Lightning Presentations 2: Moving towards best practice in online teaching, learning and assessment

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Wednesday 9 June, 11.45-13.15

Recording of the Lightning Presentations

i. Experimenting with online teaching

Mark Daman Thomas (School of Media)

When the institution pivoted its teaching and learning online, I viewed this as an opportunity to try out some new techniques in my teaching. The aim was to create effective online learning environments. In this presentation I will share some of my synchronous and asynchronous experiences of online learning. This will include: 

  • Module welcome videos on Moodle
  • Hacks for engaging students on Teams using polls
  • Clearer, cleaner online session design
  • Using collaborative documents in breakout rooms

In discussing these examples, I’ll also focus on pedagogic principles that underpin the development of online teaching skills.

ii. Student use of microphones and cameras in online learning

Hazel Roberts (School of Natural and Social Sciences)

Student use of microphones and cameras during online learning sessions has been a significant issue raised by staff when discussing their experiences of teaching online. This presentation will explore student and staff perspectives, considering issues of culture and equity. The session will draw on literature in the field alongside my own reflections and observations from online teaching over the past year, supported by an in-class student survey. Potential ideas for establishing best practice in this area will also be examined.

iii. Maintaining good marking practice in a 20-day window 

Martine Deighan [presenter] and Samantha Barry-Wilson (School of Sport and Exercise)

Our Community has developed a robust approach to within-module marker calibration/standardisation and moderation. We have evidenced the process in our moderation form, which captures blind-marking discussions and outcomes, and outcomes from the internal moderation.  Pre-marking discussion of criteria and blind marking of a sample may reveal where different interpretations are held of the criteria in relation to the student’s work. 

The ongoing aim is to foster a community of calibrated markers who give similar marks for similar reasons, which helps HEFCE’s 2015 aim to regularly calibrate standards within disciplinary communities. 

In further work, we aim to improve NSS scores by making students fully aware of our calibration process and expanding our work on involving students in marking exemplars.  We will also take inspiration from resources such as the Geography Calibration Toolkit (Advance HE) to further our community calibration.

iv. From calibration to consistency

Pauline Williams (School of Sport and Exercise)

A common issue faced by lecturers is how to achieve a consistent standard of marking between different tutors.  Bloxham et al. (2016) propose that the use of community processes aimed at developing shared understanding of assessment standards could be a step forward, potentially addressing what Willey & Gardner (2011) flag as inconsistencies in the language tutors use when providing feedback.  It is well accepted that tutors develop their understanding of the assessment criteria and language of feedback by discussing marking with other academics. Aligning with a social constructivist view of learning, and markers becoming ‘calibrated’ to cope with variations, we have introduced key activities undertaken by the community as a whole team.

Key outcomes:

  • Staff developing a shared perspective regarding standards and expectations
  • Dissertation supervision enrichment
  • Students being supported in a more consistent way
  • Assessment marking and feedback more consistent
  • Community of practice development

As a non-subject, community-based model this could be adopted more widely, but also taken School-wide.

v. Applying Sociology to the ‘real world’ via Blogger: blogposts as assessment

Louise Folkes (School of Natural and Social Sciences)

This presentation will explore how the online blog host site ‘Blogger’ was utilised for assessment on a compulsory Level 5 Sociology module ‘Sociology in the Real World’. The module aims to introduce students to core sociological theory and concepts, whilst also using these concepts to interpret ‘real’ social issues.

This presentation will reflect on how the module achieved its aim via a change in assessment type, from essay to blogposts, ensuring constructive alignment. The use of Blogger to host two 1000-word blogposts per student will be examined, including some of the benefits and challenges of such an approach. Importantly, three key legacies of this approach will be covered: 1) The ‘real world’ output of the assessment demonstrating utility outside of the university 2) The development of online writing skills and writing for non-academic audiences and 3) The eventual creation of a departmental blog, hosted on, for use in outreach and recruitment.

This presentation aims to prompt delegates to think about alternative forms of assessment on typically essay-heavy modules in order to develop students’ skillsets and to produce output with ‘real world’ significance.

vi. All about the new Virtual Classroom

Adam Richards (Academic Development Unit) and Jane Robinson (Library, Technology and Information Services)

Have you heard about the new Virtual Classroom at Park Campus? In this session we will show you the room and how the technology works so you can consider booking it for sessions with your students from next academic year.

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