Digital playground

Tagged: Research

Using tablets and other technology in research-inspired teaching

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📥  LITEbox Event

This event has now taken place, a write up is available including benefits and drawbacks of using the iPad to teach in lectures

Dr Kit Yates is a relatively new lecturer who has been fortunate enough to have some of his research covered by the media. As such, he has become practiced in explaining his research to a lay audience, which has helped to incorporate various aspects of his research into teaching.

In this talk Dr Yates will share his experiences of using the media to publicise research, research enhanced teaching, and also using iPads in class for teaching, and will try to give a live demonstration of the technology. However, he warns that these are only his experiences and will not zealously suggest that what works for him will work for everyone. Come along to learn what has helped Kit, and share your opinions on how an iPad could work for your teaching.

Kit has explored a number of different ways of delivering lectures with various technologies, including the use of an iPad to deliver lectures, which can be particularly helpful for issues such as inclusivity, and reproducibility in teaching. He also been combining the use of the iPad with lecture capture for his own variety of flipped teaching.


Lessons from the Universe

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📥  Event Review

On 23rd October Professor Carole Mundell shared her Lessons from the Universe to a wide audience of academic staff, support staff, researchers and students. One reflection of the session was:

This was a truly inspirational talk which made me think about how familiar technology could be used to do real research

Please use the comments section below to discuss your thoughts on revolutionary research and it's link to teaching and engagement. You can also watch a recording of the talk below.


Professor Carole Mundell introducing her talk

The event started with a brief overview of astrophysics, including the fact that it is possible to tell things such as the the ages of galaxies by their colours. The goal driven problems which Astrophysicists are trying to solve are both exciting and extreme, where records are continually broken in all aspects, including largest magnetic field, most distant object, and the list continues. Due to these extremes being measured, there is a continual drive for technology to be developed at such a fast pace there are noticeable developments every year.

Carole then described how telescopes around the world are now being used in arrays. These arrays can provide data which would only otherwise be possible to obtain by manufacturing an impossibly large telescopes. The next topic was gamma ray bursts - extremely high energy bursts which were detected for the first time 50 years ago by accident, and can occur in a timespan of milliseconds. In order to monitor these in the current day we need real time observation, creating vast amounts of data. This data can be automatically probed and observed in order to find a tiny unique bit of data amongst data collected from the whole universe. In order to develop these technologies a cross disciplinary set of skills is required, particularly engineers who can design and build these technologies.

Before the final remarks on the next decade and beyond, and how Astrophysics links to all other aspects of our lives, Carole joked that we could use Mantis shrimp with telescopes to observe the cosmos with. These shrimp have 12-colour imaging which is better than both the 3-colour imaging which humans have, and also better than the technology we currently have. Our goal is to use biomimicry to create new technology which can surpass current technologies.

In order to inspire a new generation of Astrophysicists, it is vital to work with current students and engage them in solving real life problems and revolutionary research. Not only does citizen science assist scientific research developments, but by including people of all ages - including school based programmes - everyone can share excitement of taking ownership of new data.

One student who attended the event confirmed this by saying:

The more students who turn up to inspiring talks on state of the art developments, the more likely someone will be motivated, and ultimately these motivations will cause the future developments and technologies we see in the world.


Please have a look at more of our upcoming events list, including using multimedia message walls to collate students' thoughts, and technologies to help with flipped teaching.

Watch a video of the Carole Mundell's Lessons from the Universe below:


LITEbox: Lessons from the Universe


📥  LITEbox Event

Date: Friday 23 October 2015
Time: 12.30pm - 1.30pm
Venue: 8 West 2.5

This event has now happened. An event review including full recording is available to view.

On Friday 23 October, world-leading Astrophysicist, Carole Mundell, one of the University’s most recently appointed professors, will share her ‘Lessons from the Universe’ with us as part of this semester’s LITEbox programme of events. Alongside her colleagues in the Department of Physics, Professor Mundell is establishing a new Astrophysics research group and undergraduate Physics with Astrophysics programme.

All staff and students are welcome to attend this event which will take place from 12.30pm to 1.30pm in 8 West 2.5. Places will be limited by space so please register your attendance by emailing the LITEbox team.

Professor Mundell is an observational astrophysicist who specialises in cosmic explosions driven by supermassive black holes that lie at the hearts of galaxies and Gamma Ray Bursts, and her presentation will take us on a journey through her experiences of the research-teaching nexus. This journey will explore and highlight the particular role that new and existing technologies play in Professor Mundell’s research. She will introduce the world of autonomous robotic telescopes, real-time astrophysics and the challenges of a new era of ‘big data’ in time-domain science.

Highly committed to the delivery of research-enriched teaching and the significant role technology can play, Professor Mundell said:

“I am delighted to participate in the LITEbox initiative as this provides us with opportunities to learn and share ideas – what does and does not work – across the institution. Technology plays a key role in all our lives; astrophysics catches the public imagination and research at the cutting-edge allows us to inspire the next generation of innovators.”

Supporting these latest new developments in the Department of Physics, Professor Jonathan Knight, himself a leading Physicist and founding member of the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials and recently appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), expressed his own keen interest in the role technology has to play in both teaching and research.

Professor Knight said:

“My own interests lie in how modern technology enables us to do all sorts of things that would have been completely unthinkable just a few short years ago. This approach enables us to do fundamental research but using the latest high-tech infrastructure. I am delighted that Professor Mundell has joined us. She shares our vision of exploring and exploiting new and existing technologies to maximum effect, and this is as true in teaching as in research. I am greatly looking forward to this LITEbox session and hope staff will be able to attend.”

Read more about Professor Carole Mundell and find out more about LITEbox.

Carole Mundell, photograph by Max Alexander

Carole Mundell
photograph by Max Alexander

Further information email LITEbox.


LITEbox Event: Riddle me this: what is a technology?

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📥  LITEbox Event

This event has already happened, please read the write up which includes a recording.



Across the Higher Education sector there appears to be shared agreement about the value of technology to enhance student experience and to promote creative teaching environments. Learning technologies such as PowerPoint, virtual learning environments such as Moodle and e-learning platforms such as twitter are now freely available and commonplace within Higher Education. Some might say that the use of technology-enhanced teaching has become synonymous with innovation, but has this led to the deployment of technology for technology’s sake? Have we become over reliant on technology and in particular digital technology as technology par excellence?

During this seminar Dr John Troyer will discuss the theoretical and methodological role of technology within his research and the way that this has shaped his use of technology within his undergraduate teaching. He will draw on his teaching experience as a case study through which to discuss the rise of digital technology, the implication for student engagement and his attempts to avoid techno-determinism within his practices. Within the seminar he will challenge the taken for granted assumption that technology, in the form of digital technology, is inherently beneficial for students and teachers as well as wider society.