Course delivery approach
As you plan your teaching, a key decision to make is determining the course delivery approach. Delivery options include gamification, flipped classroom, blended learning, hybrid learning and online learning.
An overview of each course delivery approach is provided below. While there are similarities and the terminology is sometimes used interchangeably, they are each distinct learning models. Regardless of the course delivery approach used, the key goal should be to create a learning environment where students feel supported, engaged and involved in their learning journey. This requires careful planning.
Active learning is an approach to teaching that can be used with any of the course delivery approaches discussed here. Active learning suggests a teaching approach in which students engage by talking, writing, reading, reflecting or questioning – in other words, through being active. There are numerous active learning strategies that can be used in both large and small classes.
Gamification involves using game-based mechanics, visuals and game thinking to engage students, motivate action, promote learning and solve problems (Kapp 2012). The goal of gamification is to help students learn by harnessing the motivational power of play, engagement and interaction.
Gamification creates opportunities for learners (players) to engage in challenges and activities defined by rules, interactivity and feedback. By using effective multimedia along with elements of competition, cooperation, exploration and storytelling you can make the material more intense and engaging, and more likely to be retained. Useful game style mechanics include levels, badges, point systems, time constraints and active decision making (with consequences). Well gamified content facilitates healthy competition and a sense of accomplishment, which gives learners the motivation to participate and engage with the content at a deeper level. Showing learners where they started, where they are headed and where they are on this continuum also gives purpose, promoting active and engaged involvement (Kapp 2012).
Using elements of gamification in your teaching
Gamification can be applied to a wide range of learning activities and teaching strategies. You can design your course so that students can move through activities to higher levels of play by requiring students to use prior knowledge, transfer new information into new situations, apply information in correct contexts and learn from immediate feedback. The ultimate goal “is to create positive learning outcomes while students are committed and stimulated with the learning materials” (McGrath & Bayerlein, 2013).
A flipped classroom is a “pedagogy-first” approach to teaching. Also known as “inverting” a classroom, this approach seeks to preserve the value of the lecture (expertise and custom delivery), while freeing up precious in-class time for active learning strategies. In-class time is “re-purposed” for inquiry, application and assessment to better meet the needs of the individual learners. Students gain control of the learning process through studying course material outside of class time using learning activities such as watching pre-recorded video lectures, working through readings, viewing worked examples, completing lessons, posting to forums, completing quizzes or conducting research. During the class session, teachers become facilitators of the learning process by helping students work through problems individually and in small groups.
The main goal in flipping a class is to cultivate deeper, richer active learning experiences for students when the teacher is present to coach and guide them. Emphasis is on higher-order thinking skills and application to complex problems. In a flipped classroom, students have a voice and are encouraged to debate, question, make decisions, make choices and be supported in a learning environment.
There are numerous ways to flip your class – how you flip should be based on your own needs and the needs of your class. This short video (2mins:52s) explains the flipped classroom model. This reading Flipped Learning:What is it, and when is it effective? also provides more information.
A blended learning approach enhances the teaching and learning experiences for students and teachers by combining face-to-face learning activities with online learning components. In many cases the act of “blending” achieves better student experiences and outcomes, and more efficient teaching and course management practices. It can involve a mix of delivery modes, teaching approaches and learning styles, and has similarities with a flipped classroom and a hybrid learning approach. Advances in technology provide new opportunities for students to learn in diverse environments and for courses to be designed and delivered in a way that enhances the teachers’ role.
A blended learning environment can:
- Broaden the spaces and opportunities available for learning
- Support course management activities (e.g., communication, assessment submission, marking and feedback)
- Enhance the availability and richness of information and resources for students
- Engage and motivate students through greater opportunities for interactivity and collaboration.
Many courses have always had an element of ‘blended learning’, where different modes of delivery are utilised. For example, in a traditional face-to-face course there are some on-campus lectures and tutorials, independent study through textbooks and readings, library research and other activities. But the term ‘blended learning’ nowadays primarily means integrating the use of technology in course design and delivery.
Taking a blended learning approach to your course can be used to support face-to-face teaching, large group and small group learning, self-directed learning, communication between the teacher and individual students or groups of students, as well as between students themselves. You can “blend” time (eg, face-to-face vs. recorded lectures), place (small group tutorial on-campus vs. online discussion forum; traditional field trip vs. ‘virtual’ field trip using web sites and online chat with industry personnel), people (video link with guest lecturers), resources and activities (textbook vs. online readings; in-class vs. online quiz).
This video (6mins:26s) explains the concept of blended learning.
A hybrid learning environment uses technology to enable students to participate in synchronous learning regardless of whether they are in-person or online. Thus, teachers need to work simultaneously with learners who are face-to-face and learners who are virtual – this can be challenging and requires careful planning to ensure both groups of learners are engaged in the learning process. A well-designed hybrid learning environment will also include several asynchronous online resources for students to work through, like a blended learning approach and an online learning approach. A hybrid learning environment can also include a flipped classroom approach.
Success using a hybrid learning model requires careful planning to determine which learning outcomes are best served as synchronous learning activities and which can be achieved through asynchronous activities. Some of the key benefits of a hybrid learning environment are:
- a flexible learning experience
- synchronous communication opportunities for all students
- the freedom of independent learning through asynchronous resources
- more efficient use of teaching resources.
Our fully asynchronous Online programmes at Lincoln University are designed so that learning can take place at any time and place, with course load broken into weekly modules to help students manage the workload. Lincoln students who choose our asynchronous online learning programmes are motivated to continue their learning journey but are unable to attend scheduled classes because of work or family commitments.
One key advantage of this delivery method is that student learning and thinking become more visible and, potentially, more collaborative. While some asynchronous activities like watching recorded videos and taking online quizzes are done alone, other activities such as discussion forums, can create a series of dialogues between students or between instructor and students. When replacing an in-class activity with an asynchronous activity, instructors and teaching assistants should consider making use of that time to develop detailed and thoughtful feedback. Remember that quality feedback constitutes contact time in a remote class!
Creating a fully asynchronous Online course requires quite a commitment in time and resources to be successful. There are many factors and design considerations that are built into an online course that facilitates student engagement, learning and efficacy. These factors and considerations require thoughtful planning and development of learning resources and learning activities. In particular the following is a key foundation for creating an effective online course.
Generating teaching presence and student engagement
There are three essential requirements to achieve success in generating teaching presence and student engagement in online learning. These are known as the Three P’s which represent the three presences:
- Teaching Presence,
- Social Presence and
- Cognitive Presence.
To achieve online success for both students and staff in online learning, your course requires all three of these presences. More details about the Three P’s (Garrison, 2006) can be found here.
- Create weekly video clips (2-3 mins) using Panopto to summarise the week’s work and guide students to the required tasks for the week ahead. This would help encourage student engagement and participation.
- Make more concerted effort to connect with students through effective and engaging open-ended questions within the Discussion Forums. Video and/or audio can be used to introduce students to a Discussion Forum activity.
- Make sure your Akoraka | Learn course page is easy to navigate and instructive for students. This means setting up a consistent structure for the course that easily guides students to what they are expected to do. The site should be welcoming (use colour, pictures, video), engaging (students do things on the site) and a place that students feel involved in the course (they have a voice and can easily communicate with the lecturer).
- Having descriptive labels for content and clear instructions for learning activities are key to making an effective online learning environment.
- Forums, small videos and quizzes are additional features that can be built into a course to make it more engaging for students.
- The role you take as the teacher in the online environment makes a big difference to the students learning experience. Make time to regularly post updates and information, encourage participation in learning activities, monitor discussion forums and provide frequent feedback.
- Put your picture and a short introduction on your Akoraka | Learn course page. This will help students feel that you are ‘always there’ and involved in their online learning environment.
Here are some useful resources that will help ease your concerns:
TeachingOnline.com.au – Griffith Uni, Australia – Provides a range of short, instructional video clips for academic teaching staff with the goal being to help educators transition to the online medium and to also feel comfortable in doing so.
University of Windsor open page – Educators talking about the tools they use.
Online educator – MOOC from the OU and FutureLearn.
CILT online teaching portal – Provides lots of useful resources for teaching online.
Practical Teaching with Technology MOOC – From the University of London.
Advice for those about to teach online - provided by Tony Bates who is an expert in the field of online learning and distance education.