Through this project I feel I have gained some key insights not only into the use of learning technology in my own subject area of Travel and Tourism but also into the way we can promote a wider use of learning technology amongst staff here at the college.
Moving out of your ‘comfort zone’
I feel I have really gained from challenging myself to develop my skills in an area where I had previously felt anxious and underconfident. In supporting other staff on this project to make the same journey I have been reminded how important it is for us all to challenge ourselves in this way. I have seen too that with the appropriate support material and video tutorials you don’t have to be ‘a young gun’ to be successful in using technology! We need to be ready to challenge staff to try to learn new skills but we need to be ready to offer them the right support too.
At the start of the project we began to explore video conferencing software as a way to develop distance learning for our Travel and Tourism students. We soon realised that there were some technical barriers in our college systems that we need to overcome in order for this model of delivery to be effective. We weren’t able to download and use Skype for example which was a key factor. However, Bob has explained that other web-based packages are available that we could now explore and there is now a web-based version of Skype too that might be an option too. This is an area that we still need to explore more fully as a college.
Whilst video conferencing software was not an option we could explore, we have been very successful in promoting the use of Blendspace and Ed Puzzle as tools that staff can use to develop course material for blended learning. For example, Blendspace has been used very effectively to create distance learning materials for use on a GCSE programme during a period when students were unable to attend classes during to staff sickness. We have also designed and developed some posters to promote the use of Ed Puzzle across the college.
Two key tools
From my own experiences of using Ed puzzle and Socrative I can see how useful they can be for teachers in all departments. They were very well received by students and I have seen how quickly other staff have begun to use them in their teaching. I now realise that Socrative is principally a tool for in class assessment whilst Ed Puzzle can be used to develop knowledge and skills as well as provide data on performance. Until I began to use them both myself I wasn’t quite sure of their respective features and benefits.
Action research as a staff development approach
Through this project I now realise how important it is to support staff in exploring new ideas and then sharing their experiences with their colleagues. I can see how, even with my small amount of experience with digital technology, I have been able to support others in their exploring some new e learning tools through just sharing my experiences and enthusiasm with others in different ways. This insight suggests to me that the college should explore action research as a key approach to CPD rather than just buying in expensive external trainers.
Click below to hear a discussion I had with Bob about my reflections about these key findings