Stuart worked with the software developers of Kami (was called Notable) to have a tool that allowed pdf editing, simple annotation and sharing capabilities for use with his class notes. He is now able to control the access students have to his teaching material and give students a more effective and guided notetaking capability.
“I was grappling with the question of how much of my notes / slides to make available to students, before the lecture, and how to keep some content back for in-class feedback and discussion. Kami allowed me to make a cutback version available to students and also gave me a way to guide and encourage their notetaking.”
It was one of those emails that get sent out to staff at the university asking for involvement in a new project that sparked an interest in Stuart Brock. The Auckland based developers of a software package called Notable (recently renamed Kami) were looking for Academics to help guide their development of a tool for online annotation/notetaking
Stuart had been grappling with the question of "What notes do I put online for my students?". Student demands were growing for him to put up the class slides / notes onto Blackboard before classes, so that they could print them off and use them for note taking. Stuart had resisted just putting up his full PowerPoint slides up into Blackboard before the lecture as there was some content he wanted to withhold from the students until the lecture time, to allow formative feedback and interactive elements in class to supplement the content. He would have normally just made his slides available after the class. He was using class response systems ('clickers' and 'gosoapbox') during the lecture and wanted to ensure that any answers and the value of active discussion were not wasted. The idea of encouraging effective notetaking to aid students' learning was also an important driver. Notable was a way of acknowledging the positives of the student request by using it with selective slides. He also encouraged students to engage with the material by putting explicit questions within Notable about the slide to help and guide the student note taking process and to prompt their extended thinking.
As he started using it, he realised there were more and more advantages to using this tool. He found it was a way for students to take notes in a better way—taking digital notes next to the slide or even annotation over the top of the slide content. A large selling point was also the ability to share student notes across all students in the course or a within a small group. At first Stuart was concerned that this function would be a problem if all of his 150 plus students started sharing their notes, as there would be just too many. But the reality is that not all students want to share their notes. So what actually becomes the public set of notes is limited in size but sufficient to provide enough value out of collaborative thoughts and the ability for Stuart to correct or refocus the information that was being put out by the students where necessary.
Stuart is now developing his thinking around how he will use this with his students this year, and with some new features introduced he's keen to include and explore some other aspects. Even though he has been using these technologies for a couple of years now he still finds that it can be challenging to manage everything in a class setting, and controlling visibility of his PowerPoint slides, GoSoapBox responses and Notable takes some preparation and management whilst teaching. It also requires the students to engage with multiple technologies for their in-class learning. He approaches this by explicitly asking his class to bring two devices each. He states that his course requires students to be technologically engaged. He expects all students to have access to one device and ideally two, e.g. smartphone and laptop. Students can always still participate with one device but it makes it harder. He acknowledges that the issue of accessibility and equality has been raised, but the reality he has experienced is that after clearly stating his intention to use this technology and stating that the students would gain most out of these by having multiple devices, that students generally bring two devices. In the three years he has been using this approach he has only had two students (out of hundreds) who genuinely didn't have access to the technology. Stuart has approaches available to allow those students to participate.
The feedback Stuart has had from his students shows that they find Kami interesting and useful. They ranked their approval for technologies he was engaging with for the course, and the class response systems and Notable came out as the two most favoured. Stuart was able to give feedback to the developers of Notable, and they adapted their software to accommodate this. The developers are continuously developing their product, and are keen to accommodate student and lecturer feedback and provide support. This relationship has been really valuable for Stuart in developing his use with classes.
Stuart has reached a point where he feels like he is might be trying to use too much technology. He is using Blackboard, gosoapbox, Notable, ePortfolios, Rationale (online argument mapping). He finds it is an ongoing challenge to ensure these tools are effective and engaging for the students, and are used in ways which the students are incentivised to engage with these tools. He is keen to ensure that the key learning objectives of the course are what drives the assessments in the course and not forcing completion and engagement with the tools. He is evaluating feedback from students on their preference and successes, and will use this to streamline his use of technology.
Commentaries on the pedagogical ideas behind this case study, written by academics from the Centre for Academic Development
Learning Design and Application
This case illustrates the value of students co-creating artefacts as a tool for learning. A number of pedagogical ideas are incorporated into this model.
The first is the concept of the “zone of proximal development.” Created by Vygotsky (1978), the zone describes the idea that people often learn new ideas more easily by discussing them with someone who has recently learnt the idea themselves. Experts often fail to use language and concepts in ways that can be easily understood by novices. An advanced learner in contrast can often draw on their own recent memory to use language that is more accessible to the person still struggling.
The second is the value of collaborative learning, where the process exposes students to a wide variety of viewpoints and alternative ways of expressing an idea. Recognising this diversity may be the intended outcome, or it may provide students with an opportunity to understand an idea expressed in a way that resonates for them personally. There is also an opportunity for teaching staff to model effective strategies to students as part of the collaborative activity.
McNeil, J., Borg, M., Kennedy, E., Cui, V., & Puntha, H. (2015). SCALE-UP Handbook. Retrieved from https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/adq/document_uploads/teaching/181133.pdf
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Stuart Brock’s case study is an example of a learning centred approach to teaching a first-year philosophy course in critical thinking. Stuart has designed this course with a novice learner in mind, creating multiple opportunities for students to develop reasoning skills throughout the course. His use of an online annotation software, Kami, facilitates students' engagement with the course materials.
The first learning cycle takes place when students gain online access to a version of lecture slides, through Kami, prior to the lecture. This version of the slides includes questions that trigger students’ thinking about the subject matter, prior to attending the class. This pre-teaching technique also directs students’ attention to key points of the lecture. Questions included in the slides are then discussed during the lectures, and serve as formative assessment that combats mind wandering during lectures. The practice of posing questions to students during lectures is also beneficial because it necessitates retrieval of recently learned information, facilitating acquisition. The next opportunity for students to engage with the slides is after the lecture. Stuart publishes the final version of class slides on Blackboard with his model answers for students to self-evaluate their understanding of the topic.
Throughout the learning process (prior, during and after the lecture), students are able to annotate the online version of the slides in Kami. They can choose to share their notes online with their classmates, soliciting help and feedback from peers and occasionally from the lecturer. This additional cycle of peer learning allows students to re-articulate key concepts and reflect on their understanding (Laurillard, 2002, 2009).
Laurillard, D. (2009).The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4, 5–20.
Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies (2nd ed.). London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Reproduce this in Your Own Teaching
This is a quick-start guide for using Kami in your own teaching. If you would like additional support, contact one of our learning and teaching team
Think about how you are expecting your students to use this tool. Will they be using it for in class note-taking, outside of class annotation, or mark-up and collaboration?
Go to Kami webpage and create an account/sign in. This can be done with google account if you already have one. Using vuw or myvuw email address upgrades you ot a higher level of license (schools).
You can download the app., or if you are using chrome you can install the Kami extension.
Select PowerPoint slide pack. Upload them into Kami by dragging and dropping from source (Box, Google drive, Dropbox or windows explorer). This converts to Kami file for word or .ppt or image.
Annotate .ppt by removing slides which you don't want students to see, adding in questions to be considered or note-taking prompts. Add any text or graphical annotation.
Pull of sharing link and load that into a table in Blackboard showing each lecture date and the link for the Kami document. Inform and instruct students how to engage with this material for your course.
Do weekly review of all public notes shared with class and respond / edit.
Contact one of our learning and teaching team to discuss these ideas further and for support using the technologies.