Facilitating Inclusive and Engaged Learning in Fully Online Masters Programmes

Nathan Page (Academic Support Office), Liz Matykiewicz (The York Management School) and Dawn Wood (Computer Science)

Session report by Ian Gray:

The University of York has recently started offering fully-online masters programmes from the Department of Computer Science and from the York Management School. In this session, the presenters took us through some of the challenges that are faced when trying to keep students engaged in the context of entirely-remote learning.

When the delegates arrived into the room, we were told nothing. The presenters were present, but silent. The delegates arranged themselves into tables and found upon each table written instructions for the first activity. We were instructed to assume one from a provided list of online personae, and contribute to an online discussion – simulated as sticky notes on a whiteboard. The discussion was messy, difficult, and full of irrelevant tangents, but also fun and a unique way of attempting to simulate part of the experience of taking a fully online course.

After the activity, the presenters reflected on how this is often the experience faced by remote learners, and how difficult it is to both foster and measure engagement. The delegates discussed how the online discussion can be intimidating and distancing, and how we as learning facilitators can try to improve this.

Liz Matykiewicz and Dawn Wood then presented case studies from their respective departments in how they foster discussion amongst learners.

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