#LearnHack at UCL

A huge thank you to UCL’s Tech Society and colleagues from UCL’s Digital Education team (and in particular Janina Dewitz, Innovations Officer) for inviting the OU to join forces for #LearnHack on Saturday, June 4. #LearnHack was a great opportunity for staff and students to learn together, by trying new technologies, and think creatively as to how they might be applied to enhance teaching and learning.

The OU contingent included Dr Claire Kotecki (Life Sciences) and Gill MacMillan, Beccy Dresden, and Penny Holzmann (Senior Technology Enhanced Learning Designers). The morning saw forty participants break into six teams to brainstorm potential solutions with the afternoon dedicated to iterating, prototyping and pitching ideas to the wider group at the end of the day.

The day was a good opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of students’ context which usual consultation mechanisms, such as course surveys and consultations, don’t provide. The participatory format enabled collaboration and lots of dialogue and discussion about how new technologies and pedagogies could be mutually supportive.

Warm congratulations to those on the winning team for their idea of ingesting medical imaging scanning into Moodle, which would enable medical students to practice their skills at manipulate and analysing scans.

Ideas from the remaining teams included:

– Team Baseline proposed an automated tool to help academic staff ensure their Moodle sites are compliant with WC3 accessibility standards. The use of tool tips would provide advice and guidance on how to enhance accessibility, e.g. increasing the contrast of images and ensuring alternative descriptions are included for students using screen reading software.


– Using virtual reality (VR) to create immersive learning experiences for otherwise linear concepts. Potential applications ranged from experiential language learning, to increase confidence, to exploring the genome sequence.

– FutureLearn’s datasets were also thoroughly interrogated to shed light on learners’ habits and even went as far as suggesting a potential new business model!

– Locating UCL’s vast and sprawling campus also came under the microscope with the use of mobile technology and GPS to help navigate to meeting rooms. The accuracy was impressive and whereas Bluetooth beacons have been trialled on public transport networks as an assistive technology, using GPS wouldn’t have the associated cost of installing beacons.

– Using eye tracking to begin to identify potential adaptive learning pathways through module materials.

You might also be interested in the following posts
Hack Days: a case study | May 11, 2016
So how the heck to you run a Hack Day | May 5, 2016
Being an OU student: the highs and lows | Feb 5, 2016
Pitch perfect | Feb 4, 2016
For magic, add students | Jan 26, 2016