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Changing Learners: Audience response: from networked classroom to networked learners. -- 90 -- Short (oral) Paper

12:00 - 13:00 on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 in 4.204

This paper proposes ways in which social networking tools can complement audience response strategies in confronting the impact of cost constraints on staffing and infrastructure. Of interest to delegates will be the evaluation of projects and models that can be reproduced in different contexts. These include the use of twitter in promoting questioning in large group seminars and lectures; using Socrative to promote interaction in streamed lectures; combining audience response and social networking tools post session to promote extended dialogue between students and tutors; using wiki tools to promote dialogue throughout extended group work assessment and the evaluation of the results of all of the above for module review and enhancement.

The potential of audience response systems is the subject of long standing debate. Mazur's work around conceptTests (1997) established a compelling case and subsequent work has explored a variety of applications (Dufresne et al., 2003). However, two trends make this research more relevant than ever. We are now able to exploit free to access technologies that make the process of audience response simpler; using students’ own equipment and skills developed in the realm of recreational and social activities. At the same time we are witness to structural changes within our institutions that require us to reflect upon the methods that we use: larger group sizes and greater variety in student backgrounds and academic achievement.

These characterisations are crude. Technical barriers still exist and emerging skills are accompanied by attitudes and perceptions that are themselves problematic. Meanwhile, the picture of structural change is not common to every institution and does not constitute the principle driver for pedagogic discussion or professional teaching practice. This paper therefore starts by engaging with and assessing the complexity of this picture. It deals frankly with the obstacles to the implementation of new “voting” tools, based on recent experience, and highlights the potential for these technologies to enhance learning within a changing educational environment.

Building on this platform, the presentation then moves to its main theme, the potential for social networking to enhance audience response. It focuses on how social networking can enhance approaches that are already proposed, but have previously proven challenging to implement. It explores ideas around how the wider social networking environment can contribute meaning to audience response activities and reinforce the outcomes. It examines how face to face sessions can provide the starting point for and be enhanced by continuous dialogue in a variety of different contexts and identifies ways in which it can secure links between activities conducted in the embodied and virtual learning environments. This requires that we adopt a view of the VLE as something that embraces a far wider variety of web-spaces than is traditionally envisaged and proposes that audience response systems can provide a way of mediating student activity in the more widely defined arena.

Intended Audience: teaching staff, learning technologists, researchers

Participants will:

  • understand the synergy of audience response approaches/theories and the principles underpinning social networking (presentation)
  • understanding of technical barriers and solutions (presentation)
  • review relationship between embodied and virtual learning environments (presentation/discussion)
  • develop ideas and inspiration for classroom applications (discussion/presentation)