Exemplary Course Award

Exemplary Course Award image

Dr Lara Kipp, from the Department of Theatre Film and Television Studies, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module TP22320: Principles of Scenography. The panel commended this module for its innovative assessment design and support, clear and logically ordered learning materials, novel use of announcements, and offering multiple ways for students to engage with learning activities.

In addition to the winner, the following module achieved Highly Commended:

  • Dr Rhianedd Jewell from the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies for the module CY25620 / CY35620: Y Gymraeg yn y Gweithle

The diverse range of teaching and learning styles evidenced in this year’s applications reflects the innovative work that is taking place across the institution.

The aim of the Exemplary Course Award, now in its seventh year, aims to recognise the very best learning and teaching practices. It gives staff members the opportunity to share their work with colleagues, enhance their current modules in Blackboard, and receive feedback on to improve.

Modules are assessed across 4 areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. The self-assessed nature of the award gives staff the opportunity to reflect on their course and enhance aspects of their module before a panel assesses each application against the rubric.

The panel and the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to thank all of the applicants for the time and effort that they have put into their applications and modules this year.

We’re looking forward to receiving more applications next year and many congratulations to the recipients of this year’s award.

Tips for Discussion Board Engagement

Distance Learner BannerOne of the interactive tools available in Blackboard is the Discussion Board. Whilst moving to online teaching, we’ve seen staff start to use discussion boards to communicate with their students and for students to communicate with their peers.

In this blogpost, we’ll be giving you some tips on how best to design learning activities using discussion boards and some strategies for implementing them into learning and teaching. As we move to online teaching, it’s important to remember that this is new to students as well as staff. A well-designed online learning activity will help to alleviate stresses for students and queries for staff.

One of the most common queries we get from staff is about student engagement with various e-learning tools. Engagement depends on how the learning activity is designed and how it feeds into the rest of the module and learning process.

The first question to ask yourself when starting to use discussion boards is what is its purpose? What is it that you want your students to do or be able to do after engaging with the activity? After you’ve established that the discussion board is the correct tool for the activity (remember to put the learning need first), you can begin to design it.

A recent blogpost by Slobodan Tomic, Ellen Roberts, Jane Lund from York University identifies some tips for best embedding Discussion Forums in your teaching. They propose a series of 5 questions that will help you to clarify the specificities of your discussion board for your learning activity:

1.       What is the activity? A discussion (with or without reference to a resource)

A debate

A reflection on personal experience

A co-created presentation

Resource sharing

2. What is the purpose of the discussion or activity? To enable students to:

·       Digest and critique a reading

·       Construct an argument

·       Test/challenge a theory

·       Work in pairs/teams

·       Develop skills (e.g. search for and share resources)

 

3.       What do students need to do and by when? How long will the activity run for?

Should they post once, or more than once?

Should they respond to at least one other post?

Do they need to communicate off-platform to complete the task?

Should they nominate a rapporteur?

What are the deadlines for each stage of the task?

4.       What will the tutor’s role be, and how often will they be ‘present’ (see below)? Will tutors facilitate the discussion?

Or will they lurk but not comment until a particular point?

Will tutors be checking in every day? Every few days? At the end of the task if it is a student-led task?

5.       What do students do if they have any problems? How should communicate this?

In the forum?

By email?

 

There are many more useful tips in this blogpost so do look at it.

Once you’ve got the correct purpose for the discussion board, you can start to think about how best to embed into your teaching.

The following tips should help encourage engagement:

  1. Preparation:
    1. Have you prepared the students for the activity?
    2. Have you explained exactly what you expect of the students?
    3. Have you provided students with guidance on how to engage with the tool?
    4. Have you explained to students how best to communicate with you?
  2. Explanation:
    1. Have you explained to your students the benefit of engaging with the activity?
    2. Do your students know why they have to undertake the activity?
    3. Have you explained to students why you have set up the activity in a certain way?
  3. Response:
    1. Have you responded to discussion board posts regularly (if designed in the learning activity)?
    2. Have you responded to posts in other learning activities?
    3. If running virtual seminars, have you drawn on the content in the posts?
  4. Examples:
    1. Have you provided sample discussion forum posts to your students?
    2. If you’re expecting students to post on other discussion forum posts, have you given examples of what types of posts they should be doing?

You may also Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model useful. This model isn’t new but is designed to help scaffold students into online discussion.

Hopefully, these tips will help you design your learning activity using discussion boards. Once you have designed the activity, you’ll find all the help on setting them up in our FAQs: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?search=discussion.

We’re always on the lookout to hear from people successfully using e-learning tools in their teaching. If you’ve been using the Discussion Board feature successfully, then we’d like to hear from you. Drop us an email. As always, if you have any questions about using these tools, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

References

Tomic, S., Roberts, E., Lund, J. 2020. Designing learning and teaching online: the role of discussion forums. [Online]. Available at: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/designing-learning-and-teaching-online-role-discussion-forums. Last accessed: 30.04.2020.

Salmon, G. n.d. Five Stage Model. [Online]. Available at: https://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html. Last accessed: 30.04.2020.

 

Changes to the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

This year’s Learning and Teaching Conference is scheduled to take place between Monday 7th and Wednesday 9th September. We are starting to plan to deliver elements of the conference online.

We have extended the deadline for proposals for the conference to Friday 26th June 2020 and added an extra strand, to this year’s conference theme: Enhancing the Curriculum: Inspire Learning and Invigorate Teaching!

  • Pivoting to Online Learning
  • Creating a Learning Community
  • Developing Wellbeing in the Curriculum
  • Embedding Active Learning
  • Working with Students as Partners

Submit your proposals online.

We are particularly keen to hear from colleagues who would like to share practical tips and experiences of delivering learning and teaching online.

Booking to attend the event is now open.

This year’s keynote is Professor Ale Armellini from Northampton University. You can read further information on Professor Armellini on this blogpost.  

If you have any questions, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.