The journey so far – My reflection on my experience of the unit to date.

I thought it might be interesting for you if I tried to document my perspective on trying to create your educational experience and give you some ‘behind the scenes’ insight.

The Lectures

Attendance and engagement with the lectures has been better than expected. At Parramatta I have struggled with a couple of things related to the technology – the roving microphone has only worked once. The lectern mike is ok but means you have to stand still and in the first week no microphone at all. This has meant the quality of the recorded lectures has been less than ideal. (Even if they were perfectly recorded I would personally hate to listen to me rave on). One frustrating thing has been our decision to use the iPads in the lectures – they are fantastic to write the lectures on – keynote while different to PowerPoint is easy to use – the problems relate to integration with the other systems – the slides are not captured as well in the online lecture and to date I have been unable to play the imbedded videos (if you are reading your lecture slides using Keynote and see the word Video click on this and it will take you to the relevant clip – all the clips are also on the vUWS site as well).
We are keen to keeping using the iPads given so many of the students have them – I think as an educational tool that offer huge possibilities and are worth playing with – at times the learning curve for me as a old dinosaur has been fairly steep.
One thing that I have found surprising this year is just how much easier and relaxed it is if you just except that students are on their phones and iPads – even the stream of entrances and exits is ok. I do wonder why some people leave when they do given they have made the effort to attend in the first place – maybe just need to be more entertaining.

Tim has videoed a couple of segments of his Campbelltown lectures as a trial – this seems to be achieving what we had hoped.

Feedback from Tuts

Well attendance has been far far better than expected – particularly in week three. Given the learning guide only noted tuts in weeks 1 & 2 and not week three both Tim and I were surprised by an excellent rollout this week. Have a careful look at the teaching schedule in the learning guide for future weeks on campus activities.
While some students seem happy to discuss the ideas many still seem shy (?). I know that I find the discussion interesting – always great to find out what others think and are doing.
Not sure how the readings are going – from various conversations it seem to range from Yes read the articles and started to think about the content – to oh the readings….

The first assignment workshop

A little surprised that some students had not seemed to have given the first assignment much thought. Was happy that many other students had started to think about what needs to be done with some already undertaking parts of their learning excursions. As I already said a couple of times – it is not an assignment you can do at the last minute – it will take longer than you think.

On the plus side – I have been given some good tips about stuff to go and do – so looks like I can build a bit more experience capital for myself
Next week there are no classes so hopefully the time can be directed to the assignment.

The Groups

We waited to the class numbers stabilised – there are always a number of students who start late or drop out in the first couple of weeks. We also tried to offer the chance for students – particularly 2nd & 3rd years to form groups with people who they have worked successfully before. Only a few people formed their own groups so the admin team are now setting up groups and working on the vUWS site to make some group activity easier to manage. We have tried to accommodate ALL the group formation requests (yes to the 3rd year guys – they have promised they will try). We will advise everybody as soon as possible.

Social Media

This seems to have varying levels of success and take up. I have about 105 followers on twitter (surprisingly a number who have nothing to do with the unit). It is interesting to see who else you have followed – a number of pop artists, football teams and TV shows – ​a surprising number of Block fans. I am impressed with twitter as an information medium – it has more good stuff than I expected and is a good way of keeping in contact with what the industry is doing – particularly overseas.
The Blog has had nearly 900 views (in 5 countries) but very few followers or comments.

The vUWS site.

As you know vUWS has the capacity to run fairly complex activity reports on the use of each unit’s site. We have run two reports so far – the first we emailed part of to everybody. They both make interesting reading – the time spent on vUWS has as you would expect increased BUT not the range of things being accessed. Most people have on accessed the basic material – LG, lecture slides and assignment 1 material. There are heaps of videos and other stuff (hopefully interesting stuff) that people have not yet discovered. This is maybe my biggest concern that some students have not started to look beyond the traditional unit material. The dog photo has however now been found.

So overall I think things are going as planned, the next few weeks will be the test. The text needs to be read (will try to read a bit myself tonight). The assignments need to be progressed.

We will begin to introduce some more online activity over the next few weeks but at the moment I think everybody has enough to keep them busy.
As suggested in the first tutorial this unit is based on a dialogue so I am therefore keen to start getting some feedback from students on their journey. I look forward to finding out what interesting experiences you are doing.