Category Archives: News

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.

Dr Victoria Escaip – Using online video for language assessment

By Dr Victoria Escaip (Spanish Subject co-ordinator) and Richard Davies (Flexible Learning Advisor)

When you have the problem of high student numbers, limited staff time, and a desire for a personalised assessment process, what do you do? This article explores one recently tried solution for language assessment that makes the most of the technology academic staff and  students have at their disposal, in conjunction with the Learning Management System at UC.

Around the middle of last year, there was a goal. An idea to find ways to make use of the technology LEARN has to offer to make the Spanish courses better for students and staff alike. Some aspects were relatively straightforward to implement such as improved course design, use of the Gradebook and electronic submissions. One of the trickier and more difficult problems was how to find a better way to assess the speaking skills of a large number of students. The existing face-to-face method was complex and exhausting for the staff, and anxiety ridden for students.

The solution proposed was to use the recording function in a LEARN quiz question to both record the questions and the answers. Initially the idea of using just audio was investigated but it quickly became apparent there was no way of verifying who had actually taken the test. As an alternative, better solution, recording both video and audio was looked into.

After some initial testing which proved promising, there was another concern. How could we ensure the students didn’t just tell each other what the questions were going to be so they could prep ahead of time? The solution to this was to create a bank of questions at three different difficulty levels in which the computer each time would randomly pick some out to quiz the student. This randomisation would simulate what the teacher did in person.

Having dealt with that problem there were two more issues, what devices would the quiz be suitable for and how do we make sure it is fool proof for the students. Some sample questions were tested on a variety of devices. Research found that the only 100% reliable approach was to use a laptop or desktop computer. Although there was some concern that some students may not have access to a laptop or desktop, use of one was offered to students if necessary. The instructions that students would read were then carefully gone through with images included to ensure there was no misunderstanding. Each question included the instructions as due to the random sorting we would not know which question would come first.

A practice quiz was set up to ensure students had a chance to check their device was working before they did the formal test. This practice test had two questions that were not going to be used in the formal test, and students could do this practice test as many times as they liked. This allowed students to make sure their equipment was working correctly in advance and, most importantly, to familiarize themselves with the procedure.

It was important to get the timing and the number of questions right. If you set too short a time the students will not be able to get through all of the questions. If you give them too long then they will have enough time to look up the answers before they respond. So two senior students were asked to do the quizzes a couple of times and their feedback allowed the adjustment of timing.

Finally, the best way to grade was considered. Rather than marking each question one at a time it was considered a more efficient approach to view all of the answers given as a collection, just as it is done in a face-to-face situation, and then give an overall mark by entering it directly into the Gradebook.

What were the results?

  1. The time problem was solved. The oral assessment online maximized the resources available without affecting the quality of the assessment. There was not a single complaint and all 83 students went through this procedure smoothly.
  2. A relaxed test environment. We were pleased to see that students were much more relaxed than in a face-to-face oral test situation. Some of them were even wearing their pyjamas and looked really comfortable in their skins. We believe this procedure enabled them to give their best and helped them to achieve better marks.
  3. Fair marking. On one hand, due to the appropriate time given for the test, higher-level students were able to answer all the questions, or most of them, thus getting a high mark, while lower-level students would lose time when looking up for answers before responding, which prevented them from completing the test, achieving a lower mark, which in all cases corresponded to the lecturer’s criteria. On the other hand, the fact of having more time to mark the tests on the lecturer’s own time, without the rush of having to assess one student after the other, contributed to a fairer marking when assigning grades since each answer was listened more carefully, and a comparative grading scale could be established before assigning the final mark for each student.
  4. Other positive outcomes. A pleasing and surprising outcome was that all the students’ answers to the question “What are you like?” (a traditional question to which students need to respond using vocabulary and the verb ‘to be’, a tricky verb in Spanish) were really positive. Answers such as “I’m intelligent”, “I’m hardworking”, “I’m good looking” were the norm, in opposition to the usual ones in a face-to-face situation: “I’m dumb”, “I’m ugly”, “I’m lazy, ha ha ha”. This says much about how a relaxing environment can provide them with more personal confidence and even boost their self-esteem!

All in all, the students were more spontaneous, they did not have a bad time, as it happens for many in a face-to-face oral test situation, and it actually seemed that they had a lot of fun video recording themselves and looking at themselves on the screen.

What did the end result look like? See below:

Professor Tanja Mitrovic: Video Based Learning

In this presentation Professor Mitrovic discusses video based learning using AVW-Space. AVW-Space is a video-watching environment designed to support student engagement by providing micro-scaffolds to facilitate video commenting. Seven studies investigating the use of AVW-Space for the development of student presentation skills have been conducted. These studies show that students who engage with video content by writing comments and rating the comments of other students significantly improved their knowledge of presentation skills.


UC Teaching Month – e-Learning Events

The e-Learning support team is hosting a number of events for UC Teaching Month. This presents a great opportunity to learn about what is happening in e-Learning at UC and internationally. All are invited to attend.

Events include:

Relearning E-Learning
Wednesday, 17 July 2019: 1:30- 3PM, Rehua 103 (no registration required)

UC lecturers share their technology enabled teaching practices that support student learning and success. Come along if you are looking to try something new in your technology enabled teaching.

Speakers include:

  • Tanja Mitrovic – Video based learning.
  • Kate Pedley – Using Echo360 to engage students.
  • Jerry Maroulis (Wageningen University) – To MOOC or not to MOOC.
  • Viktoria Papp – Digital note taking vs handwritten notes and their effect on student achievement.\
  • Victoria Escaip – Using online video for language assessment.

Teaching Month Online Seminars and Workshops

Unbundling University Project
Online: Wednesday, 10 July 2019 (free – no registration required).
The seminar will be live streamed via zoom and all are welcome to attend.

Professor Laura Czerniewicz (Director, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at University of Cape Town) is presenting at Victoria University, Wellington from 3-4pm on her Unbundling University project. Laura is speaking about the Unbundled University project which examines the profound confluence which constitutes the unbundled university – the intersection of increasingly disaggregated curricula and services, the affordances of digital technologies, the growing marketization of the higher education sector itself and the deep inequalities which characterise both the sector and the contexts in which they are located.

Information about the seminar can be found at

The link to the seminars online meeting space is

ACODE 79: Supporting Universities for Future Qualifications’ & Pedagogical Models
Online 15-26th July: free.

The Australasian Council on Open, Distant & e-Learning (ACODE) is conducting a fully online workshop over 15-26th July

Led by a team of ACODE facilitators working with international speakers, the workshops will explore the following questions and reflect on how we can work to shape future planning and support for learning and teaching.

  1. How are universities structuring their activities and offerings and what challenges does this present for those enabling technology enhanced learning?
  2. How are university-vendor relationships changing in the sector and how will this affect our aspirations and capabilities for the future of technology enhanced learning?
  3. How are universities defining their places as higher education institutions in diverse and competing contexts? How can technology help maintain a community of learners and scholars while also supporting scale and access?

More information at

Register at

Information about all UC Teaching Month Events can be found at

New Technologies for Learning & Teaching

Asking students questions in lectures: Qwizdom QVR

Digital experience insights survey 2018: findings from Australian and New Zealand university students report identified that students enjoyed being asked questions in class. Students feel that they learn better when they are engaged and challenged in this way. But, how can lecturers do this with large classes. One way is to use an Audience Response System (ASR)

Qwizdom QVR is a virtual audience response system that enables lecturers to ask questions during class and allows students to respond.

Qwizdom QRV integrates with PowerPoint, allowing you set up your PowerPoint slides with interactive questions which are presented to students during the lecture.  Using the QVR Mobile Response App, students can respond to the questions from their devices (phone, tablet, laptop etc.) no matter where they are, as long as they have an internet connection.  Student responses are collected and displayed when you need it. UC has 30 lecturer licences that support class sizes of up to 500 students. If you would like a Qwizdom licence contact Donna Thompson (

Qwizdom QVR is just one of the virtual audience response system (ARS) available at UC. Other ARS available to you include: LEARNS Choice activity and UCanAsk. If you would like to know more about ARS available to you and the ways in which these can be used to facilitate student engagement and success contact a Flexible Learning Advisor (FLA). FLA contact details can be found at

Asking questions is a great way to engage students in lecturers. Use audience response systems such as Qwizdom to enable the teaching practice of questioning.

Collaborative content creation: Padlet

Padlet can be used to complement learning activities that require students to discuss ideas during or outside of class time, bring their own point of view, share content and show how they work through problems. The ability to capture, store and share this information in a variety of formats can help students reflect on the learning journey and provide lecturers with valuable qualitative information.

Padlet can be used for:

  • Socialising the classroom
  • Collaborative learning such as brainstorming
  • Peer learning
  • Collating or curating research and resources on a topic
  • Gauging learners understanding of a topic or concept
  • Reflexive activities – student’s perceptions, knowledge and attitude over time.

Padlet integrates with LEARN. UC has an institutional Padlet licence i.e. Padlet is available to all staff and students. If you would like access to Padlet contact Donna Thompson (

If you would like to know more about how Padlet can be used to enable student engagement and success contact a Flexible Learning Advisor (FLA). FLA contact details can be found at

New Services & Facilities for Learning and Teaching

360 Video Production Studio and Service
Construction of the 360 Video Production studio (located in the Oceania room L4 Puaka James Hight Library) is close to completion. The studio is operational and awaiting the installation of a green screen and new LED lighting. The studio consists of a main recording room, a control room, two editing rooms and an audio recording booth. The video production team also has a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone equipped with a high resolution video camera. The e-Learning teams Video Production Service is ideal for the creation of high quality video materials for the purposes of learning, teaching and research.

To access the video production service please lodge a service request on the Assyst self-service portal at (log in required) or contact a member of the e-Learning support team

Use the e-Learning support video Production team to create content for learning & teaching.