Successfully launching tutorials into cyberspace

In response to the move to online teaching in Semester One 2020, new digital resources were developed to meet the needs of our introductory-level statistics students. One new resource Anna created was the tool “docactive” which facilitates the creation of interactive HTML5 documents that are embeddable within Canvas (our learning management system). Anna used docactive to develop interactive learning examples to replace face-to-face lectures, by combining short videos and “instant response” questions and explanations. After Anna shared docactive and these examples, I developed new activities for my students to supplement the existing course materials. We both received very positive feedback from our students and colleagues about the interactive learning resources.

We now wish to build on the success of these innovations to transform the poorly attended voluntary tutorials for our large introductory statistics course into successful online learning experiences for all students. Face-to-face tutorials are a core component of introductory-level science courses but in a course as large as ours (5500 students per year) the resources required to provide a face-to-face tutorial for all students make it impractical to achieve. This is where online tutorials come in! However, transforming the tutorials to “online tutorials” requires more than digitising the existing tutorials. We need to facilitate the kind of interactions and feedback provided in face-to-face tutorials.

We plan to develop online tutorial experiences that integrate “vicarious learning” videos where students watch tutors go through tutorial problems together, as students would. These videos will be accompanied by exercises for students to complete, built using “docactive” to give students instant feedback as they progress. The new online tutorials will provide self-paced resources that will allow students to take charge of their own learning and to engage with the tasks at a time and place that suits them.

I’m pretty excited that we have been granted a Faculty of Science Teaching and Learning Development Grant to support our work on this project in Semester Two of 2020. Watch this space for future updates!