Learning Materials

Scran Learning Materials
Case Study

1. Author details

This project was produced by a group based in the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. Although led by Jane Dawson, the whole project was a co-operative effort.

Name: Jane Dawson
Job title: John Laing Senior Lecturer in the History and Theology of the Reformation, Ecclesiastical History, School of Divinity
Institution: University of Edinburgh

About the authors:

I have been teaching history in Scottish universities for over twenty years. In my research I specialise in the early modern period, primarily within the British Isles and especially Scotland. For the past ten years I have been teaching ecclesiastical history over a wide chronological range, with some concentration upon the Reformation period. Throughout my teaching career I have been developing learning materials, though only in the past couple of years have I incorporated web-based materials and started using websites for all my undergraduate courses. My IT skills are fairly basic and in computer matters I relied heavily upon the expert help of the other members of the project team.

2. The materials

The resource pack contains the following items:

  • Description of the Resource Pack
  • The Image of the Week
  • Discussion Forum
  • Student presentation on ‘The Living and the Dead’
  • Student presentation on ‘Ecclesiastical Buildings’
  • Weekly pack
  • Developing Research Skills
  • Using course websites

Collectively these resources provide a demonstration of how to use web-based resources, especially those located on Scran, to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in classroom-based undergraduate courses. The three undergraduate courses which have furnished examples for the demonstration cover levels 2-4 in Ecclesiastical History. A full description of the context of the material and its use is contained in the Description of the Resource Pack. The pack as a whole is aimed primarily at teachers within higher and further education to provide ideas and examples of what can be achieved when developing classroom-based undergraduate courses. Many of the items in the Resource Pack can also be used for their historical content as teaching materials or for information for anyone interested in Scottish or European history of the late medieval and early modern periods. This latter category would include many non-academic users of Scran.

Why did you want to create these materials?

These materials were created to help other teachers in HE and FE to improve their courses.

How will your materials benefit learners?

They will benefit learners by allowing teachers to use web-based resources to better effect within their HE and HE courses. They will also benefit all those who are interested in Scottish and European history by offering information and analysis on the later medieval and early modern periods.

How will they improve on previous methods of teaching this topic?

By encouraging greater use of web-based resources and websites within undergraduate courses.

3. Creating the materials

The Resource Pack was produced by a group working together. In broad outline, the computing and technical aspects of the project were undertaken by Jessie Paterson and Bronwen Currie, while the historical content was provided by Jane Dawson, Kirsteen Murray and Raymond Prentice. In particular, Raymond was responsible for the two Student Presentations and Kirsteen created Developing Research Skills. Nora Mogey provided expert advice upon a variety of aspects of the project, particularly Edinburgh’s IVLE system and teaching strategies. Although individuals had different areas of responsibility, the project was a joint effort with regular group and sub-group meetings.

What tools did you use?

University of Edinburgh’s Integrated Virtual Learning Environment for the course websites; Word for document files; Paintshop Pro for re-sizing pictures; Adobe Distiller for creating PDF; HotMetal for creating and editing webpages; PowerPoint for presentations.

What additional support did you need in creating the materials?

All support was provided in main by different members of the group.

What are the main skills required in creating materials like this?

Because the Resource Pack offers an demonstration of teaching with web-based resources it required a team of people and a combination of three areas of skills, computing, teaching and historical. Leading the project also called for organisational, administrative and managerial skills.

Describe any difficulties you experienced and how you went about addressing them.

One problem was the location of suitable images for the Resource Pack on Scran because the search facility does not lend itself to comprehensive historical searches.

What would you do differently next time?

Within the project itself, concentrate upon certain facets of web-based teaching, rather than try to cover most of them. On the administrative front, many things, but these mainly concern the internal workings of the University.

What hints and tips would you offer to a colleague planning to create a similar resource?

A series of comments and hints on the use of websites in undergraduate teaching has been included in the Resource Pack.

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