Vocal Warm Ups and Techniques for Recording at Home

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.

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.  

 

Weekly Resource Roundup – 12/10/2020

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.  

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol: October Training


Training for research students
The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol will be running several workshops for research students throughout the year as part of their Research Skills Programme. Here is a copy of the full programme for 2020/21. You will need to register in advance for each workshop and you can do so through the following link.

Here is a look at the workshops that will be running throughout October:

    Tuesday (13 October), 11:00-11:30 – ‘Cyfres Iechyd a Lles myfyrwyr ôl-radd (Edrych ar ôl eich hun)’ – Andrew Tamplin
    Friday (16 October), 14:00-16:00 – ‘Sgiliau Addysgu ar gyfer Myfyrwyr Ôl-radd’ – Dyddgu Hywel
    Tuesday (20 October), 11:00-12:00 – Rheoli amser a phwysau gwaith (gyda ffocws ar weithio o bell)’ – Mari Ellis Roberts
    Friday (23 October), 11:00-12:00 – ‘Rheoli’ch goruchwyliwr (gyda ffocws ar weithio o bell)’ – Nia Gwynn Meacher & Seren Evans.

Training for staff
Also, as part of the Staff Development Programme (2020/21), the series ‘Iechyd a Lles: Chi fel Staff a’ch Myfyrwyr’ continues next Tuesday morning (9:30-10:00). All staff members are welcome to register and you can do so through the following link.

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.

 

Weekly Resource Roundup – 28/9/2020

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.  

Weekly Resource Roundup – 14/9/2020

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.  

Hello from one of your newly appointed Online Learning Specialists

Hello, I’m Sioned, one of three newly appointed Online Learning Specialists who have recently joined the Learning & Teaching Enhancement Unit (LTEU).
Sioned stood at Aberystwyth seafront
Having been born and raised in Aberystwyth, I am very excited to return to the University, having completed my BSc, MSc and PhD at the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences (DGES). Whilst completing my PhD, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach at DGES on a variety of Welsh- and English-medium modules and I became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2019. Since July 2019 I have been employed at Menter a Busnes, in the first instance undertaking research into measuring greenhouse gas emissions on Welsh farms and then as Development and Mentoring Manager, providing guidance to facilitators running face-to-face and online discussion groups with Welsh farmers.

I look forward to drawing on my past experiences, learning from other colleagues in LTEU and from staff members more generally across the University, to share best practices on delivering high-quality teaching to Aberystwyth University students through virtual channels. As a first-language Welsh speaker, I am also very excited to be given the opportunity to help develop the provision of Welsh-medium online teaching training courses to university staff.

If you’d like to discuss anything related to online learning, please feel free to contact me in Welsh or English on sil12@aber.ac.uk.

Changes to Turnitin

From September 2020, two new settings should be used on all Turnitin submission points. This is so that students can view their Similarity Report (as agreed by Academic Board).

Both these settings are under the Optional Settings section when you create a Turnitin Submission Point:

1. Generate Similarity Reports for Students – Immediately (can overwrite until Due Date)
2. Allow Students to See Similarity Reports – Yes

If you have any questions, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit at elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Hello from your other new Online Learning Specialist.

Sut mae, pawb!
I am Lara, a new member of the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (LTEU) for the next six months. I’ve been offered this opportunity to introduce myself.
I am originally from Germany, Bavaria to be precise. I grew up in the Alps, and I still miss the mountains from time to time. But the sea, and the hills of Wales are very good substitutes.

Dramatic mountain range in Upper Bavaria. © Lara Kipp

Mountains in Upper Bavaria. © Lara Kipp

Aberystwyth sunset, showing the silhouette of Aberystwyth Pier. © Lara Kipp

Aberystwyth Sunset. © Lara Kipp

I came to Aberystwyth in 2009 to study Joint Honours Scenography & Theatre Design and Drama & Theatre Studies. I fell in love with Aberystwyth, the place, and the people. As my undergraduate studies drew to a close, one of my tutors recommended I apply for the Access to Masters programme, so I did. This brilliant EU initiative sadly no longer exists. As part of this programme, I studied on the MA Practising Theatre & Performance, and was partnered with the Magic of Life Butterfly House in Cwm Rheidol. I applied for a PhD at Aberystwyth University, as my MA supervisor encouraged me, and helped me develop a proposal. I was offered the Doctoral Career Development Scholarship. One week after my viva voce – the final examination for a PhD – I was offered a full-time lecturing post at the University of Derby in the midlands.
Even though they say that if you stay more than five years in Aberystwyth, you’ll never leave, after seven years I packed my bag and moved from the sea to the place furthest from the sea on the UK mainland…but, as you can guess from my writing this, the mysterious gravity of Aber soon pulled me back. I returned to my alma mater for sessional and part-time teaching, while offering freelance workshops, and tutoring privately alongside. I started learning Welsh, which has been great fun and something I recommend to everyone, especially those usually in a teaching position. It’s extremely useful to put ourselves into learners’ shoes from time to time.
I have always enjoyed learning, and was very fortunate that I had exceptional teachers all throughout my education, not least at Aberystwyth University. Now I am on the other side, I continually strive to become that kind of educator: one that learners trust, and feel encouraged by to do their best. Joining the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is the next step for me, developing ways to support staff with all their teaching and learning needs. Now more than ever, this is essential work, as we all learn to deal with the unprecedented crisis of a global pandemic, and strive to minimise its impact on our students.
If you’re interested in my creative practice, research, or publications, I point you towards my personal website.