Parallel Texts #2 – What We’ve Learned So Far

This blog has been co-written by Jess Shaw (@JessShawExpArc) and Charlie Berry @charliefoy, the two student Project Coordinators working on the Parallel Texts project (@parallel_texts). In this short blog, Jess and Charlie give an update on the project, their first network meeting in November, and how you can get involved in the second!

Our “Rethinking education through the lens of parallel texts” project had its first network meeting last month. Throughout the hour, the topics of debate ranged from annotation, unstructured vs structured information, and the social dynamics of teaching and learning. Those who attended, both staff and students, were all passionate about education and new technologies that can enhance learning. This blog post is a chance to think more about some of the points raised and to continue the conversation.  

The ‘Privileged’ Voice of the Teacher

Often the teacher or module convenor is the most important person in the classroom. Is this the way it should be? Or should we consider the possibility of valuing different voices?

When the teacher is the only voice that is considered, this can make it difficult for students to feel like their contributions are valued, or might discourage some from participating at all. Often, conversations between students when there is no presence of an authority figure can turn out to be vibrant and enriching, even if they explore ideas in a way that is not “correct.” Thinking about ways to best include everybody in the classroom will allow for a more collaborative learning experience. Engagement is more critical than ever, with increasing amounts of teaching occurring online.

Assessments – Marking and Moderating

Parallel texts are not only useful in teaching but also have the potential to revolutionise both marking and moderation. For example, the possibility of moderators to see the annotations of markers side by side would allow for an improved moderation experience. If there were a way to dynamically link, for example, assignment brief, marking criteria, passages in student submissions and a marker’s comments together, this would allow for a “bigger picture” view of students work, and a more dynamic evaluation process.

The Collaborative Process

Would students be happy to share their work with others? For example, by using collaborative annotation software which allows students to annotate web pages or PDFs in real-time, their comments would be visible to their classmates. Some within our meeting had some well-founded concerns about this subject.

Perhaps students would be more likely to participate in this way if they felt that it was something that would directly benefit them. If more were done to establish a culture of participation, in which students were encouraged to collaborate alongside one another, this would help them feel actively involved in the learning process.

Critical to our project is considering the question “Would students want to engage in this way?” Is the idea of parallel texts one that will be able to transform learning? Do students see alternative tools as something which will enhance their learning and benefit them? These are all topics which we need to acknowledge in our work on this project. It is of the utmost importance that we understand the social dynamics of both teaching and learning just as much as we consider the technologies to implement them.

If you would like to attend our next meeting on Thursday 3rd December at 13:30, in which we will be discussing the web annotation tool ‘Hypothes.is’, please email Project Coordinators Jess Shaw jfs209@exeter.ac.uk and Charlie Berry cfb207@exeter.ac.uk.

Education Higher Education Incubator Online Learning Project Success for All

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The University of Exeter’s Education Incubator scheme. Promoting pedagogic innovation and collaboration with an aim to enhance learning across the University and beyond.

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