My journey with online teaching

I began by recording my lectures at home using BB Flash. It was strange at first to just be talking into my computer with no audience, but I soon became used to it. At one of our team meetings another lecturer shared some research that showed students felt more connected to the learning experience when they could see the teacher during the recording. To include this I switched to recording via zoom and had my face in the corner of the video for the start and the end of the recording.

I missed using student collected data and receiving student input through the in-class interactives I usually use. To get around this I started sharing links for students to access the interactives and play the games or submit their thoughts. Where I required student data for an example used in a lecture I used data from a previous semester as an example so I could record the lecture, but I still provided the interactive and access to the data so that students could have the experience of being part of the data collection.

As the semester progressed I felt that students were missing out on a lot of the active learning they usually do in lectures. Even if I stopped in a recording and asked students to work out an answer to a question themselves, there was not much motivation for them to really do it and then I just went through the answers. I knew a lot of students would just be waiting to hear the answer. Anna showed me what she had developed for her students and I started to create online interactives to accompany the lecture recordings from Week 7 onward.

At first these online interactives were just an interactive version of the workbook with short videos of me going through the answers. As I gained more confidence with the system and I developed my ideas I was able to improve the online content so that the students were going through an exercise much more similar to how I would want them to do it in a lecture. I was linking to the interactives and to iNZight and then getting students to answer questions based on their own data. I made short teaching videos and then put in a section of “try this yourself” questions for students to immediately practice those skills. I included “reveal” boxes with explanations of the answers if students got stuck. By the end of the semester I think I had developed an excellent student learning resource.

I put a request on Canvas, with the link to the online resources, requesting feedback from students on how they found the new format and it was overwhelmingly positive. There was also a student who posted on Piazza recommending the interactive lectures to any students who had not yet seen them (especially relevant for those who were not watching my stream). 

Active learning is so important for students to develop their understanding and it is difficult to achieve this in an online environment. By incorporating interactive questions with the lecture recording I was able to encourage students to participate in their own learning and to practice skills as they were learning them.