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Helen Caldwell kindly collated a list of the tools used across the Education courses with their students. This shows a wide range and diversity which are useful for students who will be working in a Schools environment in the future. The team have shown a real enthusiasm to enhance student engagement and enhance the interactivity within sessions. The range of activities reflect a growing confidence and expertise with Active Distance Learning and Active Blended Learning.

Helen notes that “…the collection of tools and strategies is a testament to the drive within the education team to make their online sessions active and engaging, and to find imaginative ways to facilitate sensemaking through digital making. “

An example of use of Bitmoji classroom

The Education Teams who are using the tools provide localised support with their students. The range of tools covered within the Education courses included:

  • Blackboard Collaborate
  • Book Creator
  • Jamboard
  • Padlet
  • Adobe Spark
  • Powtoon
  • Wakelet
  • Tweetbeam
  • Bitmoji
  • Thinglink
  • Kahoot
  • Mentimeter
  • AnswerGarden
  • OneNote
  • Miro
  • Canva

The use of these tools within the Education Teams are driven by pedagogical requirements and they are carefully piloted within the team in conjunction with their Learning Technologist in the first instance to ensure they are fit for purpose and do not duplicate any existing licensed product. The tools support the teams flexible approach to ensure their students are prepared for school environments and enhances their employability. Staff in other teams should review the recommendations for the use of third party tools and speak to their Learning Technologist in the first instance prior to introducing any new systems.

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One of our course advocate students on Events Management has kindly collated some reflections on the student’s experiences of online learning.

“I know you are all trying to make our learning experience the best you possibly can in this situation and we are very thankful for that. So to support this, I am reaching out to communicate feedback that I received from my course mates. We will all be stuck with online lectures, probably until we graduate, so I think it is in all our interest to make this the best we possibly can, rather sooner than later.”

Group work

The questions asked were: where are the problems? what would you like to be changed? & are you happy with everything?

There were two different opinions about group work and break out rooms:

  1. Students feel a lot more confident and comfortable contributing when they know the other person, or at least recognise the name of people in the group.
    This leads to group work where no one is speaking with each other at all and work isn’t being done so it’s ultimately a waste of time.
    —> so the goal here would be to be able to choose your partners yourself, as you would in F2F lectures.
  2. On the other hand there are students raising their concerns about this as it can be super isolating for new and anxious students, who may not know anyone personally, and don’t want to be “pushed away”.

One of the suggestions around group work is to set up groups being named as “Camera & Mic”, “Mic”, & “Chat”, so that students can choose the way of group work they feel most comfortable with. Another idea would be to integrate more verbal engagements.

Some of the above suggestions echo those covered in in other guidance on groupwork from Inside Higher Education

Interactive sessions

“Students have more than one lecture where they are physically just spoken to for two hours straight and are watching a PowerPoint. Often not even referenced, this feels pointless.”

Lectures could do with being more interactive, if possible. Many students have mentioned the way other tutors incorporates polls in their lectures to find out about our opinions, then afterwards he asks about the reasons for the answers. This engages students! They are then able to have verbal and written discussions on the chat.

Cameras

There is currently a discussion underway about whether cameras should be left on or turned off in online sessions. Some students and tutors are valuing the social interaction which is encouraged when they are able to see other participants in the room. Others emphasise with articles such as “Reasons Why You Should Reconsider Requiring Students to Turn on Their Zoom Cameras During Class” and suggest that this should be optional.

For more information on strategies see previous blog postings from Learntech, Mark Allenby’s suggestions on group work and suggestions from Kaltura

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During 2020 Mark decided to make a radical change in his teaching through removal of PowerPoint in his synchronous teaching. He still use some pre-recorded presentations, but his ‘live’ teaching, both face-to-face and online, have now used NILE(Blackboard Learn), not PowerPoint.

In this guest Learntech posting, Mark shares some of his hints and tips on ‘life without PowerPoint’.

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One of our students in FHES (Faculty of Health Education and Society) has reflected on the first few weeks of term and their opinion on pre-lecture coffee and Hyflex:

“For me the first two weeks have gone well, I have quite quickly adjusted to the way things are working. Did have a minor hissing fit last week when I arrived on campus at 8h30 for a 9 am lecture to find no coffee would be available till 9 when I had to be in class. Pleased to say that by this week the matter was resolved, and pre-lecture coffee was available.

I have decided that under the present conditions I prefer the synchronous online lectures to in class as despite the limitations around having discussions I can at least breath and focus.  In class, I have found wearing a mask very distracting and I spend more time suppressing my claustrophobia then concentrating on the lecture, also I find the lecturers talking from behind a visor is quite muffling and I can’t always make out what is being said. That said clearly some lecturers are way better at delivering online than others but I have been very impressed with how Collaborates breakout function works. This has been my tech revelation of the year so far.”

The University is continuing to refine hyflex models and share experiences on when this works well, how it can be refined and when other methods of delivery may be more appropriate.

For more information on socially distanced delivery then please see the Learntech blog

If you have other experiences to share then please email rob.howe@northampton.ac.uk

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Picture of Christine Collymore
Christine Collymore – FHES

“The situation was that the room was not big enough to accommodate all the students, so they chose to sit nearby, whilst there were others who could not  come to the face to face session and were online.

I am a bit of a wanderer when I am teaching and so I do not know if the students could always hear me when I move around. There is also the issue of not being able to hear the student’s contribution because of the masks and so I needed to ask on a couple of occasions for them to repeat themselves.

…there is a need to multi-task in terms of ensuring there is participation and accessibility of resources and activities for this delivery method.

On reflection, I will ensure that I have a hard copy of the presentation, in case IT issues occur and to keep checking in with the students who are online or sitting nearby more often. The 2 hours flew by.”

The University is continuing to refine hyflex models and share experiences on when this works well, how it can be refined and when other methods of delivery may be more appropriate.

For more information on socially distanced delivery then please see the Learntech blog

If you have other experiences to share then please email rob.howe@northampton.ac.uk

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Sally Sun – FBL

Sally Sun from Faculty of Business and Law has kindly reflected on her experiences of Hybrid / Flexible Learning on the module BUS1004 (Introduction to Management).

She notes ‘…this is a case study about my practices of teaching students online and F2F at the same time during March 2020. I feel that I have adopted some teaching practices which are very similar to what is suggested in the HyFlex teaching approach, so this is my reflection about my experiences of what went well and what can be improved. This reflection is designed around Gibb’s reflection cycle to help me focus on my experiences.’

4 key points were noted by Sally regarding her experiences:

  1. The new delivery format has satisfied the needs of a certain kind of students
  2. Students got excited when they interact with students online
  3. She felt extremely exhausted after the session
  4. She felt the teaching quality was not her best level for F2F students in the class

The University is continuing to refine hyflex models and share experiences on when this works well, how it can be refined and when other methods of delivery may be more appropriate.

For more information on socially distanced delivery then please see the Learntech blog

If you have other experiences to share then please email rob.howe@northampton.ac.uk

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This blog is a home for some of the links which provide useful ideas for icebreakers for online classes. If you have particular favourites/collections then please email them to rob.howe@northampton.ac.uk.

Equity Unbound / OneHE

Hyper Island Toolbox

Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online.

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As Faculty Lead for Interprofessional Education in the Faculty of Health, Education and Society, I needed to create a resource that students could engage with on day two of their programmes – meaning it had to be user-friendly and accessible to students with a range of IT skills. Having previously tried NILE, I found that this was far too early to introduce it as a synchronous learning tool as students were unfamiliar with the VLE and its tools for working collaboratively. When discussing my dilemma with Rob Howe, he suggested I try Bootstrap xerte and set up a meeting with Anne Misselbrook as the University’s ‘guru’!

Alison Power uses Xerte Bootstrap template to engage students on day two.

After a short walk-through I had a go at creating my xerte and found the process to be very straightforward (after a minor issue with formatting that Anne was quick to support me with). The end product looks professional and user-friendly – I’m delighted with it and look forward to hearing future students’ feedback on its accessibility. I aim to use Bootstrap xerte in the near future for creating a resource for anatomy and physiology and in the current climate can see it as an excellent platform for developing online resources that look professional and are easy to navigate for the student.

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Link to video case study.

Senior Lecturer in Marketing Kardi Somerfield provides a reflective insight into how students can be involved in both module content creation and assessment design, by facilitating online debates which inform the end of year exam.

Working with third year Marketing students in the module ‘Issues of Advertising Practice’,  Kardi encourages her students to view the debates as an opportunity for democratic learning by giving them the role of a weekly chair. To fulfil this role students must begin a topic with their own question, host a debate and nominate a best post of the week.

Her approach has been highly commended by the module’s External Examiners as being innovative and well run. The Dean of Learning and Teaching, Prof Ale Armellini said: “Kardi’s approach is highly engaging for students, as well as rigorous and innovative. This is an exemplar of active blended learning in practice, where student centredness, personalisation and interaction operate together towards the achievement of outcomes and a fantastic learning experience”.

In this short video Academic Librarian Joanne Farmer explains how academics can best use Aspire reading lists to engage their students.

Aspire Readings lists are created and maintained by module tutors. They are added to each module site and can contain links to books, e-books, journals and audiovisual resources.

Joanne says “reading lists are an important part of the student learning journey and often a starting point for any research or work undertaken. It is worth spending time developing reading lists so students are encouraged to engage with a range of resources”. She cites Rob Farmer’s reading list –
An Introduction to Climate Change for Non-Scientists and Non-Specialists, as a good example to look at for ideas as it has an engaging narrative and structure.

The creation and updating of reading lists are supported by the Academic Librarians who can be contacted by email: librarians@northampton.ac.uk