A brief guide to planning teaching and materials

The instruction belongs to the following themes

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content.

Planning the teaching is an essential part of your work as a teacher and the related preparations.  These instructions contain important information regarding, for example, the planning of teaching, objectives, the online teaching services and related support. 

Aligned and blended teaching as the objective

Teaching at the University of Helsinki is built on the principle of constructive alignment (see the training on university pedagogics). According to the principle, the objectives, content, methods and assessment procedures of the teaching should be aligned and working together to promote a high-quality, deep approach to learning.

 Teaching practices have changed over the past few years thanks to the utilisation of information and communications technology. Using IT solutions to create versatile learning environments is called blended teaching. Blended teaching refers to the integration of contact teaching and teaching carried out with the aid of information networks (Levonen, Joutsenvirta & Parikka 2005). 

You should keep in mind that planning blended teaching is different from planning lectures. When you are planning blended teaching, you should take into account the different characteristics of online and contact teaching environments; in other words, you should organise activities in the environment that best suits them.

 Two types of online interaction are possible for the participants in online learning environments:

  1. Simultaneous speech-based interaction (with remote connections) are possible through Zoom.
  2. Nonsimultaneous text-based interaction is possible through online discussion boards, comments and shared writing areas. Text-based interaction allows the participants to choose their study times more flexibly and take their time thinking about their answers and/or what to write. 

When planning aligned blended teaching, you should take into account the course’s intended learning outcomes, its learning environments and contents, the activities of the teacher and the student as well as learning tasks and their assessment. All of these factors should be aligned with one another. When planning their teaching, the teacher can make use of the aligned teaching matrix. The matrix allows you to divide the course into smaller parts that each have their own time, learning outcomes, activities and learning environments. The parts in the matrix can also be utilised when building an online learning environment.

Learn more: Constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996) (pdf).

Measuring teachers’ workload

When measuring the workload of teaching, factors that should be taken into account include the content of the teaching and the required preparations, especially the time needed to redesign a course. Read the work plan instructions on Flamma

If the teacher has to spend a lot of time and effort preparing teaching materials due to, for example, the fact that the course is being organised for the first time, the way it is organised is being developed, or the course content has significantly changed, the teacher should bring this up when the work plan is being discussed. This allows the workload to be considered when agreeing on the content of the teacher’s teaching duty.

Teaching development activities are also taken into account when assessing a teacher’s teaching merits when employing new teachers.

Planning teaching in phases

The planning of a course should be started early enough to allow for the preparation of a teaching programme that ensures high-quality timetables for the students and appropriate times and facilities for the teaching.

  1. View the curriculum of the degree programme and especially this course
  2. Think about the following questions:
    1. Who are the students that will be attending the course? What kinds of basic knowledge and skills related to the course do they already have?
    2. What are the central objectives set for a student on the course? What things, knowledge and skills are the students absolutely expected to have once they have completed the course?
    3. How can you assess the students’ performance during the course and/or afterwards?
  3. Think about what kind of learning tasks the students need to achieve the learning objectives set for the course.
    1. Prepare a plan of how the course progresses through content and student activities.
    2. When planning the course, you can also utilise the ABC workshop (link to be added)
  4. Fill in the teaching programme questionnaire to submit information on arranging the teaching (including the pacing of the course and facility needs). If you want to use remote teaching software (Zoom) on the course or have your teaching streamed or recorded on video, you must notify the education planning officer. You can find information on the teaching facilities here.
  5. Check the information on Sisu and provide the education planning officer with any additional information. (You can only do this after the course has been added to Sisu, normally around May/June. The education planning officer will send you a request to check the teaching information.)
  6. Verify that the course page contains all the information the students need to complete the course.
  7. Select the online tools used on the course and prepare them.
  8. Add a link to the Moodle page (if any) on your course page.
  9. Build the learning environment according to your plan.

Online learning environments and assessing student performance

Teachers at the University of Helsinki have access to a diverse range of online teaching services and related support. Nowadays, online learning environments are very versatile and come with different online tools.  Commonly used online learning environments include course pages, Moodle, MOOC and Zoom.

All the environments mentioned above are suitable for distributing educational materials and course information. In addition, Moodle, MOOC and Zoom include diverse online tools that allow you to create spaces for interaction between the participants. Moodle and MOOC contain many different tools for allowing students to submit their tasks (either for all the participants to see, only for a certain group or just for the teacher). 

The assessment tools of online learning environments have diversified the ways of assessing students’ performance. The exam tools in Moodle and MOOC contain several types of tasks that enable students to complete self-assessment tasks, classroom exams, home exams and homework tasks. 

Performance assessment can also be diversified by increasing the number of assessors, self-assessment and/or peer assessment through the workshop tools in Moodle and MOOC. On many courses, the assessment of student performance is now conducted by assessing learning tasks rather than exams. This means that students complete one or more learning tasks during the course, and the final grade for the course is a combination of the task grades.

Choosing teaching facilities

  • Education Planning Officers prepare the timetables and book the teaching facilities through Optime, the timetable and facility booking software. Teachers are usually asked to submit information on their facility needs in January or February. If you need to change a booking made for a teaching facility, please contact the timetable team of your degree programme. For more information on the teaching programme and publishing it, click here.
  • You can find information on the teaching facilities here.
  • If you would like to have your students work together in small groups in the teaching facility, ask for a facility that has been furnished to work for this type of teaching. 
  • If your lecture will be streamed online, allowing your students to attend the lecture remotely, ask for a facility that allows streaming. 
  • If your lecture will be recorded on video, ask for a facility where video recording is possible. 
  • If some participants will be attending your course remotely in addition to the students in the teaching facility, ask for a facility where hybrid teaching is possible. 

Planning teaching materials

The university supports the development of digital learning materials and promotes the openness of teaching materials. Read more on the digital leap at the university and your degree programme (mostly in Finnish).

Read more on teaching tools that can help you plan and prepare your teaching materials. 

Teaching materials may include personal information in the form of pictures or videos if they show people that can be identified. In these cases, please consider the data privacy guidelines regarding the protection of personal data. 

Read more on taking copyright into account when planning and preparing teaching materials. 

If the learning materials prepared for a course are also the materials used for the examination and assessment on the course, please take into account the following regulations, which are based on the Rector’s decisions:

  • The examination literature and materials are specified in the curriculum. The examination literature and materials must be announced to the students via the university’s electronic system.
  • The degree programme steering group is responsible for ensuring that the literature and materials listed in the curriculum are available to the students. The steering group may decide that the teacher responsible for the course is also responsible for checking that the literature and materials are accessible.
  • Literature and materials are regarded as accessible when they have been acquired by the library or a similar unit that allows the students to access them.
  • Supplementary reading or examination literature and materials that are agreed with an individual student do not have to be listed in the curriculum, but they still need to be accessible. Students must agree on this type of literature and materials with the teacher organising the examination before registering for the examination.