Reflections on activity design for “In-between Learning Spaces” TLC

Reflecting on experiences of “designing” and “delivering” the current series of TLCs is proving to be both fascinating and useful to those of us organising them.  One of our primary aims is to make TLCs as interactive and participatory as possible.  This is possibly harder when facilitators are introducing new and possibly complex ideas that require initial exploration of context, background and detailed explanations.  Andrew and Katherine’s session on In-between Learning Spaces certainly falls into this category for me.  In this TLC Andrew and Katherine managed to find just the right balance between sharing their thoughts and experiences and participant focused activities.  In this post we will explore how they achieved this through the two main activities designed into this TLC. The full recording of the TLC is available on our archive page.

Activity 1 used a tried and tested webinar method focused around the chat pod. This involved introducing the concept (In-between Learning Spaces) through  a presentation using the share pod and then posing questions/asking participants to share their own experiences via the chat pod.  Andrew and Katherine worked as a team to make this work very effectively.  Katherine presented her own thoughts/experiences first followed by Andrew who then posed a question to participants before presenting further ideas.  While Andrew continued presenting Katherine was reviewing (and copying to Notepad) the questions/comments and experiences posted by the participants to the chat pod content.  Katherine summarised by pasting the copied comments from Notepad onto a blank slide in the PowerPoint presentation in the share pod using the draw tools.  Both Katherine and Andrew were then able explore the issues highlighted in further detail.  The activity generated lots of posting to the chat pod. So much so that it was a challenge to cover everything that had been raised.

Activity 2 needs to be given a bit of background.  Andrew and Katherine had originally planned to use breakout rooms to get small groups (6-7 people) to discuss three different questions.  However, they felt that they needed to have facilitators in place to lead the breakout groups and this proved difficult to arrange in advance so it was decided to try something a little bit different.

A Connect layout was set up with 3 short answer free text polls, one for each question, participants were encouraged to add their ideas, comments and questions for the question that was most important to them.  Once the poll started to fill up (you need to remember to broadcasts the results so that everyone can see the responses) participants we encouraged to post to other questions and/or to add further comments, ideas and questions to the chat pod which had also been included in the layout.  It was surprising how quickly the polls and the chat box filled up.

Activity 2 Layout on a laptop PC

Activity 2 Layout on a laptop PC – click to view full size

There were lots of great posting and plenty for Katherine and Andrew to pick upon which they did effectively as a team.  It think it is fair to say that again there was maybe too much to cover in detail in the time available so it has been decided to write a follow-up blog post to pick up on some of the posting from both this and the previous activity.  Follow-up blog posts for this purpose have been well received and frequently viewed in earlier TLCs in this series.

Although the multi-free text poll approach doesn’t represent a direct equivalent of the small group discussions provided in breakout groups it did provide a viable alternative that enabled significant contribution of ideas/experiences, posing of questions and feedback from the facilitators.  It is certainly worth considering this approach were multiple related questions are up for discussions and opportunities for breakout groups are limited by the availability of facilitators.

Activity 2 on an iPad

Activity 2 on an iPad – click to view full size

The layout for this activity did have a lot going on and we were a little concerned that it might not work effectively on smaller screens like a iPad however as can be seen in the screenshot below the iPad handled it very effectively.



Andrew and Katherine put a lot of thought into the interactivity of their TLC.  They have kindly shared their Session Plan which gives further insight into some of the other activities included in the session.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Rod Cullen. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rod Cullen

I am a Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Learning Innovation Team at Manchester Metropolitan University. I have gained considerable experience over almost 20 years in design, delivery and evaluation of online learning, teaching and assessment. I am particularly interested in assessment and feedback practice as well as the emerging role of web conferencing technologies to support blended and distance learning.

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