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We’ve worked with the sector to bring together a core set of useful guides in 5 key areas to help prepare for delivery in the 20/21 term. For each area, we’ve chosen 2 primary resources that covers relevant and practical information in a very concise format (10-15 minutes). If you want to dive deeper, there are two longer reads (around 1 hour). Finally, we’ve chosen a single longer resource – either an online course or significant read to explore an area in more detail. The 5 areas are:

  1. Designing for Online/Blended Delivery
  2. Preparing Materials
  3. Education for All
  4. Managing the Online Space
  5. Formative Assessment and Feedback

Note: this content is not intended to replace the support or training that’s available within your institution.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll also find a general list of resources that have been suggested by the community as well as a form where you can share your own suggestions for the list.

 

1. Designing for Online/Blended Delivery

Like the Scouts, it’s better to be prepared and plan out what it is you’re going to do online with your students. Here are some ideas when it comes to designing your post-summer delivery.

  • Fundamentals of Effective Online Teaching Practice
    This guide was produced by the Office of Open Learning, University of Windsor, and is one of the best 3-page overviews we’ve seen. Although written for a university audience, it’s filled with useful, practical advice for anyone preparing for online delivery.
  • What a ‘Flipped’ Classroom Looks Like (YouTube 7m41s)
    This is a PBS News Hour piece from 2013 which covers the story of how an American high school completely ‘flips’ its curriculum delivery (they actually started experimenting with this approach in 2010). And so the question you really want to ask is, after 10 years, are they still doing the flipped thing? Yes, they are.

As you prepare for more online/blended interaction, it can be useful to follow a process or framework that sets out the key points to consider. There are several popular models, with ABC Learning Design popular in colleges and a wider overview provided in the Jisc guide.

  • ABC Learning Design
    A process that involves mapping out learning using a series of cards placed on an open template. It’s really designed for a curriculum team to work together to look at how a course can be reimagined, but it can be helpful to look at the process individually. The best place to start is watch these two introductory videos: General Introduction to ABC LD (18m38s) and the ABC LD Method (20m56s) before going on to download the ABC LD resources (registration required for download).
  • Designing Learning and Assessment in a Digital Age (Jisc Guide, 24 pages)
    An in-depth guide to using technology to enhance learning and assessment and definitely goes beyond the suggested 1 hour+ reading time. The guide covers a lot of ground and includes case studies from colleges and universities. As we’re talking about design here, it’s worth spending a bit of time on the Approaches to Learning Design section, especially the parts on Blended Learning, Online Learning and Flipped Learning.

One of the best ways to learn what blended/online learning has to offer is to go through the experience yourself – and by that we don’t mean mandatory training which involves identifying which colour of fire extinguisher to use in an emergency (though that has its place too). There are a LOT of online courses you could sign up to, but one we particularly like has been developed by Deakin University in Australia and is available on FutureLearn.

 

2. Preparing Materials

Once you know what you’re going to do, then in true Blue Peter fashion the next step is to prepare the stage and get all those ducks lined up. Here are a couple of useful approaches to get started:

  • 10 Online Teaching Tips beyond Zoom (YouTube, 10m28s)
    This video isn’t about Zoom, it’s about how Michael Wesch has put together an online course that is filled with video and interaction that seems SO good that I want to sign up for his course (even though I don’t have an interest in the subject area). This video will give you some excellent ideas around how to prepare your content for the next term, from how to structure content to why video can work so well. And if you have time, you should definitely watch his other video about making ‘Super Simple Videos for Teaching Online‘ (YouTube, 11m17s).
  • How to Use PowerPoint Recorder
    Want to produce video lessons? Add narration or a talking head to your slides? How about a screencast recording of you demonstrating something on your PC? All you really need is PowerPoint. The link will take you to Module 3 of a course on developing Flipped Lessons using PowerPoint; it’ll take you about 15 minutes to go through (the whole course takes about an hour). At the end, you’ll have an .mp4 video file which you can share with students using whatever method your college uses to distribute video content. Ask someone to discover how it’s done at your college.

The kind of content you need to prepare and tools you might use will depend on your subject area and platforms available in your college. Whatever the case, video is going to be a significant part of delivery going forward.

  • Developing Blended Learning Content Approaches (Jisc Guide)
    This resource covers a range of tools and approaches to developing engaging content; it’s not so much about the step-by-step guides rather than the kinds of content that you could consider developing. The guide also includes case studies which demonstrate the tools and techniques being used across the sector to develop engaging blended learning content for learners.
  • VocAcademy (coming soon)
    As part of a Ufi-funded project, City of Glasgow College are building an online resource which brings together collections of video resources grouped into college curriculum areas, as well as guides to produce your own digital resources.

During the lockdown, one of the most popular staff development training requests was for guidance on producing instructional video. At CDN, we are currently producing 3 guides: 1) Recording instructional video; 2) Recording audio/video feedback and 3) Recording video assignment (for students). These guides will be ready before the next term and released under an open licence. Until then, we recommend the following:

  • Effective Educational Videos: Principles and Guidelines for Maximizing Student Learning from Video Content
    This Life Sciences Education article covers three aspects of educational videos; cognitive load – segmenting content and sticking to key information; student engagement – brevity, pace and connection; and active learning – adding interactive elements. The article is relatively short, but it’s packed with useful advice and we feel your time is best spent powering up your laptop, opening up PowerPoint and giving recording a try.

 

3. Education for All

Now with the PSWAR (Public Sector Web Accessibility Regulations) part of legislation, content being delivered online to students needs to meet basic criteria. Here are a few simple steps to ensure that everyone is going to get the best from your materials:

  • Top Tips for Creating Accessible, Useful Written Content
    A list of tips from Jack Garfinkel (Scope) and Abi James, (AbilityNet/British Dyslexia Association) on how to make your content accessible for everyone. Although the advice here is aimed at helping those with barriers to learning, most of the common-sense tips here apply to, and more importantly benefit, all readers. 

There are various technical solutions that can evaluate the accessibility of content and help you meet required standards. Microsoft has done a lot of work in this area, but there are also dedicated tools which your students will be using with your content.

  • Microsoft Accessibility Checker
    When you’re using Word, PowerPoint or writing emails in Outlook, you can check the accessibility of your document by using Microsoft’s built-in accessibility checker. Although it doesn’t catch everything, if it gives you a clean bill of health, you know you’re on the right track. You’ll find this option in the Review tab (with Outlook, you need to view your email message in its own window by using the Pop Out option).
  • Using Assistive and Accessible Technology in Teaching and Learning (Jisc guide)
    This guide is not about creating accessible materials, but giving you an introduction to various accessibility tools and accessiblity features within tools that you and your students already use. It can be helpful to know what accessible options exist as it gives you an insight to how your students might be accessing your material.

The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework was developed by CAST, a non-profit education research and development organisation based in the US, and is now used the world over to make learning more inclusive. They’ve put together an online resource which is worth exploring:

  • UDL on Campus
    CAST have developed this website resource, which groups information on UDL into areas of Course Design, Media & Matierals, and Accessibility & Policy. This 2-minute YouTube video neatly sums up the objectives of the UDL site. You’ll find a host of information here relevant to all areas of your work; it’s worth spending a bit of time exploring the content here.

 

4. Managing the Online Space

Communication lies at the heart of any educational experience. When we move online, we connect via multiple mediums. Here is some advice around how to manage your online interaction in synchronous and asynchronous spaces.

  • The Human Element in Online Learning
    One of the interesting things to come out of student feedback from lockdown is that some felt closer to teaching staff while studying remotely. This Inside Higher Ed article covers some of the opportunities offered by remote education and offers ideas around how you can humanise the online experience.  
  • 8 Tips for Setting up Lessons via Video
    It’s likely that you’ll be called upon to deliver some teaching content online (if you haven’t already done so). Here are 8 practical tips from TES about setting up your environment as you prepare to deliver online. 

There are similarities to teaching online and face-to-face, but also there are some important differences to consider. Learning Analytics can also potentially play a part by giving us more insight into how our students are doing.

  • Learning Analytics in Higher Education (Jisc Guide)
    We only really interact with our students for a fraction of the time they spend at college; we measure their progress by observing them in class, marking assignments and the occasional chat. Learning Analytics is the process of using data to measure and predict their process throughout the educational experience. Your college will be looking at analytics and may well be presenting you with ‘dashboards’ to track and predict student progress. This guide published in 2016 gives a good overview of what’s coming your way.

Creating a space that encourages your students to engage and collaborate is at the heart of any successful course. There’s no magic bullet (unfortunately), but there are some basic principles that can help tease out the interaction you’re looking for online.

  • Teach Online: Conversation Matters
    This FutureLearn course developed by Griffith University for its own staff, has been opened up for general access. It’s a couple of years old and some activities point you towards Griffith’s systems which are not accessible, but there’s enough here to pick up a lot of practical tips that you apply to your own delivery.

 

5. Formative Assessment and Feedback

Having a sense of where you are and what you need to do is a fundamental point of formative assessment, backed up by meaningful feedback and the opportunity to apply any feedback given. It’s similar to what you would normally do in the class, but with a few twists in an online context:

  • Audio/Video Feedback
    Seven practical tips for those considering to deliver feedback via audio/video rather than written text. It’s not for everyone, but if you can get into the swing of pressing record and passing on your insights (without stopping to re-record), this can save time and be so much better than the alternative. What do you use to record feedback? Anything from PowerPoint (see 2 above) to Screencastify – ask in your institution what’s supported and used locally.

Technology can enhance the assessment and feedback process, with a wide range of tools and approaches that can be considered. Peer assessment is one area that offers so much potential, but can be challenging to implement.

  • Enhancing Assessment and Feedback with Technology: A Guide for FE and Skills (Jisc Guide)
    This guide doesn’t focus on assessment and feedback from the perspective of remote teaching, but does give a good overview of technology-enhanced approaches which can be applied to the current context. Included are a collection of college case studies covering a wide range of curricular areas. At the heart of this document, there is an underlying message about the need to develop the digital literacies of those involved in a move towards digital assessment and feedback practices.
  • Guide to Peer Assessment
    This relatively short guide from Trinity College Dublin sets out the case why you should consider the admittedly challenging prospect of introducing peer assessment in your curriculum delivery. It’s more of a why than how, but it sets out the argument in a clear and (hopefully) convincing way. As we encourage our students to take on more independence in their learning, enabling them to critically review their own work and that of others is a meta skill we can all use.

The topic of eAssessment is a difficult one, the technology to produce enhanced assessment options has been around for quite some time, and all the research seems to suggest that done well, it would benefit students and staff involved, which begs the question why it hasn’t become mainstream yet. The project output below, published in 2015 and updated in 2019, takes a practical look at this area; it was written with an SQA and college focus – and while it’s not a step-by-step guide to producing assessment/feedback practices, it does cover the important issues and suggests practical steps to move us forward.

  • Creating Innovative Technology–enhanced Assessments (CITeA)
    This Jisc-funded project’s aims were to examine how colleges could make more use of eAssessment and produce tools, resources and processes that might be able to help in that aim. What I like about this resource is that a) lots of relevant stakeholders were involved and b) that John Casey wrote the final report. Honestly the second reason makes it worth reading.

 

Community Share

An assortment of (non-reviewed) additional resources and courses that have been suggested by the community. We’ll be looking to organise the content here as the resource grows, but for the moment have simply categorised everything under the 5 areas we used above. 

If you would like to add to this list, please send us your suggestion via the form at the bottom of the page. 

  • Blended Learning Essentials: Getting Started - Diana Laurillard (UCL) and Neil Morris (University of Leeds), this 5-week (20-hour) course has been designed to help anyone teaching or supporting learning in the vocational education and training (VET) sector understand the benefits of blended learning and how to use technology effectively to support learners.
  • Active Blended Learning - A Definition - The University of Northampton's definition of active blended learning highlights the best of blended learning design.
  • ETF Enhance Digital Teaching Platform - A repository of brief guides to a range of digital tools/approaches aligned to the Digital Teaching Professional Framework.
  • Practitioner Support for Online Remote Learning - Education Scotland's portal to resources to support teachers during the COVID19.
  • Get Interactive: Practical Teaching with Technology - Bloomsbury Learning Exchange's Coursera MOOC, a 3-week course covering some of the popular technologies that educators use to make their learning engaging, interactive and dynamic.
  • Spaced Learning - A guide developed by Monkseaton High School on embedding information in long-term memory through repetition.
  • A Quick Summary of the Theory of Learning Curves - As suggested by the title, a very brief summary of a learning theory associated with learning through repetition.
  • LearningWheel - LearningWheel is a model of digital pedagogy designed to enhance learning and develop digital literacy skills.
  • Educational Developers Cookbook - A collection of practical activities, everything from icebreakers to assessment/feedback; these cover face-to-face as well as online approaches.
  • Learning and Teaching Online (PDF) - General advice from Education Scotland on the use of Microsoft and Google solutions.
  • Take Your Teaching Online - A free OU course (released under a Creative Commons licence) updated at the end of March that covers the the transformation to online teaching.
  • Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy - This UHI resource covers this popular classification of learning skills often used in education.
  • VLE Checklist - This checklist supports the development and maintenance of units and module spaces within the UHI learning environment, but could be applied to other VLEs.
  • Essential Student Skills - A portfolio of interactive guidance materials is designed to introduce students to aspects of learning at the UHI.
  • Making Digital Learning Interactive and Engaging - A UHI workshop that provides top tips on how to make digital learning more engaging and interactive.
  • How to Make Effective Use of Learning Resources - A UHI workshop providing advice on how to make online learning resources more engaging and interactive.

 

Further Reading

If you happen to have a few book vouchers to hand and are struggling to find something to read, then we have a few educationally-themed options for you. These books have been suggested by the community, but have not been reviewed by CDN. Unless otherwise indicated, none of these texts are free. We have provided links to Amazon for convenience (prices correct at time of listing), but other retailers will be available and it’s worth checking to see if your library/learning resources centre has access to these or similar books.

 

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