West College Scotland Information Technology Symposium – LiveBlog

Today I am at the West College Scotland Information Technology Symposium at the Erskine Bridge Hotel in Paisley. I’ll be part o the e-Resources break out sessions this morning, and this afternoon but when not talking about MediaHub or Digimap for Colleges, I’ll be blogging the keynotes and presentations that are taking place in the main conference room.

As usual, because this is a live blog so there may be typos, spelling issues or the occasional error – please do just let me know if you have any corrections etc. 

Welcome – Audrey Cumberford

I am delighted to welcome you all here today. We are also videoing the event for some of your colleagues who are unable to attend as student inductions are also taking place today. Using innovative technologies is core to what we do and we want to lead in the use of technology to enhance how students learn, that’s our ambition and today is all about that. And if we do not do that we may end up with disengaged students and we don’t want that to happen, so we want to give you a sense of what is possible but also to show you what we are already doing in this area. We are already doing a lot and you can see what others are doing, and how you might do that too. For instance this afternoon we have a session on Augmented Reality, and there are some schools and colleges already exploring how augmented reality can transform learning.

I know there are challenges about how we do this, we have challenges here around skills, competence, experience so we need to ensure that you are trained, equipped and supported to be able to take on those challenges. But those challenges are not an excuse not to take this innovation agenda forwards!

I also want to thank the team behind the event today, to Erskine, and to our sponsors. So, enjoy today and thank you!

As we turn to our next session my Twitter handle has been spotted on the event hashtag: #WCS_WITS.

Putting the “e” into e-learning – Becky Barrington, Head of eLearning at Barrington College

I have been at Barrington just a week, so much of what I say today will be reflecting my previous experience, most recently at South Devon College. I’m going to talk about a lot of possibilities but these are free, easy to use and very practical things! And this will be an interactive session – with some paper and device stuff.

I’ll mostly be talking about Enabling, but I will also be talking about Exciting and Extending.

I was going to use an app called Remote Mouse but due to wifi issues that won’t happen. However, I recommend it!

So, first up I am going to ask you to play “barrier bingo” – this is about removing barriers… We’ll draw a 2×2 grid and I have some things we hear a lot about barriers:

Access – “I am never in a computer room”

Skills – “I don’t know how to do it”

Time – “I don’t have time to do it”

Confidence – “It always breaks for me or goes wrong”

Ideas – “I don’t know what to do”

Now, I’ve loaded those five terms into a tool called class tools.net that will let you randomly pick a term… And the virtual fruit machine picks… 


Often people want to know everything first… But that much information in a training session, that’s too much to take in sometimes. So you need to start small – don’t try and learn everything at once! You can also put the students in control, letting them work together to figure thing out – so you both do the things you have expertise in.

Another tool you can use here – Quizmasters (like Block Busters) allows to create games and quizzes for the classroom. The way that it works is that you have 2 teams. Team 1 have to get four questions right, team 2 have to get five questions right – works well for different abilities of students or unequal group sizes. So, when I use it teams take turns to ask each other questions…

Back to the fruit machine… 


The confidence bit is about practising an knowing the its you want to do well, rather than trying to know everything. You can also get yourself a buddy – a student or a colleague. That can build confidence in the sense of “I will be there in case it goes wrong”.

Back to the fruit machine… 


Try to do things that don’t require huge amounts of work ahead of time. Getting students making resources for you can be really useful. I have split classes into groups to create different quizzes, games, etc. It’s great for them as they have to think about the questions, and want to find difficult questions. Another great tool is the glossary tool in Moodle – a searchable bank of information that students can add too. So I will give students common words that will come up in a class. And they can then type in the information – whether to a light or very complex level of detail. That then becomes a resource for the rest of the year, but students also retain their understanding of the word(s) that they have looked up and added. And the glossary does automatic linking, so pop ups show up whenever that word occurs.

Also think about group working that you can just get up and go with. So two I’d recommend there are Padlet and Twiddla. Paddlet is a virtual pin board basically – can be used in class or as pre-work/homework. It embeds nicely into Padlet too. I can plan and create in advance, but I can create a Padlet ad hoc. And anyone can access that, either from their own device, or from a shared main computer/presentation machine in the room. Twiddla is similar – this can work better for remote activities as it has a chat room and has a white board type space. You can make private Twiddla spaces, but you can also do this ad hoc too.

Back to the fruit machine… Possibly someone will shout Bingo! now… 


An IT room enables use of IT, but not necessarily needed for learning technology. You don’t always need one computer per student. Most teaching rooms will have a computer and projector these days, and there is a lot you can do with that. Again some games activity work well for this sort of set up, for instance Penalty Shoot Out (£250 for a site license) lets you set up a multiple choice question as part of a “penalty shoot out” – getting a question right, lets you attempt to score a goal!

Another tool you can use is Flip Quiz… This lets you set up a quiz with various scores available…

Our side of the room picks General Knowledge for 500 points… And the question is “What does SQA stand for?” (deemed a wee bit too easy!). The other side picks Technology and also 500 points and gets the question “Name your plagiarism software?”. Now back to our side… Teaching and Learning for 500 points, the question is about which theorist has a taxonomy based on levels of understanding, which is of course Bloom. Back to Team 2 – which is the closest loch to the hotel? It’s Loch Lomand… And then get a bonus question to which the answer proves to be Jisc. A nice illustration of the engagement of these quizzes. 

So, that’s one way to deal with access. You can also get students to use their own devices. There can be concerns abut risk, but you can work around that. If you are worried about distractions, only use it at the end of the lesson. Or you can get students logged in early, then leave them on the table and only have them pick them up again as needed.


This is what today is all about!

So, how do we Excite our students? Lots of options. I’ve been working on gamifying lessons. For some students they can only aim for an A as the highest achievement, but for students for whom that isn’t a realistic goal gamifying means you can use class points, issue badges for achievements etc. to put people on a more level playing field in terms of motivation, and highlighting and celebrating students’ skills. And in general that highlighting and celebrating has huge value for students, and for potential employers.

So, another thing you can use here is Kahoot.it. You set up a game. To set up a game you go to getkahoot.com – you add in questions and answers to automatically create a game. Players use their own devices to login, using a pin, and then questions appear on phones, and you find out if you are right or not. (Number of players in this room is 136 ish). So a question shows up, you pick a colour on your device… And on the main screen the number of correct/incorrect answers shows… What happens at the end is you can download the results and see who has gotten which question right or wrong – it means students are not embarrassed by what’s on the big screen but you get a sense of how students are getting on. (Cue questions whizzing past). At the end of the quiz each player sees their score, and then as asked for feedback on how the quiz worked. That’s all free, very easy, and works well but relies on access to the internet via mobile devices or computers.

I also wanted to mention Classtools.net which enables students to use in their own work and self-assessment. You don’t get feedback but students get feedback on their performance. You can provide questions etc. and then the student can choose which of several games to engage with those questions.

So, thinking about Extending learning, I want to talk a bit about Moodle. Moodle really can extend learning beyond the classroom. You can set things for the student to get on with. We tend to think about putting content online in Moodle, but there is much more you can do. For instance depending on grade you can release additional information to the learner. You can track progress, to manage students learning, and for students to understand their own learning. Particularly for Flipped Learning model, where homework is ahead of class, you can see how students do ahead of the lesson to inform your teaching and to understand what the students are and are not understanding.

So, the things we’ve seen:

  • Teachers Direct
  • Gamesbusters
  • Kahoot
  • Classtools.net
  • Padlet
  • Twiddla
  • Poll Everywhere

I’m going to finish with Poll Everywhere. This is again completely free – for up to 40 responses. You can pay for more but for most classes 40 is a reasonable number. So, for our example, which idea will you be using in your classroom? The answer resoundingly seems to be Kahoot.

And with that Rebecca concludes her presentation and hands over to… 

RSA Animates – Jamie Cook, Head of RSA Scotland

It sounds grand, but I am the only member of staff at the moment! As an organisation we have been around for over 200 years, and have fellows across the World. We have many interests but pinning it down I would say we are fascinated by ideas, and how we respond to problems. It emerged from the coffee shops of the Enlightenment. We used to set “premiums” – prizes to solve those problems that arose – for instance successful growth of particular crops; machinery to clean chimneys so that children did not have to do this, etc.

We want to use technology, and innovative ways to solve problems. But how can we take the ideas we have and share them to maximum success. One of our solutions to this came from sitting down for a coffee. At our headquarters in London we have over 150 talks a year from experts on a variety of topics, they are live streamed to the world but that is not particularly innovative. We were wondering how to engage people with these ideas – there is so much to engage with, how do you identify which ones you should engage with yourself. Those videos are maybe 40 minutes, and although we have an app, they are not always as easy to access. Sitting and listening to talks on complex ideas are not always the best way to get information flowing. At that coffee meeting someone suggested that it would be lovely to just draw the talks, and one of our fellows, an artist, said “yes, I could do that”. And that has become our “RSA Animate” videos. These are the idea of taking lectures, condensing them, and putting them across to a condensed form. The speaker is still there, in edited form, but you also have a visual way in.

My favourite is “21st Century Enlightenment’ and our director Matthew Taylor used his annual talk in 2010 to talk about this concept of a 21st century take on the enlightenment. There was a really interesting reaction about the balance of philosophical and political content in his talk. They didn’t entirely get it. We then produced the animate, of 10-15 mins and what was interesting was that the use of those cartoons made all the difference, they got what he was talking about.

We have hundreds of staff, thousands of fellows – we are not that big – but we now have the most YouTube subscribers of any non-profit organisation. We have over 484k subscribers, and nearly 70 million YouTube views. These videos are being used in classrooms, apparently Yoko Ono tweeting about us, and the US Department of Defence is now using animate as a form (but we are not sure what they use them for).

That has been a fantastic success, but the popularity of Andrew and his team, who makes these, means we can only really do 2 animates a year. But also like anything we have to keep innovating… What is the next animate? So we now have a new series called “RSA Shorts” – these are even shorter videos (2.5-3 mins) to summarise key ideas coming out of key pieces of work. One of the key aspects of the shorts is that they can be a variety of formats and styles. We have had competitions at RSA to produce these. This is an interesting way to engage people who would not otherwise engage with us. Those shorts are, as we put it, an “espresso of the mind”.

These shorts are also changing how we present ourselves to the world. What we do is now set out in a short video. It’s not just about portraying information or being gimmicky, but also to explain what we do and what we are about not only to the outside world, but to ourselves. These are snapshots that capture what we do.

Please do have a look and feel free to make use of these resources in your own work.



This entry was posted in #WCS_WITS, Events Attended, LiveBlogs by Nicola Osborne. Bookmark the permalink.

About Nicola Osborne

I am Digital Education Manager and Service Manager at EDINA, a role I share with my colleague Lorna Campbell. I was previously Social Media Officer for EDINA working across all projects and services. I am interested in the opportunities within teaching and learning for film, video, sound and all forms of multimedia, as well as social media, crowdsourcing and related new technologies.

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