Minute from Coimbra meeting 13 -16 June 07

VIRCLASS meeting – 13 – 16 June 2007
Miguel Torga University College, Coimbra, Portugal
FOCUS ON: Evaluation of the VIRCLASS courses – future plans

 

Participants: Eduardo Marques, Andres Astray, Klas-Göran Olsson, Carsten Otte, Ulli Moll, Ewa Kantowicz, Remmelt Veenkamp, Kjell Henriksbø, Grete Oline Hole, Morten Fahlvik, Anne Karin Larsen

 

Partners that could not participate in the meeting: Answin Weissenborn, Alessandro Bernazolli.

Thursday 14 June: Focus on experience and evaluation

Reception: Miguel Torga University College invited the participants to an opening session with the leader of the Board of Research, the leader of international affairs and prof. Eduardo Marques.

1. YEAR REPORT
Anne Karin presented a year review (PP) for 2006 and spring 2007 including future plans.
With the headlines:
Experiences with the Educational Programme
Development of a Virtual Book
Development of a new administrative model
Presentations at conferences
Research and Papers
Applications for project grants
The main work done is:
The Virtual Book production together with the Media centre: 25 screen lecturers, 12 triggers, Video Case with 12 scenes
Meetings: 6 meetings and two online conferences with the partners in 11/2 year. PP shows locations with agenda; and pictures form each partner meeting and the  meeting with the leaders from the partner institutions in November.
Board meetings: 3 Board Meetings
Dissemination: Presented a list over 12 conferences where VIRCLASS was presented, and journals/ books with printed/accepted/planned papers.
This list was not complete; and every partner having made presentations are asked to send AKL a list with the necessary details from all places where VIRCLASS has bee presented.
Research group collaboration has been done by online conferences and during the partner meetings. The work has mainly been related to developing surveys for evaluation of the courses and activities in the project.
Experiences with the Educational Programme. Student progression.
The PP includes a short overview of the main aspects related to number of students participating in the courses in 2006/07 and some of the data from the student survey.
Plan for future
AKL briefly presented some thought about future, that will be discussed the next days, mainly related to developing and running a e-pedagogy course (an application for an Erasmus IP is sent to EU), and development of a new module in Community Work inviting new partners from other continents.

2. GROUP DISCUSSION about experiences as e-teachers:
Grete Oline was moderator for a group discussion among the teachers over the following points:
What are your experiences as VIRCLASS teachers?
Looking back; what do think about VIRCLASS as a tool for improving learning and teaching in social work in Europe?
What are your thoughts about VIRCLASS in the future?
The discussion was recorded and will be presented later together with the results from the teacher survey.
After lunch
3. DIFFERENT WAYS TO COMMUNICATE IN THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM
Started to look into different communication tools. (Continued this session also on Friday).
Morten presented a PP which outlined the pre’s and con’s for chat vs discussion forums vs assignments/papers (available at its learning).
During & after M presentation we discussed different ways of organizing the communication between t/s and s/s. Morten raised the question of how to use the Case with Mrs K and her family in the chat arena,  discussions forum and in longer assignment.
What were the teachers’ experiences with chat so far? Varying experiences in the different Modules/ themes:
  • One teacher in each chat, thus giving the students 2 diff options of time for chat.  (AKL/Answin). Good experience with this.
  • 3 teachers in a chat (Module 2a), Disappointed with the chat sessions, few students attained, sometimes none.
  • Two teachers in same chat; 1 as leader/moderator, the other as observer and facilitator (helping the leader with having an overview over the chat; and had a short “debriefing” after the chat) (Module2B)
Discussed chat in it’s learning vs using chat in MSN and other free ware tools the students uses, etc. The student survey shows that more students are familiar with MSN now.

Went to the data-lab to log on and try to communicate through MSN as chat area.
Decision: Those which don’t have an MSN- and Google-account should make one, so we all can try these tools later. Morten will set up a tutorial for the use of MSN and we will arrange a teacher chat before the next meeting in September to get more experience with this.
MSN: we all create/have an account; we have to invite each other into our list of friends, and accept the invitation; è then we can have this chat-area in common.
Send Morten your MSN- mail address and he sends us all an e-mail with this overview over addresses; we send each other invitations.
The meeting ended at 17:00.
Evening activities: Guided visit to the Coimbra University and library and the exhibition of Contemporary Art at Pavillion Centro de Portugal.
Delicious welcome dinner by the Miguel Torga University College – hostess Cristina Quintas, at Taverna on River Side.
    

Friday 15th: Focus on Future

Student oriented way of teaching and learning.
4. COMMUNICATION TOOLS TO IMPROVE INTERACTIVITY IN THE VC.
Morten: Starting with catching up from last day. Then he presented some of his ideas, and chaired this session. E-learning: - Life Long Learning perspective.
Collaboration tools: Google doc; Create.
Morten will make tutorials for the teachers that can be used for the students later.
Google documents: discussion after MF presentation of this:
Google documents is a tool that can be used for co writing and can be a good way for collaboration when writing a document or an application. We should try to use this tool to see how it works. Can use this tool when working on the programme for the IP-  course in e-pedagogy.
We have to make sure that we are not starting to use tools that will reduce the possibility for transparency in the VIRCLASS courses, but google doc can be a tool when we want students to work more together with group work.
There will be different kind of transparency; this could be a collaboration tool. The person who opens the doc will invite others in; he decide to allow other to view, edit, …
With this shared doc others can changes what  have been written and  this is the idea; but there will be a log over changes; -- what you have done, who and when there were changes etc are all saved in the ‘history’.
If others edit while you are writing this is no problem, if 2 persons edit at same time. But remember: you “work in cyberspace”, - even though there are frequently automatic savings; you may loose some of your work if you have a computer breakdown.
 
5. FEEDBACK TO STUDENTS:
Discussing the experience with transparency and open feedback. Best Practice in written feedback to students. Comparing different ways of giving feedback. Anne Karin had copied examples from feedback to students in the two modules for discussions. Morten presented some ideas about what should be included in feed-back to students’ assignments.
Feed back (form)
·    Has the text a clear structure?
·      Is the text giving an answer to the question in the task/ assignment?
·      Are there references to literature/resources?
·      Is the language clear
We agreed that we need a pattern for feed-back for longer assignments to make this more similar and to reduce the differences in the feedback given. We agreed that good and concrete feedback is important to give to students in e-learning courses, and that also positive feedback should be specific and clear as well as the feedback about things that can be improved.
We also agreed that for some tasks students can give each other feedback, also they should have a grid for how to do this.
We discussed different ways of giving feedback. The students do not know our expectances. We need to tell them: what is good and what can you elaborate, - what do you need to do to improve the work ( = get it better for submitting in your final presentation-portfolio?)
The criteria for assessing their work should be given together with the assignments.
It is important, but challenging to make good criteria.
AKL found this extra challenging due to the competence based curriculum (CBC). In module 1 she had made a marking sheet, with help from R, but found this a bit too brief and rigorous. In Module 2 it was not easy to follow the same pattern for assessor guide, it was a struggle; each tasks had so many different competences; - how to say what is most important? K & K-G had a good way of making the competences and expectations clear for the students in the weekly programme by presenting this  weeks learning objectives, telling the students this is the way you should work, this is how we will asses your effort….
To keep the feedback open to everybody is a challenge sometimes when students have been writing something that is really wrong and that need to be corrected. Some teachers prefer then to give feedback in a personal e-mail to the student. The problem when doing it this way is that other students might think that what the other students have done is ok, since it is not corrected. Then this can be a problem later when delivering the final portfolio.
We must learn to tell the students in a constructive way that they have written something wrong.
We discussed tools for detecting cheating. One Norwegian University College had used a declaration that students had to sign “This it my own work, it has not been submitted other places…..” Maybe we should make a schema like this. Some did not think this would help.
Feedback frame
All feedback must include some positive elements. All feedback should be concrete and constructive. Refer to the text in the task. In the introduction, define the way they understand the task.
Reference / text citations: Are the references in the text in the reference list? The students should not have reference in the list that they don’t use in the text. 
Is Statement and Conclusions OK?
Document structure: This is mentioned in Bobs lecture.
We should refer to the lecture about evidence based writing in our feedback.
GO gave information about the web- based library course Search and Write (SOS) and sent the link to the group looking into this matter (R, K-G, AA & AKL). The English translation is in progress, the aim is to finish it during this summer.
With our feedback we want to give the students an idea about
1. how to improve, 2: to assess. Feedback is a discussion/ analytic tool;
The curriculum plan says: describe, analyse, compare and we need to have this in mind when making the assignments and setting the assessment criteria.
To give feedback to students in VIRCLASS is more challenging than in F2F meetings with students. Difficult to ask students questions and to make them reflect about their work in VIRCLASS, easier to give them direct advice. Maybe there can be a combination of the ways we do this; - can we raise questions for reflection in our feedback?  Use feedback as a blog, ask the students to give feedback to the teachers  feedback?
May be also the chat sessions can be used for giving feedback, or discussing feedback with the students in chats?
It is important to give examples, state what you are talking about: in page so- and so you ….and in page do and so you
And with a transparent classroom the teachers can refer to other students work and  to the comments given to other students.
Conclution: Klas-Göran will present a proposal for a feedback guide for teachers based on what we have discussed. This will be ready by the end of July and presented in the google doc for others to comment. Then in September this tool will be ready.
Remmelt will look into the module 2 final  assessment and see how the assessor guide can be constructed.
picture GOH

 

6. IP PROGRAMME E-LEARNING PEDAGOGY
Morten and Anne Karin had a short summary of aims and presented the program for the e-pedagogy course in May. Asked for input and ideas from the others.
How to structure chat; what are subject for chats, what are input for a-synchronic discussions Need to be hands-on practical training; learning to use the tools.
In the application:
Austria, 3 students; 1 teacher, Netherlands 2 students, Spain 1 student; 1 Teachers, Germany 1 students;  Sweden  1  student; 1 teacher, Portugal 2 students; Belgium 1 student, 
Those who come as teachers have to tell what they want to contribute with in the course. According to the IP conditions the number of teachers and students influences the cost; cost and accommodation refunding will be less for students than for teachers. You all have to apply for funding from your home country. Teachers: MF, AKL, GOH, Frank Weber, AA, KGO
Course gives 6 ECTS, 3 for the course, 3 for the e-learning part. Some have suggested to expand this to 7, 5 credits (fits better into some partners study-program, AKL will check if this is possible.
We looked into the Work Plan, subjects to be taught and the day by day programme for the campus part. This is all presented in the IP application that has been sent to the partners.
The work plan has to be adjusted. The curriculum plan will be finished during this autumn and the content must be developed during spring. VIRCLASS has received strategic grants from HiB that can be used for development of this programme. We will receive response by the end of June from EU about the IP application. The curriculum plan will be developed either we get the money or not.
In the IP program there is suggested to arrange field visits in Bergen, Participants were asked where they wanted to go? No suggestions. Seems not to be of great interest?
We will need additional money to finance the e-pedagogy course. Important question: where can we get money? Everybody have to search for money for this.
7. ASSESSOR GUIDE
Started this section with a discussion about the experiences from the teacher that had been assessor of students work this last time, both Module 1 and Module 2: Carsten, Bob, Kjell, AKL, … Ewa not present here, had also been assessor in M 1
Different experiences by using the assessor guides. Some did not use it at all, but decided the mark by reading the tasks and compare the marking with the co-assessor. Most of the time the marks matched.  Difficult to know what should be an A or a B how good is excellent and what is very good??
The assessor guide when it is good gives a help to the assessor when writing comments to the students and referring to the criteria. If students complain this makes the situation clearer.
Conclution: Important to work more with making an assessor-guide based on the competence—based CP, but still keep a holistic view!
We need to work more with an assessment guide: Specific assessment criteria for Module 2. Remmelt has to help us with this.
8. RESEARCH: (Andrés and GO with help from Bob):
Andres presented the following:
A community of research: Plan and strategy
Do we want to become a community of research? What does it mean to be a community of research? How to become a community of research?
•         being free to develop your own initiatives
•         knowing you have the support of other colleages
•         recognizing the others help in your initiatives
•         being recognized for the help given to the community.
GO supplemented Andrés here with excamples on how each of the partners could benifit from VIRCLASS by collaborating: f ex; feel free to use AKL power-points as a starting point  when making a presentation in their own counrty. But it is important to give credits to each other. Different ways of doing this, due to the amount of cooperation:  be co-authors, thank the partner by name for help in your work, or thank the VIRCLASS community.
As project leader AKL want to be informed about all presentation/ dissemination of VIRCLASS, and she also wants to be a co-author of the presentation/ papers.
Andrés continued with the presentation of future research: What topics or questions are we really interested in? We need to develop relevant research for our future work as teachers. Not to reinvent the wheel; (build on others experiences). Focus on the e-learning state of the art for social work teachers. We have now a lot of questions to research.
The Student’s Experience: Expectations; Visual elements, Students profile joining VIRCLASS, Use of literature, Different use of chats, Factors related with drop-out, Students VIRCLASS experience compared with campus experience. Etc.
The Teacher’s Experience: VIRCLASS and teacher competences, Didactical skills.
Staff group involvements (different staff groups), Role expectations, Conflicts of interests
Outcomes: What is the impact of the new learning environment at the institutional level? Will this international learning environment create better understanding of commonalities and differences in SW? How do students use the skills and knowledge they have learned?
Research funds can help us: To develop new courses, To create new e-teaching & e-learning knowledge, And: it is important to have a list of EU & national calls for research; Who can be on charge of this?
Conclution: Andres will be in charge of developing a three year plan for research on what we are doing in VIRCLASS. This will be part of our next application for money in EU. The plan must be ready by the beginning of August and sent to Anne Karin. The plan will be presented for the Consortium Management group in September.
9. PREPARATIONS FOR NEW FUNDING FOR DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH- THE LLP PROGRAMME
           http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/llp/index_en.html
            By/ Anne Karin
AKL presents the different aims for the different parts of the LLP programme and her thought about this: The Virtual Campus is probably the one that comes closest to what we are doing. It takes time to write an application and the work will start before the meeting in September.
Eduardo had sent all an e-mail with information about some other funding opportunities, this call for funding were delayed, so it could be possible for VIRCLASS to apply for this.
E: I have experience with this kind of applications; and will be happy to look into this with you.
AKL: you all need to contact your countries international offices; what to do to get money due to this IP project and to be able to finance our future work and development of new courses and research.
Conclution: Anne Karin will together with Remmelt and Tjerk from INHOLLAND, start to work on the application before the meeting in September.
10. PLAN AND STRATEGY FOR DEVELOPING NEW COURSES by/KlasGöran
Klas-Goran  presented the plan for developing a new module in Community Work inviting new partners from other continents.
We need a new challenge; broaden our horizons; - and our students horizons. KG has experience with working with South Africa. We need to focus not only on individual social work, but also to look for other intervention methods and tools like community work. This way of working is more represented in other continents outside Europe.
Discussion about pro & cons for developing new course; community work, the world-wide VIRCLASS. Do we need to go outside Europe to find good examples of community work?
EUSW has an aim to go world wide and as a task force group VIRCLASS can strengthen this aim. Next year the international social work conference is held in Durban, Africa and we want to participate there to present our project and to recruit new partners form other continents.
We have a tool in VIRCLASS, and we should broaden our horizon.  We don’t need to do this, but we should.
Conclution: Klas-Göran will develop a three years plan for developing new partnerships and a new curriculum plan for a module in Comparative Community Work. The plan will be ready by the beginning of August and sent to Anne Karin. It will be presented at the Consortium meeting in September and will be part of the new EU application.
11. NEXT VIRCLASS COURSES
Who will be teachers next time? We have an agreement of starting with 85 students
For 2007/08 the organisation will be like this (from the Consortium Agreement):
Module 1: Approximately 15 students per group:
Answin Weissenborn,Vorarlberg         teaching    80 hours + assessor 38 h
Klas-Göran Olsson, Jønkøping            teaching    80 hours
Remmelt Veenkamp, Inholland            teaching    80 hours
Carsten Otte, Mannheim                      teaching    80 hours + assessor 38 h
Eduardo Marques, ISMT                    teaching    80 hours + assessor 38 h
Anne Karin Larsen, Bergen                 head teacher   60 hours
                                                    
Module 2: Approximately 25 students per theme:
M2C Anne Karin Larsen, Bergen                              teaching    70 hours + headteacher      60 h
M2C Answin Weissenborn,Vorarlberg                      teaching    70 hours + assessor           38 h
M2B Klas-Göran Olsson, Jønkøping                         teaching    70 hours + headteacher      60 h
M2B Remmelt Veenkamp, Inholland                     teaching    70 hours + assessor            38 h
M2A Andres Astray, Madrid                                   teaching    70 hours + assessor             38 h
M2A Bob Sanders, Wales                                        teaching    70 hours + headteacher       60 h
Since Poland is leaving the partnership, we need another external assessor next year.
Remember: we changed the structure due to assessment; not external assessor for all tasks, only for certain part of them.
Eduardo was not happy for not being part of the teacher staff in M2A. He has agreed to be teacher in M1 and will be needed there. If he will have time to do both modules this is fine.
12. MEETING PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR:
Consortium Management group will be at Inholland 12-13 Sept. The steering group committee will meet at the consortium meeting this time.
Teacher meeting  will take place 14-15 September.
AKL need the names of the consortium member: Who should she invite! Those who have not responded to this yet have to do this immediately!!! And send the names to Anne Karin.
The next on-line meeting: AKL will send partners suggestions for dates after the board-meeting tomorrow.
12.  SUMMING UP: WHAT DID WE AGREE ON?
The conclutions in the text in this minute sum up what we agreed on.

 

17:45 End of the meeting
Kjell and Ewa will no longer participate in the project for different reasons. A great thanks to the work they have done.
A great thanks to Eduardo and Miguel Torga University College for excellent hosting of the meeting.
 
Programme for the evening:
Eduardo arranged a trip to the Bucaco national park with the royal summer residence.
Then we went to a restaurant and had a delicious Portuguese dinner.

Minute by: Anne Karin and Grete Oline