Finding the fun; Injecting new ideas into existing modules, with the help of friends

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


To begin, as we know from good practice in writing each paragraph and story needs a beginning, middle and an end to signpost content, navigate and engage the reader and as Gravells (2014) purports to create a hook. It is no different in an online classroom and so this presentation aims to detail the pathways taken by this lecturer from icebreakers to content choice and assessment discovery. The use of ice-breakers cannot be underestimated both in the physical classroom and online and whilst we operate more and more in an online, flipped classroom arena the evidence and practice is pointing us to novel and innovative ways to engage students, motivate and encourage students to get involved and take ownership toward empowerment and transformative learning experiences (Chlup and Collins, 2010, West, 1999, Cornell Univeristy (2022). The context is a Masters of Education programme which attracts a diverse group of primary, post-primary, Further and Higher Education students and lecturers doing continuous professional development (CPD). It is delivered fully online using a mix of blended learning frameworks and leveraging the use of Salmon’s Carpe Diem model and etivity design guidelines.

The course design has usual boundaries of compliance to quality and learning outcomes. However, the emphasis is on engagement, collaboration, transformative and innovative learning as promoted by Freire and UNESCO (Darder, 2014, Groff, 2013, Kitchenham, 2008, Perales and McCowan, 2021). This is further enhanced where learning is socially constructed within the social constructivism paradigm and group work (Kim, 200, Biggs and Tang, 2015).

This presentation untangles the reality of delivering course content along with student motivation and tangible output. Feedback has been collected and analysed over a three year period to refine the content and delivery of the module. Each semester the class is guided to become its own community of practice with a comprehensive communication stack to support individual and group learning. A key enabling factor has been the introduction of tutorials that focus on technology competency building within experimentation labs designed as safe houses for errors and silly questions. This presentation will ask you the audience for your input on the next steps for module refinement with concepts such as ungrading, formative assessment and feedback where the lecturer or facilitator has an easiness for excuses, self-assessment and agency as student is encouraged to take control and sink or swim. It is relevant to note that this module is delivered to adult learners. The presentation will demonstrate evidence of the entanglement of norms in higher education, legacy of traditional approaches and the regression that a student may find themselves faced with when priorities are overwhelmingly not directed at enabling CPD.
The findings discuss how principles of universal design for learning (UDL) are adopted and elements of fun are transposed into the online environment to simulate an alignment of rationale and CV building for adult learning (CAST, 2022).
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Publication statusPublished - 07 Sep 2022
EventALT Conference 2022: Association for Learning Technology - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 07 Sep 202209 Sep 2022


ConferenceALT Conference 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • digital education
  • student engagement


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