Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Innovative teaching at the University of Bath

Dr Wali Aslam, Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies

Learning technologies can be immensely useful in conducting innovative teaching. Some of these methods are widely used at the University of Bath. For example, I have used them in two of my recent courses entitled ‘Contemporary Security Challenges in Asia’ (UG, final-year) and ‘Contemporary Politics of the Middle East’ (UG, second-year).

In particular, we have been using a blend of Twitter and Skype to organise interactive videoconference sessions with academics, students, aid-workers, social activists and journalists from across the Middle East and Asia. The purpose of this activity has been to enable students to learn first-hand about a number of political and security issues in those regions by interacting with those living there. This has also helped students learn about a number of political and security issues concerning the two regions studied on these courses.

These interactions lasted around 50 minutes each, and immediately followed 45 minutes of lecture.

Students used Twitter hashtags for each course (#BathCPME and #BathCSCA) to send questions to the remote participants. These participants were given those tags beforehand and could follow them via Twitter during the session. Once they received the questions, the participants would answer them in front of the entire class via Skype. The classrooms at Bath also had cameras and microphones, and students participated in the discussion by commenting on the issues being discussed both verbally and through Twitter. Every student in the class used either a laptop or a smartphone to ask questions and to participate in the discussion. The pictures of the session also indicate each week’s lecture topics.

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