It’s the second week of semester. There are frequent knocks at the door, and emails pinging in to the inbox on a constant basis. First year students have so many questions to ask, and need reassurance that they are on the right track. The same topics crop up again and again…
A few months later, and it’s revision week. Exams are coming up, and questions from students are flooding in again…
Over the past year, staff have shared solutions for dealing with their students' most frequent questions. Here is a quick recap of a range of helpful tools in use here at University of Bath.
Multi-media messaging walls
Like a virtual notice board, students can add ‘post-it’ notes with questions or comments. They are visually appealing, and students can post anonymously. It can take some effort to gather related questions into themes and keep them organised.
Want to know more? There’s a great write-up of the LITEbox event where Dr Jessica Francombe Webb shared her insights. This includes
- a comparison of two different tools (Lino-it and Padlet)
- a guide to embedding the multi-media wall in your Moodle course
Another example comes from Mirella Di Lorenzo, Chemical Engineering. She shared her experiences at the first Faculty of Engineering and Design TEL Event. Mirella used multi-media messaging walls to manage questions from first year students, and to help students with revision.
Online discussion forums
It’s very easy to set up a discussion forum in Moodle. In a forum, discussion topics are sorted in ‘threads’. Working within Moodle means the forum is only available for your students on your unit. You can use Moodle Groups to set up discussion forums for group work. For the time being, students can’t post anonymously to a forum in Moodle (this requires a plugin).
Staff often comment that it can be tricky to get students to engage in online discussion in a Moodle forum. Here are some useful tips for setting up a successful forum. The video guide to effective online discussions from COFA Online is another a good starting point.
Study Space App
Here at the University, Keith Brown has developed the Study Space App. It provides a space where students on a unit or programme can easily collaborate, and ask questions to teaching staff. It has the advantage of being mobile-based, it's presented in a familiar 'social media' style format and allows anonymous questions. Further small scale trials are ongoing across the University. Development of the app continues in response to student feedback, including a new version designed for SSLCs, to be co-created by students. When choosing your tool, it’s important to consider privacy settings, as discussed in Keith’s blog.
Geraldine Jones (e-Learning development officer, HSS) provides a handy at-a-glance comparison matrix. It shows the pros and cons and features of these and many other tools.
We hope you’ve found this summary useful. Do you have questions about getting started with online solutions for managing students’ questions? Or ideas and experiences to share? Please do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org