Yesterday saw the launch of our very first digital pedagogy ‘ideas room’ event online, which brought colleagues across FE together to share their challenges relating to digital pedagogy.
In a previous post we discussed the ‘ideas room’ approach and what we wanted to achieve. Our intention is to create an informal and supportive environment where attendees can speak freely and share ideas. One of the key benefits of the ‘idea room’ approach is openness and inclusiveness. Everyone gets an opportunity to have their say and share their observations.
By removing the hierarchies that are implicit in many of our conversations around the use of digital we create a ‘level playing field.’ This in turn helps to nurture a culture of sharing and fresh ideas – across colleges – that is harder to develop otherwise.
Only two people at the event had experienced the ‘ideas room’ approach before. It’s always energising to give people new tools for framing discussions around digital, as the process can often be key to providing new ways of addressing digital challenges.
Observations from the breakouts
To facilitate the conversations around digital pedagogy we made use of breakout rooms in Zoom.
One barrier to starting the conversation can often be the number of participants in the (online) room. Splitting the participants into smaller groups made this more manageable for us as facilitators, but also less intimidating for everyone.
We wanted to model an approach that could work well in a teaching and learning context too. With breakout rooms available as a feature on most platforms many of us have been experimenting over the last two years. A critical debate about the use of breakout rooms in one of the breakout rooms (a little meta, I know!) was discussed.
Breakout rooms (within breakout rooms)
It was refreshing to hear how our members are using breakout rooms in creative ways, not just with learners but also as part of communities to support staff sharing and peer support too.
When scaffolded appropriately breakouts also empower staff to devolve a degree of responsibility for learning to the learners in a way that builds peer collaboration and support.
Breakout rooms worked well to provide learners with opportunities to flag wellbeing concerns. Alternatively, learners could ask subject-related questions that might seem awkward to raise in a full class. Breakout rooms also lended themselves to the teaching of specific subjects, such as foreign languages, where learners felt less self-conscious practising in smaller groups (five to six learners per group tended to be the preferred size).
Managing digital comminities of learning is also a focus in Jisc’s digital pedagogy toolkit.
Keeping Learners Engaged
How do you know learners are engaged when they are muted and have their cameras off?
This was a recurring challenge for live online sessions. There are many ways to make your sessions interactive and accessible for your learners, which is a theme of our Yawn to Yay workshops. One solution adopted by many colleges is to follow Universal Design for Learning to plan delivery, which promotes diversity, inclusion and engagement.
Hybrid teaching was another hot topic for discussion. The challenges centered around how to keep remote students involved in the classroom, whilst teaching the in person learners at the same time.
Attendees flagged the need to build staff confidence and skills, and develop guidelines to ensure consistency when hybrid teaching. There are a range of hybrid teaching contexts, which are also explored in Jisc’s Digital Pedagogy toolkit.
Keeping the Momentum Going
We have learned so much over the last two years and the aspiration to keep that momentum going was evident.
One college is using a dedicated Teaching and Learning SharePoint area to celebrate good practice, with monthly articles on approaches to using hardware or software.
Other examples shared were the use of Yammer and other news feeds to keep the digital discussion alive, as well as using video on Stream for monthly “Ed Tech Mini’s.” Video feedback for learners, using tools such as Showbie or Loom, was also explored by many colleges, with this innovation continuing post-lockdown. Teaching staff felt these tools were more effective and time efficient than traditional methods.
Further support for staff was also available via digital mentors, who helped to promote good practice.
During the session we ran a live poll to gain feedback with the following results:-
- All attendees wanted to continue with the community
- Attendees wanted the ideas room to run once a term (but these can run more frequently, as staff don’t need to attend every session)
- Attendees were happy to use either Zoom or Teams as a platform. Twitter was suggested too for asynchronous networking
Thanks to everyone for your participation, we enjoyed hosting the event! We intend to run the event again next academic term. If you would like to attend please contact your Jisc Account Manager.