DigiLearn – and initiating partnership learning
Author: Susan Putt, School of Management, UCLan
In the seemingly ever-changing environment of teaching and learning in Higher Education it’s important to periodically take some time out to consider the landscape and recalibrate. It’s from this reflection that my search began for new ideas and perspectives on presenting module content and offer students an opportunity for application of new knowledge. To aid this transition I began to consider incorporating some forms of ‘tech’, and it’s from there that I essentially began my journey on the DigiLearn programme. I would say that although I was aware of many digital applications and their capabilities for facilitating learning my digital skills were quite basic when it came to the integration of these into pedagogy. I needed help and advice to consolidate my knowledge and build confidence in utilising the different platforms and applications available.
In consideration of the DigiLearn programme I saw not only the obvious opportunity for personal development via digital upskilling, but also the prospect of being able to introduce new concepts that would not only serve me in the classroom but also offer a continuum of learning for the students that goes beyond the structure of a timetable and ‘tutor’ led instruction e.g. a basic use of Padlet to begin a framework around a certain topic area with students having the ability to add to and create new strands at any time with their peers and tutor. This freer approach takes the pressure from the classroom and need to ‘produce’ on the spot, it creates a 24/7 (virtual) social space ensuring all ideas / points of view can be considered which could become a basis for further interesting discussion both on and offline. I saw this as opportunity to engage and empower students and recognise their individual learning experiences.
During the Practitioner stage of the DigiLearn programme, which I have not long completed, I also began to consider the position of the student in my ‘digital development’ journey and consider its wider potential for facilitating learning partnerships (Bovill 2014) i.e., inviting my students on this journey of discovery with me via exploring the use of different platforms and activities for learning. Taking these considerations of teaching and partnership further, I am hoping in the Advocate stage of the DigiLearn programme to become more aware of how I can impart new knowledge through new and engaging mediums. To search out and test, hopefully finding willing students along the way, current applications with which to ‘brighten’ my learning materials and enable student opportunity for self-monitoring, individual expression, and real time feedback (Chawinga 2017). Some of which may enable students to acquire additional and new skills that they can harness and transfer to other areas of their learning and beyond (Omodan & Addam 2022). By sharing my (hopefully) newfound skills and developing these into opportunities for students to engage in their learning in different ways, I am hoping it may begin to offer increased opportunity for inclusivity, creativity, and working with students as partners (Bovill 2020), whilst simultaneously encouraging alternative lines of communication between students and tutor.
Admittedly this is a very wide focus and outcomes remain to be seen, but I’m hopeful that, although maybe small and very much incremental, the steps that I’m taking will give me an opportunity to confidently use ‘tech’ as a medium to enliven teaching content and introduce elements of collaboration.
Bovill, C. (2014) An investigation of co-created curricula within higher education in the UK, Ireland and the USA, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51:1, 15-25
Bovill, C. (2020) Co-creation in learning and teaching: the case for a whole-class approach in higher education. High Education. 79, pp 1023–1037.
Chawinga, D, W. (2017) Taking social media to a university classroom: teaching and learning using Twitter and blogs. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education. 14, pp 1-19.
Omodan, B. I. & Addam, B. (2022). Analysis of Transformational Teaching as a Philosophical Foundation for Effective Classrooms. Journal of Curriculum Studies Research, 4(2), pp 15-29.