Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Competitive Ice-breaker

March 1, 2017 Leave a comment

I kicked off our second meeting of the UK Poll Everywhere User Group at City University, London with a competitive quiz using Poll Everywhere’s segmentation feature.

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It was a close run battle, ending in a fair 3-1/2 to 3-1/2 draw. The day as a whole went really well and I particularly enjoyed the team-based learning session expertly facilitated by Rebecca McCarter from the University of Bradford.

I have posted a full report from the day on the user group site, see 2017 User Group Meeting Resources.


Using mobile devices in the classroom

June 1, 2011 1 comment

Presentation at LSE Teaching Day 2011 on the use of PollEverywhere by the Media & Communications department & the Careers Service.

At the LSE Teaching Day I contributed to a presentation Use of mobile devices in the classroom for student participation & feedback (PDF of slides) given by staff and students from the Media & Communications department & the LSE Careers Service.

Students Komal Parikh  & Ev Boyle explained how they had enhanced a class student debate on media imperialism using PollEverywhere (See audience voting tools review).  The students had used 15 questions to gauge interest, check understanding & elicit questions. Judith Baines, an LSE Careers Advisor, had used the same tool to collect feedback from multiple groups.

I love lectures

October 8, 2009 5 comments

There you go, I said it.

And I can’t believe I’m alone on this. Yet, and forgive the exaggerated simplicity, the message I regularly hear* is that lecture theatres are out-dated and lectures are bad;  small group work and discussions are good.  Now, don’t get me wrong I see a great value in flexible furniture & small group discursive stuff.  But I also love lectures.  Why?

  • The biggie – they give me time to think
  • They give me time to (independently) find, look at & store related material
  • Occasionally they allow me to switch off… of course I’m not actually switching off but thinking about other stuff!

And now, thanks to the wonders of technology and social networking tools such as twitter:

  • They provide me with an opportunity to interact (as much or as little as I want to) with others who are keen to do so because they are participating in the same lecture

Let’s not give up on lectures just yet.  Instead, let’s encourage better ‘lectures’,  delivered by engaging teachers who are better supported and willing to push the boundaries in (of) the lecture theatre:

*and where do I hear this? Usually in lecture theatres…


August 14, 2009 1 comment

I’ve just finished watching another entertaining & fascinating talk given by Michael Wesch at the Personal Democracy Forum in June. The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube and the Politics of Authenticity includes a ‘brief history of whatever’ and is definitely worth 30mins of your time.  If you’ve not come across him before take a look at my earlier post A Portal to Media Literacy for some background & links.

Wesch is one of the keynote speakers at next month’s ALT-C 2009 .  I’m really looking forward to hearing him talk and I’m hoping he’ll be saying more about his innovative approach to teaching; for example see his assessment scheme & collaborative lecture notes for next term.


I also like this quote from one of his students:

Dr Wesch taught me that teaching and learning is about asking really good questions not about finding answers

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Staff, Students & Social Web

May 19, 2009 1 comment

A report into “the impact on higher education of students’ widespread use of Web 2.0 technologies”, Higher Education in a Web2.0 World was published last week.

Both staff and students, according to the report, are struggling to see how social web technologies can be applied to learning.  It also highlights that face-to-face teaching really matters to students and I’m pretty certain this is true of teachers too!

However, the report suggests that there is a digital divide between students and teaching staff in terms of more general usage of social technologies.  While this is undoubtedly true to a certain extent, there is also a danger of overstating it.  It’s like the digital native – digital immigrant labelling, it just isn’t that simple.  Many students don’t engage with digital technologies and many teachers do.

Anyway, there is a need, as the report indicates, for staff to:

  1. be technically proficient, i.e. capable of using social web technologies
  2. make effective use of these technologies for teaching/learning (effective e-pedagogies)
  3. keep up-to-date with ongoing developments as web-based ‘resources’ continue to grow

The report goes on to suggest that students could help with this.  There is some mileage in this, particularly for 1).  But in terms of e-pedagogies it seems more likely that for a while to come  students will continue to look to teachers for this?


Pedagogy, Web2.0 & Staff Development

November 5, 2008 2 comments
Me 'at' the conference

Me 'at' the conference

I’m currently ‘attending’ an online conference with the tag line: Learning in a digital Age – are we prepared?.  On day one I focused on the session “Does Web2 fundamentally alter the learner-teacher relationship?” which included a presentation with accompanying notes and some pre-recorded audio discussion between the two presenters followed by an ongoing online forum.

With the exception of navigating the poor interface of the discussion it has been very enjoyable and worthwhile.

Pedagogy 2.0
Not a term I particularly want to see again but the point being made was that we need to focus on new pedagogies facilitated by new technologies rather than just the tools themselves.  I agree, but have to admit that I’m guilty of not doing this enough.  The answer (to encouraging the use of new pedagogies) is, I think, primarily a case of staff development; getting teachers to think about different ways of teaching and understanding that chalk-and-talk is not always the best choice.

Digital Literacies
I’m not sure this specific term came up in the online discussion but it’s something that I’m focused on at present and I think it is relevant.  Many staff are not aware or engaged with the different emerging technologies (many are still getting to grips with the emerged ones).  Another case for staff development.  At ALT-C 2008 I heard about an interesting project at Canterbury Christ Church.  DEBUT is focused on improving the digital skills of staff generally and one spin-off has been staff then wanting to incorporate them into their teaching.

So staff development sessions to 1) encourage new pedagogies and 2) to improve digital literacy.  Easy!

Time for some work now, then back to the conference later to look at the Learning design session and in particular the bits about cloudworks.



October 28, 2008 2 comments

Cloudworks is a project from the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology.  It’s described as:

a place for people to share learning design tools, resources and examples of learning activities…. a place where people can showcase their designs and related work, and obtain inspiration and advice when creating new designs

Although the site is essentially a repository, the developers are keen to make it feel less like a repository and more like a social networking site.  It encompasses a lot of web 2.0 elements: tagging & cloud tags, comments and RSS feeds.   I like the way the site is progressing and look forward to seeing how it develops.

Cloudworks Logo

Cloudworks Logo

Having said that, I remain somewhat of sceptic with regard to the re-use of learning material and activities (or designs).  For me it only works so far… I’ll happily incorporate others’ resources into teaching materials so for example, if I need an image I often search and grab photos from Flickr.  But that never extends to a whole activity as I tend to think it will take longer to find and adapt something than to create it from scratch.

While I think I would find it useful to browse sites such a Cloudworks for ideas for activities, rather than the activity in its entirety, I’m not convinced I would.  I think I’m more likely to stumble across ideas in conversations with colleagues and other educators or at events such as conferences and staff development sessions.   Of course, that’s just me.

Having highlighted my scepticism you might be surprised to learn that I’m working on a similar project!  Similar in that like Cloudworks it’s a repository of learning materials and uses Drupal.  But different in that it’s small-scale & unfunded – currently a repository of learning materials for teaching French at the LSE but that’s just the acorn…  Having liked what I’ve seen at Cloudworks I’m feeling inspired to throw some more energy into our Drupal project, nab some ideas and kick-start some plans we’ve had in the pipeline for a while!

It almost goes without saying these days but I came across Cloudworks on Twitter…

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