Thursday, 6 September 2018

AI- Empathy and Human Interaction. Considerations for educators.

On Radio 4 this morning Rabbi Jonathan Sacks discussed AI with some of the world’s leading thinkers.

The programme started by highlighting the amazing advantages that AI can bring to the human race. For example, AI will enable cheap and fast diagnosis of medical conditions.  They already have an algorithm that can diagnose 40 important conditions just from scanning your eye. The debate then lead to the guest speakers agreeing that a human would still need to be part of the diagnosis process, to add empathy (if telling a patient bad news etc), and to take over all responsibility for the information they have gained through the AI.

One speaker argued that lack of empathy could be a strength of AI.  Infact, attempts are made to programme empathy into AI.  But a big flaw at the moment is that algorithms are based upon passed human behaviours, and therefore include the biases and blind spots of our history.  For this reason, it is feared that AI could perpetuate the disadvantages we already face in society, e.g. in education and healthcare.

They then discussed which jobs AI would be useful for and which should retain a human quality.  For example: should parents have the choice to use AI to read their child bedtime stories or sing lullabies? Some feel parents should be trusted to choose.  Others feel that raising a child is such an important human interaction that computers should not be relied upon.  They mentioned how these days (in Michael McIntyre’s words): “parents Frisbee an ipad when their child comes in to their room at 6am”.  Tech has become a 21stCentury pacifier for children. British 6thForm students also gave their opinions.

Humans are afraid of AI and for good reason.  Will people use it ethically and morally?  Also there is the fear that human activities could become replaceable. However, a good point was raised by a Radio 4 speaker.  Hunting and gathering was once seen as a vital human activity. You can’t stop progress. You can prepare for it.

Some main questions for HE educators could be:
What can we use AI for when supporting student learning?
Which human interactions (in teaching and learing) are the most important and should not become automated?

There could be instances when AI, plus an educator working together would be most appropriate.

To listen to the programme in full:

Monday, 9 July 2018

Anyone can teach series 3. Be Prepared!

Welcome back to this nuts and bolts teaching tips series.
Last time we thought about the most important part of teaching… caring about the students (and yourself- wellbeing!)

I asked colleagues for their top teaching tips.  Denyse King (one of our wonderful Portsmouth HSS colleagues) replied :
"Develop and sustain a reputation for interesting and entertaining learning sessions."

To deliver this you would need passion for the subject, good subject knowledge, confidence and other qualities.  I argue at some point, you would need to plan and prepare for these amazing sessions.

Today’s tip is to be prepared.  This is something that experienced teachers do without having to think about it.  It sounds obvious, but you would be amazed at how many teachers do not prepare carefully!

For example, the other day I had a cover teacher for yoga.  The teacher ran out of ideas 30 minutes prior to the end of the lesson, so she let the class out early!  This was embarrassing for the teacher and frustrating for the students.

Tips of the day… Troubleshoot your teaching and learning sessions:
Always trouble shoot your seminar/lecture.  Ask yourself questions like this when you plan the session you are about to teach:

-who am I teaching (number of students, level of their training, any students with additional learning needs)?
-what am I teaching? (curriculum content, level etc)
-whatwill the students be doing in the session (aim to encourage active learning)?
-how will I teach (this will help avoid death by ppt!, can you simplify a complex idea, how will I engage students)?
-howwill I know the students understand (more on assessment later in the series)
-howmany copies of the resource do I need? (will I need any spares?)
-howlong will each activity/part of the lesson take roughly?
-whatwill I get the students to do if the session finishes before time?
-whatcan I do if it looks like the session content will not be covered within the session time?
-howwill I react if a student / students come in late and miss information?

If you would like a lesson planning template, I recommend this one:   (You can adapt it for HE.)

Activities to have at the ready:
Ideas to have up your sleeve (students could work in groups/individually to):
-summarise the learning (as a tweet, padlet, diagram on large paper, using Lego! etc)
-jot down any questions they would like to follow up in a future session/s
-complete an exit poll (a quiz linked to the learning so you know what to cover next time etc)
-help you plan future sessions based on the learning intentions (it is good practice to involve students in planning course material)

Thought of the day:

‘One of the most important (principles of good teaching) is the need for planning. Far from compromising spontaneity, planning provides a structure and context for both teacher and students, as well as a framework for reflection and evaluation’ (Spencer, 2003, p. 25).

Image of the day:

Spencer J (2003) Learning and teaching in the clinical environment. In: Cantillon P, Hutchinson L and Wood D (eds) BMJ ABC of Learning and Teaching in Medicine, pp. 25– 8. BMJ Publishing Group, London.

More from this series:

Anyone can teach series 1.

If you have something you would like me to cover in this series, please suggest below.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Anyone can teach series- Part 2- CARING!

Welcome back to part 2 of this teaching tips series!

In part 1, you found out that anyone can teach!

Now let’s start to unpick the very foundations of what actually makes a good teacher, bit by bit?

I asked my colleagues for their top teaching tips.
Several of their comments related to the fact that “caring” for the students was important.

It doesn’t matter if you are teaching in industry, at school, FE or HE level, making a professional connection with your students is potentially the most important thing you can do as a teacher.

Denyse King: “Be kind and honest and treat students like adults.”
Liz Falconer: “When I remember my best teachers they cared, made time for me, cared, made me laugh, cared and instilled curiosity in me. Oh, and cared!”

(Liz and Denyse)

Tips of the day…
1) Get to know your studentsand the lives they live.  (How do you make time for this?  How can you find out about your students?)
2) Activelylistento students.
3) Askstudents for feedback.  (The CEL team have lots of ideas for this e.g. using Menti, Padlet, Brightspace, invite students in for a discussion etc).
4) Reflecton your own experience with care.

Thought of the day…
The teacher who truly cares is the teacher who fearlessly stares any student dead in their eyes while telling them:
“You are better…
You can do better… and you will do better.
I will believe in you for you.
Now let’s achieve your better together!” (Ty Howard)

Image of the day…
At this point in your teaching, how do you feel about your students??
How do you feel about yourself as a teacher?

 In a fortnight... Part 3.

Anyone can teach series part 1

You might find yourself in a teaching role as a member of staff or as a postgraduate student. 
Don’t panic!

Here is the good news… anyone can teach!  Really, anyone can teach.

But can you teach well?  Can you teach better?  The answer is yes you can.

I asked my HE twitter colleagues:
“If you could give one top tip for teaching at HE level what would it be?”

Their answers will make the content for some upcoming blog posts, designed to be short starter ideas, to get you thinking.

Thought of the day…
To teach consistently we need improvement ourselves.

Photo of the day...
Which student is engaged in the learning?

Coming up next... Part 2- Caring!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Reflections on the #OER18 Conference

There was a diverse range of international speakers who discussed their projects and ideas including: the results of an EU wide review of OER practices (which concluded that countries are travelling on the same journey- though perhaps with different types and sizes of vehicles), an historical systematic review of OER practices (by Vivien Rolfe and her team) and a presentation linking OER to music and David Bohm (youtube) talking about perception. 

The end of day keynote was given by @mosallah who said: OER – to co-produce knowledge and help communities equalise imbalance.   And that the cornerstones of Open are: co-production, disruption, sustainability, accessibility beyond digital, tech knowledge sharing, counter-orthodoxy spaces.

Liz picked out a quote from John Casey- “tendency to privilege text in education.”  Which she feels is very true and misses many opportunities for active learning.

Thoughts of the day
OER are key for girls and women in remote and developing areas.  However, OER cannot be the default.  We need to think when is it appropriate?  We need to consider privacy (seen the sharp end of that recently).  It is a difficult area to negotiate and we need to be sensitive.

Questions to come away with
We are trying to fit new tech into ancient institutional structures.  What can we do about this?

What is the problem that openness solves?

What is the problem that “closedness” solves?  Closed can be the right answer.

My own question- are there different considerations for academics at the start of their career compared to alter on?

Follow day two on twitter now: #OER18

Friday, 2 March 2018

VR Education- A research Update

I am Heidi Singleton, a BU PGR with CEL.  I joined in September 2017 and am at the Initial Review stage of my PhD.  My supervisors are Professor Debbie Holley, Dr Jaqueline Priego and Dr Liz Falconer.  Here is a summary of my research so far…
My PhD is researching…
-how to design and operationalise a flipped learning framework using VR and other low-cost tools and evaluate the learning potential for sustainable and scalable student learning
– how VR technologies can be harnessed in a lecture theatre setting with 150 nursing students to enable a better grasp of complex concepts (in this case DKA, HSS and hypoglycaemia- all acute emergencies of diabetes- definitions at end of post)

I am researching this because… 
-students cannot always be training on medical wards or other settings relevant to their learning
– when they learn in the classroom, complex concepts can be difficult for students to understand and retain
-they pay for their course and expect engaging and innovative learning
-the incidence of diabetes is rising, so nurses must be prepared to spot symptoms and know treatment choices

Theory tells me that…
-VR aligns well with situated learning- through which, connections between complex real-world situations and classroom experiences can be developed
– the context with VR learning scenario is crucial.  The specific features of VR contextual learning have brought the educational potential that the traditional classroom would never have

What I have found so far…
– rapid evolution of VR technologies has not been accompanied by the appraisal of their effectiveness for student-centred learning
– research indicating strong student engagement, but often relying on self-report for learning outcomes
– VR technology has not yet become embedded into curricula; there remains a lack of clarity concerning the underpinning theories and instructional design aspects

The gaps seem to be …
-20th Century learning theories continue to prevail (yet there are more suitable 21st Century approaches e.g. Connectivism and Heutagogy)
-most evaluation of VR learning relies upon self-report
-few studies used a control or pre-testing
-using VR in classroom settings in scalable and sustainable ways

What I will do…
-next step is to develop the methodology and method
-explore VR technology, as the characteristics or VR seem to lend themselves better to this project than AR (see end for definitions of both)
-build VR app with support from our Computing Faculty or funding from a Diabetes charity
-help to write the new diabetes curriculum with the course leader (Dr Janet James and a Nurse Specialist from RBCH), embedding VR technology, and using Bloom’s Taxonomy and situated and contextual learning theories (I have observed their traditional diabetes inputs this year as a starting point)
-test the pilot VR app with CEL colleagues and RBCH nurses
-implement and evaluate the innovation with nursing students

Expected Impact…
– the model generated by this project will be transferable to different learning contexts for example: nursing homes, hospitals and the community as well as lectures for other disciplines (they will be able to use their own virtual case studies)

-trainee nurses should have a better understanding of DKS/HHS and hypoglycaemia through using VR case studies- this should aid patient care

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
You can follow me at @blueprintteacher and CEL at @cel_bu

-is a computer-generated simulation or a replacement of one’s environment.  For example, you put on a headset like Oculus Rift, it blocks out your world view and substitutes a digital world that is designed to fool your senses.  VR tends to be completely immersive with no real-world stimuli effecting the experience.

-its main purpose isn’t to cut out the real world and transport you to another one.  Rather it is to be a digital addition to your real world with a set of virtual objects in. When a person’s real environment is supplemented or augmented with computer generated images, usually motioned tracked; then that’s augmented reality (e.g. Pokemon go, snapchat, Hololens etc).  Augment is from the latin word “Augere” to increase or add.  Hence, augmented technology is adding to our existing reality.

Consistently high blood glucose levels can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This happens when a severe lack of insulin means the body cannot use glucose for energy, and the body starts to break down other body tissue as an alternative energy source. Ketones are the by-product of this process. Ketones are poisonous chemicals which build up and, if left unchecked, will cause the body to become acidic – hence the name ‘acidosis’.
Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State occurs in people with Type 2 diabetes who experience very high blood glucose levels (often over 40mmol/l). It can develop over a course of weeks through a combination of illness (e.g.infection) and dehydration.

occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 4 mmol/L (72mg/dL).  Whilst many of us think of diabetes as being a problem of high blood sugar levels, the medication some people with diabetes take medication that can also cause their sugar levels to go too low and this can become dangerous.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Technology Showcase

It was great to see both representatives from CEL, Psych-tech and Computing and Animation come together to demonstrate their cutting-edge technology at this weeks' Technology Showcase.  The Showcase was aimed both at staff and members of the public, in the lead up to Professor Debbie Holley’s inspirational lecture (Hashtags, Handhelds and Handbags).

Here is Professor Holley trying out Pysch-tech’s V-Red Virtual reality with a HTC Vive headset.

Pscy-tech also brought along their Tiltbrush demonstration, which is also operated using the Vive Headset along with haptic feedback handhelds.  

And their impressive 3D printer; along with some examples of models they had printed including: a small version of a human spine, a BU logo and a model of an animal skull to name but a few.

The Faculty of Computers and Animation demonstrated their expensive Augmented Reality HoloLens.  They augmented an avatar onto CEL's very cool keyboard seats.

CEL's own team demonstrated augmented reality Zappar and Aurasma codes, hundreds of Googlecard boards, the new BU drone and two Oculus Rifts (one of which was demonstrating the virtual Avebury build by Liz Falconer and her team).

Both staff and the public showed lots of interest in the technology and were able to learn more about some of it during Professor Holley's lecture.

If you would like to find out more about how staff and students are using innovative technology to enhance learning at BU, then follow the CEL team.@CEL_bu

You can follow the Showcase and Debbie's lecture using the twitter hashtag: #handhelds

AI- Empathy and Human Interaction. Considerations for educators.

On Radio 4 this morning Rabbi Jonathan Sacks discussed AI with some of the world’s leading thinkers. The programme started by highlighting...