Live online interactive learning (LOILs)


Live online interactive learning (LOIL; commonly called ‘synchronous’ learning) is an important part of our Bath Blend, providing key opportunities for direct interaction with our students, but also for students’ own peer-to-peer working. When used as part of a blended provision we rightly want to ensure that LOIL time is used effectively so that it forms a distinct element of each course’s provision and is rewarding for students and staff alike.

This guidance is designed to help you focus on the purpose of your LOIL time and how you might go about facilitating this, with particular consideration to the challenges of large cohort sizes.

Top tips for planning LOIL sessions

The following are general recommendations for LOIL time, as a means to build on and reinforce other learning that students will be engaging with, through independent and in-person activities:

1. Prioritise learning by focusing on what is ‘need to know’ and removing ‘nice to know’, signpost to the latter through asynchronous activities.

2. Allow for screen breaks, a slower pace, and less content-coverage than in-person teaching.

3. Draw from your experience of face-to-face teaching to facilitate LOIL sessions, challenging students to think, reflect, explain, and talk to each other. Avoid using LOIL as a time to deliver large volumes of content. Instead, consider how how LOIL can promote learning through discussion and collaboration.

4. Encourage good online etiquette – how you expect students to behave and interact with each other and with you. This online etiquette slide is available to use in your sessions.

5. Make use of simple interactive features but don’t introduce these all at once.

It is preferable to use LOIL time effectively to engage students in high-quality, focused interactive activity, rather than to attempt to fill time with activity that could be better attempted elsewhere (eg as independent learning activity).

Key considerations for planning LOIL activity

LOIL activity should be planned from a course-wide perspective, showing a clear understanding of how it will contribute to learning outcomes. Regardless of cohort size, consider:

  • What types of learning activity are planned for your students to encounter across the course, to help them meet the intended learning outcomes?
  • What types of learning activity are best suited to making effective use of LOIL time?
  • How will LOIL activity build on, reinforce, or develop towards other learning activity across the unit or course?
  • How can I best ensure that all students are given the opportunity to participate?

Other considerations

As part of your broader planning, it will also be useful to consider whether to:

  • Introduce the activity and instructions at the start of the LOIL session to all students or pre-record this introduction and post in Moodle for students to watch/read beforehand. This supports accessibility and will also maximise the time available for interaction in the live session. This should include informing students of what to expect, what topics or questions will be covered, and how to prepare.
  • Bring the cohort back together to share any findings or outputs, provide a summary, and point students to where they should direct their learning next. Alternatively, these items could be shared via a discussion forum afterwards.
  • Utilise staff, or postgraduates who teach, to facilitate breakout groups or the chat activity. This will depend on the number of staff/students and the nature of the activity. Ensure that staff are clear about their role.

The guidance above should help you to consider how LOIL time can be most effectively used within the unit and course, and to make decisions about the type of learning activities you will plan.

Further resources

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