Digital soft skills have slowly become a vital part of online teaching over the past year, with communication and collaboration being essential when teaching and working virtually. The following are some suggestions on how to develop your digital soft skills and enhance your hybrid learning approach:
1. Keep your camera on
Try to keep your camera on and suggest that your students turn their cameras on too, this can help to create a more personal feel to the online lecture.
2. Practice Active Collaboration
“Active learning focuses on how students learn, not just on what they learn.” (Getting started with Active Learning, Cambridge International Education Teaching and Learning Team, 2020). It is a process where students are encouraged to actively participate in gaining deep understanding of a topic, rather than receiving information from the tutor only. This can be carried out by doing activities in lessons that encourage students to think, develop and apply ideas to a variety of different contexts.
If you are new to active learning, the following questions and ideas may be a helpful place to start:
- What materials do the students need to learn? This could be regarding skills as well as subject content.
- How will the task help my students to learn? Will the task you have created provide them with skills they will be able to apply elsewhere? This is a key factor when applying active learning.
- Aim to include more open ended questions to encourage discussion.
- Explain how the task is useful to the students. Some students may be hesitant to contribute to this new way of learning, but if they are aware of the benefits, they may be more likely to raise their hand!
Active learning in practice
It is vital that the student and the learning is at the forefront when creating an active learning activity. The task does not have to be complex, it just needs to motivate the students to start thinking independently and critically.
An example of an activity could be to put your students into groups and give each group a different question or topic. You can set up breakout groups in Blackboard Collaborate by following this help guide: https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Moderate_Sessions/Breakout_groups
Encourage the students to discuss within their group how they can answer the question, and to allocate different research tasks between themselves. They would then come up with a singular answer and present it to the rest of the class, where other groups would then ask questions about their topic. A suggestion would be to have all of the topics related, so that all each group has contributed to a wider knowledge base by the end of the activity.
How can Microsoft Teams help with collaboration?
Collaboration is a vital part of active learning and can be facilitated through the use of various digital tools. For example, Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams. We have a range of blog posts and help guides which can assist you in the application of these tools for active learning:
3. Address problems quickly and directly
Ensure that your students know that if there is a problem they can still contact you on a one-to-one basis. Hybrid learning can be overwhelming for some students, so offering your support and providing solutions quickly can be really helpful for struggling students. ITDS also offer student support for any technical issues they may be having.
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Cambridge-community.org.uk. 2020. Getting Started With Active Learning. [online] Available at: <https://www.cambridge-community.org.uk/professional-development/gswal/index.html>.
Ford, M. B., Burns, C. E., Mitch, N., & Gomez, M. M. (2012). The effectiveness of classroom capture technology. Active Learning in Higher Education, 13(3), 191–201. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787412452982