Short case study: Baseline VLE use to support independent study


A baseline approach to using the VLE would, as a minimum, provide students with information and resources relating to the module. The resources are intended to enhance the face-to-face instruction, but there is no formal requirement for students to consult them. The information may include module descriptions, reading lists, lectures notes, formative assessment activities etc.

The instructor’s role is dedicated towards the creation of the module site and updating of the resources, but there is no expectation that the instructor should maintain an online presence within the site, beyond monitoring student activity and picking up issues or problems that may be usefully discussed during the contact hours with students. For instance, feedback on any formative assessment activity may be set up in advance of the course and delivered automatically to students when they attempt a test.

Case Study Overview

Staff teaching on the Pure & Applied Microbiology course (department of Biology) used Yorkshare to host copies of written and graphical materials which had been presented in lectures and practicals, in order to support each student’s private study. Videos and animations were developed to support the practical training sessions for the module, enabling students to revise safety issues before the classes.  This gave students the opportunity to cover the material at their own pace, and to repeat sections of the presentation, if there were particular points that they were uncertain about.  By using a multimedia format, key information was delivered in a full range of complementary styles, with safety briefings available as video and audio streams and associated with text and diagrams.

The online resource included supplementary material – largely in the form of links to external information sources – to encourage and facilitate self-directed extended learning on key topics which had been introduced in the lectures. Students were briefed that a review of this additional material was considered to be a voluntary task and the content would not be included in the final examination.

Screenshot of narrated slide show in the VLE.

A series of self-assessment questions that related to the lectures and the practicals was also introduced to the module. Each set of questions included automated feedback, which became available for students to consult after they had submitted their own answers.  The site included a discussion board, which served as a forum for students to post questions, problems, etc., enabling the lecturer to address student issues in summary lecture sessions and practical sessions.  The lecturer consulted this prior to the final lecture sessions and prior to the first practical session in order to be able to respond to student misconceptions, problems or interests within the formal teaching contact sessions.

Finally the site also included a survey tool, which was intended to serve as a useful feedback mechanism for the students and instructor.

Next Steps

Case study last updated: December 2008

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