The eLearning Studio
This year the eLearning Unit took over a room at the University of Liverpool’s 2011 Learning and Teaching conference, crammed it full of learning technology excitement and called it the eLearning Studio. Strategically located next to the coffee and registration desks, members of the team were on hand all day for anyone attending the conference to drop in, discuss and try out a range of technologies (hardware and software) for learning and teaching. (We were also offering alluringly comfortable, café-style seating for anyone who just wanted a sit down and a nice cup of tea).
Four themed areas were set up in the Studio: Multimedia, Content Creation, Classroom Technologies and the Showcase. On offer across all of these themes was the opportunity to:
- Try out software applications, either available at UoL, including LAMS for learning design and Xerte for accessible, rapid content creation, or as commercial products to buy, such as Articulate and Wimba Create;
- View video case studies of innovative learning and teaching practice at UoL over the last couple of years;
- Have a go on some inexpensive kit for creating audio and video (and easy-to-use software to edit it) including a Zoom audio recorder and a Flip camera, and some screen capture software (Camtasia and Jing);
- Look at some outputs from the eLearning Unit’s activities over the past year including CPD module development, social networking site development and curriculum review (as well as this blog, our websites (here also) and twitter feeds (here also).
We were also asked to showcase the Student Stories videos produced by Student Support Services which highlights the successes and challenges different students face as they attempt to balance their university studies and their personal well being.
The Classroom Technologies theme featured our WordWall text-entry classroom response handsets, which were a real focus of interest for many people. With a few simple activities and games to try out, and so get an understanding of the kinds of interactivity these types of system afford, lots of questions and discussions were generated as people sought out strategies and applicability for their own teaching and learning practice.
As an experimental venture and with no formal space in the day’s programme, we were not sure what level of interest or footfall the eLearning Studio would attract. By the end of the day it was heartening to have welcomed so many enthused people through the doors (including our conference keynote speaker, Professor Stephen Brookfield and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Kelvin Everest) and to have had such a range of questions and discussions. We enjoyed busy periods during the registration, coffee and lunch breaks and a steady trickle of people came along to have a more detailed discussion during the main parallel sessions. There is a real upsurge of interest in e-learning and learning technology at the University, evidenced not just by visitors to the Studio, but by the many conference presentations that figured e-learning as a natural/habitual element of practice (rather than a ‘quirky’, experimental or hobbyist activity).
Based on this successful, inaugural run-out, we hope next year to offer an enhanced manifestation of the eLearning Studio, perhaps running a few more structured activities or presentations/workshops from other staff. We would be delighted to hear any comments or suggestions from people who visited the Studio this year and many thanks to those of you have who mentioned the Studio so positively in the 2011 L and T Conference Feedback survey.
The eLearning Unit