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About Simon Paul Atkinson

30 Years as an academic practitioner, educational developer, educational technologist, social scientist, e-learning researcher, advisor. Experienced presenter and workshop facilitator. Currently the Head of Learning Design at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand Former Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning (BPP University), Academic Developer (LSE), Director of Teaching and Learning (Massey), Head of Centre for Learning Development (Hull), Academic Developer (Open)

On April 27th I had the pleasure of sharing a virtual platform with Alan Tait (Open University UK), hosted by Tim Read (UNED, Spain), for a webinar entitled 'How to Engage and Support Students Online'.

This is the EDEN (European Distance Education Network) community's response to the demands put on staff to teach remotely, many for the first time, with very little notice.  The webinar series, with all webinars available on the EDEN Youtube Channel covers a wide range of perspectives.

My contribution (starting at 27'50") was to highlight some of the tools and approaches that are widely available to ensure students and faculty can continue to make learning happen. I focussed on the notion of engaging students and advocated that everyone needs to adopt a learning model or approach that serves to make sense of the chaos. My own approach uses the SOLE model but any model would help structure responses at an individual and institutional level.

Here are the resources:

an Adobe Presenter version of the PowerPoint that I shared (on a separate page)

Screenshot of Adobe Presenter

A PDF version of the presentation with full notes here

A link to the EDEN YouTube recording of the full webinar available on the EDEN channel https://youtu.be/mw-6066s1vQ. 218 Individuals attended the ZOOM meeting with 50 colleagues joined via YouTube Livestream.

 

 

I believe it is important to design learning from the learners perspective. That means learning that is both relevant, meaningful and motivating but also that is realistic and feasible within an agreed timeframe. This is a very brief explanation for those new to designing courses of how to work out "how much is enough?"

I believe we should calibrate our learning to take account of the 'notional study hours' or NSH (alternatively referred to as 'Notional Student Hours').

The calculation may vary from the country by country. In tertiary institutions in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa and other jurisdictions, a single academic credit equates to 10 hours of student learning. In the European Credit Transfer Scheme, one credit equates to 25 to 30 hours. My explanations below take the UK/NZ model and assume that a single course, worth 15 credits has an NSH value of 150 hours. A full-time student would be expected to study eight such courses in a year, 120 credits in the first year, 120 in the second and so resulting in 360 credits for a three year degree.

Remember that the NSH is the total students are expected to study to earn their credits, NOT the amount of time you have to be guiding them. Work out what time each week you are expecting students to spend on independent study (without any guidance from you) and what time you are responsible for guiding them on. This last number that is most important to faculty designing courses.

Here is a simplified list of actions that all Faculty might want to enact:

  1. Review the course documentation (check level and benchmark statements from national or regional quality assurance agencies)
  2. Remind yourself of any assumptions made as to prior learning
  3. Remind yourself of the learning outcomes for your course
4. Remind yourself as to the credit weighting and work out for your course NSH 1 Credit = 10 hours NSH

15 Credit= 150 hours NSH

5. Remind yourself of the number of hours expected to be guided, as opposed to independent study. Institutions sometimes have different interpretations of national guidance. Usually, they see a decline in the number of guided hours as you go up the level. First-year undergraduates receiving more guided hours (65%) than masters students for example (33%)
6. Remind yourself of the assessment hours allocated to your course. It is not uncommon to deduct a number of hours for overall assessment tasks, these are usually included in the independent study hours. So say we deduct 30 hours off the 150 hours for this 15 credit course.
7. Then do a calculation of the number of weeks over which your course is expected to run and divide the NSH of the course by the number of weeks. This will give you the number of notional study hours (NSH) for your course per week We would then take the remaining 120 hours, work out what percentage of that was appropriate for guided learning hours (@ first year let's say 120 x 0.65 = 78)

Divided by the number of weeks in a  course (say 12) that would mean in this example we would be expected to provide learners with (78/12) 6.5 hours of guided learning.

You need to work through an example based on guidance from your own quality assurance colleagues to ensure you stay in tune with regional or national guidelines.

What is essential is that you do not see the guided learning hours as time spent directly with students. It includes anything you direct a student to watch, read or listen to. Any activities you instruct them to undertake as well as any online resources you choose to provide.

It is very often the case that we are 'over-teaching' in our on-line courses. Being aware of the NSH for your course is a good place to start.

In this short video (5'52"), Simon touches on three basic principles of programming assessments. The first is that it should be programme wide, the second that assessing outcomes not content provides future flexibility, and the third that summative (or credit-bearing) assessments do not have to be final or terminal assessments. Assessment is one of the most difficult areas for faculty to become comfortable with. Most will have experienced badly designed assessment themselves and their expectations of their academic managers, programme leaders and their students are often low. This is a shame because well-designed assessment can be a pleasure for both students and faculty.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This short lecture (10'22") presents the fundamentals of assessment for learning. Often referred to as formative assessment, I prefer to use the terms 'assessment for learning' and 'assessment of learning' instead of formative and summative. This is because 'summative assessment' is so often conflated with the notion of 'terminal assessment' that only happens at the end of a course of learning. In truth, assessment is a powerful motivator for learning if structured well. In this lecture, I outline the purposes, contexts and strategies that all educators should be reflecting on as they design their courses.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This short lecture covers the essential details of deep, surface and strategic learning as described by Marton & Säljö. (1976). It invites the watcher to reflect on their own strategies (as a learner) and those of their students. Simon then goes on to suggest five considerations from a course designers perspective.

Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1976). On Qualitative Differences in Learning: I—Outcome and Process*. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46(1), 4–11. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8279.1976.tb02980.x

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

This excerpt (8'30") is from the 'wrap-up closing keynote delivered by Simon Atkinson at the Estonian e-Universities Conference held in April 2009 in Tartu, Estonia. Simon builds on comments made by conference contributors to reflect on issues such as media environment, cultural priorities, and the breadth of the state curriculum.

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In this short lecture (9'38"), Simon outlines the basic structure of sound assessment. Describing reliability, validity, and fairness in assessment and exploring a range of different assessment forms. These range from diagnostic to synoptic (capstone), to formative and summative. Being familiar with some of the language around assessment is important in order to get the most of the literature and others' experiences. I believe that well-designed assessment is something all faculty will want to be involved in grading and marking, rather than trying to pass those duties onto others. Assessing your own students should be a fulfilling experience, and well-designed assessment enable that to happen.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

Lesson planning is more structured in K-12 and professional contexts than in most higher education institutions. This is disappointing because planning sessions, adjusting to context and level, duration of session, and cohorts, provide the basis for ongoing reflection. This video (9'36") outline as 5 step lesson planning model. A link is also provided to the word template which you are free to adapt in any way that enhances your practice.

Five-Step-lesson-plan

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

While many of us cringe at the sound of our own voice and hate seeing ourselves on film, witnessing, and reflecting upon, your own teaching performance is invaluable as a teaching enhancement technique. This brief video (1'20") introduces the concept of video (or audio) recording your own teaching practice as a point of reflection. A simple (editable and expandable) word template is also shared. This is available directly from http://www.sijen.com or by going to: http://bit.ly/micro-teach These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

One element in any teacher's enhancement toolkit is the evaluative comments provided to you from your students. Usually, these are captured at the end of a module, far too late to benefit your current students. This short video (2'18") links to a Word Document that serves as a template to support you in eliciting constructive evaluative comments from your students that will guide you in making appropriate adjustments within a course. It is important to note that students are not invited to critique you directly, rather they are asked to reflect on their experience of their learning. Any adjustments you make as a result of this process empowers students to take a degree of ownership of their own learning.

Word Document Template: Guidance to In-Class Evaluation

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

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