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ISLA (Inclusive Synchronous Learning Activities) guide

This guide will explain what the capabilities and use-cases are for rooms set up for ISLA teaching.

Examples of live session activities

1. From City, "Hybrid Teaching on the MBA" presentation, 7th Business School Teaching & Learning Exchange, July 2021.


2. From the University of Durham, an example about identifying the components and functions of a yo-yo:

"You could give the live demo to students in the room, capturing it on camera and sharing it in real-time with the online participants via Zoom, Collaborate or Teams. In a live demo you would have to be careful that the camera position meant that people in the room could see. Or you could play safe and use a video you'd prepared earlier. You could follow this with a live online discussion (possibly text based, as this is the easiest way to bring in remote students) and then a quiz, either using the built-in polls or third party tools (remote students can still vote in real time using tools such as the TurningPoint app). The trickiest bit would be creating shared resources. It might be worth splitting this off as a separate activity to be completed asynchronously by remote students, or having some groups made up of people in the room and others made up of students working remotely. You could then end by the groups testing the resources against the others!" 

3. From Vanderbilt University, an exercise of small-group work with a written output:

"You have three discussion questions for your students to consider in small groups. Under normal circumstances, you might have posted these questions in a PowerPoint slide or included them in a printed handout. In your hybrid classroom, however, you’ve put your three questions at the top of a Google Sheet, one question per column. You ask your students to get into groups of two or three [either all online or all in-person]. You give your students some time to discuss the questions in groups and report their answers using the Google Sheet, with each small group selecting an unused row of the spreadsheet to document their answers...As the students work, you keep an eye on the sheet, monitoring your students’ progress through the activity (so you know when to call time) and getting a sense of their responses (so you can plan the debrief at the end of the activity). When the group work is over, you highlight a few student responses to share with the full group (either yourself or by asking the loudest group member to speak) along with your comments reflecting on and synthesising the student ideas.
This approach has the advantage of engaging your in-person and online students in essentially the same activity...Having a collaborative document of some sort for the small groups to use gives them some options for handling the group conversation. For example, one group might assign each question to a different student to draft a response to, then switch up the questions for editing and revising. The coordination would happen through some simple, in-person communication, but the heavy lifting of responding would happen in the collaborative document."

4. From Vanderbilt University, a way of pairing online and in-person students for quick paired work:

"Ask your in-person students to pair up with virtual students for a quick Zoom or Teams 1:1 call. If all the in-person students are using earbuds or headphones and if you can solve the matching problem, this might be a practical way to include pair work during class time. And it has the added benefit of fostering community across your two groups of students."

5. From Beatty, using peer review to provide useful feedback and build group connections:

“Peer reviews of ongoing work and the social connections from sharing in a discussion experience (even when reviewing an archive) can both strengthen the learning community. Regular peer reviews of assignments (often written papers) encourage students to give, solicit and receive feedback from peers who may be online or may be meeting together in the classroom. When assignments are posted to an online space shared by all students, peer reviews that cross participation modes are afforded and may even be encouraged.”

6. From Beatty, recording class discussions for later revision and to build social connections:

“In a HyFlex course, both online and classroom discussions may be archived for later review. If ongoing online discussions are referenced in live classroom discussions, the natural conceptual and social linkages between the two discussions are strengthened. When classroom student voices are included in recorded discussion archives, students who are working online may recognize their own voice or those of other online peers (if they were part of that particular classroom discussion) and form an additional social connection.”

7. From Beatty, using asynchronous forum activities for reflective and learning purposes:

"One assignment commonly used in HyFlex courses both at the graduate and undergraduate level is a weekly contribution to a reflection forum. Here is a sample assignment description for the reflection post, an excerpt from an Introduction to Instructional Design course syllabus: “Weekly you will post your thoughts about the class, your project and the instructional design field in an ongoing discussion thread. These posts are intended to help you consider questions important to you, and capture your thoughts at selected instances in time. Posts will be viewable by others, though there is no requirement for others to read or reply to anyone else’s posts.” (ITEC 801 Instructional Design Course Syllabus) The rationale for this reflection assignment is two-fold. First, the instructor wants each student to reflect on and reveal something about their learning process throughout the semester on a regular basis. The reflective post, with the topic open to whatever each student wants to talk about as long as it is somehow connected to their course experience, provides evidence of their reflection for the instructor to see. A weekly assignment keeps students reflecting on a regular basis. Second, the instructor wants students to be able to read the reflections of their peers without the additional requirement to read and interact (reply) with others. In this way, students are provided their own “soapbox” in a public forum without adding to the already significant interaction work load for the course. The instructor also wants to provide students with the option of replying to others’ reflections if they desire to do so. Interestingly, in classes that have used this activity, it seems that about 5% of the reflection posts elicit replies from other students. And while it is impossible to tell how many reflection posts are read by peers, any modern learning management system (LMS) can generate a daily email summary of all discussion activity (including reflections) and send it to each student and the instructor. LMS logs commonly reveal that many students read the reflection posts of their peers prior to posting their own refection in a given week. Because all students complete weekly reflection posts and because the assignment is relatively easy to complete quickly (typical posts are 100-200 words—slightly longer than this paragraph), we have found this to be effective in connecting online and classroom students with each other. The weekly reflection activity is itself a common experience shared by all students, and students often discover other shared learning experiences in the anecdotes, questions, and insights shared by their peers in their reflections.”

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