A glimpse of this year’s ALTC
by Pascale Colonna – originally published Tuesday, 28 July 2015, 10:00 AM
Newsletter no 26: ‘Appartunity or Appain’, one of the 2015 ALTC workshops
If you weren’t able to attend this year’s annual learning and teaching conference, a blog page will be made available by the end of July, but here is a glimpse of the day in the meantime:
Appartunity or Appain: Are apps in the classroom an opportunity or a pain? This was the question posed in this workshop run by Kate Brown, Sheila Cunningham, Jodie Ward, Kate Wilkinson and Jo Wilson, with each group exploring answers for themselves.
We were promptly organised into groups of 6-8 participants per table, all seated around board-style guided questions to allow us to explore the use of (mobile) applications at Middlesex. The workshop turned out to be as exciting as its title and setup hinted at, and was prepared with a good dose of creativity and carefully organised questions.
I’ll describe the experience at our table:
Participants were from different areas, with some qualifying themselves as ‘technology dinosaurs’, others quietly having used apps in the classroom for some time.
All of us seemed very keen to define what is meant by ‘apps’ (mobile apps only or others?), and the conversation quickly moved to practical considerations (‘but does this work on a Samsung tablet? ‘are all apps free?’ etc.) and then onto accessibility (‘would the library consider putting iPads on loan for students who do not have one?’). We also discussed the use of technology as a possible distraction in the classroom and how we can deal with this.
I particularly enjoyed how one academic talked about how he used 3D-visualisations of difficult concepts in his teaching as a way to break down a dry two-day course and as a way to make some of his presentations more vividly understandable (‘and your work is half done!’)
We eventually agreed that we needed to know where to ask for support and guidance (both CAPE Senior Academic Developers and School Librarians were referred to at that point) in order to be able to focus on pedagogical considerations and we talked about looking at apps in exactly the same way as you look at other new initiatives, with the same critical approach and part of an evaluative process.
We also touched on the potential of apps in an assessment context; we had more difficulty with this. We wondered whether they could help with developing certain aspects such as memorising skills. We also identified areas where we thought apps may currently be difficult to support assessment practice, such as in assessing creativity.
One group wondered whether apps might be able to help you with minimising elements of subjectivity in the future and one group had come to the conclusion that we should develop our own apps, as a way to tailor them to our needs.
I was really impressed with the quality of the conversation in such as short space of time and with as few as 8 people from a range of areas. Definitely the highlight of the day for me. <<<
Coming soon: Like a fish in water: make your online course look good, consistent and ‘homely’, Tuesday 21st July, 11-12.30.
One to two years after the launch of Moodle, and you may feel that your course is in need of a clean-up. This session will look at ways to make your online course visually attractive and consistent to your students. Can this online presence support your students in the first few weeks (especially for 1st and 2nd year UG students?) Can it replicate features that will create a sense of belonging right from the start and minimise feelings of isolation?
We’ll look at examples as a starting point.