In defence of quick hits

Here’s a thought which has been raised by my participation in ALT-C (incidentally when participants sign up for the social network associated with the conference, they are asked whether they intend to blog about it, so I will certainly put up a couple of posts based around the event).

I’m contributing – along with two people who are essentially learning technologists rather than educators – to a presentation about lecture capture.  Significantly, in the context of my lectures, I was careful to regard lecture capture as the proverbial flyon the wall, and not to allow its presence to influence my own behaviour.  In particular, even though the lecture capture used a fixed camera focused on the front of the room, I would still walk around the room, still invite students to participate, and still lead discussions.  In fact during student discussions, where the camera was fixed on an empty seat at the front while the microphone picked up the sound of me moderating a dialogue among students elsewhere in the room, the effect would have been rather like that of listening to a serious discussion taking place on the radio.

So lecture capture in this instance could be regarded as a bolt-on to an existing set of classes.  It was clearly appreciated by the students, and could be regarded as a ‘quick hit’ which could be achieved by bringing in something new with minimal impact on the existing pedagogic processes.

Maybe I’m reading too much into a few remarks, but I detect an undercurrent in some of the dialogue surrounding learning technology that it should be about transforming the student experience, and should be embedded in the way that students are taught – with the corrollary that simply adding a bit of technology such as lecture capture is rather an unfashionable approach.  But the concept of the quick hit does come up in a lot of management discourse about dealing with change.  And it was interesting to reflect on why lecture capture provided quick hits for the module where I used it: it was an innovative approach which neatly complemented the student discussions and presentations which I knew were popular on this module.

Of course there isn’t a contradiction between having major change an an institution and promoting quick hits.  It could very easily be argued that both are necessary.

However there is another point around the way that innovations in pedagogy are promoted and disseminated within the university where I work at least.  We hold occasions such as the showcase – see again my blog entry from earlier in the year – to allow people who have made local initiatives to reach a wider audience.  So this is an approach which does value quick hits because it encourages a ‘bottom-up’ approach where individuals can try out different ideas and publicise them, not a ‘top-down’ approach which is focused on promoting a particular overarching strategy.

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