Technology Enhanced ‘Life’

In a series of blogs and guides, Turning Technologies is shaking up the term ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ (TEL), taking a deeper look at what it really means in practice. In fact, ‘Technology Enhanced Life’ might be the more suitable term when dealing with a generation of learners who have been immersed in technology pretty much since birth?

Following release of the Rebooting learning  for  the digital age:  What next for technology enhanced higher education? report, there are a myriad of areas identified, where digital technology can support teaching and learning. In response to this, in the first of Turning Technologies’ Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Series, we hand over to some of our universities to showcase how they use just one type of technology; the Audience Response System (ARS), to boost student outcomes and enhance the student experience…..

Enhancing an active learning environment

At Queen’s University Belfast, ARS is being used to inspire different types of interactivity between pharmacists and pharmacy support staff. Our team worked with with Dr Heather Bell, Assistant Director of Live Programmes at the N. Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development, who wanted the capacity to engage learners at random intervals throughout the course of a workshop to think about the topics being discussed at set times. “That for us was the real advantage of TurningPoint; that we could engage the learner at any point in time and it didn’t necessarily mean people physically moving about the room to come together” [Dr Bell].

Today, the technology is routinely used during both uniprofessional and interprofessional workshops with trainees and experienced professionals to achieve a variety of educational outcomes. TurningPoint is used at the very start of workshops to establish participant’s baseline knowledge in relation to the topics being discussed. Similarly, it may be used at the end of a session to determine the extent of learning during the course of the workshop. Tutors will also use TurningPoint and the resulting interactivity to lead the learning by collectively working through examples together.

A wonderful comment from Dr Bell: “The rewards that we’re seeing from the user perspective is that it enhances their learning experience – that’s exactly what we hoped to achieve!”

Driving technology in learning

As referenced by HEPI, in order to realise the digital opportunities in full, universities need the right infrastructure and enabling strategies and policies in place. One of Turning Technologies’ universities; Northumbria has done just that, and its award-winning IT infrastructure now supports over 31,000 students and 3,000 staff members. The Business School and the School of Law are the heaviest users of our TurningPoint solution, using it to enhance teaching and learning in both large lecture theatres and in small group lessons. Michael Stockdale, Principal Lecturer in the School of Law commented that: “Being able to ask questions as we go along helps to keep students engaged, and the instant feedback helps me determine which issues they’ve understood and which we need to go over again.” One of the key success factors in the University’s IT strategy has been its policy of standardising on leading technologies, and TurningPoint is now the voting system of choice across the whole campus.

Utilising student owned mobile devices

This partnership is an interesting one, and one that will likely speak to many universities currently weighing up the benefits versus cash of bringing a new technology onboard. The Faculty of Humanities eLearning team at the University of Manchester conducted a pilot of our TurningPoint and ResponseWare, using students’ own mobile devices as the keypads. This has helped keep costs down, and engage students with a device they’re extremely familiar with.

This project found that ResponseWare easily fits within existing teaching practices. The PowerPoint® integration provides for ease of use, faculty licensing capabilities support the university’s purchase model and the integration with existing ResponseCard keypads upholds inclusivity.

A student actually summed up this entire project very well by saying: “Brilliant idea. We often turn to our phones when we lose concentration, interest or when the lecture becomes incomprehensible, so I think including our devices will keep us alert and participating, as well as checking if our understanding is correct.”            

The above examples demonstrate that ARS, as with many other types of technology, must be flexible and adaptable to the individual needs of your institution and TEL strategy. There is a plethora of ways universities are using ARS to engage students and increase learning outcomes. If you’re interested to learn more about ARS as part of your TEL strategy, you can download the easy-to-digest infographic “Engagement Matters: The Impact of Response Technology on University Student Success,” and discover seven research-proven ways that SRS can help you lead students down the path to graduation. Download here.