Research on the use of technology for collaborative working in Higher Education tends to focus on how so-called Web 2 tools such as blogs and wikis can promote online collaboration outside the classroom (Wheeler, 2009; Laru, Näykki and Järvekä, 2012) with little reporting on the impact of this type of activity in a face-to-face environment. Throughout the duration of the roadshow, therefore, the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching undertook research to explore responses by staff and students undertaking learning and/or teaching in the Digital Classroom.
The methods used combined staff and student surveys to capture views before, during and after using the classroom, and an ethnographic approach whereby staff and student activity was observed during taught sessions. A range of classes were observed including History, Education, Police Sciences and Engineering.
The initial findings indicate that students enjoy learning in this type of environment and comment favourably on the opportunity to work collaboratively and interactively to enhance their team working skills. Feedback from staff is similarly positive with comments focusing on how this type of approach might encourage more collaborative, student-led approaches to learning and teaching; this is reinforced by the classroom observations which revealed how this type of environment has the potential to change the focus of learning away from a ‘front of class’ approach towards the learners themselves.
Good preparation, rethinking learning activity design, staff development and building confidence in using the technology are cited as important elements to achieving success. The research has enabled us to refocus on the pedagogies surrounding collaborative and cooperative learning and reignited a curiosity around the use of space in learning and teaching interactions.
The presentation will share our results and adds to the debate around the relationship between technology, pedagogy and learning spaces.
The presentation will be relevant to anyone interested in exploring how technology can enhance small group and collaborative learning; it will also be of interest to staff involved in providing staff development and support around the effective use of learning spaces.
Digital Classroom Roadshow (2017) Available at: http://digitalclassroomroadshow.co.uk/ (Accessed: 24/03/17)
Laru, J. Näykki, P and Järvekä, S. (2012), Supporting small-group learning using multiple Web 2.0 tools: A case study in the higher education context, The Internet and Higher Education, Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 29–38 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.08.004
University of South Wales (2016), Student Experience Plan, Available at: https://thehub.southwales.ac.uk/Interact/Pages/Content/Document.aspx?id=7408 (Accessed: 31/03/17).
Wheeler, S (2009), Learning Space Mashups: Combining Web 2.0 Tools to Create Collaborative and Reflective Learning Spaces, Future Internet 2009, 1(1), 3-13; doi:10.3390/fi1010003