Notes from the Virtual Chalk-face

What have I learned from running sessions with my eLearners in the virtual classroom? Here are my latest thoughts:

  • getting everyone to meet me in the virtual classroom for a one-to-one session before the course proper was underway helped iron out any techy problems attendance is better if we meet at a regular time each week
  • don’t go over 30 minutes
  • virtual sessions need planning
  • rather than just responding to questions on the day, it seems to work better if I choose an aspect of the current assessment task to explore in the virtual session
  • it is really important to maintain a cool, confident manner and not be put out if there are technical problems
  • it can be off-putting if I interrupt a student and we then spend several seconds telling each other to carry on. I think I should try to organise the sessions so that each student talks more and is not interrupted by me. Easier said than done! I think I should use the ‘raising your hand’ facility in the same way as the students

What next?

  • always have a slide or file as the basis of the session, rather than just talking
  • find out if I can share a page from Blackboard as well as sharing ppt and pdf files
  • decide my recording policy: my college is keen for me to record every session (I think just so that there is a record ) but I don’t want to clutter the site with recordings of sessions which are of variable value.
  • make more use of the chat pane. For example, a student recently lost the use of his microphone but could hear the rest of us, so he continued to participate effectively using the chat pane
  • get student access to the virtual classroom without my needing to be there, so that they can work on collaborative tasks
  • should I plan virtual sessions using the same pro forma that I use for classroom sessions? I often argue that effective online teaching is based on the same principles as classroom teaching so using the same pro forma would support that idea.

I would be pleased to get your comments on any of these points! We could even have a virtual meeting if you wish!



Is 90% of my feedback wasted?

Having binged on the research findings about the process of making feedback effective I have been trying to put some of these findings into practice, always tempered by the fact that most of the research is based on H.E. whereas I work in F.E.

I am grateful to @CarlessDavid for his steady stream of tweets. He goes one step further than many tweeters by adding to the basic tweet a link to a paper or source of information. That helps keep me up-to-date but I still have to adjust any ideas or suggestions to suit the world of F.E.

In recent weeks I have wondered:

  • should feedback be written or spoken?
  • what is the optimum amount of feedback? Should the tutor limit themselves to just 2 or 3 points?
  • is it really possible to turn the feedback process into a dialogue?
  • 90% of my feedback is wasted but I don’t know which 90%
  • would group feedback be (almost) as effective as individual feedback – and much less time consuming?
  • or should all members of a group be able to share each others’ feedback?
  • should we give students choice about which mode of feedback they receive?
  • how can we ensure that feedback becomes feed forward?
  • should students self-assess at the point of submitting work?
  • what mechanisms can we use to encourage students to respond to written feedback? (I encourage entries in their reflective journal, for example)

What do you think are the 3 most important elements of an effective feedback process?