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Discussion on strategies

There is a need for discussing a number of points concerning video conference use at AAU. This could lead to the development of formal strategies, or perhaps informal agreements on how video conference teaching is conducted within a particular educational programme.
 

video on the status of the initiatives [3:34] 

The status of the VAAU intiatives and the plan of action is outlined in this video.


 

video on the discussion of strategies [7:09] 

In this video, we bring up relevant questions for discussion that may form the basis of both formal and informal future strategies.

Here is a link to the School of Engineering and Science's video conference policy mentioned in the above video.
 

A summary of the majority of questions:

Contemplate to

  • Develop formal strategies at study programme level, or the entire study board.
  • Have informal discussions on how the specific programme aims to develop and conduct video conference teaching.

For example, you can initiate a discussion on the following questions:

  • Are there any policies that need to be followed in our study programme?
  • Have we decided a preferred route of plan B and even plan C, if the video conference facility happens to fail?
  • Who makes sure that the room is ready prior to teaching — the teacher, a student assistant, the secretariat?
  • What about exams over video conference, how are they conducted?
  • For which type of teaching do we use video conference? Also as a content-level discussion and on how we evaluate.

Guidelines in the making
 

  • Why it is important to provide "equal access" to the teacher?
  • Some aspects of student experiences are enhanced over video conference and can complicate the situation
  • Exams via video conference
  • Students find that video conferencing can be a good choice – see how students assess the quality of the technology and the quality of the pedagogy, and how teachers' opinions and attitude towards digital- and video conference teaching may impact the ongoing situation
  • Obtaining active teaching through online quizzes, reflections, showing results from paper exercises via mobile phones etc.
  • Planning and running video meetings — whether planning your teaching or running your supervision
  • Video meetings for supervision, teaching and Q&A hours for several (PBL) groups
  • A (visual) illustration of why active communication can be difficult for students during video conference lectures
  • To evaluate video conference modules, courses, and activities
  • When the "far end" is only one or a handful of people
  • Provide the students with insight into the systems and the pedagogical choices
  • Decisions where students can assist and support you
  • Reflections on teaching that seek to activate students in video conferencing
  • To record the teaching — or use flipped classroom
  • Getting to know each other — position of cameras and use of other video conference tools to activate the teaching and the subject discussion

Teacher experiences

Some teachers experience that

  • It is challenging to remember the use of video conferencing when not used regularly
  • The teaching often becomes more presentation- and monologue based than their non-video teaching

Some teachers ask the organizing bodies to arrange for

  • A starting point for acquiring general competencies and time to experiment with the techniques
  • Time for (hours that can be registered) and opportunities for maintaining competencies
  • Time and opportunity for interaction with peers
  • Peer-to-peer supervision
    — Some teachers want to exchange and observe each other’s teaching over a specific period — with the same colleague from the same educational programme
  • Mentoring
    — Others would like to observe an experienced teacher, or enter a mentoring programme similar to the pedagogical programme for assistant professors.

Campus-to-campus teaching activities with video—a course with a pedagogical scope

Dates and description can be seen here. (Scroll down the linked page for English text):

Experience Network (erfa-group) for teachers

An AAU erfa network will be established in the autumn 2018. It will host an “after-work meeting” once a year for both teachers and technical staff, focusing on collegial sparring on video conferencing in teaching and meetings.

it should not be an individual teacher's task to make a plan a, B or C​​

Many teachers find they are left to themselves when deciding how to act when things do not work, leaving them alone with the students' frustration. They state that they want someone to take more explicit responsibility for the VC technology.

The organizing bodies must provide support here. See, for example, the two videos in the article Discussion on Strategies

Here are examples of plans teachers can adopt depending on video conference use. The plan should be adjusted according to how frequently they use it, and the size of their classes.

When things go wrong:

  • Switch platform (Skype for Business / Adobe Connect). With Skype for Business you can see if the room itself is able to connect, as shown in the article on bringing in a virtual guest
  • If the point-to-point video conference system does not work, connect via a computer at the "far end" as the student assistant or TA, and then project the image of your screen via the computer. 
  • If sound is the only problem (which used to happen more frequently in the past, but not so often anymore), you can connect the sound via the computer and simply use the video conference system in the room for screen activities.
  • Students can be grouped around their computers, but remember to mute computers to avoid echo, if several groups stay in the same room.

Consider if a teacher can reschedule, and if they cancel the class, who is responsible for carrying this decision through?

Consider whether plan A, B and C should always come in a fixed order or if it may vary.

Most importantly, all the choices must be tried in practice, rather than settling with thinking them through.

SHould (and Could?) the teachers and students meet?

There are indications that the physical meeting betweent teacher and student can benefit the outcome of video teaching for both parties.

  • Some teachers reflect that they might be better at running video conference teaching, if they can establish a closer relationship with the students initially through physical attendance.
  • Some students in the “far end” location feel that they are less valued and have less access to the teachers.
  • Students at both locations seem to benefit from having some social and even physical meeting during the semester.

The organizing bodies (whether at the study board, coordinator or department level) can look into whether there are funds to support teachers travelling for some of the sessions, and if there are funds for students to meet, if video conference is used a lot during the same educational programme.

Teachers experience that teaching works better at the end of the semester in courses where they have students for a longer period of time. It takes time for both teacher and students to get to know one another. As one teacher puts it:

“ Then the students know what should happen.They know my routines. I know which students I will try to get more in touch with and I can differentiate better. I.e. time to build relationships seems crucial.”

Teachers say that it gives greater satisfaction to be physically present among the students. It provides greater contact and relationships with the students, and this impression seems to be mutual, according to the teachers.

 

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