Preparing for COVID: Zoom class meetings

While we all hope that COVID alert levels do not rise, we want to make sure you are prepared in case they do. 

One of the tools you might find most helpful if the COVID alert levels were to rise again, would be a Zoom meeting room where you can meet synchronously with your students. When set up through LEARN | AKO recordings of these meetings can be uploaded automatically into the Echo360 block for a chosen course site.

There are instructions for setting this up on this page from the Echo360 support site. If you would prefer to see a demonstration of how this can be set up, you could watch this video.

For any queries regarding this, please log a support request through the Assyst system.

Aropapaki: Online Course Design

Future Learning & Development is supporting the design and development of online courses through a co-design process called Aropapaki. The word “Aropapaki” is based on a Ngāi Tahu whakataukī: Me aropapaki te whiu. It speaks of perseverance to reach goals. Ngāi Tahu explains, “Be unyielding, like the waves that relentlessly hit the shore. A phrase encouraging people to persevere and keep strong.”

During the Aropapaki process, we work with academic staff to co-design an online course. The process begins with a series of three workshops, where you will be joined by a team consisting of learning designers, kaiārahi, Pasifika advisors, subject matter librarians, educational technology consultants, academic developers, and video producers. We’ve worked to make sure everyone will be in the room so that we have the best design possible and you are fully supported through the process. By the end of the three workshops, we will have the storyboard for your course and an action plan so that a learning designer can begin the build of the course in AKO | LEARN.

Following the workshops, we will continue to support you over the next 12 weeks to develop your course. Future Learning and Development will also provide additional resources to support you during the implementation of your online course.
If you have or are planning an online course and would like to engage in Aropapaki, let your Head of Department or Dean know. The call for the next round of Workshops will be going out soon.

Meet the Academic Development Team

The Academic Development team is available for consultation on teaching methods, assessment and curriculum design, programme (re)structure, academic processes, teaching portfolios, and research on teaching and learning.

Since January, two new academic developers have joined the team: Dr Trevor Nesbit joined us from Ara where he taught accounting and information systems, and he previously taught at UC as well. Trevor got his PhD from UC focusing on educational technology. Dr Brad Hurren joined us from Otago University. He holds a PhD in anatomy and has taught extensively into the large first-year health science courses at Otago. The last academic developer in the team is A/Prof Erik Brogt, who’s been in the role at UC since 2009.

The Academic Development team can collectively be reached via a new email address:

We are Future Learning & Development

Welcome to this first newsletter from the Future Learning and Development team. As a newly formed team it is exciting to communicate more widely about some of the work that we are doing and new initiatives that we are currently working on.

The University of Canterbury 2020-2030 Strategic Vision| Tangata Tū, Tangata Ora, communicates a vision to utilise technology to transform teaching and learning capability to develop flexible, accessible and future focused education. This digital transformation will scaffold delivery to a larger more diverse domestic and international audience whilst promoting development, growth and success of the city and region. The vision responds to the current global context, future needs of work and society, and supports the needs of all generations of learners and employers ensuring a more sustainable future. Recent events have given us a timely reminder of the importance of having robust, quality, sustainable digital teaching and learning solutions for all of our students.

Our team comprises Instructional Designers, Flexible Learning Advisors, Educational Technologists, Project Managers, Academic Developers and Video Production specialists. Members of the Future Learning and Development team are highly experienced practitioners, supporting teaching and learning with particular emphasis on digital transformation of teaching and learning. We are here to help academics to maximise the student learning experience and to support the development of the new 2020-2030 vision. We work with colleagues to enact quality teaching and learning for our on-campus students whilst also enabling access for students requiring more flexibility through digital engagement. I am proud of the skills and experience that this team brings to the University of Canterbury and I encourage you to take up the opportunities that this team offers.

I do hope that you enjoy reading this newsletter and that you find our regular updates useful. We look forward to working with you in UC’s mission to become more flexible, accessible and future focused.

Professor Michael Grimley
Amo Ako Anamata | Dean Future Learning and Development

New in AKO | LEARN: Mass Actions Block

We have added the Mass Actions block to AKO | LEARN. This block allows instructors to perform actions upon multiple resources or activities, rather than having to perform repeated actions on individual items.

Supported actions include mass selection, indentation, deletion, hiding, showing, and moving. To select items to perform actions on, simply click the checkbox to the right of it in the course home page or use select functionality, then click the action you would like to perform in the block.

You will see the block on the right hand side of your AKO | LEARN courses when you turn editing on.

There is a help sheet linked below, but if you have any queries let us know.

Mass Actions Block

First-Generation College Students

What is a first-generation college student? Institutions define “first generation” in various ways.  However, the Center for First-Generation Student Success states that “ultimately, the term “first-generation” implies the possibility that a student may lack the critical cultural capital necessary for college success because their parents did not attend college” (2020).

It is significant to recognize that first-generation students are an important part of our university community and are both driven and tenacious. First-generation students have unique needs. For example, first-generation students tend to struggle more than continuing generation students with:

  • Knowing how and how much to study
  • Understanding implicit faculty expectations
  • Finding time to study
  • Fear of asking questions or hesitance to approach an instructor 

These struggles can be compounded in an online learning environment. However, there are things you can do in your courses to increase the success of first-generation students. You do not need to identify these students specifically. These recommendations can benefit all students. 

What Strategies Can We Implement in Our Courses?

First, be explicit in the expectations you have for your students. Syllabi should include clear statements about what resources are required and that help seeking is expected and encouraged. 

For every assignment you create, consider the task, purpose, and criteria.

  • what, exactly, are you asking students to do (the “task”);
  • why do the students have to do it (the “purpose”);
  • and how the work will be evaluated (the “criteria”).

Then, explain those things to your students.  (Berrett, 2015)

Be familiar with the University of Canterbury’s psycho-social and academic support resources so that you can refer students appropriately. For instance, those listed here: Finding Support.

Provide information on how students can become connected on campus through major-related organizations, honors societies, undergraduate research opportunities, and social events. Students who feel more connected to their university are more likely to graduate, and it is particularly important for first-generation students to build a network that allows them access to information about tertiary education. 

Finally, reach out to the e-Learning Support team for assistance with student-centered course design and engagement in your online, hybrid, and technology enhanced courses.  


Berrett, D. (2015, September 25). The unwritten rules of college. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 62(4). 

Center for First-Generation Student Success (2020). Defining first-generation. Retrieved from:

Acknowledgement: I would like to acknowledge the First Scholars Program at the University of Memphis where I received training and support as a First Generation Faculty Advocate. 


HyFlex Course Design: Reaching Students Face-to-Face and Online

The occurrence of COVID-19 has been a driver for many instructors to adopt new teaching methodologies. While emergency online courses undertaken during a global pandemic should not be confused with best practices in online teaching and learning, we should use this time to reflect on what has worked well and what areas were amiss while trying to deliver content and engage students at a distance. Moving forward, the fluctuating New Zealand COVID-19 Alert System Levels give us further cause to prepare to reach learners face-to-face, online, and in some cases, using both modalities simultaneously.

The structure of teaching face-to-face and online simultaneously is referred to as the HyFlex (Hybrid-Flexible) model and was first introduced at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 2005 (Beatty, 2006). SFSU defines HyFlex courses as class sessions that allow students to choose whether to attend classes face-to-face or online, synchronously or asynchronously. SF State Academic Senate policy S19-264. The motivation behind the HyFlex model is to support the fundamental values of learner choice, equivalency, reusability, and accessibility (Beatty, 2019). In our case, necessity also drives the adoption of a HyFlex model.

At the University of Canterbury, a HyFlex course modality may be used under Alert Levels 2 and 3, where social distancing is required or attending courses in a face-to-face environment may not be feasible.  HyFlex courses meet synchronously in a face-to-face classroom on campus and online via a web-conferencing platform. The structure of the course must be adapted to meet the needs of face-to-face and online learners and support their engagement with the instructor, peers, and the content. The goal of incorporating this model will be to provide students in fundamentally different environments with equivalent experiences and outcomes (Simonson, 1999). While offering students a choice of modalities is desirable, social distancing restrictions will require a plan for determining the modality a student participates in each class period.

Best Practices

HyFlex courses can vary greatly in delivery. However, there are best practices that can help set you up for success.

  • Distribute lecture slides and handouts before class using LEARN.
  • Create breaks in the course session to engage with all learners and check for questions or comments that are posted online.
  • Collaborative partners and groups should be formed homogenously – either face-to-face or online. (Audio feedback becomes an issue in heterogeneous groups.)
  • Identify a teaching assistant or student volunteer to help monitor the students in the virtual classroom during course sessions.
  • Be sure to repeat questions asked by face-to-face students aloud so that your online students can hear them and read aloud questions posed by online learners for your face-to-face students.
  • In-class assessments should take place online using features in platforms such as LEARN or Qwizdom.
  • Record class sessions so that they can be viewed or reviewed asynchronously.


For more information or help with the development of a HyFlex course, the e-Learning Support team is here to help. We can support you with:

  • Developing courses in LEARN to support a HyFlex course model.
  • Organizing course sessions to effectively meet the needs of students in multiple modalities.
  • Offering tutorials on our web-streaming and web-conferencing platforms (Echo360 and Zoom).
  • Developing knowledge checks and assessments such as polls and quizzes.
  • Usability and concept testing in the TELF Lab.

Click here to contact the e-Learning Support team.

To learn more about the HyFlex model, you can access the book Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Directed Hybrid Classes online here.


Beatty, B. (2006), Designing the HyFlex World–Hybrid, Flexible Courses for All Students, Paper presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2006 Annual International Convention, October 13, 2006.

Beatty, B. (2019) Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Centered Hybrid Classes, ed. Brian J. Beatty

Simonson, M. (1999). Equivalency theory and distance education. Techtrends. 43. 5-8. 10.1007/BF02818157.

David Pomeroy shares some tips for distance teaching

What is it like to teach a face-to-face course by distance? In this video David Pomeroy, a lecturer from the School of Teacher Education, shares his personal experiences on this topic. David explains how he uses lecture capture (Echo360) during his face-to-face classes to engage distance students, talks about his approach for guiding students through LEARN (Moodle) and provides practical advice for those who are thinking about offering their face-to-face course by distance for the first time.

  1. What are some of the things you do for your distance students? 0:08
  2. Tell us about your presence on LEARN (Moodle) 5:32
  3. What’s your advice for staff thinking of implementing distance teaching for the first time? 9:28
Interested in getting more help about Echo360 and/or distance teaching? Contact e-Learning Support
Relevant workshops for staff at UC:

Dr. Viktoria Papp: Digital note taking vs hand written notes

Tertiary students increasingly prefer typing their notes than handwriting them. Research in the field indicates that taking notes on a laptop is not as effective as taking notes using pen and paper. In this presentation Dr. Papp shares her observations of her 200 level students’ achievement in relation to their preferred note taking method.

News from Future Learning & Development