A. Working with staff to produce case studies which explore and reflect on their use of technology to support the University’s pedagogic approach of Active Blended Learning (ABL). 

In order to best ‘support others to use technology appropriately,’ I have been an active contributor to our LearnTechnology Blog adding posts which explore and promote the technologies which can be used to facilitate ABL (Active Blended Learning). These examine a range of technologies which are suitable for enhancing learning.

The reason for choosing to communicate the use of technology on a platform such as the LearnTech blog was the desire to add narratives to the use of technology for Teaching and Learning. 

In my first blog post I proposed ‘An alternative vision to Powerpoint teaching’, suggesting that ‘staff move away from using PowerPoints for didactic teaching’ and instead adopt learning through activities. The post is very editorial in its voice as was intended to generate debate. Unfortunately, one reply strongly disagreed with the article: 

The knee-jerk “lectures are intrinsically bad” thing is getting a bit old and honestly to those of us who have taught this way for a while it is annoying and even hurtful to be told over and over again by non-academics that we don’t know what we’re doing, and that everything we know is false and that no-one’s ever taught us to teach better than we do now.

The reply is very interesting as is not only strongly argues for not being ‘told how to teach’ from a Learning Technologist but it also goes on to say how the tutor already uses ABL techniques in their delivery: 

I don’t know of anyone who only lectures – already I use flipped classrooms, seminars with set reading tasks, group activities outside the classroom, etc etc etc. Any one of my colleagues will tell you (and they do, frequently!) that most of their lectures aren’t one-way shouting matches or mumbled droning or whatever the cliched expectation is but that even in large groups there are chances to discuss, respond to challenges, and so on. Lectures can and do involve active learning.

My experience of writing the post was very useful in that it highlighted to me two important things:

  1. There were strong opinions about the pedagogic approach of ABL.
  2. That if I was to develop a good relationship with staff who held more different views on lecturing, a more subtle approach may be more effective.  

Having learnt these lessons I adopted the approach of ‘ABL practitioner stories’ which Learning Designer Julie Usher created in October 2017. This format documents personal case studies, with staff reflecting on their attempts of using technology for active learning. There is no format prescribed and staff are free to respond in any medium.

Since adopting this format in January 2018 I have worked with six members of FBL staff on a range of themes including:

  • mobile technologies in the classroom
  • discussion boards.
  • self and peer assessments.
  • digital post boards (Padlet). 

To date, I am pleased with the results of these as I have been able to highlight best practices, break down barriers of staff engagement such as lack of confidence and open a dialogue with staff about which tools were most suited to their teaching.

Within the evidence you will see examples of the my contributions to the Learning Technology Blog.  

 

Conclusion:

The two examples above are included to illustrate how I have used (or supported others to use) technology appropriately, given the constraints and benefits it provides within the context of the Universitys adoption of the pedagogic approach of ABL (Active Blended Learning). 

In the first example I provide commentary on how I chose to include different tools within the ‘Enhancement’ course. The fitness for purpose for these was decided by comparing options that were available and evaluating each either by forming a criteria in the case of the initial list, or through research, testing and feedback in the case of peer review.

As well as providing evidence in the design of the course, these is also evidence of supporting others use of technology within the course content as each unit contains information on the benefits and considerations of each tool’. 

In the second example there is evidence of how I have supporting others use of technology appropriately by sharing experiences and good practice through authentic narratives, the constraints and benefits here are displayed as my different attempts at making a case for adopting the pedagogic approach of ABL, evidence is therefore provided both within the case studies and in the reactions.

I have chosen to include these two different examples to demonstrate the breadth of challenges within my role, and illustrate how there are a number of ways in which the brief can be addressed. 

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