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Tuesday, November 20, 2012, Issue 59

Innovative education and the future of learning

e-books, electronic voting systems and podcasts are just some of the tools being used

The future of radiography education and research was the subject up for discussion on 23 and 24 November, when nearly 100 educators and researchers from across the UK met at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

The Society’s inaugural 'Achieving Excellence in Radiography Education and Research' conference saw radiography programme leaders and lecturers share their innovations and ideas.

Among them was Nick Crohn, Radiography Lecturer at Leeds University, who explained how he is developing e-books to enhance his students' learning on and off campus.

Enhancing through e-books
Nick has developed several e-books for students based on existing course materials and lecture notes. The publications can be accessed via any device with an e-book reader, such as a tablet, smartphone or Kindle.

According to Nick, they are relatively quick and simple to develop and offer students a new way to access vital learning materials. He commented: "The material and content is already there, we’re not changing the content, but delivering it to students in a different format.

“With an e-book, we get around issues of accessibility – for example, they can be read out loud on an iPad for those who are partially sighted. Plus, the content is delivered quickly and can be updated simply. Most importantly, however, it evaluates really well with students.”

The e-books also contain question and answer sections so that students can reinforce their learning and check they’re on the right track. Nick is further developing the e-books and is looking to include video content and indexes for a richer, more interactive experience.

Podcasts and electronic voting systems
Also speaking at the conference was Aarthi Ramlaul, Principal Lecturer and Teaching Fellow at University of Hertfordshire. Aarthi shared with the audience how her department is using podcasts to feed back to students and push out newscasts.

Podcasts are also being used to record classroom activities, share teaching material when it doesn’t warrant face-to-face delivery, and encourage discussion in small group work. They've also been used to welcome new students.

According to Aarthi, the podcasts are going down well with students who appreciate being able to access vital information when not on campus.

Aarthi then went on to explain how the incorporation of electronic voting systems (EVS) has successfully increased interactivity. Also, called 'personal response system' or PRD, the system comprises of electronic clickers that are synchronised to a computer.

EVS helps to summarise learning at the end of a lecture and tests knowledge by asking students to vote anonymously for the right answer to a question. Results are then revealed by a bar graph displayed on the computer screen.

Aarthi says the system has led to more interaction in class and brought out the quieter students. On the whole, the use of these technologies has encouraged greater contact between students and teachers. It has also facilitated greater collaborative learning.

Blog it!
At University West of England, weblogging is part of the learning experience. Simon Messer, Principal Lecturer, shared with conference-goers the benefits of students developing an online Wordpress blog which gives them a chance to write about what they’ve learned. These are then assessed or commented on by the tutors.

According to Simon, students have become more “emotionally motivated” in their own learning and the content of the blogs can not only be shared with and assessed by tutors, but commented on by peers and even parents.

Other benefits include helping students to develop their writing style and encouraging them to engage at a deeper level in reflective writing and group work.

Simon conceded that it can be time-consuming to set up and that they've had to learn lessons along the way on how best to implement blogging, but, on the whole, it is a "very viable way of learning and supports the notion of self motivation."

Dozens of examples of innovative teaching methods were shared at the ‘Achieving Excellence in Radiography Education and Research’ conference and no doubt there are many more that weren't.

If you’re helping to push the boundaries of radiography education through technology or if you have comments to make about how technology is being used to enhance your learning experience, get in touch! We’d love to share what you’re doing, how you're doing it and what works best for you. Email the editor.

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