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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): How Staff are Responding to the Mobile Technologies Their Students Bring With Them to Class

December 23, 2012 2 comments

The end of the year yields an opportune time to reflect upon various teaching innovations that have been discussed, written about, and presented earlier in the year, but which have not yet been included on the Educational Vignettes website. In this, the first of a series of end-of-year posts, I offer some thumbnail sketches of initiatives implemented in my teaching during 2012 to embrace mobile technologies with which students have been engaging to support their in-class learning – but with which, crucially, I was myself comparatively unfamiliar.

It can certainly be offputting to a tutor for the students’ attentions to be apparently divided between the lecture and their mobile devices; but this year I have seen evidence that, far from being a distraction, even the unsolicited use of mobile technologies by students can actually lead to their being more engaged in class. For example, in one lecture, when discussing crossover between classical musicians and popular music, I alluded to a Los Angeles-based string collective, the Vitamin String Quartet, who have released a fascinating series of albums of arrangements of popular music. Moments later, the whole class heard the unmistakeable sounds of a string quartet emanating from one corner of the room – one of the students had looked up the group’s website on her laptop, but had forgotten to ensure that she had turned off the sound…

Another such instance seems rather appropriate to this time of year : I was chatting to a student after a lecture who rather impressed me by dropping into conversation that Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was the only track ever to have reached the UK singles Christmas No. 1 spot twice, in 1975 and 1991. When I asked him how he knew this, he reminded me that during the lecture, I had mentioned that the Spice Girls were the only act to have attained three consecutive Christmas No.1s (1996-98). His interest had been sufficiently piqued by this piece of information that he had used his mobile device to call up a list of UK Christmas No.1s, and noticed the double appearance of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ there.

Versions of the two case studies below were previously presented at the School of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Fête on 20 March 2012, and I am indebted to several colleagues at the Learning Development Centre without whose input and advice many of my endeavours this year simply would not have been possible.

Impromptu lecture-capture

Punk rock lectureIn a lecture on punk rock earlier in the year, a few students and I re-enacted the infamous interview between the Sex Pistols and Bill Grundy broadcast live on primetime Thames Television back in 1976. Reconstructions based on archived footage are available, but we decided that it would be more fun and interactive for the students to come to the front and recreate the experience for themselves. Given the relatively large number of people involved in the task, one student remarked that at this rate there would be nobody left in the class – to which I responded that this was very much in keeping with the belief-system at the centre of punk rock: the idea that anybody can get up on stage and be a performer.

Perhaps most interesting was one student who declared that she would be playing a role I had not even considered – that of the cameraman. She filmed our entire reconstruction using her mobile device (from which the screenshot, above right, is taken), thereby taking the notion of student ownership of their teaching and learning to a whole new level. (More recently, another student has written to me that his participation in the role-play was one of the most enjoyable parts of his educational experience – which is particularly revealing in that although he was indeed a part of the scene, and appears in the screenshot above, he actually had no lines to say!) The footage is now being uploaded to Moodle as a helpful reminder of the endeavour, and of the wider points it raised about punk’s do-it-yourself aesthetic.

Video podcasting of lecture summaries

Earlier in the year I was loaned an iPad by the School, and set the intriguing challenge of finding innovative ways to incorporate it within my teaching. Personal research soon led me to the Wired Educator blog in which a compelling case is made, albeit in a different context, for using the iPad for podcasting (see here). I have been audio podcasting since 2009 but switched to video (not a medium with which I am particularly comfortable) this year. My rationale for the change was that, while the pedagogical function of podcasting may be largely fulfilled by audio-only resources, images are more engaging for the students, encouraging a greater level of concentration and enabling them to see and interpret the speaker’s gestures and body language. I was also mindful of recent experiences within the institution with lecture-capture, which I have been increasingly using as the year has progressed, and of wider innovations in education such as the implementation of flipped classes.

My mode of operation was to record a podcast of 8-10 minutes in advance of each lecture, providing a summary of the key material and concepts of the associated class as well as discussing the set reading, and to release the recording via Moodle. Each podcast was intended to give the students some grounding in the content of the lecture (as well as to act as a ‘trailer’) and to provide some context on the preparatory reading, but they had an unexpected secondary function as a resource for the end-of-module examination. In the module evaluation, completed one week before the examination took place, one student wrote that “The weekly podcasts which were made were very helpful for revision” while another commented on the “Helpful podcasts on Moodle for revision purposes”.

As noted, many students already owned mobile devices upon which the podcasts could be played, downloaded, and re-watched at their convenience. For the others, I came to class every week with the podcasts pre-loaded onto my iPad (see screenshot, below) and students who did not have the opportunity to watch them in advance, or appreciated a second viewing to refresh their memories, were able to borrow my iPad for this purpose before the lecture or during the break.

Podcasts - screen capture

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The first episode in the Educational Vignettes podcast – an interview with Dr Keith Pond from the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University

May 21, 2012 1 comment

Presenting the first episode in our Educational Vignettes podcast series!

With the Cass learning development showcase coming up on May 22nd, and themed on ‘Efficient and Effective Feedback’, Sandra and I (at the LDC) carried out a sector review of other business schools across the country, to see how they were performing in terms of their National Student Survey scores for assessment and feedback. The School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University is third in the country in this respect, with 77% of the students there satisfied with the feedback they receive:

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University Guide 2012: Business and Management Studies (available online from The Guardian website)

Earlier this month Sandra and I spoke with Dr Keith Pond, Associate Dean for Teaching at the Business school at Loughborough. To listen to some insights into the assessment and feedback practices at his school please go here:

http://podcast.ulcc.ac.uk/accounts/CityUniversityLondon/Educational-Vignettes.xml

Dr Keith Pond, ADE for the Business School at Loughborough University

Dr Keith Pond, ADE for Teaching at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University

During our chat with Keith we spoke about the assessment and feedback projects being undertaken at his School, how he ensures consistency of feedback, what he thought his students liked about the feedback they received on their assessments in addition to how they manage the process of giving feedback on exams at Loughborough.

Sian Lindsay and Sandra Partington are LDC liaisons for the Cass Business School at City University London.

The MILL: Guest Starring iTunes U

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Words Associated with the MILL Launch

The MILL: Guest Starring iTunes U event was held on 1st November 2011 and was designed to launch both iTunes U and the MILL at City University London, making staff aware of how both can help to develop their teaching practice.  Coordinated by Sandra Partington, Steve McCombe, Siân Lindsay and Sara Reimers, who came up with the idea of a one-off launch with a film theme, the event attracted more than sixty delegates from across the whole range of Schools, including Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Curran and Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education Professor David Bolton.

The event took the format of a film-themed open day at which attendees were encouraged to explore the MILL and its facilities, getting involved with interactive presentations by LDC staff in each room.  Visitors were welcomed to the event in the foyer, and issued with a ‘ticket’ and popcorn to begin their cinematic experience.

Cinema and iTunes U

For one night only the MILL’s small training room was transformed into a cinema, where a showreel of some of the best examples of iTunes U episodes were screened to an audience treated to ice-cream and Haribo sweets.

To find out more about our iTunes collection please follow the link to our site or watch a selection of videos without downloading iTunes .

 Behind the Scenes  

In the MILL’s Office, Sandra Partington and Mo Pamplin offered a rolling programme of 15 minute demos, which focussed on both equipment and programs such as the iTunes U Live site, iPads, video cameras and editing software.

Studio

The MILL’s podcasting rooms were transformed into studios in which Olivia Fox and colleagues demonstrated some of the uses of Adobe Presenter and Adobe Connect. Julie Attenborough (SHS), Ian Glover (SOI), and Charles Watson (SOI) showcased some of the best examples of assessment feedback including the use of audio and video.

TV Studio

In the MILL’s state of the art TV studio (recently seen on the BBC’s One Show) Steve McCombe gave staff a tour of the facilities and they had the opportunity to test out its blue screen function.  Through the magic of technology staff were transported from the Eiffel Tower to the moon and back, and encouraged to think how these technologies could help their students engage with their subject in a new and creative way.

 iTunesU & Mac driving test

In the large training room staff were invited to take a web quest, acquainting themselves with the mac computers and answering questions as they went along.  Everyone who completed the quest was entered into a prize draw for the opportunity to win a £20 Odeon Cinema voucher, Pascale Colanna-Cesari (SHS) was the lucky winner. 

Coffee Shop

The MILL’s meeting room was transformed into a coffee shop for the night where guests were treated to coffee and cake, as well as more movie-themed confectionary such as ice-cream, popcorn and sweets.

Impact

In the five months since the event staff from across all Schools have signed up to attend workshops and training offered by the MILL, twenty six of whom used the new online booking system put into place as a result of the launch.  We also now have an online evaluation form, which will make the feedback process quicker and easier.  In addition to training, the MILL has also seen a significant rise in the number of equipment loan requests made by staff, and a considerable number of bookings of MILL spaces such as the podcasting rooms and TV studio.

The MILL has supported various filming projects including an award winning film project made by Optometry students, available to watch on YouTube.

Other departments such as Careers and the Students’ Union have also used the MILL as part of an exciting project called City on Screen. Farzana Latif (SHS) and Steve McCombe (LDC) recently collaborated on a video pitch for JISC funding, watch the video here.

It has also attracted the attention of staff external to City University London, with the Society for Research in HE booking to use the space and the BBC’s The One Show using the studio for filming in late 2011.  The MILL is also at the forefront of pioneering new technology, taking part in the Lecture Capture pilot project being run by SASS.

The MILL has also been out on the road, launching its popup cinema at theLDC’s Showcase in January, something that it will be repeating at other venues in the near future.

The Future

The MILL continues to go from strength to strength, reaching an ever-growing number of staff from across the University.  Over the next year we aim to:

  • Expand the number and range of courses
  • Increase the use of the MILL spaces
  • Raise awareness of the MILL with academic staff
  • Become a growing presence in the University as a hub for collaboration

We will continue to gauge our impact and research the needs of our colleagues, to ensure that we provide the training and facilities to best support the changing needs of staff at City University London.

Sandra Partington, Educational Developer

Sara Reimers, Learning Development Support Officer

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