Aug 182016

Pamela Hardaker is a part-time lecturer teaching Mobile Robotics in the Faculty of Technology. Pamela began teaching at the beginning of the 2015/16 academic year; her background is that of a Distance Learning Masters student and one of her previous roles was with a national charity that works to change the lives of disabled people by helping them to use digital technology at work, at home or in education.

Given Pamela’s passion for widening participation through the use of technology and her first-hand experience of a fully online Masters course, she decided from the start that she would endeavour to make her third-year Undergraduate module as engaging and accessible as possible.

The Mobile Robotics module has been running for a number of years and Pamela noticed that there was a high instance of students with a Specific Learning Difference in the 2015/16 cohort. This spurred her on further to provide content and materials in as many different formats as possible; an approach that aligns with DMU’s Universal Design for Learning principles.

One of the approaches that Pamela took was to record her lectures for sharing with the students. Early on, Pamela would bring a laptop with webcam to class and rely on a student in the front row to point the camera at the screen and press record. This approach worked to an extent but there was an element of extra work to encode and upload the finished recording and the audio and visual quality was not particularly good due to the recording of a projected image and the audio recording equipment in use.

However, at a Programme Management Board meeting late in 2015 Pamela and the ELT Project Officer working with the Faculty of Technology were introduced; the shared passion for ELT soon became apparent.

In early 2016 as the Multimedia Enhancement project delivered the site-wide availability of Panopto at DMU; Pamela and the ELT Project officer soon arranged a meeting to look at how this technology might support Pamela’s already inclusive practice.

The first trial run with Panopto (instead of the laptop with webcam) was a success and even the students in the lecture theatre could see how much easier this approach is and were relieved to no longer be responsible for pressing record and stop on the recording technology whilst attending lectures.

Pamela continued to record all of her lectures on the Mobile Robotics module in 2016 and students have appreciated having these resources available.

With regard to attendance, classroom recordings were being provided from the start and therefore the move from a laptop with camera to Panopto enhanced the offering rather than providing anything new as such, it just meant that resources looked better for the students and Pamela no longer had to invest time into encoding recordings.

However, there was a drop-off in attendance witnessed but it is assumed that with the nature of the module this would have happened regardless of the lecture recording activities.

In the future, Pamela will be delivering and facilitating labs – potentially alongside lecturing and also managing studying for a PhD.

Through conversations with the ELT Project Officer, Pamela is keen to further explore the practice that the new DMU Replay service can enable and is keen to experiment with recording lab work for students to reflect upon and for assessment.

Pamela is also considering using the 2015/16 recordings as pre-sessional material to help new colleagues teaching on the module to take a different approach in classes to cater for the diverse learning styles that the module seems to attract.

Thank you to Ms Pamela Hardaker for enabling this blog post to be created and shared.


Ian Pettit

ELT Project Officer