… for this one I feel that I would like to share my thoughts with you through pictures and just a few words. It somehow seems more appropriate… maybe because I feel too emotional about it at the moment.
… after last week’s session, I started almost immediately thinking about how this session could be enhanced for our next cohort and I have now, after a few days just thinking about things without capturing them anywhere – just in my thoughts – seem to have an initial idea and a plan.
For the first part of the session, I am still keen in exploring if we could use a proper lecture theatre, big and massive and fill it with students. When this idea first popped into my head I felt that this would be really good and useful and I am still a supporter of this and feel that we should really give it a go. Delivering a lecture in a proper lecture theatre with 25 people doesn’t have the same impact… and I know, sometimes you do only have 25 in a lecture but many many more on the register. The idea is to get all the people, or at least most of them, back into the lecture theatre and that is why we need, I think to emphasise again on how we can make this happen. Bringing in the students, will allow us to have an open conversation with them about lecturing and their experience here at Salford. I am sure, they will also have loads of ideas how to make them richer learning experiences. So, the plan is to make this happen for the next cohort. Where will we find students to fill this lecture theatre? Well there are a number of strategies that could be used. We could, yes, we could, ask participants to bring 5 students each to this session. We would then have already 125 plus the 25 participants. 150 is a good number. There are other options too and I need to think about them first.
The second part of the session on Problem-Based Learning could be planned better. I am thinking to widen the theme to Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) and Problem-Based Learning (PBL). I have two lecturers in mind who I would like to invite to participate in this part of the session and engage in a discussion about how they use these two approaches. One of the lecturers uses IBL and the other PBL. We would provide some reading about IBL and PBL in advance and ask participants to prepare at least one question for each approach. During the discussion, we would capture similarities and differences of IBL and PBL and create a poster or short written piece with an overview of both approaches and how they could be used.
I still have to do some thinking about how to organise it and discuss it with my colleague Neil (who won’t be surprised with the ideas, I think…), but I feel that the above changes have the potential to further improve this session. They would become even more engaging, varied and content would be even more relevant for participants.
I find tutorials really useful to establish how things are going. It helps to clarify things and check if we everybody is on the right track. We introduced this tutorial for cohort 2 in a more organised way and I think it was a good idea because of the above. Not that we didn’t offer tutorials to our previous cohort. We did but then it was more up to the learner to contact us. Which I think is good but I am not sure if everybody used the opportunity then. I remember having some tutorials with individual learners face-to-face and others online via Elluminate. This we haven’t done yet… and I think it would be good to introduce remote tutorials to our current cohort and I am going to announce that very shortly. This would also give individuals who missed the face-to-face tutorial to catch up on things.
The tutorial with my group felt personal, a bit more informal. I liked that. Soon, I realised that there were still a lot of questions around assessment and how it would all be captured in the eportfolios. Would anybody ask these if we didn’t have this tutorial? I am sure some would.
I am wondering now how important tutorials really are. What if we don’t have the time to organise any? Should we really make the time? What about other support strategies, such as peer-to-peer and mentor support systems? What about using technology to enable more flexible tutorials? Do tutorial have to be done in the same place at the same time? Could you utilise available technologies and conduct them perhaps in a different way? Could or should we even conduct them in a variety of ways? Could we have done this tutorial using a web-based synchronous communication and collaboration tool? I think we could, but would it be the same? What would be the advantaged and where are the challenges? What does the face-to-face tutorial offer that can’t be replicated through an online tutorial?
Overall, I have to say that I am really pleased with the work that has been completed so far. Some participants have started keeping reflective diaries in their portfolios as well, without being asked to do so, without it being part of assessed work for the module. Others experiment currently with audio and mobile learning approaches. One of our participants used ipadio to capture a thought in her portfolio while we were out in Manchester last week. That was fascinating! What made this learner make this call? Was it just because it was possible and easy to do, or was there a clear purpose of this action? It would be interesting to find out.
Loads of questions this time, loads to think about.
We are looking at large group teaching next time! Does it have to be a lecture? What is a lecture and are there any ‘restrictions’ in how it is delivered? What about an alternative such as PBL? I am really looking forward to this session but first we have our first online week around learning theories and I noticed that there is no online engagement yet… and the weekend is almost gone.
… we went for the double session this week. It wasn’t planned and we had actually given up in a way to do the educational visit again because of the very limited but very strong negative feedback we had received previously. How silly that was! When we believe that something is right, despite the fact we get an opposition, we shouldn’t really give up. I was the one saying ‘Only dead fish swim with the stream’ and then I became one of them… I think that is sad. But I have woken up now. Last week it suddenly clicked during the voting stage when we actually asked the whole cohort if they wanted to go to Manchester or stay on campus for a session there. Since we are two delivering we don’t really need to be in the same location all the time. This gives us actually greater flexibility to do different things and I just realised that. We haven’t really explored this before but I think what we did this week was a step in that direction. I am so glad we did it! A whole new world is now opening up in front of us and Neil will already think… oh my God what is she going to do next… anyway.
I actually wanted to write about yesterday last night but then other things happened and now it feels already a bit too late to reflect. I had it all planned in my head what I would write and now it is gone but I will try to capture my current thinking since I feel that it is impossible to capture what I was thinking yesterday.
The Manchester session worked. I was so pleased that everybody embraced the challenge with positivity. This time around, the scenario provided a clearer context and made it relevant to individuals delivering large-group session as well as small group sessions despite the fact that the scenario was actually for large-group delivery. So many creative ideas.
The discussions afterwards were really interesting and the answers to the question how the pairs worked together and the process they followed was fascinating. It showed again that we can’t really push the magic button and expect ideas to fall from the sky. It doesn’t happen that way. It can be hard work, frustrating and it is a whole journey in itself. We need time and space to reflect, to link, to make sense of things until we are sort of happy with our idea and thought and start believing in it that it can work and not just work, that it can work well and better than anything else we have tried before. The thing with creativity is that is really should be something of value, not just new and novel. We don’t know if it will work when we come up with the idea, turn it into a concept and start experimenting with it when bringing it to life. But at some point we need to reach the stage where we believe that it could and will work! Otherwise what is the point?
It was also interesting to experience how creative our academics really are and willing to learn with and from each other. And this is really key in the whole process and will enable us all to do great things together and move forward. I liked the fact that they took the challenge to spend as little as possible and some didn’t spend a penny and still come up with innovative ideas! It shows that we don’t really need expensive resources and that you can make big changes with little, inexpensive or free things. The how you use something is much more important to what you use. Beyond props ‘using’ colleagues and their expertise is another creative and resourcful strategy.
Too many times we focus on our need to use the latest technologies, the latest gadgets, expenisve models etc. when we have resources lying around that we could use with our students to bring our sessions to live and that applies to small- and large group teaching? However, do we really nee props all the time??? Some will thing and say, some have already in the past, that this is totally inappropriate for higher education. Are they right and we wrong? I think it is not about being right or wrong. It is about exploring alternative approaches that might work better than what is commonly used and add suspence, encourage creative and critical thinking and engage our students actively. If this happens with toys or everyday objects or photographs, that is great. Are toys and games just for children? Why do we keep thinking that these are just for kids and their use in higher education is inappropriate?
I also liked the fact that tutors have started thinking of using their own devices to create their own resources. It was really interesting to see that many yesterday had used their phones to capture photographs – which didn’t cost them anything extra. In the past we have seen many tutors having such devices but not realising the potential they have for their practice. I think this is changing now and I am really pleased about that. Some also suggested that students could use their own devices as well during sessions to provide additional opportunities to interact with each other. Especially in these difficult time using our own devices for teaching and learning will become more and more important.
Great ideas and I hope that our tutors will start experimenting actively with these to spice up their sessions.
What a super special day! Well done everybody!