Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Initial thoughts from Workshop 2

How should I include formative assessment during my training when it is such a short session and I am fairly unlikely to have face-to-face contact again with any of the staff?
Caroline D-D chose to ask formative questions before the start of the session to establish students' prior PC experience.

I wondering whether it might also be possible to create a short interactive simulation for some of the more complex procedures like creating a content module. Students could have a go at creating the module in the simulation but on getting stuck, the simulation would provide the answer for them. This simulation could be taken as many times as necessary (in order out of the class), until students felt entirely comfortable with the procedure.

Alternatively there could be a short paper-based exercise to encourage staff to think about their pedagogic style and how they'd use WebCT to support this. Over break, I could take a look at these and consider whether there were options that had been missed off or could be expanded upon. It would help me see whether or not staff understood how to use tools and apply them pedagogically. This could be a bit time-consuming but would be a good way to facilitate futher reflection in my students. It might even be possible for me to email their plan back to them after the session.

To support other kinds of further reflection I could follow up each training session with an email asking how staff are doing, and further WebCT information.

I found the workshop especially interesting because up until this point I have always had a very low opinion of lectures. I had a sense that most of those I attended at university would have been much better as an online videocast, especially so if all a lecture is doing is presenting facts and preparing students for more in depth study. They definitely don't appeal to do-ers (people like me!).

Looking back I think my opinion has more to do with the lecturers than the format. In the session I came to recognise that lectures are especially good at creating an impact. Having charismatic 0r guest speakers will help here as well as features like live role-play! There can be a buzz to a lecture similiar to that you might find at a theatre or other live performance. The conversations afterwards can also be valuable. Finally, I like the idea that a lecture might be taken advantage of to do some research. Hands up and voting systems can give you a very fast and accurate sense of majority opinion!

The important thing then is to learn how to really engage students in lectures and presentation. Involve them and get them to do activities that keep them awake. Most of us only have an attention span of 20 minutes and after that we start to flag. I found a neat instructional design tool which I think would also be useful for any kind of lecture design. I've stuck it in the right hand links but you can also take a look here.

some nice examples of interactive interventions in a lecture:
get students to swap notes
give them some time to summarise what you've just said
Q&A session
turn to a neighbour and have a short discussion
For students who don't seem to get it, group work may help
make it clear what you expect from them at the start

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