Things we’ve been reading about

Things we’ve been reading about this week: academic integrity, information literacy and clever free apps…


The link between inadvertent plagiarism and the varying prior education experiences of international students is a central issue in the drive to promote academic integrity in UK universities. I was interested to read this guidance from the Higher Education Academy about the differences between international students’ experiences, and practical ways to introduce them to a British understanding of academic integrity. Interestingly, the ‘top tip’ was to use text-matching software for formative assessment, to teach students what constitutes plagiarism in the UK: the TEL Team at Bristol have been interested for some time in this emerging practice. (Jilly)


The QAA have produced a second edition of their guide to assessment for early career staff; which focuses on the contribution of assessment to maintaining academic standards in Higher Education. This edition of the publication includes a section on academic integrity in assessment. The recommendations made, although not ground breaking, outline pragmatic and practicable approaches to reducing the incentive and opportunity for both deliberate and inadvertent plagiarism in assessment. (Roger)


The LSE and Cambridge University are among those to have implemented  ANCIL (a new curriculum for information literacy) to audit students’ information literacy skills and to deliver effective teaching of these skills. A fuller definition of the curriculum and case studies from Cambridge and York St John Universities offer some insight into this process. The LSE’s current evaluation of the approach is raising big questions around the extent to which the purpose of an undergraduate degree is to prepare students to be masters of their discipline (as is believed here at Bristol) and how, and by whom, information literacy skills should be taught. (Jilly)


Have you ever wanted to take a snapshot of a long webpage, including what’s below the scroll? Do you sometimes need to grab a region of your computer screen, then add arrows or annotations to the resulting image? Two free apps that work within the Google Chrome browser make it easy. Not only are these apps both free, you can install them yourself within your browser rather than needing admin rights. Screen Capture by Google makes it easy to capture scrolling browser windows, as well as offering the usual screen grabbing options such as capturing a specific window or aExample screen grab showing arrows and annotationsn arbitrary region of the screen. Awesome Screenshot is also able to capture an entire scrolling webpage, and once captured, provides an easy interface for cropping, drawing on, adding arrows and annotating the resulting image. It also provides a handy blurring tool for obscuring portions of the image that might contain sensitive information. Both apps are easy to install in Chrome. (Doug)

Event: Re-imagining open education, published works and social media, 16 Oct 2012, London

By Suzi Wells

Having booked at the last minute I was a little unsure what to expect at this one-day workshop. It was publicised through the MEDEV website. Not having a background in medical education I wasn’t sure how relevant it would be to me.

I’m very glad I managed to go along. Two main projects were discussed: Oxford’s Open Spires (and especially Great Writers Inspire and the World War I centenary); and Newcastle’s PublishOER (working with Elvisier to investigate the use of publisher’s materials in OERs).

There’s lots I’d like to follow up from the day, and it was fantastic timing for our new project on OERs at Bristol. My full (and rather rough) notes are below. A few of the key things for me were this:

  • OERs are not new, but it feels like we’re at the beginning of something
  • it is not an area that universities can ignore, and this seems to be increasingly well-recognised
  • if Elsivier are anything to go by, publishers are also recognising that this is something that they need to engage with (though Elsivier may have more reason to engage than most because of the academic boycott against them)
  • the issues around licensing (and, especially in the case of medical content, consent) are complex – they can be made more manageable but they will still be non-trivial

Workshop details on MEDEV website

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Things we’ve been reading about

This week the TEL Team have been reading about:

Newcastle University’s newly launched mobile app, designed and built by a student at the University for all students but particularly to support the transition to HE. At this time of year supporting student transitions is top of every institution’s agenda, and I found this an interesting insight into how mobile can be effectively used to support students. (Jilly)

Preview version of  TechWatch Report on eBooks in Education is available for comments until 8th October. (Roger)

Education’s Digital Future – a class being run by Stanford looks like an interesting initiative. Not an online class, but much of the information is being posted online. (Suzi)

Two interesting (and complementary) perspectives on Higher Education, gained from participation in MOOCs – Jonathan Rees blogs about how the failings of online course discussion boards which are not structured or mediated by an instructor; and Kate Bowles questions the highly structured way in which learning material is delivered. As both these posts suggest, these observations apply to Higher Education delivered within institutions as well as through fully online channels: for example we already know that students do not use online discussion boards or blogs unless these are appropriately structured  and their relevance to the subject is clear. In view of the University of Bristol’s commitment to supporting active, collaborative and participatory learning, and learning environments which can be personalised, I feel that these are issues of great importance. (Jilly)

Here is a very interesting radio discussion on the future of the university, with particular reference to the impact of the Internet and online learning. Professor Mark Taylor of Columbia University makes some particularly interesting points about what it means in a higher education context to move from an era of mass production to something new that benefits from the modern potential for “mass customisation.” (starts at 35:18) Well worth a listen. (Doug)

Topics that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration within and between institutions, often facilitated by technology, are those which are relatively new: the Sustainability Exchange, of which JISC is a partner, and the University’s Sustainable Development open unit are both clear examples of this. What will it take to extend these practices to other, more ‘traditional’ disciplines? (Jilly)