It’s as simple as a boing!

Dr Julie Thomson reveals how even “Retro Technology” can encourage student interaction!

I love technology and I have somehow managed to get the nickname Technology Thomson, but I am keen to live up to this name!

I enjoy using technology to enhance my teaching and to make it more interactive for my students but there is always the risk that it might not go so smoothly on the day and in some cases it can be time consuming to set up.

The potential for technology to support educational experiences has been well documented. However, now, coming up to the end of my second year of teaching, although using apps such as Socrative and Adobe Voice to great effect, I really feel that I have only just scraped the surface on the technologies available to us as facilitators of student learning.  There is so much more out there and we need to learn from each others practice – by presenting at events such as the University’s annual ‘Celebration of Learning and Teaching’.

Meanwhile, I am just coming to the end of my postgraduate certificate in Learning and Teaching and I have learned a great deal about student motivation and the needs of individual learners. Sabine McKinnon, GCULead, delivered a very enlightening workshop during the course, on the impact of national cultures. This really got me thinking about how I could engage the international students in my modules, students who rarely spoke to me, despite my encouragement. Sabine commented that “Just because they don’t speak does not mean that they are not thinking”. Cultural differences can determine how the student addresses the lecturer. When we consider a student as not responding in class, we often jump to the conclusion that there is a lack of engagement or low self-confidence, however, could it instead be due to them showing respect for you, the lecturer, who is a specialist in the subject and thus they feel uncomfortable at responding?  Nevertheless they must learn to respond but it takes time to get used to our culture and ways of doing things.

It got me thinking, could I use technology to support the needs of these students?  However, I tried something far simpler than that.  I had purchased a set of answer buzzers, all with different sounding tones…which we tested out at our staff Christmas party!



I used some existing module material and created a quiz based on the last seminar of the course.  I put the students into groups and encouraged them to be competitive, giving them a score for each correct answer.  A rapid fire of questions later and one student, who had not spoken to me all trimester, pressed the buzzer and answered the question. Eureka!  So really, with all the technologies out there…it really can be as simple as a boing!

Dr Julie Thomson

Dr Julie Thomson

Julie originally started out her career in science and worked in industry for a number of years before crossing disciplines to the business world. She was a knowledge transfer officer in another Higher Education Institution where she also gained her PhD in the field of Open Innovation before joining GCU in 2013 as a lecturer in Business Management.

Last year she took on Programme Leadership of the BA Management, Technology Enterprise Programme and module leadership of Operations and Service Management. She has a keen interest in enhancing the student learning experience using technology.


Brown Bag Sessions

Elizabeth McGlone, of GSBS, writes about the latest edition of her series of Brown Bag Sessions.

Shortly after commencing my role as a Learning Technologist at GCU, I introduced monthly Brown Bag Sessions for staff. Traditionally, a brown-bag session is a training or information session during a lunch break. The term “brown bag” refers to the packed lunch meals that are brought along by or provided for the attendees. I wanted to provide an informal forum where staff could share ideas and exchange experiences in the use of the embedded tools within our VLE and the different technologies they had used both to enhance their own teaching and increase student engagement.

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Better Blended Learning!

Today, we finally launched the much anticipated support community for our colleagues in GSBS. It’s called “GSBS Better Blended Learning!” and will be a source of resources which will support you in delivering blended learning.

The main focus will be on the use of our VLE – GCULearn – but we will also be including information about external resources. For example, after our recent Five Days of Twitter event, we’ll be including demonstrations and instructions on how to embed Twitter into GCULearn. In fact, a bit like this!


If the community hasn’t already shown up in the My Communities box on the front page when you log in to GCULearn, don’t worry;  I’ll be enabling self-enrolment shortly and sending out the instruction on how to get on by self-service.

Some of the content will be produced by Elizabeth and I, as the Schools’ learning technologists, but we also hope to showcase contributions from you, the academic staff. The content which you’ll find today will grow over the coming days, weeks and months. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a more experienced user, we hope you’ll find something of interest. We look forward to your participation…

Gary Smith is a Learning Technologist at Glasgow Caledonian University.  He transferred to the Glasgow School for Business and Society towards the end of 2011, after spending almost 18 years working in IT Support at GCU.

5 Days of Twitter

This week the Learning Technologists in GSBS, led by Elizabeth McGlone, are hosting a 5 Days of Twitter Event for academics.

What is 5 Days of Twitter?

5 Days of Twitter is an online event for staff to become more familiar with using the Twitter platform in a safe environment and to explore ways of using Twitter in the classroom to enhance student engagement and provide feedback.

Throughout 5 Days of Twitter a daily instalment will guide you through how to use a small aspect of Twitter and offer some suggestions as to how some features may be beneficial in the context of your academic role. One of the benefits of this event is that you can participate from anywhere at any time as it is online, hence you can even learn about Twitter from the comfort of your own home!

During the course participants will be encouraged to interact using Twitter with GSBS learning technologists and other colleagues, building their professional network as they learn to use the platform. 5 Days of Twitter is an opportunity for those completely new to Twitter to try it out and for those who are active users, to broaden their network and develop different ways of using Twitter either for their own professional development or for use with students.

Don’t worry if you are unable to participate on the first day or any of the days, you can dip in and out of this event at your own convenience and even try out some of the tasks and activities after the week is over. When you are Tweeting this week, please remember to use the hashtag #GSBS5DoT and if you want to Tweet directly to our GSBS school account, the username is @GCU_GSBS.

Why use Twitter?

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I am delighted to welcome you to the Glasgow School for Business and Society’s Learning and Teaching Blog. This is our new online home for all things learning and teaching and will be filled with resources, links and documents to support you in all aspects of your teaching. More importantly, it is intended to be a community of practice – a platform that enables you to listen to, discuss and exchange ideas and experiences, to share problem-solving and to identify and coordinate common approaches.

Across the School there is a vast amount of excellent teaching practice, innovative approaches to learning and assessment and very effective collaborative developments which are enhancing our students’ experience. This blog is a place where these approaches can be shared and discussed. I hope therefore that you will take up the opportunity to make a contribution and share the innovations that can benefit others and the community as a whole. This blog is for you, by you.

I look forward to seeing the community and resources build. In the meantime, if you need convincing that blogging or tweeting about any of your scholarly activity is a worthwhile pursuit, have a read of the article in the following link:

Best Wishes
Dr Shirley Rate
Associate Dean (Learning, Teaching and Quality)
Glasgow School for Business and Society