This year's Academic Reps conference, run by the Students' Union on 31 October 2015, saw Dr Jessica Francombe-Webb and Sarah Turpin, Project Co-leaders for the Alumni funded LITEbox initiative, leading their first session on digital technologies.
Joined by a group of 20 Academic Reps, Jess opened the session by inviting the students to reflect on their use of digital technologies, both in their everyday lives, and in support of their learning and teaching since taking up their studies at the University.
Working in two groups, the students identified a wide and diverse range of technologies including tablets, smartphones, social media.
Commenting on the feedback from students, Dr Francombe-Webb said:
"The response and levels of engagement that students have with digital technologies in all aspects of their lives reinforces the view that as a learning institution we need to increase our understanding of how we can use this vast array of powerful tools available to us to find new ways to enrich the student experience; not to just aid deeper learning but to ensure that we equip our students with broader skills transferable to the workplace."
Providing students with an overview of the LITEbox initiative, which aims to provide opportunities for students and staff to learn, share and develop their knowledge and skills in using new and existing technologies, Sarah Turpin made particular mention of the LITEbox designated group working space, 8 West 1.28. Located in the lower floor of the 8 West building, this room is equipped with six work zones, each with docking stations, headphone sockets and digital screens enabling students to work on projects and other group work. The students attending expressed particular interest in this type of independent learning space and were pleased to learn that they are able to book the six work zones separately through the Timetabling office.
Jess then provided students with a brief overview of multimedia messaging walls such as Linoit and Padlet. She described some of the benefits of these tools both in and outside the classroom such as enabling students to comment and ask questions anonymously, give feedback and share ideas with each other. Working on ten mini iPads, which are part of the Department for Health's Connected Learning Lab, the students enjoyed a hands-on session by practising posting comments and questions. Some of the group discussion included how applications such as these might usefully help the students in their Academic Rep roles to communicate with their peers and gather views and opinions. Sarah also mentioned Trello, another freely available electronic board enabling students to organise and manage their own work, plan and undertake projects and share progress updates and ideas with other students.
Students were encouraged to engage with LITEbox events and feed back to the LITEbox team their ideas on digital technologies.