In 2014, Kimberly Smith moved her Bioscience course from LabTutor into our online learning platform, Lt. The move has increased her ability to use interactive teaching methods and a blended learning approach to make bioscience more engaging for her students.
Kimberly had been using LabTutor, but wanted to update her course to move away from traditional "sage on the stage" lecturing, and towards using interactive teaching methods and a blended learning approach. To do this she needed an online way to deliver material to students, so they could access course materials before class, and Lt was an easy choice.
Here's how she did it...
Hi Kimberly - why did you decide to transition your course from LabTutor to Lt?
We had been using LabTutor, but I wanted to update from a traditional, didactic way of teaching to a more interactive blended learning programme. To do this I needed to move the bulk of my course content online. At the end of 2014, when Lt came out, we decided to put three of our courses into the programme, to roll out to students in 2015.
Our transition from LabTutor to Lt involved putting most of the content - the heavy stuff - in Lt so that it was online, for the students to use. I had 23 lessons in 2 courses and 18 in a third course - so 41 lessons to transition from LabTutor to Lt altogether.
What was your timeframe?
I had a timeframe of about 8 months to develop the lessons in those three courses. I did it in a staggered way so that students could start using Lt while I was finishing the rest of the lessons. So at the end of 2014 I had a few months to get started on the first few lessons that were going to use at the start of the year in 2015. And then I had basically the first half of that year to work through the rest of the lessons that were going to be subsequently published that year for students to use.
I basically finished right spot on time. All of the lessons were completed prior to the students needing access to them. So it worked out really well to have a platform like Lt that let me get them done in the timeframe that was required.
How long did it take you to transition a lesson into Lt?
Starting from scratch with a blank, a new lesson in Lt it took me about 8 -10 hours. This included all of the copying and pasting and dragging and dropping and creating any extra resources in the actual lesson - so roughly 8 to 10 hours to get it set up initially.
How easy / hard was it to transition material from LabTutor to Lt?
In terms of the mechanics it was really simple to do, you could easily drag things across, copy and paste, and using the functions in Lt made it easy to put feedback in and have them ready to go. I was easily able to organize the modules and lessons in a way that I wanted them to be, in a logical order. I was able to put the information that was really key in the places where I wanted it to be really obvious to the students.
I was able to set those lessons up in such a way that enabled me to use the time I had in the classroom in a much different way than I would have traditionally.
How easy / hard is Lt to use, compared to LabTutor?
Right from the beginning, I was hooked. Lt is really self-explanatory and it works really easily. You can move things around really easily, you can resize things, you can drag and drop things in. It’s just a really easy interface to use and to set up lessons in.
What are the main benefits you've experienced since changing to Lt?
So now that all of the lessons are in Lt it’s really easy to go back and make any updates or changes as new research comes out. You can easily go in and update resources or information as things change. I can rearrange things if I want to do it in a different order really easily so it takes a lot less time to do the review of the lessons at the end of the year and updating and editing ready for the next year. So it’s really nice and simple and easy to do that.
Has the move to Lt been successful? How?
I would say so far that it has been successful. The students really love it, there’s been lots of positive feedback. It’s been really easy for me to use. Its allowed a really good blend for the learning environment in the courses I teach.
How has it transformed your teaching?
So instead of just standing and delivering information, I'm now able to turn the classroom into an interactive, practical space where we are working through activities. That's the way for me, that I need to teach.
It has been really good to have Lt - it lets me deliver the bulk of the course content in a self-directed but interactive way for the students. At the same time, it allows me to turn the classroom into a more interactive and engaging space for the students, where we’re actually having a face to face interaction, as opposed to me just standing there and talking to them.
I think they’re coming to the class at a level where they’re able to ask much more robust questions and they can get a much clearer understanding of what the material is.
Has Lt helped you to reach your goal of delivering a blended learning curriculum?
Absolutely. It shows that with the right online educational technology you can create really good blended learning courses, without losing all of the value that teachers bring to the tertiary education sector.
Teachers and educators can use Lt to kind of … liberate themselves in the classroom, and to change the dynamic of what’s happening in the classroom for them. They can shift some of the content into an online platform like Lt to help them create the interactive lessons that students can do beforehand.
It gives teachers space to really use the classroom setting for true interaction, group work, practical activities. So, yes, Lt has helped me to deliver a blended learning curriculum, but it has also enhanced my enjoyment of teaching and the student's engagement in learning.