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Monday, 14 July 2014

Track L - 'Please don't switch off your phones' Using Social media Tools and Smart Response Systems in the Classroom, Because Learning can be fun - Sukhbinder Barn and Mark McPherson (BS)

Should we be asking students to turn off their mobile phones in the classroom? Not according to Sukhbinder Barn and Mark McPherson's session at this year's annual teaching and learning conference. The session focused on how social media and smart response systems could make lessons fun and provide opportunities for student creativity.

Addressing group cohesion and striving to improve student progression is a common battle faced by academics. Sukhbinder and Mark shared their secret for improving progression by helping students taking their MA Marketing Management programme to transform into 'besties' or best friends six weeks into their module.  Noticing student drop out rates were higher in the first few weeks of the module, Sukhbinder and Mark's strategies help students build social bonds as quickly as possible. They moved a residential field trip that was previously scheduled at the end of the module to week 6. Excitement and anticipation around the visits were generated during lessons. Twitter exchanges out of lessons added to the buzz.

Teaching approaches shared by Sukhbinder and Mark:
Socrative an in class polling system used to gauge individual learner understanding. 
Questions such 'What one thing did you learn in class today?' and 'What did you not understand in today's session that you would like me to explain again next week?' asked through an end of class  poll.
Enhancing group cohesion using social media 
Group building encouraged with  Socrative aided treasure hunts with Instagram and Twitter assisting to capture and record this experience.
Learners as re-designers of learning materials 
Handing over module learning material together with know how about QR codes  to students to re-design learning materials.
They point to a view expressed by one of their former colleagues  ‘that marketing education should reclaim its’ roots and focus more on theorising and less digitising’. They demonstrated how they massively digitised the curriculum to provide students with opportunities to be creative and learn by doing. Their approach to embrace digital technology and bring the 'fun' factor into their higher education learning has paid off. Student feedback  provide evidence that as well as improving  digital literacies and enhancing group work their imaginative use of technologies help students to get to know each other:
'I am very happy because we used social media actively and efficiently' (student) 
'The best part was when random groups were made…it was an opportunity to know the people and after that I felt I know almost everybody…Everybody has come from different culture and nationality, but everybody respect the cultures and I feel proud to have such friends around me (M, India)'
The number of different technologies integrated effectively into Sukhbinder and Mark's teaching practice is commendable. In addition to providing opportunities for student creativity this challenges the usual assumptions  and caution around embedding technology into the curriculum.

Session video

Report by Asanka Dayananda, Senior Academic Developer, Centre for Academic Practice Enhancement.

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