Handing over to Phil

Many thanks to everyone for very happy memories as a student, lecturer and then programme director on the MSc in Digital Education.  What a wonderful end to my formal career; it has been a great privilege.

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From 1 August, Phil Sheail is the programme director.  She and I have been co-directors for the past couple of years and she has been a wonderful colleague to work with. Indeed, I couldn’t have managed without her. With almost 200 students on the programme it’s a demanding job, but there is a strong team to support the director and I know that Phil will be excellent in this role.

The team has also recently welcomed a new programme secretary: Victoria McIntyre, who has fitted in straight away.  She is another person with a busy role, until recently very ably fulfilled by Angie Hunter. Angie is now working full-time in our Centre for Research in Digital Education so we’re delighted with this too.

I’ll still be around as an honorary fellow. One of my retirement projects is to turn the summer school in academic writing into an open educational resource (OER). I hope to add this to the University of Edinburgh’s OER page, which is worth a look.  It’s also something you might want to contribute to yourself sometime – it already features work from digital ed students. Thanks to those who attended this year’s summer school for all the hard work and peer support.  I really enjoyed your contributions.

And so I hope there is more to come: watch this space!


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Improve Your English by Participating in a Digital Education Experiment!

Hello fellow Digital Education students and faculty members!

As the lead researcher I am excited to announce that we have launched a new research project this week! Everyone is invited to join and your participation in this project is greatly appreciated!

What is it about?

It’s a simple little website where you can learn a new, uncommon English word every day. It literally takes less than a minute a day. The idea is that regular, byte sized learning works better than cramming tons of difficult new words into your head all at once. Many of you are probably thinking about your own experiences in school and are nodding your head in agreement right now 😉

How can I participate?

It’s actually super easy. Just go on this website and log in with your Facebook or Twitter account. Alternatively, you can create a username and password of your choosing (no email required). No matter how you log in, the moment you sign up your user data are completely anonymised and I will never be able to know who you are. The system only shows me a number which is tied to your account. It would have been great to completely eliminate the need for logins but they are necessary to accurately evaluate learner engagement.

Improving your vocabulary with this ‘word of the day’ project is one of the easier goals you can set and accomplish for yourself. Ideally, you will make it into a habit. Maybe bookmark the site and open it up when you drink your morning coffee or when you are on the bus on your way to school or work. You don’t need to feel obliged to participate yourself if this isn’t your cup of tea but you probably know someone who might see a benefit from this so feel free to circulate it in your own social circles. Any kind of contribution towards the success of this project is very much appreciated!

If you have any further questions or feedback, you are welcome to contact me via email or Twitter.

Thank you and good luck this new semester!


PhD studentships at the University of Dundee

We have been sent the following information which might be of interest to some students coming to the end of the MSc.  The deadline is very close.

The University of Dundee welcomes applications for six PhD studentships in HCI and Interaction Design, based across Computing and Art & Design. The deadline for applications is approaching soon on March 25th.

The studentships are fully funded for 3.5 years and are expected begin around September 2016:

– Co-creating citizen science for innovation  http://bit.ly/1TQqodo

– Makerspaces and sheds as sites for community and wellbeing   http://bit.ly/1PVaSpD

– Moving on: using computational creativity to represent interpersonal relationships and their endings  http://bit.ly/1ND4EJe

– ViBerAl project: novel prototyping tool and service for educational digital prototyping  http://bit.ly/1VupPmM

– VIVID (Visually Impaired Access to Visualized Data) http://bit.ly/1S5OHRn

– Wearable colour identification aids  http://bit.ly/22owEKZ

Application and eligibility details can be found here: http://www.dundee.ac.uk/study/scholarships-fees/scholarships/epsrc/

Looking for a Masters intern

We are looking for a Masters student who can work with us on our ‘teacherbot’ project as a developer.

We are looking for a Masters student who can work with us on our ‘teacherbot’ project as a developer. The teacherbot is a simple twitterbot which we developed to work as a light-touch ‘teaching assistant’ on our MOOC last year.  We wanted to work against the idea of the ‘robot’ replacing human teachers, to see whether it was possible to develop an agent which could partner with the teaching team on this programme to add the instantaneous responses and often randomly humorous touches only a bot can pull off. We also wanted to explore, in a critical, experimental way, the role of automation in higher education teaching.

The teacherbot was quite a success with the MOOC students, and became quite a useful and engaging member of the course (read about it in the Times Higher). We’d like now to extend this pilot by further developing the teacherbot with a view to rolling it out as a university service for other teaching teams and individuals to use.

To help with this we are looking for a developer who can work with our Information Services, and us, on the next iteration of teacherbot. We have funding for a Masters student to do this on a paid internship: pragmatically this is likely to be someone who is based locally, as the project is managed by our Information Services colleagues. However if you are keen and want to propose a model for distance working, please do.

To find out more and to apply, link to the Careers Service Hub here, where you will find the job description. If you have any queries, please drop me a line (sian.bayne@ed.ac.uk).

Happy New Semester

arrow-945254_1280Welcome to 2016 and an exciting new semester. We have new students joining us on IDEL and also a new course for our programme – Learning Analytics: process and theory – where Course Leader Dragan Gasevic will be joined by co-tutor Ryan Baker and students from Teachers College, Columbia University.

You can access your course from here, in the links on the panel on the left – or you’ll find it in your Moodle home.  We know that people get to their spaces in different ways – we’d love to know what works best for you.  Details of your course’s start date, assessment submission dates and other information can be found in the course handbooks. Remember that the Programme Handbook changes every semester too – that’s also available under the Handbooks link.

The Student-Staff Liaison Committee is meeting on Friday 15th January. Details of your representatives can be found on the MSc Moodle site at https://www.moodle.is.ed.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=131  This includes a forum where everyone can add their own thoughts or suggestions and we can continue discussions here between meetings.

I hope you have had a good break and are all ready for another busy semester.