A key challenge in online learning is students having a clear understanding of what they need to do when. Learning online involves much more self-directed learning as students organise their time and work their way (rather than being led) through materials and activities, and this is amplified by learning taking place across My Studies, Teams and on campus. In response to student feedback, it is important to clearly signpost to students what they need to do, in a way that can help them organise their own time, and make sure they are prepared for live Teams sessions.
- Use the Announcements or Tasks tool in My Studies to communicate to students what activities they need to engage with on a weekly basis. Use this to complement their timetabled sessions, by including tasks such as engaging with materials in good time before Teams sessions, or attending group work sessions.
- Work as a team to coordinate your approach across modules to ensure that all students are receiving weekly updates through the same channels.
- This guidance shows how to use the announcements tool, while this gives step-by-step support in using the Tasks tool. [PDF version] and the task tool set up is shown in this video.
Some important points:
- Students will see all their announcements or tasks from across all their modules gathered in one place on their My Studies dashboard, so it’s important that all modules post announcements or tasks, so there are no ‘gaps’ from a student perspective.
- Use the Announcements or Tasks tool to give students weekly instructions, for example, when you post materials in My Studies before a Teams session. Ideally include a link to the place in the module (you can copy and paste the URL like any other web address).
- If you already post instructions, for example in a ‘Welcome to week 4’ video, or in the handbook, keep doing these activities, but link or copy and paste the information into an Announcement or Task too.
Further ideas and resources:
- Dedicate some time at the start of the new semester for students to create their own weekly timetable, identifying timetabled sessions, times to dedicate to looking through resources before sessions, and where times such as group work can be scheduled. The activity could particular highlight challenges (e.g. campus based session immediately followed by a Teams session), or help students develop general strategies (e.g. changes in work shift patterns).
- Ideas for signposting students to important content are covered in the DEL CPD on Well Organised Learning. These include organising materials into folders, labelling folders with text and images to indicate content, and doing weekly videos to highlight what students should do, which can complement the use of the Tasks tool.