Technology-Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) in Penang, Malaysia

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Penang to provide a three-day workshop to teachers (mostly secondary science teachers). The workshop focussed on demonstrating active learning methodologies using technology (the TEAL methodology) which would then be used by the teachers to enhance their pupils’ engagement, retention and grades. Having a small group of people made it much easier to ensure everyone had individual attention and didn’t feel left behind and by the end of the three days, we had built up quite a camaraderie.

This hands-on workshop demonstrated how active learning, coupled with technology, could be used effectively to enhance teaching and learning. We spent some time discussing what I refer to as the shampoo and meal methodologies and then identified how specific technologies could be used put these methodologies into practice. We also discussed how the use of technology was only truly effective when it was used to engage students’ learning at a higher level, moving from the lower-order thinking skills of Bloom’s Taxonomy to the higher-order thinking skills (HOTS).

Throughout the three days of the workshop, the teachers saw me using the technologies and the methodologies ‘in action’, practicing what I was preaching and giving them practical and working model which demonstrated the effectiveness and ease of which the skills they were learning could be put into everyday practice.


By the end of the three days, the teachers involved in the workshop had opportunities to reflect on how various programmes and websites could be used to enhance their teaching and their students’ learning. Although other websites and programmes were touched on, the bulk of the three-day workshop focussed on  PollEverywhere, Biteable, and Plickers.

During my stay in Penang, I had the opportunity to observe one of the participants of the workshop a couple of days after the workshop had ended. She had already put some of the concepts into practice. She used PollEverywhere and Plickers not only to ensure her students understood the concepts, but also to challenge their thinking and provide responses which went beyond the traditional “What is the correct answer?”-type question. Her science lesson used TEAL methodologies very well to engage the children and it was delightful not only to see the teacher so enthusiastic about using technology to enhance her teaching but to also see the students to actively engaged and enthusiastic about their learning!


Students are using QR codes created using Plickers to vote in an online poll.

The teachers who attended the workshop have been keeping weekly diaries about their use of the methodologies and technologies discussed during the workshop. These diaries, along with specific research taking place in the fall which will focus on the students’ learning, will give us a better understanding of whether these specific methodologies and technologies have made a positive impact not only on teaching but also on the students engagement, retention of what they have learned and their summative grades.If you would like more information about this research, please contact:

Dr. T. Shirazi
Kingston University, London (UK)


Issue importing references from WordPress to Endnote using Academic Blogger’s Toolkit.

Issue importing references from WordPress to Endnote using Academic Blogger’s Toolkit.

I love Academic Blogger’s Toolkit (ABT). It allows me to add references to my WordPress research and reflection blog (which isn’t this one and I don’t have a link to it as it’s for my eyes only—sorry). One particular feature I quite like is the ability to export references I’ve created in Endnote and have them imported into ABT.

That is, until recently. For some reason, the last update to Endnote has caused it to stop working. To resolve the situation, I sent a Twitter message to the creator of the plug-in, Derek Sifford, via Twitter (@flightmed1). Within a day—a day!—the issue had been reviewed and solved. Now that, ladies and gentleman, is what I call impressive.

So, if anyone else has the same issue, here’s what to do.

  1. Export as RefMan (RIS) file. Text only.
  2. Rename the file extension from .txt to .bib. On a Mac, you MUST …
    1. Select the file and choosing File -> Get Info
    2. Click the arrow to the left of “Name and Extension”
    3. Click return key
  3. Import using ABT

* Annoyingly, you can’t merely rename the extension on a Mac by clicking it. All that does it add .ris to the end of the file (so you end up with FILENAME.txt.ris). Go figure.

And, again, a huge thanks to Derek. You’ve got a fan for life now, sir. 🙂

CoSMED – Penang, Malaysia

CoSMED – Penang, Malaysia

I’m in the beautiful city of Penang, speaking at the 6th annual CoSMED conference. 

My input will be discussing in pedagogies and methodologies to enhance student learning. Quite a bit about what I will be talking about mirrors or builds on what I have been (intermittently) writing about on this blog and my blog. 

These conferences are interesting not only because of the subject matter but also because there are opportunities to meet some extraordinary people who get me thinking and excited about learning new things. 

Yesterday, for example, I had an opportunity to meet with Amelia who is looking into how voting systems can be used here in Malaysia where children aren’t permitted to bring smartphones and some schools, particularly in rural areas, are unlikely to have a decent internet connection (if at all). So we had a great conversation and in sure we shall have many more. 

So I’m off to the next session. Check out my tweets at @agpate_conf. 

Microsoft Word – Automatically renumbering a list

I have a list of over 100 questions which are numbered and I need to re-order them. Here’s a basic example.

Question 1
What is your name

Question 2
Where do you live

Question 3
What’s your favourite colour

If I want to change the order of these questions (by cutting and pasting), I’m also going to have to re-type all the numbers. Not fun. 

However, I can replace the numbers with an ‘insert number’ code so that when I re-arrange the questions, the numbers will automatically correct themselves into the correct order.

To do this, go to advanced find and replace.

Find: Question [0-9]{1,3}

Replace: Question ^c (This needs to be copy/pasted from text you’ve already created using ‘insert field’)

Find any digit from 0 to 9

Look for any number containing 1 to 3 digits

“Now Jot This Down” — Taking notes at University in the 21st Century

This morning I met with my 1st year undergraduate MA Primary Education students for our Child Development course. As part of this course, students are given a lecture (by moi) and then, in groups of 4, they discuss the professional research they have been doing for the week and also their SBL (Scenario-Based Learning) which links their learning in Child Development to education/learning.

I noticed that quite a number of students had downloaded the PDF version of my keynote presentation in advance and were following it on their tablets. (It’s a bit of a pity they do this, in a way, because it means they can sneak ahead and find out some of the responses to my questions and, in my opinion, it takes away a bit of the fun of the lecture.)

What interested me was the way they were taking notes. Some were using software which allowed them to annotate the PDF. Others were typing away. Some were tweeting. Some were using paper … and this got me thinking. How am I, as their tutor, best supporting their learning? Should I be providing my materials in a variety (or maybe just a different) format in order for them to engage with the lecture and their learning more effectively?

The 2nd half of the 2-hour input involved the students sharing their professional research with 3 other students. Sitting in groups of 4, I asked each of them to share their research with the others but without using their notes. My students are used to this and they’ve all heard my argument that if they have done professional reading which has engaged them, they should be able to talk about without looking at their notes for 2 or 3 minutes. Besides, if they have their notes, there’s a tendency for them to merely read a script out loud and this bores everyone to tears. So, before the students start sharing their research, I ask them to put their notes on a table at the front of the class.

What hit me today, though, was that perhaps only a quarter of the students walked up and placed paper on the front table. Most of the students came up with tablets or phones. So this got me thinking. If the students are note-taking or completing research on a mobile device, how can I use this more effectively in teaching?

I’m not sure I have clear-cut answers yet but I’ve decided to start by incorporating the use of AirServer more. I’ve already talked about AirServer before — you can read my post here — so I won’t bore you with the details again.

I’ll keep musing on this. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or comments, let me know. I’d be happy to hear from you!

Nottingham Conference – A Reflection

I was privileged to be asked to attend an Apple event in Nottingham, focussing on how the iPad is being used (or could be used) an innovative ways in medicine.

Now, I must admit that aside from the fact my mother is a nurse and midwife, my medical knowledge is limited to what I’ve gleaned from St Elsewhere, ER and Scrubs. Take from that what you will. So you can probably appreciate my concern that I might end up being ‘outed’ as a fraud. It was too good an opportunity to miss, though, so off I went.

… and loved it.

There are two particular issues which stick in my head from the conference, beyond putting a face to some names and meeting some very nice people! First, a lot of the apps which were discussed (which didn’t focus specifically on medicine) are ones I’ve already experimented with. That was quite encouraging and I was able to make some (hopefully useful) comments during the session from a learning/teaching perspective. I sometimes forget that my interest in learning/teacing and the use of iPads puts me, to some extent, near the forefront. It was interesting to see others’ journeys and to support them by discussing my own understanding and experience using apps such as Nearpod and Join.Me and to be involved in helping them to move forward in their own learning journey.

The other aspect which interested me was listening to two medical students. Well, one just about to graduate and one who graduated last year. They talked about how they used iPads on many levels to support their own learning. It amused me somewhat that it was a bit of a revelation to them to use them with the patients. What interested me, though, was their attitude towards their own training. They were annoyed that there were attitudes amongst their trainers (uni staff/placement staff) which was very anti-technology/anti-tablet. What came across very clearly was this:

The question isn’t WHY should we use tablets; the question should be HOW should we use tablets (for training).

So, overall, a very good day in Nottingham. A big thank you to Colin (and Lawrence) for the invite and also to Oscar who was an excellent tutorial presenter. 🙂

Live broadcast about flip teaching & tweeting in my classes

Feel free to listen and join in! 8pm GMT (3o minutes from now).