By: Holly Whitaker Learning Strategy Consultant
Face-to-face course learning experiences can work differently than online learning experiences, but both have the same desired result – which is that students walk away with a specific knowledge base, a set of skills and attitudes as a result of that learning experience.
Always ask yourself what students need to gain from each in-class experience whether it’s a lecture, discussion, think-pair-share or teambuilding experience. Why does this experience exist in your class? How does this experience lead to a specific knowledge base, a skill or an attitude?
For almost every in-person learning experience, there are ways to give students the same results from an online experience. The trick is to acknowledge from the get-go that the specific learning experiences are probably going to be different – the results of those learning experiences, or what you as the instructor want students to gain from those experiences - will be the same or similar.
To get the most out of this article, instructors should have their syllabus open. This article walks through the most popular kinds of in-person learning experiences and points to online tools that offer a similar learning experience. Right along with those tool recommendations are links to tutorials to help you move those activities online quickly.
NOTE: If you have never logged in to Brightspace, we strongly recommend that you check out the links immediately below to get oriented. Your campus’s environment may look slightly different than what’s in the video, so take a few minutes to know your way around.
Lecture & Readings
Lecture is probably the most frequent in-person class learning activity. Lecturers typically have some sort of slide deck or visual presentation materials and perhaps some handouts like a note-taking guide of some sort.
Your goal for the student: Gaining skills and knowledge base
Two options for doing that in Brightspace:
1. Use Content Tools to capture your knowledge and deliver it to the student. Content tools are a great option for delivering handouts, slides and other support materials alongside the knowledge base.
2. Record your lectures using your campus’s lecture capture system and ensure that your lecture is closed captioned. Alternatively, record yourself using your campus’s videoconferencing tool, presenting only to yourself with your slides shared. Once the recording is ready, download it, then upload to your YouTube channel to let it be automatically captioned. If you have a gmail email account, you have a YouTube account that can be accessed like you access your Google drive via your gmail login. Once the video has closed captions (can be a few minutes to 24 hours, depending on the length of the video), you can edit those captions
, then post the video to Brightspace using the Insert Stuff instructions listed above. Closed captions are a legal requirement for accessibility, so regardless of the method you select for captioning, do not skip the captioning step.
Instructors need to document student learning to have justification for giving end-of-term grades or marks. The goal of quizzes and exams is assessing the knowledge base or skills students have gained from in-class experiences. Instructors likely have a collection of tests, quizzes or exams that have been given in the past, perhaps with some study guides or other materials offered to students to help them prepare.
Your goal for the student: Demonstrating that students have the knowledge base and skills instructors know they need
Options for how to do that in Brightspace:
1. Add your study materials to the module you created in the “Lecture” section of this article.
2. Set up your gradebook
3. Create a new quiz with new questions
4. If you have a pile of quizzes that are ready to be graded or that have already been graded, but haven’t been entered into your system yet, you can create a Grade Item where you can manually enter each student’s grade. Learn about entering grade items
Assignments are a popular method for assessing student learning that does not rely on auto-graded quizzes or exams. You have probably described this assignment in class, it is detailed in your syllabus and you might even have a separate handout further defining how to complete the assignment.
Your goal for the student: Demonstrating that students have the knowledge base and skills you know they need
Options for how to do that in Brightspace:
1. Add your assignment handouts and help resources to the module you created in the “Lecture” section of this article.
2. Set up your gradebook
3. Create an assignment
4. If your assignment is one in which students need to present, or they are creating something that you will observe as you assess their work, you can learn to set up and use Video Assignments
5. Add a rubric to help students know what to expect and to help instructors grade consistently
Note: Please re-think how group assignments will be executed to maximize safety for students during this crisis. It may be best for group presentations that students present their part of the work individually, rather than meeting with their group to video the group’s presentation. See advice in the Groups section below to learn about how tool s and ideas for working with Groups.
Often, the first few minutes of a lecture or class meeting present an opportunity for instructors to broadcast announcements to the class about upcoming events such as quizzes, assignments and exams. Typically, online instructors also use announcements for the same reasons, but also to notify students that a new module is available for them.
Your goal for the student: Keeping students on track and in-the-know
How to do that in Brightspace:
To break up lectures, especially in longer class periods, instructors regularly use smaller discussions that give students focused time to reflect on the lecture topic, brainstorm something specific, problem-solve, or create some other response around a prompt. These can take the form of small group discussions where students work in-depth on something specific for a time. Additionally, whole-class discussions can bring up valuable case studies and help instructors identify where students are missing vital knowledge.
Your goal for the student: Reflecting on the lecture topic for deep learning, creating social learning opportunities, generating new ideas, assessing knowledge
How to do that in Brightspace:
Groups can be used in face-to-face classes for several reasons, but one of the most popular is the group assignment. This creates teams who work on a specific project for an assignment. Students often have in-class time to work on projects and might meet outside of class to work on the assignment. Groups can also be used for teambuilding – so look for online methods and activities for building teams but use Groups to do it in Brightspace.
Note: Please re-think how group assignments will be executed to maximize safety for students during this crisis. It may be best for group presentations that students present their part of the work individually, rather than meeting with their group to video the group’s presentation. Alternatively, redesign the group assignment into an individual assignment.
Your goal for the student: Creating collaborative assignments, creating opportunities for social learning
How to set up Groups in Brightspace:
Labs & Field experiences
Labs & field experiences can be difficult to translate well into the online space, but they are do-able in most cases. Converting these experiences quickly may require the input of an experienced instructional designer and a lot of creative thinking from the instructor to give equivalent or similar results for students. Instructors often spend months converting these experiences to quality online experiences, so be generous and open with your expectations of what is possible.
Your goal for the student: Creating experiences that bring concepts to life, demonstrating hand skills with physical items
Here is a list of ideas for lab experiences to get the conversation started:
Here is a list of ideas for field experiences to get the conversation started, but please reconsider field experiences as a learning experiences, redesigning them to offer students ways to gain the same results with an alternative experience.
- Record the lab procedure, provide students with the data and ask them to prepare the final data analysis. Use content tools discussed in the Lecture & Readings section above to achieve this.
- For hand skills such as slide preparation, blood draws or titration where performing the hand skill correctly is part of the assessment, consider adding video or images to a quiz, having students select correct answers that demonstrate proper technique. Set up times later in the term after the crisis has passed to have students come in to demonstrate the hand techniques.
- If lab materials can be easily substituted at home to illustrate ideas (using a similar ingredient typically found in the home like vinegar or lemon juice to substitute for citric acid, for example). Use Video Assignments for students submit video of themselves performing the home-based lab procedures. Be sensitive to the fact that finding some items may be a budget challenge for some students.
- For situations where students need to identify samples in a lab quiz, locate high-quality photos of the items to be identified and add them into the questions or answers in the quiz.
- Develop a field experience guide that provides students with ideas, facts, points to ponder as students visit the site for themselves. Then create a discussion forum where students record their experiences with photos and videos.
- Video yourself on the field experience, pointing out the places, things and concepts that are important about the field experience. Then create a discussion or reflection assignment around the student’s observations in their own back yards, as it relates specifically to the topic of the field experience.
- For observation-type assignments like shadowing, student observations or other similar experiences, create or find a video that illustrates the concepts. Give students a guide to how you see the first video, then follow up with a second video and an observation guide (tracking things like time on task, describing the behaviours of a single student, species counts, instrument measurements, etc.) to help students perform the observation.
- Rethink the field experience to offer students a virtual option instead. Check out ideas at this link: https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/virtual-field-trip-apps-and-websites
There are many other in-person activities that translate well and quickly into the online space. If you are stumped about how to translate your learning experiences into online learning activities, please contact your local campus IT or teaching & learning office for ideas around your specific case.