The Community is the beating heart of Aula. Designed to enable digitally-enhanced teaching, it supports academics to leverage high-impact social learning principles and active learning principles at scale. It can also empower students to spend more time on-task, self-pace their learning, and collaborate with each other outside of face-to-face sessions.

Regular, light-touch academic presence on hybrid modules can have a transformative impact on student engagement and success. However, the capacity for increased interaction should not come at the expense of academics and students feeling compelled to constantly be online. These interactions need to be scalable.

To ensure you’re not having to constantly monitor the Feed, clear expectations are invaluable. Setting these early can result in spending less time managing modules: questions from students won’t be repeated multiple times through varying channels; students can return to instructions and explanations; and students can look to more than just you to provide information.

Here are some simple actions to help you and your students create a sustainable learning community:

Virtual Office Hours

What? Weekly recorded and uploaded videos in which the educator responds to questions posted on the feed throughout the week's sessions streamed through a video tool.

Why? Recorded office hours enable educators to deliver ‘responsive teaching’ efficiently, at scale. They also increase teacher presence and support learner understanding and mastery.

How?

  • Explain how students should submit questions (eg add the questions to the Community using the tag Q&A). Tip - add the instructions to a ‘Housekeeping’ section in the Journey
  • Set up a scheduled post to remind students to attend if needed
  • Filter questions on the Community by searching for the tag Q&A
  • Review questions and prioritise if required
  • Prepare your responses and prepare to record them
  • HD video does not increase engagement - to record your video, your inbuilt camera and sound will be fine.
  • Use a tool like Echo360 to capture your video and switch between you and images / visuals should you need them.
  • To support students to navigate the responses, add timestamps (as text underneath the uploaded video) to identify which questions you answer at what point in the video, e.g. ‘What is an Alogrithm?’ (00.00-3.24)

Live Office Hours

What? A regular online drop-in where students can ask questions and the academic responds synchronously.

Why? Online drop-ins again increase responsiveness, increase teacher presence and support learning understanding and mastery.

How?

  • Explain how students should access the drop-in. Tip - add the instructions to a ‘Housekeeping’ section in the Journey
  • Set up a scheduled post to remind students to attend if needed
  • Use a tool like Zoom to create the drop-in space
  • Alternatively, you can ask students to submit questions to the Community within the set time, and answer them there
  • Collate FAQs within the ‘Housekeeping’ section in the Journey and signost them to students

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