GOOD PRACTICE GUIDANCE
These practical tips help to ensure smooth running of classroom learning activities:
Note that a 'paper free' classroom may reduce students' ability to take notes on their devices simultaneously when taking part in learning activities; it may be worth encouraging students to use a traditional notebook to use alongside their device or to view resources on a second screen such as their smart-phone.
Whether students need to use pens, notebooks, phones or laptops – aim to have a back-up plan, it may be worth preparing:
- tweaks to the activity, to allow students to pair with others who do have the necessary equipment
- 'paper' alternatives to digital activities, such as a slide containing alternative instructions for students using their own notepaper.
It may be useful to contact your students in advance to let them know about the equipment they need for the planned learning activities, and remind them to charge devices before the session. Charging phones or laptops during classroom activities can cause significant session disruption!
Participating in seminars and working with other students is an important part of university study, which usually involves group discussion of material presented either in a live session or asynchronous learning resource. You may need to:
- Let students know about upcoming discussion activities, so they are able to prepare effectively.
- Signpost advice for students, to improve their skills and confidence to take part in discussion activities. Study support provides information to help students prepare for seminars, speak up in a group, deal with questions and improve speaking and listening skills.
- Provide questions on presentation slides or downloadable worksheet, to keep students on task. Indicate timings for the discussion (you may even display a timer).
- Ask students to nominate a person to deliver feedback on behalf of their group.
Discussion activities may need adjustment when considering:
- Room layout - if students are observing social distance they may speak at a louder volume than needed, resulting in overall increased class volume. You may need to remind students to speak clearly and at normal volume,
- Students who are wearing face-coverings - lip reading aids understanding (and may be relied upon by some students to participate), so take note and consider allowing a little extra time for students to communicate effectively.
- Students' feedback - take note to help inform your planning of activity length, frequency and structure.
In addition, see the university toolkits below containing ideas and design guidelines for a range of learning activities:
1.’Large Class Education Toolkit‘ provides strategies to improve the interactivity and inclusivity of learning activities for large lecture classes. However, the activities discussed are applicable to a variety of class sizes and spaces on-campus (where there is WiFi connectivity); for example, a lecture theatre, studio or lab. The toolkit is divided into sections, illustrating how much time you need to approximately spend to include these ideas into your next teaching session:
- 5-10 minutes extra preparation time per lecture: a few key tips. This section gives you quick ideas about how to reduce anonymity, to make a good start and finish, encourage engagement and improve accessibility amongst many other aspects.
- 30-60 minutes extra preparation time per lecture: ideas for some additional tools, which will help engage your students. These tools vary from low-key activities to technology-enhanced learning approaches. The very practical guide includes ideas such as the use of poling software, quizzes, social media, screencasts and case studies. Each case study has a “UoRChampion”, who is actively using the described approach.
2. Aligning space and pedagogy provides guidance on designing learning activities for specific seating configurations. In a face-to-face on campus teaching you may be in a lecture theatre, lab or other designated teaching room.
If looking for suggestions to adapt learning activities for different delivery modes, see these common learning activities translated into asynchronous, live online and live-person teaching scenarios. Note, you can find a full list of centrally supported learning technologies and a selection of approved third party tools on the Designing Learning Activities homepage.