Tag: innovative teaching

#moodleDACH18 – a success story

A month ago ETH hosted the Moodle DACHunconference and Devcamp (https://www.moodle-dach.eu/) which has a specific focus on using Moodle in the higher education context. About 140 Moodle administrators, power users and developers from all over the world, met in the Earth sciences building. During the entire event the hashtag #moodleDACH18 was used. View the twitter wall with impressions and thoughts at https://walls.io/moodledach18.

Unconference

The first part was organised as a BarCamp. This format focusses on interactive meetings with short inputs. The agenda is co-constructed with the participants on the first morning of the conference. This means there are no submissions, papers or presentations submitted ahead of time, which greatly minimises preparation and the organisational work required. The participants were invited to pitch ideas for a session within 30 seconds. Directly afterwards these ideas were added to an online programme (session plan BarCamp) and allocated to an available meeting room. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), learning analytics, the usability of Moodle and online exams were central topics and well visited.

Participants queuing to pitch their ideas for a session.

DevCamp

After a day and a half of BarCamp the DevCamp started. After another idea pitching phase, 12 development projects started. Their primary goal was to have working code after the DevCamp. It was impressive to see, how the projects grew and almost all succeeded in presenting a working result on the final day. You can find an overview of the projects here (DevCamp projects). All participants then voted for the best project and thanks to our sponsors, three projects («Essay question word/char count», «Notification API Message Output», «MCDS-Moodle content Delivery System Admin Tool») won a prize.


Closing image of the DevCamp with most of the participants.

Conclusion

#moodleDACH18 was a real success story. The BarCampmethod changes the way how a conference works entirely. Interactive, spontaneous, diverse, discursive and cross-linked –those are all the hallmarks of a BarCamp, and we believe, this is one way how conferences of the 21st century could look. It minimises the preparation time and allows for flexibility and emergent topics. Additionally, the BarCamps were completely digitised. By using Moodle, Twitter and Google Docs there wasn’t hardcopy of anything to be seen anywhere.

The Moodle team at LET benefited strongly by participating in this event. Firstly, there was benefit that comes from networking with others from different higher education institutions. Seeing how Moodle is implemented in other places helps to identify areas where ETH is on the cutting edge, such as online exams, or where we could learn from the experience of others. Secondly, it nourishes relationships and thirdly, it helps to drive strategy for the development of Moodle on an institutional level and more generally.

The next Moodle DACH will be in Vienna.

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Virtual field trips enhance Production Management classes

Using factory-visit apps and affordable cardboard viewers, Professor Torbjørn Netland and his team innovate how production management can be taught.  By integrating Virtual Reality (VR) technology in the spring term course Global Operations Strategy at ETH Zurich, the teaching team provided students rare access to multiple factory sites and their inner workings. The students used VR apps in order to help them complete graded course assignments.

What triggered this experiment?


A student using the cardboard viewer

“Production and operations management is an applied field, but it is difficult to teach all the inner workings of a factory in a classroom. Because I cannot always bring students to the field, I wanted to bring the factory to the students. VR now offers unprecedented opportunities for doing so, and ABB had the app I needed. My impression is that students generally enjoyed this teaching innovation” –  Prof. Dr. Netland

In optimal class conditions, students may be able to visit one factory in order to see how the concepts they are learning in class relate to the real world. However, field trips are resource intensive to organise and they have limitations. Not all students may be able to attend and they usually rely on their memory (or written notes) to recall relevant information later.

The use of the VR app enables students not only to revisit the factory as often as they would like, it also gives them access to spaces they may not have previously been able to see, such as a close-up view of a milling machine in action, or entry to a dust-free zone. Since the apps enable students to visit multiple company sites with a minuscule time and resource investment, the value of the virtual tours becomes very clear.

What exactly did they do?

With the help of two research associates, Oliver Flaeschner and Omid Maghazei, Prof. Netland compared the learning objectives of his course to the information already contained in the virtual tour apps produced by the ABB group. By adjusting their assignment questions for their teaching case, they created alignment between the content provided in the apps and the students’ assignment questions. With the help of the apps, their own smartphones and cardboard VR viewers, students navigated their way around five different factories in three countries, observed machinery and people in action and gathered information relevant to their assignments.

What were the results?

The teaching team conducted an evaluation survey, two focus groups and collected additional written feedback. The Faculty Development staff from the Educational Development and Technology unit (LET) provided support to ensure that student anonymity was preserved. The results showed that students initially found the opportunity to use VR fun and motivating. While there were some technical difficulties and temporary negative physical side-effects such as dizziness and headaches, in general students stated they enjoyed the opportunity to explore the virtual factory as often as they would like, and at their own pace and availability.

They also reported feeling a high degree of autonomy as they actively engaged with the information. The teaching team did not attempt to measure a learning gain this time, but are encouraged by this pilot project and are planning further development and evaluation of this teaching innovation.  In the meantime, the results of the research have been written up and will be presented at the EurOMA Conference in Hungary in June this year.

 

Should readers wish to find out more, they are welcome to contact Prof. Dr. Netland directly for more information.

Oliver Flaeschner, Torbjorn Netland and Omid Maghazei

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Welcome

Dear Reader,

Increasingly, people who teach in higher education acknowledge their role in crafting effective learning experiences. They seek out information, dialogue, support and ongoing development to help them bring specific, evidence-based strategies to their teaching practices.

Our central unit LET plays a pivotal role in supporting good teaching and a learning-centred environment. LET is a unit of the Rector at ETH Zurich and stands for Educational Development and Technology. We fulfil our task by offering didactic courses, supporting innovative teaching, moderating curriculum development processes, facilitating online exams, evaluating lectures and examinations, and managing the IT services these activities require.

With this blog, we aim to create a space where we can showcase effective teaching practices, share information and reflections with regards to projects from our unit, and generally inspire discussion on educational development, technology, and innovation.

Moreover, we hope this blog contributes to creating an interdisciplinary community of people all over ETH who are engaged in learning-centred teaching, its further dissemination and development.

We cordially invite you to give us feedback on the blog and its contents. To do so, please use the “contact us” form on the “About this blog” page.

I’m looking forward to making this blog a valuable resource for teaching staff at ETH and beyond.

Warm regards,

Daniel Halter
Director, Educational Development and Technology

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