There’s a myth I’d like to dispel, that using technology is hard and takes a lot of time. Technology and the use of digital tools can be easy to learn, adopt and implement in your teaching. Here’s where you can find some gold.
The Learning Innovation Hub advises that a tool within iLearn, Wimba Voice Board will be decommissioned by the end of this year and will no longer be available to use after 31 Dec 2016.
It will be replaced with another tool called VoiceThread which is now available for anyone wanting to use it.
VoiceThread allows you to set up an online asynchronous space for students to discuss and leave comments on presentations and images using annotations, text and audio. Students can also create and submit their own presentation, all through a link in iLearn. Neat!
VoiceThread has been trialed successfully so far is in languages at MQ, where students record spoken responses to a posted question/stimulus the language they are learning. The teacher can then also respond with a text or spoken comment with feedback.
It is also a tool that is suitable for the flipped classroom and can complement any active learning strategy.
Visit the VoiceThread website for more information about the tool.
If you would like to use VoiceThread, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org to have the link added to your iLearn unit/s.
I wanted to experiment with blended learning even though I had little idea of what it meant and what it required. All I knew was that by the third hour of my workshop, when I was expecting students to be creative, they were tired and had little time to reflect on new ideas and concepts.
“We know what we want to do but we’re just not sure of the best way to do it or even whether we have the skills and equipment to do it!” This sentiment initiated the current Faculty Partnership Program (FPP) project with the Faculty of Human Sciences, involving the Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC) and the Macquarie School of Education Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP).
What’s that old adage about teaching a man to fish? Associate Professor Melanie Bishop was recently honoured with a Vice Chancellor’s Citation for her work in enhancing student learning through active approaches – including setting up a ‘mock fishery’ in her classroom! We asked Melanie to share some of her teaching experiences.
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).
Does ‘flipping’ really improve student engagement? Historian Dr Tanya Evans will be giving us her take on that topical question at this year’s Learning and Teaching Week. In the spirit of ‘Connect More’, we asked Tanya to share a bit more about her teaching world…