Roy Lowry, Associate Professor (Teaching Fellow), School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering) answers our TEL themed questions:
What is your earliest memory of digital technology in the classroom?
The arrival of the “pocket” calculator into maths classes at school and learning the logic behind AND and NAND gates in physics. At university we had an automated chemistry experiment based on the newly-released BBC computer.
Which digital technology do you use most in your teaching/work practice, and why?
At the moment, it’s podcasting. The ability to put across the theoretical/factual component before meeting the students means that we can use the time we have together to look at current examples/problems in more depth.
What benefits do you think this technology has for students? what student/user feedback have you had about this digital technology?
All the feedback I’ve had from students points to greater engagement with the material as they have to be prepared before the timetabled session. I thought that most students would appreciate the ability to view the material wherever via a mobile device, but the data I have points to students seeing this as something that requires them to sit at a desk with a PC. However, the “whenever” nature is definitely appreciated.
Which technologies have you found to be the most influential over the past 10 years in your teaching?
The maturing of what we now call the digital learning environment. 10 years ago it was just a file sharing facility, but now it includes much more and is the first port-of-call for a student who needs to know anything about a module, be it admin, formative feedback or to submit an assessment.
What do you predict will be the biggest or most exciting development in education/digital technologies over the next 5 years?
My hope would be that on-line assessment would become much more flexible. At the moment, answers can only be right or wrong in an absolute sense, whereas when I mark a piece of work I can realise that an answer is correct given that a previous answer contained an error, i.e. that subsequent steps are logically or mathematically correct, but with an error carried forward from a previous step. I can see a situation where students would input their own raw data from the lab and then submit the results of calculations which would be compared with values the computer has obtained from the raw data. If the comparison is not favourable, then the students could input intermediate steps until the error is identified and suitable feedback given.