Educational design principles for online intensives

There are lots of techniques and tools you can use to facilitate any teaching and learning session online. Several strategies and tips, shared from colleagues for intensives such as a Laboratory, Field Trip, Placement or Residential, are provided below.

Number one tip

The number one tip shared from staff across SCU is to be comfortable with any technology tool you intend to use and might recommend for students. Familiarity is important for teaching staff and students to enable them to use any tool effectively. To reduce student anxiety and promote connection, it is a good idea to provide all the support information about a new technology at the beginning so everyone feels comfortable and confident. Online teaching success is enhanced when staff conduct team meetings beforehand to practise how to use the tools, create breakout rooms and other aspects. This is an opportunity to talk through strategies and how to manage and facilitate teaching delivery and the roles required.

Support for Teaching Online (COVID-19) resources are highlighted below as key educational principles to keep in mind when designing and delivering intensives. Although specific tools are mentioned, the techniques can always be tweaked to suit the situation.

Connecting with students

Connecting with students includes strategies for creating an online community to encourage student participation and enhance teacher presence.


  • Check in frequently with students prior, during and post an intensive session to promote a sense of engagement and connection.
  • Separate Collaborate rooms can be created for campus related consultation times and this provides students with flexibility to login to gain assistance and simply connect.

Teaching your unit online

Teaching your unit online includes key strategies such as creating a teacher presence; avoiding cognitive overload by chunking learning content; and fostering interaction and communication among students and teachers.


  • Include and encourage pre-readings and activities for students to complete in their own time in preparation for intensives.
  • Convert all PowerPoints™ to PDF format prior to uploading online to help avoid potential bandwidth restrictions and problems.

Getting students involved

Getting students involved in your session provides ideas of what is possible using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to encourage student contributions using presentations, polling and branching scenarios.


  • Offer a variety of experiences during intensive sessions to keep students engaged.
  • Rather than holding one large continuous two hour session as they can be hard for everyone to sustain, hold smaller sessions with regular breaks.
  • Use breakout rooms to facilitate smaller group involvement.
  • Staff have stated that having at least one student in a class who is willing to turn on their microphone and share makes a huge difference to the online class energy.
  • To encourage student participation across the class, ask a question where all students post their answer at the same time when prompted.
  • Use polls as a group participatory activity.
  • Multiple choice questions both engage students and provide discussion points for teachers to work with.

Facilitation tools and techniques

Facilitation tools and techniques for large online events provides ideas on how to prepare students before they enter the online space, and how to facilitate online discussions.


  • Include extra support from colleagues during intensives to help facilitate the session.
  • Organise a host to facilitate the session with moderator/s from the discipline to respond to chat conversations.
  • Consider including guest speakers from time to time to add a different perspective to the session.

Technology tools and recording tips

Within a Blackboard site, any number of Collaborate Ultra sessions can be created and set up at different times or concurrently. Each session can cater for up to 500 participants. The lecturer or moderator can record the session. When using breakout rooms, keep one student group in the main room to ensure an active recording for students watching the video later. Refer to the Teaching online with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra resource, or join the Live Support sessions such as the Friday Free for All held in MySCU.

The Zoom communication and collaboration tool can connect up to 500 participants to create a real-time, interactive webinar event. Make sure the host schedules the meeting so they can record the session.

Example online intensives

Refer to the Online intensives techniques and tools resource for techniques and tools shared by colleagues to design and deliver a Laboratory, Field Trip, Placement or Residential.

Staff seeking technical expertise for quality video, audio and photography for intensives can contact the Digital Resources team. Digital Resources can produce the videos in consultation, or provide tips for staff wishing to create their own videos. Contact the Digital Resources team for advice on optimal file sizes and techniques for various recording devices (phones etc.). Digital Resources can then edit the video recordings.

Approvals required for Postponing

Not all teaching situations or assessments may transform to online learning delivery options due to external accreditation body requirements. For example the activities/assessments must be provided in a supervised face-to-face space. Postponing these situations is subject to approval from the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic). In this situation, consult with your teaching team and Course Coordinator.


Thanks to all the staff who contributed practical tips and strategies used in this resource.