Adopting a video orientated flexible blended approach to reduce resentment and encourage deeper learning of technical IT skills
It is notoriously difficult to nurture an effective learning environment when teaching IT skills due to their technical nature. The frequent requirement to handle and understand large datasets and necessity to repeat analyses with multiple steps mean that academic staff often struggle with student perceptions of the subject and student satisfaction (Elwood and Wilson, 2017). In the Environmental Science subject area, research highlighted that in skills-based practical teaching >50% of the students either focused on getting tasks completed (rather than learning the skills), or questioned whether they had learned anything at all (Rump, 2011). These issues are partially related to the methods employed in teaching IT and technical skills which traditionally rely on either the provision of step-by-step instructions or demonstration of the methods, which do not encourage deeper learning, or in the latter case do not consider differences in student learning speeds.
An attempt to address these issues, and the requirement for teaching and learning resources to be more suitable for online learning during 2020 saw the adoption of a video orientated flexible blended learning approach in the teaching of generic (MS Office) and subject specific IT skills (e.g., Coding, Geographical Information Systems). This session will provide a case study documenting the successes (and failures) from the adoption of a flexible blended learning approach in a synchronous teaching environment, with a focus on student learning and experience as well as our experiences of creating the materials. Our approach saw the use of instructional videos in Panopto and supplementary material in the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment to create teaching materials covering the skill sets required to meet learning objectives. Our framework (repeated each practical session) saw the creation and presentation of: 1) instructional videos around a data case study not directly related to the student tasks, 2) a set of tasks with requested outcomes, 3) a quiz which queried elements of their analysis and findings. We found that this encouraged deeper learning as the materials had to be translated to the student’s own tasks, allowed students to learn at their own pace, and increased student perceptions and satisfaction in the subject area. We also found that the approach was successful online and face-to-face, and readily useable in an asynchronous style when required.
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