Author: Jenny Lamb – Senior Lecturer (School of Social Work, Care & Community)
By failing to enthusiastically engage in technology-enhanced learning and teaching, we are doing our students a disservice and harming their employability and opportunity for success. Not having time or being a ‘technophobe’ is no longer acceptable if you are teaching in higher education. I have a few explanations for this statement.
Firstly, employability – I want my students to leave university ready to be a success in the ‘real world’, not only equipped with the theoretical knowledge to underpin their new careers, but also with the skills to excel and impress in the workplace. By bringing PowerPoint slides on a USB stick to lectures, we are teaching our students this is acceptable. By utilising Prezi or Sway, we are showing students the benefits and teaching them an engaging way to present information. By showing them how to work collaboratively on a document on Teams, we are teaching them good practice they can take into the workplace.
Secondly, the change in student demographic. We have more mature students and students with other commitments than we have ever had. Why, in this day and age of instant communication over so many channels are we still insisting our students sit in a lecture theatre on a university campus with 40 other students, to receive information spoken at them for two hours? There are countless solutions enabling students to communicate and receive information, join an online classroom or view a recording of the content at a later date. Although there are arguments for the university environment, debate and group-work, technology can enable this, and certainly enhance it without a student not ever setting foot on campus. The experience can be as good, if not better, and our students can balance their studies with their other commitments.
Thirdly, grades. We have the opportunity to make our assessments and our learning more interesting, more engaging and ultimately give students the best chance for success. Long essays, regurgitating theory have a place, but so do games, escape rooms, role plays, virtual reality and digital portfolios. Offering students alternative assessment methods means the assessment can be tailored to ensure students really can be assessed against the learning outcomes and that more students have the opportunity to achieve good grades. At UCLan we are so lucky we have the community and the staff to support us, for the sake of our students let’s take full advantage and give our students the best opportunity for success!