Presentation by Hilary Thomas from JISC RSC Northwest

We were pleased to welcome Hilary Thomas, eLearning Adviser for Higher Education from the JISC Regional Support Centre Northwest to Liverpool on 24th February to give a presentation entitled “Making the most of technology in your teaching”.

Hilary began by giving a useful overview of JISC and the activities that JISC supports and is involved with (loads of stuff!).

Hilary then considered the use of technology in your teaching from four perspectives; staff creativity, the student focus, your subject discipline and the technology.

Technology shouldn’t just be used just for the sake of it – it should contribute to what you want to achieve. This isn’t always easy though when there might be an institutional (or other) requirement to use certain technologies.

We discussed some of the perceptions of technology, whether it is the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or a… uurm… TV Hat (think I’ll pass!!). How it is important to recognise your own preconceptions and expectations of technology and play to your strengths, i.e. are you more comfortable providing information to your students via video, audio or text? By way of a demonstration of how easy it can be (equipment permitting) to create audio, Hilary had us all singing Twinkle, Twinkle, little star (all together now…). Thankfully we didn’t have to sing for long to make the point 😉

We heard about the Raising Aspirations – Blackburn’s Moodle Award Scheme event and how one of the tutors preferred to use the drawing board of Adobe Connect (available at Liverpool) instead of a text medium. We also discussed the use of Skype and had quite a good discussion about the positive and negatives of students and lecturers using facebook.

Hilary demonstrated the ZoomIt, MyStudyBar and Natural Reader tools which might be useful for your students or in your own teaching, I can certainly think of ways they could be useful for me. Hilary also provided a list of resources for example and some useful links on her PowerPoint slides that colleagues might want to browse through.

The slides from the presentation are now available to University of Liverpool staff. The video recording of this event will be available soon and will linked from this post.

If you were at the presentation and think there’s anything that I have forgotten to include – or if there was anything you found particularly useful about the presentation please post a comment.

Thanks to everyone that attended and made this a fun and useful event! 🙂


Getting interactive in the classroom with technology!

An image of students using clickersTunde and I met with academic colleagues from the School of English and Psychology recently to discuss using interactive ‘clicker’ type technologies in the classroom and for research projects. The eLearning Unit periodically gets requests from staff for support for this technology, and to date this is something we have not been able to do because we lack any centrally managed clickers which staff can borrow etc. However, a few developments and resources in using this type of technology:

Text entry clickers
We are hoping going to purchase a small 16 handset clicker system in the New Year which potentially staff in the University could borrow from the elearning unit. We are intending to buy some clickers from – these are special type of ‘clickers’ which are designed for text entry type of interactions rather than the traditional multiple choice type. We want to use these for student focus groups using the nominal group technique and other research and CPD events.

An image of a mobile phone.

Using mobile phones as clickers
We also have staff around the University starting to use student mobile phones as classroom clickers. For example, staff in Biological Sciences are using the Poll Everywhere web service which enables students to text in using SMS on their normal phones to answer questions in the classroom. This service can be tested for free for up to 30 users.

Traditional clicker companies are also starting to develop mobile phone applications. For example, TurningPoint have developed a version of their software which enables students to use their mobiles to answer questions in the classroom through WiFi (ResponseWare web ) rather than through SMS text messages. Certainly, the use of mobiles for this type of classroom technology looks like growing rapidly in the next few years, especially as more students start to have smart mobile phones.

Learning and teaching resources
Here are a few learning and teaching resources we share with staff interested in developing this type of technology into their teaching:

Strathclyde University
This is a very good video introduction to how you can use this type of technology in the classroom.
(Windows media file video which you will need to download to view.)
Luke Dawson in Dentistry
Luke using clickers with his students to test their diagnostic skills. (You will need to download a ‘Silverlight’ plug-in to get this video working.)

Re-engineering assessment practices (REAP) briefing paper on electronic voting systems.
This is a concise summary of the main educational benefits from their research on the benefits to student learning from using this type of technology.
(PDF document.)
16 suggestions for using clickers in the classroom
Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual
Prof. Eric Mazur. This is a seminal book on using this type of technology in the classroom. Hopefully we will have this in the library next year.
Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments Derek Bruff. Derek is one of the leading researchers into clickers in Higher Education. Hopefully we will have his latest book in the library soon as well!

CPD clicker workshop in the new year?
Once we have our new clickers in the eLearning Unit, we hope to offer staff a lunchtime CPD event which will focus on using clickers and mobile phones in the classroom. Please contact us in the eLearning Unit if you need any more information of support with this issue.

Nick Bunyan