Ever since Neil Morris’ research seminar in November on ‘Making technology-enhanced learning work for staff and students in Higher Education’, his name has been cropping up again and again in my conversations with staff here at Reading.
At the time I said I thought Neil’s talk was ‘powerful stuff’. There was a palpable sense of things being shaken up a little around here and a few light bulbs going off – institutionally and individually.
Following the seminar, Associate Dean Julian Park, who chairs the Digitally Ready Project Steering Group, brought together a small group of people with an interest in educational technologies to have a discussion with Neil over a late lunch.
The group proposed a short paper to be submitted to the University’s Sub-Committee on Delivery and Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (DELT) outlining a number of considerations in relation to technology-enhanced learning. This included their recommendation for the University to develop
‘quickly a digital learning strategy to underpin and provide priorities and guidance in relation to the enhancement of digital learning in and across the University.’
There are also discussions around a wider digital strategy for the University encompassing not only digital learning, but digital communication and marketing, infrastructure and digital development, and digital governance as well.
Schools and departments, too, have felt the impact. Digitally Ready is supporting a number of initiatives directly inspired by Neil’s talk. Matthew Nicholls, a senior lecturer in the Department of Classics who is one of our Digital Heroes, is experimenting with audio recording his lectures after Neil recommended this as ‘least effort for maximum gain’.
We’re also supporting Clare Furneaux from the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics, who is carrying out a research study into student technology uses and attitudes. Neil has been helping Clare to refine the questionnaires for her initial survey.
Another technology Neil and his colleagues have experimented with to enhance dialogue with students is video feedback, both for individual and group feedback. Here’s a clip of Neil’s summary:
I’m particularly excited to hear that, as a result of Neil’s seminar, video feedback is making a bit of a comeback here at Reading, especially as Neil’s work was originally inspired by our video feedback project ASSET, which ran from 2008 to 2010. I guess some things just come home.
ASSET was a JISC-funded initiative here at Reading considering the use of video feedback and encouraging staff to experiment with the use of video to provide feedback and feed-forward to students.
The project team created a web-based resource, ASSET, to enable staff to easily upload audio-visual materials to their own module area within ASSET. Students could then copy their favourite video/audio clips into their own customisable playlists to revisit as and when they chose. The ASSET project led to the development of a video dropbox as an element within the University’s VLE Blackboard.
But technology has moved on, so it’s time to find out how staff have bedded down with this approach to feedback. Julian Park, who happens to be a member of the original ASSET project team, has invited staff to share any examples of good practice in the use of video feedback.
If you’re not using video feedback already, here’s why you might want to: Research has shown that high-quality and timely feedback can engage and motivate students and help them do better in subsequent assignments (‘feed forward’). But giving effective feedback and maximizing student engagement is a real challenge and the feedback process can be frustrating for both staff and students. That’s where video feedback comes in.
- supports rapid generic feedback to students
- motivates students through expression and tone
- accommodates different learning styles
- allows staff to say a lot within a short space of time
- overcomes common issues with written feedback, such as illegible handwriting
- feedback can be replayed
If you’d like to find out more, a good place to start is the ASSET website which is still live at www.reading.ac.uk/videofeedback.
And if you are using video feedback, we’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Julian Park (email@example.com). We’ll be showcasing some of your examples here on the blog shortly.