A Way Forward Together
This past year has given many the opportunity to integrate new technology into their teaching practices. With the prospect of a return to campus on the horizon, our IUA Student Intern Míde Nic Fhionnlaoich discusses the importance of student partnerships in bringing the lessons learned during Covid-19 back into the classroom.
Students as Partners is an approach to education which acknowledges students have important experience and insight into how we teach and learn, and that students and staff should work in partnership to improve teaching and learning.
The changing landscape of teaching and learning means that the student experience is changing rapidly from year to year. The switch to online delivery meant many used new technologies for the first time, and with the prospect of returning to in-person teaching on the horizon, student partnerships are key to bringing the best of these tools back to campus.
Many of the most useful tools in teaching and learning are ones that were not available to those who teach during their time as students. While this past year has provided a unique opportunity to engage with these tools in teaching online, it also means teaching staff have likely not used many of these technologies from the position of a student. A gap in perspective like this makes it even more important to include the voice of students in the teaching process by seeking feedback, suggestions and working with students to make the best use of technology in our classrooms, virtual or otherwise.
One thing that has been emphasised with fully online teaching is the importance of dialogue between students and staff. While general engagement with things like discussion boards or online tools like Kahoot and Padlet can be indicators of how effective these tools are, we can only truly get a view of how they work, why they work, and when they work through engaging directly with students. It can sometimes be tempting to let the quantitative data of engagement with materials and final grades speak for themselves, but in doing so we can miss out on a valuable opportunity to deepen our understanding of how these tools help students learn.
Possible ways to go about this could be speaking with past students about their views on the use of various technologies this past year, discussing which tools were most useful in their learning and in what contexts, and discussing how this could translate to in-person teaching. There are many ways to engage with students on how digital tools impact their learning, but no matter what form a staff-student partnership takes, the value of the student voice is clear.
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