The challenge of cultivating student attention has never been more intense than it will be in the coming academic year. Faculty have been battling the distracting power of student devices in the classroom for a decade or two, and during the pandemic the integration of screens into education has intensified. Continuous engagement with our devices over the past 18 months will likely make it more challenging for students to pull their eyes away from their screens and focus on in-person classroom activities.
Course design and delivery
Many challenges associated with ensuring student engagement and minimising attrition when teaching online are well established in the context of postgraduate education, where remote study has long been a key component. Educational podcasts have been used successfully to address these challenges and improve postgrad student online learning experiences.
Now that many universities plan to continue hybrid and online teaching for their undergraduates, lessons can be learned from what has worked for postgrads, including examining why and how to effectively use podcasts for teaching.
Social media is often seen as either the sole domain of youth or a hive of fake news. Neither gives the full story. Academics have been using social media for research and scholarship since the first tweet was tweeted. And although social media has been weaponised to influence elections and public opinion, it also serves as free-to-use, free-flowing and far-reaching academic discussion while encouraging creativity that can spark learning and inquiry.
What do we mean by innovation? In one of many definitions “innovation is the multi-stage process whereby organisations transform ideas into new or improved products, services or processes, in order to advance, compete and differentiate themselves successfully in their marketplace”.
With university graduates entering increasingly globalised workplaces, the need to foster their intercultural and global citizenship skills is ever more pressing. To help meet this need, the University of Edinburgh developed the Network for Intercultural Competence to facilitate Entrepreneurship (Nice) in collaboration with seven other European universities.
Assignment feedback is key to helping students improve and correct their understanding so they can build upon solid foundations of knowledge as their course progresses.
Yet, traditionally only about 30 per cent of students review their assignment feedback in my experience of teaching. This feedback consists of answers to quizzes and/or comments on how to improve the quality of their writing.
Having experimented with different forms of feedback – written remarks, reports, pre-recorded video discussions – I’ve found the engagement level remains at around 30 per cent.
There is a lot of debate about whether students should be made to put their cameras on in a Zoom or Teams or other online class setting. In higher education, students can’t be forced to do so, which leaves most tutors exasperated at the lack of interaction and thus engagement from those who choose not to have them on. However, it is my belief that the majority of those who don’t turn them on are actually sitting on a “should I or shouldn’t I” fence, and can be persuaded to make a sensible learning decision.
As a lecturer who has actively explored the role of lecture recording as a form of technology-enhanced learning, there’s a question I keep returning to: what is a lecture for?
Play is a fundamental way in which we learn. Long before children encounter formal educational methods, they play, learning new skills and behaviours along the way.
As a formalised style of play, games are well suited to education. They are inherently engaging and have built-in reward structures and variable levels of difficulty. Furthermore, many games encourage cooperation, group work and the development of communication and problem-solving skills. For these reasons, games are used extensively in early years education.
Many UK universities have developed transnational education outposts in Asia leading to concerns about whether Western pedagogical approaches can be equally effective for students with an Asian educational background.
I am a lecturer on one such biomedical sciences programme in China. The programme is taught in English and, to date, the majority of students have been Chinese nationals. To encourage and develop the students’ ability to discuss science in English we place a strong emphasis on tutorials, with first-year students having up to five tutorials each week.