Reflections on an internationally presented TLC

Adopting a transformative curriculum approach to teaching in a global higher education context: perspectives from a South African Institution – presenter by Dr. Rita Kizito
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

I have been a little bit slow to share my reflections on our most recent TLC but I have finally managed to get some thoughts together.  As usual my reflections are not out the topic of the TLC, but on the webinar format itself.  I have, however, shared slides and transcripts for the chat pod as requested at the end of the post.

The main aim of Teaching and Learning Conversations webinars has always been to bring together like minded colleagues from far and wide to share and discuss experiences of teaching and learning.  We have sought to have as wide an engagement as possible but I think it is fair to say that TLCs normally have a UK Higher Education focus and have engaged a primarily UK audience from HE institutions old and new from across the whole of the U.K.  That said it is not uncommon for TLCs to drawn interest from farther afield and increasingly participants join in with TLCs, in real time, from many countries including USA and Canada, Russia, India and even as far away as Australia.  It may also worth pointing it that we have a “strong international” contingent within the TLC organising group.

Despite the increasing robustness of web conferencing tools like Adobe Connect and the prevalence in many countries of broadband internet connections remote participation in webinar events is not without its technical challenges.  The fact is that the more physically distributed a webinar audience is the more technical “stuff” there is in-between to potentially cause a problem.

In part, such challenges are mitigated by the design of the TLC webinar formats.  For example, we tend to invite participant questions and comments to be expressed via the chat tool while audio and video contributions from participants are managed using the raise hands tool so that we have one contribution at a time.  Not only does this provide order and structure to question and answer activities but it also minimises pressure on available bandwidth which is probably the major cause of audio and video problems.

This webinar was something of a first for TLCs in that our presenter, Dr Rita Kizito, was actually in South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.  I will be honest and admit that I was slightly nervous.  If we encounter technical problems with participants audio we can easily fall back onto the chat tool for them to make comments and/or put questions to the presenter/facilitator.  Not so with a presenter, and encountering technical problems with the presenters audio would probably end the session prematurely.  In preparation, the day before the TLC, Rita and I logged into the webinar room to test things out and after a few minutes we had everything working as we wanted.

One the day, the TLC itself went without a hitch.  Rita presented expertly on the topic and engaged participants in two activities using the chat room to share experiences of developing a transformative curriculum. A full recording of the session is available at:
http://mmu.adobeconnect.com/p7i6f0p3tlf/

Rita has also kindly shared her slides from the TLC:
Rita Kizito: Adopting a transformative curriculum: Slides

During the activities colleagues shared their ideas and experiences and also links to useful resources and further reading.  A copy of the text transcript from the chat pod including the links to these resources has also been made available:
Transcrip of chat pod including posted links

I think we can say that our first internationally presented TLC was a great success and we look forward to including more international topics and presenters in future TLCs.  As I have said in previous posts I believe that good planning, preparation and taking the time to test things in advance is key to successful webinars.

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About Rod Cullen

I am a Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Learning Innovation Team at Manchester Metropolitan University. I have gained considerable experience over almost 20 years in design, delivery and evaluation of online learning, teaching and assessment. I am particularly interested in assessment and feedback practice as well as the emerging role of web conferencing technologies to support blended and distance learning.

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