Innovative technologies have begun to mould the world of education. Live streaming and social media tools have opened up academia to a global audience and, as Darren Moon writes, these technologies hold a two-way benefit for speakers, organisers and attendees.

How is technology shaping the world of education? We at the Centre for Learning Technology (CLT) are lucky, as we’re involved in a very active and supportive network of e-learning practitioners, across the UK education sector, who enthusiastically share their experiences and exchange best practice. My colleagues and I benefit from this open exchange with peers at other institutions and this, in turn, helps us improve the service we provide for staff and students across the LSE.

It occurred to us that by opening up these discussions to a larger network, to include people outside of UK education, we could enrich the debates already being had about the potential of technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experience and so, our seminar series, NetworkED, was conceived to have just this sort of impact.

We have already hosted speakers from both in and outside of the education sector, and from a variety of professional backgrounds: CLT’s own Dr Jane Secker and Dr. Emma Coonan of Cambridge University have spoken about their newly developed digital literacy curriculum, ANCIL; while Guardian technology commentator Professor John Naughton from the Open University discussed the importance of understanding the Internet within the context of modern society.

While the talks cover various theoretical issues related to the impact of technology on education, they also provide CLT with an opportunity to pilot innovative, lightweight technologies for live streaming, increasing engagement and widening participation for events of this type. The idea being, that the events themselves demonstrate some of the new ways that institutions can deliver teaching.

The team in CLT have trialed different live streaming solutions: Telestream’s Wirecast which runs on a laptop with connected camera, and Livu which is an application for iPad that enable live streaming. These solutions are relatively low-cost and allow you to do with a laptop or a mobile device, what would have once required – quite literally – a truckload of expensive technology and a considerable crew to achieve. So far, our live streams have been viewed by audiences in the UK, US, Netherlands, Sweden, and France. For those unable to participate in the event as it happens, we also make available a recorded version of the event which gets posted shortly afterwards. This enable the events to have an impact beyond the original live stream and has so far attracted views from Australia, Canada, China, Greece, Hungary, Israel, New Zealand and Spain.

From the outset, we decided that engagement with our online audience was important and that Twitter would provide an essential channel for encouraging discussion and responding to questions. We decided on a hashtag that was both descriptive and short enough (#LSENetED), and used it to advertise and promote the first seminar to an outside audience. During the sessions we try to tweet short summaries of the talks and to elicit questions and/or comments from fellow tweeters to the speakers. During the Q&A that follows each presentation, we read out the comments and questions for the speakers to answer them in person, just as if they had been in the room. We think that this creates a greater sense of inclusion and participation for those who cannot attend in person. By using Twitter in this way, we hope that the events themselves mark the beginning of a debate that continues online long after they have concluded.

For the next in our series, we are very happy to welcome Professor Martin Weller from Open University this afternoon to share with us his thoughts on digital scholarship. You can follow our conversations on twitter or, watch the event live here.

 

If you would like to find out more about the series and any upcoming events or view any of the previous presentations, do visit the NetworkED website. NetworkED is organised by LSE’s Centre for Learning Technology (CLT) and funded by the LSE Annual Fund. The series is open to all at the LSE and, as a key part of the initiative; each session is also streamed live to the internet to reach a wider, external audience.

Note: This article gives the views of the author(s), and not the position of the Impact of Social Sciences blog, nor of the London School of Economics.

 

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