Opps for Apps Symposium – thanks to our all participants!

On behalf of Larissa, David and myself, I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who either presented or attended our Symposium today. Despite the pressures on everybody’s time, I think we had a really interesting and worthwhile day, which gave us the opportunity to share ideas across disciplines and, indeed, with colleagues working in the tech industry sector. I learned a huge amount from my co-presenters and attendees about the variety of apps available and the best ways to use them for teaching and learning, and I hope all who participated found something to take away with them.

Here is the link to the padlet site with the feedback from our discussion workshops:


We’ll be posting a fuller refection on the day’s events shortly.

Opps for Apps symposium update

The upcoming symposium is gathering steam, attracting a number of high profile internal and external participants. At the moment we are communicating with attendees, organizing panels, and constructing the schedule.  The day long event, on June 17th, promises to be a fitting finale to the ‘Opps for Apps’ project. If you are interested in attending then do contact research coordinator Larissa.Allwork@northampton.ac.uk . We hope to see you all there!

Focus Group Session

Yesterday, 23 April, saw the meeting of the focus group in which a combination of staff and students involved in the Opps for Apps project got together to discuss their experiences of using apps in seminars. A wide range of issues was discussed including the quality and user-friendliness of particular apps, their relevance to the academic curriculum and their pedagogic capabilities, how best to incorporate the content inside and outside seminars, and access and cost issues of using apps more widely in the programme. Overall, it was felt that the use of apps had created a positive buzz in classes but their pedagogical value was less certain. Anthony, a postgraduate student who used the Carmilla app, commented “the app facilitated group discussion and gave the group a focus”. Views differed considerably on whether such products represented a threat to the research skills associated with studying print materials. A particularly lively debate concerned the degree to which the app market was driven by commercial concerns, which may constrain the choice of texts for teaching purposes and/or limit student access to teaching materials. Catherine, a first year English student, commented that using the app had developed her digital competency but the cost of the products would be prohibitive on a student budget. On the other hand, as digital proficiency inevitably grows among our student cohorts, apps and other digital technologies could play an increasingly important, and potentially positive, ancillary role in teaching and learning. It was generally acknowledged that such a move would need to be supported at an institutional level in terms of funding and resourcing. Overall, it was fascinating discussion and we hope to present a summary of the views of the focus group at the L&T Conference on 21 May.

Second phase of Apps project

The results are in! Having completed all the taught sessions using literary apps, we are now moving onto the second phase of the project, which involves analyzing and writing up the data. With the help of our LearnTech colleagues, using SPSS, we’ve been able to break down the responses to the various apps used on the project. We’re also busy with preparations for our Opps for Apps symposium on 17 June, which will involve creative app designers, an academic researcher working with ebooks, as well as UN colleagues working on new teaching technologies. We have also extended an invitation to teachers from local secondary schools to join us for a workshop session on how apps and ipads can enhance teaching and learning. We’ll also be explaining the project and sharing ideas at the L&T conference on 21 May.

The Sonnets

IMAG0162 Today we finish the last of our seminars using literary apps! This week students have been exploring the Touchpress Shakespeare’s Sonnets app which is devoted to the 134 sonnets written by the Bard. This comprehensive app utilises a variety of multimedia features, in addition to material from the Arden Shakespeare edition of the sonnets, to enhance our understanding of this substantial body of poetry. We look forward to examining the feedback for this app and to the next stage of the project.

Subject Futures Visit by Jon Ingold

Jon Ingold, joint creative director of the award winning app company Inkle, visited the University for Subject Futures Week on Tuesday. Jon, who is responsible for the Times Video Game of 2014, 80 Days, spoke on the subject of interactive fiction to a diverse group of students and staff.

photoIn a fascinating 1 hour session, Jon covered a host of pertinent topics including the opportunities for creative writers in this emerging field, choice and branching narratives, the issues that surround adapting a beloved text into an interactive form, and the links between Inkle’s work and that of other participatory fields such as improvisational theatre. We hope to bring Jon back in sometime in the future to speak more on the intersections between literature and apps.

The Waste Land app

All this week, as part of the Opps for Apps project, students in Dr Gerri Kimber’s Modernism seminars have the opportunity to explore Touchpress’s app on T.S. Eliot’s epic poem The Waste Land. With contributions from fellow writers Seamus Heaney, Craig Raine, and Jeanette Winterson, it’s a beautifully made app and one of the first that brought apps to our attention as a teaching resource with the potential to enrich the learning environment. We look forward to hearing students’ views about it.

Symposium on 17 June to share results of UN innovation projects

There are a number of exciting projects around the use of apps and ipads currently going on at UN. We’ve now made contact with our Innovation bid colleagues in the Department of Education and are delighted that they have agreed to participate in our forthcoming Symposium on 17 June. Helen Caldwell, Helen Scott and a number of other School of Education colleagues will offer sessions on the following aspects of their research:

  1. Apps for Innovation School of Education Project: Exploring agile classroom learning
  2. Apps for Innovation School of Education Project: Exploring learning across boundaries

The first would look at how iPads can help make learning more explicit within the classroom, the second would look at how they can enable learning to flow across settings and make it more ‘seamless’.

We look forward to sharing and comparing the findings of our research on the use of literary apps.