A journal entry from CUTL 5106:
This week in class we talked about approaches for selecting media into our teaching. I have never really considered how I select media, despite frequently incorporating a range into my teaching materials. Currently I feel that my choice of media is largely dictated by two main factors: an ‘instinct’ for what will work for that particular topic (presumably as a result of many different factors), and convenience of use given the limited time and resources I have to prepare my classes. Bates’ SECTIONS model - Students, Ease of Use, Cost/time, Teaching, Interaction, Organisational Issues, Networking, Security/privacy - offers a practical approach to deciding which media to use, which seems a good starting point for becoming more conscious of my choices of media. I am pleasantly surprised that this model, and some of the others that I came across during my reading (e.g. incorporate not just the consideration of the ‘best’ media for teaching, but also place some weight on the practicalities – for example in terms of ease, cost and security concerns.
Bates stresses that student access to technology is one of the key considerations when applying the ‘S’ of the model (Bates, 2015). Indeed, just this week I have come up against an issue with the online MSc course that I teach, where a student had a broken laptop and considered this to be a valid reason for missing class. Having embarked on an online MSc programme, we argued that it was the students’ responsibility to ensure they have access to a computer for class each week. However, Bates’ points out that it is important to establish “the mandate or policy of your institution, department or program with respect to access” and I can now understand the importance of this, as if the student were to lose marks or need to be removed from the course as a result of persistent absence due to the broken laptop (a strong possibility at present), we would need to know if this decision could be reasonably challenged by the student and whether to make this requirement more explicit at the start of the course in future.
Another interesting issue arose this week when a student objected to being recorded in online discussions, seemingly on the grounds of privacy and intellectual property rights. On the online MSc we record all sessions via webex, so that students can re-watch in their own time, and there has never been a problem before. The link for streaming and download of the classtime is typically shared with the class on myelearning, but in theory a downloaded copy could be distributed - something I had never considered before. This is an exceptional case and is unlikely to change general policy, but it did bring to my attention that there are potential issues of using certain media and technologies beyond what one might initially think of. In the end a solution was proposed whereby the student could use a written message to join the discussion instead –demonstrating how concerns about privacy can influence media selection. These scenarios coupled with the units we covered In CUTL this week have changed the way I think about selecting media and made me realise it is something that I need to be more conscious about and that simple models such as the SECTIONS model can be useful tools, rather than just neat, descriptive models which I was my preconception on first hearing about it.
While the SECTIONS model seems most useful for making initial choices about the use of media, it does not address the finer choices to be made about exactly how to incorporate the chosen media. For this, guidelines such as Mayer’s 12 principles (as discussed in my previous journal entry) would come into play. During my reading this week I also came across Talbert’s design principles, which, like Mayer’s list, provides a useful reference once the medium has been chosen: ‘Keep it Simple, Keep it Short, Keep it Real and Keep it Good’. In some ways these are self-explanatory, but they are also easy enough to keep in mind as a check list while preparing materials and as Bates’ shows, they complement Mayer’s principles (Bates, 2015). These even simpler rules of thumb may be especially useful while planning courses that are taught partly or fully online, as it is even easier to get carried away with what is posted and to be less selective than one has to be in a one hour face-to-face session for time reasons, yet there is no reason why these rules shouldn’t still apply. Not only because the students’ time is still valuable and should be maximized, but also because these theories suggest that learning can actually be less effective if more is presented, if not selected carefully. I think sometimes I am guilty of posting numerous (relevant) reading and viewing materials on myelearning for my students, especially on the online MSc, when perhaps it would be more effective to select the absolute most important ones. One way I already try to address this is to divide the resources into ‘essential’ and ‘recommended’, but I will revisit these selections with Talbert’s principles in mind.
As an aside, I found Bates' online text book an extremely useful resource for the future - easy to read and navigate and appreciated that the emphasis was on practical tips, albeit integrated with theory.
Bates, T. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning for a digital age https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/(Chapters 6-9). Accessed 22/2/17.
This is a place where I can reflect upon both on my teaching experiences as a new lecturer, and on my learning experiences as a student on the Certificate of University Teaching and Learning course.