Luke Donnan has been trialing some new strategies to improve online student engagement in a clinical podiatry subject. Luke’s strategies include – a very clear and well-structured format for the weekly learning resources, short screen casts to guide students and assist them is navigating their online materials and “opt-in” discussion forums where Luke responds to every student contribution. 

What were you trying to achieve?

POD213 is a fully on-campus subject that was traditionally delivered using a standard lecture format. This subject not only contains the theory component but students are also required to complete 60 hours in the CSU Allied Health Clinic. Given the significant clinical component in this subject Luke was keen to provide students with more flexibility around the theoretical component. In 2015 Luke trialed moving the learning resources, lectures and activities entirely online. Luke’s new approach involved improving the structure and delivery of the online subject resources and encouraging student participation through the use of opt-in discussion forums (ie. students could not see any posts on the forum until they had made their own contribution). Luke was able to achieve a really strong “teacher presence” in this subject through the use of short screen casts where students could see him via his webcam and through the individual responses he provided to every post on the discussion forums.

What did it look like?

Luke has created a short screen cast demonstrating his strategies.

How can I make this happen? 

Luke has used a couple of very simple strategies to improve his online subject design and delivery. The tools used to make this happen include:

  1. Screen capture software – there are lots of options available….free ones include Screencast-O-MaticTinyTakeJing, plus many more…
  2. Organisation of the Learning Resources – many i2 sites contain multiple folders and locations that students need to navigate to assemble the learning resources for each Topic. Luke used a single page for each Week within the session. This page contained the ppt file, learning objectives, video summary, learning activity and direct link to the discussion forum for that week – VERY clear and simple for the students to navigate.
  3. “Opt-in” discussion forums – Luke has created a separate Forum for all of the weekly activities. When these Forums were created the following option was selected – “Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum”. Although the weekly forum activities weren’t assessed in this subject students had an incentive to make a contribution and Luke acknowledged every students contribution on each forum.

This post was originally published in the QLT (Online) blog.