Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 5 - the one with the coconut

Posted on: 22 March 2021 by Dr Tunde Varga-Atkins in General

People in Online Meeting
(Host and Four Guests in Online Meeting)

Episode 5 was recorded on 16th March 2021 with four guests, literally from round the globe! This is a special edition of Treasure Island Pedagogies with educational developers. In homage to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’, our guests identify their students’ lightbulb moment (when their students ‘were getting it’), a teaching prop or pedagogy to take to their Treasure Islands together with a luxury item off duty. Ashwini Datt, University of Auckland, NZ, Danielle Hinton, University of Birmingham, UK, Jenni Carr, London School of Economics, UK and Natasha Taylor, RMIT, Australia.

Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 5 podcast

(Treasure Island Pedagogies Episode 5 - Podcast Transcript)

Ashwini Datt, University of Auckland, NZ

  • Original discipline(s) and current role: Science - from science teacher to academic in higher education. My current role is a Curriculum Development Manager.
  • Lightbulb moment: exposing staff (as students) to a really badly designed assessment (quiz) with bad instructions. Staff also became really competitive wanting to hear the right answer – and so it really drives through how their students might experience this.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: I have been known to take a dunking bird to explain inquiry-based learning to participants with a scientific background. It’s good we can match our methods to suit our audience.
  • Luxury item: I went old school. I am passionate about plants, planting and gardening! I am going to take a coconut. In my free time, I like to be off technology. It reminds me of palm trees from my home. Coconuts are incredibly versatile – you can eat it, drink it or do crafts with it!

Danielle Hinton, University of Birmingham, UK

  • Lightbulb moment: Staff being students and exploring cross-disciplinary teaching – exploring how staff feel when they are suddenly the students and how that in turn changes their outlook on teaching.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: It has to be a big bag of Lego! It gives our participants permission to explore/play and think outside the box with Lego Serious Play.
  • Luxury item: Am I allowed three items? The most expensive pillow that money can buy for relaxation. As an ex-librarian, books are important: the Bible to connect with my faith, and my father – who is really ill at the moment - his PhD so that I can connect with him through his work.

Jenni Carr, London School of Economics, UK

  • Lightbulb moment:the famous biscuit exercise: getting staff participants to write a set of assessment criteria as to how you would assess a plate of biscuits.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: I’ll take Natasha’s flip charts and Danielle’s Lego and throw in some more craft stuff from my craft cupboard: playdoh and glitter pens. Crayons stop people chasing the objectively ‘correct’ way of doing things. These creative methods can push people outside their comfort zone to learning and discovery. 
  • Luxury item: music is my everything, so if I am allowed, I would like to take my online music streaming service.

Natasha Taylor, RMIT, Australia

  • Original discipline(s) and current role:  law and criminology, started as a lecturer in Law at Sheffield University, found passion in teaching, worked at national level with HEA, and now at RMIT working in STEM.  
  • Lightbulb moment: Important to work alongside students as partners - in design, delivery and reflection on our teaching. We need to be confident in what we do, trust our science, to help us navigate through the rebellions and inter-disciplinary battlegrounds we sometimes find ourselves in.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: this year I really struggled without flip charts, coloured pens as it is the best way to get students/participants to huddle together in small groups and get into deep discussion. Much better than their digital equivalents. 
  • Luxury item:  if I was stuck on an island, I'd take a drone with a camera to view the island from up high and see how the landscape changes with the passing seasons.

Any sparks? Lots! We all agreed that educational developers are by nature are excellent networkers and collaborators. This means also being generous about sharing teaching ideas – we will barter to the end of times! We also talked about the need to be experimental and confident in our own knowledge of education. These are essential for taking people out of their comfort zone into a creative, safe space where they can learn and discover both the passion for and the science of teaching. Doing things in creative ways only works if you believe in it.

Facilitated by Tünde Varga-Atkins, Audio/Producer by Chris Loxham, Web design: Dennis Wong, @LivUniCIE