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Teaching Pedagogy (Three Short Papers 0179, 0188, 0216)


12:00 - 13:00 on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 in 8.60
0179 E-moderating student-directed learning: shifting responsibilities or developing abilities? Panos Vlachopoulos
0188 Understanding and Influencing the Role of Digital Storytelling in Teaching Practice Diane McDonald, David Miller, Philippa Cochrane, Colm Linnane
0216 Hearing myself think: can digital posters be used to develop academic literacies? Cathy Malone, Diane Rushton, Andrew Middleton
0179 E-moderating student-directed learning: shifting responsibilities or developing abilities? Panos Vlachopoulos

In formal higher education the desired shift in a new student-centred pedagogical paradigm is very often circumscribed by inappropriate learning design as well as by pre-established and pre-conceived power relationships between the teacher and the students, in the centre of which are oppressive assessment techniques.

The work presented in this presentation reports and compares the results of two small scale exploratory studies that aimed to address the following questions: a. What are the features of learning design which will effectively promote student-directed learning in online distance education? b. What features of facilitative “nudging” are effective for promoting student-directed learning in online distance education and by whom?

Data was obtained from two groups of fully online distance learners (total no= 24) studying in two different postgraduate programmes in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand. All students kept a structured reflective learning journal, which was analysed using qualitative content analysis. Further data was collected through the administration of an online questionnaire, which specifically asked students questions about features of tasks and features of facilitation techniques which affected their learning.

The results from the two studies suggested that there is ample and enthusiastic proof regarding the benefit for learners when learning design allows learners to scrutinise draft work produced by fellow learners, and offer helpful comments to improve the quality of the draft. However, it was found that for this peer reviewing process to work online and at a distance, especially due to time delay in the interactions and the lack of visual cues, the learner should be carefully prepared to act as a facilitative commenter rather than as a judge and an assessor. Therefore, it is imperative that careful consideration should be given in the design of a preparatory workshop that aims to develop the approach required in appraising and commenting on draft work, and in offering constructive suggestions. All of the above arrangements were found to work better when student-directed activity was carefully “ring-fenced” (after Vlachopoulos & Cowan, 2010) and free at that time from pro-active inputs by teachers. Implications for e-moderators in such online learning arrangements will be discussed.

0188 Understanding and Influencing the Role of Digital Storytelling in Teaching Practice Diane McDonald, David Miller, Philippa Cochrane, Colm Linnane

Digital storytelling offers a means to engage in critical thinking and reflection (Benmayor 2007), empowering students to find their voice and increasing motivation (Sadik 2008). While often used to develop reflective personal narratives, digital storytelling can equally be applied to development of fictional or non-fictional stories, capturing historical events, from life in the community to life between the pages of a book. And everything in between … Like traditional narratives, digital stories focus on a subject and feature a particular point of view. Its key components – scripting, storyboarding, moving image, stills, text, audio narrative, music – can have a powerful impact on the development of core reading and writing skills. Digital Storytelling also offers students and teachers the opportunity to develop wider digital and cultural literacies. Although the exploration and use of Digital Storytelling in English classrooms has been patchy, the session will illustrate models of innovative practice within a European and global context. The session will also report one of the principal aims of the research: to develop, through Digital Storytelling, a creative, participative and multi-modal methodology whereby teachers will acquire new skills and confidence with on-line learning tools and video production while at the same time motivating new generations of young readers to access literary texts in stimulating and socially participative ways, for example through the production of book trailers.

The research was conducted across five partner countries as part of READIT, an EU Lifelong Learning Comenius Programme project. It explored secondary school teachers and students’ current experience and expectations around Digital Storytelling and engagement with reading and writing. It was undertaken both through international survey and teacher-led classroom action research spanning Denmark, Italy, Romania, Scotland and Turkey. The session will highlight the pedagogical and technological skills and training needs as well as the pedagogical priorities identified for teachers’ professional development. The session will end with a discussion of the implications of the research for providers of initial teacher training, continual professional development and learning-technology support, as well as for educational management and teachers if classroom practice relating Digital Storytelling is to be developed and widened.

0216 Hearing myself think: can digital posters be used to develop academic literacies? Cathy Malone, Diane Rushton, Andrew Middleton

Digital posters are created by students in workshops using screencasting software. Level 5 Business Studies students use this to capture simple, clearly structured representations of their research onto which they layer their spoken commentary. Their structure is described using only images, which help them to keep their thinking open.The students used digital posters to develop their academic literacy: their capacity to study independently and to confidently articulate their understanding. Elbow (2000, xiv) writes of two mentalities for writing: one that is generative and another which is critical and needed for reviewing ideas. Whilst these can “push” against each other, they can flourish “if we make separate arenas for them.” Digital posters are intended to offer students with a separate creative and reflective arena, thereby supporting a shift from personal expression to development of a more public, academic voice in the discourse of their studies. This echoes the idea of ‘bridging’ identified earlier in this work (Middleton et al. 2010). The potential scalability of the approach was a further important driver in refining it due to the threat to learning development resources.The research aimed to understand the extent to which digital posters had developed students’ academic literacy and their understanding of the module content. Action research is being used to support an ongoing critical review and revision process, now in its second year. Eight post-workshop focus group interviews involving all students have been used to examine the role of this task within the module. The findings suggest that digital posters can provide students with a means to draft, reflect on and manipulate their developing ideas. Students reported that the method was accessible, engaging, and intellectually liberating. It allowed them to focus on shaping their own ideas, offering a practical means to demystify and engage them in academic discourse. Future research aims to validate the approach by evaluating the digital poster method to develop academic literacies by colleagues in the faculty.