Teaching and Learning

School’s out! What this means for the #onlinepivot

With the schools closing over the whole UK from Monday 23rd March there are some impacts we should be planning for when moving teaching and learning online; managing bandwidth and thinking about the learners’ context.

With the schools closing over the whole UK from Monday 23rd March. I think there are some impacts we should be planning for:

  • Network demand – we’ve already seen some key platforms struggle under the weight of demand this week and that’s going to increase greatly next week with impacts at the infrastructure level. Think of how much Netflix is going to consumed!
  • The “learning from home” context – learners are now more likely to be trying to access their courses from a home where the number of devices is limited and probably shared between a few people. Or no devices at all!

What to do about it?

When moving learning online, treat bandwidth like a finite resource. Some things like live online lectures or streaming videos will be “expensive” in bandwidth terms. They’ll be more susceptible to connection problems and put more of a drain on the system as a whole. Use them sparingly.

If you must create video or stream live sessions, keep them as concise as possible. Use lower resolution video or consider just using audio only.

Where possible make use of tools that require less data. This diagram from Daniel Stanford is helpful.

Diagram of high and low bandwidth learning activities by Daniel Stanford

Another benefit of using asynchronous tools like chat forums, collaborative documents and so on is if device access in a household has to be rationed there’s less pressure for certain people to be online at certain times.

Create resources and activities that are mobile friendly. Don’t rely on someone being able to use a laptop or PC.

What are your suggestions?

Let us know what approaches you advise for low-bandwidth/ high impact online learning. What tools and techniques are you using when redesigning your teaching for online delivery?

By Chris Thomson

I'm a Subject Specialist at Jisc focusing on online learning and digital student experience.

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