Access Student Supports: Designing Online Workshops and Resources
This Learning Enhancement project has been funded through the HEA and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.
|COORDINATOR:||Dr Lisa Padden|
|COLLABORATORS:||Ms Favour Ogundare (student), Mr Jaffer Abdulkarim (student), Ms Sue Meehan, Ms Michelle Tracey, Ms Kim Lombard, Ms Eithne Coleman|
|TARGET AUDIENCE:||Supports available to all UCD students at all levels|
Access & Lifelong Learning provides support for thousands of students in UCD: students with a disability, socio-economically disadvantaged students, mature students, part-time students, students entering via a further education pathway, students who are refugees or asylum seekers and students from other equity groups as identified in the National Access Plan.
For a number of years we have delivered academic skills workshops weekly during the Autumn and Spring trimesters. These were well attended by some student groups and received positive feedback. However, a large number of our students were unable to attend these workshops because of scheduling difficulties and commitments outside of UCD e.g. childcare etc.
While we provided slides and resources to all students online we were dissatisfied with this approach. We had a Blackboard module which we used but in the transition to Brightspace we had to wait until self-enrol modules became possible so in the interim materials were provided on our website. The development of our self-enrol module aligned with this Learning Enhancement Project which saw the redesign of our workshops in an interactive online format which can be used by any UCD student at any time. We also continue to deliver workshops live for those available to attend.
Our objectives for this initiative were as follows:
- Develop team members’ digital skills in e-learning development with the Articulate software package, including Digital Ambassadors. Digital Ambassadors are Access Leaders – access students who are recruited and training to work alongside staff in Access & Lifelong Learning. Digital Ambassadors provide digital skills support to UCD students through drop-in sessions and workshop support.
- Revise current academic skills material to add interactive online elements and, using student feedback and input, redevelop resources. We sought to review the materials which had been developed over a number of years to make them flexible, interactive and usable by all students.
- Provide a suite of resources to include a series of online academic skills workshops which can be accessed by any student as required. We sought to make workshops and resources available on our self-enrol Brightspace module accessible to all students and staff in UCD. We also aimed to make editable articulate files available to anyone who wished to edit and host them on their own modules on the Virtual Learning Environment.
The Innovative Approach
Having gathered the project team including two Digital Ambassadors (students) we scoped out the necessary training. Two types of training were necessary – technical training for our Digital Ambassadors on how to use Storyline Articulate and training for content developers on how to write up screens/slides promoting interaction and ease of use for students. We included multimedia whenever possible and all workshops were accompanied by a voiceover and script. Accessibility was at the core of all of the work we did – ensuring that students using assistive technology and those with print or sensory disabilities could fully access and utilise the workshops.
We were able to deliver 11 online interactive workshops for our Brightspace module. These workshops are:
- Note taking
- Organisation and time management
- Writing and research
- Study skills and revision
- Avoiding procrastination
- Apps for learning
- Group work
- Exam preparation
- Self Care
- Stress Management
We also delivered an additional section on Learning Online – this was in response to the rapid move to online learning. We surveyed students and ascertained the needs of those students based on the move to online earlier in the year. We focused on three main topics: feeling disconnected, juggling demands and staying motivated.
The resources we created are available on the ALL Student Supports – University for All Brightspace Self-enrol module. All UCD staff and students can enrol in the module. All editable files can be shared for adaptation and use on other modules.
In September 2021 we launched our extensive programme of online academic skills and wellbeing workshops. All access students were reminded again to enrol in our Brightspace module, all incoming access students were informed of the module at the ALL Welcome programme and Access Leaders did a session with students in small groups on Zoom to show them the module and encourage them to enrol during the session. The module was also advertised using both the staff and student ezines to encourage widespread use of the resources. Given the unusual start to the academic year online these resources offered support and reassurance to many students who were unable to attend campus. The resources are not only used independently by students but also by our occupation therapists and student support specialists in one to one sessions. We also used the Brightspace module to deliver online workshops to students to complement the interactive online workshops.
We will continue to add to these offerings and train further Digital Ambassadors. The Digital Ambassadors who worked on the project reported that they learned a number of new skills and the project helped them to stay connected with us despite being off campus for so long. Overall this was a highly successful project and very timely.