Thursday, 17 February 2011

Second Session - Enhancing collaborative and group learning through innovative technologies

The Elevate team ran its second workshop through the eskills for eLearning initiative on Monday, this workshop will now work as a stand alone session in the UCS Spring 2011 Staff Development programme.

11 members of staff attended this workshop, all had been at the previous "Getting started with Wolsey" session and were ready for a new challenge.  The session plan can be found here, as you can see we working running this workshop looking mainly at the tools within Wolsey, rather than trying to cover too many cloud based tools.  I'm sure we will look at running master classes on specific applications.

We started by having a quick discussion of what the attendees though "collaboration" meant, by the nature of the level of this workshop most answer were quite traditional, with the use of chalk boards and other offline tools.  A mention of interactive whiteboards popped up, but no online collaboration tools were put forward.  We then had a chat about some online tools, mainly around blogs and wikis, no one mentioned "Wikipedia", but they had all heard of it.  But surprisingly no one knew what a wiki allowed with regards to anyone editing the page.

All attendees were amazed by this, which led very nicely in to our first activity.  The first activity was to get the attendees top use the available tools as students, to get a feel of what the students do, and how those tools work.

I had previously setup a blog using the Blackboard blog tool, posing a question about coffee, the attendees simply had to reply using the comments feature.  We introduced them to this type of use for the blog tool rather than the discussion board as we are having a growing number of staff moving from the Blackboard discussion board tool as it does become very unwieldy with lots of posts.

Staff have found that students prefer using the blog tools as it is much easier to navigate and reply to the correct posts, the downside is you lose the "threaded"  nature of a discussion board, but so far this hasn't been a negative.

After a few minutes of discussion about coffee tastes, we moved to the next task, using wikis.  For this we used the Learning Objects Team (wiki) tool, at UCS we currently have Blackboard Learn 9.0 which doesn't have its own wiki tool, that 9.1 does.

I had previously setup a wiki, asking the attendees to spend 10-15 minutes researching educational uses of wikis, then asking them to create their own page within the wiki and enter their findings.  After this, I then went in and showed how anyone could edit the wiki pages and create links between them, creating a navigational structure.  Explaining how this tool can be used for so much collaborative work.

At this point a number of the attendees were starting to understand the potential of these tools and how they could use them in their teaching.

I then went through and showed a few live modules that were using these tools and how they were being used, again this reaffirmed the thoughts of the attendees.  We then spent the next 45 minutes with a hands on "follow my lead" approach to actually setting up these tools in a module, this showed them just how simple it is to start using these tools.  The first tool we setup was the Group tool, as this can be a very powerful feature, we then discussed the use of blogs and journals, and the fact that a group blog is not only available to the group, it is possible for others to find and read.  If a group blog is required to be completely private to the group, the journal tool is the one to use.

After this we had a quick discussion based on the question "What is stopping you using this tomorrow?", everyone seemed genuinely enthused by the workshop and were looking forward to trying the tools out, one attendee stayed behind afterwards for a chat about setting up groups and using the journal tool for collaboration amongst those groups.

The attendees really were looking forward to the next workshop "How might you use objective testing in your teaching and learning?" being run by Andy.

No comments:

Post a Comment