Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Teaching with technology isn't easy to arrange

It's been a while since I posted to this blog. Largely, this is due to moving house and not having the internet until today but also things have been more hectic than usual at my work. It would be impossible to capture all the learning I've been doing here but an important teaching experience I had recently need attention on this blog.

I guess the biggest challenge I faced recently was delivering a session where the working title I got was Delivering Content with technology. It was an important learning experience and one that deserves reflection here.

I'm working as part of a team charged with teaching all things e-learning to a particular set of trainers. Delivering half of the first day, my aim was not to challenge their pedagogy but showing tools (Web 2.0 or otherwise) which allows them to present content in different ways to the norm of powerpoint slides and talking.

As with other similiar teaching I've done, the preparation centred around what to include and what to leave out. This involves updating myself in what's out there and making informed decisions on where to focus my attention. What's important is giving the right context and provide intensive and reasoning to take any alternative provided seriously. As always, there's a bit of soft-sell marketing to be done. This might seem wrong but it's a fact of life with Learning Technologies. One of the things I showed prezi and that went down well especially as we could do some practical work on this. The other big winner was screencasting where Jing was demonstrated, unfortunately we couldn't do anything practical with this. So that it wasn't just showing different tools, I used the excellent Onlignment document Media Chemistry which presents checklists of pros and cons for each media element. This provided context for the session.

As well as the content, the other major learning point was all the issues around negotiating the room setup and equipment/software availability. Knowing exactly what I can and can't do it vital for teaching of the kind I do and it's always a challenge in a new venue getting what you want. To some extent, the quality gets diluted when you can't do what you want and I need to think about how best to deal with this. Certainly, when you try to do anything requiring audio devices and software installation things get complicated very quickly.

The important issue thing about this isn't that you often have/don't have a particular bit of equipments or software but that most training facilities aren't set up for using learning technologies in anything more than a symbolic way. This symbol often takes the form of a computer room - mostly kept locked and hidden away and usable in special, carefully controlled sessions. They are viewed more like a security risk rather than a learning aid. I think this is generalisable statement for much of education and shows we are still, as a sector, missing the point.

Largely, this particular experience was a positive one. It's always tough when we got to a new facility and teach to a new audience as you are never quite sure what to expect. But this is part of the challenge.

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