Teaching material and achieving goals in an online format
What are the goals and the content of my seminar? What was planned so far, and of that, what can we carry over into an online teaching format so as to achieve the prescribed goals and so that the students will benefit from the seminar?
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to use mostly simple, asynchronous tools. Less is more. Go for fewer tools so that you and the students can get used to using them, and so that you yourself feel confident using them. Good communication and interaction with the students are also very important. Give your students detailed information about the plan for the semester, how the material is to be taught and processed, what assignments or other tasks are to be completed, and how communication is to work within the course. These dimensions of teaching are borrowed from the work of Gabi Reinmann. Digitalisierung in der universitären Lehre – JETZT (22.03.2020)
We recommend that you publish a clear overview each week of the reading and learning goals for the topic (or class), including texts and useful links. Feel free to use existing materials on the internet. You can use e.g., a list of links with your comments, briefly introducing the materials – whether they are further texts, websites, videos, podcasts, open education resources (OER), and making recommendations. A further option is to make your own videos or Screencasts (recording of powerpoint slides along with your spoken voice); these can be quite short recordings (5 minutes), e.g. to introduce the topic.
You can access e-books for example from the University Library via the University network. As always, extracts and articles may be uploaded onto the University’s learning platforms. Take care to respect copyrights.
The important thing is to motivate and activate the students with appropriate questions, tasks or assignments. You need to ensure that the weekly workload is appropriate, and that the students can work well with it.
Assignments can be realized in many different ways. Here are several examples, based on the options on our learning platforms:
- Forums - everyone sees all posts: contributions may be made on particular topics (statements or summaries), or questions may be gathered, e.g. on the literature: What is the most important aspect of text xy? What are the students critical of? Other options: Research tasks, collected within the forum. To get started: What especially interests me about this seminar?
- Assignment for submission - goes to the teacher only: e.g., short essay on particular questions, other writing exercises, translations, mathematics exercises.
- Wiki: a jointly-formulated written discourse. Collecting work results/ reading experiences under certain thematic headings. E.g., expansion of a Wikipedia entry
- Group work - a group can be set up within the course’s online space; collaborative work can be done e.g. via Etherpad, which allows joint writing in real time.
It is important to give feedback on the work. Whether it is via the forum or via individual communication or by publishing solutions/ answers. Don’t forget the various forms of peer feedback - i.e., when students comment on each other’s work. For tests and quizzes, you can set up automatic responses.
These forms of coursework may be considered a replacement for work such as class presentations.
One significant element of a digital seminar is the general communication within the course; it creates various channels for questions and feedback. That does not mean that you always have to answer immediately; rather, there must be certain clear rules and forms of communication. Now more than ever, it is important to stay in touch.
Especially at the start of semester it is important to provide information to your students: about the new format, about technical specifications, about collaboration, and communication - so that the course as a whole will work. Don’t be afraid that you are communicating too much. We are all in this new situation together and have to get used to it together.
Communication channels and rules may be:
- General questions should be put to the forum - so that the same question does not have to be answered over and over. For this, it is a good idea to set up a thread called “General Questions.”
- You can designate a regular time window in which you will be available to chat.
- You specify a time period in which you will answer questions - e.g., within two days, one day...
- Weekly email to all (ILIAS: “Mail an alle”, moodle: Message forum/ announcements): current news, organizational matters, summary of the activity so far, preview of the coming week. This could be a regular communication on e.g. Monday or Friday.
- Because your students are not likely to know each other, a round of introductions and exchange - going beyond the actual content of the seminar - could be useful for the students. For this, a separate forum or thread within the course forum could be set up.
- It is very helpful for everyone to upload a photo of themselves (into their profile)
- Synchronous video conferencing as a standard method of communication is not recommended - technical functionality depends on many factors and cannot be guaranteed.
There are many options for online coursework (and for assessment where necessary), which can be carried out instead of class presentations. Careful thought must go into the way students receive their feedback. (In the case of assessed work: additional assessment criteria.)
This kind of short text form enables students to practice important aspects of academic discourse as well as academic writing and working with texts. Texts can be submitted within a set time window. They could be short texts on individual building-blocks of a semester paper, e.g. introduction, contention, choice of method. We recommend setting a length for submitted work (no. of characters/ keystrokes including spaces).
It is also important for students to get feedback, either individually from teachers, via set solutions/answers, or via peer feedback (ILIAS enables this). The introduction of peer feedback is also important, along with an explanation of how the students can get criteria for their feedback, e.g., what has been described and explained well, and why? Is anything missing somewhere? Has the subject’s terminology been used correctly? It has been shown that students benefit a great deal from such processes.
You must think carefully about how often such tasks are carried out, so that teachers do not face too great a workload.
A portfolio serves to continuously document and reflect on what has been learned. Particularly in the current situation, this can be a useful instrument for students to use. ILIAS contains a tool for this (students can set it up themselves via “persönlichen Schreibtisch”). Students fill this portfolio (texts, images, etc.) and can give their teacher access. Other methods, such as submitted assignments, may of course also be used. We recommend that you suggest concrete issues, topics, or aspects of the seminar to be dealt with in the portfolio. This could include the results of internet research.
You need to set limits on the length of individual texts (no. of characters) and to consider how to give feedback.
Wiki – and Etherpad in ILIAS – enable written collaboration and can be used for group work. Revision and further development can be traced in the version history. Students can work together e.g. to collect text blocks to expand a Wikipedia article, or to compare various encyclopedia entries on a particular topic (specialist encyclopedias, general dictionaries, Wikipedia in German and English …).
It can also be used to collect results from case studies or to develop suggestions for a small research project.
The learning platforms can be used to create test questions and tests (this can be done jointly with colleagues). Various question patterns are available; images or videos may be integrated into them (to enable, e.g., questions on a film excerpt or similar). Your own written text may also be used. These tests can be linked up with individual topics/ units.
Because these tests are mostly assessed automatically, the teacher’s feedback workload is reduced. However, there is considerable effort involved in setting up the tests in the first place.
It is also possible to require podcasts or videos as coursework. Almost all students have smartphones which can make simple voice and video recordings. Furthermore, there is a well-known program for recording slides with sound: Microsoft Powerpoint. The files need to be uploaded to the learning platforms.
Firstly: Synchronous video conferencing as a standard method of communication is not currently recommended - technical functionality cannot be guaranteed because it depends on each participant’s internet connection.
- One-on-one situations: e.g. consultation ahead of an assignment or thesis.
- Interactive situation with a medium-sized group of participants (maximum of about 20 participants, you may have to decide by trial and error); this is a form of webinar. Everyone can speak. Time guideline: 60-90 minutes at most (try it to see what works best). You can also use this function for smaller groups within a seminar.
- Presentations or podium discussions with far more participants. Only one or a small number of participants can speak, the other can take part via the chat function.
Webinars are a challenge to moderate, due to the high level of interactivity and the fact that everyone is meant to make a spoken or written contribution. In addition, the situation is new for everybody and everyone has to get used to it. There are various tools for it, most with similar functions, but they are arranged in different ways (see ZDV/ IT Center website).
Familiarize yourself with the “video conference room” and the functions, e.g. by working with a colleague. Consider the possibility of conducting your first webinar sessions with two teachers/ moderators, or with a student assistant to help if necessary. Some further tips on webinar design and moderation:
Moderator’s role and tasks
- The moderator has several roles at once: teaching, activating and motivating, and managing technical matters.
- Several communication channels must be kept open at the same time: oral/ audio, chat, and work with slides or a virtual whiteboard, where applicable.
- You should start with at least a rough plan for the session. Consider an opening sequence: Managing the technical side of things, saying hello, introducing the topic; and consider how you will close the session: Summary, preview of the next session, etc. Remember that a session like this has a lot in common with a regular seminar, yet that it is in many ways different. A lot is missing or difficult to communicate (e.g. there is a lack of the social connectedness which comes with sitting together in one room; communication is synchronous, but delayed, and may be on or off camera, etc.).
- Consider how to organize a discussion. Should questions be put via chat during a presentation, and will someone in the group be responsible for managing them (potential problem: if there are a lot of questions, it is easy to lose the overview) - or should all questions be put after the presentation is finished? Point out that the systems enable participants to “put up their hands” - to do so, they have to click on the appropriate signal, and it becomes visible to the moderator.
- Allocate some time at the start for a technical check-in. Tell your participants that it is a good idea to have a headset (this prevents sound feedback/distortion); the microphone should be muted when it is not the student’s turn to speak, otherwise, others will hear e.g., the tapping of keystrokes. It can also be helpful to switch off the cameras to take some of the load off the system.
- Depending on the system, you can incorporate files by uploading them or granting the right to upload; students can bring in their presentations directly or receive the rights to do so.
- Ensure that there are a number of different activities to change the pace in your session, so that students can maintain their concentration. Some tools provide whiteboards where you can write, hold votes, or carry out group work. Activities and exchanges can be initiated using slides with images, quotations, etc. Chats and whiteboards can be exported from some systems and stored as a document of the work done in the session.
- Get comments during the course of the webinar, along with oral comments. You can call upon participants to give feedback via chat, or via the icons provided within some systems.
Sämtliche Aktivitäten eines Seminars können in den Tübinger Lernplattformen Ilias oder moodle abgebildet werden. Darüberhinaus finden sich dort Kommunikations-, Organisations- und Bereitstellungsmöglichkeiten, die in einer Seminarsitzung in Präsenz nicht gegeben sind. Online-Seminare können sowohl - synchron - die Durchführung von Plenumssitzungen ermöglichen, z.B. über Chats und Webkonferenzen, oder asynchron mit Materialangeboten und Screen Casts, die von den Studierenden nach eigener Zeiteinteilung bearbeitet werden.
Hier finden Sie Hinweise, wie aus einer Präsenzveranstaltung ein Online-Workshop erstellt werden kann.
Dann geht es um die Inhalte: Um ein Seminar rein digital anbieten zu können, werden selbstverständlich digitale Inhalte benötigt, die nicht erst eingescannt und aufbereitet werden müssen. Einsteiger in die Online-Lehre brauchen kurze Erklärungen, vulgo HowTos, wie man mit dem einen oder anderen Werkzeug überhaupt umgeht. Schließlich kann es auch nicht schaden die eine oder andere Fertigkeit in Form einer Online-Kurzschulung, sei diese synchron oder asynchron, zu erlangen. Informationen zu diesen Bedarfen erhalten Sie hier.
Die Universitätsbibliothek hat über fast alle Fachbereiche hinweg in den letzten Jahren umfangreiche Bestände an eBooks, elektronischen Zeitschriften und an Datenbanken aufgebaut. In den Kurs(-Containern) der Lernplattformen können diese Bestände im Rahmen des deutschen Urheberrechtes als Materialgrundlage für Seminare benutzt werden. Bei Fragen steht Ihnen die Stabsstelle Urheberrecht der Universitätsbibliothek gerne zur Verfügung. Die Lernplattformen bieten dabei die Weblink-Funktion (Link setzen). In vielen Fällen müssen sie die elektronischen Inhalte aus ihren Angebotsumgebungen nicht einmal exportieren. Tragen Sie lediglich Herkunfstwebadresse in einen Weblink in Ihrem Kurs ein.
Damit Sie mit Diensten und Werkzeugen umgehen können, bieten wir Ihnen vielfältige HowTos und Schulungen an. (Links setzen) Die HowTos werden auf den Lernplattformen gesammelt, die Sie in Ihrem jeweiligen Fachbereich sammeln:
- Link zu den Ilias-HowTos (sichtbar nach Anmeldung in der Plattform)
- Link zu den moodle-HowTos (sichtbar nach Anmeldung in der Plattform)