New SIG launched to explore how we can make the most of technology in teaching and learning

Wednesday 9 June saw the launch of the Making the Most of Technology in Teaching and Learning (MMTTL) special interest group (http://www.derby.ac.uk/mmttl-sig). The SIG was set up by Wendy Wood, Lecturer in Mental Health, and Charlie Davis, Learning Technologist, in order to fill the gap left by the potential dissolution of the HEA Health SIG which Wendy had previously attended. She saw the opportunity to create something similar which would act as a forum for staff within the University of Derby (UoD) and outside of it to come together and discuss the burning issues of the day as well as share practice.

With support from Simon Birkett, Learning Technology Manager, the SIG was established and plans were made for the first session, the theme of which was ‘Successes and Challenges of Online Assessment and Feedback. This theme tied in with the assessment and feedback strand of the Continuing Improvements programme, which is being rolled out institution-wide along with a range of Threshold Standards (http://www.derby.ac.uk/lei/celt/threshold-standards) from September 2011. The main aim behind this initiative is to embed a consistent level of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) into every aspect of module and programme-level activity within the UoD.

There were four individual morning sessions dealing with online submission, audio feedback, electronic assessments and ePortfolios. The choice of theme was a welcome one, with one attendee stating that the meeting ‘Allowed us to focus on the e-Submission project and identify experienced and confident users of technology for assessment and feedback.’ The afternoon activities included practical demonstrations by Sandra Fitton-Wilde, Lecturer in PG Studies – MA Ed and Jo Drummond-Child, Lecturer in Law, on how to provide audio feedback.

Staff from a range of departments across the University attended and a lecturer from the University of Nottingham came too. It was decided to limited presenters to 7-minute slots. This was followed by 15-minute group discussions, picking up on the central presentation themes. Each of the 4 sessions were rounded off with a 10-minute plenary, allowing the whole group to share the outcomes of their discussions. Feedback gathered from a post-session questionnaire indicates that those in attendance appreciated this style of delivery. One attendee commented that the meeting ‘provided an excellent opportunity to brainstorm ideas and consider a whole range of both positive and negative aspects involved.’

The meeting took place in the UoD’s new Collaborative and Active Teaching Space in B226. This proved to be an excellent opportunity to get staff thinking about how they might use the space and technology to support learning and teaching activities in contexts they are familiar with. Attendees’ reflections on B226 as a learning and teaching space have been very positive, with one remaking that it was an ‘excellent space, it made the groups so easy to re-configure and you could easily swing around to listen to people and presentations were always in eye line.’

Feedback indicates that overall those who attended felt the event was beneficial and that they’d like to attend more. The organisation of the next session has begun and it is hoped that it the event will become a permanent bi-annual event at the University of Derby and even beyond it.

For further information about the SIG and future events, please contact:

Charlie Davis – c.davis@derby.ac.uk

Wendy Wood – w.wood@derby.ac.uk

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