Redeveloping Modules

With Adam Potts

Philosophical Studies

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

What did you do?

Utilised online delivery using a diverse format rather than just reproducing hour long lectures. Using a mixture of audio, visual, and text based activities that have been modelled on teaching sessions.

This approach has been developed for the following courses:

  • An Introduction to the Nature of Explanation and Enquiry – HSS8007 (Students – 116) (Co-taught module)
  • Existentialism and the Self – PHI1005 (Students – 99)


Who is involved?

Dr Adam Potts, Lecturer Philosophical Studies

Nuala Davies, Learning Enhance & Technology Project Adviser, LTDS – LET Projects (HSS8007 only)

Rosalind Beaumont, Lecturer in PG Skills & eLearning Development

How did you do it?

This approach was piloted for the course, An Introduction to the Nature of Explanation and Enquiry – HSS8007 and this method has been used for over a year then repeated for a further two philosophy courses.

The steps taken included writing out the lectures in full and then by working through the content, deciding what will work as a video, face to face delivery, as text, what will translate to an activity, or what will work as a discussion.

Through this process a habit of knowing what will fit what type of learning intervention was developed, and this model was applied to modules moving forward.

Video used for Module introductions. Normally about five minutes in length to highlight the content for the week and normally in a more informal setting and tone. Microsoft stream was used to host these videos. Introductions can be a nice way of easing someone into a topic and can capture some key information and signposting

In terms of actual lecture content, an audio recording was recorded in a programme called audacity which is free to download. This allowed lecture material to be created and cleaned up if mistakes were made. The content was then imported into a PowerPoint presentation. The script is also available as a word document that can be used for accessibility. Mid module survey suggests that students benefitted from this type of learning.




Why did you do it?

One of the first considerations was, what can be retained and what technologies can we continue to use once we return to normal teaching.

The postgraduate module content is relatively static and aimed at postgrad, research, students. Dealing with some introductory concepts to postgraduates who work independently and think independently. The benefit of working through these materials online creates a situation where they can work through materials independently, then discuss face-to-face.

Other students are introduced to new language from a completely new discipline then being asked to talk about it, which can be difficult. Doing it online allows students to have the time to let the new material embed and work through it at their own pace. Students can then come to the seminar and discuss what they’ve learned. This relates to course HSS8007.

Another benefit is that students can pause lectures and rewind when they need to. Students also benefitted from lectures being broken down into elements and not just watching a 50-minute video. This relates to PHI1005.

This will also support students’ time management as different sections are clearly marked.


Does it work and Student Voice

A mid-module survey suggests that students benefitted from this type of learning (PHI1005).

A blended learning approach has given the students more options to consume the learning with transcripts being a real benefit for students. And students can complete the learning at their own pace has made a real difference.

Feedback this year has been strong. Here are a collection of student comments.

Some comments from students on PHI1005. Students were asked, ‘which aspect of the online material did you find the most useful?’

The overview of the week’s learning material prior to the lecturers and readings; they always summarise the material in a fundamental and useful way

I found useful the readings/questions between the lecture snippets and the discussions thread

I find the video transcripts super helpful because sometimes in other modules I might not know the spelling of a name/ the wording of a quotation so the transcripts help with this. Plus they mean I can differentiate how I learn so it’s not always videos

The organisation of the materials on Canvas is clear and leads you through the work easily, and the shorter videos allow the material to feel more accessible.

I’m a big fan of the online route, as it means we can easily skip back to bits we didn’t quite catch. Unlike a couple other modules too, I like the fact that the lectures are split into several shorter ones with a powerpoint slide in the background.

I enjoy the way they are broken up – it makes it a lot easier to learn from home and helps with concentration to have the information in smaller sections.

The fact that there is a section for guidance on planning your time – it makes me feel like I’m actually on the right track. Also the fact that it is pre-recorded and you can pause, go back etc is very useful for taking notes.

The videos are very straightforward and being able to download the transcript is useful when looking back over things

The overall structure of the module makes it easy to complete all the relevant work. I also find the discussion boards particularly useful as they’re good overviews of each section.


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