I’ve observed in several previous posts that the unit convenor role is vitally important to the quality of our teaching and curriculum and yet poorly recognised and often under-valued, and largely seen as an administrative service role. I’ve argued that unit administration, while necessary, is not where convenors have the greatest opportunity to contribute to excellence in teaching and curriculum at Macquarie. Unit convenors are also in a position to provide vital leadership with respect to curriculum and teaching, the latter especially so in large units with many tutors.
Learning & Teaching Exchange – What is KickStart and how can it work for me?
All staff from across the university are invited!
Join us on Tuesday, 6th October for Learning & Teaching Exchange, the newly revamped iLearn Exchange which will now more have a broader focus on sharing innovations and best practices in learning and teaching at Macquarie.
The project seeks to meet the learning design challenges that emerge from the complexities of delivering hands-on practice based archaeology units fully online and intends to:
- apply a multi-media approach using video lectures, 3D digital artefacts and social networks (WordPress blog and Twitter);
- create experiential learning activities designed for the digital user;
- improve student engagement in the online environment and develop a student community of practice.
The results presented are from a 4 week Trial conducted in August 2015.
Comprehensive review of the unit’s learning and assessment design
- Employed the Design, Develop, Implement (DDI) initiative in collaboration with tutors appointed for 2016.
Layout of learning materials in iLearn
- Modular: Multi week approach with sequenced and scaffolded learning
- Students preferred “open” layout (as opposed to “closed” books or features with multiple layers within the site architecture) where:
- the learning outcomes are clearly expressed (using coloured boxes to signal importance);
- each step in the Weekly Schedule is visible with estimated time-frames;
- a checklist is available using the Activity Completion tool in iLearn and a full list at the end of the section.
Student Agency and Capacity
Students created and maintained their own “Dig Diary” WordPress blog for weekly critical reflection of video lectures/readings/activities. The blogs were provided to the students via the Mq WordPress multisite.
- Enhanced student engagement (as long as it counts!): Students felt most engaged in the trial “when commenting on other people’s blog posts and responding to the comments on my ones” and there would not have been “any interaction within the blog posts if it wasn’t a requirement”.
- WordPress Blog Set up: Students found locating and setting up their WordPress blog to be “thoroughly confusing!” and required pre-semester set-up as well as “clearly outlined expectations when preparing the blog: Do I need to ‘decorate’ it? Is the language academic or colloquial? How to phrase responses without the risk of mis-interpretation? e.g. tone.”
- Privacy concerns: Students found engaging via a WordPress blog and Twitter “intimidating as I had never used them before” were not sure “learning should take place on a public forum such as Twitter”, preferring “convener moderated blogging within iLearn.”
- Twitter was a fail, professional networks are key!
Videos. Not for everyone…
- Accessibility and revision tool: Students found the ability to “re-watch the video clips as much as I wanted” helpful.
- Lacked authenticity: “I personally found the video clips boring as there was no interaction with lecturers” and were very formal in comparison to live F2F lectures where anecdotal evidence or informal commentary is provided by teaching staff.
Social media offers a new pathway for enhancing a more customised, or personal, approach to student engagement.
- Digital by design requires clear instruction and teacher presence to provide a personalised learning experience.
- Design for digital uses available digital tools to increase student engagement and agency in participative and collaborative learning.
This project is funded by a Learning and Teaching Delivery Grant for 2015 entitled “Mediating Student Learning: Archaeology and Social Media in the 21st century – A Case Study on AHIS170: Egyptian Archaeology. An Introduction”. The grant is held by Dr Alexandra Woods and Dr Peter Keegan in collaboration with Ollie Coady (LTC), Dr Panos Vlachopoulos (LTC), Michael Rampe (LTC) and Dr Eve Guerry, Suzanne Eiselle-Evans and Ellen Ryan (all Ancient History).
Recently, I participated in the Advanced Professional Development Program for International Academic Staff (APDP) currently happening on campus. With this program, the Learning and Teaching Centre (the program’s host and developer) has reached beyond campus walls, inviting academics from China to observe and explore the workings of the University through attending workshops and presentations (many developed and delivered by LTC staff) and visiting lectures and tutorials on campus.
Learning & Teaching Exchange and Faculty of Arts present Peer Review Process
Join us on Tuesday, 8th September for Learning & Teaching Exchange, the newly revamped iLearn Exchange which will now more have a broader focus on sharing innovations and best practices in learning and teaching at Macquarie.
Blog on MHIS201
In semester 1 this year I introduced a new piece of assessment into my 200-level Modern History unit – what I called a reading blog. It was weighted at 20% and students had to complete the blog every week, bar week 1. They were required to read two articles on a particular theme and then complete the blog. In the blog they were required to answer a question which I had set (sometimes they could choose between two questions) in no more than 200 words. In addition, they had to pose a question to their peers. My questions were generic and designed to enable the students to use both readings in their responses. This activity was in preparation for a weekly seminar.
Bring a Buzz to your Tutorials with the OU Blog
Don’t you love asking questions in tutorials and having the crickets chirp as the tumbleweed rolls on by? Isn’t it just fantastically awkward? You start to think there is something wrong with you, but then you realise, no, it’s the students who are wrong. Well there is a way to change this type of situation, and it’s fairly easy. Continue reading 3 Discoveries a Lecturer Found Teaching With Blogs – And What Students Thought
What happens when you put 17 unit convenors in a room with the Green Paper? A lively discussion around the ‘connected learning community’.
If you follow Teche on Twitter (@TecheMQ) you may have seen that this time last week a few of us were visiting The University of Sydney. Here’s a bit more on who and what we saw. Continue reading Community, sharing and a touch of tech envy
Unit Convenors play a leadership role that is vital to the quality of our curriculum, but one that historically hasn’t received much of the spotlight. And is the shape of the role about to change with the forthcoming Learning and Teaching Strategy? These issues and more are to be discussed during April at a gathering of Macquarie unit convenors.