Teaching-learning technology Reply

Last week lecturers of the School attended a workshop on the use of technology in teaching-learning and I thought we should share some ideas and resources here. It is a big year for tech: we have launched ECON-1 as part of the distance learning UNIPREP programme and we are busy with a pilot of an e-book in ECON-1.

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Using technology in teaching-learning is all about so-called blended learning. Kobus le Roux of Academic Support Services, who presented the first part of the workshop, defined it as structured opportunities to learn with a blend of the physical and online learning environment. At a residential university they also refer to the “flipped classroom” with a mix of prescribed reading, electronic resources and contact sessions.

Kobus told us more about a survey done on the Potchefstroom Campus this year that showed that 80% of first-year students have laptops, 83% have smart phones and 78% have access to the internet where they live. At school they frequently used the internet to do assignments. Most of them have their own email address, but do not use it frequently for communication – they prefer social networks and instant messaging. Though they seem ready to use technology in learning, many say that they need training and guidance.

Kobus emphasised that the use of technology in teaching-learning should depend on educational merit: it depends in the particular discipline, the students and what it is that you want to achieve – pen and paper is also a technology!

In the second part of the workshop Juan Steyn introduced us to a few options for your teaching-learning tech toolbox:

  • For making your own screencast video’s he recommends Screener, or Camtasia. On the iPad the app Explain Everything works for Marginal Revolution University and for our own EkonoomTV.
  • If you have your own video’s, or are curating other video’s there are lots of interesting options. You can use TED-Ed and build lessons there. You can annotate video’s using VideoAnt or YouTube’s editor. In “flipped” style, you can get the students to make the video’s and/or annotate them.
  • A portfolio does not have to be only a collection of essays. Maybe a timeline, infographic or glog poster can be achieve the outcomes. The whole portfolio can be electronic in Dropbox, Google Drive or Evernote. Maybe it is all published on a blog!?

We also talked about other ways of communication, use of puzzles, games and the Google suit of apps.

In summary, a few thoughts:

  • Profs should think what it is that they want to achieve when using more technology in their teaching. It is worth it if the web tool or app or whatever is a better way to discover knowledge or learn skills. If it is all about novelty bells and whistles, it quickly wears thin.
  • You should decide if you will create or curate. There is a lot of great resources out there already. Use them to supplement the traditional lectures, assignments etc.
  • Will you use be using these tools, or do you want the students to use them? Either way you should be ready for stumbling blocks and a learning curve. It is best to scaffold the work – make the screencast video’s this year and the full online lecture platform the year after.
  • The flipped classroom can work if you have the online resources and assessment and then high quality interactions in class. The “live show” should add value. It is easy to have discussions, debates etc if the group is small, but if the group is large you need more tech – devices and bandwidth that allows for lecture response, screen sharing etc.

If you are a lecturer or student and this sounds interesting, please leave a comment and let us know what you are doing, or would like to do with technology in the classroom.

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