Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Technology enhanced learning

Or TEL for short.  Yes, I’m into that and in my current post I’m the TEL champion which means I’m supposed to encourage my colleagues to use “technology” in their teaching. The broad interpretation of this is that everyone should be doing whizzy things with computers. The day to day reality is that I’m often asked to explain the mechanics of Blackboard, our Virtual Learning Environment or trouble-shoot problems with Turnitin, the platform through which our students submit their work

TEL champions want to drop the ‘T’

We recently had a day when a group of TEL champions worked together. In the first half we were give a presentation on the newest features of Blackboard. In the second half we worked in groups, discussed certain matters and then wrote ideas on post-it notes that we attached to flip-chart sheets which we pinned to the wall.  Not a computer in sight and very few people looking at their phones, tablets or lap-tops. It was still a “technology” however. Sitting round a table talking quietly to a small group of people is also a technology.

Some questions we could ask about our teaching

Is there something I’m not doing because I can’t figure out how to?
Can I do this more effectively or more efficiently?
Can I make this more fun?
Can I make this more memorable?
Can I make this accessible beyond the class?  
This piece of software is super whizzy. Does it have an application for my class and will this application make my teaching more effective?   
For all of these you need to find the right “technology”.   
And always have back-up plan in case the technology doesn’t work.  

How I became a TEL champion

I’m sure many of my colleagues are much more computer literate than I am. I expect the same of my students, though am sometimes astounded that I know many things that they don’t.
I managed to teach successfully one on my classes, using slightly dodgy broadband, when I became stranded in Cyprus because of the Icelandic volcano. I’ve since used distance learning techniques for replacement classes I have had to give because of attendance at conferences etc. I think that is why I was invited to take up the role.
I do make some effective use of our VLE I think and I enjoy marking electronically – you don’t get bogged down with lots of paper and you don’t have the problem of having to be geographically near to your moderator.      
I find having to learn new software challenging but that makes me more sympathetic towards my colleagues. I make a point of doing it, though, to justify my title. Sometimes, actually, it’s a lot of fun.    



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