by Dewi Parry
Following a very good keynote by Jane Secker in the morning – Copyright and e-learning: understanding our privileges and freedoms (which again I urge you to watch), I attended a session which had 4 excellent talks, and to support Emmanuel Isibor of Aberystwyth University who presented his findings around VLE design and enhancing learners’ experience. Also presenting during this session was the ALT LT team of the year from LSE presenting on the role and responsibilities of Learning Technologist in their Learning Spaces project. I really enjoyed hearing about Matt Cornock’s work looking into “Strategies for supporting effective student engagement with lecture recordings”, and also Leonard Houx’s presentation about “Designing for Flow”, where he smashed into the awful VLE UX we’ve all had to put up with over the years!
Evaluating Webinars as a Tool for Delivering Lectures and Seminars at Distance in a Healthcare Setting
As we’ve written here many times before, we now have the capability to run webinars via Learning Central (using a tool called Blackboard Collaborate). So it was timely that Daniel Metcalfe from Plymouth University gave a presentation around evaluating webinars as a tool for delivering lectures and seminars. Daniel discussed evaluating the impact of webinars on learning, and of course the technology WAS still an issue! However, he also had some top tips to remember when taking on the webinar as a teaching tool:
- Don’t run the webinar as a traditional lecture;
- Familiarise yourself and your students with the software and process;
- Start the webinar early to sort technical problems;
- Have a colleague to assist large sessions (particularly chat functions etc);
- Be mindful of your audience;
- Record your sessions;
- Make them interactive.
The interactive bit – how do you go about adding interactivity? Daniel went on to offer some tips around what’s possible to include in your webinars:
- Ask more questions / be more responsive to questions
- Add activities:
- Drawing tool
- Breakout activities
- Scenarios, videos, journals, websites etc
Daniel mentioned that the students reacted positively in the main and surprisingly, students felt that the level of interaction with staff was similar to face to face sessions. We will be looking to make staff aware of these issues when discussing the use of the webinar this academic year.
An experiment in open-access, micro-learning for educational technology training
To be honest, this is one of the sessions I looked forward to the most from the whole 3 days. I’ve been a big fan of the 1 minute CPD project for a while now. It’s a simple idea, but so effective. As we all know, the main barrier for technology adoption is time. Time to learn the what, the why and the how. Even when we run training sessions, we know that there is still a time barrier for staff to actually sit down, digest what they have learnt and then put it into practice.
As it suggests, the resources are reduced to one minute each, and where there are larger topics (being realistic), they can be grouped together as a short series. 5 are released per week, and the whole site and resources are completely open. The stats were also impressive considering that there was absolutely no budget for the project whatsoever.
The next steps for the project include library collaboration content created for students, and also student created content. They’ve had interest from all over the country (and world!), and I’ve really been impressed with their fresh thinking around TEL CPD. You should definitely visit their website and learn a thing …or two.
Being Human is Your Problem
Finally, I’m just going to say a couple of words about the final keynote, as this was the presentation which was most challenging in many ways for HEIs. As institutions move into the “Digital” (some kicking and screaming), don’t forget that technology isn’t the “solution”, technology isn’t going to fix everyone’s problems. As Donna Lanclos puts it:
“Technology is not the future”
“Digital is not a salvation from our problems as humans”
“Digital is people”
There are many lines I could quote from the keynote, but I think the presentation should be viewed, so I’ve embedded it below. I’ll finish with this: “We need to remember that there is no such thing as “the university” as we are “the university”. With this comes responsibility. Responsibility to think, talk and act in regard to teaching and learning.