Online Teaching

This page has been redesigned in response to the Needs Assessment Survey for SHE Academics which closed 16 April. We wanted to provide a quick response, addressing the main issues you raised, by drawing your attention to the resources that already exist, or have recently been prepared in response to the survey results. We understand that this is only a beginning, and will continue to circulate updates on resources as they become available. A good way to keep abreast of L&T updates is to subscribe to this blog (but you may find email notifications go to Clutter: to fix this right-click on one and select ‘move to inbox’).

We encourage you to provide feedback on these resources, so that we know which are useful, and so that they can be further developed and supplemented. Please send feedback to C.Bridge@latrobe.edu.au or B.Thompson@latrobe.edu.au.

Part A: Issues of concern

Student engagement

Many of you expressed concerns about student engagement, either in general, specifically in synchronous sessions, or simply not being able to gauge it. We hope that the interviews we recorded with Dilhani Premaratna (Animal, Plant & Soil Sciences), David Hoxley (Physics) and Megan Bugden (Public Health), who have all had success with online student engagement, will give you some ideas in this regard. Furthermore, Carmel Abrahams (Chemistry) demonstrates her approach to maintaining ‘teacher presence’ in the online environment, and Susan McLeod (Dietetics & Human Nutrition) draws some lessons from her experience of teaching in a fully online course.

We also urge you to take a look at the new H5P suite of activities in the LMS, an easy-to-use way of making asynchronous online content more interactive. Stuart James provides a great example of how he, Deanna Horvath and Amy Larsen (Anatomy, Physiology & Microbiology) are using it in their Human Biosciences subject. Chris Bridge (SHE L&T) steps you through how to use one of the most promising features of H5P, the interactive video, in this series of short videos.

Dan Laurence (LTLT) is also leading a group of early La Trobe adopters in using Perusall, a way of tying self-study to interaction via a chat function, all embedded in the LMS. Mitra Jazayeri (Statistics) describes how she uses it in her Statistics for Psychology subject.

Student engagement in synchronous online sessions can also be enhanced by including a fun quiz, or through the use of polling software, such as Dan Laurence (again), Jarrod Church and Tom Samiric (Physiology, Anatomy & Microbiology) describe in their Subject Week workshop.

Student well-being

Tania Blanksby’s STAR team has put together these slides addressing student well-being in this time of crisis. LTLT is also presenting a series of Student well-being workshops in the near future.

Labs and practicals

Many of you have also expressed concerns with what is going to happen with content that cannot be replicated online, namely clinical or therapy practicals, laboratory skills development, and placements or other professional activities. You are advised to take up your concerns with your School Director of Learning and Teaching. Arrangements are already being made for catch-up classes and activities later in the year in a number of cases.

Technical issues

Finally there is the issue of technical problems. If you are experiencing poor internet connectivity, speak to your Head of Department. It is possible to order a wireless dongle through the Ask ICT help-desk. If your students are experiencing poor internet connectivity the best advice is to ensure that you always provide an asynchronous equivalent of live video sessions, e.g. downloadable recordings of a synchronous sessions are typically well-received by students (click here for information about getting your students’ permission to record). Please note that videos placed in DORIS are downloadable. Alternatively, La Trobe now has a Microsoft Stream account. MS Stream is a video-sharing site which provides adaptive bit-rate streaming (i.e. the video resolution automatically adjusts to match the available bandwidth and playback device of the user). A handy one-pager on MS Stream is available from this blog post. Please note, however, that MS Stream is available on an early adopter basis, and is not supported by Ed Tech at this stage.

Part B: Help categories listed in the survey

Using LMS features (e.g. forums, gradebook)

For assistance in using LMS features, we recommend you book an online consultation with Ed Tech or Ed Design.

Facilitating online workshops (including breakout rooms)

Dee Horvath (Life Sciences) and Emma Stirling (Allied Health) have created some excellent how-to videos on teaching online with Zoom, including how to deliver workshops online (including breakout rooms) and how to deliver lectures online (including polling). Stuart James (Life Sciences) details how to pre-assign students to break-out rooms in this video. Megan Bugden (Public Health) has some tips on how to get break-out rooms buzzing. Finally, Zhen He has created this video resource on how he facilitates Computer Science labs using Microsoft Teams.

Moving from synchronous to asynchronous delivery

Moving from face-to-face to online delivery clearly means a lot more than simply trying to replicate on-campus activities on Zoom. Stuart James (Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology) provides this excellent example of what a ‘lecture’ can look like online using the new H5P interactive content capability in the LMS. Andrew Martchenko (formerly of Engineering) found students prefered asynchronous online tutorials over face-to-face workshops in this interview. LTLT has also developed a couple of resources in response to the move online: Moving to teach online and COVID-19 strategies for managing your subject.

Pre-recording lectures or demonstrations

For ideas on best practice in pre-recorded lectures, have a look at this snippet from a video lecture by Carolyn Bell (Microbiology). Carolyn’s lab videos are also excellent. If you need help in arranging special access to labs to film demonstrations, please contact C.Bridge@latrobe.edu.au.

Using specific software

If you need assistance in using supported software (Zoom, Echo 360, the LMS, Camtasia, H5P, PebblePad, DORIS and Turnitin), please book an online consultation with Ed Tech or Ed Design. For teaching with MS Teams, some useful resources have been pooled together here. For questions relating to Perusall or polling software, try D.Laurence@latrobe.edu.au.

Moving assessment online

For assistance with moving assessment online, a collection of resources that SHE staff have found useful is available on this blog post. LTLT has also prepared a set of case studies. The recording of a workshop by David Scrimgeour (LTLT) addressing this issue is also available.

Identifying alternatives to invigilated face to face exams

Katherine Seaton (Maths & Stats) talks about the issues involved with finding an online alternative to invigilated exams in this interview. Katherine’s discussion paper on online exams is also available at the same location. Robert Ross (Engineering) describes one way his department is approaching the issue of online exams. Some practical, discipline-specific literature on writing higher-order multiple choice questions is being collated on this page.

Using hardware borrowed from SHE technology library (e.g., tablets, video cameras)

If you have questions related to teaching with a tablet, why not join the community of practice? Otherwise, for issues relating to SHE technology library hardware, please feel free to contact C.Bridge@latrobe.edu.au.

Identifying resources to help with work-life balance

HR’s resource on Psychological Health and Safety includes an update on Managing your Mental Health during the COVID-19 crisis. Steph Ryan (SHE College HR Business Partner) has also recommended the following resource COVID-19 information for staff as well as a couple of articles, one from Inside Higher Ed and one from Nature. You may also be interested in listening to David Hoxley’s (Physics) personal reflection on his experience of the COVID-19 crisis as a teaching academic, in the second video on this blog post.

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