How Do You Select a Tool for Improving Student Engagement With Resources?
We spoke to Juli MacArthur, Learning Technologist at the Royal College of Art to find out more about their recent adoption of Talis Elevate to enhance teaching and learning practices within a number of their courses.
What made you select Talis Elevate at Royal College of Art?
We had been looking at ways for students and academics to engage with texts, particularly for our course ‘English for Academic Purposes’. I went to MootIE2020 where I learned about Talis Elevate. I could instantly tell it was far more streamlined and much easier to use than our existing tools, it also removed the barriers that we had with other tools, so that’s why we decided to go ahead with a pilot in the autumn term.
Other systems we’d looked at only allowed you to link texts which were available online or you had to host them on a server somewhere, which we couldn’t do. It meant it was a lot more flexible for us.
What courses will you be using Talis Elevate on?
English Academic Purposes and Critical Historical Studies.
The main aim with our English for Academic Purposes is to develop students’ critical reading skills. Talis Elevate is all about student engagement and generating good discussion, but also being able to do that while you’re not all in the same place at the same time, so that was the driver as this particular cohort is remote. We trialled the tool earlier this year, and we’ll be rolling it out for the full student cohort on this course this summer from July to August.
We have also planned to roll out Talis Elevate to Critical Historical Studies in September. This module is taken by all of our first-year students. There are roughly 1000 students. We are encouraging all tutors to incorporate it into their modules, because Critical Historical Studies focuses on textual readings, video recordings and other types of content which work with Talis Elevate.
Following that, all of our other first-year student tutors are then going to also be invited to trial use of Talis Elevate because the students will have already engaged with it, either in English Academic Purposes or Critical Historical Studies.
What makes elevate a good fit for the courses you’ve selected?
The majority of our EAP students are overseas, and those already in the UK won’t attend any on-campus activities until September. Talis Elevate will allow us to make use of blended and flipped learning, and engage with them asynchronously, in a way that is more difficult when you’re in person and the reading text together. There is a lot of reading and we want to make use of their face to face sessions as much as possible, so it’s a great way to get them to engage with readings outside of these sessions.
It will enable us to have a large number of international students being able to review texts, and have a discussion online in their own time. Where that’s going to be most beneficial, I think, is having the ability to keep their own personal private notes which will probably make them feel a lot more confident, particularly as they can write them in their own language or test their own English writing skills independently. They’re then able to choose when to add class comments to the resource to participate in a conversation which I think is going to be a significant benefit to students’ confidence.
How are you engaging staff and students ahead of roll-out?
We’re running face to face workshops for tutors to take part in, providing recorded sessions to watch and slides to view, so they’ll be able to to look at these in their own time. We are also running open Zoom sessions for academics that they can attend to learn what the policy is for using Talis Elevate and how to make best use of it. This includes blended or flipped approaches, or whether it’s something academics are just going to make available to students to do in their own time. We will also tailor this based on which course they are running.
We’re going to be embedding a few resources and a few module reading lists to get them started.
What does success look like?
I think that success would be that all of the academic users are making use of Talis Elevate with their readings, and students are engaging with them on a regular basis. We hope that academics find it useful in that it helps them understand what students are reading, what kind of discussions they’re having, what questions they might have, and to help them understand how students are engaging with their resources.
They can make use of the analytics from Talis Elevate to really understand their students. The student numbers are quite small, maybe 10, and 20 students in each group within the course. This means the tutors are able to understand their students from their level of engagement and enable them to tease out the discussions they’re having online within Talis Elevate, which will help them then build on this when they have their face to face or Zoom sessions.