Sunday, 25 September 2011

Ready Steady Go!


Getting ready for the new term this weekend. I have a number of fears and quite a lot of excitement.

It is exciting to be meeting new students but I am scared because this year our first year students number 110.... and I will be teaching a first year module single handed...

I am excited because this year I get to design and structure modules which last year I took over from someone else with no time to reorganise them.

I am very scared of the new institutionally imposed deadline of 15 days in which to turn around all my marking.....

But I am excited about some of the new tools I am going to be using with my students. In the study skills module I am going to be introducing Evernote as a convenient storage and organising platform, Diigo for bookmarking and sharing resources, Google Sites for creating an e-portfolio.

I have just been setting up some online polls for my introductory/welcome session with the first year students using Poll Everywhere..... get your smart phones out!! I saw a demo of this last week in a staff training session and I think it is brilliantly simple and a great way to get nervous new students to interact with each other (and with me) during their induction. The free plan only allows 30 users so I plan to get them to work in small huddles and post multiple responses.

I was really inspired last week by the Guardian's seminar on using social media to enhance the student experience. So many great ideas for engaging students and enhancing teaching and learning - I particularly liked Alan Cann's ideas about using Google+ and that is something else I might consider introducing at some point - as a platform for micro blogging and sharing learning.

I am beginning the year with a survey designed to find out my students' current confidence with internet based tools. I hope in this way to be able to have a point of comparison so I can show some enhancement in this area by the end of the year.

One of the positives of being forced into tighter marking timescales is that I am having to get creative about setting assignments and giving feedback. I find it much easier to grade very tightly structured work, so am using templates for major pieces of work like reflective portfolios and am going to be experimenting this year with a grading "matrix" like this example.
I will continue to review this and also students' reactions - do they want formulaic feedback in 15 days or something more detailed a week or two later? I am sure many just want their grade, but we are also trying to get them to "engage with feedback", apparently.....

Well, there are probably enough (maybe too many) objectives there for the coming year. I'll continue to post about how it all goes..... (this is why teachers should have blogs)

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