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Managing online tutorials at scale at the open university (staff support webinar)

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by Zoe Gipson, The Open University, The United Kingdom (Staff support webinar, 21 September 2020)

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Managing online tutorials at scale at the open university (staff support webinar)

  1. 1. Managing online tutorials at scale at The Open University Zoe Gipson – Senior Product Development Manager Learning Systems Team, LXT, CIO Portfolio, The Open University
  2. 2. Contents The OU context & scale Online learning Responding to increasing demand Tips for managing different types of events 2 01 02 03 04 05 Summary
  3. 3. 1. The OU context & scale
  4. 4. The Open University 4 • Established in 1969, celebrated 50th birthday last year! • Since then over two million students taught worldwide • National Student Survey highlights the OU’s consistent quality – in the top 3 universities to have consistently achieved over 90% for student satisfaction.
  5. 5. Mission 5 We believe that education should be open to any one, any time, any place Our mission is to be open to Methods Places Ideas People
  6. 6. The Open University 6
  7. 7. The OU model 7 • Open access • High quality learning materials • One-to-one support • Interactivity and feedback • Formative and summative assessment • Residential/day schools • Social networking
  8. 8. 2. Online learning
  9. 9. Typical OU module 9 • Students study part-time from home (or work, bus, train, prison, submarine…) • Modules run for 6 or 9 months (30 or 60 credits) • Average 16-20 study hours per week • Student:Tutor ratio around 20:1. • Teaching material structured around the module website, with links out to our real time collaboration tool of choice, Adobe Connect • Weekly study planner • Face-to-face and online tutorials – currently face-to-face are cancelled for the rest of 2020 • Everything online, but physical materials also important: books, etc.
  10. 10. Online tutorials at scale 10 • Using Adobe Connect since October 2016 – integrating Adobe Connect with the OU’s Virtual Learning Environment • Over 4500 OU staff trained (tutors and central academic staff) – many remote • On average we can have up to 3500 concurrent users and at peak this goes up to 5500 • ~40,000 scheduled online events per year • Over 43,000 recordings with a total view count of >1 million • Wide range of learning events: from 1(tutor):20(students) tutorials to module-wide events with 350+ participants
  11. 11. Seamless and consistent 11 • The OU is already operating at scale • Centralised admin for set up of rooms, groups and timetabling • Consistent approach to accessing online rooms and recordings – give tutors space to concentrate on how they deliver their tutorials • Training resources for ~4500 tutors – skill set • Sharing knowledge
  12. 12. 3. Responding to increasing demand
  13. 13. Challenges facing online learning 13 • Remote learners have a variety of requirements: • Varying technical abilities • Different devices, operating systems and internet connection • Responsibilities: work commitments, children, carers, etc. • Accessibility requirements • Motivation • Expectations • Engagement
  14. 14. Everyone wants to be online… 14 • Requests to add more rooms for staff to use • Training staff that have never used Adobe Connect before • Supporting staff to adapt presentations or delivery style for an online audience • Adapting guest access guidance • Ensuring we have the capacity • We cannot fix everyone’s internet connection…
  15. 15. Increase in online tutorials 15 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Number of planned tutorials 2019 2019 2020 2020
  16. 16. Increase in online tutorials 16 Overall the demand for scheduled tutorials has not increased dramatically. We are already operating at scale, with the majority of tutorials being online.
  17. 17. 17 Increase in other rooms
  18. 18. Increase in other rooms 18 Use of rooms outside the scheduled online tutorials has significantly increased Contacts with students outside their modules has increased with supportive sessions during lockdown Use of staff online rooms tripled!
  19. 19. 4. Tips for managing different types of events
  20. 20. What do you need to do? 20 Beyond tutorials. Keep people connected. Reach a diverse audience, working remotely and on various devices. Planning is similar to that of a face to face meeting/tutorial. • Who is hosting the room and how many participants do you anticipate? • Why do you need an online meeting/event/tutorial? • When will the session take place? • Where – set up a room for your session and the URL is the location. • What are the types of activities you want in your room? • How will you achieve this?
  21. 21. Delivery of online tutorials 21 • Good audio, USB headsets recommended. • Good quality webcam and internet connection. • Pace the session. • Leave thinking time and reaction time. • Learning and teaching events are more than a video conference. • Control participation, e.g. mics, webcam and draw. • Plan your session and describe the room and content as part of your narrative. • Providing materials in advance if requested and add supportive notes for key points. • Speak slowly and clearly – repeat or rephrase what you have said. • Remind Participants they can use the text chat and status icons to communicate. • For busy sessions over 30+ consider two Hosts, one to talk and one to handle text chat and status. One size does not fit all, but small adjustments can make a difference to many.
  22. 22. Student-only rooms 22 Requirement for students to access online rooms without tutors present. Use Adobe Connect templates to provide rooms in a managed way. • Social space to build communities • Familiarisation of Adobe Connect and preparation for online tutorials • Group activities linked to learning outcomes • Time-dependent team activities to prepare collaborative work towards assessment • Presenting/speaking skills
  23. 23. Extended use cases 23 • Enabled staff to train advisors – both internally and externally • Study skills workshops with students, can be larger events 200+ • Exam monitoring sessions using webcams • Poster competition with OU Vice Chancellor announcing winner • Academic Professional Development events for staff and research students • OU Student Association workshops and virtual pub quizzes • AL online conference with over 430 attendees • Many research projects
  24. 24. 5. Summary
  25. 25. Continuing objectives at the OU 25 • Create a rich digital learning experience using innovative learning technologies. ​ • Allow a supported learning journey with collaborative communities of students and academics​. • Enable and use of state-of-the-art teaching and assessment methods.​ Ongoing challenges for online tutorials​ • Ensure users have the right technical set up • Training is key • Adapting for any event ​
  26. 26. Zoe Gipson – The Open University Zoe.gipson@open.ac.uk THANK YOU

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