Video Reflections: Thoughts on Teaching Experiences
The video we watched was ‘From the community: thoughts on teaching experiences’. The interviewees discussed overcoming the challenges of teaching large numbers of students around the world, working online, and taking advantage of the technology, digital materials and course format.
Here are some of the points made in the video interviews that particularly struck me:
Taking advantage of the course format
Dr Sharron Ogle, MSc Programme Director in the Edinburgh Medical School / Biomedical Sciences said, “It’s just about making a space available, asking the right questions, pointing in the right direction, and people will literally generate the courses, generate content, generate discussions for themselves.”
Because the courses are taken by adult learners, she explains, it’s about tailoring the way you interact with them to allow the to do the work for you.
Jean-Benoit Falisse, Lecturer in International Development, talked about the opportunities for using different kinds of digital artefacts for teaching and assessment, such as blog posts, infographics, podcasts and videos, encouraging and rewarding participation from students whose strengths were in study skills other than essay writing.
Working around new challenges
Jean-Benoit Falisse also discussed some of the issues faced by students in diverse circumstances where it was difficult to connect and access the material, highlighting the importance of making all course materials accessible from the start so these students could download them when they had the chance.
Callum MacGregor from the School of Education discussed the importance of including diverse experiences and viewpoints in the course teaching. This would become a challenge if the reason for online courses was to reduce staffing, as less viewpoints would be represented. He also discussed the challenges of building community engagement when students lived in different time zones.
Professor Timothy Drysdale from the School of Engineering discussed practical issues that could arise with experiments. He also said it would be best for the system to take on management tasks, freeing up academic time for interaction with the students.
Adapting to teaching large numbers of students
Several of the interviewees discussed the challenges of adapting to different teaching methods, class sizes and settings. For example, Areti Manakani from Medical Informatics gave the examples of hugely different class sizes ranging from tutorials (20), to lectures (150), and MOOCs (70,000). She was nervous about teaching that many students on a MOOC, but describes it as a great experience, and encouraged reusing learning materials and trying out new things, although with small incremental changes.
Callum MacGregor also recommended that course tutors could avoid feeling overloaded by teaching so many students by keeping to simple methods of interaction, such as one to one feedback, making use of students’ reflective blogs, recording video interview to release as podcasts, and interacting with students in asynchronous discussion forums.