Category Archives: Blogs

Enhancing large class teaching through the use of rich-media materials

A new paper by myself and my e-learning colleague Ian Hutt has just been published by the Higher Education Research and Development Journal.  The article,  Enhancing large class teaching: a systematic comparison of rich media materials , reports on a pilot project at the University of Manchester to supplement face-to-face lectures with a set of rich media materials.  The context of the study is a very large, highly internationalised taught MSc programme in the UK with over 85% non-native English speakers. The rich media materials focused on the teaching of core concepts as well as capturing the full-lecture delivery, and comprised audio podcasts, audio narrated slides, and short video segments with supporting slides. We investigated how students used the various materials and which they preferred.  We found that students overwhelmingly found these rich media materials helpful, using them as revision guides and supplements to lecture notes rather than as a replacement for lecture attendance. Students rated most highly the full-lecture videos followed by audio narrated slides.

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Panacea or Empty Promise – Can learning technology overcome the challenges of large class teaching?

The numbers of students entering full-time higher education in the United Kingdom has increased rapidly over the last 20 years.  In many institutions this has resulted in larger class sizes, with numbers of students undertaking core modules often exceeding 250 students.  The challenge facing higher education, driven by financial pressures to accept increasing student numbers, is how to evolve the student learning experience to meet the expectations of today’ s students.  Didactic teaching in ever-larger lecture theatres may not constitute the optimal approach.  Recognising this many institutions have seized on new technologies in teaching and learning as a potential solution to this problem. Continue reading Panacea or Empty Promise – Can learning technology overcome the challenges of large class teaching?

Meaningful, Equitable and Manageable: The Iron Triangle of Assessment Design

Student cohorts of 250+ are not uncommon in today’s brave new world of Higher Education.  Indeed here in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering we deliver the largest taught MSc programme in the Faculty; a 1year MSc in the Management of Projects that attracts over 300 students each year – drawn to The University of Manchester by both its reputation and the excellent feedback the course receives from past students. Given that this course generates considerable income for the University it is not surprising that much effort is devoted to ensuring that the student experience is a good one, with academic staff working very hard to deliver excellent and innovative teaching, getting alongside students to encourage, exhort and educate them and organising added value activities such as industry focused projects and a programme of guest speakers. What we are less focused on though is the small matter of assessment Continue reading Meaningful, Equitable and Manageable: The Iron Triangle of Assessment Design

Long Live the Lecture (at least for international post-graduate taught cohorts) !

Flipped Classroom There has been much talk recently of the flipped classroom, sometimes referred to as the flipped lecture or the inverted classroom. Flipped classrooms are about replacing the traditional lecture, where students listen attentively (or not) to a lecturer imparting knowledge, to a more interactive, discussion based session at which the teacher is available to help students understand the concepts that the students have been asked to study prior to the lecture. The blogger knewton describes the flipped classroom as a move from the teacher as “Sage on the Stage” to “Guide on the Side.”

Continue reading Long Live the Lecture (at least for international post-graduate taught cohorts) !