Digital tools for reflective practice – an update

woman with computer code reflected in her spectacles

Back in 2015 I wrote a post for this blog on digital tools for reflective practice, and it has proved to be one of our most-viewed posts, but things move fast in the world of digital tools, so it seemed that an update could be useful.

What is reflective practice and why use digital tools?

Anyone involved in teaching will have encountered the concept of reflective practice. It is also key to many other professions and integral to much Continuing Professional Development (CPD) so it is a professional skill that will benefit students as well as tutors.

For those teaching in Higher Education, the Higher Education Authority (now part of AdvanceHE) has published a guide entitled ‘Reflective practice: some notes on the development of the notion of professional reflection’. The guide explores ‘how reflection – in which searching questions are asked about experience – might be conceptualised, why it can be viewed as rather more than “thinking about teaching” and why a consideration of reflective practice itself might be helpful to both the beginning and the experienced teacher’.

Unfortunately, reflection can easily be overlooked when time is short, which is why any digital tools that can make it easier can bring benefits for learning and professional development. Using digital tools for reflection can also enhance more general digital capabilities, which are increasingly valued in the workplace.

Digital documents, notebooks and journals

Traditionally, people would have used paper notebooks or journals to record their reflections and plans, so let’s start by looking at the digital equivalents of a paper journal.

Documents

Starting with the most basic way of reflecting digitally, Microsoft Word or Google Docs could be used to create one or more files where you can write your reflections, add images and links. University of Sussex staff and students are each entitled to install Microsoft Office on up to 10 devices and store up to 1TB of files in OneDrive with Office 365 so using Word on laptops, smartphones and/or tablets is an option.

Digital notebooks

Digital note-making platforms such as Evernote, OneNote and Google Keep go beyond journalling and offer possibilities for handling notes in all areas of your life. Meeting/lecture notes, shopping lists, recipes, reminders and scanned receipts – all the things you once did in a paper notebook and more. With these tools you can add audio, images and clip websites and as they sync across all your devices you can always have your virtual notebook with you.

Microsoft OneNote combines well with Microsoft 365 (see above), storing your notebooks in your OneDrive account. If you want something separate from your Sussex accounts then Evernote which has a range of free and paid options would be a good choice. Google Keep is another option, though it has slightly fewer features than the others it is very easy to make quick text or audio notes.

If you are not sure whether OneNote, Evernote or Google Keep would suit you best, this brief comparison chart might help.

If you are already using one of these tools for your digital note-making, why not add a notebook or tag for your reflections on learning/teaching?

Online diaries

There are a few online diary options such as Penzu, Journalate or Diaro (which uses Dropbox to store and sync your diary). These let you sort your entries by folder, tag them with keywords, search entries and sync across mobile devices and the web. Most of them let you add photos and some allow attaching files. On the whole, though, these have fewer options than digital notebooks (above).

Audio and video journalling

As most of us use smartphones with built-in audio and video recording functionality it is often as quick to make a short recording as it is to type up notes. Audio and video are not as easy to search as text, but if you attach your audio or video files to a digital notebook (see above) you can add tags to help you find things later.

Reflective blogging and podcasting

Some people prefer to do their reflecting in public and blogs are great for that – but you can also create private posts in most blogging platforms so you can choose what you share with the world. WordPress and Blogger are the most well known platforms and you can add images, audio and/or video to your blog. This comparison of blogging platforms might help you choose which is best for you.

If you prefer your public reflections to be entirely video or audio then YouTube will allow you to record or broadcast live from your desktop or mobile device and anchor.fm is the quick and easy podcasting tool that we use for our TEL podcast.

University of Sussex staff can get help in using any of these digital tools for reflecting on their own practice, or to encourage reflection in students, by contacting tel@sussex.ac.uk.

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Posted in digital skills

Canvas Know-How: Using the Accessibility Checker

Decorative image of title.When developing your teaching materials in Canvas, it is important to consider online standards of accessibility to ensure that your content is inclusive of as many individual students as possible. This is important to ensure that equal access and opportunity is provided to all students including consideration for those who may diverse levels of ability for processing information. To support you in this, Canvas has a built in Accessibility checker feature in the Rich Content Editor that will help you to do this.

The accessibility checker will check for 11 different accessibility errors in total:

  • Table captions: Tables should include a caption describing the contents of the table.
  • Table header scope: Table headers should specify scope and the appropriate structure.
  • Table header: Tables should include at least one header.
  • Sequential headings: Heading levels should not be skipped (e.g. H2 to H4). However, the tool does not check if the first header starts with H2 or whether the headings are sequential with the rest of the content in the page. Tables do not begin with H1, which is designated for the page title.
  • Heading paragraphs: Headings should not contain more than 120 characters.
  • Image alt text: Images should include an alt attribute describing the image content.
  • Image alt filename: Image filenames should not be used as the alt attribute describing the image content. Currently, files uploaded directly to Canvas create a redirect that does not properly verify image filenames.
  • Image alt length: Alt attribute text should not contain more than 120 characters.
  • Adjacent links: Adjacent links with the same URL should be a single link. This rule verifies link errors where the link text may include spaces and break the link into multiple links.
  • Large text contrast: Text larger than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1.
  • Small text contrast: Text smaller than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

The Accessibility checker is a feature within the Rich Content Editor, which is used for editing all pages and descriptive text within your Canvas modules. It can be used for checking accessibility of specific pieces of content that you editing.

Select the button from the Rich Content Editor toolbar to begin a check.

Illustrative image - the accessibility checker button is positioned as the last button on the Rich Content Editor toolbar

The accessibility checker button is positioned as the last button on the Rich Content Editor toolbar.

After selecting the icon the Accessibility checker menu will appear on the right hand sign of the screen. If any accessibility errors are detected then they will be highlighted in a blue overlay.

Illustrative image - text highlights indicating errors appear within the Rich Content Editor content preview after a check has run.

Text highlights indicating errors appear within the Rich Content Editor content preview after a check has run.

Where issues are detected, the Accessibility checker menu will explain the nature of the issue encountered and offer guidance on how to correct each issue.

Illustrative image - The accessibility checker has displayed a box allowing the text colour within the blue overlay to be altered.

The accessibility checker has displayed a box allowing the text colour within the blue overlay to be altered.

In the example above the text header colour has a contrast ratio that is too low against the page background colour. This means that students, especially those with visual impairments may find it hard to read the text due to the difference in colour between the text and the background. As a result, the Accessibility checker has detected this and offered the option of changing the text to a more accessible colour.

Illustrative image - An image of the Accessibility checker showing the option to alter the text colour.

An image of the Accessibility checker showing the option to alter the text colour.

Once it has detected that an appropriate colour has been chosen it will allow you to click apply and resolve the issue.

Illustrative image - The Accessibility checker changes can be applied by clicking the Apply button that appears in the bottom right hand corner.

The Accessibility checker changes can be applied by clicking the Apply button that appears in the bottom right hand corner.

If there are any other issues detected the checker will then move onto them, once all detected issues have been corrected the below screen will be displayed. This screen will also display if the Accessibility checker is used and no issues are detected.

Illustrative image - The Accessibility checker menu displays three balloons floating and showing text saying that no accessibility issues were detected.

The Accessibility checker menu displays three balloons floating and showing text saying that no accessibility issues were detected.

Please note that whilst the Accessibility checker does check for a range of accessibility issues it is not fully comprehensive and only acts as an supplemental aid in making your site more accessible.  

Please see the Accessibility within Canvas and General Accessibility Design Guidelines pages for more information on Accessibility within Canvas.

For more general information on web content accessibility guidelines please see the WCAG overview page.

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Posted in Accessibility, Canvas

Daily Digest of Digital Discovery Week.

Each day we wrap up with some highlights in podcast form. Check out each micro-episode below.

Digital Discovery Week is a week of workshops, seminars and online opportunities to enable students and staff to experiment with new technologies, showcase examples of innovations in teaching and research at Sussex, and horizon-scan for emerging technologies which will impact our sector. Find our more at the website here: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/about/digital

Monday:

Listen on Anchor here: https://anchor.fm/sussextel/episodes/Daily-Digest-of-Digital-Discovery-Week—Monday-e2hgq2

Listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3TOluWvjJKwDrEKR4To7ft

Tuesday:

Listen on Anchor here: https://anchor.fm/sussextel/episodes/Daily-Digital-Digest-of-Digital-Discovery-Week—Tuesday-e2hnh5

Listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5ooU5cD7QiheXGFCg15ccu

Wednesday:

Listen on Anchor here: https://anchor.fm/sussextel/episodes/Daily-Digest-of-Digital-Discovery-Week—Wednesday-e2ht6b

Listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6pnnKTYPqIpIKZlfLKOOvH

Thursday:

Listen on Anchor here: https://anchor.fm/sussextel/episodes/Daily-Digest-of-Digital-Discovery-Week—Thursday-e2i3f6

Listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/55ogUvFjJa0v3EeZOHBfJC

Friday:

Listen on Anchor here: https://anchor.fm/sussextel/episodes/Daily-Digest-of-Digital-Discovery-Week—Friday-e2ibh4

Listen on Spotify here: (link coming soon)

 

Sussex Digital Futures

If you missed the opening panel session then you can watch it back below.

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Posted in Podcast

5 ways to make groupwork work in your teaching

Learning from academics is important to students’ learning, but so is working with their peers. The types of communication that peer-to-peer work requires provokes forms of motivation, reflection and criticality that cannot be generated any other way.

Furthermore, the main stream cohort of students may engage in topic-based discussions within their own social groups quite naturally, but those on the periphery of the cohort (such as part-time students, those with caring responsibilities, mature students and others) may not get the same opportunities. Getting peers to work in inclusive groups can help redress this.

Canvas gives student groups a space of their own, where the participants have the ability to create their own pages, discussions, collaborations and even online conferences. ‘Groups’  is a very strong feature of Canvas, but the success of any group work is likely to be dependent on the tutors’ involvement, because although some groups just work, many don’t -sometimes the group doesn’t gel or the participants do not see the point.

As educators who are concerned with inclusivity and equality, we need to be concerned about those groups and give every opportunity for them to work. So what can we do to encourage group work?

1. Align the group work objectives with the module learning objectives

Students are more likely to get involved if they know what they will get out of their participation. If tutors signpost how group activity will contribute to their module learning objectives and their final assessment, this will be a great motivator in getting students to work together.

Designing assessments to include a reflective element where  students discuss what they learnt during their group work is one way to meet this aim.

2. Embed group work in face-to-face teaching

In order to get group work to happen outside of the classrooms it is useful to get the group familiar with one another inside the classroom. Whilst it is not desirable to get all work done in the same group, it is recommended that your group does at least one task together during a seminar or face-to-face teaching session, either as a starter activity or as a concluding activity to a piece of work they have done outside class.

For different types of group work see 4.

3. Pre-empt challenges in group work

Working in groups is not easy. Some people dominate discussion and others do not get involved at all. Sometimes there are disagreements or personality clashes. In order to reduce these types of problems, there are a number of things to consider:

  • What is the group’s purpose? What will learners get out of contributing to the group? It is useful if you can define an outcome. For example, in reading groups the outcome could be the production of a group summary of core points in the readings.
  • Is the group size right? Four or five students is usually the ideal size for most group work.
  • What is the lifespan of the group? A clear lifespan for the group will give students a goal to work towards.
  • Will group members have different roles? Giving each member a different role, such as secretary, leader and researcher, can help prevent conflicts.
  • Are the students proficient in working in a group? You can introduce learners to concepts which enable better group working such as active listening and methods for giving and receiving criticism.
  • What should students do when there are conflicts? Be prepared to help students to resolve conflicts and make their groups work.

It would be nice to imagine that students will continue to contribute to group work with or without our involvement, but it is recommended that you regularly monitor group work and iron out any issues before they get too serious. You could set up a regular written or verbal report or submission from individuals or the group as a whole.

4. Expect your group to engage in a variety of activities

Group should work together on a number of activities so the members become familiar with one another and they are able to communicate with more confidence. When they are able to communicate more freely with the group their motivation to achieve the group objectives should grow and they will have more opportunities to critically analyse the subject matter and reflect on their understanding.

There are countless activities that you can expect the students to do. Usually they will include a group-based element which they can do in their own time and an element that includes the rest of the cohort.

There are some activities that you should with the students during face-to-face teaching time. These would include:

  • Discussing what it means to “actively listen”,
  • Setting the expectations they have for one another of giving and receiving feedback
  • Setting objectives for the week ahead
  • Giving each other roles

There are other group work activities that have elements that the groups can do outside of face-to-face teaching time such as:

  • Think, pair, share is an activity where the tutor gives the group questions based on a theory or an academic reading and expect them to think about it on their own and then discuss their potential response with the group (or at least a peer). Finally when the group is with the rest of the cohort they share their analysis with the rest of the students and tutor.
  • Jigsaw is a group exercise where a group already exists and you create temporary groups based on a theory or an academic reading around the seminar room which group members join. Members of the temporary group become experts on the topic and then return to their own group to explain what they have learnt.
  • Snowball is a group exercise where the tutor asks a group to compile a list based on a theory or an academic reading by thinking on their own and then coming together with the group to share their list ideas. Again when the group is back together with the rest of the cohort they share their list with the rest of the students and tutor.
  • Rainbow is a group exercise where each group member has their own colour  and the tutor gives them an open question based on a theory or an academic reading to discuss. Group members with the same colour as members in other groups get together to share what their group had discussed

Whatever the group seminar activity it should be clear how it contributes to the learning objectives of the module and how they will finally be assessed.

5. Evaluate the groups’ performance

Like all of us, students respond best when they think their effort is valued. In Higher Education, value of student effort is usually measured by their achievement in assessments. If students do not see the value in group work they may decide that they are not going to get involved. However, if the objectives of group tasks are aligned with the learning objectives of the module, engagement in group work will improve the depth of students’ understanding and should therefore contribute to improving their assessment grade.

In summary, group work can improve students’ depth of understanding. Some of your students will get the opportunity to work in informal groups by dint of the fact they have friends in the cohort, but some will not unless you set up opportunities for them to do so.

Setting group work during face-to-face teaching and using Canvas groups to continue their work is one way to provide this opportunity. We know it can be challenging to get students to engage with groups so I hope this post has provided some strategies to help them work.

If you’re interested in using group work in your teaching feel free to contact the TEL team. Please also have a look at our blog post highlighting the Groups feature in Canvas.

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Posted in Learning Design

Student Created Technologies for Learning

Judith GoodJudith Good, Professor of Interaction Design and Inclusion, runs a joint third year and Masters module titled ‘Technology Enhanced Learning Environments’ at the University of Sussex. We spoke to Judith to learn more about the module and find out what Sussex students have been creating.

Can you tell us about the module?

So the module is called ‘Technology Enhanced Learning Environments’. It’s an optional module, which is nice because the people who take it tend to have a genuine interest in the topic. Although it’s in Informatics, it’s not really a technical module. I don’t teach any technology, I sort of make the assumption that students can go out and learn their own prototyping tools.

We do a lot on theories of learning. A few students may have a Psychology background but most don’t, so we cover how people learn, the main theories of learning, we look at theories of motivation, how to do learner-centred design and things like that. So it’s looking at the issue of technology for learning from a different perspective. One of the things that I really encourage students to do is to use the theories they learn about to reflect back on their own learning and their experiences. I also ask them to try to identify a learning experience that stood out for them, whether it was in school or any other context. By looking at these “meaningful learning experiences”, students can start to analyse them from the perspective of theories of learning and motivation, and then ask themselves how, or even whether, it’s possible to distill the positive aspects of those experiences into a digital learning environment. It’s fascinating, and I have to say selfishly I love reading about people’s experiences, and why those experiences had a particular meaning for them, because I think it helps us as educators as well.

What is the assessment that students have to complete?

The main assessment is a portfolio, I leave it completely open-ended: students have to design a prototype of a learning environment to teach something to someone, which usually terrifies them no end. However, we do this as an iterative process, so all the way through the term we have exercises to brainstorm ideas, think about topics in more depth, and understand their target audiences. What I try to do is to encourage students to think about something that, in their opinion, is taught badly and could perhaps be taught in a better way. Alternatively, they might try to really push the boat out in terms of technologies, and to think about how technologies could be used to transform the way a particular subject is taught.

So we work through the design process together, and every week students have an exercise that aims to help them take their ideas further, to create various prototypes, and to get feedback from their peers and from me. Finally, at the end of the module, we have a sort of Science Fair presentation so that everyone gets to see everyone else’s work and try everything out. What I have them do then is write that up in a reflective report, and what I try to stress is that I really want to see them take some risks in terms of what they design. Even if it doesn’t completely work, or they look back and think ‘that was really not a good idea’, as long as they reflect on it and describe what didn’t work, what they learnt and what they would do differently, then they will get a good mark. I’m trying to encourage them to be adventurous, and sometimes that’s quite scary.

Better Speech screenshot

Better Speech

What makes a good learning environment, what do you look for?

For me, the first thing I look for is a justification for why it should even be there. There are literally thousands of learning apps out there already, and the last thing I want to see is, I don’t know, yet another tablet based game to teach vocabulary through matching pictures to words. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it already exists. So I really want to see students think more deeply about how you can use technologies in new and innovative ways. And especially, to think about what the technology can buy you. So I’m less interested in seeing them create something that could be done just as easily without technology, and to ask themselves instead, ‘What is it about this particular technology that has the potential to transform learning?’. And so for me a good project is not necessarily the one that’s the most beautifully designed, but the one that has the best rationale for why it should exist in the first place, even if the student didn’t quite get to the point of having it fully realised.

e-natomy screenshot

e-natomy

I’m sure there’s lots of great projects that students have created, but what are some of the most interesting projects that you have seen?

Quite a few years ago I had a group of students who did something called Digicrafters (www.digicrafters.co.uk). They were interested in introducing children to physical computing using things like Arduino kits, and Makey Makey, which had just come out.  They essentially created a series of little projects (‘Bleating Binary Bananas’, ‘Glowing Gremlin Eggs’), with associated technology kits and instructional videos about how to make them. With the Maker movement, initiatives like this have become much more mainstream, but this project is still stands out for me. The students really thought about their audience, and about how to make the topic engaging and playful, and the result was very beautifully done. That was excellent.

This year I had a student who was an artist who wanted to create an online environment for who need to access 3D anatomy models while they are drawing or sculpting. He also wanted people to be able to access the underlying skeletal and muscular structures of these models.  He designed a fantastic environment which allowed you to effectively ‘peel back’ the layers of skin and muscle on animals or humans and better understand their structure. On the way to developing a final prototype, he also designed some really lovely paper prototypes that allow him to test his ideas on fellow students before creating the final version.

e-natomy paper prototype

e-natomy paper prototype

And then I had a student who wanted to create an app for people who stutter. She was part of an existing programme where people attend face to face courses, but she was finding that between courses, people’s speech declines and it takes daily work to maintain progress. So she looked a lot at motivation, and specifically, how do you motivate people to do something that has a real psychological element to it, a real fear element? How do you create an environment that’s positive and supportive, that helps them to learn these techniques and practices and to want to do that? So that was really nice as well, and the student went on to develop the app even further as part of her Master’s dissertation project.

How have you found teaching the module?

For me the most rewarding thing is really getting students to reflect. I say to them at the beginning of the module that I want them to look critically at every learning situation they encounter, and to ask themselves what’s happening there, and what are the assumptions about how people learn? And I think the most positive thing for me has been hearing personal accounts of students who, in some cases, have experienced education which was really not positive, even to the point of them dropping out of school, and then suddenly coming to the realisation of ‘I understand why this environment was not supportive for me and I understand that I love to learn but this didn’t work for me. Now I know why, and now I know that I can carry that forward in a situation where I want to teach something to someone else. I’ve got a much better understanding of myself as a learner and the process of learning’. That I find really, really rewarding. I want people to come out not with the technical skills to create a learning environment, but with a real understanding of what it means to learn, and how they might best support that.

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Posted in Case Study

How to enhance your assessments with video presentation

In this blog post, I will explore the potential and possibilities for assessing students’ presentation skills through the medium of video.

With the affordances of modern technology, the possibilities for students to create video presentations are now much more accessible. Most new computers, mobile phones and tablets include both a camera and a microphone which can be used to record talking-head style videos. There are an abundance of free to use animation, screen recording, multimedia presentation and video editing tools available on the web which are aimed at presenters (not multimedia professionals) and produce high-quality video presentations.

Much like face-to-face presentations, video presentations can be completed individually or as a group project and are typically given a time limit instead of a word count. A typical assignment might involve the following steps.

  1. Tutor sets an assignment brief and assessment criteria.
  2. Students research a topic and produce an idea or argument for their presentation.
  3. Students produce a script, storyboard or plan to distil and clearly communicate the ideas within a set time frame.
  4. Students record to camera or use specialised presentation software to compose mixed media and create a visual representation to communicate the idea.
  5. Students submit their work online through the online study platform
  6. Tutors watch the recordings online and provide marks and feedback using the online study platform

What are the benefits of video presentations?

Whether asking students to record talking-head presentations or create mixed media presentation videos,  there are a number of benefits which come from video presentations which build on the skills required for traditional face-to-face presentations.

  • Reflection: students can reflect on their presentation skills and refine their work by recording, watching and revising their performance.
  • Feedback: students can view their own work and review it alongside tutor feedback to gain a deeper understanding of how they performed and how to improve.
  • Efficiency: presentations can be completed outside of class time and shared easily online with tutors and other students enabling more opportunity for practice and feedback. Room bookings and coordination of presentation times are not necessary.
  • Perspective: students can be encouraged to express ideas and concepts using mixed visual and audio media to enable new and different means of exploring a topic.
  • Digital literacy: students get an opportunity to develop new IT skills and competencies using modern means of communication.

What are some of the tools and technologies available?

I have recently been exploring various technologies with the School of Business for use in video presentations. Recommendations for what to use have varied between different use cases and learning objectives. Here are a few of the many apps and software out there that we have looked at.

  • Screencastify can record your computer screen, microphone and/or webcam. This can produce similar results to a lecture recording video or a talking-head video but from your personal computer. It is a simple and easy to use tool which includes basic editing, allows you to record up to 10 mins per video with longer times and more advanced editing available through a paid subscription.
  • Adobe Spark uses templates, stock images and motion video from the Adobe library and your own content and narration to produce mixed-media presentations. This tool makes complex design and production tasks easy to achieve with great results. It’s also completely free to use.
  • VideoScribe lets you compose your ideas on a whiteboard using clip art or your own images, voice-overs and text; the software will then turn it into a whiteboard drawing animation video. Videoscribe offer a free 7 day trial of their software, longer use requires a paid subscription.
  • Adobe Clip is a simple video editing app for smartphones and tablets that students can use to edit and combine recordings, clips and images from their mobile device and add title slides, voice-overs and text. This is another free app from Adobe

How to manage the assessment?

Canvas, the University of Sussex online study platform, includes a range of tools for creating and managing assessments. The assignment tool includes the option to enable ‘Media Recordings’ as submissions which mean that students can upload video files which they have created using presentation software, or they can record a video for submission directly from their webcam, microphone or mobile device.

Further options will allow students to produce group submissions, or for tutors to manage peer-review-assignments so that submissions can be allocated to other students to review and provide feedback.

 

Further information

Please contact tel@sussex.ac.uk for more specific advice on any of the topics mentioned in this post and support with integrating the use of technology into your assessments.

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Posted in Apps and tools, digital skills, Marking and assessment, Mobile learning

Peer feedback for student learning

Professionals in all fields are constantly giving feedback to, and receiving feedback from, their peers. This blog post, for example, was reviewed by one of my colleagues before it was published and they made suggestions for ways to improve it. Next week, I will be reviewing someone else’s post.

In educational settings, however, it tends to be assumed that only the teacher can provide useful feedback to learners. In this post I will outline the benefits to students of engaging in peer feedback, and some of the ways that digital tools can facilitate peer feedback.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

How does peer feedback benefit learners?

When students review and give feedback on each other’s work, everybody wins.

It may seem that the person receiving the feedback is the beneficiary, but the process of looking critically at someone else’s work can help develop analytical skills as well as providing insights into your own approach to a task. If the review is based on specified criteria then the act of providing feedback also helps the reviewer gain a better understanding of the criteria.

How might digital tools facilitate peer feedback?

There are a few ways that colleagues at Sussex are using digital tools to get their students giving each other feedback.

Drafts of written work

It can be incredibly useful to get peer feedback on a draft of a piece of writing. This is something academics are doing all the time when they write books or journal articles, and students can gain just as much from the process.

In Canvas it is possible to set up an Assignment as a Peer Assessment. This can be used to gather peer feedback for drafts or outlines of essays, reports etc. Submissions and reviews can be set as anonymous and automatically or manually assigned between students. Tutors can create rubrics to guide student feedback and, if marks are used, the tutor has the final say.

Alternatively, a word document created in Office 365 could be shared and commented on.

Presentations.

When students are presenting during a seminar, time is sometimes short and gathering feedback from the group can be difficult. Poll Everywhere may help in this situation, with the ability for students to give quick short feedback via mobile devices that can be displayed as a wordcloud.

For more detailed, considered feedback presenters can share their materials after the session. This can be done in a Discussion in Canvas. Tutors need to change the setting to allow students to upload files to a Discussion (via Settings / More Options) and then students can upload their presentations and all the others can add comments.

For something more visual, you could try using Padlet. Students can upload their slides which are viewable by their peers who can add comments. The whole Padlet can be embedded in a Page in Canvas making it easy to access.

Another option would be to use PowerPoint online, where comments can be added to each slide. An online PowerPoint could be shared via Office 365 with named individuals or a link can be shared via a Canvas Discussion or on a Padlet.

Where can I get help setting up peer feedback activities?

If you would like to discuss options for peer feedback please contact tel@sussex.ac.uk

 

 

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Posted in feedback

Immersive Storytelling: Using new technologies to make your teaching stick.

Immersive Storytelling

Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years, to entertain, inform, teach and inspire. Storytelling isn’t reserved to fiction, stories are used in mathematics, across the sciences, art history, in music and so much more. We remember good stories, they make us feel something, they immerse us in their narrative. Like good stories, our best learning experiences also stick with us. There are similarities, we tell stories using the tools at our disposal so that they stick with the receiver. Similarly when we are teaching, we want our lessons to stick with the students. To do this we utilise the available tools; language (verbal and non-verbal), physical location, technology and pedagogic understanding.

I don’t think it would be a stretch to suggest that good teaching can be seen as having similar traits to good stories. They use the tools and techniques available at the time to create a picture of the intended learning and allow the student to make new connections and be inspired or excited by what they are learning. As such I think it is fair to say, the more immersive an experience of teaching is, the more it sticks with us and helps to learn something new. We have seen through the ages that technology has always been there to help tell stories. Of course at the very beginning we only had the spoken word. As the technology of our ancestors developed we saw cave drawings and in recent history we’ve seen stories told through the first still images, through recorded audio and  motion pictures.

The evolution of technology brings with it more ways to tell stories and virtual reality and 360º cameras are no different, if anything they are able to take immersion in learning and storytelling to a whole new level.

Filmmakers, documentary makers, scientists, musicians and more have all found value in being able to tell their stories in this fantastic new medium. With a step change in immersion comes a unique opportunity not only for building empathy but also for giving unique perspectives into areas that are physically inaccessible.

Until recently the equipment required to view, let alone produce, high quality immersive content made it largely inaccessible to many. However with a recent influx of mid-priced, high quality 360º cameras and some high resolution stand alone headsets (that  do not require a computer), we see a much lower barrier to entry.

In a recent new initiative between Professor Rorden Wilkinson ( Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Innovation) and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), we have created a fantastic opportunity exclusively for staff and students at the University of Sussex by creating GoBags.

Each GoBag has a GoPro Fusion, a high quality 360º camera that is easy to use and extremely versatile. To preview content we have also included an iPad Pro. Also in the bag are a remote control and tripod for the camera. In addition to being able to create your own 360º content, there is a mobile phone and a Google Cardboard for you to view existing content. TEL are on hand to support you as much as you need, equally we can be fully hands off if you’re happy to explore on your own.

GoBags are now available to borrow for free, for you to create your own immersive experiences, to tell your story in 360º. We already have some great examples of how they are being used.

These bags are designed to be mobile, easy to use and available to staff and students. We invite you to get in touch and start telling your stories with immersive technology. We can’t wait to see what you create.

To borrow a GoBag or for more information email the TEL team at tel@sussex.ac.uk.

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Posted in AR/VR/360

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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