I currently teach on the Bachelor of Social Science, B. A. Early Years and Childhood Studies and Diploma in Social Studies. The modules I teach centre, in the main, on Irish social policy and politics. They include; Social Policy and Society, Politics and Social Policy, Social Research in Early Years and Childhood Studies, Social Analysis of the Community and Exploring Irish Social Policy. I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students in social policy. My teaching and learning objectives and practices are relatively straightforward. Teaching how to think, promoting engagement and interaction, and effectively conveying information. I tend to, where possible, focus on student-centred teaching and learning. These objectives shape my teaching practice as they necessarily involve effective communication and finding new ways to encourage engagement.
My teaching philosophy is student centred - teaching how to think, promoting engagement and interaction, and effectively conveying information. Technology is invaluable in assisting the realisation of my goals. Asking students to watch videos on YouTube helps to challenge attitudes and perspectives and requires students to think about society from another angle. Padlet is very useful in promoting engagement and interaction through a safe medium, and also helps in conveying information. Blackboard/Canvas and PowerPoint are vital in the transmission of material, and as teaching aids.
I currently use Blackboard, Canvas, Turnitin, Padlet, YouTube, PowerPoint and email.
Blackboard/Canvas is the platform I use to upload lecture slides, readings, etc. for students to access. Where possible, continuous assessment is submitted, corrected and feedback given on Turnitin. Padlet is used in a number of ways. With some modules, it is a supplement to Blackboard/Canvas with additional information, guides, links to videos, etc. available. In other modules, it is used as a forum in which students can ask questions (that they may not ask in class), which I then answer in class the following week. The fact that posts are anonymous in the Padlet forum gives greater confidence in asking questions. YouTube is used to show videos of news events, debates and social experiments which then facilitates discussion.
Comments from students who have submitted continuous assessment on Turnitin indicates that they prefer it to hard copy submissions, as it is more flexible and allows for greater engagement with feedback. The Padlet forum has proved to be a great success. Students have responded very positively to it. In large groups, people may not feel comfortable asking questions or making comments. The Padlet forum allows them to ask anything they wish, in the knowledge that the post will be anonymous and that the question will be answered the following week in class. In turn, this helps to promote engagement with the subject and allows an insight into what areas students may be struggling with.
Focusing on the Padlet forum again, while it has been very positive in the main, one of the disadvantages that can arise is an over reliance on it in asking questions and making comments, to the detriment of interaction in person in the classroom. To overcome this, other 'in person' techniques need to be utilised to encourage interaction and engagement.