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:
Which alternative activity will best emulate the experience that students in the original in-person session are getting?
What are my intended learning outcomes and which activities will best achieve these?
How long will it take me to plan an activity and do I have the capacity to do this?
Think carefully about your assessment criteria – will the alternative activity that you provide allow the students to undertake the module assessments successfully?
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.
The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit offers several sessions for Continued Professional Development (CPD) covering a range of topics. We offer sessions in both English and Welsh and Welsh-medium sessions will appear in Welsh on the staff training website. Here is an overview of the Welsh-medium sessions that we are offering throughout the rest of the semester:
Panopto recordings have been heavily used by students even before the move to partly online delivery. This year they rely on pre-recorded content even more. Facilitating active learning using asynchronous materials such as lecture recordings can be challenging. We have previously shared with you the guide on using lecture recordings for students outlining six key strategies helping them to make most of the recordings. In one of our previous posts we have also explored the use of Panopto captions and quizzes which enables your recordings to be more accessible and interactive. Today we would like to introduce you to two additional Panopto functionalities – discussion and notes.
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.
Speaking into the void of your computer for pre-recorded materials is hard. Without an audience to interact with, it is difficult to know whether the delivery of materials is clear and engaging. On top of that, we use our voices very differently depending on the circumstance we speak in – recording in your office, or at home, your use of voice when recording will differ from your normal in-person delivery. Here are a few tips aimed at helping you make your pre-recorded vignettes as engaging as your live sessions:
1. Overenunciate – this will help automatic captions and emphasise individual words, making it easier to understand and follow what you are saying
2. Vary speed of delivery – take your time with the things that need it, but beware of setting into too regular a rhythm. Changes in speed will refocus your listeners’ attention onto what you are saying.
3. Use different parts of your vocal range – we’re not suggesting you act out different characters, but consciously avoid monotone: you know what you are talking about, but your students may encounter it for the first time. Monotone makes it seem boring and unimportant, when it really isn’t.
The above are ways of imitating the variances that happen in face-to-face conversations, and live events where you feed off your audience’s reactions and engagement. No one asks that you retrain as a YouTuber, but some vocal techniques used in videos like that can become useful tools for making pre-recorded materials more engaging. It takes a lot of energy and focus to speak into nothing but your own computer. The above are simple but effective linguistic and vocal tricks that help you speak engagingly to an imaginary audience.
Following training sessions that we have conducted over the past few weeks on using MS Teams for learning and teaching activities, here are answers to 10 common questions. Further information on using MS Teams can be found in our Microsoft Teams FAQs, and please do not hesitate getting in touch with us if you have any further queries (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q1:If I am sharing my screen can I still see the chat function? A1: Unfortunately, unless you have two screens then this will not be possible. You could either ask a student to monitor the chat for you or you could stop sharing your screen from time to time to check what has been posted in the chat. There are some advanced share screen options that may enable you to see the chat in some instances, and we’re happy to discuss these with you further.
Q3: After recording a meeting, how would I access the recording and how long is it available for? A3: After ending a meeting the recording will appear in the meeting’s chat and this will be available to download for 22 days. Please familiarise yourself with the University’s Lecture Capture Policy for details on what type of sessions are appropriate to record.
As more and more materials are made available online, including pre-recorded lectures, it is easy to become overwhelmed: in addition to adapting teaching materials for this different type of delivery and streamlining information into shorter instalments, the practical aspects of recording videos for teaching can be daunting. But fear not! The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit has created two guides, a Video Recording Checklist and Video Recording Tips.
It is important to remember that no one expects a perfect greenscreen or Minority Report– style, interactive multi-stream extravaganza. If you follow the checklist, you will ensure your videos will be of a consistently solid standard, without much hassle. The tips offer you extra help with improving your video recording skills.
If you have any further questions, want additional guidance, or seek clarifications, remember that the LTEU is only an email away, at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.
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.
Calling @AberUni staff. Do you use short Panopto lectures or Panopto quizzes in your online teaching? We’re after examples to use in our new good practice module. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your materials with us.
24/6/2020 “ALT – Preparing for our ‘new normal’: how can effective student feedback help universities to survive and thrive in the next academic year? Student feedback webinar. Topics to be covered include; Is student evaluation still as important, and what does this look like in the ‘new normal’?; How are universities developing their student feedback mechanisms to reflect what the next academic year is really going to be like?; What are the new, and emerging opportunities, for capturing student feedback?; Is it possible to engage the dis-engaged and traditionally harder-to-reach groups?; How are academic and professional teams being supported to deliver this agenda?” https://go.alt.ac.uk/3e1Xvbe
Association for Learning Technology (ALT), “Call for chapters: Designing Courses with Digital Technologies: Evidence and Examples by and for Higher Education Instructors” Higher education is currently undergoing a digital transformation. As most higher education institutions are integrating digital technologies, instructors need guidance. In this book, to be published by Routledge, instructors from around the world, representing different subject disciplines, will write short chapters with concrete examples of how they use digital technologies to support teaching and learning informed by evidence. The book will be written by and for instructors. https://go.alt.ac.uk/30MLdQf
Educause Review, “Editor’s Picks”: “Can HyFlex Options Support Students in the Midst of Uncertainty?”, “Teaching during COVID-19: Why We’re Fortunate”, “Orienting Students to Online Learning: A Must for Student Success” https://er.educause.edu/editors-picks
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 email@example.com. For any technical guidance, email firstname.lastname@example.org.