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Learning to Teach Online [LinkedIn Learning course]

Clive Young6 April 2020

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!).

Digital Wellbeing: A guide for staff and students

Samantha Ahern27 March 2020

Tea pot with sugar pot & milk jug

To borrow some words from Dickens:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

No doubt, this is very much how the current period feels for many of us. There are some fantastic things happening in local communities and in our sector, but for many of us it is also the worst of times. Some of us are away from home, or our usual support networks, our routine has been disrupted and there is a constant air of uncertainty.

Its ok, to not be ok. More now than ever. We are being asked to increasingly engaged with digital tools and media, some for the firat time, and this can have a massive impact on our wellbeing. So how do we support our wellbeing whilst adapting to new ways of learning and working?

Teaching Continuity

Guidance for staff

One of the recurring themes in the wellbeing literature across all student groups, K-12 and Higher Education, is the importance of being known by their teachers. Students who feel that their teachers know them and their capabilities are less anxious and perform better than those that do not. Being seen.

With many students distributed across the globe, how do we let them know that they are seen? Both in our support for them and in planning our teaching continuity activities.

It is hard to know where your students may and what technologies they will have access to. They may have a laptop, but may also have limited access to a good internet connection. You also need to consider what additional needs your students may have, see our post on Accessibility and Teaching Continuity.

At the same time, you will be working from home, often not at a proper desk and may be looking after others in your household. It’s important to factor in and support your own wellbeing.

Some things to think about:

  • Be kind. To yourselves and your students. Expect to be less productive, there’s a lot going on.
  • What are the key things your students need to know – the key learning objectives and threshold concepts?
  • What is the simplest way of enabling that learning to happen?
    • Talk to Arena and Digital Education colleagues. Check what support is available via the Teaching Continuity pages.
  • Video is great but its exhausting and requires good internet access.
    • Does the session need to be live? Pre-record where you can, its both less stressful and exhausting.
    • Keep videos short.
    • Do you have students that need captions or transcripts?
    • Can you provide the information in an alternative way e.g. a reading or set a research task.
  • Show your students you care – send them an email, arrange virtual office hrs – doesn’t have to be video, could be an advanced forum or chat in Moodle.
  • Don’t try to replicate everything online, it isn’t the same and shouldn’t be.
  • Be clear with your expectations.
    • Remove or hide any unneccessary content on your Moodle course. Some of your students will try do or read everything.
  • Write yourself a schedule, include plenty of breaks and non-screen time.
  • Talk to your colleagues – virtual coffee mornings or meetings, make use of the chat in MS Teams. Why not take part in an #LTHEChat or catch-up on previous chats?

Guidance for students

First, breathe. There’s a lot happening and a lot changing on a daily basis. We understand that you are doing your best in very difficult circumstances. Keep in contact with your friends and loved ones as much as possible, remember we are physically distancing.

We recommended that you regularly check the Contunuing to learn remotely guidance as it is being regularly updated. It provides some basic guidance around how to get started and learn effectively online as your tutors switch to teaching in a digital format.

The student mental health charity Student Minds have produced some additional coronavirus guidance on looking after your mental health.

Please also check the Support for Students FAQs on the UCL Advice for staff and students who may have concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus web page.

There is additional guidance and support available from Students’ Union UCL including FAQs.

Staff wellbeing

Working from home can be difficult. Whether you’re teaching, researching or in an academic-related role things can be difficult and at times isolating. It’s ok to be less productive than usual.

Firstly, check out the Support for Staff FAQs on the UCL Advice for staff and students who may have concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus web page. This is the key information hub.

Review the Remote working – tools and best practice guidance, this is generic guidance for all those working from home. In addition, UCL Workplace Wellbeing have produced some support resources. In addition, SLMS have collated some nice resources for coping with Working in a Crisis.

Childnet International have a range of guidance on digital wellbeing for children and young adults, including a Digital Wellbeing pack for parents. It is increasingly important that we are mindful of everyone’s digital wellbeing at this time. Especially as we are spending increasing amounts of time online. You may also want to review this Jisc blog post Looking after your own, and others’, digital wellbeing .

General guidance

5 ways to wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give

Taken from: https://whatworkswellbeing.org/about-wellbeing/how-to-improve-wellbeing/

At this time its important to remember that we are actually being asked to physically distance ourselves from colleagues and loved ones, not socially distance. Remain socially connected is essential to our wellbeing and will help reduce and sense of loneliness or isolation.

The first thing is to limit your exposure to the news. Only check the news once or twice a day for key updates, any more than this is unneccessary and may only increase any anxiety.

Secondly, take a break from your smart device. Put it in a box for an hour. Go do something else: read a book, do some colouring, if you have one go out into the garden. This will help reduce the sensory and cognitive overload.

Thirdly, if you are fit and healthy and its permitted, get outside. Exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block can work wonders to enhance your mood.

Fourth, check out the Blurt foundation’s resources, inparticular the Coronavirus Helpful Hub.

Fifth, the NHS Every Mind Matters website now has 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus.

UCL has published a range of guidance aimed at both staff and students to support you during this time:

References

  • Dickens, C. (1859). A Tale Of Two Cities By Charles Dickens. With Illustrations By H. K. Browne. London: Chapman and Hall.
  • “Not by degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK’s universities”. (2017), IPPR, 4 September, available at: https://ippr.org/research/publications/not-by-degrees (accessed 6 September 2017).
  • O’keeffe, P. (2013), “A Sense of Belonging: Improving Student Retention”, College Student Journal, Vol. 47 No. 4, pp. 605–613.
  • “PISA 2015 Results (Volume III): Students' Well-Being”. (2017), , Text, , available at: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2015-results-volume-iii_9789264273856-en (accessed 13 November 2019).
  • https://whatworkswellbeing.org/about-wellbeing/how-to-improve-wellbeing/

 

Teaching continuity: Accessibility and remote working for staff

Samantha Ahern27 March 2020

As most of us will not be working remotely, online collaboration tools and meetings will becoming an increasing part of our working pattern.

How do we ensure that all colleagues are able to participant in online meetings and collaborate effectively with others?

With regards to the documents and content we create and share with each other, these should follow the Accessibility Fundamentals guidance. The same as if you were creating documents and content to share with students.

But what about virtual meetings?

If you have colleagues with hearing or visual impariments there are a few things to consider:

  • Have you checked in advance if anyone needs communication support?
  • Make sure you say your name before speaking.
  • Use a meeting agenda to give a clear reference point for everyone to follow.
  • Make sure only one person is talking at a time.
  • Speak clearly, not too slowly, and use normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures.
  • Have video enabled for those currently speaking and look directly at your webcam.
    • Use good lighting to help everybody see each other clearly, which is important for lipreading.
    • If you are using a headset with a microphone, please be mindful of the position of the microphone. Avoid covering your mouth.

A range of video calling services offer auto-captioning  or transcription services, however these cannot be guaranteed to be accurate:

When selecting tools please refer to the guidance from UCL’s Data Protection team: COVID-19 Data Protection FAQs

References:

  • https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/businesses-and-employers/employer-hub/supporting-employees-with-hearing-loss/communicating-with-staff-who-are-deaf-or-have-hearing-loss/

Teaching Continuity – a Moodle Toolkit

Clive Young23 March 2020

Getting started

As we move our teaching materials online, we have is an opportunity to make more active use of Moodle. Moodle is already familiar to students and academic colleagues, but mainly as a repository for module materials and a place to upload assignments. Moodle has many other tools that can help keep your students engaged and learning in the absence of face-to-face sessions. The environment also provides student access to Blackboard Collaborate for online ‘tutorials’, Lecturecast Universal Capture Personal for short video recordings and the UCL reading list service. Both of these tools are key in UCL’s approach to teaching continuity.

UCL already has a well over 100 step-by-step Miniguides to help you set up and use all of the tools in Moodle, but as this may be a little overwhelming, this Toolkit focuses on a few simple enhancements can make a big difference to your students’ online experience.

Baseline

The first priority is always to check courses against the E-learning Baseline. Poor structuring of Moodle is an issue in terms of accessibility and student stress. The Baseline is now well-established at UCL and applying it helps students navigate online learning activities. Attention is particularly drawn to the first five sections of the Baseline;

Surveys show these are the elements of Moodle our students notice most and are often most critical of. They are also the easiest to improve.

How can we do more with Moodle?

This short (5’) video from an earlier post offers some excellent ideas.

The video has captions and a transcript.https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/22870

In addition to Collaborate and Lecturecast Universal Capture Personal, both very important to replace face-to-face sessions, three Moodle-specific ideas are mentioned.

  • The first is Discussion Forums, often considered the mainstay of online learning. Many staff already use the News forum to announce exam dates and times; changes to exams, lectures or seminars; important information about coursework; and special announcements relating to events and when you post a message in the News Forum it will be emailed to enrolled students’ UCL email. The video refers to ‘Learning forums’ can be used for asynchronous discussion (i.e. not ‘real time’) and learning activities. They enable both staff and students to post and reply to posts and are usually are set to allow students and staff to choose whether or not to become or remain subscribed to a forum. We recommend that Question and Answer forums are set up for students to ask questions about the course work or assessment processes. As the video explains, make the purpose of every discussion forum clear, including how students are expected to engage with it and how often staff will reply to posts (if at all). If you want to speak to students in ‘real time’, for example for virtual Office Hours, you might want to try Moodle’s instant messaging style tool, Chat.
  • Quiz is the other popular tool for online engagement. A quiz is a useful way to test or evaluate students’ knowledge and to keep them motivated by letting them see areas for improvement. Marking can be automated on some question types (such as multiple choice). Staff can see a detailed breakdown of results, as well as statistics on how easy or discriminating each question is. It can be used for both formative and summative (credit bearing) assessment, such as in class tests or examinations, but the latter is usually done in a ‘live’ classroom, so for online learning summative quizzes are more normal.
  • Use of external resources will already be a familiar custom for many academic colleagues, but bear in mind YouTube is blocked in several countries, including China. The video also mentions LinkedIn Learning, Box of Broadcasts (log in with your UCL details) and ReadingLists@UCL, all useful enhancements. UCL Mediacentral can be used to host your own videos which can then embedded as links in Moodle.

Moodle: beyond the basics

As always, we recommend you keep it simple and prioritise the essentials, but don’t be afraid to go beyond the basics if you can. Here are a few ideas. If you want to dive a little deeper, the UCL’s ABC method of learning design can help plan how to move learning activities online in a more structured way. You may want also explore beyond Moodle, to Reflect, UCL’s blogging service based on WordPress.

Moodle Resources

  • Book displays collections of web pages in a sequential, easy-to-navigate and printable format. They are especially useful when you have a lot of web content but don’t want it to clutter the front page of your course. Pages can contain links, images, embedded YouTube videos, etc and feature a Table of Contents.
  • Lessons can be used to build structured pathways through learning materials and test knowledge as students make progress. Students usually make choices on each page area, sending send them to another specific page in the manner of a decision tree.

Moodle Activities

  • Glossary provides a course-specific list of terms and definitions. Entries can be linked to words that appear within Moodle, so the definition pops-up when someone hovers their mouse over instances of the word. A tutor may stipulate definitions or ask students to contribute.
  • Database enables tutors to set up form fields that students can then complete to contribute entries to the database. The fields may consist of images, files, URLs, numbers, plain text etc.
  • Hot Question is used to create a hotlist of popular questions or topics from a group. Could be used to seed a discussion forum or a Collaborate session.

Where can I see more?

  1. Colleagues at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) Learning Technologies Unit have put together a Moodle course Moodle Activity Examples – LTU (login required) showing you the tools above in use, together with several others.
  2. They are also in the process of  developing Moving online a very useful resource containing step-by-step workflows on how to move sessions online, with links to further support sources.
  3. The Miniguides site is the place to go to for detailed ideas and information on these and other Moodle tools. Support on other tools is available from the ISD Digital Education webpages.

Video resources for teaching online

Steve Rowett16 March 2020

As part of our work on education planning for 2020/21, we are making a series of videos and screencasts to help you complete common tasks for teaching online. These will be linked from individual web pages for the relevant section, but we thought it might be useful to also pull them together on a single page.

We are making captions available for all of these videos, along with transcripts, but these may appear a day or two after the video is first released without them. This information will be given with each video below. Further videos will be posted here in the coming days.

More detailed guidance on the tools below is given in the Moodle Resource Centre, the Lecturecast Resource Centre and the Blackboard Collaborate Resource Centre.

Finally, this of course a difficult and anxious time for us all. Please use the communication tools within Moodle to provide reassurance and support to each other as best we can.


Simple tips for teaching online

This video (32 minutes) provides a practical guide to teaching online and gives useful advice for teachers and students. Thanks for Dr Zachary Walker from UCL Institute of Education for making and sharing this video.

This video has captions and a transcript.


Moodle

This video (5 minutes) gives five tips for adding extra content and activities to your Moodle course.

This video has captions and a transcript.
This video shows the process for setting up a Moodle Quiz for formative assessments.

This video has captions and a transcript


Lecturecast Universal Capture Personal

This video (10 minutes) takes you through the process of recording lectures or content using your own computer and the Lecturecast Universal Capture software. Thanks to Ian Calder, UCL School of Management, for giving us permission to use this video.

This video has captions and a transcript.


Blackboard Collaborate

This video (17 minutes) shows how to set up a Blackboard Collaborate room within Moodle and use it for a live seminar or teaching event. Thanks to Ian Calder, UCL School of Management, for giving us permission to use this video.

This video has captions and a transcript.

How to use Blackboard Collaborate in your teaching and learning practice

This video (26 minutes) from Lauren Clark, UCL Institute of Education, discusses how the MA in Education programme uses Collaborate to teaching both local and distance students. Lauren offers some ideas for teaching practice and hints and tips for running successful teaching events .

This video has captions and a transcript


Making a video from a PowerPoint with audio

This video (11 minutes) shows you how to take an existing PowerPoint presentation and record an audio narration on each slide. This can then be exported as a video file, which can be viewed via Moodle using Lecturecast or Media Central.

This video has captions and a transcript.

Compressing video files using Handbrake

This video (7 minutes) demonstrates how to compress video files using the open-source software Handbrake. This can be used with all videos, but is particularly useful where making narrated PowerPoint videos (see above) produces large file sizes. Such videos can often be compressed to around a quarter of their original size with minimal loss of quality.

This video has captions and a transcript.


Recording your iPad screen for Lecturecast

This video (11 minutes) takes you through the process of using your iPad to record on-screen content and uploading it to Lecturecast. Thanks to Ian Calder, UCL School of Management, for giving us permission to use this video.

This video has captions and a transcript.


Remote working

ISD has produced this video which explains a number of tools available for remote working. This includes Microsoft Office365 tools such as email, calendar, OneDrive and Teams and use of the virtual private network (VPN) and Desktop@UCL Anywhere for accessing central systems and software.

This video has captions.


Blogging with Reflect

Samantha Ahern from UCL Digital Education has created a series of video tutorials on using Reflect, UCL’s service for blogging in teaching and learning.

Accessibility and teaching continuity

Samantha Ahern13 March 2020

With the need to move teaching online digital accessibility becomes ever more important. Your Moodle course may become the primary means of both being taught and accessing material, and there are therefore multiple considerations that will impact upon how you design your course and its content.

  • Are you aware of any reasonable adjustments students have in place? These will need to be continue to met even if the student isn’t currently on campus;
  • What tools and technologies are available to your students? Some may be accessing a course from an area with poor internet connectivity and thus unable to access material such as video;
  • Where are your students? They may be in different time zones, so you may want to consider use of asynchronous activities using forums, blogs, or wikis.

Developing additional material

Simple steps to make your content more accessible for everyone can be found on the Accessibility Fundamentals page. For more targeted guidance for specific kinds of content review the following sections.

Adding new or amending existing documents

Video and audio, such as pre-recorded lectures

Online seminars or group study sessions

Further support

Full guidance can be found on the UCL Creating accessible content webpages. Face-to-face Digital Accessibility drop-in sessions have been suspended, however we hope to offer remote sessions.