Thursday, 6 June 2013
UL Learning and Teaching Day
My own presentation, which had the title Trends in Technology Enhance Teaching and Learning, is embedded below. While developing it, I realised that 20 minutes was too short for me to cover a multitude of trends, so I decided to focus on video in teaching and learning, and the opportunities for video to play a part in content production, delivery, supporting of student learning and assessment. I mentioned a number of video initiatives by NUIG staff, including Conor O'Byrne, Oliver Ryan, Bryan McCabe, Ger Fleming, Susan Folan, John Breslin and John Murray, as well as Anne Wiseman from GMIT.
What I enjoyed about the day, though, was the opportunity to hear from a group of practitioners at a sister institution who have been trying new things in their teaching, and conversing with a group of academics who are committed to improving the experience for their students.
Summary of the Event
After an introduction by Hussain Mahdi, UL Vice President Academic & Registrar Prof Paul McCutcheon opened the event. He congratulated the organisers on making this a regular event, embedded in the academic calendar for the faculty. He expressed his hope that the materials from the event would be disseminated to other faculties within UL, so that the conversation can continue on a larger scale.
Hussein Mahdi responded to Angelica's presentation noting that students expectations are that lecture materials will be provided on the VLE. But he noted that there are other administrative and pedagogical benefits to TEL.
"Try not to be seduced by technology for its own sake. It is essential that you have a considered reason for using it"
The morning proceeded with a number of talks from academic staff in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
Jeremy Robinson talked about two technologies that he is using in his teaching of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Biomedical Engineering: wireless presenting using a tablet and multiple choice software QCM Direct. The first he demonstrated very ably during his presentation. I had the impression that Jeremy enjoys dabbling with technology, but he's not convinced yet of the academic value of his efforts (which are substantial).
After a short coffee break, Keelin Leahy of the department of Design and Manufacturing Technology described how she has been flipping the classroom in her course on 3D CAD Modelling. In response to student requests that they wanted more hands-on, practical work, she decided this year to swap lecture time for more practice time. Using Camtasia with embedded quizzes (to check understanding) she prepared an number of videos for students to review before class, allowing a more active and collaborative learning environment. Videos were all less than 10 minutes in length. Keelin found a small to medium effect on outcomes, and students responded well to the new format. Students learned how to think about the subject matter, and Keelin learned more about what topics caused most confusion.
Having tried a variety of platforms for the portfolios, the students are now advised to simply use a Wordpress site, and some training on Wordpress is provided. Students have also used blogger or weebly for their portfolios.
Ross Higgins spoke about his experiences with podcasting (in fact vodcasting) in a final year Civil Engineering module. This arrangement was to support a particular issue, where the department did not have a lecturer to deliver the module. An external expert was identified to deliver one face to face lecture per week, and the second lecture each week was provided using voice over powerpoint, brought together using Articulate. These were provided within the VLE and students were motivated to review the videos which contained content necessary for a project. The students liked the videos which provided them with the opportunity for self-paced learning and a good revision tool.
Another CSIS lecturer, Patrick Healy, described the development of handin - a system that supports the submission and efficient administration of student programming assignments. He is also developing a system called inspector, a GradeMark-like system used for visual inspection and grading of code.
The Human Touch by Monke. He argues that we all need to unplug from a world of illusion, delusion and collusion, which prevent us from thinking. Real thinking, according to Con, is the work of brain and hand together. He proposed that the most creative act is to "do nothing"; noting that doing nothing is not the same as standing still.
As he spoke, I just wished that his presentation was being recorded, so that I could go back and review again later.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Faculty of Science and Engineering Learning and Teaching Day, and thank my hosts Hussain and Michael. It is very positive to see these kinds of events, where staff have time and space to discuss teaching and learning issues.