Fostering Wellbeing through Student Engagement in Distance Learning
DOTED – Ursula Stickler, Helene Pulker, Christine Pleines, Melanie Foedisch, Qia Kan, Jo Fayram, Lesley Fearn & Felicity Harper (UK)
In this presentation, we want to share the various ways in which distance learning design at the Open University, UK, actively fosters student engagement with teaching materials and with other students, and how this engagement can further student wellbeing. We will first discuss with participants the enablers and barriers to student engagement before presenting some examples from Open University language modules. Course designers, teacher trainers and teachers will present strategies and activities such as the following:
• Introducing online activities and webinars to support students to get ready for language studies.
• Using online spaces for cross-school meet-ups, events and activities with the aim of fostering a vibrant online community of learners and developing student resilience.
• Employing experienced language students to assist novice learners to develop skills and manage their anxieties.
Integrative language learning activities:
• Integrating student feedback into the design of learning activities, e.g., as study tips or to help them envisage their future as competent speakers of the language. (Chinese and German beginners’ courses)
• Fostering intercultural learning through course content and ‘Pause for thought’ sections that aid reflection. (Chinese beginners)
• Using forums to support cultural understanding, language learning and mediation skills and to foster student engagement both within and across languages and applied linguistics modules
• Using an early engagement alert tool to check student online presence.
Alongside discussing these examples from the Open University, participants will also have the opportunity to contribute their own examples and views via Mentimeter, Padlet, and oral discussions. Finally, we will discuss the link between engagement, well-being and motivation to prove the value of actively engaging students in their language learning, whether online, offline or in a hybrid format.
This is a collaborative presentation facilitated by the DOTED research group at the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics, The Open University, UK. DOTED – Distance and Online Teacher Education and Development – is a collection of researchers, teachers and teacher educators interested in the pedagogy of distance and online teaching of languages and staff development. Our work at the Open University entails creating teaching materials, investigating the effectiveness of distance and online teaching, organising and delivering online staff development programmes, and finding innovative ways of bridging the gap between pedagogic research and practice.