Archive for the 'teaching' Category

On Social Learning

Teaching is not an easy job, but it comes with huge satisfactions (and, of course, frustrations).

Every year, a new cohort of  graduates that I get to know well leave the university. Actually two cohorts: the undergrads, who spend four years with us taking Digital Media Design and finishing with a BSc, and the master students in Interactive Media Design, who spend only 12 months with us, who graduate with an MA or an MSc, depending on their final project contribution.

Working with master students can be challenging – they have a thirst for learning new things and perfecting skills in the 12 months they spend with us! But it is also a wonderful opportunity for learning: they are learning from each other, as everyone comes in with a different background and skills, and I get to learn from them! One of the components of my module “Principles of Interactive Media Design” is a group seminar prepared and run by groups of students. They get full responsibility for those two hours, that include presentations, debates and class activities on a topic of their group’s choice.

Most of the times, I take part in the suggested class activities as well. As an observer at first (I get to grade these activities after all!), but sometimes I get fully immersed and almost forget I’m not there to play.

Here are two samples from this semester. The first one is from a seminar on lifelogging, where after building a collective class timeline by sharing events from our lives, the organisers suggested that we actively get involved in creating a memory for the future by creating an outfit using newspapers with visible headlines.

The second one is today’s attempt to draw a tree with my lips. We were looking at the role of the body in interacting with computers and at various modalities of interaction. What if we weren’t able to use our hands at all?!

March 14 2013 | blogging and teaching | No Comments »

Why I like so much working in UL

From all the places in the world I have worked in, the University of Limerick is by far the best. There are many reasons for this: the people, the campus, the cross-department collaboration atmosphere, the personal development programs and workshops, the lunchtime concerts. And last but not least, the events where we meet to exchange information and ideas about how to improve our teaching and the students’ learning. Every time I feel unhappy about how my teaching progresses, all I have to do is to attend one of these events and find out I am not the only one who encountered that problem, and learn how other people have solved it.

On Friday, after the last lecture of the semester and two other meetings, I attended a “Teaching on the Go” session organised by the Technology Enhanced Learning group in UL.

Stephen Kinsella from KBS gave a talk titled: “Many to one: Using the mobile phone to interact with large classes“.  Since this is one of my major problems – how to interact with a large class during the 50 min I get with them, I thought I might pick up something from Stephen’s experience.

The talk was excellent – short and to the point – and Stephen invited the participants to join his efforts. He developed the app himself – using a cheap mobile phone and Java. He is teaching a really large class – 500 people attend his lectures in the Concert Hall. At specific points during his lecture, he asks his students for questions or comments. The messages are projected on the large screen and everybody can read them. Sometimes he gets highly relevant questions, that allow him to explain specific terms or clarify issues. Some other times he gets irrelevant stuff, or even bad language. The phone numbers are always on the screen, so he can call back the number and expose the person. But most of the students understand the rules of the game and use this opportunity for real dialogue.

Stephen is now working with a couple of Indian developers on developing a web version of his application.

A video recording of the talk is available on his blog.

The excellent thing about this solution is that it is simple, affordable and the messages stay in a closed circle. My worry about the Jaiku experiment I ran last year was that I was polluting all my other contacts with the messages I was sending to the students. In one way, this was good, because it allowed synergies to occur (like my collaboration with Bernie), but at the same time some of the students might have been put off by this transparency.

My guilt feeling for not blogging was fueled even more by Stephen’s statement that he has reached 1000 blog posts!  After checking his blog, I realised it’s an excellent illustration of what good teaching enhanced by technology can do! All his lectures are available online – exactly what was suggested by my students last year (and I thought they were asking too much!)

Someone else in the room mentioned Clicker and a trial they are involved in. It’s amazing how much can you learn from your peers in an environment like UL! People from different departments come together and share their experiences and you always leave the event with new ideas and having made new acquaintances!

November 30 2008 | Events and teaching | 3 Comments »

Being here and there

Yesterday, I read the announcement that FriendFeed is now available via IM, and I thought of giving it a try.

This morning, while preparing my lecture on Collaborative technologies and Enterprise 2.0, a feed coming from Lee Bryant’s Twitter caught my eye:

November 12 2008 | teaching | No Comments »