The idea of partnerships in research implies a shared pursuit of goals and interests. Usually, this is what draws researchers together and, without doubt, most of these partnerships are driven by an ambition for progress and development, be it personal, professional or of the institutions and communities with which we work.
Blended learning – a pedagogical approach combining face-to-face teaching with online course delivery – is gaining traction around the world thanks to its cost-effectiveness and flexibility, spurred on by the pandemic. However, the implementation of a successful blended learning programme is often complex, time-consuming and taxing on staff. This is particularly true for universities at the early stages of digital transformations, as they face a shortage of staff skills, connectivity issues and negative attitudes towards technology, among other challenges.
In part five of our series on improving online education for students and staff – based on extensive learner feedback and faculty insight – we focus on online feedback and course continuity.
Giving feedback online
Feedback should be timely, useful and kind.
Consider giving audio feedback to students on projects in process. It is much faster to give, and the coaching tone and replay-ability of the feedback makes it preferable to most students.
In part four of our series on improving online education for students and staff – based on extensive learner feedback and faculty insight – we focus on course management and recording lectures.
Availability to students, course management tips
Faculty should avoid technical clutter in shared documents such as Google Docs, and Google Slides, voice chats and Zoom meetings. Keep everything clearly laid out and linked in Blackboard.
In part three of our series on improving online education for students and staff – based on extensive learner feedback and faculty insight – we focus on managing workload issues and stress.
Managing workload issues
We need to remain focused on achieving our desired course outcomes but can be flexible about how we do it. We want to reach the same destination but do not have to take the same route we have done in the past. So be agile and willing to put in the effort to divert from “business as usual”.
In part two of our series on improving online education for students and staff – based on extensive learner feedback and faculty insight – we focus how to foster participation online and using breakout rooms effectively.
Participation: it’s the voices, not only the faces
We know many students don’t turn their cameras on and it’s difficult to teach blank screens, but we also know connectivity issues can make it impossible for some students to have good audio while their video is on.
Student surveys, school-led discussions and communications have provided much learner-driven insight into needs, concerns and experiences around online education, which we wish to address.
We chose to do this as a community of learners, speaking to faculty spanning dozens of disciplines to gather tips for improving students’ online learning experience, after what has been an exceptionally challenging year for students and faculty alike.
The Covid-19 pandemic and digital technology have opened up new avenues to support learners, enabling us to reach and support disadvantaged groups who have traditionally been excluded from higher education.
Building a community online supports students’ socio-emotional learning. This helps them understand how they and others think and feel about things – and how to manage those thoughts and emotions.
This type of learning is particularly important in times of crisis when socio-emotional distress, such as loneliness and anxiety, can erode cognitive capacity. Learners experiencing trauma tend to struggle with managing time and meeting deadlines, and feel a higher cognitive load.