Me, teaching and technology

I teach mainly for the business school at London Metropolitan University, but I also teach for both the Law, Governance and International Relations dept. and the Department of Applied Social Sciences. My teaching interests are around the sociology of work, employment studies and corporate governance. This involves teaching and supporting a wide range of learners from very different backgrounds – including distance learning modules with trade union activists.

I am also a governor at a primary school where I also volunteer one afternoon a week; this is mainly for developing reading at key stage one, but I also sometimes do special short sessions on particular topics for key stage two (most recently fossils).

Currently I use powerpoint, weblearn and google documents (surveys and spreadsheets) in my teaching. I have developed my skills on powerpoint but I do find it a bit limited in its flexibility to integrate different sources and be more spontaneous.

Weblearn has had mixed blessing for me, sometimes I find it a little rigid and it runs very slowly on the university system; however, it can also be a godsend for saving on time.

The ability to share documents over google has added some interesting ways of creating and sharing data with students. As an example, I have used academic surveys of attitudes to compare student groups with the constituency studied – making for interesting comparisons and discussion.

As yet I haven’t picked one technology as I am quite excited about several ideas and still have to see if they are possible. One idea is to build an interactive programme for modelling how multiple variable factors can influence outcomes. This is an area that really build students understanding in a more complex anayltical way as many struggle to get beyond seeing the impact of just one variable.

It could be using sliding scales to model in Excel/SPSS factors that influence management styles in the employment relationship taking into account factors such as product and labour markets, organisational culture, economic shifts. This could also be done in game format following basic rules dictating the outcome of specific choices put to the player.

Alternatively, it could be used to model an area like Marx’s model of crisis in capitalism, an area renowned for its complex and dated language. This format would allow a very different exploration of the basic concepts.

One different idea would be to set up a blog or social network presence to highlight the application of concepts and ideas dealt with in the lecture hall and how they may explain action in the real world. Particularly this would work for employee relations as there is a constant feed of relevant issues in the news. Certainly this is an area at undergraduate level that some students seem to have difficulties with as there experience of the world of work is still very limited which sometimes leads them to oversimplistic conclusions.

Any way, I’ve only got ten minutes to get over the road for this evenings class. Better go.