Last Thursday I was lucky enough to attend the Higher York e-learning Conference 2014 which was entitled -“Enhancing the student experience through flexible learning solutions”. Being a practitioner in higher education and a definite techie geek, I was really looking forward to a conference that linked technology to enhancing the student experience. The day consisted of key notes and workshops and I came away from the conference with a lot of new ideas and being inspired to use technology to, hopefully, continue to work on improving the student experience within my modules. There were, however, some discussion points that I wanted to waffle about so this week it is something a little bit different…but still a waffle
There were two discussion points that came to my attention that I want to expand upon in this week’s waffle. I have to make it clear at this point, that these are my own views and not those of any of the institutions that are mentioned within this waffle or that I work for. Purely personal views.
What has been the impact on assessment results? – From attending the conference I realised that technology is being used to enhance the student experience and engagement in a number of ways. These were wide and varied and really demonstrated the creative thinking of many people. I did hear, only twice though, the question as to whether the use of the technology had increased the assessment results at the end of modules. I have worked in primary education for a long time, a sector of education where league tables reflect the attainment of children and teachers are accountable for levels and progression. I completely accept that progression and attainment are important, but at the same time there exists, for me, the underlining key feature of the enjoyment of learning. If children, students or any learners are engaged and motivated to learn then progression might actually improve due to the improved experience of the learning. I am under no illusions here, I totally understand and accept that the engagement and enjoyment of learning will not immediately and unconditionally lead to improve attainment, but I consider them a basis for that process to start. When considering the use of technology, I hope that it goes towards supporting and developing the student experience, which might then lead to better engagement with the learning and ultimate progression and attainment. Sometimes this works – sometimes it doesn’t. But surely anything that makes learning more enjoyable can only be seen as positive. I guess what I am trying to say – and I know I am waffling – that I don’t consider assessments results to be the most important part of education. Hopefully the tweet sums it up.
We cannot ask everyone to use twitter – Technology is advancing at an incredible rate. Although people might not see or acknowledge the rate, it is only when you look back and see how far it has come then you suddenly realise. I remember teaching children with BBC Micro computers which were housed on trolleys with drapes for covers. There was no internet the the infamous ‘L Game’ came on a five and a quarter floppy disk. There was a video recently on Youtube where children looked at the first computer and were baffled even by the on off switch at the back. Most people realise that I use Twitter a lot and feel that it has a lot of potential in supporting student engagement. Whenever I enter into a discussion about twitter, there is always the question that not everyone wants to have a twitter feed and that it could never be a requirement for a module/programme. I often sit and contemplate this point (yes I am that sad) and I do wonder whether similar situations have occurred in the past when ‘new technologies’ have been introduced and their acceptance has been, shall we say, difficult. Everyone at the moment has an email address – this I would say is common practice at the moment. Emails have a great deal of positives and negatives but everyone generally has one. Indeed all students attending university have one provided for them when they enrol and, if my inbox is anything to go by, it continues to be the most used form of communication. Was there a time when people were saying, “we can’t ask everyone to have an email account”. Assignments within the university are submitted electronically. These are typed on a range of word processors by the students. Although many students take notes on paper, no-one to my knowledge (and I am still new to higher education remember), submits assignments which are written by hand. Again, I am assuming that someone might have stated in the past -“We can’t ask everyone to type their assignments” You might have already guessed where I am going with this – but just to get there – will there eventually come a time when applications such as Twitter become as standard as an email? In which case, everyone might have a twitter account. 🙂
I realise that this is a bit of a change for me. It is not an attempt to start a massive debate about the points I have made, I just wanted to let you have a brief insight into the depths of my thoughts and views.