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R=T?: Creating a dialogue between research and teaching

IrrumAli23 November 2015

UCL R=T?Tuesday 17 November saw the UCL Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching (UCL CALT) launch ‘R=T?’, a forum to explore how teaching and research can best be brought together and valued.

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur introduced the event, noting how research and teaching have always been close partners. He commented how they work together to ensure learners feel a valued part of their academic institution; students often express a keen interest in working with their inspirational teachers and researchers.

Professor Arthur also expressed how fundamentally important taking learners through the research-based approach is: it enables them to realise their full potential by helping them to understand how knowledge is created, as well as core attributes such as team work, problem solving, critical thinking and communication skills. A research-based education, he stressed, equips our students with what they need to be contributory members of society: an idea that is at the heart of the UCL 2034 strategy.

Following this, Dr Vincent Tong, Principal Teaching Fellow (Connected Curriculum) at UCL CALT and the lead on the R=T initiative, explained how the launch of the dialogue and associated masterclasses are designed to enable staff and students to share ideas, initiatives and solutions to bring research and teaching closer together, and to have further impact at UCL and beyond. He also highlighted his own experience in leading an Earth science research consortium, which reinforced how crucial partnerships can be.

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Is today’s educational technology (ed-tech) fit for purpose?

IrrumAli12 November 2015

ed-tech eventIs today’s educational technology (ed-tech) fit for purpose? That was the question posed during Tuesday 10 November’s panel session. A variety of speakers – academics, business leaders and UCL students – collectively sought to find out if there was an answer.

The evening began with short statements from the eight panellists, effectively answering the question before it had been ‘debated’. The starting points of the eight panellists showed how little consensus there is on how technology should work in education. Some argued that ed-tech needs to be productive for the teacher; it isn’t bespoke enough for what teachers are trying to do and often there is confusion about its purpose. Further comments pointed towards ed-tech’s lack of focus on the user experience.

Beginning with a challenge faced by ed-tech, the panel considered whether collaborative learning was enabled, or hindered, by today’s technology. The CEOs of tech companies on the panel argued for a more systematic, research-based approach to show its impact on collaboration, and suggested that there may be issues within higher education itself that work against its use. They also mentioned that teachers find ed-tech time consuming.

The two UCL students on the panel reported that technology is not currently being used to encourage collaboration, and that if collaboration is happening, it is not necessarily driven by the teacher. Meanwhile the academics lamented that managing content between technologies needs to be improved so that connectivity and collaboration become easier.

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