Conducting blended teaching sessions – synchronously face-to-face and via Teams  

Teaching staff are encouraged to provide access to teaching sessions for students unable to attend them in person. The guidelines below provide step-by-step checklist of all things that need to be completed to conduct an effective session for both students sitting in the classroom and those joining via MS Teams.  

Before the session: 

Note: Make it clear that this has been provided for students who are not able to attend the session in person and that all students who are well and not self-isolating are expected to attend the sessions in-person and that attendance during face-toface session will be closely monitored.  

  • Revise the teaching room guide and watch videos demonstrating using the new teaching room set-up:  

Teaching Rooms Guide 

Teaching Rooms demonstrations 

Once in the teaching room: 

Once the session started:  

  • Inform all students of the session format.  
  • Encourage students joining virtually to unmute themselves, turn on their cameras and take part in the discussion directly rather than by typing in the chat. Clarify that you will not be monitoring the chat all the time, so if they have a question, they need to ask it directly.  
  • Make sure they know the chat will be visible to everyone and stored in Teams, so they should not be posting anything they would not feel comfortable saying in the classroom. They should also not share any personal data.  
  • Try to encourage participation, ask students in the class what they think then address students joining virtually. 

After the session:

  • Ask your students in both groups how the session went for them and whether they would suggest any changes to make it better.  
  • Reflect on the session and adjust any steps in accordance with your experience.  
  • In case of any questions please contact: lteu@aber.ac.uk  

A number of academic staff are successfully running simultaneous in class and Teams sessions. However, this format of session delivery is still new for the majority. Please take time to reflect on the process, adjust when necessary and don’t hesitate to ask us for help.  

 

Engaging students with asynchronous online tasks: Self-Determination Theory (SDT) Perspective

2020 Student’s expectations survey conducted by Wonkhe showed that when presented with a scenario of limited face-to-face teaching, 71 per cent said that in such a scenario they would struggle with motivation to learn and keep up interest.

 

How can we make sure that our students engage with asynchronous online tasks?

Self-determination theory (SDT) by Deci and Ryan (1985, 2002) is one of the most comprehensive and empirically supported theories of motivation available today. Past research indicated that SDT predicts a variety of learning outcomes, including performance, persistence, and course satisfaction (Deci & Ryan, 1985). The SDT-based strategies may apply to a variety of educational settings including online learning environments (Kuan-Chung & Syh-Jong, 2010). According to SDT, when students’ basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are met, they are more likely to internalize their motivation to learn and be more engaged in their studies.

Image showing the three components of self-determination theory: competence, autonomy and relatedness, all contributing to motivation.

 

Source: https://ela-source.com/2019/09/25/self-determination-theory-in-education/

 

Autonomy

“I prompt students to research a certain idea to bring back to our synchronous class time. I have found that making students responsible for finding content that guides the discussion makes them highly invested.” (Forbes, 2020)

  1. Maximize students’ perceptions of having a voice and choice in their academic activities.
  • Use a survey or discussion board to ask students what they are hoping to get out of the module.
  • Make your asynchronous activities flexible, e.g. if you ask them to write a blog post, let students choose the topic.
  1. Provide students with a meaningful rationale for the usefulness of a learning activity.
  • Clearly outline learning outcomes of each activity (or blocks of activities).

 

Competence

 “Students will only engage and personally value activities they can understand and master.” (Kuan-Chung & Syh-Jong, 2010, p.).

  1. Introduce optimally challenging learning activities, allowing students to test and to expand their academic capabilities.
  • Review your syllabus: https://onlineteaching.open.suny.edu/page/reviewsyllabus
  • Use Blackboard functions like adaptive release or review status to reinforce the perception of progression and avoid overwhelming students with a large number of activities presented to them at once.
  1. Provide students with appropriate tools and feedback to promote progress and feelings of efficacy.
  • Keep your module structure simple, easy to navigate and consistent.
  • Explain how to navigate your module and give them a suggested timeframe for completing activities.
  • Communicate with students regularly and be there to answer questions.
  • Provide them with informative feedback.

 

Relatedness

“Research has shown one of the greatest challenges for learning institutions and instructors when designing and implementing online courses is to provide a sense of community with constructive feedback and provide open forthcoming communications” (Boiling, et al., 2011, p.)

  1. Foster a sense of belonging.
  • Use Blackboard tools which facilitate collaboration such as discussion boards or wikis.
  • Use reality-based scenarios.
  • Link asynchronous online activities to live sessions.
  1. Show that you like, respect and value your students.
  • Create a short video about who you are as a person.
  • Be an active member of your module’s online community, respond to students’ comments on discussion forums and wikis.

 

References:

Boling, E.C., Hough, M., Krinsky, H., Saleem, H., & Stevens, M. (2012). Cutting the distance in distance education: Perspectives on what promotes positive, online learning experiences. The Internet and Higher Education. 15(2), 118-126.

Forbes, L. K. (2020). Fostering Fun: Engaging Students with Asynchronous Online Learning. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/fostering-fun-engaging-students-with-asynchronous-online-learning/

Jackson, A. (2020). The expectation gap: students’ experience of learning during Covid-19 and their expectations for next year. Retrieved from https://wonkhe.com/blogs/the-expectation-gap-students-experience-of-learning-during-covid-19-and-their-expectations-for-next-year/

Kuan-Chung, C. & Syh-Jong, J. (2010). Motivation in online learning: Testing a model of self-determination theory. Computers in Human Behavior. 26(4), 741-752.

Niemiec, C.P. & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom. Applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education. 7(2), 133-144.

 

Hello from your new Online Learning Specialist!

My name is Ania and I am one of the three Online Learning Specialists joining the LTEU.

Some of you may recognise me as I have previously worked with Information Services, at first as Communications, Marketing and E-learning Support Officer and then as part of the E-learning Group providing technical support to staff and overseeing smooth running of online exams. In the summer of 2019, I left Aberystwyth to pursue a master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology. During my degree, I also worked for Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union as a Volunteer Centre Coordinator. 

I would have never guessed I will be given the opportunity to join the LTEU once again. I am extremely grateful to be able to work alongside such a supportive team and contribute to the further development of, already outstanding, teaching at AU. Throughout my time of working at AU in the I have always been inspired by the dedication and creativity of AU teaching staff. I look forward to learning from your expertise and work alongside each one of you in delivering high-quality online teaching to our students. I am hoping to draw on research in the area of Positive Education, providing you with (hopefully) an interesting and transformative perspective of students’ basic psychological needs and their motivation for learning. It is clear that the upcoming year will be full of challenges for students as well as staff and I am hoping to provide you with the support and knowledge needed for you to develop online teaching that is sustainable, in line with your methods and the needs of your students.

I look forward to meeting you.

Please feel free to contact with me any queries comments: aeu@aber.ac.uk

Ania

Additional online learning support for teaching staff

Recent months brought an expected rapid demand for high-quality online teaching. As in the upcoming academic year a large part of teaching will continue to be delivered online, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be joined by three Online Learning Specialists. They will support the LTEU in designing and delivering an ambitious programme of training for all teaching staff at AU. This programme aims to make sure that all AU staff are able to deliver pedagogically effective teaching and learning activities, in our new learning and teaching conditions.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new team members.

Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit

Digital Insights 2018/19: Digital tools and apps useful for learning

In Digital Insights 2018/19 survey, we asked students to give an example of a digital tool or app they find really useful for learning. We thought we will share some of the examples on our blog.

Access AU core e-learning services

 

Research

  • Endnote – reference management software (free to download for AU students and staff)
  • Mendeley – reference management software & researcher network

 

Organize & monitor your progress

  • ApAber– check your timetable, find available computers on campus, see your Aber Card balance, look at local bus timetables and much more
  • GradeHub – a tool to track your progress and predict what marks you need to achieve your degree
  • Asana – is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work
  • MyStudyLife – unfortunately this service is shutting down but try myHomework (app) instead, it will help you to organize your workload

 

Taking notes

 

Study better

  • Forest App – is an app helping you stay away from your smartphone and stay focused on your work
  • GetRevising – revision tools
  • Anki – software for making flashcards
  • Study Blue – online flashcards, homework help & textbook solutions
  • Quora – a platform to ask questions and connect with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers
  • Memrise – a language platform which uses flashcards as memory aids, but also offers user-generated content on a wide range of other subjects
  • GeoGebra – an interactive geometry, algebra, statistics and calculus application
  • KhanAcademy – free online courses, lessons & practice
  • Tomato Timers – ‘Pomodoro Technique’ is a time management method, the technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks

 

 

Digital Insights 2018/19 benchmarking data

As promised in the previous post outlining some of the key findings of this year’s Digital Insights survey for students we will now present you with the benchmarking data from 29 other Higher Education in UK (14560 responses from students).

Having access to the benchmarking data gives us an opportunity to judge how well we are actually doing and determine which issues are specific to Aberystwyth and which are common to all HE institutions in our sector.

Overall, significantly more students at AU rated the quality of this university’s digital provision (software, hardware, learning environment) as ‘Excellent’.

 

 

 

 

In many aspects, the ratings of AU digital provisions were higher than the benchmarking data, however with regard to interactive digital activities such as using educational games or simulations, polling software or working online with others the results were lower.

In the next post from the Digital Insights’ series we will present you with examples of useful learning apps and tools given by students.


Significantly more students at AU responded that they have access to ‘recorded lectures’ at university whenever they need them.

 

 

 

 

Significantly more students at AU agree the university help them stay safe online.

 

 

 

 

 

Significantly more students at AU agree that they can easily find things on the VLE.

 

 

 

 

 

Significantly more students at AU agree that online assessments are delivered and managed well.

 

 

 

 

 

Significantly more students at AU never work online with others as part of their course.

 

 

 

 

 

Significantly more students at AU never use a polling device or online quiz to give answers in class as part of their course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Findings of the Digital Insights survey running at AU for the second time!

Last year Aberystwyth University took part in the pilot of JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker – an online survey designed by JISC to collect information about students’ expectations and experiences of technology. The 2017/18 pilot has led to a new Jisc service now called Digital Experience Insights.

Digital Insights survey for students run at AU in January 2019. We were very excited about running this survey for the second time, as it enabled us to compare the findings with last year’s result and track our progress on digital provisions.

Below you will see a short summary of some of the key findings. If you wish to discuss them further or get more information on the project, please contact us at elearning@aber.ac.uk.

As you may be aware the Digital Experience Insights survey comes with a benchmarking data from other Higher Education institutions in our sector. The benchmarking data has been now made available and we will share it with you in the next Digital Insights post.

If you wish to read about AU experience of running Digital Insights in academic year 2017/18, take a look at the article published on Jisc website or browse through our previous posts:


Digital Experience Insights 2018/19

 

WiFi

Students’ satisfaction with WiFi increased by 7.3% in comparison to last year’s survey. Although WiFi is still the most common theme in students comment, the number of comments regarding WiFi decreased from 66 last year to 38 this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-books & E-journals

7.7% less students responded that they have access to e-books and journals whenever they need them, this issue has been also mentioned in 19 of students’ comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackboard
The issue regarding a navigation in Blackboard seemed to improve. There were only 3 comments about this issue in comparison to 20 last year and 8.2% increase in the question on Blackboard navigation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The question wording has changed since the 2017/18 survey which could have impacted the ratings.

 

Security
Students are more satisfied with the provisions regarding security issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mobile devices
The use of smartphone to support learning increased slightly. In the comments, students talked about the need of core services such as Panopto and Blackboard being mobile friendly and about usefulness of apps helping them with their studies. Interestingly, when asked whether they would prefer to be allowed to use their own mobile devices in class only 49% answered ‘At any time’, 45.4% answered ‘Only to carry out class activities’ and 5.6% ‘None of the time’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use of technology
There is a shift towards using more technology, there were quite a few comments about staff needing more training on the use of technology and there was an increase of nearly 10% of students wanting more technology to be used on their course.

 

 

 

How can we help you with the Blank Course Copy?

Postgraduate Blackboard modules for 2020/21 academic year will be created with no content. Previously, year by year the content was automatically copied over for all Blackboard modules.

Preparing postgraduate modules for the next year will require the module co-ordinators to copy over existing and/or upload new material into the new iteration of their module. All modules will contain an agreed departmental menu template that content will need to be organised under.

We would like to assist staff with preparing their modules as much as we can. We are happy to come to your office or for you to come and visit us. If you would like to book an appointment with a member of the E-learning Group, please let us know a convenient time and place where you would like to meet.

We have prepared these FAQs with detailed guideline on copying different elements on Blackboard and produced the information help sheet below.

We look forward to work closely with all staff and supporting you in any convenient for you way. 

Using Virtual Reality (VR) in Mental Health

Although individuals using VR are conscious of their experience not being real, the physical and psychological responses induced by it are similar to those experienced in real life scenarios.

Using VR in mental health treatment opens up possibilities of working through responses to problematic stimulus without having to face them in a real life. There is an obvious, practical benefit to it; for example, creating a flight simulation for an individual struggling with phobia of flying is a much easier solution that arranging an actual flight.

Additionally, it allows the therapist to work not only based on the patient’s account but to actually observe their responses. Both therapist and the patient have a control over the stimuli making the treatment potentially safer both physically and psychologically.

‘VR has the potential to transform the assessment, understanding and treatment of mental health problems’ (Freeman, et al., p. 2392). It has been used for assessment and treatment of phobias, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, paranoia, eating disorders and autism. For example, a VR app created at Tulane School of Social Work prevents drug and alcohol relapse in patients ‘by practicing self-control and awareness skills in realistic simulations where drugs and alcohol are present’ (Leatham, 2018, para.13).

Gareth Norris and Rachel Rahman from the Psychology department at Aberystwyth University in collaboration with colleagues in Computer Science have recently done a pilot research project using VR to look at its potential for reminiscing in older adults.

The E-learning Group has acquired virtual reality (VR) headsets and camera for staff to use in teaching and research. You can create immersive learning environments or use already existing VR materials. Book the VR headsets and camera from the library loan stock.

 

References:

Farnsworth, B. (2018, May 1). The Future of Therapy – VR and Biometrics. Retrieved from https://imotions.com/blog/vr-therapy-future-biometrics/

Freeman, D. & Freeman, J. (2017, March 22). Why virtual reality could be a mental health gamechanger. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2017/mar/22/why-virtual-reality-could-be-a-mental-health-gamechanger

Freeman, D., Reeve. S., Robinson, A., Ehlers, A., Clark, D., Spanlang, B. & Slater, M. (2017). Virtual reality in the assessment, understanding, and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychological Medicine, 47 (2393-2400).

Leatham, J. (2018, June 22). How VR is helping Children with Autism Navigate the World around Them. Retrieved from https://www.vrfitnessinsider.com/how-vr-is-helping-children-with-autism-navigate-the-world-around-them/

 

Can I use polling software for Distance Learners?

Following the post on using polling software for teaching we received a query about the feasibility of using polling software such as PollEverywhere or Mentimeter for Distance Learners’ modules.

Please find below the results of our testing and research.

Mentimeter

As every presentation has a different code to access the poll, you can vote even when the presentation is not displayed. However, if not used for live voting, each presentation should only contain one slide. If the presentation includes two or more slides (and it is not displayed by the poll’s author) the participants will only be able to access the first slide.

PollEverywhere

  • PollEverywhere has a function that allows to group questions/polls and change them into a survey which can be shared and filled in by participants in their own time. However you have to make the survey ‘active’ and only one presentation can be active at the time (https://www.polleverywhere.com/faq question: Can I combine multiple questions (polls) into a survey?)
  • There are other online surveys’ tools such as Google Forms or Wufoo. They can be used by unlimited number of participants (which is not the case with PollEverywhere, the limit with the free plan is 25 responders). However, these tools do not have such a variety of questions (particularly in comparison to PollEverywhere) and are not as visually attractive.

Alternative to all above are Blackboard tests or surveys.

Sharing surveys with students:

The link to any of the online surveys could be shared with students via e-mail, announcement or link in the content area on Blackboard (in case of PollEverywhere you can only share one survey at the time, the ‘active’ one).

Sharing results with students:

The actual results’ reporting tools in Mentimeter and PollEverywhere are not available with the free plan. You could share the results with students by taking screenshots of the graphs with responses and putting them up as an image, item or one of the slides in a PowerPoint presentation on Blackboard.

In both, Google Forms and Wufoo you can download the results to Excel. However, if wanting to present results in an accessible and visual way, it would probably be better to use the screenshot method described above. When using Blackboard tests or surveys, you can view the statistics via Grade Centre and either download them to Excel or save them as pdf document.

If you have any questions or suggestion, please do not hesitate to share them with us.