Author: Melanie Walter

New ideas for Innovedum, the ETH innovative teaching fund

With the Innovedum Fund, ETH has an extremely successful instrument for promoting innovative teaching, especially with regard to community building (cf. Reinhardt, Korner, Walter, 2019). Topics such as student engagement (Healey, Flint & Harrington, 2014) and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Martensson & Roxa, 2015) are increasingly being considered globally as an important part of educational development activities. With this in mind, the Innovedum application process became the focus of a rethink and revision in 2020. The application process was updated to a webform and new criteria were included in the application process. These were; inclusion of the student perspective, dissemination of Innovedum projects results and communication. 

Inclusion of the student perspective in the project design and the planned project implementation

To encourage future applicants to take the student perspective into account, a new question was added to the application form. This is to meet the express wish of the Rector to further student perspectives and involvement when developing projects that innovate teaching and learning at ETH. Since the purpose of Innovedum is to have a positive effect on teaching and learning, it is important that the opportunity to include students in the application process is available:

Student Involvement: Describe whether and how students were involved in the preparation and review of this project application. How will students be involved in project implementation?

This question provides the project applicant with the freedom to decide if and how students can be involved in a possible project, while also pointing out easy steps how this could be done. 

Dissemination of Innovedum Projects: Spreading good Teaching and Learning at ETH

Currently there is a public project database and various community events (Refresh TeachingLearning and Teaching Fair) where Innovedum projects are made visible. To compliment this an explicit expectation to systematically reflect on the effectiveness of Innovedum projects is now also part of the application and reporting process. Applicants are now encouraged to consider the impact the project will have on teaching and learning and therefore develop a coherent evaluation strategy from the beginning.

Evaluation strategy: Describe the evaluation strategy you will use to check achievement of project goals and effects on teaching. What approaches will you use? Are you planning measures for identifying interim results? If so, how will these results flow back into the project?

For help with designing an evaluation strategy apropriate lecturers can always contact their LSPs or LET.  

Project communication: Making project insights visible

Taking the findings made during the evaluation and sharing them with others will make it easier for new applicants to profit from the lessons others have learned and increase the quality of their own applications. Ultimately a clearer picture of how innovation in teaching in learning works at ETH will emerge and flow back in to educational development as a whole. 

Project communication: How do you plan to publicise and document the progress of the project? What form will the final report for the Innovedum project database take? How will you disseminate project results?

There are a multitude of spaces both at ETH and beyond where results and experiences can be shared. At ETH the following spaces are available:

  • LET-Blog. The blog is a place where effective and innovative teaching is featured as well as general projects and activities relating to teaching and learning. www.blogs.ethz.ch/letblog 
  • Refresh Teaching. A lunch-time seminar series where lecturers share and discuss their innovations in teaching.  www.refreshteaching.ethz.ch
  • Innoview and Competence view are two different dynamic websites which respectively feature innovative teaching projects or projects where cross-disciplinary competencies are explicitly fostered.  
  • Learning and Teaching Journal. The Journal publishes discussion as well as systematic reflections regarding discipline specific contributions.

Please contact LET (beratung@let.ethz.ch) if you want to share your teaching project in one of these spaces. Any kind of projects are welcome, funded and non-funded.

Beyond ETH there are frequent conferences where teaching staff are welcome to present such projects. The Swiss Faculty Development Network hosts an annual conference of this nature and scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) conferences are also a great opportunity.

The Education Developer in your Departement (https://ethz.ch/en/the-eth-zurich/education/educational-development/netzwerk-lehrspezialisten.html) can advise and support the communication of your project.

You can find further information on the Innovedum website or contact the Innovedum office. Applications deadlines for focal and teaching projects are March 1st and October 1st every year.  

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Engaging students through technology enhanced Feedback

Teachers’ written commentary on student assignments is a fundamental element of instruction in almost any discipline. However, it is unclear what impact the feedback has on students. Consequently, teachers face fundamental questions for which no ready answers are available: Which components of commentary are most helpful, and how are they most effectively delivered? How can students’ uptake of commentary be optimised, and how can teachers be most efficient when providing commentary?

Giving and receiving feedback with Edword

Edword is an assignment feedback tool that provides answers to these questions; it quantifiably improves the quality and efficiency of commentary and its uptake and measures previously unobserved aspects of learning. Edword is an online platform to which students can upload written assignments of any kind set by teachers.

Teachers´view of sample comments for a microbiology lab.

Teachers can then add commentary to the text. These comments can be written individually as done in many traditional teaching settings, but Edword also enables the rapid application of prewritten comments from comment sets. These comment sets can address any aspects of written work in any discipline. They can be prepared by teachers working individually or shared between colleagues in teams.

Students´view of feedback through a comment with additional video material.
Sample comment for a common mistake in lab reports.

Because they can be adjusted and augmented, a comment set can evolve as individual comments are added and improved. The quality and level of detail that can be delivered within the time available for commenting on assignments is thus substantially increased.

When the student opens the commentary, the most important comments, selected by the teacher, are presented first and repeated comments bundled so that the student sees every instance of the same comment in the assignment. This allows the teacher to optimise individual students’ uptake of their commentary. Edword enables further optimisation by measuring two aspects of students’ engagement with the comments: the time the student spends with each individual comment is automatically recorded, and the student gives one of three responses—helpful, neutral, or unhelpful—to each comment. These data points are automatically collated by comment and assignment to provide a fine-grained evidence base for further adaptation of comment sets and commenting practice to the specific requirements of programs and disciplines.

Successful pilot project

Edword’s suitability for use with UZH and ETH students was tested in a pilot project between February and May 2020. Writing instructors from the English unit of the Language Center of UZH and ETH Zurich (LC) attended a LET Refresh Teaching event at ETH on 4 September 2019 where selected EdTech startups from the Kickstart Accelerator program presented their tools; here, they were introduced to the Edword online writing assessment tool. Seeing its potential, four writing instructors collaborated with LET and ran a pilot project to test Edword in their courses comprising 167 students in all. The instructors created and shared comment sets containing a total of over 350 specialized comments. The participating students were surveyed online about their experience with Edword at the end of their courses (response rate 32%). Some 87% said they preferred commentary via Edword over traditionally delivered comments.

Potential for broader application at ETH

The feedback processes in Edword can be used to provide highly nuanced and sophisticated commentary for any kind of written assignment, and comment sets can be adapted to the demands of any discipline. The comment sets can be written centrally or developed collaboratively or individually, and the uptake of commentary is monitored in detail. Further test groups can demonstrate the range of academic contexts in which Edword is applicable. Please contact Melanie Walter if you are interested in trying out Edword in your ETH course.

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eCollaboration @ ETH

Das eCollaboration Projekt soll das kollaborative Lernen und Zusammenarbeiten im Lehrkontext an der ETH für Studierende und Dozierende einfacher gestalten. Dazu wurden zwei digitale Werkzeuge evaluiert (Pressbooks und PolyboxEdu) und in die bestehende Servicelandschaft der ETH eingefügt.

Das Projekt gründet auf dem Konzept des Lernens als sozialen Prozess. Dabei geht man davon aus, dass die Beteiligten gemeinsam einen von allen getragenen Konsens zu einem bestimmten Thema entwickeln oder ein Produkt erarbeiten. Daraus resultiert ein höheres Niveau an Denkprozessen und die Informationen werden von den einzelnen im Vergleich zum individuellen Lernen länger abgespeichert. Soziale Impulsen wie z.B. Dialoge, Diskussionen, verschiedene Sichtweisen oder Meinungsverschiedenheiten wirken sich generell positiv auf den Lernprozess aus.

Bei Studierenden und Dozierenden wurde als grosser Bedarf das gemeinsame Erstellen und gleichzeitige Bearbeiten von Texten und Dokumenten sowie eine Diskussions- und Kommentarfunktion identifiziert. Diese Bedürfnisse werden durch eine Kombination der folgenden Tools abgedeckt.

Pressbooks bietet die Möglichkeit digitale Bücher zu erstellen. Dies erfolgt direkt im Learning Management System Moodle der ETH. Die Studierenden können darin gemeinsam an umfangreichen Dokumenten arbeiten, welche am Ende ein digitales Buch ergeben. Längere Dokumente können attraktiv dargestellt und doch flexibel bearbeitet werden.

Mögliche Einsatzszenarien sind:

  • gemeinsames Erstellen und Überarbeiten von Skripten/Zusammenfassungen
  • Reviewen von Dokumenten

 

FOCUS PRESSBOOKS

Urs Brändle vom D-Usys hat dieses Semester Pressbooks genutzt um die Datenauswertung für die Biodiversitätsexkursion aus dem FS 2018 zusammen mit seinen Studierenden zu dokumentieren.

Die Exkursionsgruppen schreiben jeweils ein Kapitel des eBooks, zum Beispiel zu Wasservögeln im Zürcher Seebecken, Flechten auf Stadtbäumen oder Makroinvertebraten in Fliessgewässern. Über die Revisionshistorie lässt sich genau nachvollziehen, wer was geschrieben hat. Kommentare ermöglichen Diskussionen oder Hinweise für Verbesserungen. Die Arbeitsprozesse sind somit transparent und ermöglichen den Studierenden den Vergleich und das Betrachten der Inhalte der jeweils anderen Exkursionsgruppen.

 

PolyboxEdu basiert auf dem etablierten Cloudspeicherdienst der ETH Polybox. PolyboxEdu bietet das gemeinsame synchrone Bearbeiten von Dokumenten in gängigen Office-Formaten. Diese können innerhalb der ETH geteilt und bearbeitet werden. Gleichzeitig kann die PolyboxEdu als Dateiablage (Repository) in Moodle genutzt werden (Anleitung).

Da die Studierenden auf PolyboxEdu auch selbst Arbeitsgruppen bilden können bietet es sich ideal für Formen von Student Directed Learning an, bei denen der Dozent nicht direkt Einfluss auf die Lerninhalte nimmt.

 

Mögliche Einsatzszenarien sind:

  • Ablage umfangreicherer Dateien direkt aus Moodle
  • Synchrones Zusammenarbeiten an Dokumenten (Versuchsprotkolle, Seminararbeiten, Ideensammlung etc.)

Geplant ist ausserdem ein Online Annotationstool um Zusammenarbeit, Kommunikation und kritisches Denken zu unterstützen. Geplant ist die Einführung im vierten Quartal 2018.

Für konkrete technische Hilfe und Umsetzung von eCollaboration Formaten steht Ihnen das Beratungsteam oder Melanie Walter (Projektleitung eCollaboration) gerne zur Verfügung.

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