Monthly Archives: June 2010

Smilies for Student Feedback


Yesterday a colleague and I were leading a focus group with a bunch of students who had just finished their first year at University. We were keen to hear their thoughts on the types of assessment we use and their evaluation of year one generally.

A number of things came up that were not a huge surprise. They liked practicals, exams, class tests and essays but are not so keen on presentations and feel that we could do better on feedback.

What was a little surprising was just how much they liked getting feedback on electronic formative self-assessment tests in the form of a smiley 🙂 . They described how they would attempt questions over and over again until the smiley appeared indicating they had got the correct result. Coupled with this was their comments on how they needed encouragement to build confidence as they made the transition to University study.

On reflection we realised that sometimes feedback indicators that in effect say “You’re doing ok” go a long way in giving students the reassurance they need.

Used in the right context could “smilies as feedback tools” be the next big thing?

Image credit.

Should students be encouraged to use their mobile phones in class for learning purposes?

Today I was taking part in the University of Ulster’s Centre for Higher Education Practice Festival of Innovation Practice. I was presenting our work on text messaging with students and as part of the presentation asked delegates to vote (by text message) on the following statement:

Students should be encouraged to use their mobile phones in class for learning purposes

Possible responses were:

CHEPA – Strongly Agree
CHEPB – Agree
CHEPC – Disagree
CHEPD – Strongly Disagree


The responses (n = 13), as shown in the pie chart above, were predominantly in agreement with the statement though concern was voiced that the system could be open to abuse.

Students using mobiles in class both for voting and for asking questions of the lecturer (especially in large groups) has some attractive advantages though the approach should be carefully considered and tailored to the individual circumstance.

I would be interested to hear the views of colleagues who have employed text messaging in education. When does it work best? When not?

Many thanks to all who contributed votes and / or comments today!

Festival of Innovative Practice 2010

Today I will be at the University of Ulster’s Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP) inaugural “Festival of Innovative Practice”. The event website states the following:

“The purpose of this event is to showcase and celebrate the wide range of innovative work undertaken by both funded CHEP projects and also through the key CHEP sub-committees during 2009-10. In addition, and importantly, it aims to allow all participants to share and learn from each other’s practice.

The day will involve a keynote presentation by the Centre’s Visiting Professor David Boud and the opportunity to hear snapshots of the projects and visit their posters and stands in an interactive exhibition hall.
Topics range from:

* Technology-enhanced learning.
* Creative approaches to working with students.
* Curricula developments e.g. problem-based learning, work-based learning, PDP, student induction
* Pedagogic research e.g. student attendance”

I will be presenting our work on the use of text messaging as both a communication and voting tool for relatively large year one modules under the “Technology-enhanced learning” theme. The programme for the day is here.

As time permits I will also post a few tweets using the #CHEP10 hashtag.

10 Uses for an iPod Touch in Education – #1 Making Notes

iPod Touch Photo of Notes

I have recently acquired a 32GB iPod touch to be investigated mainly for its use in a higher education context. I intend in this occasional series to reflect on the various features and applications that I have found to be useful. By implication these applications this will also apply to the iPhone but the plan is to talk about features that apply to both.

In the first of this series I want to briefly mention the “notes” application which comes as standard on the iPod touch.
I have found this feature to be most useful; in fact I am using it to write these reflections during a quiet moment in an examination board session as I wait for another course to be considered! Do these things ever run to time?!

Admittedly it is unlikely you will write a book chapter using this app but to capture ideas or make a quick note to yourself, it then comes into its own.

In a teaching and learning context notes could be used to make rapid feedback during practical classes or at presentations where background noise or the very disruptive nature of doing so might preclude recording audio feedback.

The beauty of this app lies again in the handiness of the iPod technology which is much more portable and more readily coaxed from standby mode than even the most agile laptop PC or netbook. Notes captured on this app may be emailed either to a group for feedback or to your own email account for use in other applications.

My uses or suggested uses are given in the list below.

Notes for feedback at student presentations
Notes for feedback during lab classes
Writing blog posts or sections of papers during spare moments
Notes during conference lectures if you are not tweeting!

Of course there are also situations where students could use these devices to record their reflections or for learning purposes. If readers are using Notes for other things in an education context, please add these as a comment below.

Writing Concisely

Note
Using Twitter is helping me to write more concisely.

Photo credit.