Better feedback & more use of technology: Notes from a speech

So I mentioned a talk by Aaron Porter in my previous post.  However, I haven’t mentioned much about the talk itself.

The ALT-C website introduces the talk as:

A student perspective on institutions use of technology to enhance teaching & learning in the 21st century. Student expectations and perceptions as to the use of the technology in higher education is rapidly changing. This session will seek to assess the current picture, and identify the extent to which UK is meeting the expectations of our student body. I will draw out some examples of good practice, and also identify some areas of weakness and development. I will also examine research conducted by NUS which looks into how technology can play a role in the provision of teaching, pastoral support, assessment and feedback, provision of IAG and the facilitation of peer-to-peer learning.

I thought it would be worth posting something about the ALT-C presentation.  So here are the notes I made from it:

  • Only a small number of students truly see themselves as active participants in Higher Education.  This was also touched upon by the keynote speaker, Michael Wesch, of Kansas State University.  Wesch explained that students need to understand that they are  co-creating, not just consuming.
  • Quote: “Universities need to think a great deal more creatively about thinking of the induction and ways in which we can upskill students that perhaps arrive without the [required] skills.”
  • While some sources suggest that lack of face to face contact between students and tutors is a big problem, NUS research found that 85% of students found the contact excellent or good.  75% said the quantity of that feedback was excellent too.
  • Porter called for “a more personalised experience” for feedback.  He asked why he hadn’t yet seen a resource where students can track feedback.  For instance, once coursework is handed in, it should be possible to know what’s going on and even interact as the coursework moves through the system.
  • NUS research – How many students feel they can give feedback on a module? 92% said they were given opportunity, but only 25% felt their feedback was acted upon.  How can  a proper response be given, so that students are aware their feedback is listened to  and responded to?  Porter made a few suggestions: Online module evaluation forms; e-mails referring to results; follow-up communication.
  • Technology should be used more as a real solution to make students feel like a part of a community.
  • When students arrive as Freshers, universities should be genuinely challenging to students. Ask questions of them…why are they here, what do they want before they leave, for after they leave, etc.
  • Porter asked why UG students aren’t putting forward contributions to staff & PG work on a regular basis.  This type of engagement and interaction could help on many levels.

The talks at ALT-C have been great.  If you’re interested in watching, you can do so here.