This year’s novelty

Come on, live a little

One of the things I like most about having an interest in learning and teaching is that it never stands still; there’s always another angle to explore.

Moreover, those angles aren’t always ones I know much about, so it’s an opportunity for me to broaden my knowledge and experience in ways that I might not even have thought possible.

For that reason, I often sign up for pilots and trials at work, because maybe it’ll prove useful.

(not always though: I once had an unhappy few weeks with an interactive whiteboard, about which I’ll say no more)

With all this in mind, this year I’m going to be trying out a tool for writing exams on laptops in exams.

Straight away, I’m imagining several of you saying, “but’s that really old: we’ve been doing that for ages.” And you’d be right.

However, we’ve not.

It’s been something that floated around our institution for many years, but which got bumped down the list behind more pressing IT projects, not least because we went through a big upheaval on assessments only about five years ago, moving to almost complete online submission of coursework then.

Any way, the time/budget has apparently come for moving away from writing exams by hand (yeah!) and building a system to allow partial or full lock-downs of laptops in exam rooms.

On the short demo I’ve had last week, it’s also pretty obvious stuff, but I’ll be able to say more when I’ve had the more proper training before I roll it out for my module in the spring semester.

Of course, being me, I’m going to try and use it in a somewhat different kind of way, but rather than get into that now, people are checking if what I want is technically possible. I’m hopeful, not least because this system could free up a couple of hours of contact time, which I can then spend focusing on helping students to understand the difference between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism.

I know.

With that whiteboard thing in mind, I’m not going to say it’s definitely going to work for me – although I have pretty reason to think it will – but I will encourage you to try out something that’s new for you in what you do this academic year, even if it’s a small thing.

As we often discuss on ALPS Blog, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and limit ourselves to the tried and tested. 

Playing a curve ball can help keep you on your toes, bring something new to your students’ experience and maybe open up a new area of practice for you to work in.

Worst case, it doesn’t work for you, but you should get a sense of how it could work for others. To return to that whiteboard once more, I wrote up my experience for the trial and highlighted where it could be really effective (unfortunately for me, not in the way that I taught back then).

Expect more from me on this during 2019.