Introduction to TEL

Day 4: Mix and match – which technology to use?

Yesterday, we began thinking about how to select the right technology for your teaching practice. In today’s post, we’ll explore some of the other factors you will need to consider when applying TEL to your course. We offer a lot of ideas for discussion in this post – please feel free to respond to those which are most relevant or interesting to you in the comments.  

Your discipline or professional context  

The profession into which your students are being inducted will have an important effect on the use of technology in your course – to what extent does this profession expect digital competence in its graduates? In what ways might students be expected to use technology as part of their profession? The other key factor is accreditation bodies and the requirements they impose on course design. Does this impact your course? Do accreditation bodies mandate face-to-face exams, or put conditions on digital learning and assessment?

question markActivity 1:

What implications would this have for the use of digital technology in assessment and learning? Do you and your colleagues face this situation in your context?

Policies and institutional requirements for teaching and learning 

Universities in Australia now usually provide a learning management system (LMS) such as Moodle, Blackboard or Canvas, along with other platforms such as Echo360 Active Learning Platform (ALP) for lecture recordings and Turnitin for assignment submission.  The IT implications of managing such platforms are quite complex, with maintenance and the use of a range of plug-ins often being resource intensive. Universities are also legally required to keep records of student participation, and to make sure these records, and all IT systems, have the necessary privacy and security protections.  This means that universities often tend to be conservative in their use of technology for learning, and have policy regimes which seem inflexible.

There is usually also a range of policies that impact how teaching and learning is conducted and what systems can be used. For our participants at ANU, there are a few relevant policies you might need to consider, including the Code of Practice for Teaching and Learning and the Student Coursework Assessment Policy.

question markActivity 2:

What are the technology and policy implications for your institution? How familiar are you with the policies and processes at your own institution? How might these policies or platforms impact your use of TEL, or what platforms you are able to use?

Institutional approach to teaching and learning

Most universities have a publicly available vision and strategy for teaching and learning in their institutions, setting out aspirational goals and strategies to meet them.  This might include encouraging and resourcing academics to take a specific approach to teaching, such as constructivist, collaborative and inquiry-based learning with authentic assessment.

question mark

Activity 3:

How does your institution compare with others in articulating a vision for teaching and learning, and how TEL can help? Does the institution have policies or strategies relating to blended and online learning that require the use of certain technology and pedagogical approaches? 

The characteristics of your students 

Each university, course, and program will have its own student characteristics, and the technologies used need to be appropriate. Consider the level and type of program you are teaching into, as a first-year undergraduate course, a Graduate Diploma, and a higher degree research (HDR) course will all have different requirements. Student cohorts are diverse in a range of ways, including:

  • Students from low socio-economic backgrounds
  • Regional and remote students
  • International students new to Australian higher education contexts
  • Indigenous students
  • Mature aged students balancing full time work and family with study
  • School-leavers new to university
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Students with accessibility concerns

Inclusive education is a key part of the ANU values (see ANU Strategic Plan 2018-2021), and technology can provide new opportunities for some students, or increase the barriers to education – sometimes both simultaneously.  Please useful links below for Universal Design and inclusive practices.

question markActivity 4:

What are the characteristics of the student cohorts for whom you are responsible?  Do you have any particularly disadvantaged groups in your course participants?  What steps do you take to ensure your courses are inclusive and accessible to a diverse range of people?

The use of external tools for learning

We use the term “external” in this context as platforms and apps that are external to the institution and not used as part of the LMS. There are innumerable options for teachers, including blogs, social networking platforms, chat forums and wikis, and these were embraced by many educators to encourage forms of constructivist learning such as student collaboration, student constructed learning, self-directed learning and “community of inquiry” learning.

It is important to note that institutional rules and policies sometimes discourage or forbid the use of external tools for teaching and learning, due to the need to protect the privacy of students, and for security reasons.  Yet academics tend to find their way around such restrictions where they feel it a particular app or tool is important for their students’ learning.

Another whole suite of tools is available via mobile devices and mobile apps.  The use of such mobile tools for learning can, again, be impacted by institutional rules, yet there are academics who are leaders in this area of teaching and learning.  Please see some useful links below on matching digital tools to learning, and examples of web 2.0 tools.

question markActivity 5:

Have you used any of digital tools that would come within the range that are known as web 2.0 tools or mobile tools for learning? Which ones, and what were they used for? How useful were they? Are there any new tools you have learned about in perusing the resources linked below, that you think might be useful? How do you deal with the fact that they are external to your institution (in terms of privacy, security and institutional IT protocols)?

question markActivity 6: Putting it all together

What mix of technology are you currently using to enhance or support your students’ learning? Having taken part into today’s blog, do you have further ideas, or any concerns?  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Technology-Enhanced Learning in Higher Education Certificate

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Resources

 

51 thoughts on “Day 4: Mix and match – which technology to use?

  1. Activity 1
    My discipline is finance. Working in the finance industry is quite demanding in terms of using technology, every aspect of the industry indeed. Quantitative analysis skills are essential for most of the jobs in finance. So it’s important for our students to learn these skills before they hit the job market. Employees do offer on-job training for some of the skills required. But getting a head start would put our students in a much better position, both entry into the industry and survive the competitions in the industry. The course I teach involve extensive use of MS Excel modelling and other statistical softwares. I find students usually face a very very steep learning curve in these courses in terms of using the tools which are essential requirement in the industry. They usually have no or very limited exposure to Excel before starting these courses. And some students will give up simply because of the difficulty of learning the quantitative tools. I think the build-up of the quantitative skills should be gradual, and should be incorporated into the foundation courses as well. This will encourage students learning and build their confidence.

    1. Thanks for sharing the use of technology in the finance industry. It is interesting how many of us really never grasped the finer points, or sometimes, even the basics, of MS software! It is certainly a big learning curve for many of your students to grasp the use of digital quantitative tools. So in your course environment it is a wise move to incorporate the relevant digital tools at every step.

  2. Thank you for letting us know about the ‘Universal Design for Learning (UDL)’ course! This fits in really well with concerns (and opportunities) for accessible and inclusive use of TEL.

    In regards to external tools, the use of social media platforms for learning and collaboration is a very common practice, despite institutional rules and policies. Having said this, our ANU policy library could be suggested to be in need of further social media engagement guidelines and expectations for usage, with the online space showing no signs of slowing down! Whilst I understand as an institution we do not have as much control over an external platform, how can we work to create effective and user friendly guidelines/expectations/code of practices in this space? If we’re going to use them anyway, how can we do so in the safest possible way? #foodforthought

    I wonder if universities/educators see it as their role to create guidelines/expectations for use to ensure the platform is a safe as possible to use?

    1. Hi Amanda, I absolutely agree with your thoughts on this. Institutions need to develop clear policies and guidelines on the use of social media and other external platforms, since these are now ubiquitous in the wider community.

  3. Activity 2 & 3
    At my school, College of Business and Economics, the use of technology is still largely using wattle to deliver study materials and lecture recordings. I think the support team has done a fairly good job of educating academics of tools available on wattle, such as on-line quiz, on-line survey in the middle of the semester, on-line submission and marking assignment, etc. I believe gradually more academics will find out these tools are quite useful and effective achieving the specific objectives. On top of that, from the institution perspective, the use of a more interactive teaching models should be encouraged by utilizing Echo360. I learned a lot of the potentials of this platform and probably will start experimenting some next semester.

  4. Activity 4 &5
    I do find that some students are not based in Canberra, which makes them hard to participate in group based studies, like group assignment and face-to-face consultations with tutors and lecturers. Some resources and tools are offered at wattle to overcome these difficulties. But I find students are generally quite good at seeking help from the external tools and platforms to get around it. As I know students are using Skype for group conference meeting and Wechat for coordinating group assignment, Dropbox for sharing files when they work on a project. The use of these technologies helps immensely to include the small group of students (outside Canberra and those with work/family commitment) into the study, which couldn’t be possible when these technologies were not available.
    I am reluctant to use the external tools in teaching, for the reasons cited above, like privacy and security. But it doesn’t stop me appreciating the value of these tools for students learning.

  5. Hi everyone
    The use of TEL in the SOAD studio courses is largely limited to Wattle’s capacity as a repository to house slideshows, course notes and assignment outlines, readings, etc. Some lecturers also use the forum features to encourage students to more actively engage with each other online (however the bulk of student discussion is done in class). Due to the nature of the discipline rather than any requirements imposed by external bodies, majority of student activities and assignments need to be ‘real world’ rather than online. However I can see opportunities for activities such as critical reflections on other artists work to be effectively moved online, and in doing so, create richer opportunities for learning through the opportunity for students to see each others thoughts and ideas as well as mine. The main thing for me is to find those seamless moments when technology can enhance the learning, rather than just do the same thing in an online way – the latter is technology for technology’s sake, rather than technology for learning;s sake.

  6. What are the characteristics of the student cohorts for whom you are responsible? Do you have any particularly disadvantaged groups in your course participants? What steps do you take to ensure your courses are inclusive and accessible to a diverse range of people?
    The current course I’m teaching consists of >90% of students for whom English is a second language. I’ve tried to use TEL a bit in my classes so far by including videos spoken using different words, and in clear, slow English. So, I’ll explain a concept and then try to reinforce the learning through the video. There are then several (non-TEL) ways that I check-in with the students to make sure they are following. In the computer practical component of the course, I offered several diverse methods of teaching the same thing, using written text alongside live coding and online reporting, using variety to aim for the widest inclusion.

    Have you used any of digital tools that would come within the range that are known as web 2.0 tools or mobile tools for learning? Which ones, and what were they used for? How useful were they? Are there any new tools you have learned about in perusing the resources linked below, that you think might be useful? How do you deal with the fact that they are external to your institution (in terms of privacy, security and institutional IT protocols)?
    I haven’t used any web2.0 tools to date, and I have to say that I loved the link for this! It gave me so many ideas for things to use in the future. For example, I really like the idea of creating simulations and animations to add diversity to the teaching toolkit. I’m not sure about getting too heavily into the tools that require the students to create accounts and work together on sites external to ANU – I feel like a lot of time could be lost in learning curves, especially if the students have to spend a long time learning how to use the platform vs. understanding the curriculum. That said, I still think a lot of them are great, and worth exploring more. Thanks a lot for these links 🙂

  7. I have over the course of reading the materials in the course have felt that TEL seems like a rebrand of something we used to call “e-learning” (perhaps Tom Worthington might have an opinion of this?). I looked at one University site only to find the term elearning and TEL are used to mean exactly the same thing ?(https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/lets/toolkit/teaching/e-learning/tel). In 20 years haven’t we moved on? I wonder if either concepts elearning or TEL have an explanatory power in regard to “explaining” ways of thinking or behaviour around teaching and learning – or are TEL and elearning simply labels that we loosely attach to anything to do with technology and teaching?

    This course has made me think TEL could potentially be a process of critique as well as an argument for informed design. At least I hope it would be. Neil Postman argues values are inherently embedded in the design of any technology while Bourdieu’s takes a more sociological perspective that technologies are manifestations of socially organised action. “As such, they should be considered not as exceptional or special phenomena in a social theory, but rather as very much like other kinds of social practices that recur over time.” (http://sterneworks.org/BourdieuTechandTech.pdf)
    Whatever side of this theoretical fence you sit I don’t think we can uncritically accept technologies as tool that can fill a pre-existing role, since its function is going to be a mediation or negotiation between the design of the technology and its application by its users. This process of course can be something that can change over time for groups of people (designers, teachers admin, management, students, consumers).

    What struck me about today is the normative function I have tended to accept when thinking about technology upon teaching. In particular Hua Deng’s comment “the use of technology is still largely using wattle to deliver study materials and lecture recordings”. Using a critical theory lens…one can ask the question who benefits from a system where we think of technology as plug in to fix a problem? If there is one thing I hope TEL can do (and this coffee course sure helps) is engage us in not just thinking about how to use technologies but apply a critical reflection upon tools their personal meanings to us and our students (notwithstanding what is touted to us by vendors) while recognising these tools influence, often normatively, how we choose to frame our classrooms, curriculum students and “our pedagogical problems”.

    1. Glen, the edtech terminology guru is Colin Simpson (previously at ANU, now a Senior Learning Technologist at Swinburne). There is a YouTube video of his “Practice, meaning and identity in Third Space TEL roles” (Jun 1, 2017).

      The Wikipedia uses the term “Educational technology” and then notes other terms, including: e-learning, instructional technology, ICT in education, EdTech, learning technology, multimedia learning, TEL, CBI, computer managed instruction, CBT, CAI, IBT, flexible learning, WBT, online education, digital educational collaboration, distributed learning, cyber-learning, multi-modal instruction, virtual education, networked learning, m-learning and digital education.

      I mostly use “e-learning”, but “TEL” has appeal, as it suggests the technology is to *enhance* the learning, rather than learning being subservient to the technology.

      I have had heated arguments with proponents of MOOCs who claimed these are not “e-learning” and are completely different, new and revolutionary. But for me there is a clear line of development from paper-based correspondence courses, through radio and TV universities to e-learning.

      The Open University of China was as the “China Central Radio and TV University”. The early discussions around the UK Open University used similar terms. Before this there were correspondence based institutions.

      I have stood in the gymnasium at Delphi and imagined the ancient Greek philosophers arguing over the usefulness of “tablets” for students. The arguments are much the same as today. The ancient tablets were the same size and shape as those used today, but used wax, rather than silicon. 😉

      As for who benefits from adding technology to education, I hope it is the student. But I worry technology is being used to do to universities what the Internet did to quality news media. Education could become just a for-profit commodity, to be packaged and sold. Students become “consumers” and teachers become gig economy contractors with no job security and below minimum-wage pay.

  8. Activity 1: Implications of the profession for the use of digital technology.

    I teach postgraduate computer professionals, and some undergraduates aspiring to be professionals, so they already know a lot about technology. However, while computer students can build a computer system, they are no better at using one to communicate with people than non-computer students (perhaps less so, due to their narrow technical outlook).

    In the ANU Techlauncher program the students learn to use software development and project management tools to build large complex systems. The difficulty comes when they try to talk face-to-face with each other in teams and the team talk to a real-world client. The students have to do this as part of accreditation for the Australian Computer Society (ACS). This requirement has been internationally harmonized through the Seoul Accord, covering Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, UK and USA.

    Accreditation doesn’t require exams. I admit some self-interest here. I was on the Australian committee setting the accreditation standards. I don’t like exams so I successful argued for no exams. 😉

    If examinations were required, this could be done remotely using software which monitors the student during the examination. However, my objection to examinations is that they do not provide a realistic form of assessment. Computer professionals need to be able to build computer systems, work in teams and talk to clients. These are not skills which can be easily tested in a short examination. Ideally this is tested with a team of students, a real project and client, as is done with ANU Techlauncher. That program is run face-to-face, but many computer projects are now run largely on-line and it would be feasible to run a student exercise that way.

  9. Activity 2: Technology and policy implications for the institution.

    There are technology and policy implications for the institutions I teach through with the use of learning management systems (LMS). Fortunately as a humble instructor I don’t have to worry too much about these. The institutions provide the LMS and have adapted their teaching policies to allow their use.

    All of the institutions I teach through have outsourced the provision of the LMS to a company. The software, usually Moodle, runs on the company’s computer system (or is further outsourced to a “could” provider), although it appears to staff and student to be part of the institution’s system.
    While I am aware there are policy and processes specific to each constitution, these are fortunately consistent enough that I can teach the same course at all, in much the same way. Essentially the LMS delivers students to me, where I can provide the teaching and then the assessment is recorded in the LMS. There may be an extra step for me to export the results from the LMS into some bespoke system.

    My approach is to use the institution’s LMS for administration of the course and a few other tools. I try to make the course content as portable as possible (ideally in HTML format). For extra tools my first choice is what the institution offers. As an example, Moodle usually comes with the Mahara e-portfolio. I avoid using external commercial social media tools, due to the privacy risks they expose the students to.

  10. Activity 3: Institutional vision for teaching and learning.

    The institutions differ sharply in their stated vision for teaching and learning. A campus based research university, like ANU, does not emphasize TEL in marketing, whereas an on-line and distance institution will. However, in practice, they tend to use similar tools, policies and strategies. Institutions are all converging to the same blended/online approach.

  11. Last year I heard my supervisor, Grazia Scotellaro, gave a talk about making readings accessible for a students with very low vision. A student needed to access readings but was having trouble because the screen reader that was available made the articles sound like gibberish. Grazia’s solution was to convert the files into mp3s by using https://www.zamzar.com/ and it sounded vastly better! With this in mind, when doing the very text dense EO (equal opportunity) training I searched for a browser addon to read the content out for me and came across ‘Read Aloud: A Text to Speech Voice Reader’. There are other ones available but I like it best because it allows you to change the voice, pitch and speed of the reader. I currently have it set as ‘Amazon British English (Amy)’ but there are lots of options and including the option to have text read out in a number of different languages other than English. You can get it for Chrome or Firefox here: https://ken107.github.io/read-aloud/ Give it a go! It can really help you rest your eyes and stay focussed when there’s lots of reading to do!

    1. Great suggestions Rowena! I have struggled with screen readers when I attempted to use them because of voice, similar to you. I will give Read Aloud a try!

  12. Activity 4: Characteristics of the students.

    The students I teach are about one third international (with English as a second language) and two thirds domestic. The students are almost all male. To make courses more inclusive and accessible I provide all course materials, activities and assessment on-line, so student can undertake the course from any part of the globe with a low speed broadband Internet connection.
    I apply the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to content, for those with a disability, and also to make the material easier to access on a mobile device and on a slow Internet connection in remote parts of Australia and in developing nations. I avoid using extra-cost textbooks, instead providing free open access material. To ensure access where Internet is not available, I provide a down-loadable off-line version of the course notes, which can be printed, outside the LMS.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for sharing these strategies for building more inclusive courses! I was wondering if you’ve received any pressure to use certain textbooks? I have anecdotally heard that this is sometimes the case in some disciplines?

    2. Tom, we work with a similar cohort. I find that it takes students time to get used to the Wattle system. Many are lost the first few weeks in trying to understand were information is, how it is delivered and how to find it. Many of the Wattle guides are not used or accessed so it largely a case of peer support and learn on the go. Valuable time is wasted in this process. One of my courses is flipped. I have an initial lecture where I hope to guide them through the initial online initiation. This semester I will try to use a practical hands on activity instead of a lecture guided tour – I hope that they will get more out of this and it will make a greater impact on their orientation to the course and the semester ahead. These students are largely international, but they are very keen and want to do well. Half our battle is won, but finding the best ways to communicate and engage with these cohorts, especially in an online environment, is still something I am learning about.

  13. Activity 5: Digital tools used.

    The term “web 2.0” is an obsolete marketing term which has little meaning now. However, I do design my course content and activities for use on mobile devices. I have tested Moodle and Mahara to ensure they are usable on such devices. I avoid using third part tools due to the risk of incompatibility and for student privacy.

    1. Third-party tools can have a significant number of risks, as you mention. I am often concerned that these risks are widely known by academics when they choose a social media or app or another service for their teaching. I am hoping we can do a coffee course on this topic in the near future!

    2. Hi Tom, funny you should say that – last year when I googled “web 2.0 and web 3.0” I still found plenty of sources of information and links using these terms. But this year, I came up with very little, so it is obvious the term has passed its use by date. I found it a useful shorthand way of referring to a whole lot of widgets and gadgets that might be adapted for teaching and learning, but now it seems that mobile learning has taken over in the form of apps. This is why I mentioned the dynamism of this type of technology – everything is constantly in flux.

  14. Activity 6: Mix of technology.

    My normal mix of technology is Moodle, using the Book, Forums, Quiz, Dialogue and Assignment modules. Also I have used Mahara. I avoid email and use the minimum of recorded video and avoid real-time (synchronous) tools, as they create considerable problems and do not significantly improve learning.

    ANU Techlauncher is challenging. The students are leaning project management and so are exposed to a large range of tools. They can choose from these tools, or any other they find appropriate, or have been specified by the client. The course materials and assessment are through Moodle and a bespoke system, with the other systems linked from these. However, I still have to be able to use a bewildering array of on-line tools, which tend to have funny names. 😉

  15. I wanted to pick up on what Bhavani posted yesterday about Turnitin because it is a prescribed technology in policy. Turnitin is becoming a bit taken for granted at universities – it is now intertwined in learning through written assessment in many disciplines. For some students, the written assessment is actually the ONLY thing they really engage in, so I think it’s quite important to consider the (good/bad/other) work that Turnitin is doing there. Turnitin has come about in response to the rise of copying as a survival strategy, in many cases, because either the language/time demands of the task are beyond the student or the student has a notion that copying is an acceptable academic practice or both. Like others doing this coffee course, I also have many students for whom English is a second language. I appreciate, also, that learning new disciplinary language (in fact learning any language) involves the imitation of chunks of it, so the use of Turnitin to identify copied sequences as bad is contrary to what we naturally do to learn language. Note, I’m not advocating plagiarism, I’m just saying that you can’t learn language without imitating sequences of it, therefore the role of Turnitin in learning disciplinary language is worth thinking about. No one would say, for example, that ‘play a significant role in’ actually belonged to anyone, it’s just a sequence we might learn probabilistically as we become more proficient in English. As we know, the problem is when the sequences from texts are not manipulated enough in relation to the citation conventions used by the student, and this is what Turnitin is designed to help spot. I was interested to hear in Bhavani’s post that student were getting around it by using other tech to change occasional words so that the sequences would be broken up. I’d like to know about how/if students use Turnitin to learn language – I have a feeling it’s quite a prominent thing in my students’ learning, but perhaps it’s hindering learning, if the finding of synonyms/alternate expressions is outsourced in a mindless way. Turnitin is also a very prominent technological development in my teaching through feedback. I have now a fairly well developed comment set with tips and examples included in the explanations. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made marking any faster though!

    1. Hi Susy, thanks so much for your comments on this. Great observations on the use of Turnitin for English language learners. An important part of learning in a discipline is understanding and (correctly) using the terminology of that discipline, which can often be perceived by Turnitin as a text-match when it is a common phrase. Drawing on Bhavani’s point, I wonder if students can interpret the report appropriately to know that this sort of text match is probably a good thing, or if they perceive any matches to be a problem. Significant educational work needed on this, I think. It’s interesting to consider some of the implications that enforcing the use of specific technologies through policy has on staff and student experiences!

      1. Thanks Katie. I worry that TEL is about ‘sexy’ tech and not the tech that is taken for granted in the system, like how to make Turnitin maximally educative, how to deliver a clear and accessible course outline, how to use an online rubric effectively.

        1. Hi Susy, thanks for sharing your concerns about how Turnitin is used. In our Turnitin training sessions we do try to emphasise that it is a learning tool, not primarily something to detect plagiarism – a way to ensure students learn to write in a scholarly way and avoid anything that might be construed as plagiarism. And you are correct in that TEL is very definitely about the whole suite of tools that are available within our institutional environments. The “sexy” tech is actually not always practicable within our current institutional environment.

  16. The point about institutional policies around technology use is a very important one. I didn’t know that we may be limited in the use of external tools for our teaching. Does anybody know where I can find this sort of information for ANU?
    I understand the argument about privacy and security, but I think I would be an advocate for the use of external tools in our teaching. If there is technology that we, as professionals, use for research, collaboration, and communication, then our students should also be encouraged to use these as they habituate into the community of practice. I use Google Docs, Dropbox, and social media on a daily basis. Perhaps, instead of prohibiting the use of such tools, we should educate our students about the importance of privacy and security.

    1. Hi Ksenia, great question. I have just checked – there is no official policy on external tools for teaching at ANU. There are some policies that might be related to this issue, though. For example, the use of Turnitin for all assignment submissions is in the Student Coursework Assessment Policy – https://policies.anu.edu.au/ppl/document/ANUP_004603 (sections 13-20). There is also a broad “Acceptable use of IT” Policy – https://policies.anu.edu.au/ppl/document/ANUP_001222

      While not officially documented, there are concerns around student information and grades being stored in third-party services. A example case might be something like: A teacher uses a quiz app for in-class assessments which count towards the final grade. If this app suddenly goes down or gets hacked, that information may be lost, leaked, or compromised, and it may not be able to be retrieved. While not infallible, the LMS (Wattle) has certain data storage and archiving policies that are likely more strict than some third-party services (for example, Wattle is backed up regularly and data could potentially be restored, and Wattle sites are archived in the case of student appeal of grades so old courses can be examined when needed).

      I think this is a grey area at best – obviously there are a huge range of great tools out there for teaching that contribute to positive student experiences for ANU, and I don’t think there is any desire to change that. But perhaps we could run a future coffee course on some of these issues to explore this a bit further?

      1. There was an excellent point made previously here by someone (I just searched but can’t find it now) that institutions like ANU need clear policies and guidelines on the use of third party, external digital tools, and also education for academics and students on the risks and benefits of using them. I think this is a very good point that we should consider.

  17. Graduates in my field (art history and curatorship, art and design practice) are not necessarily expected to be digitally literate, but they are certainly less likely to succeed if they are not. Most would be need to have a professional online presence through which the public can come to know them and engage with them and their work and/or research, while many practicing in arts and design would be making use of technology for building websites, image making and manipulation, modelling and digital fabrication, among other things. Most students going through the SoAD studios learn these types of skills as subjects of their studies. I’m not sure if there are ways to address all of these through TEL, since there isn’t a lot of crossover between TEL and some of the other technologies, but I do think that getting students comfortable with having a public online presence is probably a good idea. I have encouraged students who are serious about pursuing careers in curatorship and art history to keep a blog where they publish some of their best art writing so that they have a showcase of work to point potential employers, collaborators, clients etc. to. Collaborative blogging with the student cohort as course exercises could be a good way for students to get comfortable with this.
    I have several colleagues who make use of platforms like Storify (now defunct) or Twitter for classroom activities or student interaction, and these seem to work very well. I would like to incorporate some of these in the future. I understand that others here are concerned about students’ privacy and security. I suspect that most of my students would already be signed up to many of these services. My main concern is that I wouldn’t want to make students sign up to services which they are not comfortable joining.

    1. Hi Christina, I too have the same concerns around using third-party services. I taught a class in the past that required students to make YouTube videos and share them with the class, and several students had serious concerns around this activity. In the end we had to offer an alternative method for them to share their videos that was not public, as they argued that they should not have to sign up for YouTube for a university course. I’ve heard of similar things happening with other social media sites. I’m very sad to see Storify going away as this was a hugely powerful tool for curating and discussing online content. This is another key issue for educational uses of third-party services – there are no guarantees that they will still exist, or still be free, at any time!

  18. I previously used an external web service for a blog assessment for a class. In order to fulfill the ANU education policies I worked with my College Education Office to prepare a document explaining the use of this site. The document ‘Information for students on the use of an externally hosted web service provider’ explained the terms of service when signing up, individual responsibilities, and about the information provided to the service provider. It was quite detailed, and I also provided a Q&A in class. I couldn’t have done this without the help of the education professionals in my college. And I’m sure that the requirements must be different across all the different platforms, so it seems quite a minefield! Because of this, I prefer to use ANU provided services, but I know that this is not always possible, and that there’s lots of great other options out there depending on what you are trying to achieve with your teaching.

    1. Hi Edie, what a great way to approach using an external tool. This is the kind of thing we probably should be thinking about creating generic information materials for, and also policies.

  19. I teach economics tutorial for first-year students. A third are international students with English as a second language. I remind myself to speak loudly and repeat when necessary. My writings on the whiteboard should always be clear and well-organized. Half of the students are working on a double degree, which may cause conflicts between our tutorial quiz and their assessments in another program. Make-up quizzes are permitted in such situations. There are a small group of students who could not meet the math preliminary of the course. I recommend them to check some excellent short math course clips on Youtube.
    In order to be accessible, I encourage the students to send emails and attend consultation hours. Some students ask for social network accounts. I intentionally reject such requests due to privacy concerns. We’re in a professional relationship, which means we’re friendly but not friends.

  20. Activity 4
    This is an area in which my department has seen considerable change in recent years. For a long time, the degree structure meant we had a fairly homogeneous “type” of student, with similar educational experiences and priorities. All of our students had already completed a Masters at ANU, were full-time students, and prioritised their studies in order to remain in the program. This is not to say that we didn’t have diversity – 60% + were international students, there was good gender diversity, varied socio-economic backgrounds, and even a range of age groups (although everyone was a mature age student; the young’uns were those under 30). This relative homogeneity tended to manifest in similar TELT preferences and requirements.

    However, significant structural changes in recent years have seen the diversity in our student cohort expand considerably. We now have both undergrad and postgrad students. Within our Masters’ cohort, we have students fresh out of their undergrad, those who have been away from higher education for several years, and students who have never studied in Australia, let alone ANU. These students have very different TELT needs from our previous cohorts, and even from each other. The department has been slow to realise the impact this diversity has on the way we teach, and the TELT we are/ought to be employing. It doesn’t help that, as brilliant as my department’s academic faculty is, they are all technological dinosaurs. Most struggle with Wattle and Turnitin (some refuse to use it), and some won’t even touch computing basics, such as Excel. In refusing to engage positively in TELT, I believe we are sending a mixed message to students. On the one hand, we want a greater variety of students. On the other hand, we are not willing to use basic TELT to support anyone who isn’t a “traditional” student.

    1. Thanks Bhavani, that is a really interesting comment on how suddenly things can change within courses, with new cohorts and course levels mixing it all up and evidencing new ranges of abilities and needs. Perhaps all this talk of needing to be “agile” has some relevance!

      1. Hi Jill,

        Funny you should mention agile. A friend is an Agile Coach here in Canberra. They constantly complain that agile has become a buzzword; companies and departments want to be seen to be agile, but don’t understand with it actually means, and as such, are unwilling to make the necessary cultural and structural changes.

        1. Yes, it is another term that has lost quite a lot of its meaning as it has become a buzzword and the agility referred to is often not within reach due to organisational culture, barriers, practices – in fact maybe it could be argued that organisations by definition are not particularly agile as they are made up of structures and practices developed over lengthy periods of time. So in the end the use of the word and the “training” to be “agile” for staff is putting an impossible expectation of flexibility and agility on individuals who can’t hope to achieve it within their work context. I am being controversial, I know!

  21. Activity 3:

    Until I read some of the replies, I didn’t know the content of our policies regarding technology. ( i.e. I guess we probably had something but as nobody has ever brought it to my attention I have never read them). I know that policy and strategic vision is important but I also think having investment is also very important. Talking to my colleages in other institutions (whether they be large one campus universities, multisite or distanced based learning universities) I feel we really need to have more investment into technologies. These online courses are a great start but I do think we need more investment into infrastructure, support staff and better versions of moodle (the engine on which Wattle is based)

    1. Hi David, your points are valid, and many of us are thinking along the same lines. Wheels don’t always move as quickly as we like, but the good news is that ANU is currently investing in new technologies and a better version of Moodle, and is reviewing some of its key IT and educational support units and resourcing. ANU tends to identify itself as primarily research based and not a teaching university, however there is now some recognition emerging that research and education can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Further to that, ANU has excelled in the face to face, campus-based mode rather than online spaces, compared to many other universities in Australia who have been venturing into online learning spaces for many years. However there is a growing recognition that it is necessary to have an excellent presence in online spaces as well as campus-based spaces, and ANU is responding accordingly. So here’s hoping there will be some exciting changes in the pipeline!

  22. Hi Jill

    That’s great to hear! Hopefully the key people in ANU see the importance of investing into education. Whenever I talk to them, I always like to refer them to the research on teaching and higher education – since they place such high value on research, its good to show them the research that shows them that doing education badly could be worse than doing nothing at all!

  23. I’m with the ANU Medical School and I would say that medical students are expected to have a high level of digital competency when they graduate. The medical field uses technology extensively and technology will be a major part of their profession from taking notes to medical imaging. It is therefore important that students experience the use of technology while they are learning and that they are exposed to as many tools as possible.

    Policies and institutional requirements for teaching and learning – One of the challenges of the Medical School is giving lecturers who do not have a U-number, access to university enterprise systems. This includes Wattle, Echo360, Office 365 etc. The university policy of restricting access to people with U-numbers only is a constant problem because we have clinicians who teach part-time and ACT Health Staff who also do some teaching. We cannot do away with enterprise systems but we do look for other alternatives that can accommodate this need. For example, we are using KuraCloud (Med School pays for it) for our technology enhanced learning and teaching and we can easily enrol anyone in the system. Downside is, we are spending money for it. Another downside is that sometimes, unnecessary workload is created for a staff to support someone who has no access to systems.

    Another example of how policies and processes affect the use of technology at the Med School relates to lecture recordings. We cannot use automatic scheduled recordings with Echo360 for 2 reasons:
    1. Clinicians tend to have very unpredictable schedules. (Saving lives is more important than turning up to a lecture). Sometimes they turn up late, in which the recording has already started. And if the venue allows they extend lecture time, in which recording has turned off already.
    2. There are sensitive, confidential content that relate to patient information that cannot be recorded. Some lectures discuss cases of real patients and these are considered confidential.

    Reason number 2 also affects the way students interact with the recordings. They can only stream the videos and not download them again for privacy reasons. I have yet to see and read the policy about this “confidentiality” but historically, this is how it has been done.

  24. Activity 1:

    I teach actuarial and statistics courses. The actuarial courses I teach have to meet an external accreditation body’s requirements when it comes to syllabus as well as the assessment. As I have discussed in Day3’s post, there is a requirement for a formal written assessment at the end of the term which restricts the use of technology. That being said, the use of certain software is an indispensable tool for actuarial graduates. But, they are not expected to formally learn these through the university courses. Many of my like minded colleagues have faced similar situations and have adapted by incorporating as much technology we can in all other assessments we have during the entire semester. This ranges from quizzes run through wattle, to take home assignments that must be attempted on specific software which we believe will help them in their professional lives.

    Activity 4:

    The actuarial courses are typically co-taught courses with undergraduate and posgraduate students attending the same lectures and tutorials. This means that we have a diverse group of students: young adults, mature age students (returning from work to complete their actuarial qualifications), international students etc. The Wattle and Echo360 system are integral to my courses. Students who may not always be able to attend lectures due to various reasons, would have access to all the course materials as well as lecture recordings. Most of my assessments, other than the final exams, are run through wattle or are take home assignments to ensure accessibility.

    Activity 5:

    Over the past few years, I have been using PollEveryewhre quite extensively. It is essentially a mobile app which helps in-class interactions and active participations. It is a great tool for a formative assessment. I use it to ask in-class questions which helps students with their learning and understanding where they may need more instruction or guidance. Although, I have not tried it as of yet in any of my courses, but I expect that Echo360 ALP’s similar tools will allow me to continue the same work I have done in the past.

  25. As with most teachers here, I currently use Moodle — the university provided LMS — for a lot of the TEL I do. For the most part however, it is limited to using blog posts as assessment items, and delivering readings and assessment requirements, and for students to submit assessment. I really think that the course pages I use have not been designed with these kinds of questions in mind — except that it is a requirement to have a course page with information in it per university policy. There are far more tools in Moodle that could be used effectively, but they have not yet been used in an ideal way — especially for students from some of the diverse backgrounds discussed here.

    Last year I taught in a course, where I had one student whose son was very very sick, so she was often unable to make it to class. In that case, the LMS was really advantageous because it meant that I was able to package the materials I was already preparing for the other students for her. I also prepared some additional materials for her, but which were available for all students, so it was advantageous to the whole class.

  26. One of my observations has been that many staff are hesitant to incorporate educational technology into their practice because of a fear of the technology becoming obsolete causing them to lose their work and/or need to create it again in another platform (plus the time required to learn another technology). Thus this can be a great barrier to the widespread adoption of TEL at an insitution. I don’t think this problem will go away. Students respond in a similar way when new versions of exisiting educational technologies are released and/or new systems introduced. This is a huge challenge – managing change and encouraging our academics and students to be flexible and agile. I would be interested in the thoughts of others on how to overcome some of these challenges.

  27. You’ve set us quite an exercise for this day’s topic! I’ve just read through the comments from previous contributors which were super interesting but which also jogged my memory about a particular student I had a few years ago in an undergraduate course. Thought that my contribution to this already rich thread might be to sketch out a particular tool which was vital to unlocking a university pathway for this student, who has acute dyslexia (my term). This student relies on Dragon software for his assessments as his only means of participating in academic life. I believe he also uses software to read out teaching materials although I’m not sure how he gets around this particular hurdle. The reason why this student has stuck with me, is that he came so very close to being failed on every piece of assessment as he had not alerted the teaching staff of his specific needs. In tutorials, he was engaged, articulate, present, a strong voice. His assessments were, quite simply, dismal. And he had not reached out to us – first year, first semester- having either misunderstood the process of communicating his A&I plan (which puts the onus on students to initiate contact) or for more complex reasons. To put this into perspective, he was unable to request an appointment through email without using his software, or even to send a text message to say he was running late for a catch-up. Even with Dragon, which requires students to be able to read through what they have dictated to be able to correct errors, he was on the cusp of failing. He would run out of time to review his work and would submit work that he was the first to admit he felt ashamed of. Once we did have the conversation where he contextualised the quality of his assessments (and here I should mention that his A&I report never found its way to our inbox as his major was with another college), I then drew up a schedule with him to give him time to resubmit a major piece of work, and most importantly, we figured out a game plan for the written final exam to accommodate his specific needs. To be honest, I do not know what has happened to him since, whether he completed his degree, whether he went on to do other things. My main point here, is that Dragon software is an incredibly powerful tool and should be remembered when we come across students with temporary or permanent access challenges, bearing in mind that one piece of software is just one part of a strategy that should also include adapting assessments etc.

  28. My course isn’t specifically aimed at any particular profession – but previous teaching approach questionnaires have indicated I tend to see teaching as a way of changing the world. And I do believe that increasingly students understanding of the complex environmental challenges we face is critical to solving those issues globally. So not only does my course cover a broad array of issues broadly related to the environment, with no prerequisites I am often conscious that this might be the only course on the environment a student may take on their degree and that it might be the only opportunity to really engage them with this subject for life. As such I tend to engage with technology not just in terms of delivery but in terms of where I collect my content, particularly examples of current issues. I think this also lends itself to being inclusive – as it is far easier to look at minority opinions or current events that don’t have academic literature behind them such as the Dakota pipeline activism. This also leads to activities such as looking at the effectiveness of social media for activists, or content analysis of Instagram posts. So I think we can effectively engage with digital education without actually digitising our delivery.

    Some of the ethical issues are quite interesting and I hadn’t quite conceived of issues such as privacy in the way the university needs to manage it, but I have encountered other privacy issues similar to what others have mentioned above. Once I was involved with a course where the convener set a short media-esq piece as the assessment but required it to be online, he particularly encouraged them to post it on linked-in as he felt that was an important part of his field. Some of the students requested to do it anonymously as they were concerned for the implications for future jobs. I also had a student request not to submit via turnitin as they had interviewed people about illegal activity in an organisation and he was concerned about other people reading his work and his interviewees being identified. In encouraging students to engage more with digital options, when lots of platforms own all of the content forever we obviously need to be careful about the implications that in a variety of ways.

  29. My role involves teaching the basic science concepts required by medical students as they progress through their degree. Learning outcomes at the Medical School are overseen by the Australian Medical Council, however their standards do not explicitly impose conditions on modes of teaching and learning except to ensure that a range of methods are used to meet the program outcomes. However, they do require that the program develops the students’ independence in self-directed learning so this is something we need to keep in mind when developing new teaching technologies. Even within the first two years of study, we encourage a shift towards more independent learning.
    I am currently involved in developing guidelines for the use of TEL at the ANU Medical School. As well as the ANU policy, we are required to adhere to the policies of the other teaching institutions we are linked with, such as the Canberra Hospital.
    Although I had not come across the ANU’s vision for education before, a simple Google search turned up a 2018 document “A Vision for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the ANU” which states that our learning environments will “exploit the power of physical and digital infrastructure”. I guess this counts as blended and online learning. I could not find any references in teaching policies to use of TEL specifically however I did note that the policy for approval of new programs gives priority to courses which “utilise learning technologies …. to extend the University’s educational reach on a national or global level”. I guess this is one motivator for the use of TEL. Hmmm – makes me want to reach for my cat.
    The diversity of the student cohort is a huge challenge to teaching early-year medical students. As well as cultural and socio-economic diversity, we have students from a huge range of educational backgrounds. Most students will come with an area in which they have strong core knowledge – some even with PhDs. Conversely, these same students may have areas in which they have little or no knowledge. This means that we need to be able to teach the basic essential concepts for some, as well as keeping the students who are already proficient engaged. In my teaching I try to provide the core basic-science, but within a clinical context. I also provide additional non-examinable detail for extension of current knowledge, which helps engage more students. I also encourage peer-to-peer learning and invite discussion of concepts within lectures. Delivery of learning in many contexts is also important – because our curriculum is both vertically and horizontally aligned, the related content is delivered in lectures, problem-based learning, in online lessons, pracs and in clinical teaching.
    In terms of e-learning, many of our students are from families, or are in placements, in rural locations with sometimes restricted internet access. This means that when they are not at the ANU, they may not necessarily have access to online-only content. This needs to be considered in designing TEL activities which may be accessed off-campus.
    I’ve used some web 2.0 tools: KuraCloud, DoodlePoll and now Echo360ALP, and have been involved in developing a new phone-based app for use in practical sessions. I find ECHO360ALP useful for quizzes during lectures, although integration with Powerpoint would make this much easier. KuraCloud is ok but has limitations which are sometimes frustrating. Again, the quality of the lesson design impacts hugely on its effectiveness for students, more so perhaps than the design of the application. I do have concerns regarding the safety of students’ information, although am not sure what can be done about the risks. We seem to exist in a society where the expectation is that, unless the information is very sensitive, we relinquish it without a lot of thought.

  30. The UNSW site is great. I like how it matches learning outcomes with various forms of technology. One of the challenges I find difficult is selecting an appropriate technology with a learning outcome (e.g., Wikis for group projects.

    One item that I found myself thinking a bit about was linking learning technologies with developmental pedagogies like Bloom’s Taxonomy. Technologies like videos, polls, online quizzes in Moodle, and discussion boards seem more appropriate for lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (remembering ,discussing, and to some extent applying). As one moves into higher levels of learnings, like applying, analysing, and evaluating, using technologies like developing a podcast/video on an applied topic, Wikis for groups projects where students can interact to analyse how the project compares with a topic, and peer grading for evaluating analysis could be used as strategies. I have read some research where having students work on higher levels of cognitive complexity can actually help with more basic forms of learning (e.g., asking students to compare and contrast two theories can aid with remembering and understanding material), but its important for the technology and learning activity to support this.

    One last thing I would note is that university policy and applications can have unintended consequences. For example, a policy to not allow take-home exams during an exam period, may indirectly lead to a student having to deal with 3 or 4 take-home exams in the last week of the term; rigorous application of academic misconduct rules using Turnitin may encourage more marginally-performing students to commission someone to write an original essay (which is extremely hard to detect). These are often issues I encounter after technology and assessments have been adopted, but its critical that these issues be addressed. In the example of take-homes above, students may be better off with a proctored final exam. Likewise, dealing with unintential plagiarism as an opportunity for students to learn how to engage in deeper learning of material by having exams rewritten may benefit more marginal students who can use Turnitin to gain skills in writing out research in their own words. Adapting learning strategies and technology to address unintended consequences is a way to address barriers to education that arise in the course of teaching.

  31. o I am currently revisiting these modules in the context of the large-scale move to online teaching in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. My experience teaching online in this time has highlighted a few issues to me regarding accessibility and inclusion. Most obviously, my experience has highlighted how we really cannot assume that students have a stable and high-speed internet connection, which in many ways is a perquisite for live discussion on platforms like Zoom. In my online tutorials, I encouraged students who did not have a connection that would support video to participate via the Zoom chat function and/or to use the react features to draw attention to themselves so they could contribute using audio only. I also tried to incorporate polls or virtual whiteboards, like padlet, where possible so these students could better participate. These measures, however, were not overly satisfactory and I did feel like these students were getting a diminished learning experience. The absence of video connections, even when photos were substituted in its place, was demotivating for other students. What strategies have others used to address this issue? How successful were they?

  32. Hi Alison, thanks for revisiting this page and offering your insights from last year. I helped write this Coffee Course and you are right, that the lack of equity in access to required tech has really been dramatically highlighted by the pandemic conditions. I agree we need to do some work in coming up with Plan B models, where live webinar connections are going to be too slow or not work for some students. Your Plan B strategies sound great. I am sure we could build on those to try and maximise student experience in those situations. However I do not have any ready answers. This is a discussion we need to have, accompanied by research into what is happening globally. I am happy to take part in this as part of the CLT team at ANU. This is a good start but I will perhaps look into how we can focus on this issue and work with academic staff to ensure students do get an equitable experience. Meanwhile, anyone who happens to see this post please feel free to jump in with your thoughts!

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