David was the first to try simultaneous teaching between Wellington and Auckland for the SIMs program using video conferencing tools. These tools enable him to be present in class in one location while teaching more students in another. David has an interactive lecturing style, but despite initial reservations, he was able to make adjustments to make the most of the remote layout.
David is one of the lecturers on the Master of Information Management, the first programme that has students based in both Wellington and the new Auckland campus. One of the considerations of having the student cohort split between the two campuses is the importance of maintaining a high quality experience for all students. In trimester two 2015, David helped to pilot a teaching model where classes at the two campuses were taught simultaneously using video conferencing tools. David was physically present at one location, while the other class was remotely connected via web cam and shared screens.
David’s style of teaching is highly interactive. In a normal lecture theatre, he frequently moves around the audience, interacting with the students individually and writing on the whiteboard. In transitioning to the remote teaching model, it was very important to him that he be able to continue with the same style that he was comfortable with. He was able to achieve this by using the right technology tools. First, the video conferencing tool Zoom was used to connect the two campuses. Each teaching space has a camera, microphone and screen. Secondly, David uses a tablet with an active stylus pen (a Microsoft Surface) to control the Zoom session and present his Powerpoint slides. The pen allows him to write naturally on the online whiteboard, just as he does with a whiteboard marker in a physical classroom.
David found that by using this approach, he is able to use the same teaching materials as he always had, with the addition of blank Powerpoint slides to act as whiteboard spaces. The one significant adjustment that David had to make was to limit informal student-to-student interaction, which proved to be hard to manage with the approach that David was using. There are other styles of remote teaching which can handle this more effectively using collaboration tools such as OneNote, GoogleDocs, wikis and discussion boards on Blackboard.
An essential factor in the success of David’s approach was the presence of a tutor in the alternative location. The tutor is there to set up the room and the video link, manage the logistics of the classroom and help with minor technical issues. The tutor also has copies of the teaching materials and lesson plan so that they could continue with teaching in the case of internet failure. This last function has proved to be unnecessary to date, as David found Zoom to be very reliable with no major malfunctions. Having contingency plans such as this in place in the event that something goes wrong is essential for any teaching environment.
In the first iteration of this remote teaching, David regularly flew between Wellington and Auckland, spending alternative weeks in each location. The consistency of the student experience quality afforded by the video conferencing approach means that the frequency of the trips is able to be reduced in future offerings. David believes that it is still important for your students to have direct personal interaction to feel comfortable and engaged during subsequent online activities.
Video conferencing offers our staff the opportunity to teach in multiple locations simultaneously. This simultaneous teaching helps to reduce costs, both financial, with less travel between locations, and time, by removing the need to duplicate the same lecture and by allowing the use of the same teaching materials and approaches as previous courses. In the future , this teaching model could be expanded to allow connection to more than one remote location, bringing the teaching to the student rather than the other way around. These tools and approaches can also allow resilient teaching, accommodating both small mishaps such as injuries and larger disasters such as earthquakes.
Commentaries on the pedagogical ideas behind this case study, written by academics from the Centre for Academic Development
Learning Design and Application
Many of the pedagogical principles that lead to successful seminar teaching in a single location apply similarly when teaching between multiple locations. It is important to be clear to students what the structure of the session and outline of the topics covered will be. Generally multi-site sessions will be slightly slower than a single site session. This means that less content can be presented and more attention needs to be placed on ensuring all groups understand where the session is at in relation to the overall plan.
As with single site classes it is important to provide experiences in a series of smaller ‘chunks,’ typically 10-15 minutes at most. Changes in activity are needed between chunks in order to maintain student focus and attention and short rests should be also considered if classes are more than an hour in length.
Clarity of content and delivery is absolutely critical. Key terms and jargon need to be displayed in written form as well as spoken. Ideally all of the visual aids will be designed to respect the limitations of the remote presentation. This means that if Powerpoint is used, the slides should have a simplified design and consideration should be given as to how you are drawing student attention to key points. David used a pen and tablet so that he could annotate slides in real time easily, other alternatives include using changes in the slides such as highlighting to focus on specific points
A particular challenge is being responsive to student questions. The main benefit of seminar teaching is the ability it provides for focused interaction. A multi-site class can provide similar experiences provided that this is planned for. Having a remote tutor in each site is a good option as they can manage interaction in the site and assist the teacher in drawing out ideas from all of the students or in responding to issues students are having with the session content and activities
An important benefit of students coming together in classes is the ability that gives them to interact with each other. Students engaged in collaborative and cooperative learning are typically more motivated and engaged. They also learn by experiencing other students expressing ideas in different ways or by being exposed to a variety of viewpoints and ideas. Particularly in multi-site classes interactive activities need to carefully structured and focused with an explicit task and deliverable. CAD staff can advise on a variety of tasks that can be undertaken to achieve a range of learning objectives for your students.
Finally, every class should always start with a summary of what has come previously and how it relates to the current session, and conclude with a summary of the key points from the class. Ideally, students should be given advice on how to proceed with activities that consolidate the learning they have done, this can include further online collaboration or content review and may also include assessed work.
Reproduce this in Your Own Teaching
This is a quick-start guide for using Zoom in your own remote teaching. If you would like additional support, contact one of our learning and teaching team
Consider how you want to set up and run your class.
Discuss your plan with one of our learning and teaching team
Decide what tools you will using and become confident with them
Run your sessions
Contact one of our learning and teaching team to discuss these ideas further and for support using the technologies.