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SEED projects 2019 – A new Canvas for teaching and learning

Large-scale interactives for large-enrolment courses

Anna FergussonAnna Fergusson and Rhys Jones (Faculty of Science)

The learning context for this project in 2019 was one of the largest first stage papers offered by the University, STATS 10x, which has over 2000 students per semester and lecture sizes of up to 600 students. Recently we began to develop new large-scale interactives for our large introductory statistics and data science courses, using custom-designed web applications. Building off our successful experience using clicker-based systems, we were seeking to transform the use of students’ web-enabled devices (phones, tables and laptops) within our lectures.

We have already captured a wider range of data than is possible with the clicker-based system, with positive feedback and high levels of participation of our students. One example of one large-scale interactive involved students making data visualisations out of Playdoh, pictures which were then live-streamed to the data projector in the lecture room using their phones. Other interactives have involved using student phones to collect data live, then using web-based coding or software applications on their phones to analyse the data, all within the same lecture. These large-scale interactives are not just about using technology but are grounded by an emerging design framework of how to engage students within a large-class lecture.

These interactives had been implemented through Google web applications created by us, with data collected from the web apps available to the teachers and students through their Google-based email accounts and drives. The integration of these learning interactives within the Canvas learning environment created additional dimensions, including capturing richer information about student engagement and the use of the apps as part of assessment. The project was based on the following aims:

  1. Further explore the use of custom-designed Google web apps within large lecturers to enhance learning and teaching.
  2. Provide guidelines for the design and implementation of large-scale interactives.
  3. Develop the technology needed to integrate the apps within Canvas.

The project gave us an opportunity to provide a stronger foundation for implementing these large-scale interactives more widely across introductory courses. Along with our colleagues, we are constantly reviewing and updating our teaching material to ensure students have access to high quality learning programmes in statistics. We are always searching for new ways to engage our students and to find good measures of how well our students are understanding the material being covered. This innovative project for enhancing interactivity with large-enrolment classes has allowed us to engage with of some of the many affordances of digital technologies in education.