Teaching with Technology

September 14, 2016
Tags: CTET
Assistant Prof. Chaseten Remillard

Twitter is a popular source of news and banter on social media. But a team of researchers at Royal Roads University is testing whether the microblogging tool can be effective for learning.

Assistant Prof. Chaseten Remillard, from the School of Communication and Culture, has partnered with Tyler Nagel at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary, and instructional designer Ellen Pelto, from the Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies (CTET) at Royal Roads, to put social media to the test in a classroom environment.

Over four months, 60 students in Royal Roads’ bachelor and master of professional communication programs used Twitter as a team-based reflection tool to discuss course material outside the classroom. In Calgary, Nagel deployed Twitter in a journalism class so students could develop the professional skills required of them in today’s 24-hour news-cycle.

Remillard’s inspiration came from necessity: the idea of a contained classroom has changed.

“Classroom boundaries don’t exist anymore, especially the environment we have at Royal Roads where we have blended classrooms,” says Remillard. “There’s a lot of pushback from educators who see social media as a distraction but it can be a powerful learning tool.”

The project, called Increasing Team Efficiency and Collaborative Learning though Social Media Microblogging, was among 10 research initiatives awarded $1,000 through Royal Roads’ Office of Research, in collaboration with CTET. Remillard’s team included Royal Roads associate faculty member Robert Aucoin and research assistant Akari Takenishi, a Master of Arts in Intercultural and International Communication student, to help with the literature review.

Remillard will be among those presenting their research findings at the Teaching with Technology Showcase on Sept. 22, from 1 to 4 p.m. on the Quarterdeck in the Grant Building. The event will also be livestreamed.

CTET Director Vivian Forssman said the grants enabled faculty members, associate faculty and instructional designers to work together on projects that support Royal Roads’ learning and teaching model.

“A large number of the learning activities we do at Royal Roads we do in teams,” says Forssman. “We wanted to test this out: what are some of the tools and approaches we might take to use technology to better support team-based learning?”

Remillard said his team found demographic differences in how students used social media, with the younger journalism students in Calgary more likely to use Snapchat and Instagram, while mature learners in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication embraced Twitter and Facebook.

“Often time educators make an easy assumption that social media is a one-size-fits-all type of technology,” says Remillard. “If you’re thinking of integrating social media in the classroom, you should think about the literacy of the people you’re pitching it to for that particular platform.”

Overall Remillard said the group of 90 students surveyed reported that social media had furthered their engagement and helped create community among students. The team created special hashtags for the classrooms, which enabled students to easily follow each other’s microblog posts on Twitter.

“They found it easier to interact with tweets than forum posts. Doing more frequent short comments created a better sense of community than less frequent long forum comments,” says Remillard.

Other research projects that received Teaching with Technology grants included:

    • Best practices for self-and-peer- assessment: Lois Fearon, Ingrid Kajzer-Mitchell, Michael Pardy, Trish Dyck, Sarah Chettleburgh, B.J. Eib

    • Onboarding and community building: using technology to enhance learner experience: Jo Axe, Elizabeth Childs, B.J. Eib

    • Capturing and sharing international experiences: Charles Krusekopf, Sophia Palahicky, Hugh Stephens

    • Boat-based experiential learning educational technology development: Audrey Dallimore, Leslie King and Dan Anthon.

    • E-Portfolio resources for graduate students: Wendy Rowe, Keith Webster

    • Technology enhancements to enable team-based learning in the MBA advanced strategic integrative practice course: Mike Thompson, David Stevenson

    • The role of technology in facilitating shared understanding/cooperation between team members: Jennifer Walinga, Michael Pardy, Keith Webster

    • Lessons from the experiences of online teamwork with real clients in Royal Roads University master’s programs: Amy Zidulka, Alice MacGillivray, B.J. Eib

Forssman encouraged faculty and staff to come out and support the researchers presenting.

“Sharing teaching and learning practices that involve the use of technology is how we inspire and build confidence to try innovative new approaches at Royal Roads,” says Forssman.

“The Teaching with Technology Showcase will be a high energy event to inspire and connect ideas people and technology.”