Monday, 7 February 2011

How much can we do with new technology in teaching?


Big debates rage, inevitably, about how much new technology can change and reshape what's now called 'teaching and learning' in universities.

Needless to say, there are a lot of resources out there on the web - really the entry-level for such debates, because these are often just printed pages available on the screen. We've not really broken through yet to conceptualise how more interactive and exciting technologies will affect learning.

One example that's gone up today shows how we might inch forwards. I teach a course entitled 'Britain and the Sea since 1600', and the BFI on the South Bank (above) has just put up a great big site full of film resources on 'when Britain ruled the world'.

Not only does this project embody a good example of what we jargon-heavy academics call 'outreach' - with film events and talks across the UK - but it shows just how 'intertextual' we might make our essays and presentations. What about embedding a slice of the film in your talk? Quoting from it in your essay?

You'd have had to go there yourself, load the DVD and all that involves, for both cash and time that students may not have. Now, you just sit there and download the films - from documentaries about steelmaking to wartime propaganda films about the U-Boat menace, from Sean Connery talking to you about Clydeside to news footage of the great labour disputes of the 1970s. It's just a great resource.

No doubt I'm being pretty fuddy-duddy about all this even now, given that this is really just an easier way to get at stuff that existed already. But even at this humdrum practical level, it's pretty impressive.

Now there's just the analysis to do...

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