For those of you new to online teaching, or new Talis Elevate, we wanted to give you 5 simple ways you can incorporate activity online with Talis Elevate, learning from our brilliant academic users who have shared their approaches.

 

1. Pre-webinar reading 

It’s to be expected that engagement levels might have dropped since the shift to online. With many students dealing with a changing home and reduced access to resources and tools available to them at university. This means that contact with your students at the moment is more valuable than ever. To make the most of this time set your students activity in advance, so that you can spend time together going over discussion points, rather than the content itself.

Dr Wendy Garnham who uses this approach told us that “It means we have more time to work on extending students’ understanding in the seminars rather than going over the exact nature of the reading and any difficulties with it. Students are engaging much more in the seminars”.

 

2. Diversify discussion around the subject 

Talis Elevate allows for discussion and collaboration around a number of content formats. We’ve seen our users take advantage of this in many ways, from uploading videos that can be commented on at specific timestamps, to images that use our new image annotation tool (which allows comments to be made without highlighting text). Of course, documents and PDFs are widely used too.

 

Dr Anna Rich-Abad found the image annotation tool very useful in helping students better understand the images, as they could place comments on exact places. In this example, students were able “to discuss a lot of the symbolism around specific areas of the image… This is the goal I had when I started this module, they were missing the symbolism, and with this tool, they are improving on this and making better connections.” 

 

Dr Toby Carter told us that he has found incorporating the use of video into his module really useful. In a recent blog post, he shared some examples with us from his Communications module on a Conversation Masters course. Sharing different types of media was useful in helping his students identify how different types of communication were effective. 

“The students are used to communicating in a scientific context, but in each assessment, they have to communicate to different audiences. This is challenging for the students, as they’ve generally only had to communicate with other scientists. So that’s why I’m bringing in forms of communication with different ideas.” Dr Toby Carter

 

3. Posing questions throughout lecture notes

Using Talis Elevate as a vehicle for setting tasks for your students can be effective in that it keeps everything in one place. Dr Toby Carter told us that he used to set discussion questions in a separate tool but now finds that with Talis Elevate, as there is no gap between the task and the content itself that he sees much more engagement and better responses.

 

4. Use the data to target support and adjust your teaching 

In this unusual time, ‘normal’ or ‘usual’ goes out the window, and we find ourselves experimenting and taking things day by day. You won’t be getting immediate verbal feedback from your students on what they understand, what they find interesting, or useful, and this kind of response may be harder for your students to give over video calls.

With analytics in Talis Elevate, you can use the data to adjust what you provide and how you provide it. Have students spent more time than expected on a piece of content, or perhaps less? Do their comments reveal misunderstandings, or a need to cover the subject further? Allow their interaction and engagement to guide your teaching.

There is another great way to use your data with Talis Elevate that Dr Renan Petersen-Wagner revealed had been useful to him in this blog post. He told us that with Talis Elevate he had been monitoring which students had not been engaged with any content for a number of weeks. He took this as an opportunity to check in on the wellbeing of those students. 

At the moment, whilst we are all in our own homes, and you are not seeing students face to face, it’s easy to fall out of contact. Talis Elevate can help you identify which students may be slipping behind with work, or facing other challenges, and reach out to them to offer support.

 

5. Support each other 

It’s more important than ever to support each other as we navigate this strange time! You can encourage this with group discussion within Talis Elevate. Your students can have a conversation within the resources in Talis Elevate and pose questions on things they are unsure about.

Dr Anna Rich-Abad touched on this when we spoke to her. She told us in a recent blog post that students found group discussions within the content in Talis Elevate helped boost confidence. Not only this, but they told her that Talis Elevate helped them “keep their sanity” during the lockdown period, by keeping a routine and having live discussions with their peers.

 


Dr Jamie Wood, Principal Lecturer and School Director of Learning and Teaching at the University of Lincoln talks about increasing participation with Talis Elevate.

We know from speaking to student Talis Elevate user Georgia Petts that she found group discussions encouraging, “When other students made the same comments as I did, it backed up that my opinions were valid and I was on the right track.”