Technology Enhanced Learning at Sussex

Digital practice within curriculum design

Dr Susann Wiedlitzka is a Lecturer in Criminology. We spoke to Susann to find out how she has gone about designing her module.

Crime & Media is a new module. How did you go about designing the module?

I first proposed a new module on Crime & Media in the Spring Term of 2018. From the outset I worked closely with Sussex Learning Technologists, discussing my ideas for the module with them and explaining my vision for incorporating different technology into my brand new seminars. The TEL team offered valuable insights into the teaching and learning technology that is available to all staff at the University of Sussex.

They encouraged me to consider the learning outcomes for the module when planning the teaching activities. For example, students should be able to analyse and critically evaluate current trends in the media portraying crime and criminals and so students were asked to find current examples in the media, add them to the seminar Padlet, and discuss these in relation to “news values".

You introduced a fair amount of technology into your module. What did you use and why?

I had seen a few colleagues use Padlet and PollEverywhere, before working with the TEL team, but had never tried it out myself. I liked the idea of it, but always thought I wouldn’t have enough time to teach myself how to incorporate new technology within my own teaching. However, the TEL team provided really helpful support, from finding an interesting online game on fake news to offering on site support for the technology at the first seminar. I also didn’t want to use technology just as an add-on, and it was important to me to consistently use the different tools throughout the term.

I predominantly used PollEverywhere within my PowerPoint slides to get an idea of what students already knew about a specific topic – for example, what media is – or things they recall from the assigned readings. I  sometimes provided students with additional information – for example, of how media is defined within the literature – and then tested what they had learned. This worked really well and I could see clearly how their thinking had shifted in their responses.

I created a Padlet for each week’s seminar, which included the activities or questions that we were discussing. This meant that students collected ideas and answers to these questions and always had some take-away notes from the seminar on each week’s topic. I also provided students with their own Essay-Padlets from the start of the term, where they were able to collect journal or media articles, or added notes from what they had learned in the seminars for their end-of-term assessment, as well as include an essay outline which I was able to give feedback on via the individual Padlets.

The feedback from your students is overwhelmingly positive. From your point of view what aspects of your module worked well?

I think my students really enjoyed the very unique approach to the seminars. It added an interactive element to class discussion, gave them a starting point to discuss the different Crime & Media topics, and provided them with the opportunity to collect and share ideas on each week’s topics. I also think that using this type of technology in seminars can really help students to have an input into class discussions without feeling like they have to speak up in front of the whole class. An additional positive aspect was that students who had missed a seminar were able to catch up with what had been discussed within the seminar, without having to contact fellow students for class notes. So there were many positives to using teaching and learning technology within my seminars.

From your point of view what didn't work so well and what will you change about the module in future?

I know that the teaching and learning technology we used in the Crime & Media module was not only foreign to me at the beginning but also new to the majority of my students, and this needed to be taken into consideration. Some of my students struggled especially with the setting up of their own Essay-Padlets as the login was different from the weekly seminar Padlets that only needed a password. I decided to provide some written instruction on how to set up the individual student Padlets next year, and also will allocate some time to trying it out within the first seminar. I am also aware that there is a lot more that can be done using Padlet, so I am planning on familiarising myself further with Padlet as a teaching tool in the future and will be on the lookout for any additional technology my students could benefit from.

Best Picks from the student feedback

"Padlet was very good to share info and work together and also as a revision tool as the items are staying up and can be viewed later on when needed"

"PollEv was really useful, the use of the word clouds was great at generating discussion and allowing people to share ideas as well as get further insights into their own.  Submitting answers anonymously is also helpful in some instances"

"Really enjoyed the module in comparison to my other modules this year. Good use of IT and great teaching"

"I think the technology made it a lot more interesting and interactive"

"Overall, I really enjoyed the module and thought that the use of the technology was beneficial for everyone"

Feature

Photo of Dr Susann Wiedlitzka

Dr Susann Wiedlitzka

Department: Sociology

Date: 2018 - 19

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