Inspiring meeting of the BeL research group today

The Business eLearning research group is part of CIMER research centre in Brighton Business School and today we had an update meeting, as always producing stimulating conversation over cake.

The group was established 12 years ago with a dual mission – to research areas of elearning in relation to business and management, and to support colleagues in the Business School with the use of technology in learning and teaching. We now have five academic members of staff involved and supervise 3 postgraduate research students in related fields.

Activities with which we are currently involved:

  • BSc Professional Development in Business – a part-time blended learning undergraduate degree for people in work, which is based on Open University course material and is assessed and supported by Brighton Business School tutors. This is a pioneering course combining the best online materials from OU and extra tuition and support from our staff plus assessments which are newly designed to relate to students in work. The course is due for validation next month and we are hoping to build it into a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, open for admission in 2017.
  • Online taster programme for students considering coming to university to study business – Andrea Benn and a team from BBS successfully won funding from Widening Participation to develop an hour long online taster programme which has now been designed and handed over to WP. The process and learning from it have been written up as a paper which is to be delivered at the European Conference on ELearning 2016 in Prague by the team, and has also been accepted as an entry for the elearning Excellence Awards this year. The programme is based on Edublogs and can be accessed via any platform on any device.
  • One of our research students – Ibrahim Zalah – has had a paper accepted for the Doctoral Workshop at the ECEL 2016 conference on  The Acceptance and use of E-learning Technologies by Saudi Secondary Teachers.
  • Business School teaching and learning event – every summer, staff get together to review what they do, and this year we are proposing a number of innovations which have been pioneered either by or with the support of BeL group members, ranging from mobile applications which engage students in large lecture sessions, to the online taster session mentioned above, plus problem-based learning experiences, to using online business game simulations.
  • Student Social Media Showcase (SSMS 2016) – runs again for the third time this year. Originally established at the European Conference on Social Media hosted by BeL research group in Brighton in 2014, the SSMS was an event which offered an online showcase of videos in which students presented their research on or with social media, and which was shared with schoolchildren in 2014. Last year, the SSMS went purely online with new student entries and prizes for the best videos. In 2016, we are taking the SSMS entries and video showreels to the Big Bang event, focussing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, on 29th June at Ardingly Showground where thousands of schoolchildren will get a chance to see what kind of social media impacts students at uni are interested in.
  • Trevor Nesbit, a new member of the BeL group on the academic staff at BBS, is close to submitting his PhD which discusses interactive collaboration and questioning through mobile devices in the classroom.
  • We also have two other FT research students working hard on their respective research studies – one relating to the personal learning networks and environments of female university students in Saudi Arabia and another looking into SMEs and how they support the learning of key workers with dyslexia when so much learning is screen-based.
  • Members of the group also edit the Journal Interactive Learning Environments for Routledge, a journal for which the impact factor is increasing and submissions are so strong, we have doubled issues in size this year.

A bumper package of activity – well done the BeL group!

Student Social Media Showcase 2015

#2015SSMS launched 3rd July online this year to some social media buzz. Great response, especially from Digital Marketing students at Brighton Business School. All 33 of the selected video presentations are online at the website and will stay live for 3 years with the main intention of enabling these talented students to link to them in their online CVs.

But more than that, the videos offer us some insights into the use of social media for research and corporate marketing impact. Students, companies and academics can gain something from this site, and the ongoing commitment we have at Brighton through the Business ELearning Group to support and stimulate dissemination of student work.

The Showcase started last year as a pre-conference event prior to the inaugural European Conference in Social Media, hosted at Brighton Business School, and which this year will be held next week in Portugal. Social media is not all about good news as any open communications medium can share bad as well as good intent, which is a good reason for academics to learn more about it. There is an excellent reading list at this link from LSE.

Our experiences with the SSMS both as a physical event in 2014 attended by uni students and local schoolchildren and online this year will be discussed in a forthcoming paper at ALT C 2015 in Manchester, and we look forward to updating and offering an event again in 2016. Email if you would like more information nearer the time. Meanwhile it’s worth exploring the site at 

Student Social Media Showcase 2014 Wednesday 9th July Huxley Building 1030-330

Asher and Sue preparing for SSMSGreat event to attend (free) if you are interested in what University of Brighton students do with social media, or you want to come and talk about social media.
this is a pre-conference event for the inaugural European Conference on Social Media running on 10th and 11th July, also in Huxley Building.
website is here

Programme includes Presentation to Students whose submissions were selected for the showcase event, Jonathan Sapsed discussing Brighton FUSE, Professor Ben Shneiderman talking about Big Data. Lots of informal opportunities to network.

Search Twitter for #SSMS2014 and #brightsoc

Student Social Media Showcase (SSMS) 9th July 2014

SSMS poster

More information on this great pre-conference event to the inaugural European Conference on Social Media (10-11 July 2014) to be held in Huxley building, Moulsecoomb campus University of Brighton, UK can be found on the SSMS website.

Learning from podcasting

Every Monday of term since October 2013, a second year business student and I have been releasing a podcast for business undergraduates in the Hastings campus of University of Brighton.

The idea is partly about students as producers and partners in learning and partly to offer topical news-related talks which link in some way with modules studied on the four business courses in this small campus. Trying to add some tacit component to explicit, formally taught business studies.

To date we have done recordings ourselves, as well as recording other students, academics and support staff from the university on topics ranging from Wikipedia and good writing practice to floods and business continuity.

The technology we use keeps recording quality fairly low but is informal and quite Lquick to use. The informality doesn’t seem to bother listeners, though we haven’t had a deal of feedback yet, just a couple of positive reactions.

The link to the growing podcast series is here.

Facing up to transitions in HE

Great Learning and Teaching Conference at Brighton yesterday.

Excellent keynotes from Sally Brown and Phil Race, always pertinent, funny but also bringing a lifetime’s, well two lifetimes’, work to bear on the problems of the foggy terrain of September 2012 for universities.

Because I am currently focussed on preparing an e-assessment project with colleagues Alison Bone and Stephanos Avakian, Phil Race’s focus on assessment – pulling together all the great and simple lessons of past research on quality assessment practice was stimulating. Yes we do try really hard already, and we are innovating – using online review and peer review and self review increasingly, but we still need people like this to convince us it is worth the effort of changing long-held traditional assessment practices. Phil’s website is a treasure-store of useful material on student learning and assessment. His contention at the Brighton conference was that HE assessment was “broken”, and by the end of his session even the doubters were in agreement. Heavy staff assessment workloads and continuing poor achievement in NSS surveys should be convincing us by now to do this better. And if we do assessment better, we get potential for better learning because assessment drives learning.

I foresee a summer of assessment design ahead.

Sally Brown also gave us lots of food for thought. For me, designing a new UG honours course with colleagues this summer, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Her emphasis on continuing introduction over at least the first six weeks was exactly what we were planning – in fact the first semester for this course will be a journey into learning as a professional, rather than what you need to know as a student. And her stress on the need to view the course as a whole rather than a series of unrelated modules more geared to academic reputation than student experience was really well made. Our new BSc Business with Enterprise has a Problem Based Learning ethos, fairly strictly interpreted, which means the course is conceived not as a collection of modules but as a cumulative experience of collaborative learning from start to finish. By the end, learners will be skilled professional learners as well as entrepreneurs capable of leading projects and businesses. We cannot achieve this without a focus from the beginning and throughout all parts of the course on self-directed learning and the development of evaluative, analytical and creative as well as critical thinking practice. So thanks for the encouragement Sally and Phil.

Meanwhile, other highlights for me from the conference included learning about the Cloudbank app from Lyn Pemberton and Marcus Winter – lots of potential there for learning applications – including an idea Tracey Taylor and I had involving building a version, but perhaps more criteria based, to provide a mobile app for referencing.

And a lovely session from Kate Williamson on her findings when she talked to Education ITE students about their experiences of research supervision. The responses were so encouraging, it really did seem like a great idea to find a way to bring the one-to-one relationship of supervisor and student into first and second year as well as third. And that can be done with shorter projects and scaffolding, plus possibly the introduction of some group supervision and e-supervision. The point is attention to the student and the encouraging of the student to believe in their own work and their own ideas. That is best delivered one to one, and ideally face to face. In my early customer service training days, this was called “kissing the sleeping princess” – meaning a personal “stroke” which delivers the one thing we crave – attention to us as respected individuals.

My heroes in learning and teaching: Tom Bourner, Phil Race and Sally Brown

New course at Hastings campus from 2012

BSc Business with Enterprise will open to new students at the University of Brighton in Hastings from September 2012. This course is designed to work from business practice to an understanding of business theory, not the other way around. Learning will start with real business problems and students will work through a structured collaborative learning approach as they devise solutions and responses to the problems, at the same time redefining their business understanding.

Students will be treated as apprentice business professionals, developing a range of transferable skills to make an immediate contribution to employment or enterprise.

Enquiries to