Monday, 18 March 2019

Doing Digital Transformation #OpenBlog19

So I find myself challenged by Neil Withnell to contribute to #OpenBlog19, an idea that generated from David Hopkins — so I will try to do the challenge justice.

The topic provided "Doing digital transformation"

As someone whose career and interests revolve around Science, Engineering, Computing and how we teach these subjects, it is not going to be a surprise to anyone that I see the digital transformation as a largely exciting. But, I am not entirely sure though I know what exactly it means. There seems to various takes. seeming to come down the direction you come at it, as an example Digital transformation in education: The FutureLearn view focuses on MOOCs. So my take, is that we can start playing around with different ways of working with digital approaches, in partnership with our students and the advice of others, accepting they wouldn't always work - but it was probably fun getting there. I am going to try and illustrate this with an example.

A long-term personal interest has been introducing robots into the teaching programming; it is physical, visual and has had a history of being used in primary schools. Feedback from students on using robots was positive and their feedback and suggestions lead to changes in the nature of the tasks and how it is used.

Now for the but; there have been some issues:

  • It is difficult to scale - going from a module with 20-30 students to one with 160 (or over 200 with partner colleges) leads to resources issues. This has a knock-on effect on assignments, limited robots lead to less flexibility in where and when the assignment can be done.
  • Equipment failures or parts going missing also affects the experience.
So a change was implemented, moving across to simulated robot activities rather than physical robots; which came out of the collaboration with a number of colleagues and discussion with students.

This transformation of introducing robots was partially successful, it was liked and commented on by the students, but it has had issues. It was the collaboration with colleagues, students and the interaction with the wider community (both HE and Primary School educators)  that improved it. 

I believe doing digital transformation is not (or perhaps shouldn't be) a solo activity, but one that benefits from openness and sharing of practices. We might have to accept is not always going to be the outstanding success we initially hope for, but it can still be successful. The chances are as well, it was positive for both the students and us, getting there.


All views are the authors, and may not reflect the views of any organisation the author is connected with in any way.

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