In this post, Rosemarie McIlwhan of the Learning and Teaching Academy curates colleagues’ top tips for preparing for AY21/22 and shares their anticipation and excitement. She also provides an overview of LTA resources and support for learning and teaching in the ever-changing environment of the pandemic.

Talking to colleagues about AY21/22 there’s a real sense of eager anticipation and enthusiasm about the year ahead. Despite the disruptions and challenges of last year, everyone I spoke to was looking forward to this year and the opportunities to see students (on-campus and online) and to building on the learning and experiences from the past year.

I hope to be able to meet face to face with students and to be able to put those faces to some of the amazingly creative work that is produced. Tony Bailey, Teaching Technician, Textiles and Design.

I am really looking forward to getting back on campus and returning to face-to-face interaction with students in lecture rooms and in labs. Stephen Houston, Associate Professor, Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Another exciting academic teaching year to further collaborate, innovate and celebrate our success. Shereen Nassar, Assistant Professor, Social Sciences.

There’s so much we’ve learned from each other and our students over the past year through implementing our Responsive Blended Learning (RBL) model. With changing Covid restrictions across our campus locations, teaching teams will continue to use RBL in AY21-22 to create the best blend of on-campus and online teaching.

I am looking forward to trying out a couple of ice-breaking games and slide in some team-building activities at different stages of the semester. I believe learners should have the opportunity to connect or reconnect with each other continuously over the course of their study. Alia Nazor, Assistant Professor, Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society.

I like that the in-class sessions can be more interactive now that lecture materials are available asynchronously and time with the students can be used to look at specific issues of understanding, worked examples and problem solving. Stephen Houston, Associate Professor, Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Part of a garden looking towards a house, on which is painted a colourful mural of a flower and the word 'inspire'I’m looking forward to transforming and improving the current RBL to be more exciting, interactive and engaging not forgetting to have fun in class! Rachel Goh, Assistant Professor, Malaysia Foundation Programme.

I’m looking forward to delivering my new C18BS Business Skills for the Second Machine Age course to second-year students and to introducing them to the fully flipped format. My new t-shirt reads: Flipped is the Future™. David Steinberg, Associate Professor, Social Sciences.

For AY 21/22 I am looking forward to being the programme director of the new MSc Digital Marketing and teaching a course in Digital Customer Experience which provides knowledge of user design and consumer behaviour theories and practices. This is a cutting-edge work, and it is so exciting that I can use Responsive Blended Learning to invite industry experts from around the world to give online talks. Kathryn Waite, Associate Professor, Social Sciences.

Colleagues across the University have been generous in sharing their teaching practice all year, looking forward to AY21/22 these are some top tips they shared.

  • Neon sign which says 'It began as a mistake'Embrace changes and never give up on trying new pedagogy/methodology that works for you. Don’t be too harsh on yourself if things don’t turn out as planned. Take it as an opportunity to improve it and try again. (Rachel)
  • One size doesn’t fit all; be flexible, attentive and responsive…also, technology is just a tool which needs to be properly managed for an enjoyable teaching experience. (Shereen)

Graffitti on a wall saying 'vote'

  • If you’re using Teams, you can conduct a simple poll by adding (a), (b) and (c) as separate comments in the chat and asking students to ‘thumbs up’ in the correct comment/answer. Teams will total the number of reactions to each comment. (Stephen)
  • Ensure lighting is more complementary for video meetings and online teaching (Tony)
  • Stop seeing silence as your fault. Learners often need space to make sense of the information, create a thought process, and make-and-breaking arguments in their mind. (Alia)
  • A specific tip for those using tablets and having sessions where written text is used: I prepared templates where the pages are black and therefore I can use white pens. This is not a harking back to ‘chalk and talk’ as such, but many students prefer this combination as it is less harsh on the eyes when looked at on computer. A (possible) secondary benefit is that students are less likely just to print out the PDFs and therefore they take time to work through the notes. To do this, prepare a pdf as normal and then use (this site also allows you to create 2×2 pdf for eagle eyed students who want to save money on printing). (Stephen)

Tiger lying down facing onto a pool of water

  • “The lecture is dead. Long live the lecture!” Turn your live sessions into workshops and bring key aspects of your asynchronous lectures to life with compelling exercises, simulations and challenges both online and face to face. Do not be afraid to incorporate short clips from movies and other media into your sessions. Our students love to be immersed in media when they learn new things. (David)
  • Keep your cat handy for instant favourable student reaction when it walks in front of camera! (Tony)

Neon sign in a window - sign says 'I don't know where I'm going from here but I promise it won't be boring'

Practical guidance is available in the AY21/22 Teaching Team pack, the RBL resources, and the RBL sharing practice videos (HW ID required), as well as from the LTA and LTES.

As we prepare for the year ahead one colleagues comment seems particularly apt: “Teaching in HWU, It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!“. We’re all excited for the next stage of this adventure and can’t wait to see our students again.

Top 5 Areas to Explore as you prepare for AY21-22.

  1. Working Together as Global Teaching Teams

Planet Earth rising above the lunar surface.The Teaching Team Support Pack provides support and ideas for teaching teams across the University to consider what will work best for them and their students. Start with Getting ready for academic year 2021-22: Teaching team conversations and then use the AY21/22 reviewing your course checklist to check that your course is effectively structured and set up on Canvas to support teaching in RBL mode in AY21/22.

  1. Course and Assessment Design

Having a clear course design will help students to understand what they should be doing, when they should be doing it and the expected input and outcomes from any course activities. It also helps student engagement and motivation. The Getting Started with Course and Assessment Design and Getting ready for AY21/22 assessment overview can help think through what you would like to develop in your course and what approaches to assessment will work best for you and your students this year.

  1. Canvas logo (stylised red circle with word 'Canvas' below)Structuring your Course Content on Canvas

The new VLE provides opportunities to develop the structure of your course to support the student learning journey. For ideas and support check out the guide on structuring and presenting course content on Canvas and the RBL VLE template. If you’d like to explore more the LTA can provide bespoke support in these areas.

  1. Teaching On-Campus and Online Simultaneously

Check out our guidance to help you decide whether to teach simultaneously on-campus and online, and follow these tips for teaching in dual mode if you decide to use dual mode.

  1. Helping Students Make the Most of their Learning

There’s a suite of RBL student guides which you can embed directly in your course or use as handouts for students. These include guides to Making the Most of RBL and Making the Most of Assessment and Feedback. You can also signpost students to the Canvas Student Hub and the Student Skills Hub.


Grateful thanks to HW colleagues Alia Nazor, Bruce Lee, David Steinberg, Kathyrn Waite, Rachel Goh, Shereen Nassar, Stephen Houston and Tony Bailey who took time out of their own preparations to share their thoughts and tips for AY21/22.

Images (all on Unsplash):

‘Map’ by Annie Spratt; ‘Inspire’ by Gary Meulemans; ‘It began as a mistake’ by Varvara Grabova; ‘Vote’ by Jennifer Griffin; ‘Tiger’ by Ratanjot Singh; ‘I don’t know where I’m going’ by LOGAN WEAVER; ‘Earthrise’ by NASA.