Tag Archives: digital teaching

Everyone loves group work – Weeknote #162 – 8th April 2022

After a week in Manchester I spent this week working from home. I took the time to work on the implementation of our HE Sector Strategy and more on our internal communication plan to continue to raise awareness of the strategy.

I wrote up my reflections on the UCISA Conference.

Overall, I enjoyed the conference and found that it exceeded by expectations. Despite being labelled a leadership conference, I was expecting to see and hear much more about the operational side of higher education IT but was pleasantly surprised by how many sessions were on leadership and transformation. I will be planning to attend the UCISA Leadership Conference next year.

I also wrote up about sketching at UCISA 22 with some thoughts about sketches from earlier conferences. My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows me to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk.

The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. So if you want some sketch notes for your conference, why not get in touch.

Group working
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I enjoyed Martin Weller’s blog post on group work.

First up, every student’s favourite way of working – group work!

He is working on a series of blog posts about online learning.

Like many of you I’ve been getting rather exasperated by the “online = bad, face to face = good” narrative that seems to have arisen post-pandemic. So I thought I’d try a series on some of the ways in which online learning can be done effectively. I mean, I know it won’t make any difference, but shouting into the void can be therapeutic. They’ll be a mix of research and my own experience.

I worked on some reports and guides we will be publishing later in the year on the Intelligent Campus and the Intelligent Library. We originally published the guide in 2017. This was at the time well received by the sector and continues to be the core guidance in this space. Since then, universities across the UK have been exploring how they can make their campuses smarter and intelligent. Since the guide was published, there have been many changes to the landscape, as well as the covid-19 pandemic, there have been advances in smart campus technologies, and a new range of use cases.  We know from sector intelligence, member voice and Learning and Teaching Reimagined that the future of the campus is an important component when it comes to digital transformation. This has shown the need for Jisc to update their advice and guidance in this area.

Continuing our research into the Intelligent Campus is outlined in Jisc’s HE strategy.

We will continue our research into the intelligent campus, learning spaces and digital platforms, and how these improve a seamless student experience. This includes how digital and physical estates work together so that they are responsive to student journeys and interactions as well as to help universities achieve their net zero targets.

I was interested though (from an FE perspective) to read about Gloucestershire College’s move to ensure that their campuses function on fully renewable energy. They are digging bore holes for a heat exchanger. For a site that is in the heart of the city centre I did think that this was an intriguing solution to moving to net zero.

I wrote a blog post on the duality of digital teaching.

When we talk about online and in-person many of us think of this as a dichotomy, either we are online, or we are in-person. The reality is though as we know, that this can be more of a spectrum, a range of possibilities, with varying depths to which online or digital can be embedded into an in-person experience.

I did think that this Twitter thread on academic presentations was interesting and useful to read on six useful things.

  1. Practice speaking in your natural voice
  2. Break up your talk
  3. Don’t cram in material
  4. Research the setting
  5. End early
  6. Prepare two conclusion statements.

I did like the sixth thing was interesting and useful.

Academic talks often end with a Q&A. But this can mean that the last thing you audience hears is a subpar question or an awkward “No more questions?” You can ensure that things end on a high note if you prep a post-Q&A conclusion.

This is something I am going to start doing in my talks and presentations.

My top tweet this week was this one.

The duality of digital teaching

lecture theatre
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

When we talk about online and in-person many of us think of this as a dichotomy, either we are online, or we are in-person.

The reality is though as we know, that this can be more of a spectrum, a range of possibilities, with varying depths to which online or digital can be embedded into an in-person experience.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

If we take an in-person lecture. We can start to add digital and online aspects. At a simplistic level printing off a handout created in Word involves some level of digital. One aspect that has been around for a couple of decades at least is using the internet and the web for online research, which informs the content of the lecture. Referring to online articles and journals.

This is so embedded now into practice that we probably don’t even think of this as “online” or digital.

The use of Powerpoint is so embedded into practice nowdays, that we forgot that at one time extolling the possibilities of Powerpoint was the mainstay of many a staff development day, with some staff wanting to retain the OHP, acetates and their OHP pens.

However over the years many academics have started to add more digital technologies into their sessions. They have brought in online video which is another step along that spectrum. Services such as YouTube have made is so much easier to bring video into the lecture. I remember back in the 1990s having to bring in my home desktop computer with its Matrox Rainbow Runner graphics card to enable me to play full screen video as part of a Powerpoint presentation. The institutional provided laptop didn’t have sufficient graphics power to run video bigger than a postage stamp.

Ubiquitous wifi and student devices has enabled more embedding and integration of digital technologies, specifically online tools and services.

The addition of an online back channel (official or off the grid) enabled social and community learning away from the individual experience that we use to have. Likewise shared document editing allowed for collaborative note taking amongst students. Easy access to resources and online site, allowed deeper understanding of topics as students had ready and easy access to information as they participated in the lecture.

The pandemic showed us that we can flip the in-person lecture to the online lecture using tools such as Zoom or Teams. However going forward we can start to embed in-person experiences to the online lecture. Students could get together into groups to participate in an online lecture. This can be a relatively simple way to make an online experience more social considering that appropriate spaces are provided.

Durham Pod
Group Pods, Techno-Café, Durham University by Jisc infoNet CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Likewise hybrid (or hyflex) teaching is by definition a combination of in-person and online teaching.

Listening to lecturers and students taking about their experiences, it is clear that teaching is not a binary of online or in-person, but can be considered a spectrum of experiences. Over a programme sessions can move along that spectrum.

So how are you supporting staff to embed online and digital technologies into their teaching?