This mornings agenda looks, on paper, like its going to be interesting. This first talk is being given by Bill Ashraf from the University of Bradford…
Bill is speaking well, covering the change in the UK HE sector – moving from 12% towards 50% of population going through the system, students as customers. An interesting point that in terms of time, Universities could actually have 3 semesters per year, and theoretically this would allow degree programmes to be delivered in 2 years.
m-learning – students forget all kinds of things when they come to class, but they always have their mobile phone with them. Bill decided to leverage this ‘always on’ attitude. Students were already asking him if they could record his lecturers (interestingly one of the A-V team at RHUL was telling me the other day that they had found a mobile left on a lectern, and had assumed it belonged to the lecturer – but it turned out that a student had left it there after using it to record the lecture)
So – Bill decided to try podcasting. He is saying this is now something you can do easily at home – low cost. Search for ‘ashraf’ on iTunes and you will find examples of his lectures online.
Marc Prensky said “Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach”
Bill is saying that if you started from scratch, it is hard to believe that you would decide the lecture was the best way of teaching students complex information.
For today’s students ‘new media’ is not ‘new’ – it’s just media. Gartner are predicting that by 2009, 50% courses offered will be a hybrid of face-to-face and online, and more than 80% of students will use mobile technology as a tool for learning.
Bill is mentioning ‘Rate my Professors‘ website. I’ve not looked at this before, but if you teach, you may want to check if you are on there (current 7 lecturers from RHUL on there)
Bill has setup a website iTutorsmart. Bill does weekely 5 minute video podcasts as well as lectures as audio podcasts – he is saying how easy this is to do using his Macbook – Apple clearly delivering a compelling package here.
Bill is showing how he did a video podcast from Red Square with a basic camera. He finds that whiles students don’t check email, they will view the podcast – so he can literally tell them what he needs to.
Bill has also published his calendar online – so that students can find him and book appoints.
Bill found that at the end of his lectures he would say ‘are there any questions’ – and wasn’t getting any response – but when he gave out a mobile number, and let people text him questions, they came flooding in – this is a great example – I love this idea.
Bill scrapped lectures for some of his Year 1 Biochemistry – and he has substituted this with podcasts followed up by smaller tutorial. He believes strongly in blended learning. He makes the point that in science many of the basic courses don’t change year on year.
One of the great things about Bill’s approach is that it is so based around the technology being invisible – he has said several times ‘I don’t know how this happens, but…’ – this is just so key to getting people to use the technology – make sure they don’t ever have to think about it.
Finally, there is a Guardian article about the work that Bill is doing.