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Posts Tagged ‘Brighton’

  1. Feedback

    January 28, 2014 by Robin Englebright

    “The shrill sound created when a transducer such as a microphone or electric guitar picks up sound from a speaker connected to an amplifier and regenerates it back through the amplifier.”

    One of the biggest items that is highlighted in the National Student Survey (NSS) is the lack of feedback.
    Having been a student recently I can confirm that swift timely feedback is crucial to successful study.

    I also know the idea that they aren’t providing swift timely feedback drives lecturers crazy.

    I was thinking about this the other day when I had a problem with my macbook power supply.

    NSS - student feedback wanted dead or alive

    The problem manifested at 8pm, and I contacted the apple tech support line via an online chat, and was given the information I needed, told how to find the serial number of my macbook (which is on the “About this mac” screen, but you have to click the “Version 10.0.1” text to reveal it) and given an issue number.
    I was advised to go into the store and a replacement would be provided – just take along the two numbers.
    Excellent service, timely feedback – my issues were identified and addressed.

    I nipped into the Covent Garden store on the way to the office and the first apple person I could find told me I needed to make an appointment – I assured him that the previous advice suggested a replacement could be made without any appointments.
    He pointed me at the geniuses – however these took a bit of finding as the old Genius Bar no longer exists, instead it’s a case of asking anyone in a blue t-shirt if they can help. Eventually one group of four employees milling around told me I needed to speak the another group of four employees milling around.
    The final four insisted I needed an appointment.
    I had received feedback, but it wasn’t related to my issue, but the store processes.

    This is how a student feels in the university system.

    Whilst the feedback given by the Apple Genii was accurate and timely, it was also not related to my issue, but to the system itself. Quite a lot of the feedback that students get given doesn’t relate to their issue, but to how they can comply with systems.

    As a customer of Apple I had no desire to work out their arcane rules, I wanted a replacement power supply.
    As a student I don’t want to know about system issues, I want to have my specific issues addressed.

    Next week I’m off to a Conference at the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Brighton Uni, which will be covering effective eFeedback amongst other things.
    I’m looking forward to hearing about the systems in place at Brighton, and eventually working on them to try and hit that sweet spot, and who knows maybe improve the NSS scores.


    Jisc have just circulated a new series of short guides  based on four key themes:

    For a full picture of the challenges, approaches and findings from our recent work please see the full summary report ‘Supporting assessment and feedback practice with technology: from tinkering to transformation’.

  2. Meaningful stuff

    January 22, 2014 by Robin Englebright

    Meaningful Stuff – Designing longer-lasting material experiences – the inaugural lecture of Jonathan Chapman, Professor of sustainable design at the University of Brighton. Delivered at the Sallis Benney Theatre Grand Parade on Weds 22nd of January 2014.

    Today is a day of contrasts.

    I spent the day at BETT, the learning technology trade show, which took over (most*) of the Excel centre.
    BETT is a chance for unwary wide-eyed heads to be dazzled by shiny baubles, and part with their slender budgets. It has evolved somewhat over the years, and now has a far more international feel, yet sadly fails to offer anything truly innovative, or well designed.
    I’ve been told the patent on LEGO has expired which would explain the proliferation of robotics kits that mimic LEGO mindstorms… though lacking a certain build quality.
    I did meet some old colleagues, which was delightful, and I dodged the loathsome Gove, who gave the keynote opening address.
    I also had a useful chat with the Blackboard folk about their Mosaic product, which whilst it professes to be an institutional app builder requiring no coding, didn’t quite convince me – I need to see more.

    In contrast the evening was spent at the inaugural lecture of Dr Jonathan Chapman, Professor of sustainable design at the University of Brighton.

    It felt very much like a commentary on the excesses of the morning.
    Jonathan talked about the great illusion: a smart phone appears to weigh just 200g, but the cost of production is closer to 500kg, the weight of a horse.
    Around 78kg of CO2 alone.
    So when you lift your phone to your ear, you are in fact lifting a horse to your ear.
    The problem is that finding out such facts is quite terrifying, and can be paralysing – what can we do in the light of such information?
    Jonathan’s answer was to submit totally to the fear, and head off and live on a Buddhist community on Hokaido.
    For a while he felt happy, he was at one with crickets and such like, having no impact on the environment, then the realisation struck him that having no impact was merely abdicating responsibility.
    He returned to the UK to try to engage in teaching a better way of design.

    it takes 40 tonnes of waste to make 1 tonne of consumer electronics, 98% of which will be discarded within 6 months. An efficiency of 1%.
    The zero is the hope for the future.

    The built-in obsolescence of consumer goods originally seemed like a cracking idea, it was proposed by Bernard London in 1932 as a form of quantitive easing. The idea was to get the 1% of folk who had money to spend it, creating jobs for the 99% who didn’t.
    Unfortunately it continued, and now is endemic in systems like mobile phone production, where the average lifespan of a handset is just 18 months.

    The question is why is something that we desire so much, is worthless after such a short interval. It seems we need to look at the narratives we tell about objects. Some like the worthless pasta necklace gifts from our children, take on such meaning personally that they become priceless.
    So what is needed is a design philosophy that promotes meaningful attachments, engendering product longevity?

    This theme of emotionally durable design is picked up in his book :
    * the South side of the Excel was running a slot machine trade show, and the juxtaposition of banners for educational technology, with those for the arcades, (promising to squeeze every last penny out of punters), brought a grin to my face… the visitors to the arcade show seemed a lot happier, and far less earnest.

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