Friday, 14 February 2014

Learning Technologies at the Science Teaching Network

Lecturers demonstrating and discussing at the Science Teaching Network, The University of Sheffield, February 2014
Science Teaching Network
Members of the Learning Technologies Team were invited along to the February ‘Science Teaching Network’ meeting which had a focus this month on learning technologies in teaching.

Zaf Ali, Farzana Latif and Mark Morley attended. We demonstrated a range of technologies that were either currently being used for teaching or innovations that might have specific application in the science subjects. Farzana showed off some apps for the iPads; one of which used augmented reality and 3D cubes to display information about chemical reactions. This was of particular interest to the Chemistry lecturers in the room, one of whom said that he could envisage using the concept for a project with his students. Zaf talked to a number of people about various aspects of using MOLE (Blackboard) in teaching. He also explained about how PebblePad was being used for student portfolio work. Mark worked alongside Jeremy Craven, a lecturer in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. Together they demonstrated how pen enabled digitizer laptop and tablet technology could be used to enhance the student learning experience where visual emphasis is still very much of benefit, for example where equations and diagrams need to be talked through for greater understanding. This technology has added advantages such as being able to record the lecture activity to make a digital video that can be referred to later and reused by the students, which in turn allows greater focus and participation during the actual lecture. (A case study on this topic will be developed and published in the near future, encompassing examples from across the University.)

Towards the end of the session Zaf and Mark were providing advice, hints and tips about getting started with Twitter. It was interesting to note that providing information about some technologies that were thought to be more widely used is still important. There is some work to be done in that area sharing knowledge and building user confidence.

Between 20 and 30 people attended the two hour event from various science departments. Apart from interacting with the Learning Technologies Team, they also got to see the work being done on the University’s iTunes U project, thanks to Mark Winter, who is himself a lecturer in Chemistry.

As this event was organised and run by academic staff in the Faculty of Science it was a really useful and beneficial way to share ideas and have discussions directly with academic colleagues on a personal level. This format is very valuable and the Learning Technologies Team within CiCS would be keen to work with other faculties or departments on a similar basis to develop more productive partnerships. Many thanks to Jenny Burnham for arranging the event and inviting us along.

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