Thursday, 23 May 2013

Writing Development - New Media - Digital Artefacts - Trialling Vocaroo

Today I am attempting to produce an audio blog.
I have talked about writing development and the use of new media.
I have recorded this using the open source recording facility: Vocaroo.
The eight minute recording can be accessed here (I hope!):

The recording covers:

My job and tile:
I used to be the Coordinator for Development - but on the deletion of our Learning Development Unit, I was absorbed in to the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT). I have a brief to work with staff and students: improving the chances of student success at University - and working with staff to embed good practice within the curriculum.

Where writing happens at University:
Writing happens everywhere at the University - learning/writing/academic development is embedded in and across the curriculum. At the same time, we in CELT offer:
  • Preparation for HE programme: We run a pre-sessional: where students rehearse notemaking, reading, presentations, positive thinking - and academic writing. with the writing, we explore attitudes to writing - and engage in writing. I like to demonstrate that writing happens when we make it happen (and writing as a learning process)
  • The Study Hub. We have built a supportive website for students...
  • 'Studying at University', on the Hub, has information on studying and writing - with video clips, information, activities - and the recommendation that students tweet, FB or blog about their learning experiences.
  • Writing Clinics: whilst rejecting the medical model - we use this shorthand to offer one-to-one support for students. We offer feedback on their writing and push them to do better. Whilst resource intensive, such one-to-one work can be especially transformative.
  • Stuff support: We work with subject academics to embed good practice - and hopefully elements of our Study Hub - within their own teaching.
The use of new media
We do use new media to support the development of student writing - with many staff building in wikis and blogs as part of the student learning and engagement process. At least one member of staff has won a National Teaching Fellowship based upon the development and impact of his student blog writing practice.

Alternative assignments
At the same time, I think that we can use new media to develop alternative assignments for students. There will always be the settng of essays, reports and exams - but I am lobbying to get more staff setting the design and development of a teaching/learning resource or the production and critique of a digital artefact as the assignment.

To support this:
I can deliver Draw to Learn sessions with students - helping them conceptualise  and communicate ideas visually. I have also delivered Digital Artefacts workshops with colleagues Chris O'Reilly and Tom Burns - and students have produced some wonderful work from these. The next step is to run these workshops for staff such that they can have the confidence and joy of embedding alternative assessments.

Alongside this - I would like to embed practice gained from the E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) delivered through Coursera by Edinburgh University - where the assignment was to produce a Digital Artefact - and to peer review three other artefacts. That is, the peer review was seen as part of the learning process.  I would recommend a MOOC like this to anyone interested in exploring new media for teaching, learning and assessment: the best way to learn the digital is to do the digital.

What I forgot to say...
... in the audio-blog was that we have several other strategies in place for supporting the development of writing. We have also developed a Peer Mentoring in Practice accredited module where second year students support the transition of a specific cohort of first year students - and we support the Mentors in developing supportive writing strategies with their mentees.

We also run Writing Groups for staff and students creating a space in which writing can happen. My colleague John Hilsdon from Plymouth University and the Association for Learning Development in HE has run Virtual Writing retreats for academic writers. Other colleagues - Sally Mitchell, Julian Ingle and others from Queen Marys University of London - run Writing Retreats for students - including STEM students...
  And finally
It has been interesting using new media - especially Vocaroo - to produce this blog on using new media to support student writing. Be kind - it is frightening to cast my very first audio-blog out there into the ether. (That's a north London accept - by the way.). Finally, I am always interested in working with other people interested in developing these ideas - so do get in contact.

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