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Digital education

#CEIOS: Adding a mobile and interactive aspect to your teaching

27 February 2018

(#CEIOS Events are organised and run by the CEI Team)


My next #CEIOS adventure started when I met a colleague during the second event back in December 2017 (read more about the event here). He was explaining to me how hard it is to engage students during lectures. He felt that it was important to ‘activate’ their attention with some actions. But he also suggested that by doing this, he may be inviting disruption and noise to his lectures; and that this way of engagement may lead towards encouragement on Facebook, Snapchat discussions or Twitter ‘rumblings’. Sound familiar? Not once did he mention the word mobile.

This made me think about the next event. What is it about mobile that is so unattractive, and why would people rather stick with usual, old-school type lecturing?

Then I thought about speaking to my sister who is studying Law and hardly ever leaves her device switched off. Observing her study habits, I concluded that her attention is very much divided to pockets of various activities. While she was working on her dissertation work she was also chatting to her friends on Facebook, watching YouTube, searching for resources online, listening to music and talking to me. That is, doing five ‘side’ activities during the main one. It looked like she was functioning better when her concentration was split between all these activities.

This conclusion also made me focus on the next #CEIOS theme – Adding a mobile and interactive aspect to teaching and learning. Here at Cardiff University, many of our academics are including mobile interactions in their teaching but it is not a common practice. I looked at two different approaches. One was to use mobile response applications during the lectures to gather feedback, opinions and answers; and the other was to explore the use of podcasts in teaching and their impact on learning.

I approached Dr Saachi Jain from School of Journalism, Media and Culture, who tried poll applications in his lectures. Although he was sceptic at the beginning and expected to hear the noise after students used their devices, this was not the case. Students’ reaction was very positive, all of them engaged in the activity and wanted to use it more.

Finding a suitable speaker who would be able to discuss the use of podcasts in learning and teaching was a tougher challenge. I came across Dr Fiona Rawlinson (School of Medicine) who is one of the first adopters of podcasts here at Cardiff University. When I met her to discuss the details of the event, her first question was: “Marianna, what does the audio give you that books don’t?” It made me think how this can be added to the event’s topic. At the end of the day, we are talking mobile in two senses – the use of hand held devices and learning on the go/being mobile with learning.

My biggest challenge was to find an external speaker. I found Karen Foley through my network. Karen is a Lecturer at the Open University and oversees the Student Hub Live, producing and presenting online interactive events, workshops, podcasts and discussions.

I also wanted to point out a different perspective, non-academic angle, and I invited Rebecca Ferriday, a Learning Technologist, who will also be speaking at the event.

Interested to learn more? Come and join us on 7th March in School of Dentistry. Book your place here, or watch the live event here. Do you have a question you wish to ask one of our speakers? – please post them via Slido using the event access code L410.

We look forward to meeting you on the day.


by Martin

The session took place in the small lecture theatre at School of Dentistry and unfortunately collided with the strike action that been taken place in the Heath campus. Despite the small audience we took this as an opportunity to discuss the topic and issues more deeply.

After a short introduction we welcomed our external speaker. Karen from Open University presented some of an amazing activities from Open University. She highlighted that majority of students at OU are distance learners and those interactive activities engage them to feel being part of the learning community and break potential barriers. Karen also presented Student Hub which is the platform that helps students with their study and engagement. Moreover the interactive workshops run through Adobe connect were also very inspirational. PodMag (monthly podcast magazine) was another interesting engagement tool to interact with students. In the discussion Karen also mentioned some of the obstacles they have to cope with. The broadband connection is still the main one.

Second presenter came from CU School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. Saachi shared his experience in using audience response system (ARS) Mentimeter during his lectures. This had have a positive effect on the class efficiency and climate. The Mentimeter helped Saachi to receive immediate feedback from students and potentially adapt his lecture. Student feedback on using their own devices was also very positive. The key message from Saachi was the need to change the way you teach if you want to interact with large cohort of students using ARS.

Next speaker Fiona just crossed the road (from the School of Medicine) to present her work around podcasting and share her huge amount of experience going as back as to old audio tapes. Her tips and tricks were very valuable and she also mentioned the power and simplicity of podcasting. Unfortunately the subscription possibilities needs to be evaluate at Cardiff University and the wider awareness of podcasting possibilities delivered. These are potential reasons why podcasting doesn’t have wider history and it’s not used as broadly as it could be at Cardiff University.

Last speaker of the day Rebecca presented the evidence that students are not allowed to bring their mobile devices in many educational rooms in Heath campus. She pointed out this is ongoing debate from two points of view. Part of her presentation was a quick brainstorming activity to collect few ideas/agreements around the manner of using mobile devices in lectures and find some compromises. This activity provoked very productive discussion that went on after the official end of the session.

Overall it was very well spent afternoon in company of enthusiastic speakers and it has generated many ideas for improvement the student engagement not only using mobile/online activities but also interact with students right in the class.

You can access the recordings of each speaker through this links:
Karen Foley – Open University – Showcase of interactive activities from OU

Savyasaachi Jain – CU, Schools of Journalism – Mentimeter, student engagement and clasroom interaction

Fiona Rawlinson – CU, School of Medicine – What does an audio give you that paper doesn’t?

Rebecca Ferriday – CU, School of Healthcare sciences – Please destroy cell phones before entering

Full footage of the recording



1 comment
  1. Peter Rayment

    “Cardiff University are just some reasons why podcasting doesn’t have wider history and it’s not used as broadly as it could be at Cardiff University.”

    Did you know there are podcasting facilities within Learning Central? One of my team could show you this if it would help?

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