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Flipping the Institution: Higher Education in the Post Digital Age

Last week saw the thirteenth annual Academic Practice and Technology conference at the University of Greenwich. With over 40 presentations to choose from there was a lot to fit in, so this is just a taste of my day. Among the many sessions I was introduced to two new presenting modes.

Tweet themes from #uogapt by @TEL_St_A
Tweet themes from #uogapt by @TEL_St_A

Pecha Kucha

The first type of presentation new to me was Pecha Kucha, in which 20 slides are shown each for 20 seconds, the slide show advances after the 20 seconds and speakers have to carefully time their presentation to fit appropriately. This format gives presenters a limited time in which to transfer information, meaning that careful thought and precision are required. In these presentations speakers were able to present an outline, the aims and perceived benefits of their innovation and the results in just over six minutes, so in five bite-sized presentations we learned about a range of projects being carried out at the University of Greenwich.

The first Pecha Kucha presentation came from Noel-Ann Bradshaw who put forward the ‘Use of video to dispel students’ anxiety about the job application process’. In this project videos were created by both staff and students to give students guidance on interview and presentation techniques in a format that was familiar to them and appealed to students’ desire to gain information immediately, whilst also equipping the participating students with useful video editing skills.

Next came Dr Wenxian Sun who highlighted the benefits of providing audio podcast feedback. Podcasts provide an alternative resource for students and received a positive reaction from learners due to the individual, precise and interactive nature of the medium. It was found that the best approach was a combination of traditional written feedback and audio feedback which provided additional resources for students.

The third Pecha Kucha from Bob Tsukada Bright showed how Adobe Connect was used for collaborative learning between the University of Greenwich and Lille Catholic University. Students took part in three 60 minute online meetings, with specific tasks being completed in advance. Through these interactions students gained cross-cultural awareness, communication skills and an understanding of sociolinguistic topics.

The final two presentations in the Pecha Kucha style addressed the topic of the flipped classroom. Dr Xiaowen Gao presented ‘Using Flipped Class to Improve Effective Learning on Financial Crisis’ and explained how the model helped overcome the struggle of equipping students with the theory base needed as well as real world examples. Short videos to explain complicated theories helped students to build their confidence through knowledge of the current economic climate. On the other hand, Ramita Tejpal, a member of staff at a partner college, was concerned with how best to spend in-class time, explaining how she used tools such as Verso, Trello and Socrative to try to keep students engaged.

Student performance

In addition we were treated to a performance from drama students at the University of Greenwich who drew upon their own research around students’ experiences and perceptions of the flipped classroom and digital learning. The group highlighted the digital learning pitfalls experienced by many students, for example buffering videos or the lack or limited availability of devices, and called upon the audience to discuss possible solutions to these commonly found problems. Both students and audience put stress upon the importance of peer support networks and splitting video resources into manageable chunks, hopefully avoiding both technical and time constraints. It was extremely interesting to to see the concept and issues presented in a completely new way as well as from the perspective of current students.

These alternative presenting styles can help us to gain further insight into particular subjects, such as the flipped classroom and post digital, by approaching issues from a slightly different angle, particularly relevant as we encourage others to move beyond the traditional PowerPoint presentation.

Kitty Horne, Technology Enhanced Learning, University of Sussex. @kittyrhorne 

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member


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