The idea behind the LEaD Light lunch sessions was to ask academic and professional colleagues to give short informal talks on topics relating to digital technology and online teaching. Another reason was to build up an online community that could support reflective practice as well as help with working in isolation (something I wrote about in this blog). It can also be argued that being online has removed some of the barriers of a physical building with all its separate staff rooms, coffee areas, and offices. Therefore, sessions such as these could open up conversations across different disciplines with potential cross-fertilization or knowledge transfer.
So, a first run of LEaD light Lunch started as a pilot back in October. After each presentation attendees were given a survey and asked to rate the length and format of sessions. From the few responses gathered these rated quite well scoring an average of 4.5 out of 5. However, some respondents felt that it would be better to round the sessions off at 30 mins rather than 20 minutes as initially planned.
We had quite a wide variety of topics across these first six sessions: Our very first one was with Stefano Pagliari, from International Politics, on the use of Onenote in the classroom. The discussions that came out from this session were that this is a highly effective and flexible resource, it can be used to create templates, collaborative work areas, portfolios, and much more yet there is not much take-up across the university; possibly because it does look quite complex. However, a tool that is very much worth investigating and that will come up again in another session later.
Our second presentation was with Snigdha Nag, from the Professional law school, who gave us an overview of using 0365 forms in-class teaching. Benefits and challenges were discussed and we also experienced a live poll set up on the spot showing the tool’s flexibility. However, Poll everywhere was also mentioned as being a much more stable tool to use in online teaching, particularly if you have a high stakes activity to do. However, the beauty of forms is its simplicity.
The third session was with Patrick Goold, one of the program directors for the undergraduate Law school. Patrick gave us a whirlwind tour of the Law school welcome Moodle module for first-year students starting their new academic life in a pandemic. This included H5P to create interactive elements; such as some very polished looking quizzes. We also saw how students were introduced to some of their key lecturers via a podcast where the lecturers discussed a book of fiction, that students had received a copy of over the summer and asked to think about what qualities are needed to make a good lawyer. A gentle introduction to a tough subject.
The next session was with Sandra Partington and Steve McCombe ( LEaD) on the whiteboard functionality in Teams (see Sandra’s blog) -We started off this session with a bit of coloring in, a nice way to use the 5 minutes while waiting for everyone to join. Then Sandra showed us what a Wacom tablet was and how it worked with the whiteboard. Interestingly enough, as mentioned earlier, the topic of OneNote popped up again when Sandra and Steve showed us just how effective it works as an online whiteboard.
The fifth session was on Learning designer from the Learning designer lead developer, Dimakopoulos, Dionisios, who has been working on the project since 2009. This was a packed session where we sadly ran out of time. However, we saw how the learning designer can support lecturers with planning their online teaching with a good balance of activities. This also included thinking about the time needed for each activity, which in turn could support students with understanding their own workload and time management. We also found out that the Learning Designer team was working on a MOOC on FutureLearn that will cover the pedagogical aspects of designing a course on the Learning Designer starting 11th January 2021 It was also great to see Dionisios showing us how he sets up student watch parties with live streaming in O365 stream during his lessons. This idea of a watch party was very topical as on that day the BBC published an article on how to support students to learn online. One of the suggestions was to ‘learn with your mates’ by watching lectures together online students can stop and start to share ideas or ask each other questions; an approach that may help with feelings of isolation as well.
The last session in this series with Lisa Baker (LEaD) and Dr. Russell Gerrard, Associate Dean Learning and Teaching, Business School telling us about the recently re-launched peer assessment tool which adds a peer contribution element to group assignments on Moodle. The discussion that emerged here was how can this support the development of those employability skills such as working in teams and how do you set up students’ groups? Do they choose to work with their friends or should they be allocated into a group by the tutor? It will be great to hear how this tool will be used across different disciplines in the future.
So this was a quick run-through of the LEaD light lunches so far. If you would like to see more then here is a Video playlist of recorded LEaD Light Lunches
In late January the next series of LEaD Light Lunches on Fridays will begin, there will however be a new tweak; the theme of the session will be introduced at the beginning of the week in order to allow for conversations as well as for any questions to the presenter(s), or the community in general, beforehand.
The first Light Lunch session will happen on Friday 22nd of January with Dr.Julie Voce ( Head of Educational Technology. LEaD) who will be hosting an interactive session on Digital accessibility. Vital for supporting an inclusive approach and improving the experience for all students, so really worth getting involved in the conversation.
If you are interested in keeping up with the latest on the next series of LEaD Light Lunches and more then do join the Learning and Teaching community
Register if you would like to give a presentation on any digital learning and teaching topic