t think of one activity that I wouldn’t be able to translate to an online setting. I was then able to share these as how-to sessions over the last year for those staff who felt that the social aspect of their teaching had been lost in the translation to online spaces. Since then I know of several staff members who have tried some of the activities in their own teaching.
LEGO® Serious Play®
This was also a journey that began with the Digital Education programme as another student shared their LEGO build in one of our discussion forums. After thinking about how beneficial it would be in education, I did some research asked for a small budget to buy a few basic sets and then introduced the workshops to year 1 undergraduate medical students. Due to its success, I then sought external funding to cover the cost of the official training and won two separate grants for that. I have since facilitated many sessions with staff and students and every time amazing and unexpected stories and learning take place. Being able to facilitate these online before the pandemic just highlighted how flexible an approach it can be.
Digital Escape Rooms
At the end of the academic year 19/20, colleagues in the Careers department approached me regarding an initiative they were launching but was complicated by being a lot wider than single module areas in the Virtual Learning Environment. The process was that students would attend a large live session in groups, then be given access to an area to work through content and answer questions, they would then receive a certificate of completion for their CVs/LinkedIn profiles etc.
I proposed using Microsoft OneNote and Forms in the form of a digital escape room, as it would be open to all students in the university via a single hyperlink. I created a demonstration of how it would then spent a session with the staff guiding them through how to build them step by step. Once the nine rooms were complete, I asked a colleague to add an automated email once the student had completed the room via the Flow environment. A developer then created a programme to generate the certificates via the CSVs that were generated by the Microsoft Forms. This launched at the beginning of 2020/2021 and to date there have been over 600 certificates sent to students.
— Clare Thomson (@slowtech2000) June 26, 2018
Feedback from Debbie Baff on the 2019 session:
Feedback from Aideen Gibson, Learning Technologist:
“I have participated in at least 3 LEGO® Serious Play® workshops led by Clare. The first was at a staff development workshop for Learning Technologists, where Clare used Lego to support reflective practice for staff. The second was the talking identity and reflection workshop with #ALTNI #CMALT group. One particular workshop that sticks out in my mind is the online workshop Clare facilitated for the ALT Winter Conference in 2019. I was impressed at how Clare planned and delivered a workshop that would have traditionally relied on a physical venue with desk, actual LEGO® , etc and was able to create a dynamic mood, with a session that really flowed, where participants engaged, focused on the task and really enjoyed the experience. Clare’s organisational skills, attention to detail and ability to manage technology issues in the room and online simultaneously resulted in a very successful and engaging online workshop.”
Thomson, C.; Johnston, J. L. and Reid, H. (2018), “Rich Stories: Embedding LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Into Undergraduate Medical Education”, International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 313-325. https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54.18-024
— Craig Dooley (@craigdooley) March 1, 2019
Social and engagement webinars – as discussed in Communication section.
These creative approaches to teaching and learning are by far my favourite elements of my job. Every single session is completely different to previous sessions. However, the one thing they have in common is that success relies heavily on attendee participation and buy-in. I have worked hard at creating a warm environment with ‘a permission to play’ message. Experience as well as inspiration from others such as the Intention book by Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder (activities I have used are listed on this post), the book Playful Learning, Events and Activities to Engage Adults (which I reviewed for the Journal of Play in Adulthood) and during the pandemic the work of Maha Bali and colleagues via UnboundEQ and OneHEGlobal.
As I reflected in the Wider Context area this work overlaps more and more with my work around inclusion and accessibility. Playful learning is just as important within higher education as primary schools, however, I believe there is still a lot of work to change the perceptions that it is something frivolous and to be dismissed. It is hopefully, one of the positives to come out of the move to remote learning that it became clear that this socialisation and engagement work was not only important but that many educators found difficult to create in online spaces.