Redesigning a module using SCALA and the ABC method

This example describes an approach used in a module for first-year undergraduates with reflections on the positive benefits for students and the impact on teaching practices.

The online education approach adopted

In our re-design, we have adopted a hybrid approach using Student Centred Active Learning and the ABC method. The module was split into units with clear learning journeys and a balance of synchronous and asynchronous activity. It was hosted in Minerva with synchronous sessions and interactive activities delivered with Collaborate UltraPadlet and Top Hat. Students access pre-recorded content (audio and slides), key reading and a selection of external content. They are provided with critical reading prompts and skills@library resources to support their independent study. The whole class is split into study groups of 8 who meet weekly to complete a task relevant to the unit they are working through. The tutor provides immediate feedback as the task is being completed using email, Padlet and a Minerva discussion board. In weekly synchronous webinars, students are given whole class feedback and are encouraged to extend their thinking through activities presented on the interactive whiteboard. Following this, they complete a quiz in Top Hat to check their understanding of the key concepts in the unit. Synchronous whole class seminars are also included later in the semester to support students with their coursework assignments.

Figure 1: Summary of a learning journey

The positive impact on students’ educational experience

It is still very early days but the level of engagement from the students has been very good. I feel that I have learnt more about them in a short space of time than I would have if delivering a traditional lecture and seminar programme. Padlet especially enables me to interact effectively with all of the study groups simultaneously in a way which would not be possible if I were trying to move around to each group in a lecture theatre.

The impact on my teaching practice

This approach has transformed my module. Thinking about the learning journeys of the students through each unit has meant that I am now much more explicit in explaining what is being taught and why. Using the ABC learning types and Learning Designer Tool have meant I can easily see the balance of different learning types across the module and this will ensure that the students will receive a balanced programme of asynchronous and synchronous activity. In the past, I would overload my lectures with content, trying to ensure that I could cover everything in the weekly two-hour lecture slot that was my main contact time with the group. Using a hybrid approach means that the teaching and learning opportunities are better distributed and contact time is spread more effectively. I feel that ultimately this little and often approach will be beneficial in promoting deep level comprehension of module material and the development of academic skills.

Additional information and resources:

What is the ABC method for module design?

Text-based module Learning Journey and activities

By  Paula Clarke, School of Education

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