Pre-work and Post-work, both for staff and students, can help students to engage with tasks and supports independent and group study skills. Pre-tasks can include independent, interactive or collaborative elements and should feed into the main lecture/task for the session.  Post-work can be used for consolidation, reflection and application of learning.

Decorative: [Image Description:] A woman's hands can be seen writing on a laptop. She has a text book open next to her and a cup of coffee can be seen on the end of the table.
Decorative [Image description:  An image of a black desktop. There are several pieces o paper neatly arranged in lines, blue pencils in size order and a mobile phone]

How can pre-work be used? 

To support engagement with students, aligning the task with the main teaching sessions can be useful to gather data, reading or identifying key themes/theories. We would recommend, when setting pre-work, that when the task is set it is made explicit not only the task they need to complete, but also how this will be utilised in the main teaching session. This will support students with not only finding meaning in the task but by knowing what they need to produce and how it will be used, should help them engage with the task. To help with making clear instructions you can always think of the Who, What, When, Why, Where and How i.e.

  • Who is doing the task? Who do they need to give the task to? 
  • What the students are completing? 
  • Why the students need to complete the task? 
  • When the student needs to complete the task by? 
  • Where they will access the task? (links) 
  • How do they need to complete the task? 
Decroative: Image Description: [A man is seen from the back. He is sitting at a desk whilst using an electronic tablet. He has a cup of tea to the right of him and a book can be seen behind the electronic tablet]

Preparing for an online session to increase engagement

There are several elements that staff can pre-plan which will help the flow of an online session, student interaction and can support transition between activities. This in turn will help engagement by ensuring a good pace is kept and participants are aware of their how and when to contribute.

Communication (pre-work)

Communication has already been mentioned (see ‘how can pre-work be used section above), in addition to the advice given above, we would also recommend sending the structure/layout for the session to students before the session is due to begin. By mentioning the overview of the session as well as sharing how the students will be intending to interact and with what tools, can  help students feel more at ease with online learning and prepare them to engage. This is especially useful for students who are nervous or unsure about online learning.

Getting rid of distractions

Before starting a session we would recommend:

  • Clearing your computer desktop – Make sure that your presentation is clear and only relevant files are available. This will support you with moving between activities quickly and efficiently.
  • Do not disturb – We would recommend, before starting a session, that you set your Outlook to not show any new email alerts and that MS Teams is set to ‘do not disturb’. Constantly popping up messages can distract you and your students and, if the screen is shared, can potentially cause confidentiality issues depending on the topics on the message.

Good housekeeping

When starting a session we have some guidance that we call ‘Good Housekeeping’ i.e. elements to consider when running an online session. These rules will help students stay engaged by using the tools that are available inside of Collaborate Ultra/Ms Teams and helps structure your approach for the session. Please see the guidance below:

Tips: Housekeeping when running an online session.
Tips: Housekeeping when running an online session.
Tips: Housekeeping when running an online session.

Check out our tips and guide for housekeeping by clicking the links below:

Infographic (PDF)

Accessible version (.doc)

Check out our tips and guide for recording with MS Teams by clicking the links below:

Infographic (PDF)

Accessible version (.doc) 

Check out our tips and guide for recording with Collaborate Ultra by clicking the links below:

Infographic (PDF)

Accessible version (.doc) 

You could try… Look at one of your sessions, what elements would you like to try and how will this help you with student engagement?

Tip: If you are trying something new, run a practice session with some colleagues to trial the advice in action and to receive some peer-to-peer feedback