Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The start of Student Induction Season

The start of September brings with it the colder winds and rain, as well as the start of Student Induction season.

This year we have changed how we deliver our induction sessions to new students, in the past we have mainly concentrated on a basic point and click around Wolsey,  spending up to an hour showing students how to move around the VLE, what each tab does and where they can find things.  New for 2011 we are trying to incorporate a much wider area of interest, as the relatively newly formed Elevate Team, we want to show students more of what is available to them, to help them enhance their learning experience.  Not only with institutionally owned systems such as the VLE and ePortfolios, but many of the Web 2.0 technologies that they can own themselves.

Our sessions are planned around the following system/ideas

  • Welcome and aims of session

  • A simple question to get them used to the Audience Response System

  • A question asking about technology uses during previous study periods

  • A question about Facebook usage

  • A question asking how the students would categorise themselves as technology users

  • Giving information about Institutionally owned software

    • Wolsey - VLE - A 10 minute screencast is shown, showing what Wolsey is and how it can be used

    • Mahara - ePortfolio -  A short cartoon video showing what ePortfolios are

  • Information about Individually owned software

    • A vote is taken to see where we should emphasise the next part of the session, choices are:

      • Using Personal Learning Networks - Twitter

      • Social Bookmarking - Diigo

      • Reflective Blogging - WordPress

      • MindMapping and/or Google Docs

    • Depending on the result of the vote we spend time talking through them in order, showing our own examples and real time use

  • A QR Code is on the final slide that loads the presentation if scanned


To date, we have run two of these new sessions, both David and I ran one each on the first day, these were run at the same time, hopefully allowing us to demonstrate the excellent collaborative features of GoogleDocs, but unfortunately the sessions didn't run completely to plan.

The two sessions were quite different, David and around 10 students in a small teaching room, where I had around 80 in a large lecturer theatre, overall we left that our sessions both ran well, although my session probably not quite as well as David's.  The smaller more intermate nature of David's session seems to fit better with way in which we choose to run them, I find that larger groups in bigger spaces tend not to interact or take part as much as the smaller groups.  However, they all seemed to really enjoy using the "clickers", it made them feel part of the session.  We both suffered from Powerpoint crashing on the same slide, the last voting question, unfortunately losing the session data that we were hoping to use after all sessions were finished.

David's group really enjoyed the session and at the end, the students were really starting to see how they could use these Web 2.0 technologies to help in there teaching, it sounds like it was a very productive session.  My session was slightly less productive as I suffered from the previous speaker over running by some time, then finding out half way through my presentation that the students had to "get a bus in 10 minutes".  Although this wasn't ideal, overall I think the students were taking in what they were seeing and could see how these technologies could help their learning.  Unfortunately with my session starting late we were unable to demonstrate the collaborative features in GoogleDocs, but I was able to show how it works and show version/history controls in documents.


Overall I think this new format to our induction sessions really does work, it opens up students' minds to the potential solutions out there for them.  Also, the materials that we've produced to use in these sessions, can also form the basis of other sessions and FAQs.

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