Pre-recorded asynchronous content has become a key factor in delivering courses and enabling the best learning experience for students at Aberystwyth University. There are several strategies that lecturers can use to make these recordings both engaging and interactive.
The benefits of asynchronous pre-recorded lectures are manifold, and most students – as the so-called YouTube generation – know this mode of learning extremely well (Scagnoli, Choo & Tian, 2019). Benefits include that students control their engagement with the content and value the convenience and flexibility that asynchronous recordings provide them with, in particular regarding the pace of their learning, and the repeatability of their engagement (Dale & Pymm, 2009; Ramlogan et al., 2014; Scagnoli, Choo & Tian, 2019). It is therefore essential that staff outline what is expected of students in terms of engaging with learning materials, both in pre-recorded videos and in-person sessions.
We would like to offer staff members at the University the opportunity to join us for our drop-in sessions on using e-learning tools (Blackboard, Panopto, Turnitin and MS Teams) for learning and teaching activities. These will offer an informal opportunity to speak with our Online Learning Specialists and to address any problems or queries you may have.
All drop-in sessions will be held via MS Teams and there is no need to book, just click on the links below. *Please note that sessions with an asterisk (*) will be bilingual sessions, and all sessions without an asterisk will run as English-medium sessions.
These drop-in sessions will take place on:
19.01.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
21.01.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
26.01.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
28.01.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
02.02.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
04.02.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
We hope that these sessions will provide you with an opportunity to clarify any questions about your teaching needs.
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
CDU: Datblygu eich arferion addysgu (D & A: Ar-lein)
CDU: Defnyddio MS Teams, Offer yr Ystafell Ddysgu ac Addysgu syncronaidd (D & A: Ar-lein)
Hanfodion E-ddysgu: Cyflwyniad i Turnitin (D & A: Ar-lein)
Hanfodion E-ddysgu: Cyflwyniad i Panopto (D & A: Ar-lein)
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.
Here’s a video to help you.
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 (email@example.com).
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.
Q2: I would like to add an external individual from outside Aberystwyth University to one of my ‘teams’ within MS Teams, is this possible?
A2: It is possible to add external individuals who have an Office 365 account with an ac.uk domain, but any external individual who has an email account that is not an ac.uk address will need to complete a request form to have their domain added to AU Teams access. Alternatively, you could set up meetings with external individuals through MS Teams without having to request access.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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.
- 25/8/2020 Advance HE “‘On Your Marks’: Vignette Presentations on Learner-Focused Feedback Practices and Feedback Literacy”
- 26/8/2020 “Panopto Advanced Training Webinar – Video Editing”
- NSW Government Education “Cognitive load theory: Research that teachers really need to understand”
- Clay, J. “Lost in Translation – a series of blog posts about translating existing teaching practices into online models of delivery”
- Dennen, V. (15/8/2020) “Discussion board guidelines”
- DePaul Teaching Commons, “Assessing Reflection”
- Gonzalez, J. (24/9/2017) “Retrieval Practice: The Most Powerful Learning Strategy You’re Not Using“, The Cult of Pedagogy
- Reddy, K., Harland, T., Wass, R. & Wald, D. (23/6/2020) “Student peer review as a process of knowledge creation through dialogue“, Higher Education Research & Development
- Learning Scientists, “The Six Habits of Highly Successful Students”
- Smith, N. (14/1/2020) “A decade of education theory; the rise and rise of cognitive science of learning“, St.Emlyn’s
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.