Continuing our stories from the front line blogging project around the five main chapters from E-Tivities 2nd edition- Now AVAILABLE, is Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and Research Fellow at the University of Leicester. Moving now into the use of particular technologies with designing e-Tivities, we thank Terese for such grounded, practical and inspired suggestions in this blog post!
Learning Technologist & SCORE Research Fellow Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester
Connect with Terese (links embedded):
Slide Share: tbirdcymru
Second Life: Aallyah Kruyschek
Scoopit: Terese Bird
LinkedIn: Terese Bird
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship to e-tivities:
I have been working in learning technology in the UK Higher Education context since 1998, and involved in researching its use since 2005 –- currently with the Institute of Learning Innovation at University of Leicester. My recent projects have included several regarding the creation, evaluation, and exploration of use in teaching and research of Open Educational Resources (with 2 project specifically examining iTunes U OER), and implementing and evaluating mobile devices in distance learning. In several of these projects, I have acted as e-moderator in e-tivities carried out through various technologies and platforms, and have guided other academics in accomplishing the same.
Interview Questions: Technology Choices in designing e-Tivities- Examples/stories/ideas for using an example technology
Terese's Technology Choice: Voice Boards
1. What types of e-tivites have you found are suited with this particular technology?
The second technology in the list is voice boards. In the DUCKLING project (http://www.le.ac.uk/duckling) Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language distance-learning students were assigned asynchronous voice discussion e-tivities which maximised convenience for students in different time zones while allowing students and tutors to listen to each other’s voices, which bridged the physical distances between them. An example of such an e-tivity was: “Record one of your students speaking, and ask your student to describe where s/he learnt English and how prevalent English is in their region. Give your own explanation as to how their regional ‘world English’ varies from your own English. Respond to one of your fellow student’s recorded entries and compare with the development of English in that region.” Wimba VoiceBoard was used initially; more recently, Voxopop was used.
2. How specifically have you utilised this technology for an e-tivity design? Can you give an example to help future designers use this technology in this way?
In addition to the description and example given in the above answer, I can give another: Voice Board was used to give students the opportunity to asynchronously discuss an assigned article. Students were asked to summarise the article and speak out their summaries on the voiceboard, limiting their recording to 3 minutes or less. They then needed to comment on another student’s summary. In the evaluation of this e-tivity, students commented that having to record themselves speaking about the article, and having to do so concisely, forced them to prepare better by reading more deeply. They felt this e-tivity was like a mini-presentation. They appreciated the fact it challenged their academic ability to present, speak, and respond to another academic.
3. What is the hardest thing to get right in the design or use of this technology in e-tivities and what advice would you give to overcome this?
It is most important to make the e-tivity both engaging and profitable for the student to participate in. Learning outcomes must be considered and a ‘spoken-discussion assignment’ designed in such a way that it helps students achieve a specific learning outcome in a personally engaging and active way.
4. What is the best thing (e.g. access, ease of use, learning style it supports?) about utilising this technology for e-tivities?
The most significant affordances of the voice board are that they allow students to listen to and respond to each other and to their tutors – hearing and speaking bridges the distance -- and to do so in a way which does not demand too much bandwidth. Sound is less demanding on bandwidth than video, and VoiceBoard and Voxopop run in the browser with no need to install anything additional.
5. Do you have any specific tips, hints or what 'not-to-do' with using this technology in e-tivity learning design?
This technology is an asynchronous technology. Give students time to complege the e-tivity; a 5 days to a week is a good idea. Test the technology on a variety of browsers and operating systems to be familiar in advance with the sorts of error messages that might arise for the studnets. It’s important to be aware that a website Voxopop might be blocked in certain regions, such as in Saudi Arabia as we found. Finally, note that it takes time for an e-moderator to listen to all of the recordings; in order to not the let the amount of time get out of hand, consider limiting the length of the recording to be posting by the students. In our case, we began to limit students to 2 or 3 minutes (there is a way to force this limitation in the software).
6. Do you have any particular stories, examples, case studies, reflections or resources you would like to share with future learning designers with this technology?
The University of Leicester School of Education used and is using Wimba Voice Board and Voxopop in their distance Masters in TESOL. The full case study is available online: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/beyond-distance-research-alliance/projects/duckling/Wimba%20Voice%20Board%20for%20TESOL.pdf
I quote here one of the students who explains how the use of this technology spurred him on to study more of the readings in order to contribute more astute statements on the Voice Board: “But I think more importantly, it’s just that other people have made [voice] contributions…they made such interesting comments, that it actually made me go away and think, ‘That’s quite interesting’, and I’d actually like to read an article on that, or I would read a chapter of a book. So from talking and listening to other people on the same course, it’s actually a lot more stimulating. Obviously when you’re emailing your tutor, they will give you examples of journal articles and books…, but when you’ve got a whole host of people ...then we’ll be having a lot more input. I just think it’s really good. It stimulates the discussion it. It stimulates the knowledge. So I do feel that I read a lot more than I know I did for the regular structured activities in Module 1 and 2.”
Another quote sums up the positive reaction toward the simple ability of hearing the voices of one’s tutor and fellow students: “I found this very stimulating. I really enjoyed hearing the voices of the students. Often this distance course feels quite remote because we are just in communication by writing. [But with the voice board] it sort of would come to life. We could often measure the degree of emotional involvement of some of the students. I like it very much. It brings a personal motivating element to the learning process.”