Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Dunne, J. and Ryan, B.J. (2012). Harnessing Technology to make Learning (and Teaching) more fun. Proceedings from 5th Annual International Conference on Engaging Pedagogy. Dublin, Ireland.


This paper describes how various technologies were introduced into foundation science modules both to enhance student engagement and feedback, and also to cope with increased teaching workload. It mostly deals with freely available software or tools available through a VLP (virtual learning platform, e.g. Blackboard or Moodle), but also includes audience response ‘Clickers’ which were purchased. The technologies discussed are user-friendly and do not require advanced IT skills. The paper includes successes, but also includes some less successful attempts to integrate technology and explores the possible reasons.

As third level funding is reduced, many academics are coming under increased pressure to deal with larger and more diverse classes. In addition, our ‘digital native’ students have increasingly higher expectations regarding the type of learning resources, activities, and communication tools we utilise. Furthermore with information at their fingertips, education is expanding from delivery of content, to focussing even more on developing critical thinking and employability skills. This all provides a challenge for academics to deliver a high quality service.

Here, we discuss technologies which were used to overcome some of the challenges facing us as educators, making our teaching more productive and efficient, and less tedious. We describe the substitution of a formal written exam to assess basic first year knowledge, to an automated online self-correcting MCQ (multiple choice question) assessment, with built in summative feedback. We also discuss the use of audience response ‘Clickers’ MCQ in-class quizzes as aligned learning and revision activities, which are engaging, and also provide formative feedback.

In addition, we describe the integration of ‘CATME Team Builder’ software to organise group work and automatically process anonymous peer marking. This replaced the traditional anonymous paper based peer marking forms, removing the tedious and time-consuming data extraction task, and allowing a far more comprehensive and rigorous peer assessment.

Finally, other technologies used to greater or lesser success including Twitter, Peerwise and Wallwisher are briefly discussed.


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