So you have all the materials you would normally use on-campus, but are now moving to online teaching only in the space of a couple of weeks, or maybe even days.
You might be wondering, how can I turn my on-campus materials into online content as efficiently as possible?
Firstly, it is important to set expectations. Designing and developing one fully-online master’s module, from conception to teaching, takes from 6 months to a year. The result is a quality assured, multimedia and interactive online module that can be reused multiple times for years with minimal updating. This takes a lot of time, effort and collaboration to create.
You’re currently in an ‘emergency response’ situation where you’re trying to support the delivery of courses designed to be delivered face to face, in an online environment. You may only have a matter of days or weeks to create your content and you may be on your own and perhaps with a little support from people who are now swamped with support requests.
You may be in the lucky position of having relatively small cohorts, who are hungry for learning activities and you have the time to dedicate to curating engaging resources. Or you may be faced with the daunting prospect of supporting multiple cohorts of learners in their hundreds with little time to even collate their resources, never mind improving them.
The advice shared here may not be relevant to you. It is aimed at supporting those who can and need to do the minimum. If you can do more, great, there is a wealth of online pedagogy resources out there to help you and no end of online learning tools and software you can experiment with.
Use the powerpoints and documents that you would have used to support your classroom teaching. These will help you get started and provide the structure for your materials, but the further explanations that you would have provided in the classroom will be required. You could add explanations in note form underneath your slides or record narration over each slide if you prefer. Powerpoint offers a simple slide narration option.
"You could add explanations in note form underneath your slides or record narration over each slide if you prefer."
Spend some time editing your slides and documents for online viewing. To support inclusive learning consider; font size, colour contrast, the quality and clarity of images, graphs, charts and the amount of text on the screen. Your additional explanations should mean you can leave minimal text on the screen.
Remove cues for anecdotes or analogies, unless absolutely necessary, to focus on the critical content.
To save time consider sharing ebook chapters and journal articles from your institution’s online library or open access resources instead of writing explanations.
Use pre-recorded video but only where it really matters and where you feel you have the time, support and confidence to create them. Video is great for bitesize (~5min) pieces of content, where it can help to break down a complex concept or process, which text alone could not do.
For example, explaining the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart would be enhanced by a video. Explaining the 4 Ps of the marketing mix can be achieved with text alone.
Your video should be simple in its production value. However, it will still require captions and a transcript to support inclusive learning, which is where tech support may come in. If you have no support, some online software exists to support the addition of captions, though few are free and all require some editing.
You may have recently been introduced to zoom and its free offering or your institution may have a subscription to Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect. Use what you have institutional access to as there will also be additional support materials available.
Live sessions are a great way for you to connect with your learners and for some, will be an efficient way to replace pre-recorded video or more detailed explanations that would be too time-consuming to write down.
Using live sessions as a replacement for content should be approached with caution. Don’t assume learners will have the same technology available as they would normally. Some may not have access to webcams, or even a computer and those who do may be sharing it with others in their household. Your learners are also less likely to have a quiet, dedicated space for study, which will make participating in and contributing to live sessions more difficult.
However, there are benefits to using live sessions to add value to the text or PowerPoint-based content you can provide quickly. Live sessions can emulate campus lectures, which should help you feel at home with teaching your subject. You can use the whiteboard and collaborative features to draw, write and share content that you weren’t able to share in other formats.
You should record all of your sessions, to share for those who can’t attend. You could also use the record feature of your live session software to create some low-tech explainer videos, perhaps for key concepts or pinch-points for your learners.
Consider asking students in advance for the key topics they might like you to cover in live sessions and be flexible around timings. You could even offer to host smaller break-out or study groups to support those who need greater support if you have the capacity.
Your options for creating content will be limited by your resources, time and confidence and if each of these is limited, this may mean falling-back on relatively safe, text-based options. In time and with the necessary resources, you may be able to spend more creating online content when the necessary resource becomes available.
The most important consideration for your online content is that it is clear and concise to support students to continue their studies as effectively and as efficiently as possible.
A message from Pearson
Unprecedented events call for supportive, scalable action. Pearson is committed to providing support and continuity to learners and educators around the world, as the whole Higher Education community prepares to move online. We’re giving free access to our core range of HE and English Language online courseware to support you at this time.