Academic Exchange 2B

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Creative learning in and beyond the classroom

What are Academic Exchanges?

Our Academic Exchanges showcase innovative academic practice and support for learning from staff across the institution and partner colleges. Each colleague participating in an Exchange has produced a short digital artefact, which addresses an aspect of good practice in learning design. Many colleagues share their direct experiences of moving teaching online, whilst others showcase pedagogic approaches that are important to transfer to blended learning environments. These approaches include engaging with students as partners, delivery of inclusive and personalised learning, and embedding learning-oriented assessment.

Recording of the Q&A webinar

i. Building a blend into the new norm, discussing design and community considerations

Matt East and James Hodgkin (Talis and Library, Technology & Information Service)

The Covid-19 crisis has required us all to respond with emergency measures, moving curricula designed for face-to-face delivery into a fully online environment rapidly. The sector has responded well to the emergency shift, but how we are teaching now will need to change moving forward.

Regardless of what the ‘new normal’ looks like, we will need to reconsider the design of our curricula; the balance of synchronous/asynchronous activity, formative/summative tasks, learning outcomes, and assessment strategy on a large proportion of our courses. Fortunately, the world of online/blended delivery isn’t a new one; there’s a lot we can learn from those who have done this for years. Course design that allows for collaborative learning will be even more important than previously.

In this session, Matt East, Learning Technologies Lead at Talis, offers some top tips for blended/online delivery, based on his experience of studying on, and designing for, these modes of delivery.

ii. Talis Elevate: Building collaboration into the heart of content

Matt East and James Hodgkin (Talis and Library, Technology & Information Service)

In this session, Matt East, Learning Technologies Lead at Talis, will give an overview of Talis Elevate, a tool designed to put collaborative learning at the heart of multiple resource types used in teaching. He will give an overview of how Talis Elevate is being used in practice and will detail how you can build Talis Elevate into your teaching for the coming academic year. 

Talis Elevate will be of particular interest to colleagues looking to build collaborative learning opportunities around resources of multiple formats, those looking to develop an active learning environment around resources used in teaching, and those building collaborative learning opportunities into their delivery. 

During the Q&A, we will have the opportunity to explore how you can utilise Talis Elevate to enhance the online environment for the coming academic year on your course.

iii. Preferencing ‘System 1 Thinking’ during lectures/sessions

James Dalby (Media)

Kahneman’s groundbreaking ‘Thinking Fast & Slow’ (2011) has been an instructive influence on my development of the Digital Media course. His discussion of the competing requirements and functions of Intuitive (System 1) and Rational (System 2) thought processes has been a key component in my thinking when designing learning, from individual sessions to whole curricula (leading to my PhD study looking at potential changes to the way students learn in the age of social media and connected technologies).

In this session, I will outline some simple and effective techniques for guiding students’ thought-processes during lectures, particularly in terms of encouraging intuitive and creative (System 1) thinking, aimed at cementing learning by allowing students to develop their own intuitive scaffolding of ideas. 

In essence, when students are concentrating on a subject in a lecture, they may be employing a System 2 (Rational) mode of thinking, which allows them to problem-solve more effectively, and make fewer errors, but which doesn’t necessarily encourage connection to existing knowledge, creative abstraction, and perhaps even an enjoyment of the subject. 

Often, a simple reframing of the structure and aims of a lecture will allow both modes to be employed effectively throughout.

iv. Action Research as a learning tool

Caroline Marshall and Jo Munyard (Gloucestershire College and Academic Link Tutor)

The learners who join our foundation degree bring with them varying amounts of sector experience. Some have worked as Early Years professionals for many years, and some for only a few months. What they often lack is an understanding of theoretical models of learning. Using an action research model in some of our assignments is effective because it enables students to explore theory in a concrete and practical way.

In the module EYF 404, students can take a small aspect of theory and try it out, to see what happens in practice. This enables them to evaluate for themselves the claims of Vygotsky or Piaget for example, using evidence that they have generated in their own practice. In turn, this builds their confidence to analyse and evaluate on a purely theoretical level.

We find that this approach enables students to self-select their own level of challenge, based on confidence and ability. For example, someone fairly new may choose to look at a more familiar theorist or pioneer such as Vygotsky whereas someone with more experience and confidence has the option to look at someone completely new to them, such as Weikart.

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