As we move into the new academic year this is a question that many colleagues may have.
With an increased amount of online teaching and non-synchronous learning activities, ensuring that students are effectively engaging with their studies will be particularly important in 2020-21.
Many of the ways in which you gauge whether groups of students, or individuals, are engaging in the teaching on your module will remain the same, some will need tweaking for different teaching formats, and others tools and information are new for this year.
This blog post gives a whistle stop tour through some of the approaches that colleagues may be using in 2020-21 to look at students’ engagement in their modules and identify those needing additional support or guidance.
Reading the (Zoom) room
Whether the session is on campus in present-in-person format, or an online synchronous teaching session, as educators you will still glean much from observing your students as they participate in their small group teaching.
This can be as simple as keeping an eye on attendance. If a student doesn’t attend a session or multiple sessions without cause or notice, follow up with them and potentially escalate this to their personal tutor if required.
For those that are attending, are they participating? Are they contributing to discussions, working with other students on the learning activities you set, asking questions in or outside of the session?
Does the informal check in in teaching week 3, as detailed in the Student Voice schedule, highlight individuals or groups of students who are struggling to engage in the module? Perhaps it helps you to identify content or topics that need revisiting or a need for further support on how students should approach their learning? There are many ways you can approach this informal check in which provide you with feedback on students’ engagement.
What does your Canvas show?
Our new VLE Canvas, has an in-built tool which provides a wealth of information about students’ engagement with the teaching materials and activities in your module.
The New Analytics tool in Canvas provides a daily updated set of information to colleagues on the module at the level of the whole cohort, and down to individual students.
This tool allows you to get a quick overview of the module, providing useful real-time insights as the module progresses including:
marks and averages for both formative and summative assessments
data on student participation with structured learning activities – including collaborating in Canvas, posting in online discussions, responding to announcements and other forms of student activity
weekly page views data showing the sections of the module and resources being accessed
Its flexibility means you can also look at the level of all students, smaller groups or individual students to identify those in need of support and to inform conversations with your students.
You can also easily directly contact specific students based on their activity through the tool, a way of highlighting additional resources on a particular topic to those whose quiz scores suggest they would benefit from this, for example.
The Attendance Monitoring Policy has been adapted to the new academic year, to allow schools to take a more flexible approach of considering a combination of attendance and engagement information.
Present-in-person teaching sessions will continue to record student attendance via room scanners for those students who attend in Newcastle, with reports accessible in SAMS through the usual processes.
Where colleagues wish to take attendance, but the teaching session is not held in a space with a scanner, they can choose to make manual attendance lists which can be input into SAP.
As some students will be studying remotely, and the SAMS data will therefore only provide a partial picture, a new report in Canvas can be accessed alongside this data. TheZero Activity Report will show any students who are enrolled on the course but have not accessed Canvas in the period specified when the report is run.
It is recommended that colleagues in schools look at the SAMS data and Zero Activity report in conjunction as part of their monthly attendance reporting.
The Zero Activity report can be run more regularly, and colleagues are recommended to run this a few weeks into term to identify any students who have not accessed the VLE or participated in their learning across their programme of study.
It can also provide additional information to Personal Tutors or Senior Tutors when identifying a need for, and providing additional pastoral support to, individual students.
Need some specific advice on that one little thing you need to be able to do with your content/assessment/learning activity? Pop into a drop in sessions and we can help you decide what might be most effective way for you.
Join any session at the days and times noted on the Flexible Learning schedule. (Campus login required: email@example.com)
Visit the flexible learning webpages to find out more about the support available for the implementation of the Education Resilience Framework (ERF). You can also access a number of step by step guides to help support teaching delivery in 2020/21.
We start 2020 with our new VLE, Canvas, and a rich array of digital learning tools that can be used to support teaching. There are so many possibilities and it could easily be overwhelming.
This is a short post to begin to answer one of the questions I heard last week “What tools should I invest in?”.
But, let’s back up a bit, before considering tools we need to think about what we want these tools to help us to achieve? Way back in 1998 Anderson and Garrison described three more common types of interaction involving students:
Let’s use this to come up with our list…
Your starting point here is Canvas itself. You can present information on pages, embed documents, link to resources on library reading list, include videos, audio and ReCap recordings.
Canvas support a wide range of question types: multiple choice, gap fill, short answer, matching, multiple answer. Quizzes can help students practice skills, check their learning and encourage them revisit material.
For short PowerPoint narrations the easiest place to start is the recording features that come as part of ReCap. We tend to think of ReCap as a lecture recording tool, but there is also a fabulous ReCap Personal Capture tool that you can use to record yourself, and publish in Canvas. There are several bonuses with using ReCap – you have the ability to do make simple edits, you can use automatic speech recognition to generate captions, and students have the ability pause, rewind and make notes on the recordings that you publish. ReCap personal capture comes in as tool #3 – you can install on your computer, or if you prefer you can use the new browser based recorder – Panopto Capture (beta).
Outside the limited amount of PiP time you are likely to be meeting your students online. For synchronous meetings there is increasingly little to choose from between Zoom and Teams – the only significant factor being that Zoom permits people to connect by phone – so supports those on lower bandwidth.
Now is a great time to become confident with the online meeting tool you are planning on using throughout your module. I’ll leave it to you if #4 for you is Teams or Zoom – it would be sensible to settle on one, for you and your students. Teams could be a strong contender if you plan to use this as a collaboration space over the module/stage, in which case do review the article on Building an online community using Teams.
Once you setting on your meeting tool, now is a great time to explore options for using whiteboards, polling, breakout rooms in these spaces and to begin to plan active online sessions.
For tool #5 I’d go with Canvas Discussions – these are easy to use, work really well in the Canvas Student and Teacher apps and are great for Q&A sessions, introductions, crowd-sourcing activities, and of course discussions!
Learning at university is a social! There are huge limitations on what we can do in person – but what can we do to help learning be as social as it can be? This isn’t so much about tools, but about the activities we design in: break out room discussions, group tasks, peer reviews, debates – things that might start in a timetabled session and then spill out.
For synchronous meetings and study sessions all our students have access to Zoom and Teams. We can model how to use these, build students’ confidence in these spaces and show them how they can collaborate in Microsoft 365 collaborative spaces (Word documents, OneNote…). I’ve already mentioned Teams and Zoom (#4), so for tool #6 I’ll pitch for Microsoft 365 with an emphasis on collaboration.
teams are here to support and collaborate with you as you rethink your
students’ skills provision for the coming academic year.
In 2020/21, Library inductions for
all undergraduates and taught postgraduates will be delivered non-synchronously
online through the central University induction programme. Therefore,
there is no need for you to book an induction session with us as part of a
separate programme timetable. Our induction materials will introduce students
to the services and resources we offer, and equip them with essential
literature searching skills, including finding and accessing academic
information via Library Search.
Beyond induction (for example, for students working on dissertations or projects), we‘re developing a range of adaptable online learning resources suitable for embedding into Canvas, and will work with you to develop content tailored for your subject area that can be embedded within your modules. These are very well-suited to non-synchronous delivery, with opportunities for further support via Q&A sessions, discussions etc.
Are you starting to plan your teaching for next year?
The new Flexible Learning 2020 online course and website are comprehensive resources developed by LTDS, FMS TEL and NUIT, and are available now. They provide achievable ideas for alternative activities as we move to a flexible education offer in 20/21.
The student learning experience in 20/21 will involve a mixture of online and on-campus learning and assessment activities. Flexible Learning 2020 articulates the delivery of the Education Resilience Framework, an institutional framework for the revision and development of our taught modules and programmes for 20-21, due to the continuing Covid-19 situation. Flexible Learning 2020 supports the design and development of teaching flexibly to deliver engaging student learning activities.
Ideas and expertise from across the University are brought together in this self paced online course available in Canvas. Complete the full course or do the Before the course starts and Building an education community sections, then dip into the sections most useful for you and your students. 12 key areas are covered including:
Rethinking lectures: Make use of recordings, readings, commentary and discussion boards.
Building a learning community: Build social and peer group connections from the start.
Involving guest speakers: Make use of Zoom and Teams.
Seminars and small group teaching: Before, during and after. How to incorporate non-synchronous activities to get the most out of synchronous delivery.
Online assessment: How a number of different assessment types can work online.
Labs : considerations for acceptable online lab resources/simulations to provide introduction/discussion points when students may not be able to take part in in-person on campus labs.
Studio/practice based activities:for supporting students on programmes in the creative disciplines or where making and producing are a significant part of the programme
You can also find ideas for field trips, project supervision and group work projects and more. The time it will take to complete each section is clearly indicated so you can complete the sections relevant to your teaching whenever it is convenient.
Participating in the course will help you think about your practice through a mix of practical Canvas based activities, examples from across the University, discussion points and useful tips. Everyone will be automatically enrolled – just look for Flexible Learning 2020 on your dashboard when you log in to Canvas.
You can also find out more about the context of Flexible Learning 2020, the key areas of alternative activities and working definitions used.
More content will be added to both the course and website over the coming weeks so keep checking back.
Canvas is our exciting new VLE, replacing Blackboard from 1 August 2020, and provides many opportunities to deliver an enhanced online learning experience for students. This platform will be a key enabler for delivering the flexible learning offer and you can access a comprehensive range of resources including webinars, the Canvas Orientation course, and guides to help get the most out of this platform.