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Short Guide 1: Starting Well

pad of paper with a pen next to a silver and black laptop

Starting Well

Short Guide #1, June 2020

1. To Synch or Not to Synch

Right now there are a lot of decisions to make regarding how to design teaching to enhance student learning for the coming semester. One way of narrowing down these options is to consider when pre-recorded (asynchronous) or live (synchronous) delivery is better.  This Starting Well short guide will provide you with some prompts to help you in making these decisions and also pinpoint the digital tools supported by UCC.

Asynchronous learning can increase the cognitive dimension of learning by giving time and space for deeper thinking, processing of information and reflection. Synchronous learning can enhance learner motivation and builds on the social constructivist theories of learning where understanding results from social mediation and shared creation of understanding.

2. Learning Design

Critical questions to ask:
- what mode will enhance student learning in my module or programme?
- what mode is accessible to all my students?

For this first question, return to your module and programme Learning Outcomes and look at your list of verbs. How can the teaching activities be reimagined to enable students to achieve these learning outcomes? Of these activities, which would work better as live activities and which could be organised in a different way?

The following image shows the digital tools supported by UCC (at the centre), recommended tools (next circle out) and recognised tools (final circle). These are organised into the six different ‘Learning Types’ which Diana Laurillard identifies as highly effective learner activities in her ‘Conversational Framework. This wheel identifies tools that may map to the learner activities you already have built into your teaching or perhaps you may consider including in the future.

3. Bandwidth versus Immediacy

For the second question you might consider Daniel’s Standford bandwidth vs immediacy matrix. For students with great technology at home, good bandwidth and no specific learning support needs, all digital tools are possible.

For students without these, learning can be really frustrating.

Immediacy relates to how quickly students are expected to respond, and we have become used to great immediacy in face-to-face teaching.

When we map bandwidth vs immediacy and consider different delivery modes, we see that video conferencing sits in the high bandwidth and high immediacy quadrant.

Other delivery modes such as collaborative documents, discussion boards, etc may be just as effective in enhancing student engagement but do not require good bandwidth.

Reflect on how your students engaged with you for the past semester. This may suggest what mode would work best in the coming year and what activity.

Preparing for September

This section includes reflections from staff across the University on what worked well in the past and what they are planning in their future teaching:

“While reviewing a postgraduate module which will run in semester one, I am considering which Learning Outcomes can be best achieved through synchronous and non-synchronous modes. I am then considering which learner activities will support the students acquisition of these learning outcomes. The module utilises a flipped classroom format with students engaging in pre-reading before coming to class. The class-based sessions are highly discursive and interactive so I am looking at what collaborative tools could be used to support student learning such as MS Teams and Google JamBoard.

The module also involves field-based learning where students carry out a particular research approach in a community setting. Given the current community partner, ‘Green Spaces for Public Health’, I may look at synchronous engagement modes for this part of the module and perhaps even socially distant modes of in-person engagement. There is a lot to consider, but narrowing down some of my choices at the outset makes this easier”.

Catherine O’Mahony, CIRTL, PG6025 module

Training and Support

Getting Started webpage

This webpage introduces both academic and professional staff to the first steps in preparing to teach (and support teaching) remotely in September. Guidance is provided on how to teach remotely, the importance of Canvas, what tools to use and when, and signposting you to the relevant training and resources available in this regard.

Teach Digi Summer Training

Learn from academic and instructional designer Dr. Sarah Thelen as she delivers weekly asynchronous recordings structured around Think, Plan, and Teach and supported by Live Q&As. A great entry point for those who have their curriculum and learning activities already prepared.

Canvas training

Do you want to learn how to use UCC's virtual learning environment more effectively? Look no further. Sophie Gahan of the CDE is delivering weekly Canvas training over the summer.

CIRTL Learning Design workshops

Are you thinking about how you will teach in September, January, and beyond? The Learning Design workshop guides you through some collaborative structured exercises to provide a robust framework for curriculum and learning design. Patrick Kiely of CIRTL will host these workshops throughout the summer.

AVMS Guide to online video and collaboration

Panopto is not just about lecture capture you know? MS Teams is not just for meetings. Get oriented to the full capability of the UCC's video tools. A great starting point before pressing the record button!

ITS Teaching and Working remotely (tools)

Microsoft Office 365, Google Suite for Education, and everything else. A great resource for those who want to review and learn about all of the tools we have available in UCC. 

UCC Skills Centre

Supporting students through the closure and now a comprehensive resource for September and beyond. See where you can direct your students to help them reach their potential.

Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL)

West Lodge, Main Campus,