EDUC261 – Information and Communication Technologies and Education is a fast-paced, hands-on unit backed by an engaging and interactive iLearn page. The unit explores how technology is changing the way we learn and teach, and includes topics on social networking, mobile learning and virtual worlds. Convenor Matt Bower has built the unit over several years, with a focus on active learning.
The design of the iLearn unit is straightforward, with topics arranged by week in drop-down menus. The core readings for the unit are collated into a wiki for easy access. All the resources that students need for each week are available in the topic sections, including lecture slides, links to activities and tutorial outlines. Matt also adjusts the visibility of some iLearn tools according to tutorial groupings, to avoid having to create separate forums for each class. Every week also features a “teaser” video, to pique students’ interest and allow them to actively engage with the content ahead of the week’s class.
Matt favours the week-by-week approach, as it “helps the students to understand in an implicit way what they need to be doing [at a given time]; the expectations and the flow of each week”.
In addition to providing all the regular functions of iLearn, this unit also allows students to experience first-hand the effect that technology can have on education. For example, the final assessment requires students to create an online lesson in Moodle, which draws on their experience as an iLearn user to create an engaging module.
“It’s the shift towards active and authentic learning for students that makes it work best… it’s not an esoteric experience, the idea is for them to very much integrate [these theories] into their practice.”
One of the more interesting features Matt uses in his unit is iLearn’s Lesson tool. In EDUC261 the Lesson is used to instruct students how to complete their first assessment task.
“It means that the information that you’re giving to students is all interlinked, and you can also make it contingent, so they can select a particular answer to something and one way will take them to one page and one way to another… [It’s] a really useful way to tailor to individual student needs.”
This particular assessment task involves students using PeerWise to create quiz questions for their peers to answer. The questions must be based on the unit readings, or on tutorial content. This allows teachers to monitor student understanding of both the content and the application of technology in the classroom.
EDUC261 is a very hands-on unit, with little content covered in class. Students access readings and engage with the majority of content through iLearn. In tutorials, students practice the application of the theory and research covered in the readings, and Matt approaches his lectures as a conversation with students; an opportunity to draw on their experience and perspectives. Considering the vital role iLearn plays in this unit, Matt has had only positive feedback.
“I get the sense that people feel that it’s a well prepared unit…People don’t say ‘Okay where do I find this?’… I think that they engage well with it and that they appreciate it.”
To access Matt’s units or any opened unit, in the right side of your iLearn home page, you’ll see a search block – enter a unit code or keyword.
Anneliese Hoffman is a Bachelor of Arts (English) student currently doing a PACE internship in the Learning Innovation Hub.