Quick guide to digital teaching and learning
This page gives you an overview of the key considerations for digital teaching.
What is the same?
- Modules and sessions still need to have learning activities, teaching and assessment based on learning outcomes.
- A programme level approach will ensure variety with a consistent offer.
- Students’ independent learning skills are enhanced and developed.
What is different?
- Loss of the dynamic face-to-face environment, so student engagement requires more active consideration.
- Clear course structuring and communications are paramount.
- Issues of connectivity and confidence with technology are an important consideration: think about yourself, your GTAs and your students.
- 'One size will not fit all'- variations in access to broadband and equipment, as well as students being located in different timezones, require a flexible and compassionate approach.
- Don’t make all of the learning activities simply acquisitional (listening/reading/watching), include tasks that encourage students to collaborate, discuss, practise, produce or investigate.
- Add regular formative micro-assessments or other touchpoints for feedback to help keep students on track. These can be simple Google Forms
- Help students understand what they need to do. Where do they go in the virtual learning environment to find “the map”? Aim to make this consistent across modules.
- Consider how to “humanise” your course and reassure students you are there. This could be including yourself in some course videos and/or giving audio or video feedback.
- Set clear expectations for both you and your students. Being available to students can increase engagement and retention, but must be manageable. Consider virtual office hours where you answer questions and have a text-based chat function if possible, such as in Blackboard Collaborate
- Follow the regular course lifecycle, including evaluation and refinement. Keep evaluations short and regular - think about how to get useful and quick feedback from students.
Try this 1: Complete a couple of hours of an online course in something you’re interested in (photography/playing a musical instrument/computer programming…) - gain experience of what it is like to learn online.
Try this 2: Co-design with a critical friend. Develop/plan with assistance from each other (use virtual chat) and share your experiences afterwards. Use this reflectively to refine your approach.
What do I need to do?
|Be 'present' to your students||
Scaffold independent learning
|Offer a clearly structured timetable||
Students need to know what is happening and when, so provide information that covers all aspects of the week’s activities for that course in a set place, at a designated time. It is likely that this will include more detail about their independent study than usual, and possibly include more, smaller, formative tasks. Set clear expectations for how long each activity should take.
Exemplar of module design/presentation in Blackboard
Example of a Blackboard Blended Course: We have made a snapshot of the course for you to access here. After opening the link, click the Submit button to enrol on the course.
|'Chunk up' your content||
You no longer need to work in 50 minute 'sessions' as students will be accessing the content and tasks at different times. To make best use of digital learning, both structure and content will need to be rethought. Using your learning outcomes, identify the most appropriate activities in a digital setting to enable students to achieve them. ABC learning Design cards or Bloom’s taxonomy skills are useful tools for doing this.
|Consider the balance between synchronous and asynchronous delivery||
While some ‘real-time’ activity is useful, use of asynchronous (‘any-time’) delivery can mitigate problems with connectivity and be more inclusive. Consider also how much learning can take place off-line and make sure that the ‘contact’ time you have is as interactive as possible. For more detailed guidance, see our resource on Choosing appropriate learning activities.
|Ask students what works and what doesn't||
Build in time to share issues and to discuss solutions. This engages students in the learning process, and gives you on-the-spot feedback to act on. It also offers extra contact and promotes a reflective approach for you. Find out more about tools for checking in with your students.
|Make digital teaching and assessment inclusive||
|Be kind to yourself and your students||
|Keep things simple and use the digital learning tools supported by the University||