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Last wednesday I attended the first possible available training session this year in how to facilitate a Blackboard Collaborate session. The session was led by Peter Unsworth and was  great – lots to fit in during the hour but the material was clear to understand. Now I just need to have a play with it, then pick some dates to get the student sessions going. We are definitely moving in the right direction!

In addition, I participated in my first Twitterchat. It was run by a learning disability nurse network I am part of, and was all about the role of research in LD nurse practice. I got frustrated as felt I had lots to say, but by the time I’d constructed and sent my tweets, the converstaion had moved on. It got a bit stressful at times – clearly more practice needed! I was glad I joined in and will definitely be looking out for another one.

Finally I have been asked to talk to some Masters nursing students who are doing an ‘education’ module about how I have started to use technology within my teaching and learning. This was following a chat with colleagues Jackie Leigh and Martin Johnson about the PgCAP and its applicability/overlap with ideas they have for the new Masters nursing course that they are developing. My enthusiasm ran away with me and I ended up coming away having agreed to speak with the group about how I am slowly getting to grips with technology.

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I have been spending quite a bit of time researching various tools for the online group sessions that I plan to facilitate with the Joint Programme students once they are out on placement. I don’t think that Skype is an option, as there will possibly be too many people in the group to enable us to use it for free – this is a better tool for a one-to-one get together. I have used Blackboard Collaborate as a participant, and although I think it would suit our needs, I have to admit to being terrified around how to go about setting a Collaborate session up. I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that Google Hangout might be the tool to use. I have spent time watching tutorials on Google Hangout – both in terms of setting it up, and seeing what it looks like when a Hangout goes live. I think that Hangout is the most appropriate tool, as the Hangouts can be recorded and saved on YouTube – therefore subject to checking privacy preferences and participant consent, other members of the cohort that can’t attend the session can watch the Hangout. As the reason behind my project is to help potentially isolated students feel connected, this has the added bonus of making it easy for even those who can’t join live, to feel connected. I know that it is possible to save Collaborate sessions, but the Google Hangout/YouTube platform looks easier to access, and I believe that there is an argument for using media that students will already be familiar with – I suspect that this will increase motivation to participate (need to do some reading around this). Now I need to have a go at a Google Hangout, and experiment. Then I will be ready to make contact with the group and explore where to go next with them, now that they are no longer in University.

(ps listened to my first Podcast today – from Radio 4 ‘The Digital Human’, brilliant and very relevant to the ALT module: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/dh/rss.xml looking forward to listening to the whole series! I also ‘retweeted’ for the first time today – so pleased that Obama has won a second term in the White House!)

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Here we are at the very end of the LTHE module of the PGCAP. It has been a really great experience – hard work but good fun though I wish I was able to have done more reading and research. But, as my Lego diagram attempted to demonstrate, I see this as just the beginning of my journey to become an effective educator. I have spent plenty of time reading text books about teaching and learning: from the books, from classmates and from Chrissi and I now have so many ideas to put into practice in the classroom.

In relation to the UK PSF, I believe that I have shown throughout this portfolio that I am engaging with the areas of activity, core knowledge and professsional values stated within the framework. I have demonstrated engagement explicitly with all but  2 of the components of the framework – the two outstanding components are V3 and V4. I have no doubt that I am able to demonstrate engagement with these two components within my wider job, but it has been a challenge to show it within the portfolio.

To finish off, I wanted to cite six key principles of effective teaching in higher education:

  1. Interest and explanation
  2. Concern and respect for students and student learning
  3. Appropriate assessment and feedback
  4. Clear goals and intellectual challenge
  5. Independence, control and engagement
  6. Learning from students

(Ramsden 2005)

I would personally like to focus on numbers 3 and 5 as these are the aspects I’d like to improve. With regards to the action points I developed as part of my educational autobiography, I now appreciate that they weren’t quite specific enough, and were not really pinpointed at specific teaching and learning activity. I have achieved all of them to varying degrees, but now appreciate how much more detailed my action plan should have been. All part of the great learning experience!

Ramsden P (2005) 2nd edition Learning to teach in higher education RoutledgeFalmer; Oxon.

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Further to my post of April 19th, I put my idea’s of formative feedback into action. Yesterday the group of 2nd years whom I am teaching in a module on ‘Group care’ participated in some formative/peer feedback. The module is intense, and runs over 2 weeks, so there is little room to go away and reflect. Yesterday (day 6 out of 9) the group came in with some work they had already prepared. I had asked them to consider the essay title and spend some time planning (using bullet points at the very least) what were the important aspects to include in their assignments. The intention was that this would give me a chance to see how they are consolidating their learning, and whether they were engaging in deep level learning or surface learning (Biggs 1999). I mixed up the group and separated them into 6 groups of 3, and instructed them to engage in a kind of ‘timed talk’ where they each had a 20 minute slot to share their ideas with their 2 colleagues and recieve feedback and engage in idea sharing. The only rules were that feedback had to be respectful and constructive.  Myself and a colleague floated round the room, joining in groups as required (I put Chrissi’s ‘flag’ idea into action and it worked well!) we were able to answer questions, provide clarification and listen to some of the discussion that was taking place.

The intention was to ‘probe students’ knowledge as it is being constructed, so that any misunderstandings can be set right… to do this requires a climate where students feel free to admit error’ (Biggs 1999 p75). I felt as though the session was incredibly productive. The groups worked well together; they asked for help when needed; individuals went away with a clearer idea of how to approach their essays; and we gained some insight into what they are grasping and what they are struggling with. At the end of the session I asked the students verbally to give feedback on how well they thought it worked, and they were all very positive. I am conscious that they are completing the module evaluation tomorrow so didn’t want to overevaluate with them. I’m not sure how well they each took it in turns to discuss their work – I got the feeling that mostly the group had a general discussion. If I repeat the exercise I think I might get the person who’s turn it is to be interviewed by the other two about their thoughts, then it means each individual gets the same proportion of time to discuss their work/thoughts. (A1; A3; A4; K2; K5; V2)

Biggs J (1999) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. OU Press; Buckingham.

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I have managed to design my own ‘story’ today via the Storybird website. I found that the creative process gave me the opportunity to stand back and think aboutone of my observations in a different way – I started the process by being intentionally descriptive, but found myself reflecting on action as I was designing the story. Now all I need to do is work out how to embed it in my portfolio…

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I’m disappointed about the outcome of my Professional Discussion (two straight passes) – I don’t think I articulated myself very well, and there was a lot I didn’t say (as I feared!) so I understand the feedback.  Need to really work on portfolio now so that my submission is as good as it can be! That said, I must try not to be too hard on myself – I have two very small children, a husband who works away, we are undergoing a nightmare curriculum revalidation, trying to please two impossible regulatory bodies, and I have a couple of other very time consuming unpaid voluntary roles that tie me up. So I should be glad to have got this far!

Despite my personal disappointment, I loved seeing colleagues fantastic models. The diversity of creations demonstrates how individual we all are, I love that we all expressed our experience in such a range of ways 🙂

week 10 - professional discussions

This was my model – I’ve written on the paper what it is supposed to represent, but essentially I wanted to acknowledge two aspects that have struck me whilst on the programme – the invaluable support I have recieved from peers and Chrissi on the course; and the fact that this is just the beginning – learning is a lifelong occupation and I hope that I will continue to love learning how to be the best educator I can be.

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Have just read Chrissi’s story about our module, really loved it – now busy of thinking of ways to use it either in my teaching or personally. I looked at the Storybird website ( http://storybird.com/ ) and loved the quote that one of the Storybird people, Mark puts in his story about the company, that their mission is to be ‘an advocate for the imagination’! The opportunity to use ones imagination is sadly lacking in courses such as nursing and social work – when we do get the occasional chance to do exercsies that stretch imagination, students often respond very positively… hmmm….

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