Keeping up with the latest in higher education outside of our immediate research interests is a challenge. Time is limited, and filtering through the wealth that is available for those few gems takes time.
This is why I like the idea of Laura Pasquini’s research project on podcasts in higher education. Laura, a long time podcaster herself (her latest being BreakDrink), and keen to find out what podcasts are out there, and what impact are they having on academic work. She’s gathered a list of podcasts which you can contribute to, if you follow others that don’t appear here (I have). It’s a good site to dip your toes into what’s available (at the time of writing, 133 separate podcasts – incredible), and test drive one or two that line up with your interest areas.
‘But you just acknowledged that we have no time!’ True. However, as most podcast lovers will attest, that’s why podcasts fit so well with busy lives. For me, I listen in the car, while gardening, while cooking…others who do much better than me on the health scorecard listen while walking or running. It works.
If you are just dipping your toes in, I recommend Beyond the Lecturn (from Australia – the recent episode on artificial intelligence in higher education was great!) and JISC (from the UK) as good starting points.
In other online learning news…
Virtual meeting rooms for students
CSU has, for some time, had virtual meeting rooms available to students. They can access these in a number of ways, including directly from the student portal. Each student has their own room (for example, mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. We used them some of our Online Learning Model subjects in 2017, though few people across the Faculty are probably aware of this, or how they might use them. Here’s some ideas:
- Project work – If your students are working on projects together, make sure they are aware of the virtual meeting rooms as a space for them to meet virtually. Anyone can set it up – they just need to decide on a meeting time.
- Self-organised support groups – many subjects put students in contact with each other for location-based study support through GoogleMaps. But often the clincher for students coming together is time availability. Some work early mornings, others late at night, others at weekends. Setting this up can be as simple as creating a new forum for study groups, and asking students to start a new thread with the time they’d like to meet and their VMR (virtual meeting room address) – others keen to meet at the same time respond to the thread. Of course – this makes sense if the subject incorporates opportunities for peer interaction.
- ‘Unhangouts’ – these have cropped up a bit lately as a strategy for encouraging student discussion.
And here’s a quick guide created for students on how to access their virtual meeting room.
TELAS almost here
A few months ago, I mentioned that ASCILITE, Australia’s key professional community around online learning in higher education, was developing a new accreditation framework for online learning design called TELAS (Technology Enhanced Learning Accreditation Scheme). I’ve been invited to attend a workshop in December to finalise the framework and attend to other tasks associated with progressing the initiative, and hope that soon after we’ll be able to start use the framework as a lens through which we can examine our online design and gain national accreditation for our best courses and subjects. More soon.