This Spring session, Postgraduate Learning Design (PGLD) worked with faculties to create Canvas ‘course sites’ to support online students starting full-time study.

Our target cohort enrolled through the Government-subsidised HECs program, with most returning to study after a break. The Canvas sites have been their place to engage, connect and build community – and to prepare for a very busy session. Students were eager to access their study materials, to understand how the UTS library worked, and to share study tools and tips.

For Spring 2020, we monitored engagement from Orientation to Week 2, and found that half of the enrolled students engaged with the course sites. Of the students that engaged, half accessed the site for an average of 15 minutes, and the other half for an average of 3 hours.

Our key takeaways

  • Provide up-front study materials for students to access during O-week – a reading, a welcome video.
  • Assign a moderator to encourage student activity and engagement – “Did you try the time management activity? Share your top calendar app in the forum”
  • Use announcements to make links between the site content and UTS events – highlight the library module, including a link to a scheduled library workshop.
  • Consider live online events to bring students and faculty together.

O-Week events

We ran three events covering study planning, scholarly learning, online library access and a workshop on problem-solving. The students shared their feelings of isolation and clearly valued the opportunity to meet peers, teachers and support staff – as well as having a go at online group discussions.

Things we learnt from the live and online events:

  • Include a mix of hosts – researchers, lecturers, tutors and students.
  • Keep it interactive – solve something together!
  • Share freebies – like LinkedIn Learning access, apps and tools.

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