Panagiotis Tziogkidis, Lecturer in Economics, Plymouth Graduate School of Management & Plymouth Business School (Faculty of Business) answers our TEL themed questions:
What is your earliest memory of digital technology in the classroom?
When I was a student, the use of a projector was extremely rare. And even more rare was the distribution of lecture material electronically. Basically, if you missed a lecture (even for valid reasons) it would be really hard to catch up and it would involve figuring out who of your friends attended, kept good notes, got any spare hardcopies distributed by the lecturers and at the same time was kind enough to share! The transition to the use of PowerPoint combined with uploading facilities (such as student portals) made a huge difference to my learning experience.
Which digital technology do you use most in your teaching/work practice, and why?
I use Panopto quite heavily to record my lectures as well as to prepare learning material which are necessary for my modules (e.g. how to use Bankscope or how to find firm data for various industries). Panopto has great features in that it allows for just audio recording a lecture (voice over PowerPoint slides) or combine it with video recording as well. Students can use a search facility to look up key words and navigate to the part of the lecture that they want to go through again. Student activity can be traced by detailed statistics on number of views, unique users, minutes viewed and actually which student viewed what lecture/video uploaded and when. It is also very fast and easy to use and it requires minimum input from the lecturer while in some cases it can save time (e.g. creating a lecture or training session that can be used for other modules and academic years as well, using previous years’ recordings to remind myself “what I said in that bullet point”, etc).
What benefits do you think this technology has for students? what student/user feedback have you had about this digital technology?
I think that the benefits of Panopto can be distinguished between “inside class” and “outside class” benefits. Regarding the former, I noticed a change in student in-class behaviour when I started using this technology. In particular I observed that most students were relaxed, a bit laid back, though looking at me, but would not take notes or they would do so selectively. They mentioned that Panopto made them feel relaxed in terms of note-taking and decided to pay attention and absorb as much as they could during lecture. If they needed to go through certain topics/concepts again they would use the recordings and take notes while studying. Another important benefit is related to international students who struggled with their English listening skills and found helpful the fact that they could go back through certain parts of the lecture. I should say at this point that students did not really mind the quality of those videos; what was most important was the fact that they were available to them.
Regarding “outside class” benefits, it was evident from relevant statistics that students used Panopto immediately after a lecture and for revision before the exam, as well as after an exam, presumably for self-feedback. Apart from revision, the recordings have helped students with catching up if they missed lectures due to genuine reasons (illness, family issues etc). Regarding the latter, one student, in particular, managed to do well in one of my modules despite missing out about half of the semester; she said that the recordings were of great help.
Which technologies have you found to be the most influential over the past 10 years in your teaching?
I think that the development of well-designed student portals has helped students become more efficient learners. Where it has been used properly, students can access all necessary T&L material in one place and know what they need to do in order to learn and achieve well in a module; the efficiency and performance benefits have been obvious. However, there is still some ground to cover as the effective use of student portals has not been standardised yet across all HE institutions/programmes.
What do you predict will be the biggest or most exciting development in education/digital technologies over the next 5 years?
We have seen a technological transformation in education as we have entered a digital era and we are still moving across it. Many technologies have been developed but their use has not been catholic as they do not always fit all purposes and they are not always useful across disciplines. I cannot see how there will be a groundbreaking change in the technologies used within the next 5 years but I do expect to see further digitalisation of education. I believe that audiovisual recordings of lectures will gradually become a standard and will change the way we teach. I do not believe, though, that we will be moving towards an 100% digital classroom model (with the exception of a few distance learning programmes designed for professionals); at least not in the foreseeable future.