Work Review

October 2015 – Work review

October is a traditionally busy time for me as the start of term kicks in. A lot of the project work gets put on hold as the support tickets fly in. This year was no exception and with a person down in the team, things were busier than usual. What was really pleasing to see were the number of additional lecture capture requests, including for rooms not supported by the automatic system. This involves me setting up a space for recordings, linking the the VLE, arranging the microphone to be installed and of course advising on how to use the system.

Essential webinars for academics using learning technology

Last month our first team webinar on Baseline use of Yorkshare (our VLE) kicked off a series of monthly webinars that introduce fundamentals of using learning technologies and supplement face-to-face workshops run by other teams in the Academic Support Office and beyond. In October I ran a webinar on Creating Accessible Learning Resources. Whilst I failed to press the record button (whoops), the content is available via another recording I made on Accessibility Basics [YouTube]. I’ve woven accessibility considerations throughout the ELDT guidance, predominantly in the York TEL Handbook (Chapter 3 on Creating Resources).

I enjoy presenting the webinars, and it’s definitely something that requires thought. Unlike a face-to-face presentation where you can sense whether the audience is understanding the content, with webinars its crucial to include audience-engagement throughout. The Collaborate platform we use has polling functionality, emoticons and text-box chat which makes it easy for participants to indicate their understanding, ask questions and for me to prompt for a response. Keeping the webinars short, and through them being online, makes it easy for staff to take part at their desk over their lunch break. If they miss out, or want to watch again, the webinars are recorded.

The rest of the ELDT webinar series is advertised on the team website and an archive is available online.

Forum article

Published in the 39th edition of the Learning and Teaching Forum magazine, I wrote an article that emphasised the role of technology-enhanced learning to structure and support students independent work: Using Technology to Propel Student Learning [Forum website version].

The article draws upon the ideas presented by Brown et al. (2014), one of the readings used as conceptual inspiration for the York Pedagogy that places Student Work as one of five components at the heart of curriculum design and programmes at the University. The book draws upon cognitive psychology to argue that repeated learning instances that challenge students and engage them with course content can improve understanding, retention and ultimately gives them a stronger base to build from when applying, evaluating and critiquing.

Obviously, a design that emphasises engagement with content is just one form of pedagogical model, and others such as reflective practice, problem-based learning and social-constructivism models will offer different learning experiences and meet different learning objectives. Each though places ‘effortful’ student work and activity at the centre of a successful design.

Reading this month

For the Forum article:

  • Brown, P.C., Roediger, H.L., Mcdaniel, M.A. (2014). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

To aid in the Accessibility Webinar:

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