#ocTEL 2014: Activity 0.1: Big and little questions

I’ve just joined the 2014 (second) run of the Open Course on Technology Enhanced Learning that is being supported by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). You should expect to see the hashtag #ocTEL in my posts on this site until mid June, but hopefully that will be compensated for by an increase in activity and reflection.

Amongst the Week 0 (induction) activities we are asked to

reflect on your work experience and ambitions for developing your teaching

and

Can you identify the most important question about TEL that matters to you?

Here is my answer.

I consider myself an early-adopter of technology enhanced learning (TEL) technologies and I am always trying new things: but my weakness is that I am very bad at evaluating the technologies that I use. I tend to favour those technologies that make my life easier as a teacher but am aware that these may not be the ones that are most effective for my learners.

I have yet to find an effective way of reflecting on and evaluating the technologies that I use. As a lecturer rather than a learning technologist, I suppose that I give myself the excuse that I’m too busy creating course activities, delivering courses, assessing students and giving feedback, to be reflective during the module delivery. The student evaluation systems we have at my institution are not tuned to give me feedback on our uses of the technology, and the only real metrics we can reliably gather are the statistics around module outcomes. Frustratingly, in the off-time between sessions, more and more time seems to be spent with the administration processes around annual module and programme monitoring, module and programme maintenance, timetabling etc. So time and space to reflect on even this limited data is inadequate.

I would reinforce Sue Beckingham’s question

How do we get to a point where staff development is something time planned in and achievements are recognised?

by stating that my institution’s processes do not provide support for this either in its somewhat mythical staff loading models nor in its professional development processes.

Like most institutions, we are being driven by student experience so the little questions I have are around effective feedback and assessment methods, particularly in large group contexts, student engagement, and metrics.

Author: cpjobling

Senior lecturer, College of Engineering, Swansea University