Teaching online guidebook
|Site:||Flinders Learning Online|
|Topic:||FLO Staff Support|
|Book:||Teaching online guidebook|
|Printed by:||Guest user|
|Date:||Sunday, 24 September 2023, 12:32 PM|
Table of contents
- About this guidebook
- Online teaching team tools
- Be an active teacher
- Be socially present
- Communicate with students
- Assess and give feedback online
- Set out a module for online learning
- Monitor student activity in FLO
- Evaluate the topic (ongoing)
- Help and support
About this guidebook
If you decide to use this book in your topic create a hyperlink to it (URL) and hide it – this means that students won't be able to see it but users with a Teacher or Tutor role will.
Use this FLO book as your main reference point for teaching online. Revisit it to refresh your memory about your role as an online teacher.
Where relevant, a 'How to' section links you to technical instructions for the activity/tool you and your students will be using.
Learning and teaching principles
Digital learning guidelines
The digital learning guidelines are designed to provide guidance on how to design FLO topic sites so students experience a level of consistency in layout and structure and good practice to support teaching and student engagement. They outline good practice for digital learning at Flinders and are to be used as a guide for teaching staff.
FLO starter site
The FLO starter site is a semi-pre-configured ‘starting place’ and can be customised to work with the needs of a course or topic. It is designed to unify the layout and structure of topics across courses, disciplines and colleges and includes many of the components of the digital learning guidelines.
Online teaching team tools
The tip sheet - strategies to embed teaching team resources and promote teaching team communication within FLO outlines a number of options that you can use to enable teaching teams to have conversations, share ideas, share resources, problem solve, make decisions … whatever is required to facilitate the learning and teaching experience. strategies that you can used to embed teaching team resources and promote teaching team communication within FLO.
Be an active teacher
Active teaching is important whether you are teaching face to face or online. However, the online environment is more challenging as students can't interact with you in a physical space. (This is why social presence is key to teaching online.)
Active teaching supports the four characteristics of online learning: personal, structured, active, connective.
Use FLO to provide detailed instructions, including time on task and sufficient context and framing through curated resources. Tell the student why are you providing these resources, what they should be looking for as they engage with the material, how are the resources and activities going to help them achieve the learning outcomes.
Structure your teaching to use synchronous sessions for discussion, interaction and application of knowledge. Deliver content prior via short video/audio, and other curated resources. Make activities clearly related to the pre-work.
In your topic, you could use the module features 'Key ideas', 'What you need to do this module' and/or 'Recap the key points from last module' as a structure to support your teaching in the topic. These prompts will help you give students a consistent message about learning activities, and guide them to stay on task and actively engaged.
Explore your role
Roles for teachers provides ideas and approaches to teaching online. 'Meddler in the middle' is a role suggested for teachers, but whatever role you choose it is likely to change over the course of the topic – depending on student needs and the online activities you engage in with them.
Promote social learning
Students can and should learn from others, and there are plenty of tools to facilitate this in a FLO topic (see Tool options - communicate with students). So that students don't become isolated (and therefore at risk of attrition), encourage them to participate in the topic wherever and whenever they can. Relate their participation to assessment and how participation will support them. Thread it throughout your own participation in the topic. Teachers are social learners too!
Look for 'teachable moments' (a just-in-time approach)
By being socially present in the topic site, you will be able to notice what students need, when they need it.
- Is it obvious that students clearly don't understand a concept (this might be a threshold concept or muddy point)?
- Do a few students seem to have a similar issue/s?
You could use tools such as a forum to directly address these, or even make an announcement (which goes to student email). You might choose to add a resource (self created or link to an external one), or encourage students to find a resource and share with everyone. Your approach will depend on the situation, time factors and your teaching role in that moment. Be aware of student bandwidth and limitations in accessing online (eg if they live in China) when choosing/providing resources.
Listen to student feedback, monitor their progress, and use your learnings to 'shape' the topic from beginning to end, by making sense of what's happening 'behind the scenes'. This might mean providing a resource as a scaffold around a threshold concept or muddy point, or adding a section (eg extra activity) in a module that helps students to find/respond to materials more easily. Be timely – quick to respond to posts, queries, assessment etc.
Be aware of student access limitations and bandwidth, and ensure that they are not disadvantaged. You could:
- relax or remove activity restrictions or
- change assignment deadlines for impacted
students rather than waiting for extension requests
Evaluate the topic (ongoing)
By checking on student activity in the topic and using tools such as the Touchpoint survey, you can evaluate as you go. This approach is active and will provide quantitative and qualitative data for future topic development.
What active teaching looks like to a student
- Welcome and other teacher-created video/s
- Regular posts or post responses
- Prompt feedback on assignments
- Just-in-time resources and other support
- Participation (in the same activities as students)
- Listening (eg to feedback)
- Up-to-date and relevant resources (readings, videos etc)
Be socially present
A key purpose in teaching online is to create a teaching presence, and encourage students to create a student presence. Teaching presence + student presence = social presence, which:
- keeps students on track/task (high attrition in online topics/courses is common)
- helps students learn – through interacting with the teacher and other students
- fosters a sense of community.
Social presence is closely aligned with active teaching and supports social learning.
What social presence looks like to a student
- A photo of the teacher (and other students if they choose to)
- Information about teacher – background, teaching interests etc (and other students)
- Welcome, teacher/student expectations
- Accessible (teacher contact details)
- Friendly, personable, interested
- Visibly online (frequently, at key times) – announcements, forums, video
- Responsive ('just in time') to student needs
- Stimulating – through challenging questions, inquiry
- Constructive 'feed back' and 'feed forward' (for assignments)
- Supportive – guiding, encouraging, asking how they are going, being aware of their needs
Communicate with students
Communicating is a key aspect of social learning and social presence in the online environment, so make sure you are active in the tools that enable interaction between students and teachers.
When teaching online you need to clearly set out expectations in terms of communication and activity online – what you expect of your students, what they can expect of you (eg I will respond to questions on the discussion forum once a day) .
Another aspect of communication (and active teaching) is monitoring student activity in the topic. If a student is not engaging with the activities/resources, contact them to find out why. Your best approach is probably to email them, or send them a message in FLO (but if they are not logging into FLO this will not be effective). Your prompt and personal response will be appreciated by the student. At the same time, you may find out information that is useful for evaluating the topic.
Announcements are a way of generating social presence in your FLO topic. This is an opportunity to model forum etiquette for students – be clear, use a meaningful Subject heading, provide links or navigation to parts of the FLO site if relevant, be polite but friendly and be inclusive.
Look for the discussion forum icon and the link to the forum.
- An announcement is a forum for one-way communication only – teacher to students (students can't see the 'Add new topic' button). Any posts you make will appear in the Latest announcements block in the RH side of the topic screen.
- Announcements are handy for all important information (eg assessment reminders). Remind students to check their emails regularly: a copy of the announcement (and a link to any attachments) will be sent to their Flinders email account.
It will depend on your role in the topic as to what announcements you make (eg the topic coordinator will probably make announcements about grades being available).
See Discussion forums for two-way forums (teacher-student, student-teacher, student-student).
What you could say
You could post an announcement at the beginning of each module. (but make sure there is a purpose, and be aware that not all students will read them). If you do this consistently, students will come to expect it. It also means you are socially present in the topic. You could follow this format:
- 1st announcement for the topic – when students have access (1 week before teaching starts)
- Announcement every module (if teaching in weeks, at the beginning of the week, eg early Monday)
Try to keep your announcements succinct (they are a resource for students), but at the same time help them get to know you by being personal and friendly.
1st announcement ideas
One week prior to topic commencement:
- Welcome students to the topic, encourage them to explore the site (videos, key features)
- Refer students to topic information resources
- Promote social learning and encourage them to engage with you and other students – remind them of the tools available (eg General discussion forum)
- Provide (learning) tips on how to be successful in the topic
- Whatever else…
Module announcement ideas
- Prompt students to access readings, start tasks, or review material
- Remind students that assessment items are due soon
- Remind students to track their time (time on task)
- Encourage communication with you and other students
Discussion forums are a great way to create and encourage social presence between teacher and students (student/teacher, student/student). They are asynchronous, meaning that students and teachers can post at whatever time suits them.
Forums that don't relate to specific content are best located in one of the themed modules (see FLO starter site), for example an assessment forum in the assessment hub. Other forums may be located in the teaching modules for the topic and are specific to the content for that module. A forum/s may be assessed.
As with announcements, encourage students to respect cultural/other differences by using inclusive language and professional communication. Appropriate communication is a requirement for every workplace, so forums are an authentic activity.
General discussion forum
- Ask students how they are going with the videos/readings – note taking, understanding/learning content etc
- Encourage students to share learning techniques and tips
- Look for tips to improve the topic site/resources over time (eg next teaching semester)
- You could have a topic Q&A forum, answer commonly asked questions once so all students benefit
Task or subject-specific discussion forums
You can model the thinking you want to see in your students through your own forum posts.
- Use for teachable moments on topic content for the module
- Start with a trigger question to encourage participation
- What are the tricky concepts, the ones that are contestable, the misconceptions, the debates, the threshold concepts?
- Use a personal perspective and tap into something interesting/topical to provoke conversation. You could begin the discussion by posting something provocative yourself
- Discuss key ideas that will help students with their assessments
- Encourage students to practise ideas, be wrong, get feedback, voice an opinion (if not assessable)
- Invite or trigger discussion around a muddy point
- Start with a question or other prompt (eg 'This module we will look closely at…', 'What is your experience of…?', 'This forum focuses on…')
Provide a 'hook' – aim to make your forum posts enticing and relevant to students (from their point of view), and guide their posts in challenging directions.
Collaborate virtual classroom
Collaborate is a live (synchronous) collaborative space that provides the ability to chat, screen share, share audio and video, poll students, collaborate using a virtual whiteboard or group participants into small 'break-out' spaces. Collaborate is part of the FLO ecosystem.
To access, look for the Collaborate iconand link to the the Collaborate online space. In the FLO starter site Collaborate is in the top module.
When planning your session/s, consider the interaction you expect of your students. The more complex the interactions, the more likely you'll need to support your students to complete the task with clear instructions.
Tips for success
- Offer an informal Collaborate session first to ensure your students are familiar with the technology and are able to test their microphone and webcam (if required).
- Record the session for students unable to attend, or offer multiple sessions to allow flexibility for online students.
- Encourage students to access the Course Room at any time to communicate with others in the topic and experience social learning.
- Moderate the session yourself, or give students the role of Moderator (useful if they are presenting to participants).
- In some circumstances (eg large sessions, break-out rooms), it may be best to have multiple Moderators present to facilitate the online session. Multiple Moderators allow a presenter to concentrate on presenting while they monitor the chat, provide basic technical support to students etc.
Assess and give feedback online
Assessment is a key focus for students and therefore for activities and teaching in the topic. Refer to the sub-chapters for the assessment tool that supports these assessment types.
Support assessment activity
- Students will benefit from you sharing tips for effective study habits and encouraging them to share theirs (eg time management, chunking tasks). Whilst there is nothing like personal experience, you may want to refer students to the relevant study and writing guides provided by the Student Learning Support Service, or encourage them to share resources they find useful
- Be aware that some students may not be able to access external links depending on their location, so this will need to be factored into resources provided (eg provide alternatives)
- Use announcements, forums and other communication tools to support (scaffold) student preparation of assignments and other assessment tasks
Mark assessment items
How you mark the assessment will depend on the assessment type (post/s in a forum, quiz answers, assignment tool, other). Some assessment tools in FLO have the ability to setup a rubric or marking guide.
The General discussion forum icon is in the communication hub in the FLO starter site. The starter site also provides an optional forum in the assessment hub for addressing student questions about assessment in your topic.
In the topic there may be overall assessment of weekly forums (eg a Non-Graded Pass), or a one-off forum assessment. Criteria for marking may include posts, posts and responses, or documents/other materials posted to the forum. Think about the purpose of your forum/s prior to set up.
If you want to assess forum participation, you could:
- set up a forum with ratings which automatically creates a grade item for the forum in the Gradebook
- setup a gradable forum using points, rubrics or marking guides
- add a forum as a manual grade item to the Gradebook and enter the grades directly for that item
- set a forum to Q&A forum type, which means students post before they can see others' posts. You could use this type of forum to get students to 'mark' their own contribution (formative assessment)
- set up a forum for group work, either for formative or summative assessment (this could be a working space for students to develop a product)
Access the quiz via the quiz iconin the relevant module where it is set up, or in the assessment hub (see FLO starter site). You can also click on a quiz list (f you have more than one set up in the topic) quickly from the Activities block.
Quizzes can be set up for formative/summative assessment, as knowledge checks or as practice quizzes. You can set up a quiz to have no grades. See Quiz - purpose and settings for the many ways to use quizzes in your teaching.
Help students prepare for the quiz
You could set up a practice quiz (eg formative) so students get to experience doing a quiz in low-stakes circumstances. This could be a regular 'test' of their understanding. FLO Student Support provides guidance for quizzes.
Preview the quiz yourself – you will see what they will experience when they do the quiz (eg movement from one question to another, time setting), and will be able to advise them on how much time to spend on a question, and other aspects related to the quiz settings and content.
Prior to a quiz opening (especially if it is an assessment item), you could post an announcement or post to the general discussion forum to provide tips about preparing for the quiz. A description for the quiz in the activity itself helps students know what to expect (eg how many tries, open/close dates, feedback).
- Encourage students to ask for help if they need it using the General discussion forum (which means other students could help) or the forum in the assessment hub (see FLO starter site).
- Remind them about the scope of the quiz and what to expect (types of questions etc).
- If assessed, refer students to the SAM.
- Keep the quiz in their minds by referring to it in the lead-up time, re important focus points etc.
When the quiz opens
You may want to post an announcement reminding students that they can now do the quiz, and the timeframe they have for that (ie how many days it is open). Be flexible with time restrictions in case students have slow bandwidth issues. If students have access issues, you may need to extend timelines for doing the quiz.
You can view student responses to the quiz while the quiz is still open (eg see how many students have attempted the quiz, how long it has taken them, what their responses to individual questions are). What you will view depends on the quiz purpose and subsequent settings (eg how many attempts, whether it is timed), and question type.
When the quiz closes
Once set up, the quiz is automatically added to the Gradebook (you can set it to have no weightings if you want). In quiz, click on Administration > Gradebook setup to view the results for student quiz submissions.
Quiz settings provide students with results and feedback once the quiz is closed. You can also provide students with feedback during the quiz. See Quiz - provide quiz feedback at quiz and question level.
Mark text response questions (once the quiz is closed)
View quiz results (once the quiz is closed)
Four quiz reports are available in FLO. These reports not only tell you students' results (if automatically graded by FLO) but also whether there were common errors/misunderstandings that you can use as a teachable moment, or whether a question was ambiguous and needs reframing in future iterations of the topic (the quiz may need to be regraded in this case).
If some questions require manual grading, quiz grades won't be available until you have marked these questions.
- View quiz statistics reports (big picture – what they provide, when they are useful, and how to access them).
- Align quiz questions with Blooms taxonomy
- Designing online quizzes to minimise collusion
- Using quizzes with large student numbers
- Manual grading report (how to mark questions that are text answers)
- Grades report (shows student quiz attempts, overall grade, a summary of correct/incorrect answers)
- You can regrade quiz attempts in this report (a form of moderation)
- You can regrade quiz attempts in this report (a form of moderation)
- Responses report (shows student responses but not grades – you can compare students' responses)
The Statistics report gives a statistical (psychometric) analysis of the quiz and the questions within it, useful for analysing individual questions/question behaviours in preparation for the next reiteration of the topic.
These types of assessment may include an essay, report, business case, presentation or any assessment that requires students to submit a text file (eg Word, PDF, PPT) via the Assignment tool. You can also set up a video assignment (instructions for student submission).
Support the assessment task/s
You could post an announcement or post to the general or assessment discussion forum to provide tips about preparing for:
- Assessments via the Assignment tool:
- encourage them to discuss their ideas and share their strategies in the forums
- ask them how they are going with assessment preparation in the chat room
- Refer them to support resources (particularly helpful to students during the submission phase):
- the FLO Student Helpdesk should they have any problems (contact details and opening hours). This may affect when they submit their assignments – for immediate help, they must phone or email the Helpdesk during opening hours
- the Support materials for students FLO site (particularly Assignments), linked in the Help and support pull-down menu in the grey toolbar in FLO. (As a teacher, it is worth knowing what is in this site so you can field student questions. You can also refer them to the FLO Student Helpdesk)
Manage assignment submissions
Turnitin (text matching software) is a separate tool to the assignment tool, but integrates with it.
- Students can submit to a draft Turnitin draft box (available in each topic) prior to submitting their assessment item to the assignment tool
- When students submit to the assignment tool, they will automatically also be submitting to Turnitin as part of the process
If students request an extension
The topic coordinator will advise the teaching team on the process for assignment extensions.
Depending on how the assignment is set up by the topic coordinator and the requirements for student submission, you may mark in Word or PDF, or in an online marking guide or rubric within FLO. Most likely though, you will mark in Word or PDF.
- If annotating (marking) in Word/PDF offline, you are most likely to either:
- Mark students one by one, requiring you to download each submission, mark it and then upload it into the student grading screen (if small number of students)
- Download all student submissions, mark offline, then upload to return to all students (if large number of students)
- You could also annotate (mark) student assignments online (in FLO) in an online PDF format (if students submit Word documents, these are automatically converted to PDFs)
- Assignment – main entry (for all processes around using the Assignment activity)
- Assignment – supporting academic integrity through text-matching software (Turnitin)
If students are doing group work in your topic, you will need to be aware of any limitations or restrictions that may apply for individual students, and adjust the activity accordingly. Be aware too that there may be cultural and lifestyle differences, as well as age and gender differences. Students may be anxious about group work, or not understand how to best work within this learning situation. They may also have differing agendas (some may want to get high grades, whilst others may just want to pass).
See some guidelines below for facilitating group work to ensure (as much as possible) that your students succeed.
Design for success
Think about how contributions will be assessed. Will students provide a reflection on their and others' contributions to the group? Will you assess this yourself by looking at the tools they have used (eg by monitoring student activity in FLO) or setting up the final product to indicate individual contributions (eg each student is responsible for a section of a report)?
Provide support and resources
Be clear with students about what group work entails (expectations, outcomes, troubleshooting etc). Be active in the topic site so you can pick up on any problems, and intercept when necessary (check in). If you provide students with group work resources, make sure these are accessible by all students, no matter what their location.
Facilitate group communication
Guide students in how to work effectively using communication tools. A simple way for students to communicate with each other is via email (Topic links block > Participants – students will see who is in their group). Encourage students to initially work out how they will communicate, if you are providing flexibility around this, and encourage them to be sensitive to some students' limited means of communication.
Provide spaces where groups can communicate in FLO (especially in the event that preferred tools such as Facebook or Google Drive are are not accessible to some students). This might be:
- a forum specifically set up for groups (asynchronous)
- a Collaborate 'Course room' or chat activity (synchronous)
- OneDrive (for shared document collaboration)
Students may have access or time issues, so try to keep the group work activity (especially if tied to assessment) flexible re dates and time allowed for creating a product/achieving outcomes.
Integrated with FLO
FLO has some external tools that are not in FLO (Moodle) but integrate with FLO, for example:
- Statement of Assessment Methods (SAM)
- Assignment Extension
- Past Exam Papers
You can access these using the External tool option (Add an activity or resource).
Not integrated with FLO
Flexibility might mean that they choose between a range of external tools, or create a file instead using software they can access. The key stipulation is that the format meets the requirements of the activity/assessment (eg the product can be shared with all or is in an assessable format). If the stumbling blocks seem too great, it might be easier for you and your students to redesign the activity.
Some assessments may require students to use external tools (ie tools outside of FLO, available via the internet). Assessments using external tools are usually low stakes, as students are not 'in the system'. When students use an external tool, they may not be easily identifiable. Ask them to use their FLO name somewhere in the tool so you can view their activity.
In these cases, a new assessment item can be added manually to the Gradebook, and you will be able to mark the student by viewing their contribution for assessment in the tool and putting the mark (or non-graded pass) directly into the Gradebook:
- To access the Gradebook, go to Administration > Gradebook setup
- To put the mark into Gradebook, in the View tab click in the column for the assessment item next to the student's name
- Things to consider if you want to use non FLO tools in your teaching
- External tool – main entry
- Gradebook – main entry
Set out a module for online learningContent (resources, activities, instructional text and learning supports) in FLO modules should be arranged in a consistent way within your topic and across topics within a course. The FLO starter site provides some prompts, however, there is no one right way to structure your teaching modules and therefore flexibility is built-in.
Here is one suggested outline to structure each module of your topic.
- Write a brief introduction (1-2 sentences) that describes the module – this could include:
- key ideas for the module
- key questions
- associated activities
- learning outcomes
- relationship between the module and topic curriculum
- Use language that speaks to the student (ie 'you' instead of 'the student'). Consider how you want to introduce the module. For example, do you want this to be factual, controversial, a conundrum (etc)?
- Include activities that need to be started and/or completed in this module
- Provide an instructional narrative that describes what action the student needs to take and how this aligns with the learning outcomes
- Design activities from a student’s point of view, with active learning in mind (eg watch, listen, read, write, share, discuss)
- Include the estimated time for completion, if appropriate
- Where activities are complex or dependent on technologies, provide practice or low-stakes opportunities
- Provide opportunities for students to ask questions, make choices where appropriate, and check their understanding
Resources and supports for learning
- Provide the learning resources associated with the module activities
- Direct students to find readings using the Readings link, rather than replicating information already in Leganto
- Provide guidance on how long to spend on readings, videos etc, if appropriate
- Refer students to appropriate learning supports (eg Studiosity)
- If activities are tied to assessment and topic completion, make this very clear
- Refer students back to assessment details rather than repeating information ('one source of truth')
- Call assignments the exact name as stated in the Statement of Assessment Methods (bearing in mind this will also flow through to Gradebook, try to avoid long assignment names)
- Clarify any assessment or assignment dependencies (what needs to be completed before attempting the assignment)
Monitor student activity in FLO
Monitoring student success should take place at several levels: throughout a course, across topics and within a topic. A range of reports in FLO can tell you how often students participate in or access an activity or resource, and more.
This tip sheet on using analytics to support student learning outlines how reports in FLO can be used to evaluate student engagement with your FLO topic.
- Reports – main entry (for all types of reports)
Evaluate the topic (ongoing)
Your teaching experiences in the topic will help determine future topic design. You/your teaching team could make notes about observations, insights and strategies via a staff-only forum or other tool, as they occur (evaluate as you go).
How are your students going? Are they actively engaged in the topic? If you would like extra 'evidence' beyond what you are getting from forum participation, and for an overall sense of what your students are doing, or how activities/resources are being used, you could generate a FLO report.
With each activity/tool, keep in mind the implications for a future topic. Key questions:
- How effective was this engagement tool – were there any difficulties?
- Might the activity/assessment require some adjustment?
- Do the tools that support activities/assessment function well or do they need more scaffolding/reconsideration?
Which forums did students actively engage in, or not? How might they work better?
During and post topic, student responses to surveys can contribute to considerations for adaptation in the next reiteration of the topic, as well as adjustments to the current topic.
- Touchpoint survey (if used)
Although this survey is placed early in the topic you can use it in whatever module you want (Turn editing on, and use the Move resource icon to drag it to where you want). However, it is particularly useful for early analysis of the topic's functioning. The survey uses the feedback tool to find out how students are going and is intended as an active teaching quality tool.
As it is optional, you will need to promote its use using an announcement or in a forum/s. The results will tell you whether student require more support or you need to make adjustments to the topic, or that the topic is working really well just as it is! Students will appreciate any changes initiated, or just an acknowledgement of their feedback (if no adjustments are required).
The SET is an end-of-topic online survey, containing Likert and open-ended (text response) questions, which evaluates and delivers student feedback on the topic and teacher/s.
The Statistics report gives a statistical (psychometric) analysis of the quiz and the questions within it. Teachers might look at this report to analyse individual questions and question behaviours in preparation for the next reiteration of the topic.
Help and support
A common problem is that FLO is not supported well by your browser. Google Chrome or Firefox are recommended browsers.
If students have a technical problem in FLO, refer them to FLO Help for students (you can link to this site from the Help and support pull-down menu in the grey toolbar in FLO). This site also directs them to the Helpdesk phone service.
The Learning online guidebook helps students understand the FLO interface and use its tools effectively for their studies (be an active learner). You can link to this resource for students from your topic.