Jisc’s Digifest is my favourite educational technology conference. Spread over two days at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre it’s an ideal opportunity to meet practitioners from other institutions and this can be nearly as useful as the set programme of talks and presentations themselves. This year the focus was on practical ideas that can be taken back to the classroom or lecture theatre. To this end, I attended sessions on the use of video.
The first session, “How digital video innovates pedagogical methods”, was run by learning technologists from Havant and Southdowns College and looked at how staff and students have used video for both formative and summative assessment. Together, the technologists have worked on around 200 videos, some produced by the students themselves. It was clear that the use of video has had a significant impact on teaching and learning at the College. While claims about improved student attainment and retention lacked supporting data, feedback from both staff and students did indicate improvement in student engagement and achievement.
The importance of video in teaching and learning was also the theme of a presentation by Dominik Lukes’ (Learning Technologist, University of Oxford). In his presentation, titled “How YouTube started a revolution in learning and nobody noticed”, Dominik argued that the role of video in teaching and learning can only expand and provided this example of the power of video as a learning tool. Whilst I’m not entirely convinced by the claim that ‘video is the future’, both Dominik’s and the Havant College presentations did illustrate the usefulness and power of video if used properly. Both presentations also highlighted the ease of using YouTube as the delivery platform especially given the automatic subtitles function. It would be interesting to find out more about what students think of video as a learning tool and the extent to which benefits outweigh costs (in terms of time primarily) but from personal experience, I think a lot more use could be made of YouTube in teaching and learning.
Of the panel discussions I sat in on, the most interesting was “Listening to teachers: implications for education and digital“ The discussion was based on a piece of research by anthropologist Donna Lanclos and others the findings of which can be downloaded here. The research consisted of interviewing teachers in both the HE and FE sector with the aim “to uncover what next generation digital learning environments might look like”. Their report also came up with a series of recommendations which are well worth reading.
I was particularly interested in how terminology was being used. Many years ago when I was a student we went to lectures delivered by lecturers, in this discussion it was about “teachers” facilitating and delivering learning. This change in emphasis – teaching rather than lecturing – is something, I assume, that will become more ubiquitous given the introduction of the TEF in 2017. A number of thought provoking issues came out of the discussion not necessarily related directly to technology. For example, to provide effective holistic support to students takes time, which is one resource most staff are short of. This issue links nicely to a presentation I saw by Bolton College on the use of chatbots. But more on that in my next blog along with a look at Snatchbot!