Students as digital producers

Professor Rafe Hallett from Keele University has recently delivered a fascinating keynote talk exploring the idea of students as digital producers.

The presentation encouraged educators to explore which modes of co-creation are already inhabited by their students and enable them to work collaboratively in the production of knowledge. As pointed out by Professor Hallett, this constructionist approach leads to a more meaningful experience. Students produce outputs which are available externally to university systems and can be showcased and shared as ‘theirs’. This contributes to the feeling that their work ‘matters’, in contrast to submitting assessment in a standard format which is read, marked and archived.

Enabling students to be digital producers requires them to build on skills they already have, but also to develop digital criticality to choose the right digital resources for what they are trying to do. It is one way of facilitating more authentic assessments, a concept explored by Kay Sambell and Sally Brown our recent mini-fest.

What software can I use for teaching?

Although our Unit’s provision focuses on supporting core tools such as Blackboard, Turnitin, Panopto and MS Teams, a list of software available to AU staff is much longer.

We have recently procured the university polling software – Vevox which can be an excellent addition to the tools you are already using. During the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference (book on the conference) our Vevox account manager Joe Probert will explain how Vevox can be used for learning activities. On Wednesday, we will also have an opportunity to join a webinar on how to use Vevox in your hybrid classroom. If you like to see how Vevox has been used by other institutions, you can also take a look at these case studies.

Another tool that we have previously written about is Padlet which is free and widely used across the sector. Take a look at our previous blog post which includes some ideas on how it could be applied in teaching. There is also a recording of the presentation on Padlet by Danielle Kirk delivered during the 7th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference.

Based on findings of the Digital Insights Survey we have also published a list of digital tools and apps useful for learning. You may choose to recommend these to your students by sharing this post with them or pointing them to specific tools helping them with what they need.

If you decide to use any of the third-party software for learning and teaching, there are a few considerations you need to make to keep yourself and your students safe online.

See: Using Third-Party Software for Learning and Teaching

If you have any questions about using software in your teaching then contact us on lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Interactive Blackboard Tools Series – Journals and Blogs (Part 1)

Teaching staff at Aberystwyth University make excellent use of basic functions of Blackboard keeping it consistent and easy to navigate, meeting the needs of their students. Some staff go beyond Blackboard Required Minimum Presence, using additional, interactive functions in many different creative ways. Considering the current emphasis on online learning and the use of asynchronous online activities we would like to introduce you to some of the more advanced (although still easy to use!) tools in Blackboard:

  • Journals and Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Tests

We have already written about discussion board – perhaps the most versatile of all the Blackboard tools. In this blog post we will focus on blogs and journals and the value these tools could bring to your teaching. 

Both journals and blogs, typically written in an informal way, are tools conducive to reflection and personal expression. The difference in their use is determined by whether or not they are aimed at being shared with others. Journals in Blackboard can be set up in two ways:

  • Private journals cannot be anonymous, are seen only by the lecturer and the student who wrote it, if enabled other students may view them but not comment or edit.
  • Group journals enable students to write individual entries into one group journal, group members can view and comment on all entries.

Watch a tutorial on creating journals

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Alternative activities to in-person teaching

There may be occasions where it is not practically possible for you to simultaneously deliver non-lecture activities (e.g. seminars, workshops, etc.) to students in-person and students joining via MS Teams.

In this blog post, we will explore some different options for delivering alternative activities for those students that cannot join in-person sessions. Before you begin to design an alternative activity, consider the following points:

  1. Which alternative activity will best emulate the experience that students in the original in-person session are getting?
  2. What are my intended learning outcomes and which activities will best achieve these?
  3. How long will it take me to plan an activity and do I have the capacity to do this?
  4. Think carefully about your assessment criteria – will the alternative activity that you provide allow the students to undertake the module assessments successfully?
  5. Clarity and focus are at the heart of any well-designed online activity. Ensure that students using your alternative activity know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. If you ask students to use any technology, you must provide students with clear and concise guidance on how to use these.

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Using Podcasts for Teaching

The second Academy Forum session this year focused on creating podcasts in Panopto. The discussion emphasised podcasts’ unique potential for facilitating a sense of connection. Usually based on informal monologues, interviews and discussions podcasts provide their users with opportunities to listen in to unconstructed reflections and conversations. As explained by Street (2014) audio storytelling creates a ‘partnership between imagination and memory’ triggering a unique and personal reaction to it (as cited in McHugh, 2014, p.143). Podcasts can provide us with company; unlike with videos or written texts, we can listen to them during other daily activities.

These unique properties of podcasts hold great potential for its use in education. University of Cambridge created a collection of short podcasts from various subject areas. Podcasts are also used by individual educators, Ian Wilson, a Senior Lecturer in Education at York St John University Ian Wilson created a series of podcasts aimed at supporting learners on placements. His podcast focused on providing students with instructions on what the students should be doing the following week, answering any of their questions and providing some motivational advice. Although podcasting may not necessarily be the best solution for delivering the key learning material, as discussed during the Academy Forum session, it can complement your current teaching practice by fostering reflection, increasing learner’s engagement and foster a sense of community.

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Tips for monitoring chat for online and in person sessions

Distance Learner BannerIn this blogpost, we’ll be looking at some tips for monitoring a Teams chat when you’ve also got attendees joining in person and online.

The planning of the synchronous activity and what you want your students to be able to do after they have engaged with the activity shapes the purpose of the chat. Ask yourself: what role do you want the chat to have in your teaching session?

For example, do you want the chat to be used for students joining online to communicate their ideas with you? Do you want it to be used for them to chat with each other? Do you want the chat contributions to be communicated with those joining in person?

In addition to that, you want to think about how you are asking your online students to engage in the session. Do you want them, for example, to use the raise the hand function to attract your attention? Or, do you want them to only use the chat.

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Useful Information: Online Teaching

Distance Learner BannerSetting up sessions through MS Teams:

  • Unless otherwise agreed, Microsoft Teams should be used to run all online teaching sessions.
  • Details of online teaching sessions should be posted in Blackboard (see our FAQ how to set up a Teams meeting in Blackboard?).
  • Please note that for any sessions set up through Blackboard, students will be able to use the link to join the session 15 minutes before the chosen start time. Any time prior to this, students have the option to add the session to their Office365 calendars (see our student FAQ).

Keeping students informed:

  1. Use the announcements feature in Blackboard to communicate with your students. (See our FAQ How do I add an announcement to my Blackboard module?)
  2. Ensure that your Blackboard contacts page has your contact information and clear instructions on how and when students should contact you.

Delivering online sessions from the University:

  • If required, you may come into the University to deliver your online session from the teaching rooms in the allotted timetabled slots. Please ensure you are using the correct room and time allocated to your activity. 

CPD sessions:

  • The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be running a number of CPD sessions for staff members over the coming weeks, focusing specifically on online learning and teaching and associated E-learning tools.

For any technical assistance with using MS Teams or any of the E-learning tools, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk. If you wish to discuss any aspect of learning and teaching, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Weekly Resource Roundup 30/6/2020

Weekly Resource Roundup with Mary Jacob, Lecturer in Learning and Teaching

As lecturer in learning and teaching responsible for the PGCTHE, I keep an eye out for new resources to help our staff teach effectively online. This includes externally-provided webinars, toolkits, publications and other resources. Because active learning is high on our university agenda, I’m particularly keen to share guidance for moving active learning online.

Below I’ve listed items that came to my attention in the past week. In the interest of clarity, our policy is to show the titles and descriptions in the language of delivery.

Please see the Staff Training booking page for training offered by the LTEU and other Aberystwyth University staff. 

I hope you find this weekly resource roundup useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact our team at lteu@aber.ac.uk. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.

 

Using the Whiteboard Feature in Microsoft Teams

In this blogpost we will be taking a look at one of the tools available to make your teaching in a Microsoft Teams session more interactive. The Whiteboard is a space where you and your students can collaborate.

The whiteboard can be used for:

  1. Students sharing ideas or thoughts
  2. Talking your students through a complicated diagram
  3. Mind-mapping ideas or concepts
  4. Sharing or charting a complex process

There’s a great video on using the Whiteboard in Teams by The Virtual Training Team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDqtWRu0rTA

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More training sessions available

Distance Learner Banner

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit have got some more Moving to Online Teaching and Using Microsoft Teams for Learning and Teaching Activities scheduled. You can book your place online and we will send you a Teams Calendar invite to attend the training session.

In the Moving to Online Teaching session, we introduce some general guidance on how to design and prepare for online teaching. We look at the various interactive tools available in Blackboard and offer tips on how best to implement them into your teaching. We also provide some guidance on the e-assessment tools available to you, guidance on how to tailor your Panopto recordings for online delivery, and how to design and prepare for online video conferencing sessions. We finish with some guidance on using Third Party Software to support Learning and Teaching.

In using Microsoft Teams for Learning and Teaching Activities, we expand our advice on running online teaching sessions for students and go through the functionality available to you in Teams meetings. We provide guidance and information on how best to run interactive sessions with your students, looking at the document collaboration functionality available in Teams.

Underpinning these sessions are the principles of Active Learning and Accessibility that will help to create effective online learning environments for your students.

We will be developing our CPD programme over the summer to respond to the needs of staff. If you wish to discuss any aspect of learning and teaching, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk. For any technical guidance, email elearning@aber.ac.uk.