Tag: education

Thank you!

Liz Bennett

Dr.Liz Bennett (Senior Lecturer, School of Education), Lisa Ward (Head of the Teaching & Learning Institute) & Ros Walker (MSc Graduate)

Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the ‘Thank you’ awards at Huddersfield University. Shortly after completing my Masters last year (in E-learning and Multimedia), I received an email telling me about the Thank You awards. There were three categories: Assessment & Feedback, Inspirational Teaching and Student Support. My first dilemma was which category to choose – my tutor, Dr Liz Bennett,  could easily have fitted into any of them! However, I singled out the Assessment and Feedback category. There were three key points I wanted to make. The first was about how well she had responded to emails. Working at a distance on this blended learning course, it was easy to feel isolated. However, I never did, as Liz answered all my emails promptly, even the most stupid of questions! The second point related to the assessments that she set us, that allowed us to use a variety of formats for our work. I submitted various multimedia pieces alongside my written work. In some ways this was actually more work than writing an essay would have been, but it was far more enjoyable and allowed me to be creative and explore new ideas. Work I submitted included video from a webinar, screencasts, logs of tweets and PowerPoint presentations. (You can see one example on my blog here.) The third point was how my tutor had gone beyond what was required of her in helping to support me with a proposal for a conference paper (5,000 words), which was accepted and led to my first peer-reviewed article, and a conference presentation, based on my Masters research. I have already written about the way that she used Turnitin, which was also exemplary. (See link here.)

I was invited to the evening, having made the nomination, as my tutor was a finalist. She took home an award as Runner Up in the category – 2nd overall in the whole University for feedback and assessment. I was so proud of her and delighted to have been able to nominate her work for this award.

The nomination was submitted last year and it did not include the fact that, based on the work Liz did with me and others, I applied for and was offered my current post at the University of Sheffield. I am now working on Turnitin and I was able to discuss at interview my experience of using this as a student and it is a real honour that I am able to take this work forward and use it in a genuine context.

I have to also mention the fantastic evening overall. It was so uplifting to hear the praise for so many tutors at Huddersfield University. So many happy, smiling faces. A few tears. A lot of lives changed, improved, taking people beyond what they thought possible in their lives or out of difficult situations. Thank you to all who were involved in organising it and thank you for the invitation.

Thank you, again, Dr Bennett, and well done on your well-deserved award.

“God gave you a gift of 84,600 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say thank you?”
William Arthur Ward

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Which apps should I buy?

Working as an e-learning adviser, it may be expected that I should be asked ‘Which apps should I buy?’ A perfectly reasonable question coming from someone new to mobile technology to someone who has been researching and working with it for some time. However, the question takes me back to my earliest days as an adviser, when I was working with modern languages teachers. The phone would ring and a teacher would say “Hello, I’m from XYZ school in Never Never land – We’ve got a budget to buy software and I’m just wondering what we should buy?” I can’t blame the teacher for asking the question – it came from the days of e-learning credits where schools had money thrown at them and just wanted to be able to buy software. However, it rarely came with any thinking about what was the purpose of the software. I would probe for an answer: which languages are you working with? Which age group? Which skills are you looking to help pupils with? How does your curriculum work – when and how do pupils have access to computers? (The inquisition continued until I was able to find something for the school to spend their money on…and I was reminded of my dad saying ‘That money’s burning a hole in your pocket’.)

So, back to the ‘app’ question. Which apps should you buy? Well, what are you teaching? What are the pupils learning? Is an app the cover-all pill that a pupil can take to digest this chunk of learning? Will you be using the app for the whole class or is this something that the pupils will use on their own / in groups? ….

I don’t want to knock apps completely – there are some very good ones, some which pupils enjoy and no doubt will learn from effectively, but until we have a clear idea about what we are teaching and what pupils are learning and how, buying an app as a sticking plaster isn’t going to work.

After sharing this post with Joe Dale, he suggested the following sites which give tools for evaluating apps:

You may want to add a link to Silvia Tolisano’s app evaluation blog post – http://langwitches.org/blog/2012/05/27/evaluating-apps-with-transformative-use-of-the-ipad-in-mind and Tony Vincent’s http://learninginhand.com/blog/ways-to-evaluate-educational-apps.htm

Both very useful, adding some substance to the ‘Which app?’ debate.