Paula Mahoney teaches in the School of Media and Communication for the Vocational Education (VE) sector.  You can view some of Paula’s work at

Paula kindly agreed to be interviewed for the LTIF. Below are some of her comments to the questions I posed:

Me: Why are you using alternative online technology tools?

Paula: It’s about sharing images. Not about creating a talkative environment.  I use devices that are instant, have mobile access, is not structured around anything but images.

I use Instagram because it is easy and you can make quick and easy comments on it. Instagram is great for constructing anything to do with ideas and concept development and comments are usually 5 words or less. Snapchat is great for a visual and digital diary, to capture ideas, it is easy to control and it’s visual based.  Both Instagram and Snapchat frees up the student, and its instantaneous.

Students know how to use Instagram and Snapchat. they are all familiar with how to use these tools. But Blackboard they need to learn. Blackboard is not a continuation of their tools, its something different.

Me: Do you think that alternative online technology tools better support learning than Blackboard? If yes, how?

Paula: I think the combination of them works. Blackboard is good for certain things; course materials; good for posting interesting mp3’s; good for text-book kind of stuff.

Me: Do you think that your students think that alternative online technology tool/s better support their learning? If yes, how? (Observations of student perceptions)

Paula: Yes, they think its cool. They see how a concept and an idea can develop by sharing the ideas and images. The tools keep the students involved, they are not time-consuming, online learning isn’t just reading. They all participate and chat using the tools.

Me: How do you manage your workload?

Paula: I manage my workload carefully. The thing about Instagram you don’t have to over-comment. However, they are best used with specific things in mind, and don’t run for the whole course. Have an end and a start point.