Students at Health guide program (HVL) at Luleå University of Technology (LTU) are distance students with 2-4 weeks on campus every semester. Student support starts from day one. At the program start we have introductory days, where we talk about group dynamics and we teach them basic online and offline “student skills”. Each semester through the program starts with a week at campus. We believe, as teachers in this week’s video, that the start is important and that we need to establish some ground rules for communication and student behavior. We call the latter “to become a professional student”.
We believe in peer support, and not only teacher support. In the video (above) the said that studies can be lonely, and that is why we divide new students into groups where participants are close geographically, so that it is possible for them to meet in their home town or close to it.
Every course at HVL is accompanied by a study guide. It helps the student to structure the learning activity. That is in line with what Coomey & Stephenson suggest. The tasks are designed to promote dialogue and involvement when it is necessary, and the use of digital tools is incorporated in the task when the tool adds value. As an example is students supposed to use Jing when they give feedback on three other students’ presentations.
During the course our main tool for feedback is email. Response can be given in many ways, but as pointed out in an interesting article, Simpson (2008) argues for a new model of learner support, PaMS. The academic impact seams low so far, as no articles were found on web of science with “PaMS” and “pedagogy”. But, I like the model :-). And I also try to live by it. PaMS include three elements: Dweck´s self-theory, Boniwells strengths approach and Anderson´s taking the initiative to contact students.
I used Andersons proactive method to contact a few students before the end of a deadline, and they made the deadline thanks to my intervention. I also try to praise effort (Dweck) before achievements in the process leading to the final product.
One point that I bring with me from the webinar I saw two days ago, was the possibility to create forum and ask students to post questions there. That can later be transformed to a FAQ for use next year/semester.
Another idea I have is a new(?) way of monitoring a group process ´by creating a hash tag specific for the group (Twitter, Instagram) and ask students to regularly post updates.
A third idea is to ask a member of the group to send a small group report on the group process and the group development.