1. An understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes
I am not teaching at the moment as the new school year does not start until the beginning of April. Therefore, I will try and describe an assessment from a previous course. I mentioned in the Week 2 post about Operational Issues that my school does not have a lot of technology available to support staff or students; there is no LMS for example, and Wi-Fi has only recently been installed. As a result, I encourage students to use free software tools outside of lessons (see Cowie & Sakui, 2015, 2018).
One course I teach is for second-year students who have to take a compulsory English course twice a week for 8 weeks. They are from various faculties such as science, engineering, and environmental science. Many of them are very switched off foreign languages and do not want to take part actively in lessons – therefore using technology is a way to engage their interest without pressuring them too much to ‘perform’. I get them to produce four Powerpoint slide presentations with audio that they upload to YouTube and share on Google Community (I previously used Brainshark but this software was phased out).
Students view each other’s slideshows and complete a rubric. The rubric was created by first brainstorming ideas on Padlet (see screenshot below) and guiding the students to develop various criteria and levels of performance (see Cowie & Sakui 2016). In this way, I think that the students were encouraged to consider important features of a presentation which they could use in their own work. In theory, at least, the goals and outcomes of the course could be ‘constructively aligned’ (Biggs & Tang, 2007).
I collect the rubrics using a survey on Google Forms. In addition, I give comments to each student on Google Community (see two examples below). These generally correspond to each feature of the rubric and are formative rather than summative. I don’t give any grades online.
2. An understanding of your target learners
As mentioned above my target learners in this example are from various faculties. They may be very good at their special subject but they are often not at a high level in English, particularly in terms of speaking and listening and skills. They do, however, like to research about their own interests (e.g., robots, car engines, soil pollution) and so I encourage them to create multimedia presentations on these kinds of topics. Very often they have never used PowerPoint or any of the Google tools so I have to teach them. I do that using videos I make myself and post on YouTube.
I would like the students to use English to discuss, brainstorm and plan their projects but many of them are just not at a level where they can do this. Instead, I make two of the four projects collaborative so they have to work with a partner(s) using shared Google Slides. Again, this is new for most of them and is a motivating technological tool based on constructivist approaches to learning in general (Vygotsky, 1978) and task-based learning in EFL in particular (Ellis, 2003)
I think it is very good that students could have some input into their own rubric although I think this works better with students at a relatively higher level of English. Google Community is a nice alternative to an LMS but it doesn’t have the option of collating student input in any easy way so using it as a tool for assessment is quite tedious. Collecting data on Google Forms is a lot easier and you can easily make a spreadsheet with student-generated data.
The projects themselves were often very good. It is not always fun to look at another teacher’s student’s work but here are two that give a flavour of the work:
a. This is a slightly humorous advice video on how to take a train in Japan. I showed it to my brother (from the UK) who was visiting and found it useful:
b. One from an agriculture student presenting about ‘supercows’
Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for Quality Learning at University (3rd ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Education & Open University Press.
Cowie, N., & Sakui, K. (2016). The use of rubrics for the assessment of digital products in language learning. In M. Iguchi & L. Yoffe (Eds.) Mobile learning in and out of the classroom: Balancing blended language learner training (pp. 12-17). Proceedings of The 42nd (2015) JACET Summer Seminar. The Japan Association of College English Teachers.
I teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at Okayama University in Japan. It is called a ‘national university’ which means it is a publicly funded institution that gets its money from student fees and government support. The fees are lower than private universities. I say this because many people’s image of Japan is that it is a very high-tech place and that if you’re working in a university there it must be state-of-the-art with lots of great equipment. The reality is that, as a percentage of GDP, Japan’s spending on education is low and many higher education institutions are poorly resourced. For example, it is only in the last couple of years that Wi-Fi has been installed; there is no LMS and ‘Blackboard’ is literally a blackboard with chalk.
In such circumstances, I have used digital technology that is free for students and that they can use outside of the classroom. Examples of this include: Google Docs and Slides to make collaborative multimedia projects, Padlet for brainstorming and sharing ideas, Google Community as a kind of LMS for classes; creating Wikipedia pages for writing practice; and, Quizlet for vocabulary development. For colleagues, I created a WordPress site to share information about the curriculum, teaching approaches and so on.
2. Technical Knowledge
I feel that my technical knowledge is limited to being a ‘visitor’ to the tools that I use and share with students but I haven’t left much trace behind me. One exception to that was my use of Google Plus as a makeshift LMS – students would post their projects (usually videos and slideshows) to the class community and give comments to each other. I would also give feedback to the students on their projects using the comment function. The screenshot below shows some of the class communities made using Google Plus.
3. Deployment of learning technology
As a result of the rather limited opportunities at university to use learning technology coupled with the desire to try and develop further skills I have developed (with my partner, Keiko Sakui) online courses using the Udemy platform. We use Keynote and iMovie to make videos that are mixture of slide shows, embedded talking heads, and animation. Since 2017, we have made three courses on English and communication (grammar, small talk and meetings). We have over 500 students that have signed up from 35 countries. Perhaps the main challenge, other than how to use the various software and understanding audio/video recording, has been how to structure the courses to maintain student motivation. We never meet the students face to face and the Udemy ecology provides limited communication opportunities for feedback. This means that we have tried a number of techniques so that motivation is maximised in the course itself. This was the topic of a presentation we made at SoTEL 2019 (which led to me taking this CMALT course).
A couple of a days ago I tweeted out a link to an excellent article produced by Lawrie Phipps and Donna Lanclos (Trust, Innovation and Risk: a contextual inquiry into teaching practices and the implications for the use of technology) and I just had a look at the ‘tweet Activity’ stats that Twitter generates:
As you can see from the screenshot above there where 2221 impressions in three days. Twitter impressions are the number of times a tweet shows up on someones timeline. It doesn’t necessarily mean someone has read the tweet but it is an indicator that something is happening. Also the level of engagements shows the total number of times a user interacted with the tweet, including likes, retweets, replys, and clicks on username or profiles. Ok so this tweet hasn’t gone viral but you can see its had some sort of impact.
Increasing there seems to be a growing body of research literature based on the impact Twitter can have on disseminating research.
Rowlands et al (2011) early study showed that the use of social media (and Twitter in particular) was being used by researchers to identify research opportunities and promote their research. Darling et al (2013) looked in more detail at how Twitter can be used to generate ideas for a scientific publication, how it can influence the editing and writing up of the manuscript and then publicising of the article. It also looks at the pros and cons of this process.
Researchers have also argued that attending to alternative metrics, such as examining references to the scholarly literature in Tweets, can extend scholars’ impact beyond citations in peer-reviewed journals (Priem & Hemminger, 2010). For instance, some have found that the frequency of article mentions via Twitter appears to correlate with subsequent downloads and citations (Shuai, Pepe, & Bollen, 2012; Thelwall, Haustein, Larivière, & Sugimoto, 2013), although the correlation between Tweets and citations in all fields is unclear (Haustein, Peters, Sugimoto, Thelwall, & Larivière, 2013) and in some cases appears to be weakly associated (de Winter, 2014).
Rowlands, I., Nicholas, D., Russell, B., Canty, N., & Watkinson, A. (2011). Social media use in the research workflow. Learned Publishing, 24(3), 183–195.
Darling, E., Shiffman, D., Côté, I., & Drew, J. (2013). The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication. Retrieved 4/4/17, from PeerJ Preprints: https://peerj.com/preprints/16/
Will need to add further reference when I have time…
Stuart Cook and I were asked to present as a keynote speaker for the 2019 SoTEL symposium in Auckland. Advertised as “trendsetters”, I ensured that I put on my best attire and Cookie and I decided to present on our recent dabble into Mobile Mixed Reality and immersive simulation.
Now of interest, the word dabble has not been used willy-nilly here, dabble by definition relates to the immersion of (one’s hands or feet) partially in water with gentle movement. The idea, of course, is to have a sensation of subtle feeling and movement with the soft resistance as the hand brushes the water offering an enjoyable experience.
So okay, I may have pushed the analogy a little with my play on dabble, but the reality here is that this project is all about immersion, feeling and movement. Within a design-based research methodology in relation to technology our use of virtual reality technology hopes to offer not only an enjoyment but an authentic learning experience.
Our presentation involved the authentic use of mobile devices and Virtual reality (VR) to enhance and develop Paramedic Immersive simulation. We identified design principles that utilise a mash-up of mobile social media as a simple framework to design learner-generated authentic learning environments that stimulate student critical awareness of clinical practice risks via Mobile Mixed Reality (MMR). We went on to discuss how we hope to enhance clinical simulation by utilising MMR for a more authentic real-world clinical scenario.
Cookie and I provided almost 100 self-assembly Google cardboard VR headsets for the audience, which I personally put together. This itself was a blessing as the assembly of these headsets was a nightmare!! As an example, I provided each of our PhD lecturers with a flat-pack headset to assemble and with a wry smile I sat back and watched the frustration and annoyance as each of them tried for over half an hour to put these bad boys together. So on the eve of the symposium and after five hours of putting the headsets together, and feeling slightly exhausted, I was able to get a good nights sleep prior to our presentation with little or no anxiety or stress.
The symposium itself went well. We had some nice conversations and made some interesting contacts following our talk. From listening to others within the symposium it was nice to see that our design-based research approach is seen as an important method when developing research. For me, this validated our work to date and gave me confidence that we are working toward something that is not only important for our student learning but also an accepted approach to research.
So, my first keynote talk was a positive experience and one that ordinarily I would be quite nervous about. So thank you Google cardboard for taking the stress out of the event and offering those that attended an interactive, immersive Dabble into pre-hospital simulation.