Ben R. Atkinson

Writer, Musician & Presenter

EDU720 Week 9: Choosing Technology For Online Learning

EDU720 Week 9: Choosing Technology For Online Learning

This week’s topic of ‘Choosing Technology for Online Learning’ was particularly interesting to me, as in my current institution, the University of Lincoln, I am the Digital Education Developer (Learning Technologist) for the College of Arts. As such, I felt there was a lot I could bring to the discussion around the choice of learning technologies, however this did mean that I sometimes found it hard to navigate a path between the knowledge of learning tech that I already had and the exploration of new tools and platforms.

Thinking firstly about the learning technologies we use on a day-to-day basis, I decided to frame my response around the core tools that we support at Lincoln. The approach that we take at the institution involves have a ‘core’ suite of tools which are supported by the University and further outer rings of tools which can be used but may not be directly supported. Information on the core tools is available on our LALT blog. As such, I focused on technologies for video (Panopto), collaboration on the web (Collaborate Ultra), marking and assessment (Turnitin) and live audience response (Poll Everywhere). My own list of tools received some good responses from my peers, with Carols Garde-Martin taking forward Poll Everywhere as a tool to pilot later in the week and both Graham and Jill pointing out that the list was ‘useful stuff to know’ (Dunn, 2019). It was interesting to see what other colleagues suggested in this forum, particularly the use of Minecraft for Education which James C recommended (James C, 2019). I knew of the platform as a game, but was not aware that Microsoft had developed a version for education which has a specific application within the creative arts. I must admit, I did download the software and had a go – but I’m afraid I just couldn’t get my head around it. Perhaps this is one technology where the students are best leading the way. Finally for this section, I found Federica’s list late in the week when reviewing the forum and have to say it is a fantastic resource covering a full range of learning technologies that could be applied to any form of teaching and learning practice (Orandini, 2019). This list is a collection of all the ideas suggested by students on the module and it proves just how many varied approaches to technology there are and how useful they can be to pedagogic practice within higher education.

I found the video resource from COFA particularly useful this week, as it was a nice way of framing the discussion around learning technologies. There are just so many tools on the market, that it is often hard to make a decision about which to use and, inevitably, for what purpose. Some of the key points I took from the video focused on the pedagogy before technology approach and that ‘technology needs to add or challenge learning’ and that it is ‘just a means to an end’ that ‘won’t solve issues’ (COFAOnlineUNSW, 2011a) – in essence you should not use technology for technologies sake. This point is further justified in the ‘Considerations for choosing technology’ document which outlines that using one good technology, is far better than a scatter gun approach which may confuse students and split your audience (COFAOnlineUNSW, 2011b).

For my own investigation and pilot of a learning technology, I chose to focus on Adobe Premiere Rush CC, which I felt was a nice tool that related directly to the online course I had devised as part of the activities for week eight of the course. Rush is a nice way to introduce students to video editing in that it allows them to quickly edit a video and publish it on platforms like YouTube and other social networks Indeed, it’s very much meant to be the video editing tool for the YouTube generation (Lardinois, 2018). Having tried out the software myself, I found that it was indeed very easy and straightforward to use. I come from a media production background and as such am well versed in the use of the full Premiere Pro software, however even I found there were merits in using Rush as it allowed certain tasks to be completed much more quickly than in the full software. However, I do agree with Andy Peisley when he points out that ‘a technology that encourages more connectivity’ might be better than one which ‘seems to encourage more passive, individual learning’ (Peisley, 2019). Rush is a very solitary tool in that it is designed to be used by one person editing their own footage. There is nothing to say that it wouldn’t work in an online teaching context, but consideration must be given to how the tool might work in this environment. There should be some element of group work attached to the use of this tool, as I have outlined in my evaluation – the students could each complete specific sections of a video and then come together to build them into a whole piece. I am pleased to see that my peers engaged with my evaluation and agreed that Rush would be a useful tool to use with students. As Jason points out it ‘allows the students to focus and concentrate on the more important aspect of producing solid content that will meet the learning outcomes for the group project’ (Walker, 2019). Graham also agreed that this kind of software has some application where students don’t have a great deal of experience in video editing.

There was some particularly interesting discussion on the webinar this week, where several colleges from the EDU720 module joined to talk about their own experiences of using learning technologies. Rather than being specifically focused on online learning, this discussion became more general around the idea of technologies and their specific pedagogic application – as we talked a lot about the choices that others had made when carrying out their exploratory work with a new technology. In my current role I am responsible for managing our Poll Everywhere licence, so I was able to feed into the discussion around the use of this live audience response tool and the approaches taken (use in small sessions / use in large lectures) and in particular, some of the similarities to other tools such as Kahoot and the benefits around inclusivity of learners given that, in my experience, Poll Everywhere encourages students to engage who would not normally speak out in front of a group of peers, or put their hand up to answer a question in a lecture. I was also pleased to have an opportunity to share details of the ‘Learning Recipes’ we have designed at Lincoln (Lincoln Academy of Learning and Teaching, 2018). Each recipe is focused around one specific learning technology with the aim of encouraging academic colleagues to adopt a new approach in a very straightforward and engaging way. The recipes are also based on the pedagogic practice of our academic staff.

Overall, this week I found the learning activities very informative and the peer discussion on both the forum and in the weekly webinar broadened my mind and made me think more closely about the use of learning technologies for online delivery which, although I work with these kind of technologies on a daily basis, is not a specific area that I had considered in great detail before.

Reference List

COFAOnlineUNSW (2011a) Considerations for choosing technology. Available at: https://bit.ly/1qh0Jgc (Accessed: 1 April 2019).

COFAOnlineUNSW (2011b) Considerations for choosing technology for teaching. Australia: YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/5lNMd3zRYrY.

Dunn, J (2019). EDU720: What online learning tools do you know about? Posted on 29 Mar. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/344/discussion_topics/8474?module_item_id=19572 (Accessed: 1 April 2019).

James C (2019). EDU720: What online learning tools do you know about? Posted on 24 Mar. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/344/discussion_topics/8474?module_item_id=19572 (Accessed: 1 April 2019).

Lardinois, F. (2018) Premiere Rush CC is Adobe’s new all-in-one video editing tool for desktop and mobile | TechCrunch, Tech Crunch. Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/15/premiere-rush-cc-is-adobes-new-all-in-one-video-editing-tool-for-desktop-and-mobile/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_cs=q3IfTeP5BY1_WxoG1bSfmA (Accessed: 29 March 2019).

Lincoln Academy of Learning and Teaching (2018) Digital Learning Recipes – Lincoln Academy of Learning & Teaching. Available at: https://lalt.lincoln.ac.uk/digital-learning-recipes/ (Accessed: 1 April 2019).

Orandini, F (2019). EDU720: What online learning tools do you know about? Posted on 31 Mar. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/344/discussion_topics/8474?module_item_id=19572 (Accessed: 1 April 2019).

Peisley, A. (2019) Week 9: Choosing Technology for Online Learning: Developing Flexible Learning Environments EDU720 18/19 Part-Time Study Block S2, Falmouth University. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/344/pages/week-9-choosing-technology-for-online-learning?module_item_id=19573 (Accessed: 29 March 2019).

Walker, J. (2019). EDU720: Share Your Online Tool Evaluation. Posted 31 Mar. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/344/discussion_topics/8473?module_item_id=19575 (Accessed: 1 April 2019).

About The Author

Ben R. Atkinson is a writer, musician, and presenter who can be heard broadcasting on radio stations around the world, is known for his novels, radio dramas, and who writes and performs his own music in the country/folk genre. Ben is currently studying for his PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Lincoln in the UK.
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