This session presents the key outcomes from the first stage of a project to implement a new University wide web-based conferencing service – Blackboard Collaborate Ultra – within the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) of a UK HE institution. One of the University of Reading’s strategic priorities is to develop new ways of delivering and accessing teaching and learning, and for Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) to enable flexible modes of learning. Integrating web conferencing in the VLE offered the ability to enact these requirements but would only be fully realised if adopted in pedagogically appropriate ways by encouraging student engagement through active learning, offering opportunities for interaction, and modifing presentation techniques and the style of delivery to make it a learning space.
The session reflects on the strategic approach that was taken to operationalise the web conferencing software, manage change, stimulate critical adoption, and enable thoughtful innovation around pedagogy. The TEL team worked closely with 16 early adopters to support a range of pedagogic applications that delivered distance learning, placement support, inter-campus delivery, extra-curricular activity, pre-sessional workshops and professional development. These were developed into a series of institutional case studies as part of the promotional strategy.
An action research methodology (Open University, 2005) was adopted to evaluate the project and qualitative data sought. The session presents a thematic analysis of the feedback from those who participated as early adopters (staff and students) and describes how this fed into the design of the support model and associated professional development. Academics provided written feedback of their experiences, students completed an online attitudinal survey and the members of the TEL team recorded their observations.
Using these findings, this session will show how the pedagogic application of web conferencing impacted on the mobility and flexibility of student learning, for both campus-based and remote learners, and opened up new opportunities to actively engage students in their learning that would not have otherwise been possible. It will also highlight the barriers to implementation and the good practice guidance developed during the project to facilitate academic adoption.
Bach, S., Haynes, P., Smith J.L., 2007. Online Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
JISC, 2015. Using digital media in new learning models: Providing live support to your students over the web. [online] JISC. Available at https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/using-digital-media-in-new-learning-models/providing-live-support [Accessed 20 March 2017].
Open University, 2005. Action Research: A Guide for Associate Lecturers. [pdf] Open University. Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/cobe/docs/AR-Guide-final.pdf [Accessed 20 March 2017].