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Guides for teachers: easy digital enhancements

Guides for teachers: easy digital enhancements

Tried and trusted techniques that you, and your students, can implement using the tools we already have available. Guides and expert support is available to help you understand how these techniques can help you, blueprint and implement your designs, and get help fast when operating them. All of these ideas can be used by teachers and students - for example, as part of assessed student projects. For more information on any of these, why not join the Arts Digital Teaching and Learning teams space and Ask a Question in the help channel. Click on this link to join and go direct to the Q&A channelLink opens in a new window.


crowdsource questions | flipped classroom | podcasting | interview experts | external speakers | breakouts | brainstorming | online whiteboards | 1-to-1 support | collaborative editing | student projects | hybrid mode teaching | multimedia resource lists | make a video

1. Crowdsource questions and suggested topics from you students

Responsive teaching means building time into your sessions to gather feedback from the students and change you plans in response. You might, for example, leave some time to deal with questions. If you allow students to post anonymously, you will find that you get more useful responses. Use the Vevox Q&A tool, or PadletLink opens in a new window, to rapidly collect suggestions from students. In both systems students can contribute ideas immediately from any web-connected device. They can vote on each other's suggestions so that you can identify priorities. Vevox includes an option to moderate suggestions before they appear to the whole class.

Vevox guide from Warwick Ac TechLink opens in a new window.

Padlet guide from Warwick Ac TechLink opens in a new window.

 Responsive teaching and active learning online with Vevox Link opens in a new window(shows an older version of the system, but the principals are still the same).

2. Flip your classroom

If you do lectures, at least some of your content will be straightforward and non-interactive. Why not separate these sections off into pre-recorded videos, audios, or event just texts? You can then use the time saved in live classes to add more dialogue, peer-learning activities, independent study, group work etc. This is also good for accessibility and inclusivity.

Flipped Classroom - an evidence based reflection (University of Edinburgh).

Inclusive Education and Lecture Recording (University of Edinburgh).

What are students saying about lecture recording? - blog from the University of Edinburgh

Warwick has two systems for recording lectures or parts of lectures. Each of these has a tools for providing transcripts (necessary for accessibility reasons). If you are using Teams in teaching, you might find Stream to be a simpler option. If you use Moodle, then Echo 360 is integrated into Moodle Module Spaces.

Lecture recording with Echo 360Link opens in a new window.

Lecture recording with Microsoft StreamLink opens in a new window (record a Teams meeting in which you are the only participant).

 Information about Lecture Capture and Personal Capture (Warwick).

3. Make a podcast

Podcasting has become incredibly popular because its an easily accessed format, which can be downloaded and listened to anywhere and at anytime. It's especially good if you want your students to be deeply immersed in the story you are telling or a discussion between academics. It's also a good format for student projects. They can use it to practice writing and speaking narratives, without the added complication of imagery (provide images as accompanying files if needed). Or they can create an interview or discussion based podcasts as a form of inquiry-based learning.

Advice from professional podcast producer Emma Brown (TEALFest 2021 presentation).

Using audio as a medium for teachingLink opens in a new window (guide with advice on hardware and software by Robert O'Toole).

Using Audacity (free software) for digital storytellingLink opens in a new window (video by Clare Rowan of Classics).

Audacity software downloadLink opens in a new window (for ITS managed PCs, access it from the software centre in Windows).

LAME encoderLink opens in a new window (add-on to Audacity for exporting audio as MP3 files for online).

Podcast chapter markersLink opens in a new window (YouTube video)

 Use Word Online to transcribe audio files.Link opens in a new window

4. Record an interview with another academic or expert

Learning is enriched when constructed by a range of experts, exploring detail in greater depth, making connections across topics and disciplines, and giving alternative viewpoints. This is especially effective at helping students to understand the whole-curriculum, to make descisions about module choices and pathways, and situate modules within the bigger picture.

You can invite people to Teams meetings who are not members of the University (just add them to the list of invitees using their email address).

Lecture recording with Microsoft Teams and Stream (record an interview as a Teams meeting).

5. Invite an external speaker into a Teams session with your students

Enrich your teaching with real-world experts and academics.

You can invite people to a specific Teams meeting - including people who are not members of the University. You might also want to add the external speaker as a guest member of you team space in Teams. This is easy to do.

Or add them to your Team space - including people who are not members of the University.

You can also use Teams in on-campus classrooms and lecture theatres, using a Teams Wireless Microphone. Contact AV Services for detailsLink opens in a new window.

6. Breakout

In on-campus teaching we use breakout sessions for peer-learning (where students develop and test-out their understanding with each other) and group work. Recreating this in online meetings is still a little less smooth. However, online does have its advantages, including: we can get the students to collaborate together to edit documents and create digital artefacts that can then be easily shared with the whole class; the students have a greater sense of privacy.

Microsoft Teams includes a system for managing breakouts, which is becoming more flexible and sophisticated. Currently only the person who set up the Teams meeting can put students into groups (individiually or randomly assigned), open breakouts, send messages to all rooms (although we can still use the normal Teams notification system to message all team members), and close rooms to return participants to the main session.

Teams offers an alternative approach, more suited to longer-term group work: create a channel for each student group, and instruct them to go off into their group channel for a certain length of time. They can then start and manage their own online meeting, and use all of the collaboration tools built into Teams.

You can also use the Vevox personal response system to collect responses from the students while they are in their breakouts.

In either case, make sure that you give the students clear instructions on what they should be doing in the room.

Breakout rooms in Teams.

Peer learning and breakout groups in live online lectures.Link opens in a new window

7. Brainstorm with Padlet

Padlet is a visually attractive and beautifully simple way to get a group (even a very large group) to share ideas fast, including video, audio, links and web pages. They contribute ideas to a single page, seeing them appear immediately. They can then comment and vote on ideas (you can switch this, and lots of other features off). We have a Warwick license for this, so you and your students can create as many padlets as they like.

Padlet guide (from Warwick Ac Tech).

8. Sophisticated shared whiteboards

Miro is one of the best collaboration tools we have used - in fact one of the best applications ever! Use it to created and share whiteboard spaces which can extend as much as you need. Organise content into frames. Link to frames to provide instant access to specific topics. Add text, images, video, audio, web pages, annotations (works brilliantly on tablets), and diagrams. Miro includes hundreds of diagram templates, including all of those used in create work, design, business, planning, and project managemet. You can even create your own templates so that they can be reused across lessons, by students in their own work, and by your colleagues. Export Miro boards as PDF (e.g. for assessment purposes).

Miro is free for education, although that does not give a 100% guarantee of its availability at all times.

 Using Miro in Teaching (by Robert O'Toole).

 Guide to using MiroLink opens in a new window, including getting an educator or student license (Warwick Ac Tech).

9. One-to-one support sessions

Microsoft Teams makes this really easy, although you may need to adapt your approach to the online environment - for example, encourage students to use emojis to communicate their feelings. Teams Chat allows for text, audio, video and document collaboration with individuals. This can happen in a specific synchronous session, or you can provide more continual support over a longer period. You might want to set up a chat session with a student and also include a second member of staff, even if they are just their to provide additional support and to ensure continuity if you become unavailable.

You can schedule your availability informally by communicating specific times when you are available, and use the Status system in Teams to show when you are not available.

Of you can use a more formal meeting booking system, such as Bookings, which is integrated with Outlook Calendar and Teams.

If you are using audio in a noisy shared location, such as an Academic Studio, use a headset with mic.

If you are using video in a shared location, blur your backgorund, and be aware of other people who are able to see your screen.

Microsoft BookingsLink opens in a new window (a guide from Warwick Ac Tech).

10. Edit documents together

Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite (which includes Office). Any Microsoft documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) shared through Teams are, by default, editable by all team members. This means that you can, for example, share your lecture slides, and include blank or templated slides for the students to collaborate on in the lecture, beforehand or later. There are many possibilities! You can also link directly to any file (and any other kind of thing, including channels, messages) in Teams. The system also includes many other apps that can be used collaboratively, such as Planner for shared task lists managed using the Kanban approach.

Collaborate on documents in Teams.

Kanban plannnig technique in Planner.Link opens in a new window

12. Hybrid mode: teach students on-campus and online at the same time

Teach students in a physical classroom and online at the same time using Microsoft Teams and specialisy A/V equipment. This is technically feasible with help, but you should also consider how you will manage both classrooms at the same time. It's not easy, and if done badly can have a major negative impact. It's also best to use the dedicated equipment (currently limited availability in some rooms). Try using an assistant to manage the interface between Teams and the physical classroom, looking after text chat, hands-up etc. Use Vevox as a channel for structured student interaction.

 A/V Services guide to hybrid teachingLink opens in a new window.

13. Make a resource list of mixed media

Talis Aspire can be used to create traditional reading lists of books in the Library. But you can also use a bookmarking tool, added to your web browser, to add any kind of content that is available on the internet. This is a very fast and efficient way of working. Use it to create lists for specific modules, or reusable lists covering topics. For example, see this list on VR and AR in HE.

 Guides to using Talis AspireLink opens in a new window.

 Using the bookmark tool to add items fastLink opens in a new window.

14. Make a video

There are three distinct levels of sophistication in video making:

  1. Record a presentation into an online video streaming platform - quick and easy, little or no traning required, but with little or no scope for editing and using a wider range of media, titles and effects. OK for when the content is simple and editing will not be required. Can be done with a laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet with its in-built mic and camera.
  2. Use timeline-based video editing software designed for non-specialists - relatively easy, can be used by someone with good IT skills without specific traning, allows for more detailed editing, combining shots, multi-camera edits, a range of media, titles and effects. Good for when you want to achieve professional results at low or no cost and with little time spent training.
  3. Use professional standard timeline-based video editing software - requires significant training and support, for a high level of precision in editing and the full range of professional features and media (including 360o video). Good for transferable student skills. Good if you need professional results.

Example tools and processes appropriate for the three different levels are:

  1. Basic: echo360, eStream, Powerpoint (record audio and talking head video into slides, then upload to Stream), Microsoft Stream, Youtube.
  2. Medium: Microsoft Video Editor (Windows 10), Apple iMovie (Mac, iPad, iPhone, free), OpenShot (all platforms, free), ShotCut (all, free), WeVideo (all). iMovie is the best of the available tools, but limited to Apple hardware.
  3. Advanced: Final Cut Pro (Mac, approximately £200 with the pro apps for education bundle including Logic Pro and other tools), Adobe Premiere (all platforms, an expensive Adobe Creative Cloud monthly subscription is required).

Support for these tools within the University:

  1. The Academic Technology Team provides limited support for these basic techniques: echo360, eStream, Powerpoint, Microsoft Stream (very limited support).
  2. No support is available for middle-level tools.
  3. No support from IT or AV. Some Arts Faculty courses provide Final Cut or Premiere facilities and support for their students, and have dedicated equipment.

Screen recording software as an alternative approach offering more features than the basic level:

  1. For Apple computers, Screenflow (approx £80 with education discount) provides high quality screen recording, timeline based editing, and sophisticated effects, using a simple interface and workflow. This is often the fastest route to high quality results.
  2. Camtasia does screen recording with timeline-based editing and a good range of tools (Windows, £147 per user with education discount).
  3. Many other screen recording apps are available, for all platforms, some of which are free.