a) An understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes
The Covid-19 pandemic brought about rapid change both technologically and pedagogically. The immediate shift to remote delivery and hybridised models altered students’ learning experiences and academic staff teaching experiences. My work has been driven by observation of these user experiences and the interplay between them. I received feedback from academic staff in one of my schools that students were finding it hard to stay on track due to the shift to online delivery, as well as juggling clinical placements, and caring commitments. I reviewed help calls and requests and detected a pattern; due to the rate of change some staff were struggling to identify and use appropriate technologies in a complimentary way. I felt that a workshop focusing on Information Architecture and the use of the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) alongside Microsoft Teams would help to support staff to provide continuity for their students. Most critically there was a need to signpost when, where and how learning activities would take place. I wanted to encourage staff to reflect on their ‘blends,’ as in, the interplay between what is delivered synchronously (at the same time and together in the same place) and asynchronously (at a different time in a defined location). The VLE in some cases was being overlooked as a place to position activities for students who required asynchronous collaboration opportunities such as blogs, journals, and discussion boards.
To address this, I co-designed new workshops, Interactive Tools in Studentcentral and Online Learning Strategies for one of my schools with Fiona Handley1, a frequent collaborator based in the Learning & Teaching Hub, our in-house pedagogical advisory service. For the slides I created, I used informational architectural principles to underpin each level of delivery with an emphasis on accessibility2. I sought Handley’s expertise on the supporting educational theory. Handley and I jointly identified the 5 Stage Model of Online Learning (Salmon, 2013) as the basis for the workshop. The workshop focused on the what and the why of identifying and using technologies. I used task-based examples derived from staff feedback and existing practice at the university to align with the learners’ real-world goals (Biggs, 1999, pp. 71-72). I provided the how, or how-to, aspect by creating a series of videos based on the same usage scenarios for our Teaching Contingency blog site3. The workshop which was run online using Microsoft Teams was successful, helping staff to feel like the technology was more manageable. Some did still require additional one-to-one support, particularly with blog and journal activities but they seemed more confident about which tools to use in each situation. Handley and I received positive feedback from staff, and the workshop was requested by other schools with three iterations which I adjusted per discipline. I used the workshop as a case study for my FHEA D2 in October 20204.
If I were to write the workshop again, I would like to co-create with students or include some compelling testimonials/quotes from students to strengthen the message. The time constraints precluded this type of collaboration. The Blackboard interactive tools have been supplanted by more interactive and accessible solutions via Microsoft Teams and OneNote and staff and students hav Selected slides from the Using interactive tools in studentcentral and Online Learning Strategies (2020) – Including staff feedback e gained confidence through routine use. I would therefore place less emphasis on the tools in Blackboard. Furthermore, the ‘blends’ shifted during the pandemic. Students needed more asynchronous and less synchronous delivery to begin with due to other obligations. However, this was overcorrected through use of pre-recorded lectures and students asked for more synchronous learning. Students’ expectations changed and therefore it was essential for me to have ongoing dialogue with staff so that I could proactively support their needs.
Biggs, J. (1999) ‘What the student does: teaching for enhanced learning’, Higher Education Research & Development, 18(1), pp. 57-75. doi:10.1080/0729436990180105.
Salmon, G. (2013) E-tivities: the key to active online learning. Second edition. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
Evidence: Example Interactive Tools video - Blogs FAQ: What is the difference between ‘individual’ and ‘course’ blogs (2020). ↩︎