Harnessing technology to make learning (and teaching) more fun

Dunne, Julie and Ryan, Barry (2012) Harnessing technology to make learning (and teaching) more fun. [Conference Proceedings]


This paper describes how various technologies were introduced into foundation; science modules both to enhance student engagement and feedback, and also to cope; with increased teaching workload. It mostly deals with freely available software or; tools available through a VLP (virtual learning platform, e.g. Blackboard or Moodle),; but also includes audience response ‘Clickers’ which were purchased. The; technologies discussed are user-friendly and do not require advanced IT skills. The; paper includes successes, but also includes some less successful attempts to integrate; technology and explores the possible reasons.; As third level funding is reduced, many academics are coming under increased; pressure to deal with larger and more diverse classes. In addition, our ‘digital native’; students have increasingly higher expectations regarding the type of learning; resources, activities, and communication tools we utilise. Furthermore with; information at their fingertips, education is expanding from delivery of content, to; focussing even more on developing critical thinking and employability skills. This all; provides a challenge for academics to deliver a high quality service.; Here, we discuss technologies which were used to overcome some of the challenges; facing us as educators, making our teaching more productive and efficient, and less; tedious. We describe the substitution of a formal written exam to assess basic first; year knowledge, to an automated online self-correcting MCQ (multiple choice; question) assessment, with built in summative feedback. We also discuss the use of; audience response ‘Clickers’ MCQ in-class quizzes as aligned learning and revisionactivities, which are engaging, and also provide formative feedback.; In addition, we describe the integration of ‘CATME Team Builder’ software to; organise group work and automatically process anonymous peer marking. This; replaced the traditional anonymous paper based peer marking forms, removing the; tedious and time-consuming data extraction task, and allowing a far more; comprehensive and rigorous peer assessment.; Finally, other technologies used to greater or lesser success including Twitter,; Peerwise and Wallwisher are briefly discussed.

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