A course approach to student learning and engagement will be taken. Course delivery approaches should be designed to engage students with their learning, with the physical campus, resources, and facilities on offer, through interactions with each other and with staff.
When preparing modules, there are some key points to consider to provide the best student experience:
- Think about how to make your module inclusive so that all students can engage and succeed. Note that this is more than making materials accessible.
- Consider how students can be involved in the design of your module and learning activities, and build ways for students to learn from each other into your learning activities.
- Build in formative assessment opportunities as a key way to engage students and monitor progress.
- Build in flexibility, both flexibility for students and the opportunity to adapt teaching based on feedback and observations.
- Ensure the module Blackboard site meets the threshold standards.
- Where possible, link outputs from modules to Academic Advising meetings. This might include a formative piece of work being used as the starting point for a discussion in a 1-1 meeting, or results from across the year informing an ‘end of year review’ discussion.
- Consider asking students to upload one of their assessments to Studiosity before they submit it. This service can provide useful feedback on their academic writing.
- Use the Start of Year course, module and organisation checklists to ensure that core preparation has been completed.
A useful model for thinking about teaching and learning activities for an applied university is Laurillard’s Conversational Framework (2012). This sets out six types of learning activity (Acquisition, Inquiry, Discussion, Practice, Collaboration, Production) and suggests that a balanced mix of several or all these different types is important for effective learning. The table below shows how some common teaching methods can be placed within the Framework.
|Teaching Activity||Student Activity||Learning Activity Types||Blended Learning Approaches|
|Lecture||Listening, reading, thinking, asking and responding to questions||Acquisition||Flipped learning
|Seminar/ Workshop/ Tutorial||Active development of knowledge through discussion, exploration, and collaboration||Inquiry
|Blended seminar model
|Studio/ Lab/ Practical||Development of practical skills||Practice
|Group Work||Working in groups to explore or create||Collaboration
The model can be applied to a variety of teaching contexts, and further adapted such as for blended delivery of Apprenticeships and Work-based Learning.
It is important to distinguish Blended and Flipped Learning from Online and Distance Learning. In Blended/Flipped, the face-to-face aspect of the teaching is fundamental, and technology is used to enhance rather than replace this, whereas with Online/Distance Learning all the teaching and learning is conducted remotely, usually through technology.
Blended Learning refers to teaching and learning experiences that combine material and activities conducted face-to-face with others that happen online.
Flipped Learning is the idea that the benefits of synchronous teaching sessions can be maximised by providing the ‘content’ for the topic in advance (e.g. a video, reading, audio recording, etc.) and then using the live session to go into more detail and/or apply the new information. The name comes from ‘flipping’ the traditional ‘classwork->homework’ model around to ‘homework->classwork.’ While not necessarily the case, Flipped Learning often uses a Blended approach with the pre-session content and activities taking place online and the actual session being face-to-face.
Examples of Blended Approaches to Teaching
Information about different Blended Learning approaches that align to Laurillard’s Framework is available and includes details of practicalities such as technology available to support each approach, recommended settings for relevant software, and how to get the best results from each approach.
A case study from Deanna Taylor explains how her team developed their module to support remote delivery elements and how they implemented their ideas in Blackboard.
The design and delivery of a programme of learning can unintentionally present a range of barriers to learning or assessment that affect some students more than others and can result in students being unfairly disadvantaged.
Inclusive Practice aims to minimise or remove these barriers and support the success of all students whilst ensuring that academic standards are not compromised. An inclusive environment for learning anticipates the varied needs of learners and aims to ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities through inclusive design. Additionally, an inclusive environment also values diversity of ideas and experiences and encourages and supports all students to participate and have their voices heard.
Designing Inclusive Activities and Materials
It is important to consider the inclusivity of blended sessions to enable all students to participate as fully as possible. Inclusivity is related to accessibility, but also includes less technical aspects that might encourage or discourage participation, such as time zones, making recordings available, tool choice, etc. Reasonable adjustments to sessions should be made to maximise inclusivity, including both the delivery and interaction methods and mechanisms used, the tools used to support learning, and the content itself.
When designing activities and materials, thinking about any barriers to engagement is essential. These potential barriers can take many forms, for example:
- a discussion activity might present a barrier to students with hearing difficulties;
- animation-based materials may be a problem for students with visual impairments;
- using particular technology and tools can prevent students without access to those technologies and tools from engaging;
- techniques that require students to challenge the lecturer and each other, such as role playing and “playing Devil’s Advocate”, may make some students uncomfortable due to their cultural upbringing; and,
- language may present difficulties for students, such as by making references that international students may not understand or using names and situations in materials that do not reflect the diversity of the student body.
Thinking about potential barriers to engagement for students at the design stage will reduce the chances of issues appearing during delivery. The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team in Academic Development and Diversity have a range of guidance on Inclusive Practice, including guidelines for designing inclusive materials, while the Digital Learning Team have produced guidance on Digital Accessibility to help make the use of technology in teaching more inclusive.
Further information on creating accessible materials is available on the Digital Accessibility SharePoint site. For materials in Blackboard, the built-in Ally accessibility checker will analyse each item and provide suggestions on how to improve their accessibility
Building in Flexibility
While the delivery should be initially designed to offer the most effective on campus learning experience, flexibility in both delivery and the ways in which students can engage with their learning is an important aspect of making teaching inclusive. There are many ways in which flexibility can be increased, including:
- providing online materials and activities that students can access at a time and place that suits them;
- publishing recordings of all new taught material;
- ensuring that, should students need to, they can participate in some sessions and activities in person and others online;
- incorporating different types of activity to boost inclusivity and allow the students to engage with what is most appropriate to their needs and requirements; and,
- offering student choice through a range of equivalent, alternative assessments.
The suitability of different approaches to adding flexibility will depend on the context of the discipline, the style of teaching and learning, external body requirements, and the specific requirements of the students. However, in most cases, there will be practical ways to increase the overall flexibility of the teaching experience.
Providing early opportunities for students to develop and use study skills is an important way to help them realise their potential as it gives them time to address any areas of concern before they can have a significant effect on attainment. Support for students in developing study skills is available from the Library’s Skills Centre and students can be directed to the materials and opportunities on offer as part of feedback.
The Skills Centre offers a range of opportunities to support the development of academic study skills through webinars, one to one appointments, peer learning opportunities, and a range of online self-help resources, including study guides and screencasts. Students can start with a Skills Check, work through an Essential eLearning Module, and identify further areas to develop; such as Critical Writing, Structuring Assignments and Writing your Dissertation. A service to support students with their use and understanding of maths and statistics is also available.
The Placement Action Team continues to liaise with colleagues across Hallam to ensure flexible safe and meaningful placements.
- The Sandwich Placement Flexibility Guide provides course teams with clarity of the broader university offer to support students and employers to engage with sandwich placements along with suggestions of more flexible ways students can fulfil sandwich placement requirements.
- Principles to enable effective delivery and support for short placement and work experience modules have been updated.
- A new student-facing web site ‘Your Work Placement’ supports students as they search for, secure, and complete a placement.
- New student-facing Short Placement online sessions to help students get the most out of their short placements.
The Laurillard learning activities outlined above provide an adaptable framework for SHU’s diverse portfolio of subjects and courses. Use the framework as a planning and design tool and be creative. See how the approach can be adapted for the Blended Delivery of Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning.