4.2 Linking online and face-to-face activities

Online and face-to-face

Key Concept: Take a staged approach to implementing a learning design.

The majority of modules taught at the University will now include some component of blended learning. At a basic level, as identified in Section 1 of the Handbook, there will be provision of key learning resources through Yorkshare. Where you wish to include online activities, further planning must be done to support students’ independent work through specific activity, access to resources or use of online tools.

Section 4.1 provides a Blended Learning Activity Planning [.docx] template that looks at the pedagogical aspects of activity design. Here we look at a five-phase approach to realising the learning design and developing the links between the online and face-to-face components.

Implementing the blend

Use the template linked below to detail how you will consider each of the five phases of implementing your learning design.

For a short activity, for example a one-week blog activity, you will not need much detail as the link may simply be bringing work from the blog into the face-to-face session or providing feedback online. For a longer term blend, for example a group project over the course of a module, each phase will require more thought as the relationship between the online and face-to-face will need to be stronger and sustained.

Phase 1. Preparation

Use the Blended Learning Activity Planning [.docx] template to outline your rationale for using technology-enhanced learning. The student activity and weekly tasks part of the template will help identify how online and class-based activities relate and complement each other. If the plan appears disjointed, for example the activities do not build upon each other or there is little relationship between individual student activity and group or student-tutor interaction, reconsider the relationship between your online and face-to-face tasks.

The aim should be to promote active learning and engagement, achieved by having learning outcomes that identify the purpose for students to work online, so it will be clear to them how the online component is relevant and value-adding to their learning. Similarly, set assessment tasks to reward both class-based and online performance, and in turn motivate students.

Phase 2. Socialising learners

Before your activity starts, introduce students to the aims and objectives of the module, your approach, and what they’re likely to gain from it. The justifications you included in the Preparation stage could be shared to students here. Induct students to Yorkshare and the tools they will be using, do not assume that students know how tools work. You will also need to set expectations regarding their participation and ‘netiquette’ (the types of behaviour, writing style and interactions expected), see 4.3 Setting expectations.

For longer duration blended design, establishing an online community through ice-breakers or introductory exercises that encourage knowledge-sharing and discussion will help students feel at ease contributing in an online space. Collective ownership of the space can be created by welcoming students online and responding to their questions, or allowing flexibility in how the online space is designed. See 5.2 Before the activity for further guidance.

Phase 3. Supporting student participation online

Throughout the activity, you will need to provide ongoing support to students to minimise any anxiety and build confidence in line with the expectations you have set for participation. You can encourage students to help each other, but do not use this as a substitute for your own contribution and interaction with students. Actively guide and facilitate online; model the learning you wish students to undertake; provide feedback; encourage students to initiate discussion topics and share resources. Section 5.3 During the activity suggests approaches to online facilitation.

At a basic level, keep the module site up to date with relevant resources. For example, you may make announcements, respond to FAQs, introduce new resources, and stage availability of activities or quizzes in line with the face-to-face module content.

Phase 4. Sustaining student participation online

For longer duration activities you may not be actively participating, however you will need to monitor student participation and intervene if necessary. You may wish to use the Performance Dashboard within your Yorkshare module site, see 5.3 During the activity, or monitor how students are bringing work back to the face-to-face environment. Use approaches such as commenting on student contributions to reinforce connections between online and class-based activities.

Phase 5. Summing up the learning outcomes for the module

Resolve outstanding online issues in final class sessions, closing any open discussion and making sure all student queries have been addressed. Re-emphasise the links between the online process and class-based activities with particular attention to learning outcomes, see 5.4 After the activity. Provide feedback on students’ online activities, such as knowledge-sharing, research tasks, collaboration, prompting students to reflect on their performance. Also provide opportunity for students to provide feedback to you on the activity design to inform future practice, see 5.5 Reflecting on the activity.

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