Quick Guides - sharing good practice and lessons learned
Sharing our experiences of blended learning
New resources and guidance for teaching online seem to be being made available at an incredibly fast rate. Although helpful, this can feel potentially overwhelming as we are introduced to a whole range of new technologies, approaches and solutions for managing the challenges of online delivery. It is also not always clear how suggestions and guidance will translate into our own institutional context. This page therefore focuses our attention specifically on the Bath context and provides some hints, tips and advice from University of Bath colleagues who share their experience of teaching online in response to the pandemic.
The student journey
Here are some suggestions for planning and structuring teaching for blended learning.
We started by thinking about what our students’ week might look and feel like. Amongst other things, we talked about ‘bookending’ the week with introductory sessions and round-up work. These discussions helped us think more concretely about how our students would be engaging with us and their learning activities. And from here we started to think about what our face-to-face provision and assessment regimes might ‘do’ within this new ecology of learning and teaching. – Sarah Moore, SPS
Every Monday, as the unit convenor, I would post a message for all year 1 in our discussion box with the program of the week, the homeworks required, and any other information needed. The same day, I would post a powerpoint with my voice recordings to explain the activities and provide a correction for the exercises. I would end my powerpoint with 1 lengthy activity or a guided-preparation for future live-online activity. I would then meet with the students on Wednesday morning to discuss (in French) the class they have received on Monday, and go over the most challenging activities/linguistics/cultural points with them. I also offered more individual written task to correct for them and recordings of their homeworks in pronunciation and presentation skills. The unit feedback came back highly positive so I guess it worked fine.- Chloe Kervio, PoLIS
I have generated a 'take home' messages documents at the end of each problem/activity benchmarked against the learning objectives described in the problem/activity sheet. The 'take home' included messages I brainstormed with the students. Also on completion of the activity/problem, I flagged those objectives relevant to the summative assessment. This really helped the students focusing their revision efforts. - Nuno Reis, Chemical Engineering.
When considering new 1st year students arriving to begin their studies, I try to make use of material that is sports performance specific and related to their programme of study, as this helps the students to firstly see the transition to University as a process rather than an event and that other students are in similar positions. This interpretation is then linked to their extended induction activities and formative assessments mid semester across a number of units as a dry run for summative assessments at the end of the semester. When considering accessibility of information for assessments I structure tasks in sessions and self directed learning activities between sessions that help students build an assignment plan gradually over the semester. These activities are linked to the assessment briefing session to form a scaffold for their ideas to help structure their work. Opportunity for tutorials and seminars with open Q and A is then used to facilitate the development of their ideas further. The idea being to help students build towards the assessment in a structured manner that is clearly navigable through sessions, activities and Moodle as their VLE rather than cramming at the end of semester. - Nicholas Willsmer, Health
Here are some suggestions for encouraging participation. This can help move students from simply attending the sessions to engaging and investing in their learning.
It was very clear that simply recording lectures through re:view and uploading them was not engaging students - as could be seen form the data on who watched and for how long. It's pretty clear that it isn't enough to record long lectures, that there needs to be smaller, multiple, more engaging replacements. - Dai Moon, PoLIS.
I kept things very simple - I recorded PowerPoint voice-overs. I made an effort to be lively on them and tell lame jokes like I normally do. I set up Moodle quizzes (I normally use TurningPoint). I had several emails from students saying that they were enjoying the lectures - Cressida Lyon, Biology and Biochemistry.
Recording the lectures offline from the "comfort" of my back bedroom allowed me to break the lectures into small 25 min portions with stop points in built. This allowed the students to take a break from listening for 50 mins solid. - Tim Wakely, School of Management.
Found that last year that students like doing quizzes and surveys on the fly using web based tools (Mentimeter etc) either to give opinions or test their knowledge as starters to lectures. Students engaged well with this (~70% uptake from my units cohorts). – Barrie Marsh, Chemistry.
It is ok to keep things simple. One very simple tool is Padlet which can be used in a number of ways. I’ve used it for ice breakers, creative exercises as well as discussion around content. The nice things about Padlet is that is can be used flexibly to represent, capture, and organise information visually. This helps to engage students, encourage interactive participation, and vary the learning experience. - Deborah Brewis, School of Management.
I found that blended teaching works well when you give all students the possibility to participate in their preferred way, which means trying to keep it as inclusive as possible….plan very carefully the webinars by timing the activities so that every 10 min there is a change of activity; check understanding and learning regularly with short quizzes or polls; allow each student to participate using different tools - chat, voice, writing on the screen. - Elena Minelli, PoLIS.
I found students actually got better grades and worked together better in groups when working towards online group (pre-recorded) presentations, than they do for their "normal" face to face presentations. To get them to do the prep I split the cohort into groups and scheduled 2 teams meetings with each group in the lead up to the deadline. I stayed in these meetings for 10-15 minutes setting them up with targets to achieve for the week and answering questions, and then left the conversation. My presence made their prep sessions more formal and they all made the effort to attend. I found Google slides was a great way for them to work on the presentation simultaneously and record audio to each slide. - Stephanie Merchant, Health
Creating informal support spaces
Students may miss out on informal opportunities to connect with other people which we previously took for granted on campus (e.g waiting in the corridor before a lecture), but we can intentionally create those online.
Formation of the informal support networks can be help create dedicated social online spaces for students to chat and meet each other (a virtual café or - as I have seen somewhere recently - an 'online watercooler'). Then we (as the tutors) shall not forget to visit these spaces ourselves and post an icebreaker, a questions about an interesting film they have seen recently or encourage the students to post a photo from their last holiday. The opportunity to meet each other socially will hopefully enhance the sense of community for the students - Lenka Banovcova, CLT