Last week I attended a great exhibition hosted by my colleagues across Birmingham City University (BCU) focused on technology in education. I’ve always been interested in ways to utilise technologies to support teaching and learning, and much of my research has been into this area, including the recent M-libraries community support project. Most of the work surfaced in our projects is linked to libraries, so it’s always good to take the opportunity to find out about work outside libraries.
The Technology in Education Exhibition included a number of showcase projects from within academic schools and support departments such as IT Services (CICT) and our Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), plus some presentations and a Pecha Kucha hour. Some of the highlights of the day for me included:
- Use of iPod touches in classroom to deliver teaching for fashion students. This enables the students to work at their own pace and pause/rewind until they mastered the techniques. It also freed up the lecturers to support those who needed it (easy to identify those who are struggling) without having to go over the same thing again and again for those who don’t need it.
- Use of virtual worlds to provide training for things which would be unethical to do in the real world. Many of the courses at BCU are vocational, involving working with children, patients, and other members of public. For some situations it wouldn’t be fair to put students (or public) in these situations until they are fully trained. One example I was shown was a parent’s evening at a primary school where education students selected what they felt was the best approach and could then watch the parents’ (pre-recorded by actors) responses. BCU have developed Shareville and continue to expand this community to incorporate different courses (it currently has a school, hospital, financial district etc.)
- MyCAT, a content authoring system for creating reusable learning objects. This has also been developed internally and makes it really simple for academics to create learning objects to include in their Moodle courses. It also links to ExpLOR, our learning object repository, which other staff can use to adapt their own versions.
- Experiments with iBooks author. Two of the Pecha Kucha presentations (from different faculties) talked about how they had started using iBooks author to create content tailored to their courses which students can get from the iTunes store. They had included text, images, and embedded videos. I may need to add this to the list of things for the library’s mobile technologies working group to investigate!
- Hearing about the potential future of our IT system utilising Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) that allows you to log in to your desktop through any computer with internet access and a browser (even tablets). It reformats appropriately to the device but gives access to all the software on your profile, even if it’s not downloaded on to the computer you are using to access it. At the moment this is still very early stages (needs to be pilot tested and costed) but it sounds great so I really hope it comes into fruition.
- Learning that we have an institutional account for stock images (which is where the image for this blog post is from!)
I really enjoyed chatting to academics, learning technologies, and others interested in innovative ways of utilising technologies in education. I had no idea so much great stuff was being done in the university and hope events like this continue to help share good practice and spark new ideas across the departments.