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Effective Practice: TEL - Wordpress Blogs in Dance

 
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Effective Practice: TEL - Wordpress Blogs in Dance
by Paul Christian Waterworth - Thursday, 6 October 2016, 1:01 PM
 

If you are interested in incorporating blogs into your course, please contact Paul Waterworth, The Technology Enhanced Learning Specialist, via email paulwat@calderdale.ac.uk or by phone on 9551.

Prior to the Summer, Lisa Eaton and Hannah Wintie-Hawkins from our Dance team approached me about supporting them in developing a blog for the dance students, this would be split into two parts, firstly, a landing page for the dance department, which would include links to information on the courses, coursework, videos of practice and performance and other resources. The second part would be a set of individual blogs for the learners to complete as part of their course, including reflective posts and evidence of performances and preparation for summative assessment.

After going through the basics of this with Hannah, I left her to continue the development of the main site, and then develop a template that students could use to fill out individually. I demonstrated how a template could be ‘cloned’ in wordpress, which removed one of the biggest obstacles to getting learners invested in blogs: the initial setup. In my experience as TELS, I found that this step often put learners off, if they were not invested in the project, spending time doing the initial setup is dull and puts them off more, This accounts for most learners who are outside the Digital Subjects, with only a small selection students in each area having the interest to set up a blog independently.

 Because the website was pre-built by the tutor, the learners just had to log in and get to work editing the site, much like with Google Sites. In the same way, they could also customise the site with different themes and colours to suit their tastes, all for free.

The staff team are able to see each student's website and locate evidence of reflective practice and evidence of coursework, they are also able to edit content and leave feedback for learners, who are notified when this happens. IN regards to safeguarding, access to the site can be limited to only selected people, so for the younger learners in the group their websites can be removed from search engines like google, and older learners have the option to do this also.

The Calderdale College Dance Blog can be found here: https://calderdalecollegedanceblog.wordpress.com/ The page includes links to useful pages, including planet eStream (where the Dance team have uploaded videos of routine demos for rehearsal, and videos of the individual students for evidence too). This encourages the use of flipped learning in the classroom, by getting the learners to access their blogs outside of class time to prepare for their next practice and performance. https://planetestream.calderdale.ac.uk/view2.aspx?id=7950~4v~6fmTEL77.

The reflective elements of the website are a powerful tool for the progress coach to use, as this section requires learners to think about what has gone well, and what they need to do next to continue their development, these pages can be linked into ProPortal and Navigate as reflective evidence.

In asking for qualitative feedback from the teachers and students, they had this to say:

“I'm really excited by the introduction of Blogs this academic year. We have created a site for the course and for each individual learner. Even at this early stage of use we are already seeing the impact and the benefits for both tutors and learners. It provides a one-stop hub where currently we have posted information relating to assignments and tasks, links to Moodle, links to Planet eStream, useful resources, professional practice/industry links and important news. The Blog site is a fantastic tool for independent and E/flipped learning which can be undertaken during learn to learn/progress coach sessions. Evidencing all written coursework through individual learner Blogs is allowing course tutors to monitor progress and has the brilliant capacity to provide instant feedback and development points on the learner's work”. - Lisa Eaton, Dance Tutor, ALP

“Blogging is a really modern way to upload your work and to show how you are progressing throughout the course. I think it's really good because the tutor can see it straight away and it's not writing like you would do normally for coursework. I the creative side of Blogs because they allow you to show videos alongside your writing which you can't do in a word document. It's really good that your tutor can comment and give feedback on your blog instantly because you can then edit and make improvements straight away rather than waiting to get your work back. I've never done blogging before and I've had to work on it independently at home because some things I didn't know how to do, like uploading a video, but now I'm getting used to it I'm really enjoying it.” - Olivia Hudson, Performing Arts Level 3, check our her WordPress site here: https://oliviahuson.wordpress.com/

Younger learners, such as Lauren Collins, 14 (https://laurencollinsblog.wordpress.com/) have been very active and taken ownership of her page, developing excellent written and reflective skills which will support them throughout their time in College.

Embedding Effective Practice:

EDI - Wordpress has a large set of visual customisations for the learners, meaning that fonts can be resized and pages can be coloured to suit a learner's best visual needs, the tutor has full editing access to all sites to support learners if needed. The videos on eStream are another excellent tool, allowing learners to study through flipped learning by watching videos in their own time, allowing learners to prepare in a way that best suits them outside of the classroom.

English - The learners are constantly writing as part of their courses, and in doing so are developing their written English, learners are asked to review and comment on each other's work regularly which helps to develop proofreading skills too.

ICT - Learners are encouraged to work on their blogs through different mediums, whether this is phones, tablets, laptops or desktops, developing their core ICT skills in the process. Learners are also starting to do video recording as part of their course, and are working on methods to store the documents securely using Office 365 (which is available for free to all students of the College https://login.microsoftonline.com/).

Maths - Geometry, Project Planning, timing and structure of choreography, dance uses a lot of Maths, although developing a website has limited maths links, it integrates well into the subject.

As this case study develops, additional information will be added here.

The next steps

The TELS will join the learners for a session to look at effective website design and building their online presence, helping students to get even more out of their web pages and personalise them.

Learners will go on to develop other areas of online presence, including social media where appropriate.

Development for the teachers so they can continue this during the next academic year without the support of the TELS. INcluding further development of the Blog.

The introduction of systems such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Drive for hosting documents, pictures and videos that can then be embedded into WordPress sites.