Workshop 1 (Introductions): Course design, active & e-learning

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Information about Workshop 1 (Introductions): Course design, active & e-learning

Published on February 26, 2014

Author: woodjamie



Presentation from first workshop of the New Techniques and Technologies for Text-Based Disciplines coaching programme at the University of Mainz (, 26th February 2014.

Workshop 1: Introductions Course design, active & e-learning Dr Jamie Wood


Briefly introduce yourself • Name • Area of study • Prior teaching experience • Why you’re here

Overview of programme • Series of 6 workshops – – – – – Introduction (today) = a taster session Technology = e-learning Techniques = active learning Course design Techniques II = advanced techniques, integrating design, technology and classroom – Conclusions = feedback, assessment, evaluation, publication, reviewing the programme • Coaching programme – JW’s observations and feedback – Peer-observation and feedback

Plan for today 1. Introductions and rational underpinning the programme 2. Course design -- LUNCH -3. Active learning 4. E-learning – All roughly 1 hour – All will be developed in future sessions – But all can be applied in your own teaching now

Activity: defining good teaching • Individually, note down quickly as many points as you can think of in relation to the following question (2 minutes): – What makes for an effective learning experience FOR YOU PERSONALLY? • In pairs, share your answers and decide on an answer to the following question (5 minutes): – What are the 3 most important features of GOOD teaching? – Please write these down on post-it notes IN ORDER of importance.

Characteristics of effective teachers • Communication Skills – Includes: presentation skills (e.g. clear speaker); sense of humour; approachability; friendliness; patience; empathy; fairness; ability to give and receive feedback; positivity. – Student: ‘It is important to be in an atmosphere where free discussion and comment are encouraged.’ – Student : ‘It is irrelevant whether a person is a particularly strong academic if they can’t put their knowledge across’ – Louise Goldring and Jamie Wood (2009), A guide to the facilitation of Enquiry-Based Learning for graduate students, University of Manchester, Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning, 2nd edition

• Group Leadership Skills – Includes: guiding, not telling; trusting students to reach a conclusion themselves; confidence; willingness to be quiet – Teacher: ‘Someone…who is attentive, flexible and responsive to the needs of others…who actively encourages exploration but understands the parameters of focused research.’ • Organisation skills – Includes: planning and structuring the session; good time management skills; creativity – Student: ‘If a definite aim for the lesson is set out then it is easier to learn.’ – Student: ‘If a teacher has good stuff for the class to do it makes it much easier and more fun.’ • Subject Knowledge – Includes: knowledge and enthusiasm for the topic; understanding practicalities of the course – Student: ‘There is no point having a group leader who can’t answer questions fully/ properly.’

Some underlying assumptions • Priority = learning • Learning is about the student(s), not the teacher • There are different kinds of learners • There are different kinds of learning we want to impart: – skills, knowledge (= content), dispositions – deep (understanding, applying, creating) Image source:

References Bloom, B.S. & D.R. Krathwohl (1956), Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals, by a committee of college and university examiners. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain (New York, Longmans) For more see:

Learning and learners • There is a relationship (often a tension) between the knowledge we want students to learn (the subject content, skills or “domain” knowledge) and how we teach them it (the process of learning) – E.g. the question of the question • Most learning does not take place in the classroom (library, home, work, social situations, a mix of these) • Socialisation is vitally important to learning

Understanding our position and our assumptions • (Usually) we – are older than our students – have different motivations and levels of knowledge than they do – assume that other people learn how we learn – teach how we were taught – have been socialised within an academic discipline • this is good because we’re trying to induct students into that discipline • but we need to be aware of that they have not been through that process yet (‘Threshold Concepts’) • The only conclusion is that we are (like it or not)…

A Vision of Students Today (Michael Wesch and 200 students from Kansas State University, 2007)

Some working assumptions about small group teaching and learning • Learning should be – An active experience for the students – About getting the students to do something (including thinking) • • • • • Reinforcing and developing learning Practising and improving skills Giving feedback and ‘feed-forward’ (both you and the students) Discussion, debate and socialisation Checking (and possibly correcting) and developing understanding • Learning should not (primarily) be – A passive experience for the students – About showcasing your understanding of the material – About one or two students dominating (everyone should have a go if they want to)


What is a syllabus and why use one? • “A syllabus is an outline and summary of topics to be covered in an education or training course... A syllabus is often either set out by an exam board, or prepared by the professor who controls the course.” (Wikipedia) • “Syllabi serve several important purposes, the most basic of which is to communicate the instructor’s course design (e.g., goals, organization, policies, expectations, re quirements) to students.” (Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University)

Activity: syllabus review Individually, read through the two syllabi that are being handed around and make some notes about how they are… • …helpful to student learning • …inhibiting to student learning You have 10 minutes

Some principles of course design: Theory of constructive alignment • Basic principle for course design in UK higher education • Underpins (or should underpin!) design of syllabi like the ones we just looked at • Concerns the alignment of: – Desired learning outcomes for a course – Student learning activities required to achieve these outcomes – Assessment needed to show degree of achievement of outcomes • Focus: – – – – Curriculum and what needs to be learned What the students will do How teaching can support their learning How learning can be demonstrated and assessed

Constructive alignment is therefore about getting students to take responsibility for their own learning, and is seen as a way of engaging students in ‘deep’ rather than ‘surface’ learning

A visual representation of Constructive Alignment References: Biggs, J. (1999) Teaching for Quality Learning at University, SRHE and Open University Press, Buckingham; UK Higher Education Academy website on constructive alignment Image source: /ConsAlign.html (University of Hong Kong)

Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding Claus Brabrand and Jacob Andersen (Aarhus University Press, 2006)

In practice: Aims, objectives and learning outcomes • In general – Aim: general statements that identifies the goal(s) of a activity – Objective: more specific target set in order to achieve the goal(s) • In education – Aim: statement setting out the overall intention of degree programme/ course/ class – Objective (or intended learning outcomes): specific statements setting out what the student will have learnt or be able to do as a result of the educational experience • (University of Aberdeen)

An example • The aim of this workshop is to provide participants with a ‘hands-on’ overview of the main themes to be addressed in the coaching programme. • Objectives/ learning outcomes: – To understand the structure of the coaching programme; – To learn some basic principles and theory relating to learning design, active and e-learning; – To engage actively and learn by doing; – To practice techniques that can be used in participants’ own teaching practice; – To interact with and learn from one another.

5 benefits for learning 1. It helps to make explicit what is usually implicit in your teaching (and students’ learning) 2. It enables you to think about WHAT you want the students to learn, and HOW to get them to learn it 3. It helps you think about how different sessions fit together (the curriculum as a whole) and relate to the bigger picture (degree/ department/ discipline) 4. It allows you to decide what to leave out (to focus on what is IMPORTANT) 5. It facilitates a fair assessment of students’ work (because everyone knows what was expected)

4 practical benefits for you 1. Saves time (though it can more up-front effort) 2. It is reusable and can be developed/ shared 3. Reduces stress (theoretically) 4. Can help to resolve disputes (a clear point of reference)

Activity: developing the syllabus In pairs, revisit one of the syllabi we looked at before and think about how you could develop it in the following ways… • … to get students to read it • … to enable and deepen learning You have 10 minutes


What is active learning? • Basically, learning by doing (and reflecting) – Involves students doing things and thinking about the things they are doing • (Bonwell, C. and Eison, J., 1991, Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom, Washington: Jossey-Bass). – Often incorporates • collaboration and social learning • engaging with ‘real-life’ problems – Engages students in higher level cognitive activities (= ‘deeper learning’?) • e.g. applying skills, existing knowledge and theories, synthesising information, problem-solving

Your experiences of active learning

Constructivism • Underlies active learning pedagogies – (as well as ideas of constructive alignment) • People construct own understanding and knowledge (see next slide) – through experiencing things – reflecting on those experiences – often in interaction with others • Potentially alters role of teacher (in 2 slides) – from teaching students ‘facts’ to (e.g.) supporting them in learning, often called ‘facilitation’

Bibliography: Dewey, J. (1938). Logic: The theory of inquiry (New York: Holt). Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall). Vygotsky, L.S. (1962). Thought and Language. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). Image source: here

Image source: here

Some basics • Have a plan/ structure (aims and objectives) – What are you and the students going to do? – What do you want the students to get out of the class? – How does this relate to the course as a whole? • Don’t try to do too much – 2 activities will probably be enough for a 60 minute session – Have 3 or 4 points (or even less) that you want the students to take away from the session • Variety is good – Students learn in very different ways so varying activities (at home and in class) will engage more students – It will also be less boring for you and the students

Three tips • Think about the space you are in and how you and the students will use it – rearrange if necessary • Explain what you want the students to do and why clearly – Do so at all levels, from syllabus to the class to the individual activities in class or for homework • Practice what you preach – Show the students what you want them to do if it’s a new skill (= modelling) – Don’t ask them to do anything that you can’t or won’t do • E.g. don’t tell them not to use Wikipedia if you use it

Activity: Activating learning • Get into groups of 3-4, read and work through the scenario on the handout that has been provided. • You have 20 minutes, after which you will have up to 5 minutes to present back to the group. • By the end of the activity, you should have created a poster that outlines your plan for an active learning activity. • Paper and pens are available from me. • Further guidance is available on the handout. • Ask me if you have any questions.

Case study: a sorting exercise • I wanted to encourage students – to think about the constructed-ness of questions • i.e. that there is not necessarily a correct answer and that questions are often attempting to get them to do something (…in quite sneaky ways) – to consider that different types of questions demand different kinds of answers (= arguments) and structures – to start thinking about their essays and the exam

Structuring Essays • Look at the questions in the envelope. In pairs, group similar types of questions together. Write down what each of those types of questions are trying to get you to do when you answer them. Think particularly about structure and argument • What kinds of structures might be best for addressing each of the different kinds of questions we identified earlier? • What kind of argument would represent a good answer to the different kinds of questions?


What is e-learning? • Learning and teaching facilitated and supported through the use of information and communications technology. There are a range of approaches but the focus is learning. (JISC) – Very broad concept: from using email to communicate with students and word processing materials, to entirely online courses where students produce websites/ databases/ etc.

Some key benefits • Improves knowledge – Of the discipline and how it functions online • Asynchronous (also synchronous, e.g. chatrooms): – Students learn at own time, place and pace; can reflect, work independently • Reusable: – Content and activities can be transferred quite easily • Scale-able: – Can be used from small to very large groups • Meets student expectations and develops skills: – Vast majority use technology in everyday life – Have probably engaged in e-learning at school – Will probably have to use technology in work contexts

What are potential drawbacks of elearning?

Key concept: “blended learning” (a combination of traditional and e-learning approaches) Source:

Case study YouTube - pedagogical friend or enemy? YouTube provides access to ‘better lectures’ and enhanced learning ‘tremendously’ ‘The ability to hear historical speeches by the original speechmaker, or to see original newsreel clips is an essential part of research of contemporary history.’ ‘YouTube was more beneficial than writing reams of notes or revision prep and even attending lectures. The resources available on YouTube are vast and specific. I could easily find a video that was more specific if I want to delve into a particular area of study.’

Teaching identity with YouTube • 3rd year module on ‘The Goths through history’ • About the constructed nature of ‘Gothic-ness’ – Historical case studies, sources and scholarship • Final week: Goths in the modern world – Lots of videos by and about modern Goths on YouTube (= primary sources)

Design of activity • I made playlist on YouTube and added 3 videos • For homework: – Students watch the videos, find another relevant 1 on YouTube, then email it to me, I update the list – Students read article about modern Gothic identity • In class: – In groups, students spend 10 minutes watching videos – Discuss series of questions about identity in the videos and how it relates to secondary readings • Reflection: – (1) useful way of engaging with insider/outsider concepts of identity; (2) idea that identity is constructed by individuals in relation to groups; (3) it’s made more ‘real’ for students by being in a familiar online space… » (for more see blog post: GOTHS, ANCIENT AND MODERN)

Five tips • Think above all about learning aims and objectives – as with face-to-face teaching; use it for a purpose • Ask for help – use the Internet to help you, there is loads out there • Testing, testing, testing – from the perspective of the student • Write very clear, step-by-step instructions – because you’re not going to be there to clear up any misunderstandings • Use the group – it’s likely that some of the students will be technicallyskilled and/or pick it up very naturally

Activity: from classroom to online or blended approach • Each group should think about how to transform the active learning scenario you designed earlier into EITHER a blended learning activity OR a fully online one. You have 20 minutes. • Discuss the ideas/ options in your group, then annotate the poster you drew using post-it notes and/or different coloured pens. BLENDED APPROACH FULLY ONLINE APPROACH


Summary • We’ve been using techniques here that you can apply in your teaching – (and which I’ve already seen some of you applying) • We’ll look at each of these in more detail in subsequent workshops – (please excuse any repetition) • 3 key points: 1. structuring (= constructing) 2. explaining (= what, how and why) 3. doing (= together)

Two final tips: Timings and Perfection • Activities nearly always take longer than you think, so – Be conservative in planning how much you can do – Leave time for conclusions, even if it’s only a minute • [tell the class that they have less time than they really have] • It will never be perfect  … but that’s ok 

Feedback forms • Please either fill in the feedback forms that are being handed out or take them away and bring them back next time – (I can also email you a copy if you would like to fill in a digital version)

Next workshop (Technologies) • Tuesday, 18th March, 10.00-15.00, in the same room (University Forum, room 00415) – Unless you near otherwise, I would ask you to bring your laptop/ tablet next time as the topic is elearning so it will be useful for you to access the Internet • Materials from this workshop will be made available on the programme website in the next day or so: –

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