PEDAGOGICAL TIPS

Technology can be used to assist teaching and learning in many ways. Below is a list of useful strategies together with the learning outcomes they are likely to lead to. 

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1. Consolidating viewpoints through debating

Debate enables students to learn actively as they are required to develop, argue and reinforce their own opinions on a particular topic. Students have to accurately define the problems at hand, evaluate the credibility of information sources, and identify or challenge assumptions. Through the tasks, students will be able to fully understand the issues and to think critically.

 

Running debates in the class time can be very time-consuming. We suggest that technology can be used in various ways to make better use of time.

1a: Argument write-ups

Instead of making the arguments orally and during class time, arguments can be in written format and be taken place over an extended period of time. Some students who are less outspoken in nature can be dispriviledged in oral debates but they should find elaborating arguments in writing a lot less stressful. Giving students a prolonged period to write up their arguments also likely to result in their deeper research into the topics.

 

The simplest way to run this kind of write-up debates is use the forum function. Each student teams (pro and con sides) is to take turn and post their arguments on it. Teachers should give students a very clear timeline that governs the exact due dates of the postings, such as one week for the first positive post, the next week for the first negative post, etc., up to the concluding posts of each side. To enhance the excitement, teachers may spare class time for some oral interactions, such as a chance for the teachers or the floor to challenge each side and see how well they react and respond immediately.

Technical notes:

Basic forum functions in Blackboard

1b: Video-recorded speeches

Instead of having the students present using class time, teachers may want to ask students to video-record their debate speeches and then upload onto a forum in your Blackboard course. Interestingly, you will find students spending more time in preparing for their speeches if you do it this way. Also, students will rehearse and record many times before they come up with the recording reaching the quality they want. In other words, we expect better quality of the arguments as well as the performance.

 

Teachers should give students a very clear timeline that governs the exact due dates of the postings, such as one week for the first positive speech, the next week for the first negative speech, etc., up to the concluding speeches of each side. To enhance excitement, class time can be used for some final oral interactions, such as a chance for the teachers or the floor to challenge each side and see how well they respond.

 

Technical notes:

Basic forum functions in Blackboard

Use of multimedia in Blackboard forums

1c: Voting of speeches

How about giving the students a chance to rate and comment on their peers’ arguments or performances? This will result in more serious engagement among both the debating teams as well as the audience.

 

Teachers may use the quiz function in Blackboard for this ‘voting’ activity so that students can rate their peers at home. Or if teachers want the voting to be an exciting in-class activity,  perhaps following right after the rigorous presentations and Q&A, the teachers may want to use uReply so that students do the rating and commenting on mobile devices on the spot.

 

Technical notes:

Basic quiz functions in Blackboard

Basic uReply functions

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2. Application of knowledge by going through real cases

A case study is the study of a complex past event, which aims to provide students with an understanding of important concepts through the use of real-life examples. For instance, story of a particular company or product can be employed as a case study to examine any marketing issues and dilemmas in an authentic situation. Technology can enhance case-based activities in many ways.

2a. Development of more resourceful cases

Explanation of the cases can be enriched through providing information from many sources and in many formats. Apart from a textual description of the case, for example, teachers may consider adding other authentic documents such as newspaper clippings, actual reports being written at that time, and/or adding multimedia resources to help students ‘visualize’ what happened. These resources can include photographs, and/or audio/video-recorded interviews of the people involved. The rich resources will help students understand the complex nature of real-life problems and train them decision-making in authentic situations.

 

Your Blackboard course site is a good place to store and organize the cases.

 

Technical notes:

Basic content uploading in Blackboard

2b. Connecting with real practitioners or informers

Teachers may want to give students an opportunity to talk to the real practitioners that were involved in the cases at hand. It may be impractical or inconvenient to arrange the practitioners to come to the class on person but technology can be used to let students communicate with them on the web. A low-tech version of this communication can be conducted through forum discussions. Or, the teachers may use a video-conferencing tool to let students talk to the practitioners or informers ‘face-to-face’ in the class time.

 

The forum function in Blackboard can be a good platform for the former. The new Collaborate function of Blackboard can be used for the video conferencing tool needed in the latter strategy.

 

Technical notes

Basic forum operations in Blackboard

Operating Collaborate in Blackboard

2c. Solving of cases in online platform

problem-solving online are becoming more and more important nowadays. The forum in blackboard can be the platform to house students’ discussions on the cases. What teachers need is to open a forum for each of the student groups and carefully control the assess rights of the forums. 

 

If teachers want the writing of the case report be collaborated also online, the wiki function may be a good choice. Create a wiki space for each of the student groups. All students in the group will be able to contribute to the writing and their contributions at the various stage are neatly recorded in the platform.

 

Technical notes:

Basic forum operations in Blackboard

Wiki in Blackboard

Grouping in Blackboard

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3. Learn more when you teach (peer teaching)

Students can learn effectively with and from each other. Peer teaching improves learning because students need to truly understand a topic or a particular piece of information if they are to “teach” it to the whole class. Besides, students have to present material in ways that are comprehensible to classmates and this trains their presentation and communication skills.

 

Examples of peer learning are student-led teaching sessions, study groups, and even peer feedback sessions in class. Technology can assist the peer-teaching processes in many ways.

3a. Flipped classroom with student-recorded videos

Instead of having the students teach in the actual class time, teachers may want to ask students to video-record their teaching and upload them onto the Blackboard course site. If these videos are available well ahead of class time, teachers can ask all students to view them at home while the class time is turned into a Q&A session in which students ask for clarifications of the things they still don't understand or they ask for more advanced knowledge.

 

The student-teachers will spend more time in preparing for their teaching if they know their teaching is to stay ‘forever’ in the video format. Also, students will rehearse and record many times before they come up with recordings of clear and accurate explanations. In other words, we expect better quality learning on the part of the student-teachers too.

 

Technical notes:

Content uploading functions in Blackboard

Use of multimedia in Blackboard forums

3b. Enhanced classroom interactions through technology in a peer-taught session

Technology can be used in the classroom to facilitate interactions between the students and the student-teachers. For example, how about giving the students a chance to rate and comment on their peers’ teaching, or ask them questions on their mobile phones? Some students may be unwilling to voice out opinions or questions in front of others but most of them will be willing to do so by texting comments or questions on their mobile devices.

 

uReply is the tool tailor-made for various kinds of classroom interactions facilitated by the use of mobile devices. Choose to open a Likart-scale question for rating, or an open-ended question for collection of students’ comments or the questions they want to ask.

 

Technical notes:

Basic uReply functions

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4. Understand viewpoints through role play

In role plays, participants are informed of the situation beforehand and are assigned different perspectives or roles to act out within the scenario. Role play promotes working in groups, and enhances students’ enthusiasm and interest. It also provides an opportunity for participants to practice what they have learned through analyzing the context of a situation. Technology may help role playing in a number of ways.

4a. Assignments with roles

Role-play is not restricted to oral or discussion tasks. Students can bear different roles in writing assignments too. For example, to make an engineering design task more engaging and authentic, teachers may want to split the class into two roles: the designer and the client. Student-designers produce first drafts to be reviewed by the student-clients and continue to improve the designs until the student-clients are happy. Quality of the final design will be the basis of the assignment grades and the credits go to both groups of students.

 

Use online communication tools to facilitate the exchanges of ideas. In the example above, for instance, the student-designers can upload their drafts to a restricted-access forum only viewable by their respective student-clients.

 

Technical notes:

Group settings in Blackboard

4b. Facilitation of discussion by technology

Discussions among students can be facilitated through the use of online communication technologies such as forum. Set clear discussion topics and give students a clear guideline with clear cut-off dates and concrete outputs for the role-play tasks and then require them to do most of the interactions online. Classroom time can be used for a quick summary of the role-play results plus important Q&As to clarify misunderstanding or consolidate the main points to learn.

 

Use grouping in Blackboard wisely, and open forums for within-group discussion of students playing the same role and then open another set of forums for interactions of students playing different roles. 

 

Technical notes:

Group setting in Blackboard

4c. Improved resources for understanding the roles

It can be difficult to make students really understand a certain role. Multimedia can be a good medium to let students identify with the needs and concerns of the roles they are to play. Apart from a textual description of the case, for example, teachers may consider adding other authentic documents such as newspaper clippings, photographs, and/or audio/video-recorded interviews of the people involved.

 

Your Blackboard course site is a good place to store and organize the information.

 

Technical notes:

Basic content uploading in Blackboard

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5. More learning opportunities through provision of learning videos

More and more we understand that students are able to self-learn through quality video resources. The availability of such self-learning resources can benefit your courses in many ways. For example, these resources can be good revision materials. They can be resources for students who missed understanding something in the classroom. They can also be additional resources, either too basic or too advanced to be covered in the normal class time and thus are good for catering students’ individual differences and needs. They can also be a golden opportunity for teachers to redesign how to use their class time more effectively. It is the ‘flipped classroom’ idea – students learn the foundations from watching the videos before going to class and so in the class time they work on the more demanding learning activities instead for much higher learning outcomes.

5a. Record your lectures for revisions

Producing self-learning resources for students can be as simple as recording your own classroom teaching. This will greatly benefit students who would like to review your teaching before examination or students who failed to understand everything in the class. All classrooms in the campus have a lecture-capture software called Panopto pre-installed. The software is integrated with Blackboard and thus teachers should find editing the recordings and then uploading them to your course site relatively easy.

 

Good lecture recordings can be used for other purposes. For example, they can be the resources for teachers to turn their classes towards the flipped classroom approach: i.e. less teaching but more learning activities in the class time. Some teachers even make MOOC courses using their classroom teaching videos and benefit learners worldwide.

 

Technical notes:

Recording my lectures using Panopto in the classroom

Editing and then upload the recordings to my Blackboard course site

5b. More advanced recordings

Teachers can make more dedicated videos. For professional quality outputs, they can consult the staff in the ELITE centre. But actually high quality learning resources can be made by teachers themselves through the use of simple capturing software, such as the personal capture version of Panopto which teachers can download and use on their own computers. Recording resources in this way particularly suits teachers who aim at producing resources to be reused for many years. It is also good for content not normally covered in class time, either too basic or too advanced; but they are important content nevertheless to cater for the diverse needs of students.

 

Sharing of these videos can be easily done through the uploading founction in our Video Streaming Services (powered by Panotop as well).

 

Technical notes:

ELITE studios

Panopto personal capture software

Uploading files to Video Streaming Services

5c. Students make their own resources

The learning videos could be from students. Through the compilation of learning material, students can better understand about the content of learning material. The videos can be coupled with other resources also from students, such as extra reading suggestions and notes. Teachers may consider making video-recording projects to students as one of the coures assignments. Be prepared to give initial technical support particularly on the software to use and how to make and edit the videos. Show students some good examples also created by students will help a great deal in setting expectations.

 

Students have the same rights as teachers to use Panopto in our University. They can also use their own account to login and upload files to the Video Streaming Services. Teachers then select and put these links into the Blackboard course site for sharing.

 

Technical notes:

Panopto personal capture software

Uploading files to Video Streaming Services

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6. Test own learning through online exercises

Quizzes can be good tools to examine the level of understanding among students and whether they are keeping up with the progress of a course. Quizzes provide students with immediate answers and explanations pre-set by teachers, which may facilitate the process of learning as immediate feedback tends to reinforce long-term memory.

 

Online quizzes, an example of eLearning, enables students to examine their understanding of a subject despite the constraint of time and space.

6a. Making quizzes that encourage preparation before class

Quizzes can be used to ascertain that students have completed the required preparation (e.g. pre-reading or viewing video recordings) before going to class. Teachers may develop a quiz on the Blackboard platform and require students to take the quiz before the lesson. Otherwise, the questions can be hosted on uReply and teachers run the online quiz as an in-class activity. Students’ performance in the quiz will be calculated towards their overall course grades and the arrangement should add to the incentive of students to do their preparations in time. Many successful class activities depend on the fact that students are fully prepared.

 

Technical notes:

Formulating a quiz on Blackboard

Using uReply for in-class interactions

6b. Online quizzes that promote higher-order thinking

Apart from testing basic understanding of knowledge, good questions can be devised to tap students’ higher-level learning outcomes such as application of knowledge or the ability to analyze complex problems. Good question-setting is thus directly related to the learning outcomes you want to achieve through administoring the online quizzes. More demanding questions seem to have the following characeristics.

 

- The question is a complex situation or case and students must analyze the context correctly because they can pick the best choice

- There can be multiple correct answers and students are asked to pick ALL right options. In this way, students need to think more carefully and evaluate each of the choices in depth.

 

Teachers can also use open-ended questions to tap students’ deep understanding of the knowledge. Start the questions with verbs like ‘analyze’, ‘evaluate’, ‘design’, ‘suggest’ and ‘argue’ etc. rather than the less demanding verbs like ‘explain’ or ‘describe’. Unlike MC Questions though, open-ended questions often cannot be auto-marked. Teachers should still find that most modern online quiz systems provide a neat way for teachers to review all answers as conveniently as possible.

 

Blackboard has a comprehensive online quiz system that enables teachers to ask questions in many formats and administer them in many ways, such as scored or not scored, timed or not timed, or items randomly picked from a question pool. Teachers should be able to make good use of these functionalities and devise questions that tap the learning outcomes they want.

 

Technical notes:

Formulating a quiz on Blackboard

Advanced quiz features on Blackboard

6c. Online quizzes in game format

Gamification can be applied in education to motivate students to learn by turning normal learning activities into game-like competitive activities. For example, teachers may want to run in-class quizzes in the form of in-class quizzing competitions. The game-like activity then ranks students according to their performance in the quiz, for example, the students who got all the answers correct in the shortest time have the top ranks.   

 

uReply has a set of ready-made processes to assist teachers to run quizzes in the classroom in various game-like activities, such as speed challenge, group chellenge and level challenge.

 

Technical notes:

Activity modules in uReply

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7. Enriched interactions in the classroom with technology

Many teachers are looking for ways to better interact with their students in the classroom. For example, many teachers would love to know whether students have understood a certain topic but checking students with a students does not help as only a few best and outspoken students would raise their hands up. Many teachers would also love to receive students’ queries and questions but seldom do they hear such questions in the class perhaps because students do not like speaking out in front of the whole class.

 

Technology certainly helps classroom interactions in the above contexts. uReply is a system that allows instructors to receive immediate responses from students through their keying in replies on their mobile devices.  

7a. Make sure students’ understanding of important concepts

Knowing whether most students are able to understand your teaching is an important piece of information teachers need especially right after the teaching of a difficult concept. Teachers ask one or two questions that should reveal students’ understanding of the issues at hand using classroom response system like uReply. Teachers see all student’s replies instantly and thus are able to better decide what to do next.

 

The activity is a good learning opportunity for the students as well because they have timely knowledge about their learning progress as well as how they are compared with their peers – allow them to better decide their next actions as well.

 

Technical notes:

Using uReply

7b. Knowing what students think

Teachers can collect responses from students on controversial issues. Because teachers can do the polling in anonymous mode, most students are willing to share with teachers their true opinions. The exercises can be coupled with follow-up classroom activities such as discussions or debates, which further increases the likelihood of student engagement

 

Technical notes:

Using uReply

7c. Peer instruction 

Peer Instruction is a method advocated by Professor Eric Mazur in which students teach and learn from each other. The activity requires the use of classrom response system like uReply. Teachers begin by asking a rather challenging question that requires students’ to truly understand the issues at hand as well as correctly put to use the new knowledge learnt. After students’ first attept to answer on the response system, students usually find that they can be very diverse in their views. Now students are asked to discuss with each other, talk about the answers they picked and the reasons behind. Students rethink and revise their viewpoint and then they are asked to cast their views again using the classroom response system.

 

Teachers will find students are highly engaged in peer instruction activities. Students want to learn from their peers how they have arrived at conclusions different from themselves. It is also interesting to point out that very often students are able to tell the right answers from the wrong ones after adequate discussions. The knowledge gained after the engaging sharing and discussions often are not easily forgotten too.

 

uReply has a built-in activity module that facilitate peer instruction – the same question is asked two times and the system also group your students into four types depending on how they have changed their mind:

  • (right) (right) These students got the right answer all the way. They knew the stuff very well.

  • (wrong) (right) These students were able to learn from their peers. They were able to tell right from wrong. They are good learners.

  • (wrong) (wrong) These students did not seem to understand the issue at hand. They may need to consult teachers or talk to peers again.  

  • (right) (wrong) These students got it right the first time but were then confused after the discussion. They need to judge more carefully.

 

Technical notes:

The ‘Peer Instruction’ activity in uReply

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8. Learn at the exact locations where you need learning (Location-based learning)

Learning outside classroom is highly motivating for students. It provides students with a chance to consolidate their understanding by interacting with the material they are learning. Examples include a trip to a museum, or a visit to a business firm. They may span a morning or afternoon, or stretch for a week or more.

 

Students are more likely to retain acquired knowledge because of the closer interactions with the real objects in the real world. Activities outside the classroom also provide a lot of opportunities for team-spirit building and students and teachers also often find more chances to interact and build relation in a more informal manner.

8a. Teacher-created field trips

Technology can be used to make the field trips better learning experiences. For example, instead of telling students what they should pay attention to at various spots, teachers can pre-record these messages and make use of GPS technology to help locate the learners and then push to them the exact information or advice only when they reached the right location.

 

In this way, teachers do not need to worry any more that students do not get to the same spot at the same time, nor they need to worry any more whether their voice is loud enough for everyone to listen to.

 

uReply GO is a system that enables teachers to easily create this kind of field trips. Apart from pushing the information to students, teachers can design interactive field trips too by requiring students to answer various types of questions at the spots.

 

Technical notes:

uReply GO

8b. Field trips as student assignment

Students can create their own field trips in uReply GO and so teachers may consider asking students to design their own learning trips as an assignment. Instead of teachers preparing everything students need to learn and then letting students learn the knowledge passively, why not give them just a little hint and then let them learn whatever they can by creating their own learning paths actively?

 

uReply GO allows users to create field trips by simply adding information (text or multimedia) and/or questions-to-ask on any spots on an online map.

 

Technical notes:

uReply GO

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9. Better explanation of concepts through graphics, animations and simulations

Some concepts can be quite difficult to explain with text alone, such as knowledge about continuous and accurate movement of various parts, or phenomenon that are often too big, too small or too rare to observe in everyday life. Technology can assist in their explanations.

9a. Explaining dynamic concepts

Animations, for example,  help to elaborate and explain dynamic concepts and concepts that involve movements that are either invisible or too small to be easily visible to eyes. Therefore, it is good for: portraying movement and change, presenting dynamic subjects, demonstrating abstract concepts, depicting subjects that are difficult to understand, and introducing complex systems or concepts to students.

 

Technical notes:

ELITE consultations

ITSC consultations

9b. Learning the consequences by operating a virtual simulation of the real thing

Simulations such as a simulated airplane pilot simulator mimic real systems that allow students to explore, experience, and learn from what is expected to happen in reality. It creates an experimental learning environment which is more interactive, dynamic, engaging and entertaining.

 

Technical notes:

ELITE consultations

ITSC consultations

9c. 360, VR and AR as a new medium

360 photos and videos, as well as technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality are new media that give vivid visual impacts to students and allow them to realistically experience the world without the need to be there physically. Some social workers created a virtual tour to see the poorer living conditions of Hong Kong. A few medical teachers used the VR technology to let students experience the life of doctors in the different wards and operation rooms in the early years of the curriculum.  

 

Technical notes:

ELITE consultations

ITSC consultations

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