My course is organized without fixed teaching moments and students can begin at any time.
To increase flexibility and student responsibility, think about what aspects of your course can be presented as independent learning. This doesn’t have to mean just reading and writing, but can also include interactive videos, discussion forums, and online quizzes.
In some cases, entire courses could be independent, with no physical or virtual moments. In this case, be sure to include lots of feedback moments and opportunities for asynchronous student interaction.
E-Learning in Nutrition & Dietetics
Amely Verreijen (l) and Anouk van der Steen (r), instructors Nutrition & Dietetics (FBSV)
From lectures to e-learning
The Nutrition & Dietetics department converted a a strictly lecture-based course to a series of independently-accessed content and interactive lessons. We noticed that theory didn’t seem to stick with students long-term and that that put more pressure on teachers, instead of on the students. That’s why we wanted to experiment with e-learning. Effectively, it allowed students to interact with the content at their own pace via educational videos, interactive media, and quizzes.
- Added Value: How did impact teachers and students?
- Flexibility: Because of all the Corona measures, this e-learning structure came at just the right moment for teachers and students. Students could work through the e-course when and where they chose; so it is super flexible. For teachers it is flexible, too. Once a week, each teacher looks at the discussion forum where students post questions to make sure there are no technical issues. And they can do that whenever they have time. Our IT&Education staff was also helpful with this process.
- Student study habits: You can follow student activity in e-learning course. You can see if students watch the videos and then do the exercises or if they go straight to the end quiz and do that 10 times. You can see that students are engaging with the material, otherwise, they won’t be successful.
- Enthusiastic students: The students appreciate the flexibility. The students who began the course and followed the structure were really happy with the course and rated this way of working 9.2. This rating falls to 8.5 if you include the students who didn’t start working in the course until the final weeks.
- Challenges: What were they and how did you deal with them?
- Strict sequence: For example, we only let the next module appear when students completed the previous module’s quiz with a score of 10. This was a point of frustration for some students who could not attain 100% after several tries. To prevent this, we could set the bar at 90-95%.
- Feedback: One challenge for the teachers was to decide how much feedback to give students on the end quizzes. On the one hand, the quiz itself is a feedback moment and it is clear what theme and material is being reviewed or assessed. On the other hand, it is important to be able to tell students where to find answers to their questions. This results in an important question, you want to support students, but you also want them to interact with the content. Maybe it is an idea to create contact moments to support those who need it.
- Also to consider: Some students live lessons and being able to ask questions right away. Sometimes it is too big of a step to have to post questions via a digital platform. It is also important to remember to vary your use of tools and activities to appeal to different types of learners.
- Beginning: What advice do you have for others getting started?
- Make a plan: We applied the ‘Carpe diem design approach’, by which you think about learning outcomes, what you want to achieve (your dream), which ‘look-and-feel’ you want to create, etc., and also what content you want to use and how you will assess students. That gave us the structure for then creating our e-course.
- Development time: It took about twice as much preparation time as the original course. In particular, making questions and educational videos took quite a bit of time. In addition, it takes some time to learn how to do things in Brightspace. It is a time investment that pays off later when the students will be able to work independently (and all the digital materials can be reused in future course).
- Personal touch: Try to make the e-course as personal as possible. For example, use short introduction clips or instructional videos by the teacher that show their personality. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Finally, react professionally and positively to students’ questions. That is always worth it.
Before you begin
What should you do first?
Discuss with your team
Which course would work as an e-course? Would this work with the learning outcomes of the course? Would you make the entire course an e-course or would you offer only a section for those who would prefer that?
Discuss with IT&Education and Education & Research support teams
How can you, without face-to-face meetings, engage students and make sure they are making progress?
How do you make sure that students can assess for themselves that they are making progress in the course?