A couple of weeks ago I took part in a two day staff development workshop here at the OU. It had been very well organised by the Social Sciences Faculty and the aim was to get staff thinking about using new technologies to solve some of their problems in teaching. There had been some good initial work, so the groups came with problems they wanted to address, eg student retention from 1st to 2nd level, encouraging reflection, etc.
I was asked to present on the use of blogs and wikis. I gave a brief whizz through and tried to convey my enthusiasm for them as educational tools (I ended with a half-jesting 'eat my hat challenge' that whatever their issue was, I could solve it with blogs and wikis).
There were also presentations on:
- Interactive quizzes
- Screen/slide casting
The groups then had some hands on sessions and had to choose two technologies and on the second day, set about solving their problem with these technologies.
Can you guess which of the four technologies was most popular? The answer is Screen/slide casting, with every group wanting to create one of these, and the other three all about equal after that. I think this may have been because it was more immediate (blogs take some time to get going and you need students really) and thus suited the workshop format more readily. But I think it is also something to do with educators relation to content.
In the age of the social network, it has become a cliche to say that content is no longer king, but it is something that people can readily engage with, rather than some of the more nebulous and longer-term benefits of blogging. I saw a lot of academics very excited by the liberating effect of being able to produce their own content (this was something I had pushed as a benefit of blogs also, the easy multi-media aspect). One downloaded Camtasia and was off making videos, another used Xtranormal and soon they were producing complex ideas and scripts.
The take-away message for me then was that many people are unaware of how easy it has become to create multi-media content, and that demonstrating this is a good 'way in' to appreciating the potential of a whole range of new(ish) technologies.