Today was professional development day for staff in the College and I'm sure I was not alone in thinking as I got up this morning "Oh no - not another professional development day" - it's one of those things many people love to hate. However, I was in for a great surprise - the theme for today's session was "Blended Learning" and several colleagues shared their experiences with many different and innovative tools. I'm glad I did not miss this.
|Image source: University of Ottawa.|
My first learning from the day is that learners are "hunter-gatherers" - we build our learning in different ways, so it makes sense that we consider blending the ways we teach and learn. We the had a discussion on using Turnitin which always generates debate - I have used this tool quite a lot as unfortunately plagiarism continues to be a problem (though with just a small number of students). We then had an excellent presentation about using Moodle for group projects - I've been using Moodle for many years and this was something I did not know was possible. Moodle offers a great way to set up groups (including allowing students to do this themselves) and to even schedule presentations. We also learned about gamified learning in a brilliant interactive session where we used tools like Spiral and Kahoot - so easy to use and full of possibilities in class. The next two sessions were more technical - we learned about a WePresent that allows students to share their devices on classroom screens. I'm not sure that I will ever do this, but the technology for the classroom is being enhanced every day. We also learned more about Office 365 and how Microsoft is catching up with Google.
The final session I attended was about Yammer - part of Office 365. I had not heard about this before and to be honest don't see myself using this. I see it as a social media tool like Facebook but used within organizations. All such social media tools rely on a critical mass of users who are prepared to contribute and keep it going - otherwise initial enthusiasm will wane.
Overall - a very useful and enjoyable day full of ideas!