Delivery

Now that your course is written, your online content has had a quality assurance check and your students have enrolled, it’s time to deliver your course! 

NOTE: As there is not yet a centralised enrolment and payment gateway for Short Programs at UniSA, you will need to contact your local school representative to arrange how students will enrol and pay for your short course.  

As you may already realise, teaching online courses is quite different to teaching your students face-to-face. Some courses may never have synchronous interaction between students and teachers, so how do you ensure that students are prepared and supported throughout their learning if you never see them?  

This page takes you through a few examples and presents a few tools you can use to keep your finger on the pulse of your course as it is being delivered in the absence of face-to-face interactions. It is important to note though that just because a course is delivered online this doesn’t mean there is no interaction between students and teachers, rather the ways you will interact with your students will be different.  

The following sections will introduce you to: 

  • Setting expectations early around how to be successful in your course. 
  • Tips for scheduling synchronous presentations or conversations. 
  • Checking in with your students’ learning as the course progresses. 

1. Setting expectations 

Early expectation setting is very important around students’ ongoing involvement with the course and how you and the teaching staff will support them in achieving this – a “how to be successful in this course” type conversation. This includes addressing: 

  • Availability of teaching staff and their involvement in the learning experience. 
  • Time-investment for students and being clear on what this looks like in the online environment – some students may never have studied online before so be explicit 
    • Are there forums, videos, readings, activities that they must interact with and participate in? Will there be virtual classrooms held during the course that they are expected to attend? Which elements of the course are optional, and which are mandatory? 
  • The pace at which students can study – they might want to move ahead of the structured pace however moving through the content slower could make assessments difficult to complete on time. 
  • Will you allow extensions on assessments? Or are your due dates locked in? What degree of flexibility will you allow? 

You might want to consider how you will communicate this information to your students – will it appear in the welcome video? Will it also appear in written text? Any key information, such as extension requests, should always appear in text. 

2. Scheduling a Synchronous Presentation or Conversation 

The Moodle Choice tool is at first glance just a simple polling tool. It is useful for asking a quick question to gauge students' understanding of a topic or content area and allows you to decide whether students can see their classmates’ responses or not. The choice activity can also allow you to limit the number of students who can select each choice. Because of this, it is also an excellent tool for making appointments. 

When it comes to synchronous (real time) activities such as Zoom web conferencing or face-to-face meetings, it is usually desirable to know who is attending. It may be the case that you want to limit the number of people attending – as in viva voce assessments, online role plays, highly interactive real-time sessions, etc. 

If this is something you would like to use in your course, some specific step-by-step instructions can be found here.

3. Checking in with your students’ learning - Mid-way evaluations 

Teaching online is quite different to face-to-face courses in a number of ways. One difference that is particularly important to consider and design into your online course is how you will keep track of how your students are tracking with the content. In a classroom setting, a quick glance around the room can show you engaged eager faces or faces that are lost and bewildered!  

Without the variety of visual and verbal interactions and feedback, keeping your finger on the pulse of the student cohort in the online space can be tricky – but certainly not impossible! 

The below example uses the Moodle Feedback tool, available on the UniSA LearnOnline platform. This is a survey tool that allows you to create different types of questions and then view the responses in a ‘big picture’ kind of way. Similar to other survey tools, responses can be viewed in a summary format allowing you to more easily identify trends and common responses without having to trawl through large volumes of individual files or responses.  

This tool can also be set up to anonymize the responses as well as having a custom exit page, displaying anything from ‘expert’ answers to key points for next week, triggered only once students submit responses to all the required questions.  

3.1 'The Muddiest Point’ activity 

There are many ways we might obtain feedback from our students. We can encourage our students to ask questions in forums, but they may not be comfortable asking questions in public.  

The Muddiest Point activity can be used as part of an end of the week wrap up and is a way for students to finish off the week and reflect on if and how they overcame any areas of confusion. Some teaching staff use also this section to summarise the key points for the week, indicate what’s coming up next week and to provide references and additional suggested readings. 

The activity might be introduced as follows: 
“This is a place to ask questions anonymously and to share what you feel to be the most challenging or confusing part about this week.  

What concept or concepts were the most challenging for you and why? Were you able to work through it and if so, how? If not, what further clarification do you need?” 

If this is an activity you would like to introduce into your course, consider what you will do with this information.  

  • Will you create a group level general response that is sent back to your students (either text or video)?  
  • Will you use this to inform future iterations of the course rather than feedback directly to the current student cohort?  

Whatever you choose to do with this information, it is important that you clearly communicate this to your students. If they are expecting personalised feedback or assistance based on their responses and that’s not what you plan to do, this could be a problem.  

If this is something you would like to try in your course, some specific step-by-step instructions can be found here.

3.2 Teaching Dashboard and Moodle Reports 

When running a course that has a LearnOnline page, you will also have access to a range reports on the Teaching Dashboard and via Moodle Reports. These tools can give you valuable insight into how students are interacting with your LearnOnline page and potentially highlight areas that may need changing, both in the short term as you deliver the course and for future iterations of your course.  

A few of the functions you can carry out using these resources include: 

  • See who is watching lecture recordings or contributing to forums, 
  • When students are engaging with the course – time of day, regularity 
  • When students are logging in and how often  

Here is a UniSA help resource that guides you through how to access and interpret some of the different metrics available on the Teaching Dashboard. Your UniSA staff login will be required. If you are interested in using the Moodle Reports available on your course homepage, UNSW have put together a nice overview of what is possible here. There are also Help resources from Moodle that give a more generic overview.  

Importantly, you need to consider the context of your own course when interpreting these various metrics. For example, student login count may be relevant if you are expecting students to log in and access your course page several times a week to complete activities and some are only logging in once. But if students can successfully complete their weekly tasks in one session, this pattern of behaviour may not be cause for concern.  

3.3 Students’ perceptions of the content and delivery 

Sometimes asking students point blank about what they liked or not, doesn’t give us what we’re really wanting to hear. We might need to present this question a little differently. Possible options for gathering informal feedback from students about the course content include:  

  • Asking students to write advice for future students taking the course. 
  • Stop, start, keep doing asking students to write one thing for each relating to what the teaching staff are doing or not. 

When carrying out these types of activities, consider using the Moodle Feedback tool as it allows you to review responses more easily, and control whether students’ responses are made public to the rest of their classmates or not.  

Advice to future students might look something like this... 

“Now that you are at the end of the course, what do you wish that someone had told you at the beginning? Or what advice would you give to students who want to be successful in this course? 

Please note: your feedback/advice is anonymous.” 

“Stop, start, keep doing” might look something like this... 

“Now we’ve hit the mid-point of the course and we want to hear from you about three things relating to how you feel this course has been going: 

  • What you’d like us to STOP doing 
  • What you’d like us to START doing 
  • What you’d like us to KEEP doing 

Your responses can be as brief or long as you like, we’d just really like you to respond to all three questions! 

Please note: your feedback is anonymous.” 

You will need to look back through your course and identify where and when these kinds of activities would be appropriate. If your Short Program is short, then once might be enough. If you are running your course over several weeks, you may want to check in with students more often.  

Importantly, you need to ensure you communicate back to students following these types of activities to let them know they’ve been heard and what action you might take in response to their comments; whether it be within the current delivery or in the future. 

What’s next? Time to think about Evaluating your course 

Course evaluation can be carried out for a variety of purposes, and it’s more than just the “myCourse Experience” survey. The next page will take you through some of the different ways you can evaluate your course.