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Using SOL effectively

Solent Online Learning (SOL) raises aspirations for how a VLE can be used, with the goal of creating a dynamic and enriched learning experience for all students at Solent. The idea is that it expands the classroom by taking it online, and encourages students to build their knowledge through interaction, becoming independent and successful learners at the same time.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But how can you do it yourself? Martin Reid has taught at Solent since 2002 and has shared his techniques for using SOL as effectively as possible. The main thing, for him, is to make the most of the medium. That means lots of content-rich media, as well as links for research, quizzes and feedback, so it is as interactive as possible. The design is as important as the content, too, so he uses lots of images and thinks about the way all the information is structured, so students can find their way around well. If he can’t find something easily himself, then the students are bound to struggle.

There’s a lot going on, especially factoring in the use of lecture capture to answer questions and digital badges to promote engagement, which can often be off-putting for time-poor academic teaching staff. That’s why SOL’s pedagogy is arranged around four key areas, all of which are achievable by anyone – the foundations are already there:

  1. Course content. Have you threaded your resources together with a narrative context, so students understand how that video fits with this document and how both relate to the lecture you gave yesterday?
  2. Communication. Answer common questions on the forum to save you time and make sure everyone gets the same information. Use the feedback tool so students can talk to you.
  3. Working together. Can your students give feedback to each other on a blog? Are you giving them opportunities to build and share their knowledge?
  4. Working independently. Do you follow up videos with a quiz so students can test their learning? Can they work through a lesson at their own pace?

Martin’s ideas are just some of the possibilities you could try. If you would like to give something new a go, even if you’re not sure what exactly that might be, please get in touch with the Instructional Design team via carina.buckley@solent.ac.uk