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Assessing the Impact of a Learning Technologies Module for Academic Staff

Presented at PELeCON 2012
by

Sharon Flynn

on 3 December 2014

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Transcript of Assessing the Impact of a Learning Technologies Module for Academic Staff

Assessing the Impact of a Learning Technologies Module for Academic Staff
Sharon Flynn
Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
National University of Ireland, Galway
@sharonlflynn
Digital World
Troublesome Knowledge
Learning Technologies
10 ects
Learning Technologies (CEL263)
Who are our students?
Given that I am involved in some classes with particularly large numbers, I would like to know more about what technologies are 'out there' and how these can be used to support student learning. The problem I faced before taking the class relates to having (or taking!) the time to engage and familiarize myself with the potential of the available technology.
I rated my confidence in using and learning new technology as 'relatively ok' based more on my interest and eagerness to learn than on any real knowledge or ability. While my lack of 'technological knowhow' does not make me unduly uncomfortable or nervous it does take a while for me to get to grips with and find my way around a new system.
In many respects I am somewhat fascinated by new technologies and love to become involved in exploring new methods and ideas. However, I do find I never seem to have either the time or the attention span to become embedded enough to learn the process fully. I tend to learn enough to ‘get me by’, which sometimes can be more of a hindrance than a help.
Based on my background I don't really have any issues using various new technologies ... I am often one of the first to explore a new technology if only for the fun of it. But when it comes to using it in teaching, I find it really challenging to figure out the most strategically useful way of using a particular technology to achieve a specific learning outcome.
My level of confidence as regards technology would be best summed up as interested enough to mess around with things and then when it gets more difficult than plug-and-play I often run away and simply give up!

For me, any technology has to be simple to use ... and has to be secondary to the content ... moreover, I'm concerned we ask the question: will it really aid the learning ... or is it just to be funky and different?
Prof Ray Land
Troublesome Knowledge
PG Diploma in Academic Practice
PG Certificate in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education
Social Media
Open & Distance Learning
Audio & Podcasting
Video production and editing
Infrastructure
Classroom technologies
Workshops
Guest speakers
Practical sessions
Reflective blogs
Project
While I did last year during the Diploma course I did not continue doing it this year. This was not due to the lack of interest but rather due to the fact that I have a one year contract so had to prioritise research over teaching. I would use technology again in the future.
Of the 8 people who said no, 4 mentioned lack of time!
No. I am 'learning by doing'. I also take advantage of the knowledge of students and alumni.
I find twitter an excellent resource for updating my skills as participants will highlight learning technology resources
Yes, I presented at the EdTech conference, something I would never have done without doing the module. I also attended an NDLR event
Yes, I have advised other members of staff on how to use Blackboard including how to upload student exam marks on to Blackboard.
Yes.
Blackboard, laptops, Powerpoint-type presentations, video, Twitter, Wordle,...
Yes. I know that several colleagues in my department started using blogs in Blackboard for coursework; and I advised a couple of colleagues from elsewhere in NUIG who were interested in doing something similar. I also offer informal advice to colleagues about ways to customise the VLE to suit their needs.
Yes. I am certainly a 'first mover' in my department and an 'early mover' in the school.
Yes on an ad hoc basis and usually in relation to the use of Blackboard.
I am a big fan of technology and try as much as possible to champion it, by increasing the department's visibility on the net and by offering help and support to colleagues.
Yes. I would be one of the first ports of call in my school regarding problems with clickers and on-line homework.
The Learning Technologies Team @ CELT
Iain
Fiona
Paul
Labhaoise
Gráinne
Angela
Blaneth
Evaluating the impact
What are the longer term effects of the module?
After 4 iterations:
What is the impact on the use of technology in T&L at NUIG?
Are we starting to address a change of culture?
Are we just supporting the technology enthusiasts?
Only 2 reported successful funding applications
A further 2 mentioned their intention to seek funding
I did find that the module was quite rushed and I wouldn't feel very confident about recording or editing video for example - but it was a good starting point
Most definitely. A couple of people have expressed their fears of technology and I try to re-assure them if they learn at their own pace, there is great support to assist you in trying.
Yes, and I have told loads of people to do the course. But I still hate twitter.
Absolutely. One needs dedicated time to learn new technologies and this module is excellent.
Yes, I would - but I suspect most colleagues would only want a one-off workshop on a particular topic. I can think of few who would be interested enough to sign up for the full semester module - and those few would probably sign up anyway.
Yes - most definitely. I really enjoyed it and learned so much. Being encouraged out of my comfort zone helped to give me more confidence to try more technologies.
Yes. I think it is very helpful and particularly useful to those who would consider going down the road of learning technologies but don't know where to start.
How did the module help?
I had no previous experience of technology so it assisted in getting me off the ground and braving the world of technologies
The module allowed a discussion of where trends were going and there was some space for grumpy types to make observations about why we should bother using the various tech and how and to what purpose. However, we were then cast into the pit of actually having to do something......and that was fun and more or less got one to understand the basics of 'how to'.
It made me get around to various things I wanted to do but had not gotten around to doing before!
The module exposed me to new technologies and provided me with a 'quick' guide in beginning to using them.
The module supported my teaching practice and facilitated diversification of assignment types and learning for the students.
The module was great - it opened my eyes to a range of technologies that I had shied away from
The module gave me a mandate to include non-traditional learning methods into my teaching. It also made me think more about the student experience - viewing it from their perspective.
I can't say that it changed my teaching practice but it added to my bag of tricks. I am always willing to try new things. I think that it is good for students to see that effort. It is very good for them to see someone like me (56 years old) who is not afraid to tackle technology. Some of it works, some of it doesn't. It's good for them to see the effort.
It gave me the support, push and encouragement to try some of the available technologies out there. I believe that these technologies could be used to encourage more students to become 'reflective' and so more engaged and responsible for their own learning and in so doing help them to a deeper understanding of the discipline.
The module helped me decide on what would be appropriate to the learning needs of the student cohort I look after.

In relation to presenting at a conference about learning technology, it is not something I would have ever have considered myself doing because to be honest I was a techno phobe. Doing the module really helped me get over this. I am not so scared of technology now.
To be honest, I don't think I would have experimented with the various learning technologies if I hadn't first been shown them. I feel much more informed now about what is available, and do think that the integration of learning technologies has had a positive impact both on the teaching and hopefully on the learning experience for students.
I think it had a lot of bearing on my teaching practice as I was already using a lot of technologies. I think it pushed me to reflect on why I was using technologies in teaching. Learning technologies are great and being innovative is great, however I found that the module not only helped me discover new technologies, it made me aware of the need to embed them properly in a curriculum.
Acknowledgements
Kelly Coate: for her advice and encouragement
The LT team @ CELT
The participants themselves
Discussion
Experience
Results and limitations
Based on 22 responses to online survey, a 56% response rate
Initial results presented here, further analysis necessary.
Responses are encouraging
Participants self select:
60% take module as part of PG Dip, following from PG Cert
Others may have a pre-disposition towards technology
Some evidence of shift in culture, creation of champions
Evidence of embedding in T&L activities
Not just supporting tech enthusiasts
Participants spreading the word, sharing experience
Full transcript