Connect More…with Alex Woods

Tell us something you’ve learned about teaching from your colleagues.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from a colleague is to show my passion and enthusiasm for acquiring skills and knowledge in my subject area, the study of ancient Egypt, so students in turn will be inspired to continue their learning journey long after their studies have ceased.

Other lessons include being flexible and adaptable to appeal to the diversity of students in the cohort (group and individual), setting high standards by engaging in challenging material and using specific / purposeful vocabulary to bring out the best in students and keeping the topic alive by referring to current events and how knowledge of the past enables better understanding of the world we live in. So basically, keeping it relevant.

What has helped you improve your teaching the most, and why?

My teaching practices have been enhanced in many ways; first by informal discussions with students after each class or formal student feedback using LEU / LET surveys; second, by establishing collaborative networks and engaging with my peers and colleagues in the Department or from other institutions to gain exposure to different methods or approaches to teaching; and third, by engaging with research beyond my subject area, attending learning and teaching workshops/papers and working on learning and teaching-themed projects with LTC/Arts staff to gain feedback on my current practice, learning design, layout in iLearn, and use of different learning technologies etc.

How has teaching changed since you began your academic career?

I began teaching in 2005 and in that time there have been significant changes in the range of experiences that students are offered: from the limited and passive experience to students engaging as partners in the design of their curricula and teaching and learning experiences. The focus on student’s experience from the more traditional instructor-focused approach has been a marked and important shift in the tertiary sector.

What’s your favourite technology or tool to use in teaching?

Creative diagramming with
Creative diagramming with

I’ve not used it in a live class yet, but in 2016 for AHIS170: Egyptian Archaeology – An Introduction I will trial a diagramming tool, The tool offers a range of templates for creating diagrams and flowcharts so students can develop a procedural schematic diagram. The aim is to encourage students to consider their workflow and time management to prepare for a major research essay due in the latter part of the semester.

What will you be presenting at Learning & Teaching Week?

Learning and Teaching Week, 14-17 September
Learning and Teaching Week, 14-17 September

Ollie Coady and I will present the results of a four week trial conducted in August 2015 as a part of a Teaching Delivery Grant (2015). The presentation aims to discuss the effectiveness of blogging for learning and social media learning. The presentation will illustrate what types of assessments have been devised as part of the learning design, namely students’ ability to use their blog effectively to communicate and comment on ideas to form a community of learning online, and engage real world people and industry professionals using social media.

Dr Alex Woods is a Lecturer in Macquarie University’s Department of Ancient History.  Connect with Alex at her Learning and Teaching Week presentation:

Mediating Student Learning: Archaeology and Social Media in the 21st Century (Nano session 3)
Wednesday 16 September
Register here