I have been a Social Policy lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies since September 2004 and I was Co-Director of the BA Early Years and Childhood Studies BA EYCS studies (September 2015-January 2019). I engage extensively in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and supervision. Currently I teach a number of Social Policy modules in the Early Years and Childhood Studies BA and seminars at postgraduate level on the Masters in Social Policy. My on-going research and social policy engagement influences my teaching and has allowed me to engage students with the most current research and social policy discourses. I currently cosupervise five PhD students and I have co-supervised two PhD students to completion.
As a lecturer, I have developed my explanatory skills and use diverse teaching methods to engage my students’ attention. For example, I use discussion groups, debates, educational questioning and presentations to allow a democratic process to develop rather than an authoritarian style of teaching. The use of technology such as multi-media material and Blackboard, and Google Educational Apps allows students multi-platforms for engaging with my teaching materials. It provokes and promotes discussion and contributes to the group learning process. Participative learning communities, small group discussions, shared learning goals and student feedback are employed to meet these objectives and enhance student engagement.
I use a range of technology within my teaching including email, PowerPoint, YouTube, Blackboard (discussion boards and other inbuilt applications), Google Educational Apps and Twitter.
I incorporate multi-media materials in my lectures and supplement this content with new content we have created with UCC’s Audio Visual Department utilising our students’ placement experiences. For example the EYCS team are developing a short film in conjunction with AVD with one of our students demonstrating the use of LAMH to communicate with children with Special Educational Needs. I incorporate the use of the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment to support my teaching and make use of PADLET to support student engagement. I use web-casts of RTE Prime-Time debates or youth-generated content to introduce topical political debate and discussion to the class. In addition to the lecture reading lists I recommend the use of Podcast such as the BBC 4 podcast ‘Thinking Allowed’ which interviews academics on their research and often has episodes directly relevant to my lecture content. I introduced and designed an online student survey using Google Forms for our final year BA EYCS students to allow them to assess their overall course experiences. The Survey was co-designed with our 3rd year student reps to ensure it was relevant to the student’s experiences and the survey enables student voice to be central to future course planning and curriculum design.
The use of technology has allowed me to engage with the students across multiple platforms and has allowed students who may not engage in class other opportunities to engage with me and my lecture content. Reflecting the need to support students different learning styles I also use a number of multi-media clips in this class which are relevant to this topic. For example, I use a clip from the RTE States of Fear Documentary which gives first-hand survivor accounts of living in the Industrial School and had a huge impact on bringing this issue to public and political attention when it was first aired and was a watershed moment. The use of in-class videos prompts discussion with the students and allows them to hear first hand accounts of survivors testimony from Industrial Schools which adds greatly to the impact of the lecture material for the students. As a teaching team we have also used Dropbox to share teaching materials and lesson plans and this has allowed more intensive collaboration.
I have engaged with the SPEEDs programme and I have participated in SPEEDS events to enhance my use of technology in my teaching and student engagement. I recently contributed to a session organised by SPEEDS called DigiJam (June 2018) and I have found the ByteSized sessions from SPEEDS really helpful.