Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Day 2: teaching with technology? y gracias a #rict1314

Its great to see that some things about teaching are the same the world over. And it is fascinating when you see the differences.
As the class started at 12 I was expecting to arrive a few minutes early to set up my presentation and generally get ready. No. This being Spain, I meet with Linda around 12, we wander over to the classroom block, and the class starts "eventually". This in my university would be a major crime against timetabling and students would be on their feet demanding their £9000 back (those that had turned up anyway).
Unlike my own big, flat, Scale up room filled with big round tables and macs, this is a traditional raked lecture theatre and students bring their own devices.  They do manage during the group work section to organise themselves in huddles but I am suddenly very appreciative of my usual teaching space.
The students designated  to introduce me do so using Pearltrees. The photos are the nice ones I have posted recently (and none pre-diet, thank goodness! ) They have discovered that I hail originally from Oldham and got my degree at the University of Leeds. Phew - nothing too embarrassing there. Disturbingly however, they mention a couple of recent Facebook posts about Murcia, reminding me that I really need to check my privacy settings - again.
At the end of the class the students ask a few questions about project based learning and applaud as I finish answering them. This kind of treatment could go to my head, but I think this spontaneous show of appreciation had more to do with the fact that it was nearly 2 and there was a chance of breaking early for lunch. (I still can't get used to the idea that 2pm is an early lunch!)
I gave the class in English - which is the norm for this bilingual group - and normal of course for me, but what is different is that this group of students chose to have their course delivered in English rather than castellano, to enhance their learning!!
So much for the differences.
The similarities are equally fascinating: students chit chat at the back of the class, which is reassuring in a way as I always thought it was just me or my course where this was a problem. My colleague Linda deals with this much as I do, by inviting those students who don't wish to be there to go join their friends in the canteen.
As I grow in confidence I give the odd "ssshh" which works much better than it does back home.
The presentation goes well and I give them their task - to create a Pinterest board of their favourite educational tools, web pages and apps. And then the WiFi packs up!
Ah! This is just like a home from home!
Somehow we limp along: one or two manage to latch onto a signal, they download the app on to their phones and use that instead. One group takes over the teaching podium. Without a big screen and PC to be able to demonstrate now, I walk round the room checking on progress, answering questions as I can. When I don't have the answers, better things happen, as students make discoveries by themselves and I carry the messages about these discoveries from group to group or shout across the room inviting groups to make a direct connection.
The noise and the seeming chaos are just like my classes back home which is how I know something wonderful is happening. That and the links to the new Pinterest boards that are emailed and tweeted to me :)

At the end a few students come to ask questions about teaching with text boooks which I don't quite understand at first so we switch between castellano and english in an effort to improve our communication. It's all very exhilerating :)

All in all, despite the technical problems, I absolutely loved working with such an enagaged and engaging group of people - and I have asked Linda if I can stay here as her assistant!

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