DLF Lunchtime Series – Making connections with and between students online


APR, 2020

Digital Learning
Teaching & Learning

Learning Innovations
Team Communication

DLF Lunchtime series event, 28 April 2020

A panel of five Deakin educators and three students talked about strategies they had found to work well to develop learning relationships online with and between students, amidst the shift to wholly online learning and teaching during Trimester 1.

The Zoom event was hosted by A/Prof Barbie Panther and panellists were faculty first-year coordinators Dr Wendy Webber, Dionne Holland and Dr Petra Brown; teachers in Digital Media Dr Adam Brown and Emily Wade; and students Lauren Antonysen, Zara Wicks and Mia Driller.

Download accessible transcript here.

Some of the strategies raised were:

  • Phoning students who aren’t connecting: this has elicited more questions than simply inviting students to phone or email teachers. It has enabled teachers to address problems, particularly around assessments, and encouraged students to make further contact. First year students benefited especially from this strategy.
  • Posting short, friendly videos: posting a video to explain clearly how the unit is going to work online, inviting questions and explaining expectations has helped ease students into the new mode. Posting weekly short videos with encouraging memes or messages along with instructions for the week’s work has helped students know you are on top of things and able to help.
  • Buddy system: setting up a buddy system to connect more confident with quieter students has become necessary this trimester, to encourage timid students to participate.
  • Social media options: Setting up or encouraging social media such as Twitter hashtags for the unit, unit Facebook sites or Teams sites has helped students connect informally around unit work. Not all students like using unit discussion forums and email.
  • Keeping videos and mics on: asking students to keep their videos and microphones on in online seminars encourages a more natural flow of conversation and sense of an engaged community, and reduces the temptation for students to do other things during a session. Students valued this over the problems it could cause with overloaded bandwidth.
  • Showing you’re human, and trying: trying different platforms and posting videos that show your human side send a message of ‘safe failure’: that it’s ok to operate out of your comfort zone and that ‘we’re all doing our best’.
  • Designing for active online learning: units already designed for online learning are working well. These have a lot of weekly chunked content and opportunities for students to check and discuss their learning each week. Students left without direction and tasks to complete each week can tend to procrastinate over big tasks.
  • Scaffolding technologies: recognising students may not be confident on certain technologies and platforms, and supporting them to learn to use them, is vital.

For more see the detailed notes here.

For more information and updates please refer to the Transitioning Teaching Online homepage here.

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