Teaching, Learning and / or assessment process - part b

In this section I will go over how I created bespoke online materials using WImba Create to address the needs of international students in relation to local feedback. I will cover how Yammer was embedded within several modules to address the requirements of communication between lecturing staff and students.

Responding Public Health Challenges and Working With Families are both SCQF Level 11 online modules and part of the MSc Health Studies Family Health programme which commenced in February 2014. These modules are delivered online to students who are from a diverse range of health and social care backgrounds and from a wide range of locations domestically and internationally.

The first challenge was addressing the feedback provided for distance learning students in the module. Within Wimba Create, you can create quizzes – one particular type allows for essay type answers to be created with feedback. Initially it was decided to leave the question feedback blank for certain questions due to it being specific to the student’s country or region. This caused confusion amongst students, which they fed back to their lecturer. In order to address the lack of answer feedback, a line of text was added to the questions; ‘This answer should relate directly to your community /country.’ The students responded positively to this additional information and functionality.

The modules comprise of 4 main units of work, each of these contain a medical textbook which has been processed through Wimba Create in order to chunk up and organise the information along with introducing quizzes and multimedia elements. The textbooks have to be as accessible as possible so within the Wimba Create documents I made sure ALT text was used for images, column header row were used for tables and heading styles used appropriately. These elements would be accessible to those students using screen readers to view these materials.

Some of the countries our distance learning students are based in have a higher penetration of mobile devices when compared to desktop and laptop computers. As more of our learners are accessing their learning on the go and though their tablets, smart phones, it was important the responsive Wimba Create interface I developed worked on mobile devices as well.  In order to do this I manipulated the CSS. HTML and java script code.

The lecturer facilitated online synchronous discussions to go over the materials within each unit of the modules. These discussions were focused on a particular subject and involved all the students enrolled within the modules participating in them. Initially the lecturer and students had tried using Moodle live chat as means of real time online conversation. However when students tried to view the chat sessions on mobile devices large parts of the conversation were missing and they also could not interact with fellow students. To solve this problem I recommended Yammer as a means of delivering these sessions. Yammer is a private collaborative and communication tool used within UWS, this has a similar look and feel comparable to Facebook and allows for open and private discussions. I delivered training workshops to the lecturers and produced training materials which they could refer to; I also implemented Yammer links within the modules to allow students to join the universities Yammer network. I also produced instructional videos and documentation covering the use of Yammer for students to refer to. Within the module the lecturer created links to the private synchronous discussion sessions which the students could access. Aside from the focused discussions on the unit materials, Yammer was also used to facilitate academic support sessions as well enabling online and interactive support for students. I successfully tested the free Yammer app on mobile devices to ensure no student would be excluded from viewing or participating in discussions. Both Lecturers and students responded positively to using Yammer as a means of communication and it has been rolled out in further modules within the school.

Reflective Statement

When developing materials for international students I have learned it is important to take into account they will have a different culture, language and background when compared to the domestic UK students. It is important to write explicit instructions and information for online distance learning materials, this will guide and help in supporting them during their online learning experience. Even additional information about how long a video lasts or providing transcripts for the video can aid the students, more so if English is not their first language. I learned it is vitally important to align feedback to student’s country and background, having generic or no feedback obviously is not fit for purpose and as I experienced confused the students. The other important issue I had to address was to ensure the online materials within the online module and Wimba Create objects were as accessible as possible, as I mentioned earlier the use of alt text for images and appropriate use of headers were used. To further refine my accessible materials I visited the Jisc website and Moodle websites for additional guidance on producing materials that are accessible to learners. Having a communication tool like Yammer is an important tool, as this enables communication and discussion amongst the students and lecturers. Effective communication tools aid in creating an online community, one that encourages discussion, peer support and the exchange of knowledge.  Aside from the instructional design aspects it is important to make sure that the students can access their learning on a range of devices, as more and more learners are using tablets and smart phones to access online materials. Going forward I would advise anyone developing materials for distance learners to:

  • consider the students, culture, background and language
  • have a clear strategy and process in place before developing materials
  • research how to ensure your materials as accessible as possible
  • test your online course on various browsers and mobile devices
  • Have effective communication between both students and lecturing staff

I have found the above strategies effective in aiding me when developing online distance learning materials.


Please note, an example of my responsive Wimba Create theme can be seen in the Communication section of my CMALT portfolio.

Support statement from Clair Graham (Lecturer on Module)

clair graham supporting statement.pdf

29.3KB | Monday, 03 March 2014 | Details

Supporting statement on the use of Yammer by programme and module lecturing staff and students

WWF Yammer.pdf

174.9KB | Wednesday, 23 July 2014 | Details

Support document for lecturing staff on the use of Yammer


620.4KB | Friday, 01 August 2014 | Details