The Connect More event in London represented the last in a series of regional day conferences organised by Jisc concentrating on the themes of ‘Capabilities, Connectivity and Student Experience’, and featuring an exciting ‘Fab Lab’ complete with dancing robots, 3D printing pens, augmented reality apps and virtual reality technology.
Having recently attended the 13th Academic Practice and Technology (APT) conference at the University of Greenwich – ‘Flipping the Institution: Higher Education in the Post-Digital Age’ – I was particularly interested in the sessions which touched upon the flipped learning theme.
The first talk that I attended focused on Open Educational Resource (OERs) projects that created open, interactive and online resources for vocational courses. Emily Armstrong from Hull College talked about the creation of online materials for apprentices – accessed by 402 students out of a potential 408. The staff had even created their own apps using Appsgeyser and students reported that they were using the apps on their bus journeys. Incidentally she also mentioned that this was the first year that the institution did not have to pay for a single resit.
- audio narration
- interactive elements, such as quizzes
- drag and drop exercises
- content from industry specialists
- their own YouTube channel.
Both speakers stressed the importance of interaction between those with specialist subject knowledge and those with the technical knowledge in order to bring the courses to life. There was also emphasis upon the valuable knowledge that they themselves had gained about OERs, copyright and Creative Commons throughout the process of course delivery. All resources are available to download from Jorum by using the search term ‘ilrforskills’.
Connecting with video
Surjit Uppal from Activate Learning (Banbury and Bicester College, City of Oxford College and Reading College) introduced his work in using video to connect with learners. What stood out for me was their creation of custom video resources. They chose to create their own videos even when YouTube alternatives were available as they found that students liked to see and hear their own teachers.
Students were able to watch these videos at home on loaned iPads or in ‘learning zones’ with iPads available during class time for students to recap content. Teachers required more devices to enable students to film themselves with teachers and peers commenting on these using Kaltura. The resulting videos created an even larger bank of resources for future cohorts.
Teachers were pleased that they had used the technologies that students were already using for their own learning. Lead, Surjit Uppal, commented: ‘now that we have utilised the ‘YouTube phenomenon’, we now have to do the same for other social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat.’
The important lesson I took away from the day was that we must find more ways to make use of these technologies that are embedded into students daily lives, and to help facilitate the delivery of specialist subject knowledge through these mediums.
See the Storify from the event to see tweets throughout the event and pictures from the Fab Lab, the mini-robot and 3D pens.