Thursday, 14 May 2009

Electonic Voting Systems - a workshop to the University of Northampton

Out of the blue I received an invite to present some of my Electronic Voting Systems (EVS) activity to the University of Northampton - which was nice :-) It’s always good to get invited out, show your stuff and gain insights from others too.

After a few false starts we finally managed to fix a date.

I am always slightly weary of being asked to talk about technology. I’m much more interested in talking about teaching, learning and assessment and then, and only then, move to discussing the potential for technology. I took the same slant at my two hour session in Northampton. Numbers were much lower than I had anticipated, and hoped for, but nevertheless those that turned up were really engaged and contributed lots to the session. Thank you!

I opened by asking them to describe what they thought supported learning in a non-technology rich space. Lindsay Jordan and I did the same exercise at a workshop at the Plymouth e-learning Conference.

Lot’s of useful things came out including the value of

* Feedback
* Safety of the environment
* Being able to show what you know and what you don’t
* Dialogue
* Collaboration
* Enthusiasm

I collected these ideas and located them against what we already know about good learning. Anyone that knows me will be bored with my affinity with the Seven Principles … (Chickering and Gamson), the How People Learn framework (Bransford et al) and also the ideas behind Learning that Lasts (Mentkwoski and associates).

The idea was to show that good learning is good learning. We then moved to see how EVS might respond to some of the principles. I showed some of my work which also included the linking of questions to show the irony of some of the students’ answers, answer guessing and genuine knowledge of concepts.

I think the participants liked the idea. It makes a change from the more obvious use of EVS. I also showed the students views on the use of EVS in the module.

I closed the session with a rather non-conventional slide for an EVS session. I was really saying that my approach was not about EVS but rather about responding to principles (relating to learning) and that might these principles be served by technologies – and as for my last slide, by other technologies too.

Why do I need to buy expensive handsets when many students have mobile phones? What about digital ink on student own pc’s? Further, given that most disciplines, like life, is not multiple choice, what about technologies such as Twitter to engage students in class?

I enjoyed the session and got some great feedback afterwards – people buzzing apparently!

I am aware that Northampton is about to ramp-up its EVS activity and I wish them well with their endeavours

Thanks for the invite and for giving me a chance to hear about your work and present some of mine.

Both the Schools engaged in the ESCAPE project (Life Sciences & the Business School) use EVS but I would want to run a session with them to see how systematically they are using it to support student learning - I would also like to show them the last slide too.

i.e. what else might they do to support their students?

The session made me think – which was just great

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