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Programme Readiness Toolkit

To support programme and module leads to plan, focus and monitor their preparations for Connected Learning in 2020-21.

The words Teaching toolkits ucl arena centre on a blue background

15 June 2020

The coming months will see colleagues working at speed to adapt existing programmes and modules for delivery in our new context with much of our teaching online. We recognise that the task ahead is very considerable.

Deborah Gill on behalf of the UCL Education and Operations Group

What this toolkit is for

This toolkit is to support programme and module leads to plan and implement the modifications needed to teach their programme or module in the context of the coronavirus restrictions.

It reflects the core idea of Connected Learning and the Connected Learner: that our education has the student as an engaged participant in their learning and in wider student life.

It is designed to prompt a holistic approach to planning for an excellent education experience, acts as a single point of access to the key resources and provides a way of monitoring your own progress and allocating tasks to individuals or groups.

Using the Toolkit

We recommend that programme and module leads and teaching administration teams start to use the toolkit in your First Term planning meetings, using the criteria provided and a checklist approach, adding further criteria if necessary and adopting timelines to suit your planning schedules.

Good quality remote delivery requires a good learning experience and learning effectiveness for all students. ‘Readiness’ requires input from a wide range of colleagues and is unlikely to progress in a consistent way:

  • the self-assessment ‘checklist’ of this toolkit encourages regular review of all aspects of education plans, so you can monitor your progress and make sure all aspects of readiness are considered and resourced appropriately
  • the ‘top tips’ and the small number of hyperlinks to key resources are designed to point you towards the appropriate support, guidance and resources as you develop and adapt your programmes and modules.

    Programme Readiness Toolkit

    The Programme Readiness Toolkit (which you can download as a word or excel file) consists of three sections: Learning materials, Learning experience, and Learner and staff support. 

    In each section, there is a list of actions against which you can review your programme to assess how ready it is to deliver UCL's Connected Learning.  Alongside the actions, there is also a list of 'top tips' and key resources to help you achieve them.

    Jump to Programme Readiness guidance on: 

    Learning materials  |  Learning experience Learner and staff support 

    Learning materials

    1. The overarching approach to the success of the programme (or module) operating predominantly remotely has been considered, discussed and agreed with all programme teaching and support staff
    2. The didactic or ‘taught’ materials have been converted to appropriate formats to provide a good remote learning resource for learners
    3. Practical, discussion-based and other non-didactic activities have been converted into alternatives that can be effective remotely
    4. Any face to face sessions that must continue have been reconsidered and re-organised in accordance with social distancing and rooming restrictions
    5. There is clear guidance throughout to signpost students through the materials in a logical manner, with both introductions and summary sections
    6. The programme (or module) assessments as a whole, as well as individual assessments, have been reviewed and modified.
    Top tips for getting your learning materials ready
    • 50 minute lectures, online, do not facilitate good student engagement. Using previous years’ Lecturecast recordings should be avoided where possible.
    • Create small segments (no more than 15 minutes) based around topics and themes. Pre-record these. Think accessibility: use the captioning functionality to ensure all students can engage. Signpost their connectedness.
    • Remote teaching is effective when students are active participants rather than passive recipients. Mix didactic content with discussions, individual exercises, group work, synchronous and asynchronous delivery, and academic support and feedback integrated with learning.
    • Keep videos simple, using UCL supported software to ensure all students can access the material. Ensure automatic subtitling is turned on to create accessible material quickly. Corrections to subtitles, if required, need only be limited to those that are key to student learning (e.g. scientific terms).
    • Ensure diverse examples, cases and resources are used so all students can connect to the programme resources.
    • Remote learning requires regular check points with rapid feedback. Build self-testing (with model answers and general feedback points) into sessions.
    • Any practical activities in term 1 should be replaced with alternatives where possible.
    • Face to face invigilated exams (central or department organised) should be reviewed, removed and alternatives set in their place.
    Key resources for getting your learning resources ready

     


    Learning experience

    1. Ways of encouraging active engagement of students with the material and with their peers and tutors have been considered and incorporated.
    2. The departmental or programme welcome, induction and orientation has been designed for both newcomers and returners to create connections to students and between students in this new mode of delivery.
    3. Enrichment and co-curricular activities have been considered and included.
    4. Expectations for learning and engagement are consistently clear and available (for staff and students) so everyone knows what they can expect, what they need to do and when.
    Top tips for creating an excellent learning experience
    • Be explicit about expectations at programme, module and session level: describe study schedule and times for synchronous work, expected levels of engagement and attendance, how Moodle will be used, expectations about expected learning effort/time for activities, any additional requirements for this study (e.g. software, external reading, equipment).
    • Programme and module Moodle sites should contain an introductory paragraph or a brief video explaining objectives, what will happen, how, sequencing, modes of learning and where to find timetables, chat rooms etc.
    • Consider setting up peer learning and peer study groups inside and outside classroom. Include some ‘live’ enrichment activities (mindful of learners, their geography etc.) Use links with students in later years.
    • Think about learning time as well as contact hours: ensure adequate contact time but do not set unrealistic expectations around learning time.
    • Asynchronous teaching does not mean passive teaching: build in activities for students to interact with materials, each other and the teacher.
    • Think about your student population and the needs of specific students: make your activities inclusive by design, identify appropriate role models and give explicit explanation of networks and peer support available (BME, Disabled Students’ Network).
    • Review Countdown to UCL/ Return to UCL and think how this can be supplemented with departmental/programme specific activities to create understanding of the department and a sense of community.
    • Consider setting up a Virtual Common Room using a platform already in use in the programme
    • Insert some fun/getting to know you activities, and use (or set up) your departmental society and reps. Remember PGT learners need a more tailored approach but are still new to UCL.
    • Careers, networking, and co-curricular activities are an important part of the UCL experience: consider how these can remain part of your planned activities.
    • Ensure tutors use photos in messaging and platforms and consider producing brief biogs/interesting things about me and encourage students to do the same.
    Key resources for creating an excellent learning experience

     


    Learner and staff support

    1. The programme or module Moodle site has been adapted to meet the new baseline to support engagement with on-line delivery including 100% electronic reading lists

    2. Communications (who, what and how) with students from pre- entry to induction have been considered and planned

    3. The support structures to ensure students have accessible academic and personal support while operating remotely have been established and communicated to staff and students

    4. There are  clearly defined and communicated roles and responsibilities for all  teaching support staff including PGTAs

    5. Relevant staff development has been initiated/completed.

    Top tips for how to ensure learners and staff are supported
    • Use a Moodle template, or design the Moodle site mindful of navigation from a student perspective.
    • Consider clarity and signposting, curation, and accessibility.
    • Start conversations early with session leads about core reading and ensure 100% is available on line.
    • Identify who is responsible for communicating to all students pre entry, at entry and at induction and align to central communications where possible.
    • Ensure clarity of roles and expectations for Teaching Administrators and PGTAs and communicate clearly to students.
    • Clarify responsibilities around following up all non-engagement to avoid academic failure, and ensure staff have time to proactively carry out these roles.
    • Create a countdown/welcome back message, or series of messages for new/returning students.
    • Review Countdown to UCL/ Return to UCL and ensure consistency of messaging.
    • Acknowledge this is not what they had hoped for but we will ensure it is a great start for all.
    • Consider how remote working may have affected your support structures.
    • Be explicit about the availability of support (office hours, how personal tutoring works, who to ask for what, how to access student reps, how to raise concerns) to students and staff.
    • Ensure the student evaluation questionnaire(s) is online and consider adding Unitu to your tools for getting and responding to feedback from students and reps.
    • Be mindful of the variation in access to resources and a suitable setting for learning of all students and ensure support of students with additional needs are considered proactively.
    • Expect Module Convenors, teaching staff, Lead Teaching Administrators & PGTAs to engage with support via the New ARENA staff development course Connected Learning Essentials, and the department Connected Learning lead, and the faculty’s Arena Teaching Fellow.
    Key resources to ensure learners and staff are supported

    The toolkit presented above can also be downloaded in two formats:

    Users should adopt whichever format that works best for them and their team.