As you may know, UCL has access to LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), a huge range of video tutorials supporting learning in software, creative and business skills – all free to UCL staff and currently enrolled students.
One of these is Learning to Teach Online, a recently-updated 48 minute long introduction to help instructors and teachers to understand the approaches and skills required to teach effectively online.
As we are going through what is likely to be a significant shift to online learning at UCL, would I recommend it? Yes, I would. Although some of the ideas should already be familiar to UCL colleagues, the course provides a practical (and quick) overview. Most of the main points you need to know to get started are covered, and the course neatly highlights the difference between face-to-face, blended and online methods.
The emphasis on online organisation and communication, ensuring teacher presence, fostering collaboration, accessibility and so on are all particularity sound, and align with UCL’s E-learning Baseline. Much of the advice is in bullet-pointed checklists and only two theoretical frameworks are mentioned, the familiar Bloom’s taxonomy for learning outcomes and the rather useful SAMR model to help us think about technology integration.
I’d obviously suggest ABC to help structure the course, too, but all in all a worthwhile use of 48 minutes (or much less if you speed up the video, as I do!).
Our teachers are being forced into moving their teaching online very quickly. The initial focus for academics is inevitably be on access, getting themselves and their students online and doing what they can immediately with the institutional tools provided. For most teachers this will be far from full, integrated ‘online learning’ but more an initial digitisation of their existing face-to-face methods.
UCL is mainly focusing on Moodle (already used for resource distribution and to a lesser extent communication), Blackboard Collaborate (for online ‘tutorials’) and Lecturecast (Echo) Universal Personal Capture (short video recordings to replace lectures). The term we use at UCL is Teaching Continuity, emphasising the ‘business as usual’ elements for both teachers and students. Similarly, current assessment plans largely focus on digitising existing time-limited exam practices, although finding alternatives is always recommended.
We might consider this a ‘first stage’ in moving online, the analogy being with the well-known JISC model of stages in development of digital literacies (see image on right). In this model, academics may soon move on from issues of access to tools and simple how-to skills guides. The next stage is likely to how to enhance their online teaching and learning practice and towards attributes such as their role as online teachers. In parallel, our students and staff may soon demand a more sophisticated ‘next stage’ learning experience.
As we progress, learning design becomes especially important. In order to develop true ‘online learning’ in even a simple form, courses will have to be redesigned around online activities. This is likely to be an opportunity to create richer learning designs, and for academics to consider a wider range of practices. Although academics may now have a motivation (albeit external) and focus, colleagues will still be stressed and time-limited, so any (re)design will require very simple workflows, step-by-step guides, checklists and so on.
At UCL and across the HE sector, the ABC ’sprint’ method of learning design has proved a well-evaluated, simple, engaging and productive practical framework to guide academic colleagues this process. The method is built around a collaborative and quite intensive 90’ workshop in which modules teams work together to produce a paper-based storyboard describing the student journey. The key pedagogical core of ABC is an operationalisation the six Learning Types framework of Prof Diana Laurillard (UCL Institute of Education). Using Learning Types has proved a remarkably robust and accessible route into teaching and learning discussion and reflection and shows how pedagogically-informed rapid development learning design is achievable.
The main issue is that ABC was designed as a social, face to face, group-based activity, so we have to rethink how the pedagogic ideas might be presented. The UCL ABC team, working with our ABCtoVLE Erasmus+ project partners are currently investigating online alternatives, with an aim to producing a Toolkit that institutions can localise and use in their own context. Some practicalities will be discussed in the next blog post, but from our experience in the European project we believe ABC should be considered not in isolation but as part of a process of institutional engagement. The full toolkit will most likely comprise three parts,
Pedagogy – Present the Learning Types to academic colleagues as a common language. As we can’t do this as a workshop, we are working on different approaches (see next post).
Technology – What tools are available to teachers? The Tool Wheel is a quick visual approach, linking pedagogy to technology. There are two stages for institutional support teams that can be can be done in either order,
Sketch a ‘snapshot’ of supported technologies, comprising the VLE, videoconferencing/virtual classroom, media tools etc. using the App wheel template, the ‘wheel of opportunities’.
Make a list of the tools identified and link to local support documentation (videos, web sites, tool guides, ‘how-to’s etc) – can also link to external guides from Canvas, Moodle etc.
Practice – What is effective pedagogic practice using these tools? We want to make use of the guides etc produced by the domain. We are redeveloping the Erasmus+ project site to represent good practice in the six learning types. The project team will list any resources we find that address each of the types. The first stage is to curate, we may be able to write something more definitive in the final report. More information to follow.
Many colleagues will already be familiar with the ABC sprint workshops for programme and module (re) design. During the high-energy 90’ workshop, academic teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’ showing the type and sequence learning activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes and also how these will be assessed. Over 1000 UCL colleagues have now participated in ABC workshops since we started in 2015 and report it is particularly useful for new programmes or those moving to an online or more blended format.
The storyboard represents the learner journey and is constructed from pre-printed cards representing six types of learning.
The learning types are derived from the highly respected ‘Conversational Framework’ model of adult learning developed by Prof Diana Laurillard of the Institute of Education, UCL.
Video: Prof Laurillard introduces the Conversational Framework (Only the title is in Italian!)
The ABC cards list ‘conventional’ and digital examples activity associated with each of Prof Laurillard’s learning types, but teams are able and encouraged to add their own activities to the cards. Extensive testing at UCL and elsewhere has showed the creative hands-on, analogue format of the workshop stimulates a wide-ranging discussion. This includes the purpose of the course or programme, teaching methods, alternative technologies and assessment methods and above all the student experience. Even if you are not able to organise a ‘full’ ABC learning design event for your team, the cards themselves can help you identify digital alternatives to current activities.
Image: Example activities from the ABC cards.
Video: Prof Laurillard introduces the six learning types (2′) Note: ‘Inquiry’ is used here instead of ‘Investigation’.
How can the six learning types guide us to consider digital alternatives to ‘conventional’ teaching and learning?
What learners do when they read books and articles, listen to lectures and podcasts, watch demos or videos. In this way learners acquire new concepts, models, vocabulary, models, and methodologies. Acquisition should be reflective as learners align new ideas to their existing knowledge. Conventional methods often include face-to-face presentations, demos and master classes.
Moving acquisition online: reading multimedia, websites, digital documents and resources listening to podcasts, webcasts watching animations, videos. Online quizzes can be used to check learner progress.
Encourages the learner to take an active and exploratory approach to learning, to search for and evaluate a range of new information and ideas. Students are guided to analyse, compare and critique the texts, data, documents and resources within the concepts and ideas being taught.
Moving investigation online: in many disciplines using digital resources and analytical tools are already part of students’ activities.
Enables knowledge to be applied in context. The learner modifies actions according to the task and uses feedback to improve. Feedback may come from self-reflection, peers, the teacher, or from the activity outcomes. Practice often includes significant face-to-face components including labs, field trips, placements, practice-based projects and face-to-face role-play and groupwork.
Moving practice online: The most challenging of the six activity types, some activities are hard to substitute without losing important learning outcomes. Videos of methods, simulations, models, sample data sets, image and video banks, online role-play and case studies may be used to address some of the learning aims. Online quizzes can be used to test application and understanding.
Requires the learner to articulate their ideas and questions, and to challenge and respond to the ideas and questions from the teacher, and/or from their peers. Conventionally this is achieved through face-to-face tutorials, seminars and class discussion.
Moving discussion online: There are a number of good online options, including Moodle discussion forums which can be real-time (synchronous) or run over an extended period (asynchronous). Online forums can be even more productive than conventional tutorials as more students may contribute. For a richer discussion, Blackboard Collaborate can be run as a synchronous session.
Requires students to work together in small groups to achieve a common project goal. Building on investigations and acquisition it is about taking part in the process of knowledge building itself. Learning through collaboration therefore includes elements of discussion, practice, and production.
Moving collaboration online: Some parts of group and project working lend themselves to digital communication to help discussion and planning of project outputs. The practical elements depend on the discipline but in some areas it will be possible to build a joint digital output and complete the task entirely online.
How the teacher motivates the learner to consolidate what they have learned by articulating their current conceptual understanding and reflect how they used it in practice. Production is usually associated with formative and summative assessment and can cover a wide range of items; essays, reports, designs, performances, articles, models etc.
Moving production online: In some disciplines, digital representations are already common such as presentations, videos, slideshows, blogs and e-portfolios.
During the ABC workshop, assessment is usually addressed as a part of the (re) design process. Online formative assessment can be included in the learner experience using many of the tools and approaches listed above, such as Moodle Forum and Moodle Quiz. Online summative assessment is more complex and separate guidance is being prepared.
Much has been written about the need to develop students’ graduate attributes and employability skills, in particular students’ digital capability.
In order for us to develop digitally capable students, we first need to be digital pedagogues. For us to be able to identify, use and select or de-select appropriate technologies that support and are truly a part of our pedagogy, we need first to develop our own digital capabilities as educators.
The European Union have done a lot of work on digital capability/competency frameworks, and have produced a framework specifically for educators – Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu). This is much more targeted than the Jisc Digital Capability framework.
In addition, a range of open access professional development materials have been produced for Higher Education directly linked to the DigCompEdu framework. In particular, FutureTeacher 3.0 and EduHack.
Future Teacher 3.0
This is an Erasmus+ funded project that had collaborators from the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Norway. The project produced three main tools linked to the DigCompEdu framework predominantly aimed at developing the digital competencies of those delivering or supporting teacher and learning in the UK and Europe.
These tools are:
A self-assessment questionnaire
Analysis of current compentencies based upon Digital Thermometer responses and a recommended development pathway.
A series of 10 online modules for teachers who use little ICT in their lessons and 10 modules for already experienced teachers.
The online module content does not map directly to UCL specific technologies but still covers all the key content.
This is also an Erasmus+ project, it is run by Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Universidad Internacional de La Rioja – UNIR (Spain), Coventry University (UK), Knowledge Innovation Centre (Malta) and ATiT (Belgium).
This project combines an online programme with EduHackathons where teaching professionals will learn how to produce digitally-supported learning experiences and will have the opportunity to experiment with creative models and approaches to teaching and learning, with a focus on fostering collaborative learning and student engagement.
Institutions are required to register to participate and in doing so run the EduHackathon event in the way prescribed.
However, you can access the EduHack online course without registering as an institution. You can register as an individual if you want to obtain a certificate of learning. The course has 4 main topic atreas, these are:
and Empowering Learners.
Like the Future Teacher 3.0 materials, these are based upon the DigCompEdu framework.
Digital Education and Digital Skills Development
In addition to the generic resources described above, a wide range of training is provided by Digital Education. This includes UCL specific training on the teaching and learning tools that we support such as Moodle, LectureCast and Reflect. A wide range of online guidance is also available via the E-learning wiki. Full details of the E-learning training available for staff are available on the ISD website.
1. Using multimedia for teaching and learning
2. Encouraging student collaboration
3. Formative assessment and feedback
However, if you are looking for ideas on how to move towards or increase the use of e-learning tools in your teaching you might wish to review the ABC learning design process. In particular, review the learning type cards as these suggest digital approaches to learning.
There are also a number of case studies on the Teaching and Learning portal that discuss how a range of tools have been used by colleagues across the institution. Examples include:
ABC is the effective approach to curriculum (re)design, developed at UCL four years ago and now used widely not only at UCL but across the HE sector. Well over a thousand colleagues have now had a chance to participate in an ABC workshop. For those still unfamiliar with this ‘sprint’ approach, programme and module teams take part in an engaging hands-on ‘design sprint’ workshop, usually facilitated by UCL Digital Education. In just 90 minutes using a game format, teams collaborate to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of blended and online activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes. Assessment, cross-programme themes and institutional policies such as the Connected Curriculum can all be integrated according to the needs of the programme/module.
After running pilots in the 2014-15 academic year, ABC was launched as a service in 15-16 and has enjoyed steady growth in numbers of modules (re)designed per annum. As part of UCL’s 2016-21 Educational Strategy we committed to work with 250 modules by 2021. We have nearly reached this already, not counting workshops run by UCL academic colleagues.
Word of ABC soon spread beyond UCL especially as we provide workshop materials for free download. In 2016-18 we were funded by HEFCE Catalyst to both evaluate the ABC method and develop these materials onto a downloadable ABC Toolkit to help other institutions run their own workshops. We ran demos at several JISC Connect More events, ALT-C and international conferences and as a result ABC is now a familiar UCL ‘brand’ in the UK and beyond.
90% of ABC participants surveyed in the HEFCE project agreed their experience was positive and 71% that the workshop enabled them to enhance the curriculum. Many follow-up interviewees commented on the ‘buzz’ in the room and enjoyment of the workshops:
it’s just a fun workshop so it’s colourful, it’s paper based, you’re moving things around and you’re feeling things, people are excited, if there are tutors and there are many of those who actually have a fear of technology type things, well they don’t have to worry about it in a workshop like this, … it’s alive, you can see it; people are talking and it’s great to see that….
In parallel we have run the workshops for 16 fellow-members of the League of European Research Universities, including at Edinburgh, Oxford, Imperial, Trinity College Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and the Sorbonne. This networking led to the current Erasmus + project ‘ABCtoVLE’ (2018-2020) investigating both how institutions localise ABC and link it to their online learning environments. This year the UCL Digital Education team have also run workshops by invitation in Warsaw, Zurich, Geneva, Reykjavik and even as far afield as Auckland and Sydney.
The global interest in UCL’s learning design method is wonderful but hard to keep up with, so next year we will focus more on building a sustainable network.