Last updated 20th November 2020

Active blended learning doesn’t just replicate the live lecture online. Instead it uses new ways of interacting (through technology) to create different types of learning experiences. Our blended learning courses combine the best of our taught courses with innovative online learning. You can learn at your own pace and fit your course around work and family commitments. This allows you to consider how you learn best and personalise the experience to suit you For other queries scroll down to our FAQs

Aims of the RVC Blended Learning Rubric

  • Provide a consistent and safe blended learning experience for students
  • Engage learners in active online learning experiences
  • A flexible learning design to allow for technical issues that could impact student participation
  • Improve the staff and student experience of learning online
  • Use technology to enhance learning opportunities
  • Provide multiple opportunities for online collaboration between students and staff
  • Develop reusable learning activities for courses moving forward

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning is an approach to teaching and assessment which combines different elements including: on-campus and online learning; synchronous(live) and asynchronous online learning, collaborative group interactions such as directed learning sessions and tutorials, and self-paced independent study including interactive learning activities and quizzes. Your course will include the following types of activities.

Recordings and activities for you to do in your own time - Some of your teaching content will be pre-recorded and you will be able to view it at a time convenient for you. This is what we mean by asynchronous learning materails. Your instructor may have recorded a presentation(s) and posted this onto RVC LEARN for you to watch. Lecturers may also have added additional content and activities such as reading and responding to Forum posts/comments, Q&A sessions using interactive tools such as Padlet boards or LEARN quizzes. Your instructor will post the sequence of the activities that you need to engage with prior to the start of each week. Check the Learning Preparation area on your course page on a weekly basis to find out what you need to view in advance and to help you schedule your study time.

Live streamed lectures, discussions and collaborative activities - Your instructore may also arrange for the class to meet online for discussions or Q&As using a video conference tool such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. In all cases you will be able to access the meeting using the meeting URL link and your web browser. These live events may also be supplemented by the use of Padlet and online polling questions with TurningPoint.

Self-paced independent and collaborative activities - Some of your learning will be done in your own time and this may include activities such as reading eJournals, quizzes and contributing to forums, Padlet walls and collaborative activities with peers in your course.

Online assessments - Some of your assessments may now be online and you will use tools such as LEARN quiz or other tools to complete them. Specific details for each online assessment including when, where and duration will be communicated to you by your course team prior to the exam. If you have any queries please contact exams@rvc.ac.uk

What’s the difference between blended on-campus and blended off-campus?

The blended learning for on-campus cohorts/years will include onsite small-group/practical sessions.

What is the IT setup needed for Blended Learning?

Laptop or desktop computer 

It is recommended that you use a laptop or PC for studying at home and assessments

  • A Windows desktop or laptop running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • A Macintosh desktop or laptop running macOS10.11+ or later operating system.
  • While you can participate in your classes on a tablet or phone we recommend using a computer if possible, particularly for assessments. Devices with small screens may make it difficult to adequately view the material provided. You should have at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 vertically for adequate viewing.
  • The IT network of the Royal Veterinary College is based primarily around Microsoft technologies and student-use computers in the College will be running Windows 10 and Office 2016 during the 2020-21 academic year. 
  • If your current laptop is out of date and you are considering purchasing a new device please contact the library to make sure it aligns to the above requirements. We also have a limited number of discounted laptops available for students to purchase from the library.

Internet Access – Wifi speeds vary so we recommend you check your bandwidth here.

Microphone/Speakers – This is important so you can talk and listen to your online discussions. You may these built into your device. If not then please make sure you have a USB headset/mic and speakers so you can participate in your classes

Webcam (optional, but recommended) – an external USB webcam can be used if you do not have one built into your device.

An up-to-date web browser – We recommend the following browsers: Chrome from Google; Firefox from Mozilla; Edge from Microsoft; Safari from Apple. Please check your browser is up to date as this is important to maximise security when accessing the internet.

Up-to-date software - Please check for any updates to both the operating system, software and your preferred browser. The College provides access to Microsoft Office software. Please follow the link to make sure you have software needed to view and produce various files.

Logging in to RVC Learn and Panopto - Once up to date please confirm that you are able to log in to RVC LEARN and access your courses as well as accessing Panopto video content. We recommend you do this in advance so we can help if you encounter any issues.

If you need any further support or experience issues with your IT set up

E-mail: learn@rvc.ac.uk

If you need further support with online learning Email studyskills@rvc.ac.uk

I’m used to finding all the information on the timetable viewer – why isn’t that being used the way it was before?

We appreciate that the blended learning format is very new for everyone but are confident that the flexibility and creativity it allows will support you in your studies. The process of creating your own timetable from the Learning Preparation provided each week is an important part of this “learning to learn” in the online world. The links to the “Weekly Guidance” and “Learning Preparation” on your course page allow you to see where the learning materials are located and also to become familiar with the sequence of the learning activities for the week, all in one place.

Many of these activities are self-paced and you can plan to do them at a time that suits you.  The timetable is only being used when “live” class-paced events occur to distinguish them from self-paced study. We recommend you attend these live events as much as possible to interact with your classmates, but recordings are also made available (for most sessions) if it is not convenient for you to attend.  We have recommended that you create your own personalised weekly schedule for yourself by downloading the contents of the Learning Preparation into OneNote and your Outlook calendar. This is covered in the How to Learn Online sessions. (Recordings of those sessions are available if you were not able to attend.) This method of developing your own timetable means that you can adjust the scheduling of the self-paced learning activities to suit your study preferences as well as add in personalised reminders. Creating your own learning plan is also important in terms of developing your skills as a life-long learner.

There are many benefits to the flexibility that derives from developing your own study schedule as well as being able to access the sequence and contents in one place on LEARN. While we understand that moving from the timetable driven system represents a change, we believe the benefits of the blended learning approach outweigh the temporary inconvenience of having to adapt to a new way of learning.

Is Blended learning just old previously recorded lectures from years past?

No, all of the lectures will be either newly recorded or live online lectures.  This means that the recordings have been updated for this year and that you can watch them flexibly at a time which suits you. Even the live lectures will be recorded if you can’t attend at that time. You can access everything from your course pages on LEARN. Please listen to this short video to find out more about what Blended Learning is.

Why are the lectures recorded in smaller amounts of time?

From the feedback we received from students in term 3 last year, we know that not everyone has a strong internet signal and some students had trouble accessing or downloading material when they wanted it. They also had trouble staying connected to live online lectures. Students may have lower bandwidth or data limits so alternatives to long live sessions and the use of shorter recordings helps students to manage their own learning situations around their internet signal. The use of shorter recordings and more bite-size ways to interact with the course materials also means it takes less time to download materials. This can provide more flexibility for learners and ultimately increase engagement.

Chunking lecture material into smaller segments of time is also helpful in terms of how we process new ideas and concepts.  It helps to breakdown material into smaller chunks or categories as we review ideas and move them from our short term to long term memory.

Instructors are also using a blend of asynchronous and synchronous (live) sessions to provide flexibility for learners and accommodate issues around bandwidth and time zones. This means students can watch and re-watch recorded content in their own time. Live teaching sessions are often shorter and used for more interactive types of teaching such as Q&A or DLs. Please listen to this short video to find out more about what Blended Learning is.

What if my broadband won’t run live sessions?

Online video conferencing tools can be broadband intensive especially when using both video and audio facilities. If you experience issues during a live online session, please turn off both your video camera and mute your audio. If problems persist you may need to ask your lecturer to ask the other student to do the same, in this way all of your available broadband capacity is focused on the lecturer and his/her presentation.

I’m not very comfortable with all of the different platforms and tools how can I get some help?

There are a number of ways you can access support, advice and guidance Talk to the Digital Learning Champions for your course – find out who they are here.

Use the tool guides on LEARN for guidance.

Develop your skills as a Digital Learner using KickStart

Still have questions? - Email LEARN@rvc.ac.uk

Why are my lectures at different times, for example in the morning or evening now?

Not all of your class colleagues are in the UK, so we have tried to schedule teaching events at different times so that students participating from around the globe can take part.

Can I download the videos to watch them offline?

Yes you can download the videos using the Panopto App. For more details please check out the Panopto FAQ here.

I don’t need the captions on the recordings – can I turn them off?

Yes you can. You will see a small button marked CC on the bottom of your video screen and you can toggle this on and off. Find out more information about closed captioning here.

I don’t feel like I know how much time I will need to spend on my studies with Blended Learning?

Blended learning is designed by your instructor and uses technology-mediated channels to create interactive, engaging learning experiences for student learning. It’s a new way of approaching your studies and your instructor will outline the sequence of your activities, in your Learning Plan.  The amount of time to do these activities will vary depending on how you organise your study time.  Instead of thinking about contact hours in F2F instruction – we think about learning hours which includes all of the time you will be spending on independent study and the hours for live sessions.  Using your Learning Plan you can organise how much time you will spend on these activities. Find out more about How to Learn online here.

Why can’t I see all of my lecture and learning materials at the beginning of the term? Why is it only one week in advance?

Your lecturers are working very hard to review, revise and develop online activities for you throughout the term. Please listen to Professor Boswood discuss how staff have been preparing in this video. Blended learning is new for everyone and so they are working iteratively to make sure you have your materials one week in advance to allow you to plan your weekly study schedule. This gives them an opportunity to fine tune their teaching delivery as they move through the term, make changes if needed and responding to any feedback.

I’m worried about interacting with my classmates effectively in the virtual classroom?

Learning online is going to be different but you are in the driving seat about how you interact with your classmates. You will have many different options for communicating online including using the chat, raising your hands, annotating, emojis and more.  In your weekly online learning activities you will have an opportunity to interact with many of your classmates in break-out sessions online, in your DL groups and other small group activities. You will also have opportunities to collaborate in different ways with your peers with activities like forums and Padlet walls. So you might actually find that you work with more people online than you would in F2F classes.

Is Blended learning more work than attending face to face lectures?

No it’s not more work, but you will need to organise you time differently depending on your study preferences and how you choose to work with the independent study material.   When you study F2F you probably got into a rhythm of doing some prep for lectures, showing up and then doing a lot of revision to prepare for your assessments after the lecture. This sequence of learning is something you’ve probably become comfortable with.  Blended Learning allows you to time shift and create a new ways to interact with the learning materials that works for you. The amount of time you spend on your studies/week will vary depending on how you choose to study but it shouldn’t take up more time.  Everyone is different but you could estimate you would be spending around 35 hours/week on your studies.  If you are having difficulty orgnaising your independent learning please contact Studyskills@rvc.ac.uk and also access our How to Learn online webinars.

Where can I access support for Blended Learning?

To find out more about how to work with the timetable to create your own personal schedule in OneNote or how to make best use of the videos in Panopto to maintaining a weekly schedule - the study skills teams is there to help.  The Study Skills area on LEARN has a variety or resources. You can access recordings of the How to Learn online webinars or attend the weekly Blended Learning Drop-in. Get in touch by email for more info or to set up an appointment studyskills@rvc.ac.uk

LEARN  The LEARN team is here to help with any queries about how to use any of the tools for blended learning. You can find out more about our approach to blended learning here. Visit the Digital Learning area on LEARN where you can find tool guides for Panopto, Teams, Turning PointZoom and more. You can also access a self-study unit in Kickstart on Digital Skills for Success. For any queries or access issues email LEARN@rvc.ac.uk.

Where can I find more information about proctored exams?

Please find our proctored exam FAQS here

Why should I return to university for Term 2?

While we appreciate that students may feel that the number of hours per week for practicals that will be timetabled for Term 2 may not seem significant, we would encourage you in the strongest possible terms to actively engage with every element of your course in order to be able to graduate on time. Every practical teaching hour will be an extremely important learning activity. The practical teaching has been planned to allow you to complete practicals that would have normally occurred in Term 1 as well as those relevant to Term 2 teaching.  Many of the practical sessions are aligned with other related course content in order to maximise your learning opportunities and will reinforce and help you gain the most from the theoretical knowledge you have been acquiring through your other learning opportunities, for example lectures, DLs, Clinical Scenarios and CALs.

The practical schedule has to be planned around the availability of various resources including staff, animals and other facilities together with the practicalities relating to teaching session preparation, which is often complex. For these reasons it is not possible to ‘chunk’ these hours into shorter, more intense periods of time on campus. All live teaching sessions will be taught in UK time and so it would be challenging to some international students to access these if they are unable to return to the UK.  For those students with an on-campus delivery for Term 2, you will also be able to access many facilities such as the library, social learning spaces, restaurants and cafe which will help you to become, or remain, embedded in university life. If you are not able to return to campus in January, please contact the Advice Centre to discuss your options in relation to your progression on the course.

For more detailed information about arrangements for specific courses please visit the announcements section on your Course page on LEARN

Will lectures be part of the on-campus teaching activities?

No, lectures will be delivered online.

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