Buddying up with ORBIT

On Wednesday, we had a very productive meeting with Teresa Connelly and Bjoern Hassler from ORBIT (“Open Resource Bank for Interactive Teaching”), our “evaluation buddy” – the idea emerged from a joint phone call with Lou McGill where we started talking about synergies between the projects. Once again, the meeting demonstrated the value of a rather revolutionary concept known as actually talking to people face to face and exchanging ideas. The meeting also helped us to see that despite the fact that we cover different discipline areas (the majority of DeFT teachers are in English or media while ORBIT focuses on science subjects) we have much more in common than we initially thought. The commonalities are mostly related to pedagogical approaches as ORBIT team are very keen in identifying examples of what they describe as interactive lesson plans and as we went down the list of DeFT case studies, it turned out that most meet the interactivity criterion. Speaking of face-to-face meetings, Bjoern had a chance to meet some of DeFT teachers who were participating in a training event on that day and exploring the creative applications on iPads (more about that to come in a separate blog post). As a result, the ORBIT team will invite some of the teachers to share their lesson plans, win-win!

Yet another satisfactory outcome of the meeting was a joint strategy for sharing evaluation outputs – Nicky and I were introduced to the wonders of kanban tool, a visual project management application and will soon be developing a joint ORBIT-DeFT kanban board where we will jot down evaluation questions that would benefit from a more collaborative approach. This will be in addition to our project evaluation strategy where our evaluator, Julia Gillen, is working with us alongside the project and gets to participate in project meetings via the wonders of Skype (not to mention that we get to play the “pass the iPad” game so that she can see who’s talking…); so far her feedback has been invaluable in helping us identify key issues and questions for the project. The DeFT team also had a go at filling in the questions in the evaluation and synthesis tool and we are hoping to revisit these, maybe with the help of ORBIT when we pay them a visit in August.

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