After a 1 year leave of absence (maternity leave), I have restarted my Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, and am now undertaking an optional 20 credit module on eLearning: Resource Development and Student Support. The aim of the module is to ‘design, develop, implement and evaluate an interactive online learning resource’. I am required to produce a 3 hour online learning resource, write 2,000 words on my project plan, design and implementation, and another 2,000 words evaluating my project, all by Monday 15 June!
I have chosen to create an online learning resource to support the OSCOLA referencing style used by the School of Law. I currently run a 2 hour OSCOLA referencing workshop once a term, where I have developed the speed referencing learning activity. However, many students are unable to attend the workshop, either due to timetabling issues or to them being distance learning student, so I have a lot of individual OSCOLA enquiries too. I have been considering developing online resources (beyond adding my teaching materials to SlideShare) for some time.
There are only 6 face-to-face classes in this module, with a lot of additional learning resources being available online – as we experience online learning as well as design online learning. We are already at the half way stage (the 3rd class is tomorrow), and I a am still only at the design stage. Only 12 weeks to go – so I’d better get a move on designing and developing my resource, or there will be nothing to evaluate!
I first heard about speed referencing at the HEA Teaching Research Skills to Law Students workshop earlier this month. It’s a format for an activity in a referencing workshop – think speed dating meets OSCOLA. I decided to give it a go in my Referencing for Law workshop earlier this week. The workshop started with a traditional introduction to OSCOLA referencing, and the speed referencing activity followed thereafter.
I created 10 referencing exercises – a book, book chapter, journal article, website, UK Act, UK SI, UK case, EU legislation and EU case. A copy of the title page or key information for each item was placed on a table. The students were given a blank worksheet and a copy of the OSCOLA quick guide. They had 90 seconds to reference an item, and then move on to exercise at the next table. The speed referencing activity took about 20 minutes altogether – allowing some time between exercises. At the end of the activity, the students were given a copy of the answers, time to review their results, and to ask questions and receive feedback.
The speed referencing went surprisingly well. The students said they enjoyed the practice. The time constraint made them realise that they could reference legal materials quickly, and that referencing did not have to take forever. Eleven students attended the workshop, so it was a fortunate match of numbers – number of students to number of exercises. The students preferred to stay in their seats around the tables and move the exercises around. This worked well with the number of students, but did detract from the ‘active’ part of the activity. I wonder if students are conditioned to learn while sitting still? It’s certainly not the case for my 5 year old daughter – who appears to learn whilst maintaining a constant state of (com)motion!
I will definitely give speed referencing another go – I am scheduled to teach referencing again to LLM students as part of their dissertation preparation training. I think it’s a fun way to liven up an otherwise dull workshop!