The purpose of this paper is to present the initial findings from a pilot project designed to evaluate the effectiveness of Collaborate Ultra as a traditional lecture substitute. It is intended that this case study could be considered an initial good practice roadmap in order to provide insight, guidance and recommendations for those wishing to implement similar pedagogical strategies.
The format of the teaching sessions was one of the main drivers for the initial interest in utilising Collaborate Ultra. Both undergraduate modules were timetabled for a single two hour lecture slot with the remaining module time consisting of one hour seminar time. The post graduate module was timetabled for three hours in workshop format. Having delivered these modules for over three years it was apparent that there were issues such as steep declines in lecture attendance as the modules progressed, visible inattention from students and a general sense of passivity (Abate 2013, Omelicheva and Avdeyeva 2008).
In order to address these problems the author began to incorporate the use of Collaborate Ultra on a small scale within the three modules with differing application modes. Two modules utilised pre- recorded lectures with the third utilising ‘live’ interactive sessions which were also simultaneously recorded. The use of Collaborate Ultra was used in less than fifty percent of the total twelve week teaching period.
Student response was elicited via traditional module evaluation feedback questionnaires, mid point module reviews, Staff/Student Consultative Groups and general anecdotal evidence given freely to the author. This meant that there was a significant resource of qualitative data to draw on in order to attempt to identify the perceived effectiveness or otherwise of the change in pedagogical direction.
The student reaction to the use of Collaborate Ultra as a lecture replacement was overwhelmingly positive. This was particularly true of final year students who appreciated the flexibility of the lecture delivery which enabled them to manage their time better. It was also felt that the flexible availability of the material reflected the needs of a student body which has become increasingly more diverse. Students with caring responsibilities also felt that they benefited, being able to tune in to the lecture without having to travel and incurring extra expense especially if the lecture slot was their only class that day. International students also found it of significant benefit as they could replay the material and felt that this aided their understanding, enabling a better grasp of the language nuances.
The major areas of criticism stemmed from students who felt that by not sitting in a lecture theatre they felt somewhat short changed and preferred the traditional method. These comments were a minority but must also be considered in terms of future module design. Additionally, some staff were keen to adopt this method but felt that they lacked the confidence and technical skills to make significant changes to their own modules.
Abate, K.S. 2013, “The Effect of Podcast Lectures on Nursing Students’ Knowledge Retention and Application”, Nursing Education Perspectives, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 182-5.
Omelicheva, M.Y. & Avdeyeva, O. 2008, “Teaching with Lecture or Debate? Testing the Effectiveness of Traditional versus Active Learning Methods of Instruction”, PS, Political Science & Politics, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 603-607.
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