Teaching Tips: Teaching and Learning Continuity

Distance Learner BannerGeneral Points 

  • Provide clear and easy to understand instructions. This cuts down on the number of emails and queries you will receive.  
  • Use the technology that you and your students know and can use. Remember that you can include links to our FAQs in your Blackboard course to help your students. 
  • If you are using your own computer, check that you can do everything you will need to do. If you have any questions you can contact is@aber.ac.uk. These FAQs will help you: 

Further resources

View the excellent set of resources in the ACUE online teaching toolkit:  

See guidance from UK Copyright Literacy on Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis. 

Manage your content

  • Active learning at a distance: Think about the learning tasks that you want students to carry out, not just the content covered. Make sure that the tasks are made clear to the students. If the learning task is clear, it will promote active learning even at a distance.   For example, a somewhat vague learning task would be to read three articles. A more active task would be to read the three articles and evaluate their arguments relative to each other, or analyse data across several sources to identify patterns, etc.  
  • Accessibility: Apply principles of good accessibility practice to your PowerPoints, Word documents, and other materials.  
    • Apply ALT tags to images in any materials. 
    • Ensure that speaker notes are included in your PowerPoint files and upload the PPT file into Blackboard. Do not just upload a PDF. This gives students another channel to get all of the information you want them to have. 
    • Use plain English as much as possible. If your students don’t understand something well, they won’t be able to ask you during lecture. 
  • Make sure that your Blackboard course is easy for students to navigate. They should be able to find the relevant material for each week easily and quickly. 
  • Reading materials: Ensure that all reading material is accessible through Blackboard. Use Aspire reading lists. If some material is only available in print form (e.g. books in the library), find alternative e-books or online sources they can use instead. 
  • Adaptive Release: You can use Adaptive Release so your materials appear at set times. Try and avoid too many complicated adaptive release rules as they can make it difficult work out why a student can’t see documents.  
  • Box of Broadcasts is an excellent resource for TV and radio material. You can arrange recordings of upcoming material or use previously broadcast programmes. 

Blackboard Tests and Surveys 

Tests are an excellent way for students to check their understanding of a topic and help you know more about their progress. 

  • Be sure to include feedback on right and wrong answers, so that your students can learn from the formative quiz.  
  • You don’t have to give the correct answer but can give links to readings, or further resources to help learn the material. 
  • Write questions that help your students engage with the material, rather than just remembering facts. You can write questions that require them to analyse material, work with scenarios, and do calculations etc. 

Discussion Boards 

Discussion boards are an excellent way to run a remote seminar. They allow students to engage at times that work for them. They are also familiar to many.  

  • Activities: Provide activities for the students to engage with on the discussion boards – set starter questions that require them to actively engage, for example analysing data, comparing articles, summarising their reading, creating questions from the materials they have read. 
  • Guidance on engagement: Provide guidance for students on how you want them to engage with the discussion boards.  
    • For example, you could ask them to write their own posts, and comment on others.  
    • Tell them how often you want the students to engage and how often you will engage. 
    • If you are running a thread for each seminar, you may want to keep the discussion going for a week and then start a new one at a set time. 
  • Guidance on writing:  
    • Do you want them to write formally or informally? 
    • Should they reference their reading? 
    • Short posts are better than essays – the aim of discussion boards is for students to interact rather than just post their essays  

BlogsWikis and Journals 

Blogs and Journals are a good way of students to document an ongoing process or practice – for example a reading journal. Students can use text, images, video etc. Blogs are visible to all class members, and Journals are private between the student and the instructor. 

Wikis are good for group work. They can be used by all the class, or you can split into groups, and each group can have a wiki. Students can use text, images and video, and you can see each student’s contribution. 

  • Give students clear instructions about how to use the blogs, wikis or journals. Tell them what you expect: how often you want them to contribute and how often you will engage with them. 
  • Example contributions can be useful to help students understand what you expect. 
  • You can make comments on posts to provide feedback.
  • All three types of activity can be graded if you want to use them as an assessment method. 

Panopto Recordings 

Panopto recordings are a good way of presenting information to your students along with PowerPoint slides. You can re-use recordings you have already made, but if you are making new recordings specifically for continuity purposes, bear the following in mind: 

  • Make your videos shorter than a standard lecture. Students will find it easier to concentrate on shorter videos. 
  • Link the recording to a learning activity for your students. Encourage active listening with questions, or other activities. 
  • Make the PowerPoint and speakers notes (if you use them) available on Blackboard. 
  • If you are still working on campus, use teaching rooms or AU equipment to create Panopto recordings. If you are experiencing problems with installing Panopto on your own equipment, consider re-using recordings you have made in previous years until these have been resolved. 

Panopto Quizzes

Quizzes are a good way of breaking up your recording, similar to the way you would use questions in a lecture 

  • Write clear questions that will help your students engage with the recording actively. 

Digital Experience Insights 2019-20: How do you rate technology at Aberystwyth University?

Aberystwyth University is taking part in the Digital Experience Insights project aiming to explore our students’ experiences of technology. The project is based on online surveys designed by Jisc and used by different institutions across UK.

It allows us to get better insights on how students use technology and benchmark our results against other HE intuitions in our sector.

We would greatly appreciate your help in promoting this survey to all students:

Mini Conference: Group Work and Group Assessment, Monday 16 December, 10.30am

Mini Conference Programme

Mini Conference Logo

On Monday 16th December, at 10.30am, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be hosting this year’s Academy Mini Conference.

The Mini Conference is a smaller version of our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference which allows us to pull together a series of presentations and workshops around a particular learning and teaching topic.

This year the Mini Conference has the theme of Group Work and Group Assessment.

We’re excited to confirm our programme:

  • Professor John Traxler, Professor of Digital Learning, University of Wolverhampton: Working (Groups) in the Digital Age
  • Dr Jennifer Wood & Roberta Sartoni (Modern Langauges): Group Work as an Active-Learning Tool in Translation Classes
  • Janet Roland & John Harrington (Student Support Services): Supporting students who find group work challenging
  • Dr Gareth Llŷr Evans (Theatre, Film and Television Studies): Prosesau Creadigol Agored ac Asesu Grwpiau Bach
  • Dr Ian Archer (Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit): Learning Environments and your personality preferences
  • Mary Jacob (Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit): Designing and Assessing Group Work

We hope that you’ll be able to join us for this event. Places at the Mini Conference are limited so please book your place via this booking page.

Changes to Teaching Machines

Over the summer, Information Services have made some changes to equipment in teaching rooms:

  • Whiteboard capture with Crestron Airboard cameras
  • PowerPoint Presenter Mode with screen mirroring
  • Interactive whiteboards with CleverTouch screens

These tools are available in a selection of rooms around campus.

Crestron Airboard

Whiteboard capture will project everything you write onto the screen. You can also use it to record your whiteboard notes.

Whiteboard capture is available in:

  • IBERS 0.30,
  • IBERS 0.31,
  • Edward Llwyd 3.34
  • Hugh Owen E3
  • Hugh Owen C22

After you have logged into the computer:

  1. Click on the Crestron Airboard icon on the desktop
  2. There is a Crestron unit on wall near the whiteboard.
  3. When the button on unit flashes blue, press it

The Crestron page will then appear on screen and will display your handwriting on the screen. You can share a link to this page with your students. They will be able to see your handwriting on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

If you want to record the handwriting with Panopto, you will need to make sure that you select to capture the computer screen as well as any PowerPoint you are using when starting your recording. You will need to make sure that the Crestron web page is the main window open on the computer when you are writing on the board.

Presenter Mode

You can use Presenter Mode to show your PowerPoint slides to students, and see the speaker’s notes yourself on from the teaching room machine.

Currently in:

  • Edward Llwyd 3.34
  • IBERS 0.30
  • IBERS 0.31
  • IBERS, 0.32
  • Hugh Owen Language Labs (BA8 and BA9)
  • Hugh Owen C22 (permanently in presenter mode with two monitors)
  • All teaching rooms in Penbryn 5.

When you go into the PC it will default to screen mirroring. This means that the display on the monitor will be the same as the display on the projector screen. If you want to use PowerPoint Presenter Mode (speaker notes on the monitor and slides on the screen):

  1. Click on Extend Display on the desktop
  2. To record the slides but not the notes, set up Panopto to capture Second Screen and not the Main Screen.
  3. You can move windows from your main screen (monitor) to the Second Screen (screen) by dragging it to the left-hand side of the monitor
  4. To go back to normal, click on Mirror Display

Interactive Whiteboards

Currently in:

  • All teaching rooms in Penbryn 5.

To use the CleverTouch boards just as a whiteboard:

  1. Tap the bottom of the screen > choose Lux
  2. Tap left or right arrow > choose Note

This will then open a whiteboard application and you can annotate it. Be aware that it isn’t possible to record these screens with Panopto.

To go back to the PC tap the bottom of the screen and then select HDMI.

To annotate PowerPoint etc on PC (HDMI mode)

  1. Click on the left or right arrow on the board
  2. Click on the pen icon
  3. This will provide an image of the screen that you can’t interactive with, but you can write on it.
  4. To move onto the next slide, click on the left or right arrow on the board
  5. Click on the cross icon

This will lose your annotations. Note that the annotations will disappear when you move to the next screen. Also, annotations aren’t captured with Panopto.

New Distance Learner Forum

Distance Learner BannerWe’re excited to announce a new Distance Learner Forum for staff. These Forums are specifically aimed at those who deliver Distance Learning teaching or are considering delivering via Distance Learning in the future.

The Distance Learner Forum was established at this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. Book your place on these courses online.

This year there are 3 Distance Learning Forums:

Distance Learning Forum 1: Strategies for Monitoring Student Engagement

Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 1pm-2pm, E3 E-learning Training Room

In the first of these special Distance Learner Forums we will be looking at how you measure student engagement with learning activities in Blackboard. Blackboard has many different types of learning opportunities and activities. In this session, we will be looking at how we can measure student engagement with Blackboard for Distance Learning students.

Distance Learning Forum 2: Creating a Podcast

Tuesday 18th February 2020, 1pm-2pm, E3 E-learning Training Room

In the second of our Distance Learner Forums, we will be looking at Creating Podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to keep your students engaged with the content that you are creating as well as giving them opportunities to build activities into the podcasts. We’ll look at successful podcast design whilst also looking at the practicalities for creating your podcast and embedding it into your Blackboard course.

Distance Learning Forum 3: Gauging Student Opinion from a Distance

Tuesday 26th May 2020, 1pm-2pm, E3 E-learning Training Room

In the third of our Distance Learner Forums, we will be looking at how you can gauge student opinion from a distance. We’ll discuss and present strategies on how to allow distance learning students to feel part of a community and also to learn from each other. We’ll introduce activities that can be done in Blackboard to support this as well as other technologies such as online polling and Skype for Business.

We hope that you’ll be able to attend these forums. Please contact us with any questions.

Changes to Video Conferencing

Information Services is changing its Video Conferencing provision to Skype for Business. The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit have been working with colleagues across Information Services on the change to this provision.

Skype for Business has the capability to have up to 250 participants attend the webinar. You can attach documents for participants to review beforehand. In addition to this, you can choose the content that you display to your participants, from just audio calls, through to screen casts and PowerPoint presentations. Skype for Business is fully integrated with Office 365 and conference attendees only need an Internet connection to participate in the meeting.

Current Video Conference suites will be updated with new equipment for Skype for Business. You can already download Skype for Business. We’ve got further advice available here.

We will be offering 2 different training sessions on using Skype for Business and you can sign up here.

  • Skype for Business for Meeting Organisers

This session is for those who arrange and set up meetings. We will be looking at how to arrange a meeting using Outlook, how to send the meeting request to participants, control participant interaction, and share documents with participants before the meeting.

  • Skype for Business for Teaching Activities

In addition to covering the above, we will also look at the interactive features of Skype for Business that can enhance Learning and Teaching. We will give advice on strategies you can use for teaching virtually.

Webinars can enhance learning and teaching provision, particularly for students who aren’t studying on campus. JISC have got some guidance on using Webinars in education which you can access here.

We’ve helped the Department of Education run a couple of webinars which you can find out more about here. In addition to this, we’ve also run a couple of webinars on E-learning tools and provision.

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.

 

 

 

Padlet

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been taking a FutureLearn course called Using Technology in Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning. It’s run by the Chartered College of Teaching and focuses on the use of learning technologies in primary and secondary education. Although the context is different to higher education, it’s been a really interesting and enlightening course. It’s been useful to find out more about the education system that our students have come from, and it’s also good to find out about different tools and technologies that we may not use so much in universities.

Screenshot of a Padlet board

One of the tools that teachers in school use a lot is called Padlet. We know that Padlet is used in universities and there may be Padlet users amongst our readers. However, it wasn’t something that I’d used much, so I decided to take a look at it.

Padlet (https://padlet.com/) describes itself as ‘productivity software’ which makes collaboration easier. It’s designed around the idea of a wall or a board, to which you and users can add cards or notes. The cards can contain text, images, links, videos and files.

To create a Padlet board you will need to create an account – you can have a free account, which provides you 3 boards and an upload of 10Mb. You will also see adverts on this free version. You can sign-in with Google or create your own account. Students can contribute to the boards without creating an account, although if you want to know what who has posted what they will need to set-up an account. Boards can be private or public, and you can control who you invite to post to the boards. (Have a look at our post on polling software and privacy considerations)

There seem to be two uses that are obvious for Padlet – the first is for curation or research type activities, and the second is for collecting feedback for students.

You can find lots of case studies of schools, colleges and universities using Padlet to allow students to collaboratively collect resources and materials. This could be for group presentations and projects or for seminar preparation. A nice example is with Foundation Year Psychology undergraduates at University of Sussex (https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/compass/article/view/714)

Many of us may also have seen Padlets used to facilitate interaction in lectures or presentations. Students can post up their questions to a Padlet wall during a lecture allowing the lecturer to view comments and questions. Used in this way, Padlet has some of the same tools as other polling software. While it doesn’t allow participants to answer questions, it’s a great way of collecting text-based responses. And these can be used later, or archived for future reference.

There’s a very useful set of resources from University of Derby (https://digitalhandbook.wp.derby.ac.uk/menu/toolbox/padlet/). Do be aware that this contains information specific to Derby staff, but you should find the ideas useful. If you’re already a Padlet users, do get in touch; we’re always looking for guest bloggers. Also, you may want to consider putting in a paper proposal for July’s Learning and Teaching conference.