Category Archives: Group work

Supporting the Student Support

The role of the Teaching Enhancement Unit within DCU is typically to support academics in the area of teaching and learning. While the general training and workshops that we offer are open to all staff, the majority of the training is targeted towards academics.Yesterday was more of an exception;  my colleague Dr Pip Ferguson and I delivered a workshop to staff from our Student Support and Development Unit. Based on our experience yesterday both Pip and I strongly feel that this “exception” should and will become more of the norm. Traditionally my counterparts in most universities deal solely with academics whether by direct intent or just due to lack of resources but yesterday reinforced my opinion in the absolute need for my unit to also directly help those that support students.

We ran a two hour workshop with 15 staff providing hints and tips on presenting to students and running workshops. But more importantly the workshop provided a forum where staff were able to share experiences and ask questions. The willingness of the staff to participate and generally engage with the workshop was very noticeable. Several points struck me through the morning, notably as part of an exercise participants were asked to chat to their colleagues about presenting to students. On more than one occasion I overheard people asking their colleagues “what do you actually do?”. I have no doubt that this arises from the fact that we are always chasing our tail and so busy with our own work that we don’t get the opportunity to see what our immediate colleagues do. Even though this particular unit appears very close on a personal level and I’ve always got a good vibe when I walk through their doors (it’s one of the nicest places to walk into within the college) . I believe their unit suffers from the same physical  location condition that we suffer from within the Teaching Enhancement Unit; sometimes people can be just tucked away in their offices, which despite working on the same team  they can be spread across a large area making it difficult for team members to interact and “socially” talk about work. While changing the layout of buildings and re-organising offices can be prohibitive, days like yesterday help address this type of issue. The second point of note was in addition to the very positive feedback received, there was an appetite for more – which is always. So we are following the workshop up by creating a resources page for staff containing these teaching tips/guidelines and providing staff with the opportunity to ask more questions and continue the learning beyond the 2 hours delivered yesterday. The final point that was very reassuring for me was that so many of the good points and suggestions were actually advanced by the participants themselves. To me this illustrated their belief in what they want to do and their interest in improving.

The next step following the set up of this resources page is to plan more workshops and build on the appetite that exists to learn more and to improve the student (and staff) experience

 

 

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What is Diigo?

Image representing Diigo as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

This posts introduces Diigo and outlines how the social bookmarking tool, Diigo can be used in the classroom

Whiteway, A. (2009). An evaluation of using diigo.Com with students. Retrieved from
http://andywhiteway.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/an-evaluation-of-using-diigo-com-with-students

Related articles

https://enhancingteaching.com/2012/01/24/diigo-social-bookmarking/

https://enhancingteaching.com/2012/04/11/removing-the-scroll-of-death-in-moodle-with-diigo/

http://prezi.com/dqftqrh995jl/diigo/

Dropbox

Dropbox allows users to store and share files and folders (documents, photographs, videos, etc.) on-line

Add files to the public folder to allow other invited users to be able to view and edit them

Documents are stored online – some security issues have been raised in the past

Need to download the installation

Users do need to sign up to a Dropbox account but that is only a minor irritation

Go to Dropbox

Listen to the IT gurus talk about DropBox – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9PfBkm618w&feature=related

PBWorks

PBWorks allows users to capture knowledge, share files (lots of various types) and manage projects. Use PBworks to set up your own wiki. For a quick review on wikis I’d highly recommend the YouTube video produced by “CommonCraft”

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Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software

Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software.

Mind Maps

mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea.  They are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studyingand organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.

Mind maps can be used for:

  • problem solving
  • outline/framework design
  • structure/relationship representations
  • condensing material into a concise and memorable format

Mind-map tools that I have found useful are mind42.com, Spicynodes, Bubbl.us, SpiderScribeSlatebox  and mindmaple. Mind 42 is great for collaboration as its a web based application that doesn’t require your students to download any software and version control is not an issue. Another great web based application that can be used for mind maps is Prezi. MindMaple is a piece of software that is installed on your computer as opposed to being web based but it does offer considerably more functionality in terms of project management

Related articles

Group work and Peer Evaluation

There certainly are benefits to students’ learning through social interaction and there has been a strong employability argument about the need to develop the portfolio of skills necessary to successfully work as a member of a team; there have also been pragmatic, logistical reasons, as student numbers have risen disproportionately with staffing. Group work has the potential measurably to improve student engagement, performance, marks and retention and usually succeeds in achieving this potential provided that there are associated assessment mechanisms that leverage appropriate student learning behaviour (Jaques, 2000). In the absence of such assessment mechanisms these benefits may not materialise. Allocating a single group mark to all members of a group rarely leads to appropriate student learning behaviour, frequently leads to freeloading, and so the potential learning benefits of group work are likely to be lost. In fact the assessment of group work is arguably one of the biggest sources of student dissatisfaction, largely because it is often perceived as unfair. Houldsworth and Matthews (Houldsworth & Matthews, 2000) also describe a ‘sucker effect’ in which the most hardworking student gradually reduces their effort in order to avoid being taken advantage of by the freeloaders.

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