Over two days, we learned new tools and approaches for teaching, and had time to share our ideas and learn from each other. Some of the main tools I learned about:
- Live voting using smartphones in class to check student understanding
The Swedish company Mentimeter has designed a simple, free interface where teachers can set up questions (multiple choice or open answer), and students vote online or with their smartphones. You can see the anonymous votes accumulate in real time. Useful to check student understanding after discussion, keep engagement high, correct misconceptions.
- The "flipped" classroom
"Flipped" classrooms use student time at home to read, watch video lectures, and do quizzes; and then use class time for active tasks like discussion and group activities (rather than passive absorption of lecture material). This model changes the role of the teacher from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side". We were encouraged to try this model and shown some data on how effective it can be for student learning.
- Filming lectures for online & MOOCs
Online lectures are increasingly popular for MOOCs (massive online open courses), or as part of a traditional or flipped classroom. We were advised that a good video lecture for student learning is short (5-9 minutes), where the teacher addresses students directly (not students in another classroom), shows passion, and underlines important ideas. The video/audio quality isn't critical for student learning (as long as you can be clearly seen and heard), so don't worry about fancy technology- the webcam on your computer is good enough!
Lund University has a new tool, LU Play, for recording screencasts of lectures. We played around with it a bit- quite easy to use to film slides and your presentation, and you can include interactive quizzes. One disadvantage though is that it's only available internally to LU students logged in with a Stil-account, and not easy to upload directly to YouTube or other public platforms (you have to download to your own computer first), which made me wonder about archiving and long-term access.
I found a good video from UBC professor Rosie Redfield on why and how she records her lectures herself, with encouraging tips and helpful explanation of the technology she uses. Also it seems that the free open-source Open Broadcaster Software is a good option for recording screencasts (though a little less intuitive than LU Play at first).
- Syllabus design
We discussed the purpose and role of a course syllabus with Katarina Mårtensson Lund University Division for Higher Education Development (AHU). She pointed out all the different roles that a syllabus can play, including: forcing the teacher to focus and prioritize, making the learning outcomes visible, as a communication tool between teachers and students, between teachers to focus on overall program coherency, and to help new teachers who inherit a course, or have to take over on short notice.
We reviewed a syllabus from a colleague from another department and gave feedback on questions we would have as a student. This made me realize the importance of being familiar with similar courses to highlight what distinguishes my course (so I should do a syllabus review when designing a course, similar to a literature review for writing an academic paper).