Talis Elevate: Reflecting on 2019
The following post was written by Matt East, Learning Technologies Lead at Talis.
To say it’s been a busy year for Talis Elevate would be an understatement. Talis Elevate is now being used in teaching at 9 institutions, from individual academics up to department level. We have also seen our first site license purchase, covering a subscription for the next 3 years, at the University of Lincoln, and are working closely with them on the uptake and growth across the institution.
We have welcomed users from new disciplines from Fine Art to Food Science. Working closely with our institutions, we’ve delivered training to over 100 academics from a widespread set of courses. This has allowed for face to face opportunities to share good practice with peers from other courses, focusing not just on the tech, but the teaching approaches that work in certain contexts. We’ve also welcomed our first overseas user, Jesse Stomell from the University of Mary Washington, USA, so keep an eye out in coming months for a blog post from Jesse on his experience using Talis Elevate.
What I’ve found really exciting is witnessing the diversity of use we’re now seeing with Talis Elevate. I’ve often said that Talis Elevate is discipline agnostic, and a tool that does what it does really well, without trying to focus on a specific pedagogic approach, and this past year has really demonstrated this. We’ve continued to see the significant value Talis Elevate can offer to students’ learning and have had repeated feedback from students indicating that when this discussion activity occurs, it brings another layer to the resource adding more value to the content. We’ve continued to see Elevate being used to enhance content used in teaching, and for expanding students’ collective understanding of the subject matter, from activities like peer review, assessment literacy, and diagnostic assessment. Taking this further, we’ve also had a number of colleagues using Talis Elevate for reading and journal clubs, and creating discussion groups for Doctoral level studies relating to the area of study. For many of our academics, we’re hearing time and time again that Talis Elevate is really valuable at helping to better understand students’ knowledge and understanding on the subject matter, and from students, the social constructivism this enables can be very powerful and further developing students own knowledge.
An area I really didn’t anticipate hearing about, is the impact Talis Elevate usage can have on the physical learning environment as well. We’ve now had feedback from a number of academic staff and students, that the dialogue created in content can impact the seminar environment when used in a flipped methodology in particular. Academic staff have a more focussed perspective on the level of understanding (and misunderstanding) from the cohort ahead of a face to face discussion, and students have a better understanding of what each other are thinking. Students’ are able to use this collective learning for their independent learning as well, helping those on the cohort further develop their thinking. For an example of this, see a blog post from Georgia Petter, VP Education at the University of Lincoln SU, who used Talis Elevate last year as a history student.
We’ve seen a number of examples of how Talis Elevate can enhance the depth of engagement with resources used in teaching, but receiving feedback suggesting how this can help facilitate targeted student support and institutional retention strategies is equally as rewarding. Using the analytical insight provided by Talis Elevate, colleagues have been able to better support the assistance their students have needed based on their engagement with the critical content being provided. We have worked with our users to gain better understanding into how and when (and what) resources are being used by the cohort, allowing for changes in the approach to teaching. But more importantly, when students’ are drifting away from engaging with content, our users have quickly been able to target their help and reach out to those in need. If we can be a contributing factor to ensuring even one student stays at university, that’s the kind of positive impact we want to see.
We’ve had some big milestones as well. This past year, we’ve seen our largest cohorts actively using Talis Elevate weekly, with cohorts of over 200, and we’ve had our largest number of individual discussion points made, with over 1000 comments being made on Jamie Wood’s module (see blog post here), we’ve worked with and trained more university staff than previous years by a factor of 2, and it’s only halfway through the academic year!
From a product development perspective, we’ve spent a lot of time this year working closely with our development partner institutions to better understand how academics would like to use Elevate, and with what content. This year, we have released features allowing for copyright-cleared content to be used in Talis Elevate, including scanned chapters of books and journal articles. We are now working hard to finish up work to allow for annotation of imagery, and to improve the mechanism for engaging in discussion with elements of lecture notes, including images. Not only will this open up new collaborative activities with content used in teaching, but allow our academic colleagues to build new activities directly into lectures via Talis Elevate.
As we continue to expand Talis Elevate, we’re bringing in new ways to support growth within institutions and disciplines. From this month, we will be introducing a new webinar series focussing on specific elements of Talis Elevate, from getting started to engaging students in collaborative activity. We will also be setting up a new community of practice, giving our users the opportunity to share their experiences with a wider community from across the UK. We have also now brought Talis Elevate into our centralised support mechanisms, ensuring you can get help from any part of the platform from a team of specialists.
If you are not currently involved with Talis Elevate and want to find out more, please get in touch, but if you are using Elevate already, thank you for being part of the journey so far.