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Distance teaching at Nat and Tech

Self-paced course: Teaching Online

Teaching Online is an online course in Blackboard that provides concrete examples and guides on how online teaching and examinations can be organized – including independent online study, dialogue, feedback, lectures, small-class teaching, supervision, and more. You follow the course as an independent study, and go through the materials and activities as needed.  

Get started now:

  1. Log on to Blackboard as usual.
  2. Access the course page via this link.
  3. "Enrol" in the lower-left corner.

Workshops

ST Learning Lab offers workshops where we provide inspiration and advice for your online teaching and examination. If you want an online workshop for a selected group of educators, you can send us an email at medialab@stll.au.dk, and together we will find the most suitable time for and focus of the workshop.

We have put together some suggestions on how some of the most commonly used teaching techniques at Nat and Tech can be held through online activities.

For each type of teaching, we have described how this teaching is usually held by face-to-face teaching, followed by suggestions on how the teaching can be carried out through various online activities. Some forms of teaching can be held in several ways. These are listed after increased complexity.

Lectures

Teaching with physical attendance:

The educator communicates the syllabus using a whiteboard, PowerPoint presentation, and the like in an auditorium to a large group of students. Communication from lecturer to students is usually the main element. Still, interaction between students and lecturer as well as between students and students can be made possible by technologies such as Mentimeter, clickers, and more to support students’ understanding of the syllabus.

Alternative teaching:

In the case of presenting parts of the syllabus that are already covered in textbooks, articles, video material, or the like, you may consider completely replacing the lectures with a thorough reading guide. The reading guide should guide students thoroughly through the materials, using an explicit description of what to read, why, explanation of contexts, and so on. That is everything that you would convey to the students about the syllabus.

However, some parts of the syllabus are easier communicated through video. This can be done either synchronously using Zoom (NB: remember to record the lecture for safety) or asynchronously using screencasting or a home-made video. Screencasting is to record a video of your screen, including audio and webcam. You can read more about it here. The video can then be shared on Blackboard via the Kaltura tool, or Media Lab can assist with sharing via Nat-Tech's video channel on Vimeo (see the video on how) and subsequently be published by embedding it on Blackboard. We recommend that you divide your lecture into smaller videos of maximum 15 minutes of consideration for bandwidth and the viewers' ability to stay focused. A home-made video can be an excellent substitute for reviewing a topic on a whiteboard, for example with formulas or text. Find examples here.

If you are used to carrying out interactive lectures with Mentimeter, it can work just as well with Zoom. With asynchronous lectures, you can insert quizzes in or between videos. Read more about how to put quizzes in videos in Blackboard.

In some cases, it may be necessary to record lectures in an auditorium or webcast studio. Since the campus is closed down, this solution is only recommended if it is the last resort. In that case, you can request Media Lab's assistance as described below.


Procedure for booking af lecture capturing-assistance

Educators who have a very good reason to be admitted into an auditorium for lecture capturing – i.e. who cannot communicate their teaching using other video technologies such as screencasts, Zoom, and the like – should contact Media Lab no later than 15:00 the day before to arrange pick up of equipment at Media Lab at Navitas between 9:00-10:00. Here you will get a brief introduction to the use of the equipment. At the same time, you will need to agree on how the recordings will subsequently be handled. In case all equipment is out on loan, we will inform you when it is available again.

The equipment must be returned as soon as possible for the sake of other educators. Preferably the same day at 15:30 or the morning after. If a lot needs to be recorded, you can borrow it for an extended period.

Camera and/or SD cards are returned to Media Lab either in the morning between 9:00 and 10:00 or in the afternoon (15:00-16:00), after which Media Lab will assist with uploading the recordings. In principle, editing of the videos is not possible unless it is strictly necessary (which will delay publication) and only with minimal adjustments to the start and end sequence.

In some cases, an assisted recording will be possible – i.e. where a video producer is shooting. However, this can only be done by booking sufficiently ahead of time and to the extent that a producer is available.

 

Theoretical Exercises (TØ) | Small-class teaching

Teaching with physical attendance:

The students complete assignments before or during the class: Subsequently they share and discuss their suggested solutions in class, for example, by going over the answers on the whiteboard.    

Alternative teaching:

STEP 1 (Support for independent study):

  • Take a closer look at your weekly schedules and/or descriptions of assignments in Blackboard. Is it completely clear to the students which tasks are to be solved, which tasks are the most important, the most difficult, etc. If necessary, adjust the descriptions so they still make sense without oral instructions to make it clear which tasks are most important or difficult. For the difficult tasks, it can be a good idea to add hints to the solution as many students may otherwise not be able to perform the assignment.
  • The students are encouraged to solve the tasks and present the solution to themselves (or others) as if they were to explain it to the class during the theoretical exercises. Remember to encourage students to work together in online study groups.
  • Suggested solutions or grading instructions from the educator are made available via Blackboard, so the students can compare their work. The Suggested solutions or grading instructions can be released at the end of the week, and perhaps only available for a limited period of time. Students are encouraged to correct their own submission.
  • The educator video-record the suggested solutions which are then shared on Blackboard. The video is recorded from above and displays the calculations made on paper, or recorded as a screen capture. You can view a video instruction here. In both cases, the educator explains how to solve the assignment, as you would do in an ordinary teaching situation.

STEP 2 (digital support for dialogue):

  • Allow the students to ask questions to the educator or their usual student instructor. By using a discussion forum on Blackboard as a Q&A or a homework café (see below), the students can view one another’s questions and the educators’ answers. Perhaps they can even help answer each other’s questions. Discussion forums in Blackboard can be set up to allow questions to be asked anonymously so that students are not afraid to ask “stupid” questions.
  • If necessary, create a discussion forum for each TØ team, to keep it more manageable and to maintain the personal contact between students and student instructor.
  • If necessary, allocate the usual meeting time for the instructor to answer the questions live. You can do this in a discussion forum. You can also consider using Zoom, where you have the option of using either a chat function or a video conference so that the educator and students can talk to one another.
  • Encourage the students to share which topics or assignments they found the most difficult. This can be supported in a discussion forum (where they can write anonymously) or by a Mentimeter vote. You can share the Mentimeter code in the weekly schedule or send it out using Blackboard’s email or announcement tool. Ensure the voting “Audience paced” and enter the direct link to the vote (the digital code expires after two days, but can be extended to seven or 14) in the settings for the students to be able to respond at all times – i.e. asynchronously.

STEP 3 (digital support for feedback)

  • Students solve assignments digitally/make small videos, where they take pictures of their written suggested solutions/assignments.
  • The students are encouraged to collaborate online on solving tasks. These can then be used in one of the following ways: The assignment will be answered after which the students and the student instructor/educator will meet synchronously online at the same period they usually meet in-class via
    • Blackboard discussion forum – one for each TØ group
    • Zoom chat function 
    • Zoom meeting with the option of creating breakouts rooms to support group work – also for those who may not have found a study group themselves
  • Suggested solutions are submitted online as assignments, which are subsequently corrected by the student instructor/educator
  • Proposed solutions are shared in a discussion forum, after which the students comment on their fellow students’ proposed solutions. 
    • The discussion forum can be set up so that you can only see the other students’ answers after you have submitted your solution. 
    • The educator can encourage or require the students to comment on a certain number of suggested solutions.
    • The instructor’s solution can be uploaded as a thread/answer so that students must state their answer before they can view the explanation of the instructor.
  • Proposed solutions are shared in a peer assessment tool in Blackboard, e.g. Peergrade or Peer Assessment where the students provide feedback on the proposed solutions of their peers (and possibly own) 
    • General feedback (without specific focus points)
    • Specific feedback (concerning the specific focus of attention, for example, is the intermediate results included/are the results explained/are the units correct)
    • Specific feedback based on a rubric (i.e., specific criteria with different objectives)

Seminar | Article review

Teaching with physical attendance:

The students read scholarly articles before their in-class teaching. Before or during the in-class teaching, they work with the article in one or more ways, e.g. answers questions/discusses/asks questions about the article/compares articles/presents the article/oppose/writes a summary/extracts methods, data, analyses, or results.

Alternative teaching:

STEP 1 (Support for independent study):

  • Take a closer look at your weekly schedules and/or activities and assignments in Blackboard. Is it completely evident what needs to be emphasised in the article, and what tasks and activities the students have to do? If necessary, adjust the descriptions, so they still make sense without oral instructions.
  • The students are encouraged to solve the tasks and present the solution to themselves (or others) as if they were to explain it to the class during the in-class teaching. Remember to encourage students to work together in online study groups.
  • Summary or a solution from the educator is made available via Blackboard so that the students can compare their work. The suggested solutions can be released at the end of the week, and perhaps only available for a limited period. Students are encouraged to adjust or correct their submission subsequently.
  • The educator records a video with the suggested solutions, which is then shared on Blackboard. 

STEP 2 (digital support for dialogue):

  • Provide the students with the opportunity to ask questions to the educator or their student instructor. By using a discussion forum on Blackboard as a Q&A or a homework café (see below), the students can view one another’s questions and the educators’ answers. Perhaps they can even help answer each other’s questions.
  • If necessary, create a discussion forum for each TØ team, to keep it more manageable and to maintain the personal contact between students and student instructor.
  • If necessary, allocate the usual meeting time for the instructor to answer the questions live. You can do this in a discussion forum. You can also consider using Zoom, where you have the option of using either the chat function or hold a video conference so that the educator and students can talk to one another.
  • Encourage the students to share which topics of the article they found the most difficult. This can be supported in a discussion forum (where they can write anonymously) or by a Mentimeter vote. You can share the Mentimeter code in the weekly schedule or send it out using Blackboard’s email or announcement tool. Ensure the voting “Audience paced” and enter the direct link to the vote (the digital code expires after two days, but can be extended to seven or 14) in the settings for the students to be able to respond at all times – i.e. asynchronously.

STEP 3 (digital support for feedback):

  • Students hand in their papers about the articles they have read. The students can submit written assignments or short videos, and they can submit them individually or as a group. The students are encouraged to collaborate online on solving tasks. The suggested solutions can then be used in one of the following ways:
    • suggested solutions/videos are shared in a discussion forum, after which the students can comment on their peers’ proposed solutions. 
      • The discussion forum can be set up so that you can only see the other students ‘ answers after you have submitted your solution. 
      • The educator can encourage or require the students to comment on a certain number of suggested solutions.
    • suggested solutions/videos are submitted online as assignments, which are subsequently corrected/commented on by the student instructor/educator
    • The assignment will be solved after which the students and the student instructors/educator will meet synchronously online to discuss their answers. This can be done during regular teaching hours via
      • Blackboard discussion forum – one for each TØ group
      • Zoom chat function 
      • Zoom meeting with the option of creating breakouts rooms to support group work – also for those who may not have found a study group themselves
  • Proposed solutions are shared in a peer assessment tool in Blackboard like e.g. Peergrade or Peer Assessment where the students provide feedback on the proposed solutions of their peers  
    • General feedback (without specific focus points)
    • Specific feedback (concerning specific focus points, for example, is the main points of the article clearly described/is the article put into perspective in relation to the previous weeks’ articles, etc.)
    • Specific feedback based on a rubric (i.e., specific criteria with different objectives)

Project supervision

Teaching face-to-face: 

Supervision of (a group) students working on a project in connection with their teaching or exams. 

Alternative organisation 

STEP 1 (one-way communication):

  • Mass communication. Consider which information you usually provide the students with orally during the process. If you have any information you have provided to all students/groups, this information can be sent out as an email or communicated via Blackboard. You can also consider creating a video where you describe the information and share the video on Blackboard.
  • Short presentations If you usually give presentations on specific topics that are relevant to all students, this can be communicated on Blackboard via links to related texts, Youtube videos, videos you produce, or something similar. 

STEP 2 (digital support for dialogue):

  • Ongoing questions. Provide the students with the opportunity to ask questions to their supervisor. By using a discussion forum on Blackboard as a Q&A or a homework café (see below), the students can view one another’s questions and the educators’ answers. Perhaps they can even help answer each other’s questions.
  • Question time. Use the usual meet-up period for live questions for the supervisor. You can do this in a discussion forum on Blackboard or via Skype. On Skype, you can use the chat function or run a video conference, so that the educator and students can discuss. 
  • Online supervision meetings. In Skype, you can meet with more students at the same time, and it is possible to share both files and desktop view while discussing. Through desktop sharing, the students can display data, analyse texts, slides, and videos during the meeting and receive feedback and/or peer feedback. 

STEP 3 (digital feedback):

  • The students hand in their intermediate product online via assignments on Blackboard. Ask the students to start their hand-in with a text that presents their work, how far they are in the process, and on what they want feedback. With the assignment tool, the educator can provide feedback online.
  • If the students submit their answers as an attachment to a blog post in a group blog on Blackboard, the students can read and comment on one another’s intermediate products.
  • The students can create a video where they present their process, product, problems, project plan, etc. The video is shared in a blog on Blackboard. The educator and/or peers can provide feedback.

Group work without a supervisor

You should encourage your students to collaborate online, both synchronously and asynchronously via any relevant media. When giving each other feedback, this can be done both orally and in writing. Oral feedback can be provided and shared both as audio and video.

Laboratory exercises (TØ)

Teaching with physical attendance:

The students prepare for the laboratory exercises by reading a manual and possibly planning experiments, in the laboratory they carrying out the experiments, and subsequently process the data and writing their report.

Alternative teaching:

An essential learning outcome of laboratory exercises is to learn to work in a laboratory and to train the artisanal skills. It is difficult or perhaps even impossible to replace digitally. Instead, there is an excellent opportunity to focus on other aspects of laboratory teaching, e.g., data analysis, critical thinking in relation to data, report writing, method comprehension, etc.

Consider whether the students can take a closer look at one of the exercises you might not be able to do:  

EXAMPLE 1: Focus on experimental design

The students can work on describing the experimental design and possibly explain the underlying theory and method. 

  • They can, for example, make a flowchart of the exercise, calculate which solutions and concentrations are to be used, predict what results they will get, etc. 
  • You can create a question sheet with questions about both theory and method, which they can answer. 

Digital support:

  • If the submissions are uploaded as assignments via the Blackboard assignment tool, the lecturer can provide feedback. 
  • If the submissions are uploaded as a blog post on Blackboard, the student and/or educator can read and provide feedback by writing comments.
  • Online help:
    • Ongoing questions. Provide the students with the opportunity to ask questions to their educator. By using a discussion forum on Blackboard as a Q&A or a homework café (see below), the students can view one another’s questions and the educators’ answers. Perhaps they can even help answer each other’s questions.
    • Question time. Use the usual meet-up period for live questions for the supervisor. You can do this in a discussion forum on Blackboard or via Skype. On Skype, you can use the chat function or run a video conference, so that the educator and students can discuss. 
    • Online supervision meetings. In Skype, you can meet with more students at the same time, and it is possible to share both files and desktop view while discussing. Through desktop sharing, the students can display data, analyse texts, slides, and videos during the meeting and receive feedback and/or peer feedback. 

EXAMPLE 2: Focus on data analysis

  • Can you hand out data previously acquired by other students in the same exercise? If this is the case, the students will be able to make all calculations etc. and write the report. This will provide the students with an understanding of both concept and theory, data analysis, and academic writing.
  • You may be able to hand in more datasheet, and the students can choose whichever they think is the best one. Of course, they must explain why they believe the selected sheet is best. This will make it necessary to consider, e.g., insecurity and they are trained in how to assess data.

Digital support:

  • If you need to know the method/experiment to understand the data, you can try to find a video (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo), which demonstrates the method and share it via a link on the course page.
  • The report must be submitted on Blackboard as an assignment or blog entry.
  • You can offer help and guidance.

EXAMPLE 3: Focus on writing reports

If you have been forced to drop one or more exercises, you can take a closer look at a report they have made recently. 

Perhaps they can read another group’s report and give feedback. Maybe they can correct their report based on grading instructions before the educator corrects it. By assessing peer’s or own reports, the students are trained to assess what makes a report suitable. 

Digital support:

  • The students can upload their report and provide feedback to one another in Peergrade.
  • The students share their reports in a blog in Blackboard and provide feedback as comments on blog posts. It can be a good idea to prepare grading instructions with the criteria that you think the students should use. 

EXAMPLE 4: Focus on methods of understanding

Are there any methods in the experiments you need to ditch, which are particularly crucial that the students know well? If this is the case, you may be able to find a video on YouTube or similar that demonstrates this method. The video may be supplemented with literature on the theory behind the technique, for example, a reference to the textbook, descriptions from the manufacturers of equipment, or the like.

The students can subsequently work with the method in several ways. Here are some examples:

  • Suggest to the students that, after watching the video, they explain the technique aloud to themselves or a peer/group via phone or online.
  • Create questions about the method and the principles behind which the students must answer. You can share these questions on Blackboard. You can then provide them with your answer so they can compare them with their answers.

Digital support:

  • You can create a quiz to test whether the students have understood the principles behind the method. For example, you can do this by using Blackboard’s Test tool or Mentimeter.
  • The students can submit their explanations of the method or answer questions digitally. If you use Blackboard’s assignment tool, the educator can provide feedback. If you ask them to upload their answers in a blog post or Peergrade, they can read one another’s responses and provide feedback.

Homework café

Teaching with physical attendance:

Mostly a drop-in offer for students who are assigned to a specific course. At an allocated time and place, the educator is present to help the students with their questions. In some cases, there are dedicated time slots for individual exercise classes.

Alternative teaching:

The most straightforward compensation for this activity is to create a discussion forum (e.g. name it with the same title as the homework cafés), in which the students can ask questions in writing. As a rule, this solution is asynchronous; i.e. the educator and the students are not necessarily present at the same time.

  • Manning: The discussion forum can be staffed by several educators and questions will be answered on an ongoing basis. Remember to click “Subscribe to forum”, and you will be notified when a new question is asked. Consider whether there should be a separate discussion forum for each class, which is primarily moderated by the educator(s) that is usually present, to maintain the personal relationship.
  • The organisation of the forum: To make the discussions more manageable a forum can be set up for each week, and/or the educator can create separate threads that are broken down into topics, assignments, or the like. In this way, it will be easier for the student to discover if a fellow student has already asked an identical question they mean to ask. 
  • Involvement of peers: Remember also to encourage the students to answer one another’s questions. It is essential that the educator monitor and correct if misunderstandings emerge.

The more direct live dialogue between students and educators can be supported digitally in several ways:

  • Discussion forum: The discussion forum on Blackboard (described above) can be staffed within the period normally allocated to the activity. In this way, the educator can answer questions live, which makes it possible for both educators and students to be able to ask follow-up questions and to ensure that the student receives and understands the response. This means that misunderstandings can be avoided. One of the advantages of using a discussion forum is to ensure that questions and answers are dealt with so that other students can view them.
  • Chat forum: The live use of the discussion forum in Blackboard can be a bit cumbersome as the website must be updated continuously to view new questions and answers. This can be avoided by using a chat function, e.g. in Zoom. It is a good idea to man the chat forum during the period normally allocated to the activity. One drawback of using the chat function is that questions/answers cannot be easily revisited by the students.
  • Online meeting room: In Zoom and Skype, you can create meeting rooms where you can be available for the students at an allocated time. In Skype, you can meet with more students at the same time, and it is possible to share both files and desktop view while discussing. If there are several educators, you can share the work between yourself by taking one or more students into the “breakout rooms “.

Student motivation

Perhaps you have noticed that some of your students are not actively participating in your online teaching or not even logged into the online meeting room? If so, you are not alone. One of the biggest challenges with distance learning is that it is difficult for students to stay motivated and actively participate.

Below, you will find five recommendations to help students retain their motivation and encourage them to participate actively in the online teaching activities that you are planning.

1. Create structure in your teaching by providing clear instructions and dividing the teaching and assignments into smaller parts that feel more manageable to the students.

In distance learning, most of the material is depended on independent study and students are much more likely to be alone with this. Therefore, it can feel unmanageable to navigate the materials, do the assignments, and plan the work when the usual framework and daily support from classmates and educators are not readily available.

You can help by:

  • Clearly state what you expect the students to do. Communicate well in advance and set deadlines so students can plan their time.
  • Establish a routine every week to create predictability.
  • Divide the material into smaller parts that are manageable. For example, you can make short, subdivided topic presentations rather than one big. Break down difficult tasks into smaller sub-assignments or offer supervision during complex assignments.
  • Create a clear structure on the Blackboard course page so that the materials are easy to find. Subdivide the course in, for example, topics or weeks.
  • Clarify where students can find help. For example, you can link to resources or allow for them to ask questions in a message board in Blackboard or an online question session.
  • Continuously ask the students if the structure of the course is clear and easy to understand.

2. Plan the teaching, so there are several ways to participate actively and lay out how they participate actively.

Even though the students are accustomed to using digital media in their social lives, it can be daunting to have online talks about academic material with educators and classmates. Teaching can feel indifferent and disengaging.

You can help by:

  • Creating a lot of – non-hazardous – opportunities for students to participate actively and make sure the students speak up early and often. If you are using a message board, you can, for example, ask all students to create at least one post every week. If you use Zoom, you can ask them to turn on their webcam and greet them when the teaching starts. You can also use voting, comments, etc., so everyone can share their thoughts.
  • It can be intimidating to turn on the microphone and ask a question in a plenary session. Instead, use breakout rooms to create small discussion groups and ask the groups to formulate answers/questions in the chat, Mentimeter, or the like. In this way, more will be heard.
  • Continuously ask for input in the chat, Mentimeter, and the like and include it in the teaching. This makes the teaching feel more relevant.
  • Regularly ask the students about their experience of the teaching. If participation is low, examine why. 

3. Support collaboration between students by creating groups and making group assignments both during and between teaching sessions.

Study groups are crucial for motivation and learning – also in distance teaching. If a student does not already have a well-established study group, there is an increased risk that they feel even more alone with their studies when they are not meeting up with classmates on campus.

You can help by:

  • Set assignments to be performed in groups, and make sure to mix the groups differently from time to time to create new contacts. When the students meet with you in Zoom, you can use breakout rooms for group work. In Blackboard, you can create groups and set group assignments. In this way, you create obligatory collaboration. Suggest the groups to meet up online outside regular teaching schedule.
  • Use a message board for questions and answers, and encourage the students to answer one another’s questions as well. In this way, they practice helping each other.
  • Create assignments in which the students must give feedback to one another. For example, you can use Peergrade for written feedback, or you can do group feedback in Zoom.
  • Remember to set aside time for breaks and allow for small talk – for example in the breakout rooms in Zoom. You can use an ice-breaker question to start the conversation. 

4. Create more periodic deadlines and assignments, so you can keep an eye on and follow up on the students’ work.

When the inner motivation is lacking, it may help to have deadlines and to know that someone is waiting for you to deliver your input. For this reason, it is a good idea to make the students regularly share their work with you and one another. This will also give you an insight into their academic level and commitment. It can be very time-consuming, so it is essential to keep it manageable.

You can help by:

  • Register attendance in online activities in Zoom using, for example, Qwickly and in Blackboard by counting the number of posts and submissions using the grade centre. Contact the repeatedly absent students.
  • Make group work where individual work is brought into play, so it means something to be well-prepared.
  • Create small, easy-to-understand assignments with deadlines, for example, quizzes, both during and between teaching. Skim-read the answers and adjust your teaching if you discover topics that have not been understood.
  • Create individual and/or group assignments. Give feedback or organise peer feedback.
  • Send reminders to students who do not submit their assignments and contact the students who are lagging. 

5. Allow for personal meetings with each student and be proactive regarding the students who do not ask for help themselves.

The interaction with the educator may be decisive for the students’ involvement in the teaching. In distance learning, the contact does not happen by itself, and you cannot trust students to take the initiative. For this reason, you must be proactive with establishing and maintaining contact with the students.

You can help by:

  • Have one-to-one interaction with students or groups by, for example, creating groups in Blackboard so that you can send emails directly to the group. When students answer small assignments in Blackboard, you can use the opportunity to submit short comments to each student or group. In the case of teaching via Zoom, you can visit the groups during group work in breakout rooms. Remember also to visit the groups that are not asking for help.
  • Acknowledge and express that the situation is unusual and can be challenging for both you and your students. Ask about their challenges concerning the teaching and ask for input.
  • Make a targeted effort to identify and seek out students who do not participate or who have problems with their assignments. If possible, offer extra help, or refer them to find help other places, for example, at a homework café or from the Student Guidance and Information office.
  • Also refer the students to their local study portal where they can find relevant information and contact information. 

The implementation of total online teaching is unfamiliar to both educators and students. For this reason, refer your students to the Studypedia website, where they can find tips for online coursework.

Miscellaneous guides


Zoom guides


Blackboard guides