An “Incredibly Insane” New Way to Teach
“Incredibly insane”, “awesome”, “inspirational” - these are words you don’t often find associated with teaching and learning.
At a time when student attendance is low and academics are sometimes faced with difficult lecturing conditions due to disruptions, it is easy to lose heart. Yet these are some of the words used by lecturers to describe their experience after completing the ACT Blended Learning online course last year.
During the second semester of 2018, UKZN’s College of Law and Management Studies, together with the support of the Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) embarked on a project to encourage staff to explore new ways of teaching using technology. After attending a workshop that outlined a new pedagogically-based approach to teaching with technology, staff attended a MOOC (online course) that showed them how to apply digital-age teaching in an easy but effective way.
‘This ACT MOOC was the most incredible course. Not only was it interesting, engaging and topical, it was also practical! The assignments made a meaningful contribution to being able to make the jump from the theoretical to the practical. Highly recommended!,’ said Dr Kerry McCullough, from the School of Accounting.
‘This course is awesome! It makes me excited about teaching and I am confident that my students will become excited about ACTivating their learning experience,’ said Dr Dalene Vosloo, from the School of Life Sciences.
‘The ACT MOOC on Blended Learning combines inspirational guidance, technical skill development and personal empowerment in using technology to enrich learning. This unique combination is imbued with fun, humour and enjoyment while effecting a change in mindset towards foregrounding the pedagogy of digital learning,’ said Professor Brian McArthur, Acting DVC College of Law and Management Studies.
However, it was not only the course that was “incredible” and “inspirational”, it was also the impact that the approach was having on teaching. A Law lecturer had this to say after applying the approach in her lectures: ‘The entire class showed up. It was incredibly insane. There were people sitting on the floor, in front. I couldn’t believe it.’
Another lecturer talking about her class said: ‘They just came alive instantly. The response was electric. It was instant’, while another lecturer shared an email he received from a student after trying the approach for the first time. It read: ‘Today’s interactive tutorial was by far the most fun exercise I have done at campus throughout these four years’.
The benefits are more than just exciting teaching.
A student wrote: ‘I am writing to say thank-you (again)! Attached is the first submission on my new third year assignment and I am just so happy with this first one. I cannot wait to see what else is produced. It has been a long time since I last looked forward to grading! An unintended, but very happy side benefit. Some clear evidence of learning going on here. Such a happy note to end the week on.’
It is this that makes the task of lecturers rewarding and exciting once again. If you want to be further inspired, then check out this short video - http://bit.do/incrediblyinsane
Another ACT Blended Learning MOOC is being offered from 8 April to 2 June. The course begins with a three-hour workshop on 8 April. The remainder of the course takes place online. The cost for the Blended Learning MOOC is being funded through the UTLO providing a unique opportunity for a limited number of UKZN staff to attend.
If you would like to apply to attend the course, please complete this short form (http://bit.do/ukznmooc) on or before 29 March. Places will be allocated based on the order they are received and the brief justification included. You will be informed as soon as places are finalised if your application has been successful.
For further information please email Dr Craig Blewett at email@example.com
Words: Craig Blewett