In ESALA, the MSc in Design and Digital Media has run for over 20 years; MSc in Digital Media Design was introduced in 2015 as a fully online version of the programme.

Presented here is an overview of our (still emerging) practice, and it’s acknowledged that it represents only a small fraction of activities and approaches to teaching and learning at ECA.

In summary, for Design and Digital Media (DDM) and Digital Media Design (DMD):

  • All courses are taught in “hybrid” form to both on-campus and online students
  • There’s pervasive use of lecture recording and live streaming
  • Extensive use of flipped classrooms
  • Examples of group projects shared between both cohorts, and cooperation between cohorts

In terms of the UoE hybrid teaching paper prepared by Siân Bayne and colleagues, these run together effectively as one programme that is hybrid, blended (at times) and flipped.

Responding to “2. What is hybrid teaching”

DDM & DMD aim to design courses for a fluid, hybrid cohort that merges teaching and learning for online (OL) and on-campus (OC) cohorts in shared courses, and addresses the groups identified by the DE hybrid teaching paper

Due to the size of the DDM cohort our OC students may not always be co-present, but are taught in smaller groups

Online materials, activities and documentation are as beneficial for them as for OL students, particularly for an overview of guidance and advice, and also for incorporating into flipped classes.

Responding to “4. prototypes for hybrid teaching”


Discussion board in Learn

DDM & DMD use LEARN as a single point of entry to a range of co-created material for courses across the Learn Foundations tools.

Co-created is used here to acknowledge the role that students play in contributing material through, for example, discussion boards and blogs.

Both OC & OL students contribute to the discussion, often as part of an asynchronous crit dialogue.

Perhaps there’s even more scope to develop this through TIL (today I learned) posts, and Yammer-style updates on what’s been added.


Chat channel accompanies a live-streamed lecture

OL students are able to watch and contribute to OC lectures in realtime through live streaming and chat.

Staff and (delegated) students review and respond to comments during and after lectures, and draw attention to or collate these queries, comments and responses through regular posts and announcements from LEARN.

A series of short lectures in the Media and Culture course

Media and Culture classes take the form of a flipped class.

Richard Coyne demonstrates the flipped classroom model

The majority of lectures for Media and Culture take the form of a series of short prepared videos per lecture (also available as a podcast), which are easy for students to consume online prior to class activities. Both OC and OL student use this content.

As a possible development of this approach, for the upcoming session for Design For Interactive Media, contextual ‘lecture’ material may be made available as a 2 ‘season’ set of 10 * 25min episodes to be binge watched at the beginning of each 6 week teaching block (e.g. Season 1 in week 1, Season 2 in week 7), in order to get to the heart of practice based/led teaching and learning more quickly.

Our flipped classes are given activities for completing (variously) before, during or after the class (depending on the nature of the activity), which then inform further activity including critique and discussion.

Flipped classroom activities in the Media and Culture course
Flipped classroom activities in the Media and Culture course
Activities in the Dynamic Web Design course
Outcomes from activities in Media and Culture

Some OL students participate directly and telepresently with the flipped OC activities and students through video and chat channels where time-zones and availability allow (e.g. via Skype, Collaborate).

The same is true of tutorial activities, where some OL students engage with OC tutorial groups and activities through video and chat channels.

Activity material (crits, plenary) is recorded and contributed by students and staff on mobile phones for effective sharing and review. OL specific collaborate tutorials/crits are recorded for sharing between cohorts.

Solstice/BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has occasionally been used during OC activity to share live capture of video from a mobile devices of physical objects and sketches to the lecture screen/stream and subsequent capture.

A design crit video-captured by mobile phone camera and shared via LEARN, Introduction to Digital Design course
Video-capturing a discussion with a mobile phone in Media and Culture

Labs, workshops and studios

OC computing lab demonstrations and workshops are streamed and captured. Using BYOD technologies students can also share images to distributed screens, or upload material to online channels.

Our practical demonstrations are supported by integrating material from LinkedInLearning, and also short bespoke tutorial (viewtorial) material with supporting files.

Discussion alongside live stream, Game Design Studio
Integrating LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) resources, Game Design Studio
Supplemental “viewtorial” videos, Design for Interactive Media

The Rich Media Linker allows for comments/queries, links and documents to be tagged to specific times in the video by staff and students.

Dialogue in the experimental Rich Media Linker application, Dynamic Web Design

Lecture capture material is sometimes edited down into much shorter chunks for repurposing across courses, and a range of discussions/critiques can be captured, including of written material.

Short video content usable across courses, here in Digital Playgrounds for the Online Public
Talking about writing

As well as staff facilitated channels, the OL and OC cohorts have shared social media chat channels that include Facebook Groups, Discord and Slack, and these are often used to coordinate group activities.


During OC and OL tutorials and crits, staff make note of recurring feedback/comments and make short overview recordings, especially where large cohorts mean multiple sessions. In this way, common queries or advice can reach a wide audience.

Tutors may hold OL office hours via a doodle poll or similar, within a common framework of Collaborate or other video/chat channels for screen sharing etc. We’re mindful that not everyone will choose to, or may be unable to, participate equally and synchronously.

For online crits, tutors can ask students to send material in advance, normally by uploading to discussion boards, so there’s a reduced overhead of preparation for staff, or work in iterative asynchronous sessions.

Tutors can also request individual students to send screenshots or take images with mobile devices of representative/notable/interesting approaches or work that were seen in OC and OL to share during a catch-up overview session.

Watch some examples of video feedback and updates

Video feedback in the Design for Interactive Media course
Jules Rawlinson provides video feedback for a tutorial, Design for Interactive Media
Jules Rawlinson provides video feedback for a tutorial, Design for Interactive Media
Jules Rawlinson provides video feedback for a tutorial, Design for Interactive Media

Where appropriate, tutors share responses to individual questions received in email or on discussion forums via video. Again, this video material is supported by regular announcements/email on LEARN to alert students to this supplemental material.

There’s a fine balance between supporting and overwhelming students with online material.

Make it clear exactly what the expectation is in terms of what people should engage with as the minimum.

As with all learning resources and activities, keep them focused and consider whether there’s scope for students to have a role in curating, editing and annotating existing resources.

That said, it’s important to also note that we don’t tend to go to extreme lengths of editing etc., things are left to be fresh and spontaneous, if a bit rough at the edges!


For some ‘studio’ based group work, students collate blog material on shared sites.

View some example blog content

A project group’s blog site for Digital Media Studio Project
A project group’s blog site for Digital Media Studio Project

For some individual submissions students are asked to supply video material of work in progress, demonstrations/account of practical submissions and video essays/interviews via MediaHopper.

Student crit video in Media Hopper Create for Design for Interactive Media

Watch an example student screencast (with kind permission from Qing Mu)

View an example of a student project blog (with kind permission from Qing Mu)

Jules Rawlinson provides video feedback for a tutorial, Design for Interactive Media

As a way to close courses (and for formative submissions), an overview is often made of submissions by the CO, so that students get a view of what was achieved by the cohort similar to general feedback, and where feasible and appropriate links are shared to allow students to see each others work.

Jules Rawlinson provides video feedback for a tutorial, Design for Interactive Media

This last point is perhaps the most important, our OL students positively comment on how ‘present’ we are as remote teachers, partly by being responsive to email and participating in discussion boards etc, but also by the frequency with which we’ll directly acknowledge remote viewers (as a group, not necessarily as individuals, but sometimes that happens too) by addressing the camera, even in live lecture capture so that there’s not a sense of this is something that is being repurposed as a second hand experience.

Oh, and keep an archive, you’ll never know when you’ll want to refer to, repurpose and remix something!

Specifically acknowledging online students by addressing the camera
[Words and image curation by Jules Rawlinson, 2020.]
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