Teaching & Learning


UCL Connected Learning Essentials: staff development programme

The programme outline and joining details for a facilitated online course supporting colleagues for the move to remote or socially distanced teaching

Connected Learning Essentials is an online course that introduces teaching staff to the concept and key practices of Connected Learning, UCL’s approach for online teaching in 2020/21. It has been developed at speed and with acknowledgement of the challenges facing teaching staff.

Connected Learning Live Events

The Arena Centre will be running a series of short live sessions to complement the UCL Connected Learning Essentials Staff Development Course.


Redesigning courses for fully online delivery will involve new ways of thinking about learning, teaching and assessment. The Arena Centre, Digital Education, and the network of departmental or faculty teaching fellows and learning technologists have created a staff development programme to support colleagues to prepare for online and socially-distanced teaching. The focus will be on the adaptation of existing modules for delivery in an alternative context and securing student engagement online, with the assumption that face-to-face lectures and large-class teaching will not take place in Term 1. 

The programme addresses the basic issues facing those teaching in a Connected Learning context, as well as providing teaching and teaching support staff with an authentic experience of being an online learner. The course introduces various educational approaches that might be considered in the transition to Connected Learning, although support in these areas will be localised and supported by facilitating staff at the faculty or departmental level.

Programme structure

All course tasks are asynchronous, meaning there is no specific time at which you must participate. We will, however, look to run each course cohort across a two week period to ensure you are able to connect and converse with your colleagues at roughly the same time. If you choose to work through all sections we recommend working through:

  • Sections 1-4 in Week 1;
  • Sections 5-7 in Week 2.

Ongoing access to the course means that this will be a ‘one stop shop’ for staff to come back and revisit some of the topics as they feel the need.

The course is housed within UCLeXtend, our public-facing platform for short courses, in order to ensure that those staff without standard UCL credentials, such as clinical teaching fellows, are also able to access it.

Programme duration

We anticipate that the recommended steps in Sections 1-7 will take approximately 7 hours to complete. You can spend more or less time on the material depending on what you have available, and we will signpost additional, optional content that may take more time, or take place at specific times. 

Programme schedule 

The programme materials are available at any time and can be accessed via the open Connected Learning Essentials course.

Enrol on the programme

If you have a UCL username and password

  • Navigate to the appropriate Connected Learning Essentials course cohort (link above) and click the UCL Login link;

  • Complete the UCL single sign on with your UCL credentials;

  • In the 'Self enrolment - Teaching staff' field, enter the enrolment key: 'CLEUCL'.

If you don't have a UCL username and password

  • Navigate to the Connected Learning Essentials course (link above) and click the UCL Login link;

  • If you don't have a UCLeXtend account already, click 'Create new account' and complete the sign up process;

  • In the 'Self enrolment - Teaching staff' field, enter the enrolment key: 'CLEUCL'.

If you have any problems accessing the programme, please email extend@ucl.ac.uk.

    Course outline


    Philosophy underpinning the course  

    • Start from where people are and help them adapt and build materials for a move into an online environment;
    • No assumption of knowledge around teaching online but take care not to patronise by going entirely back to basics;
    • Recognise that work is being done at speed and with competing stresses;
    • Focus on high quality student participation and engagement more than on ‘high spec’ materials;
    • Start with a low bandwidth principle unless there is confidence that all students and staff have good quality and reliable internet access.

    Learning outcomes

    After working through this course, staff should:

    • Be able to adapt current materials into engaging Connected Learning that is in line with UCL’s guidance and standards;
    • Understand how to secure student commitment and recognise the warning signs if this is waning;
    • Be comfortable using the range of digital education tools that UCL provides and supports;
    • Be confident to re-conceive the assessment strategies employed, in recognition of the different student study patterns that are typical of studying online;
    • Design activities for students’ active learning, using the 6 learning types of the Conversational Framework (Laurillard, 2002);
    • Be capable of developing instructional material and use extant resources and Open Educational Resources (OER) in a correct ethical manner;
    • Embed student feedback mechanisms and ways of responding to their learning experiences.

    Programme sections

    Section 1. Taking a Connected Learning approach

    • Introduction: What is Connected Learning?
    • The role of your module in the wider programme: how has it changed?  
    • Challenging assumptions about a module’s students;
    • What does the module look like now?
    • Constructive alignment and why it matters more than ever;
    • Moving from lectures and seminars to Connected Learning;
    • Offering a positive online experience with the Connected Learning Baseline.

    Section 2. Securing student engagement

    • Introduction: Supporting student learning in a Connected Learning context;
    • The role of the tutor and academic support;
    • Setting clear expectations;
    • Developing and supporting a sense of community;
    • Building early and small assessment and feedback into courses;
    • Using data and formative assessment to spot the warning signs of poor engagement;
    • Ensuring teaching is accessible and inclusive of all students regardless of location and individual circumstances.

    Section 3. Ensuring a consistent learning environment for students

    • Introduction: Why is consistency important and how can you get there?
    • What tools are there and what can they be used for?
    • Advising students about their physical working space, equipment, well-being, and study habits;
    • Designing or adapting activities with student capabilities and practicalities in mind;
    • Putting it into practice with the Connected Learning Baseline.

    Section 4. Assessment

    • Introduction: Rethinking your assessment strategy;
    • Do you have an early assessment task?
    • The argument for ‘little and often’ and low- or no-stakes assessment;
    • Use of interactive tools for rapid formative assessment;
    • Assessment for Learning: the example of the ‘minute paper’;
    • Backwards design: Working back from your LOs to your summative assessment task via a series of formative steps.

    Section 5. Designing for students’ active learning

    • Introduction: What is active learning in a Connected Learning context?
    • Bloom’s taxonomy and active learning;
    • Introduction to pedagogic approaches that might be used in a transition to Connected Learning;
    • Activity-based learning and the ABC method;
    • Developing lecture-style instructional material;

    • Flipped, authentic, team-based, and inquiry-based learning.

    Section 6. Curating and making resources

    • Using ReadingLists@UCL;
    • Copyright and Creative Commons licensing;
    • What are OERs and how can they be used?
    • Licensing your own teaching materials;
    • Sourcing resources with repositories;
    • Evaluating resources to ensure they are accessible and inclusive.

    Section 7. Knowing students are engaging and learning

    • Finding and using basic learning analytics;
    • Eliciting feedback throughout a module;
    • Students’ support of one another and escalation pathways with Unitu;
    • Reflection and iteration: review, modify, and repeat;
    • Action research.