By Kirsty Bundy
Many students who follow this course are interested in pursuing a career in teaching and as such we felt that we wanted to provide them with a useful resource in which they could store their work,
assessments and other resources they are given and produce over the life span of the degree. We also wanted to create a resource in which the student and the lecturer (s) could communicate about the work being produced as a means of offering guidance and support for the students through the three year course.
Each student has their own Blog site which has been designed to encompass all modules related to teaching included in each year of the degree. The blog has been structured in such a way that each module is itemised and then broken down further into specific headings depending upon the contents of module handbook. Within the modules, students are expected to update weekly reflections based on the lectures/practical/seminars of that particular week. Although the weekly reflections are not graded, they are a compulsory element of each module and do contribute towards the students’ final grades. As the module leader, I have access to each student’s Blog and check these regularly, usually once every two weeks. I have found them to be a very interesting form of communication and a means of formative assessment in relation to how well each student is understanding the content. This has been extremely beneficial. It not only allows me to see who is uploading their reflections but also how well they have understood and engaged with the lecture content. This in turn helps me to evaluate aspects of my own practice and make amendments for the next time I see them if I feel there is anything that they haven’t grasped or anything they would like further clarification on. It could be argued that this is quite a time consuming task, but thus far, I have found that the benefits of doing this far outweigh the time lost to the exercise.
This year we are also experimenting with using the blogsite to submit assignments. Currently, this is not linked to ‘Turnitin’ and we are informing student that they need to run their assignment through ‘Turnitin’ before submitting their work to the blog. The obvious concerns related to this form of assignment submission is being able to identify any form of collusion. However, with the numbers of students, 34 in year 1 and 24 in year 2; it is envisaged that the module leader will be able to monitor this when marking the work. Each blog has been designed with the same features, students can customise their own blog but the headings are bespoke to the course. If we want to add additional headings this then has to be done to each site in turn as each student site is a clone of the first site built. It was therefore important to trial the site ahead of the cloning process to ensure that we had included the appropriate contents. It is anticipated that by the end of the three years the students will have built up an extensive resource bank which they can continue to add to and use having completed their degree. This will be especially useful if the students intend to continue their studies or embark on a career in this field as the blog remains theirs and they will continue to have full access to it and the work and resources they have produced within it.