Set It Up

Introduction

Before you start, it’s important to remember that at some educational establishments, you’ll need to ensure that the administration, IT, and the pedagogical counselor have confirmed their support for your project. We’ll assume that you have this support, and that you’ve also found a suitable partner to work on your Virtual Team Teaching (VTT) project with you. Now, it’s time to get to work!

Deciding to begin a Virtual Team Teaching project can sometimes feel like a daunting task. There are so many things to think about before you begin, that you may not know where to start. Here’s are a few things to help you get started.

Reflection Questions

    • Why is your course a good candidate for VTTN?
    • What elements of the course benefit from the VTT collaboration?

    Course Descriptions

    At this point, you’ve thought about which course could be a good candidate for a VTT project.

    First, write down the general information for your course: title, program, college location, number of students per class, and a short description of your course.

    You’ll also need to think about the course objectives/competencies. Try to include elements of the course that could benefit from a VTT collaboration.

    Case Examples


    Course 1Course 2

    Course 1: Marketing

          • Vanier College in Montreal
          • Approx 40 students
          • Objectives:
            • To introduce the key elements and develop a marketing strategy.
            • To give an opportunity to refine oral and written communication skills
            • To improve abilities to work effectively in a team

    Course 2: Micropublishing and Hypermedia

          • Cégep de Victoriaville
          • Approx 20 students
          • Objectives:
            • To interact in various work situations
            • To successfully enter the labour market and build a career
            • To design and produce multimedia presentations

    Up Next

    In the next section, you’ll see how to define your goals. It will be important to be explicit about what you want to achieve. You’ll identify common or similar learning objectives, shared learning outcomes, as well as VTT activities and products.

     


     

    Define Your Goals

    Introduction

    Now that you have completed Step 1 – Set It Up, it’s time to move on to Step 2 – Define your Goals.  The effort that you invest here will make the next step, Create Lesson Plans, that much easier!

    To Define Your Goals,  both you and your VTT partner will need to identify points of complementarity between your two courses. There are four main areas to consider in this section: Common objective, Learning Outcomes, VTT activity(ies), and Product.

    Reflection Questions

    • What are the common or complementary objectives?
    • What do you want your students to learn or practice through the VTT activity?
    • What kind of activity will help the students achieve their objective? What could the students accomplish that they could not do in isolation or that could have added value from others’ perspective.
    • What product will they create together, and is it consistent with the desired learning outcome?

    We’ll discuss each of these in the next sub sections.


    Common Objective

    Start by reflecting on your course objectives and how a VTT collaboration can add value. Look for any common or complementary objectives. This may be relatively simple if you are teaching within the same discipline. But even if you are teaching in completely different disciplines, it is still possible to find some common ground!

    Note that similar or shared objectives may include competencies statements and their elements found in your course framework or listed in the program devis, and also transversal learning such as the development of ICT skills, team work, or intercultural skills.

    Reflection Questions

    • What are the common or complementary objectives?

    Case Examples


    Common ObjectiveLearning OutcomeVTT ActivityProduct

    Let’s compare the Marketing objectives with those of Micropublishing and Hypermedia to see if we can find any similarities.

    Marketing

    • To introduce the key elements and develop a marketing strategy.
    • To give an opportunity to refine oral and written communication skills
    • To improve abilities to work effectively in a team

    Micropublishing and Hypermedia

    • To interact in various work situations
    • To successfully enter the labour market and build a career
    • To design and produce multimedia presentations

     

    We can begin to see a related objective emerge: To interact in various work situations or teams, and To improve abilities to work effectively in a team. Since both classes have slightly different objectives here, we’ll need to write an over-arching objective to tie them together, and also create a complementary objective for each course:

    Common: To interact in teams or various work situations.

    Complementary:

    • MarketingTo develop a concept for website as part of a marketing strategy.
    • Micropublishing and HypermediaTo design a web site concept based on a marketing vision.

    In this case, both classes will practice real world simulations of client relationships but the Micropublishing and Hypermedia students will also need to create a product in order to meet their specific course objectives. See the product section for more information.

    Now lets take a look at the Learning outcome!


    Learning Outcomes

    An interesting way to Define Your Goals is to start with the end in mind. These are your learning outcomes. Try to set S.M.A.R.T. learning outcomes: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For a more detailed explanation of SMART objectives see Edutopia here.

    Reflection Questions

    • What do you want your students to learn or practice through the VTT activity?
    • Once the activity is over, what should the students have learned?

    Case Examples


    Common ObjectiveLearning OutcomeVTT ActivityProduct

    Remember our two courses: Marketing paired with Micropublishing and Hypermedia

    Learning outcome:

    Since the objectives are complementary, the learning outcomes will slightly differ for each course as well. Here’s an example of some SMART outcomes.

    • Marketing: By the end of the activities, students should be able to develop a vision for a website that would advertise a chosen product, and communicate the vision to a web design company.
    • Micropublishing and Hypermedia: By the end of the activities, students should be able to communicate with a marketing team about its vision for a web site, develop a web design based on their vision, and share their design with the marketing team.

    VTT Activity

    Perhaps the VTT activity will help students learn or practice a skill. Choose activities that will encourage students to communicate and reach outside the boundaries of their classrooms in order to achieve their learning outcomes.

    Reflection Questions

    • Once the activity is over, what should the students have learned?
    • What do you want your students to learn or practice through the VTT activity?
    • What should the students DO together?

    Case Examples


    Common ObjectiveLearning OutcomeVTT ActivityProduct

    Two courses: Marketing paired with Micropublishing and Hypermedia

    The Marketing students will meet face to face and continue to communicate asynchronously with the Hypermedia class in order to communicate their needs for the web design of a chosen topic.


    Product

    The product could be an idea, a method, information, an object or even a service that is created as a result of the VTT activities. The ideal scenario is to find a common or complementary product that students from both classes can work on together, either synchronously or asynchronously. This helps to create an atmosphere of collaboration and accountability for students.

    No matter what the product, try to create an opportunities for students to achieve their learning outcomes!

    Reflection Questions

    • Does the VTT activity create opportunities for the students to collaborate on a concrete product?
    • Do the products help students achieve the learning outcomes?

    Case Examples


    Common ObjectiveLearning OutcomeVTT ActivityProduct

    In this case, because the objectives are not shared but complementary, students are asked to create complementary products with slightly different parameters for each course. Though both courses may have different products, they are related. So the students are working towards a common goal that is achieved through communicating and collaborating together.

    Two courses: Marketing paired with Micropublishing and Hypermedia.

    Both classes:

    To produce a presentation of their experiences and present it to both classes virtually.

    Marketing:

    To produce a specification document for a web design of a chosen topic.

    Micropublishing and Hypermedia:

    To produce a web design concept

     

    Up Next

    Now it’s time to create your lesson plan! Take a look at step 3 to help guide you through the process!


     

    Create Lesson Plans

    Introduction

    After Step 1 – Set it Up, and Step 2 – Define Your Goals you are now ready to proceed to Step 3 – Create Lesson Plans. There are 3 phases involved in the process of creating your VTT lesson plan: Preparation, Collaboration, and Follow-up.

    We have divided each of these phases into two parts: Description and Technology and Materials. The description section should help you think about what students are going to DO during each phase. This, in turn, will help you to think about the technologies/materials that you may need to support them.

    Case Examples


     DescriptionTechnology / Materials
    Preparation
    Collaboration
    Follow-up

    Begin with the end in mind not only refers to the learning outcomes but also your lesson plan. Many people refer to this as backwards design. Thinking about the overall lesson before you start will help you to avoid some of the pitfalls that can occur during your activities. Note that your technology choices should be based on the strengths and limitations of the technology, and ultimately guided by your educational objectives.

    Reflection Questions

    • What will the students need to know beforehand?
    • How will the students get engaged, be challenged and collaborate?
    • How will students collaborate to meet the outcomes and create a product?
    • What software or hardware will be needed? Did you test it? Do you need to set up accounts?
    • Will your students need guidelines, procedures, templates, grading rubrics, etc.?

    Let’s take a look at each of these three sections in turn!


    Preparation

    In this phase, you’ll describe what the students will need to do in order to interact with the other students. The focus at this stage is about building relationships between the students and preparing the students’ knowledge base needed for effective working groups and focused learning activity.

    Creating opportunities to build relationships between students is a critical step in the process that is sometimes overlooked, but this enables students to feel more engaged and consequently more accountable for the work that will ensue.

    Remember to plan for your technology and material needs also, as they will be equally important for a successful collaboration. Note that some students may be more at ease with one technology over another, so it may be a good idea to have a couple of options available, or ask the students which to choose what works best for them.

    Reflection Questions

    • How will the students prepare for their interaction? What will they need to know beforehand?
    • What types of activities can help build the relationships?
    • How many students are in each class and how will they be paired off?
    • Is there enough bandwidth in the college to support your exchange?
    • How many students can collaborate simultaneously without jeopardizing the connectivity?
    • Is the software available at the college or is it possible for you to download it onto the college machines?
    • What technological support staff is available to help you set things up?

    Case Examples


     DescriptionTechnology / Materials
    Preparation

    Two courses: Marketing paired with Micropublishing and Hypermedia

    Description

    Week 1 (1st meeting)

    • All students will prepare a list of five questions to ask their virtual partner as homework.
    • Create working groups for all students.
    • All students will introduce themselves using Skype (30 minutes).

    Technology/Materials

     

    • All students will set up Skype account up in the previous class (15 min)
    • All student will set up a Google account and practice using google docs (30 min)
    • All students will need to ensure they have working email accounts that are compatible with Google. (30 min)
    • Teacher to create process guidelines for outcome required for each exchange
    • Teacher to create procedures for creating and accessing accounts for Skype and Google docs

     

    Note that students from the metropolitan classes are often much bigger than the regional colleges. This is not a concern per se, but does require some advanced planning in terms of setting up groups. A potential solution might be to have 1 student in the regional college talking to 3 students in the metropolitan college.

    Now let’s take a look at what students will DO during their collaboration!


    Collaboration

    In the collaboration phase, students are working on the activities to develop their products. Try to make explicit references to expected student outcomes for each part of the activity. Try to include overall schedule, structure, duration, as well as tools, technologies and materials used. Note that depending on the activity, students can sometimes participate in their own process planning as well.

    You may want to begin the collaboration by introducing yourself to the ‘other’ class, or decide to have the students engage right away. Either way, it is important to structure the collaboration in such a way that students have the opportunity to learn about the process for exchanging ideas along with knowledge required to meet the objectives for each task.

    During the activity, try to stick to your plan but remain flexible to allow for unexpected learning opportunities. You may also want to have a backup plan in case some of the students are unable to connect with the chosen technology.  Remember that technical support will be crucial throughout the activity. If possible, have an audio-visual technician present, or on standby, in order to troubleshoot during the live events.

    Reflection Questions

    • How will they break the ice?
    • How will they collaborate on the activity in order to meet the outcomes and create a product?
    • How will they conclude the activity?
    • If the plan fails, what could students do as an alternate activity? Is there another way for them to communicate?

    Case Examples


     DescriptionTechnology / Materials
    Collaboration

    Two courses: Marketing paired with Micropublishing and Hypermedia

    Description

    Week 3 (2nd meeting)

    • All students prepare a list of requirements on Google Docs (shared with their classmates) (1 class theory + 1 class working session=150 min).
    • Marketing students explain their requirements doc to their partners from Hypermedia.
    • Hypermedia students take notes, ask questions and submit summary of their discussion along with any additional questions (by email) within 48 hrs of the meeting. (60 min).
    • Marketing students update their requirements in Google Docs, inform Hypermedia students by e-mail that document has been updated (homework).

     

    Week 5 (3rd meeting)

    • Hypermedia students prepare a high-level draft of web design and associated documentation to share in Google Drive. Note that this is for review by the Marketing class. (1 class theory + 1 class working session = 150 min).
    • Marketing class reviews the document and sends feedback, questions within 1 week. (30 min theory + 30 min working session for reply).
    • Hypermedia class will design a mock-up website within 2 weeks of receiving feedback. (2 working sessions + homework= 150 min+ 2 hrs).

    Technology/Materials

     

    • Create an assessment rubric for the requirements document (in google docs) to share with students
    • Web design document evaluation rubric to share with students
    • Skype for student discussion. Note that alternative means of communication are also possible if needed, e.g. Facetime, Google chat.

     


    Follow up

    Your lesson plan will also need to consider the on-going implications of the collaboration activity for your students. Try to identify potential ways that students can integrate what they have learned from the collaboration within the context of their own course.

    Depending on the specific needs of your activity, you’ll need to outline how students are expected to follow up with their virtual partners, including how and when this interaction will occur.

    Try to provide guidelines to help students define how they will evaluate the results of their interaction. Perhaps you will have them prepare a survey, or perhaps a combined focus group of students that can address the various aspects of the collaboration (logistics, technical considerations, teacher support, quality of the learning, etc.). See the Reflective Practice section for more information.

    Reflection Questions

    • How will the students integrate what they learned with their course?
    • How will they evaluate the results of their interaction?
    • How and when will they follow up with their virtual partners?

    Case Examples


     DescriptionTechnology / Materials
    Follow up

    Description

    Week 8 (4th meeting)

    • Both classes: Each group will produce a presentation of their experiences that they will present to both classes virtually.
    • Marketing and Hypermedia students reflect and discuss the learning activities as a whole on Skype (60 min):
      • What worked?
      • What needs improvement?
      • Were the learning objectives met? Why or why not?
      • Suggestions for the future?
    • Each Class will individually write a report on their experiences and reflections: “How to create a successful professional communications”.

    Technology/Materials

     

    • Email: used by students to set up a meeting time.
    • Skype: for students discussions.
    • Video-conferencing unit (MVCU) to set up a virtual classroom.

     

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