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Ten quick tips for successful online delivery this term

UCL Digital Education shares learned tips for teaching online.

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12 May 2020

1. Be kind

To yourselves and your students. Expect to be less productive - there’s a lot going on.

It is unlikely that you will be able to teach to an existing timetable, so don’t try to. 

Tip: View support available for staff and students during the Covid-19 outbreak.

2. Keep it simple 

Don’t try to replicate everything online; it isn’t the same and it shouldn’t be.

Think about:

  • 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?

Tip: Talk to UCL Arena Centre and UCL Digital Education colleagues.

Book a virtual drop-in. Email the Teaching Continuity mailbox with your preferred time-slot for a Teams call between 10am- 4pm, Monday-Friday.

Check what further support is available on the Teaching Continuity pages and the Education Planning 2020-21 pages, where more detailed guidance is being developed for remote or socially distanced teaching.

3. Think asynchronous 

Re-think when and how learning can happen.

It is likely that your students will be spread across multiple time zones, this can make scheduling synchronous activities difficult. 

However, there are many ways that learning can happen asynchronously.

Tip: Check out UCL Digital Education's mini guide on asynchronous text-based discussion. 

Read our news story on 'London's global university: UCL students log on around the world' to access your own student timezone data. [UCL login required]

4. Beyond video 

Video is great, but it’s exhausting if done live and requires good internet access.  

Consider: 

  • does the session need to be live? Pre-record where you can; it's both less stressful and less tiring. 
  • keeping videos short. 
  • if adding videos from third-party sources such as Box of Broadcasts, can they be accessed by all of your students? 
  • do you have students that need captions or transcripts? 
  • can you provide the information in an alternative way? 

Tip: Did you know that you can record your Microsoft Teams meetings, choose who can view and edit them, and add captions and transcripts? 

5. Accessible by design 

With the need to move to teach online, digital accessibility is ever more important.

Your Moodle course has become the primary means of both being taught and accessing learning material, and it will impact how you design your course and its content. 

Consider:

  • any reasonable adjustments students have in place? These will need to continue to be 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. Consider the use of asynchronous activities:

Tip: Follow these simple steps to make your content more accessible for everyone can be found on the accessibility fundamentals web-page.

Does your Moodle course meet UCL's E-learning Baseline?

Review your Moodle against baseline, having a consistently laid out and easy to navigate course will enable students to easily find what they need. 

6. Students as partners 

Co-design activities with your students.

Find out where they are and what technologies they have available to them.

Use this information to co-design or redesign learning activities and formative assessments. Actively involve your students in the process.

Tip: UCL ChangeMaker's can provide guidance on how to work in partnership with your students. Email: changemakers@ucl.ac.uk

7. Show your students you care  

Being ‘seen’ is important to students.

To check in with your students, can you:

  • send them an email? 
  • arrange virtual office hours? 
  • make use of Microsoft Office Teams, or chat features in Moodle? 

Tip: Read how UCL departments are providing effective remote pastoral support

8. Be clear with your expectations  

Be clear about what you expect students to do and when. 

Students may have additional commitments that reduce their ability to study effectively.

Remove or hide any unnecessary content on your Moodle course. Some students will try to read everything. The hide feature can also be used to release content in weekly blocks, but let students know that this is what you are doing.

We don’t want students to feel overwhelmed; at the same time, we don’t want them to have too many surprises. 

Tip: Check out answers for staff to frequently asked questions on UCL's adjustments to teaching and assessment. 

9. Remote, not distant 

Being connected to their institution and to their programme is a known indicator of good student attainment and achievement.

While students are remote, not distant, continuing that sense of connection is even more important.  

Provide opportunities for students to collaborate and socialise with their peers. This could be through:

  • asynchronous group tasks
  • live seminar sessions, or by
  • utilising the chat tool in Moodle.

Tip: If you are using synchronous, live tasks, provide methods for students to review the session and to participate if they are not able to take part in real-time. 

Read how to use Microsoft Teams to facilitate group work. 

10. Communicating key messages to students

Be mindful of the number of communications that are going to your students.

Overloading students with continuous announcements from multiple channels is not helpful.

Work with your Covid Mitigation Coordinators (CMCs). 

They are responsible for forwarding a summary of messages from central services to whomever in their department/faculty is best placed to share the information more widely. 

Tip: Read more about how UCL is communicating key messages from central services to students. 

Share your practice 

Do you have a news story or case study you would like feature on the Teaching and Learning Portal? 

Submit your story by competing the form (word document) and sending it to teaching.learning@ucl.ac.uk