Professor Don Rothwell on Creating Podcasts

Title image
In this podcast Professor Rothwell shares his experience and advice on effectively creating and using podcasts. He explains how he develops and integrates podcasts into his learning and assessment activities and discusses some of the unexpected benefits that arose in the process of creating them.


We recorded this podcast in the One Button Studio in the Chifley Library. Huge thanks to Rafael Florez from the Centre for Learning and Teaching for use of the recording equipment. We used lapel microphones and a Zoom (brand) handy recorder. Dale Newbery used the free version of Descript for post-production editing and transcript creation.

If you’d like to learn more or need some assistance to create podcasts, please don’t hesitate to contact CEIST:

Designing for Success: Engaging and Supporting Large Cohorts Online

Senior Lecturer Pauline Bomball teaches the elective Labour Law at the ANU College of Law. The course is usually taught on campus but due to COVID-19 it was run online in Semester 2, 2020, with a cohort of 264 students.

Pauline’s approach to course design and the use of resources and technologies, including Wattle and Zoom, demonstrates how large online classes incorporating synchronous sessions can be facilitated to maximise engagement.

Key features of the course included:

  • a focus on scaffolding and situating students in the course each week by developing roadmap resources which were used consistently throughout the course
  • a clearly structured and uncluttered Wattle site
  • actively engaging students online in synchronous classes through an interactive teaching style, the use of the chat function, and the occasional use of Zoom breakout room
  • utilising retrieval practice via Zoom polls to reinforce learning (Brown, Roediger, McDaniel, 2014, 41)
  • active learning activities including student-led analysis of problem scenarios and the use of a policy reform lab format to enable students to apply their knowledge to current issues in labour law

CEIST asked Pauline to share her thoughts about teaching online and how this may influence the design of the course when it returns to on campus mode.

CEIST: Feedback from your students indicates that they were very engaged throughout the course. Could you describe your teaching style and elaborate on the activities and approaches that you used to support student engagement, including the use of educational technology in the course?

Pauline: I have an interactive teaching style.  In my view, students learn best when they are engaging actively with the course materials.  I aim to create a respectful learning environment in which students are encouraged to engage in discussion and debate with each other and with me.

In Semester 2 of 2020, I taught Labour Law in an online format for the first time.  I have been asked to reflect upon some of the activities and approaches that I used in that course.  I should note that these are all works in progress.  There is much room for improvement.

Each week, I delivered two 90-minute live Zoom lectures, where I worked through the course materials with the students.  Where possible, I adopted my preferred dialogic model of teaching, which involved engaging in a conversation with the students about the materials.  In most weeks, students were also given problems to work through and these were discussed in the live Zoom classes.  In the second half of the semester, I introduced the Labour Law Policy Reform Labs, each of which was designed to generate discussion about a particular topical issue (Labour Law Policy Reform Lab I – The Casualisation of the Australian Workforce; Labour Law Policy Reform Lab II – The Awards System and COVID-19; Labour Law Policy Reform Lab III – Enterprise Bargaining: Challenges and Possibilities).  In the first of these labs, students debated the issues in small ‘buzz groups’ (Batey, 2013) before coming together as a class. 

At the start of some of the live Zoom classes, I ran a quiz (created using the polling function on Zoom) to reinforce concepts that we had covered previously.  In each week of the semester, I put together a weekly roadmap that provided students with a brief snapshot of the course at that particular point in time.  These weekly roadmaps constituted one plank of the ‘conceptual overviews’ (Teaiwa, 2005, 8) that I sought to provide throughout my course.  This involved giving students, in classes and through communications online, an overview of the previous week’s materials, an outline of the following week’s materials, and an explanation of the ‘conceptual relationships … between’ the two (Teaiwa, 2005, 8).  I also used the class discussions and online posts to draw links between the course materials and current events.  In addition to communications in class and on the Wattle forum, I offered one-to-one Zoom consultations outside of class time to students who had questions about the course materials.

I would like to acknowledge the excellent assistance that I received from Sharon Elliott in CEIST.  I approached Sharon for guidance on course design prior to the commencement of the semester.  Sharon provided me with comprehensive advice on how to engage my students effectively in an online environment.  She also did multiple practice runs with me on Zoom to make sure that I was comfortable using all of the settings.  Sharon’s guidance enabled me to use many of the Zoom functions effectively in my online classes.  I also found a lot of useful information on the College’s Engaged Online Learning Wattle site. 

CEIST: Was there anything that particularly surprised you about the online teaching experience?  What did you find most challenging about teaching online?

Pauline: I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to replicate some elements of the dialogic model of teaching effectively in the online environment.  The live chat function on Zoom also opened up an additional avenue for student participation in class discussions.  Students could post their questions to me via the chat function and I would answer those questions during the class.  At times, I found it challenging to keep on top of both the oral discussions and the questions that were coming in via the chat function (especially when there were multiple questions posted simultaneously), but overall it was very manageable and enjoyable. 

Due to travel restrictions, a number of my students were based overseas for the entirety of the course.  Some could not access hard copy sources.  This posed a particular challenge, especially in relation to the research essay (one of the assessment items), as some sources were available in hard copy only.  In order to ensure that students were treated equitably, I changed the expectations for the research essay, so that students were required to engage only with materials that were available electronically. 

CEIST: Has your experience teaching online prompted you to think about making any changes to the on-campus course? Would you use or adapt any of the approaches or technology tools?

Pauline: The Zoom breakout room function made it easy to divide students into small groups for discussion.  I would like to incorporate small group discussions into my classes more often in future.  Some of the tools that I used to scaffold learning and reinforce key concepts (including the in-class polls and weekly roadmaps) would be suitable for use in an on-campus course.  I would also incorporate the Labour Law Policy Reform Labs into an on-campus course.  There is much work to be done here – many more topics that could be covered, and many other techniques that could be invoked to foster discussion and reflection.  I plan to develop these Policy Reform Labs further for next year’s Labour Law course.

Student Feedback

Student 1

I just wanted to email you to say thank you for teaching Labour Law. This was my last course in my undergrad law degree, and I can safely say it was my favourite. I thought everything you did was just so so good – the policy labs, the weekly roadmaps, your patience with responding to questions … seriously awesome and inspiring. My friends and I rave about your teaching style.  Student Email

Student 2

This course made me want to become an employment lawyer.  I really liked the format of two 1.5 hour lectures. Despite the fact that they were over Zoom, they were interactive. SELT

Student 3

Pauline is an encouraging lecturer, often promoting discussion and making people feel comfortable contributing. SELT

Student 4

Pauline is a fantastic, engaging lecturer, she communicates extremely clearly.  SELT

Student 5

Pauline was an excellent teacher, really knowledgeable and always made a massive effort to connect with students.  I also really enjoyed the addition of the Policy Reform Labs and appreciated the effort to draw our attention to recent developments in labour law and what they mean for us.  SELT


Peter C Brown, Henry L Roediger, Mark A McDaniel, Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, (Harvard University Press, 2014) 23-43

Robert Batey, ‘Teaching Criminal Law: Buzzgroups, Short Writings, and Hypotheticals’ (2013, Stetson University College of Law Research Paper No 2013-10)

Teresia K Teaiwa, ‘The Classroom as a Metaphorical Canoe: Co-operative Learning in Pacific Studies’ (2005) 1 WINHEC: International Journal of Indigenous Education Scholarship 38

The Batey and Teaiwa sources are available on the ANU College of Law Engaged Online Learning Wattle site.

If you’d like chat about course design for online or on-campus classes, please don’t hesitate to contact CEIST:

Teaching interactively using Zoom

Many of us have now had quite a few opportunities to teach using Zoom, whether in a live lecture format or in smaller tutorial groups. This blog post will explore how you can make use of some of the extra features in Zoom to make your teaching or tutoring more interactive.

We know from student feedback that one of the reasons why they don’t attend lectures and watch them later on to catch up, often at a faster replay rate, is that they don’t have any opportunities to participate and therefore don’t feel engaged in the learning experience.

In a face-to-face lecture or tutorial situation there are many opportunities to create engaging, student-centred learning activities. The following features of Zoom will enable you to replicate many of these online.


Text based chat gives students the opportunity to post questions or comments without immediately disrupting the flow of the presentation or conversation.

The chat window allows participants to post messages that everyone in the Zoom meeting can see or to send a private message to either the meeting host or another participant.

This is a great way to allow students to ask questions or provide feedback but it can be difficult to manage in large classes. If you do not have a co-convenor you might like to ask a student to volunteer to monitor the chat.

Chats are saved automatically when you record to the cloud. If you aren’t recording, you can manually save a copy of the chat at any time before ending the meeting.

More information

Zoom guide for Chat


Polls are a great way to check understanding, identify areas that students are having difficulty with or to seek feedback. It is usually a good idea to prepare your polls in advance of the teaching session and then introduce them at the appropriate time.

Polls are not enabled by default so you’ll need to toggle this setting on in the Zoom web portal:

Click the toggle button in the polling setting to “on” (right).

Schedule your meeting first, then access it via the Zoom web portal and create your poll questions (single or multiple choice). You have the option to make a poll anonymous.

More information

Zoom guide for Polls

Zoom guide for downloading Poll responses after a meeting ends

Screen Sharing & Whiteboard

Screen sharing enables you to share applications, websites or documents with students. Everyone in the meeting has access to tools to annotate a shared screen by typing or drawing text or images.

If you are sharing an audio or video file, be sure to select the option Share computer sound and, for video, Optimize Screen Sharing for Video Clip:

Another screen sharing option in Zoom is the whiteboard. Everyone in the class has access to the annotation tools.

More information

Zoom guide for annotation tools

Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms enable you to split the cohort into smaller groups for interactive learning tasks such as discussions, simulations, analysis and problem solving. You can see an overview of scenario-based learning using breakout rooms in our previous blog post Using scenario based learning online.

Breakout rooms provide students with opportunities to interact and work collaboratively with their peers. This helps students to feel connected, which is so important when learning remotely, especially if you are teaching a large class.

You can create up to 50 simultaneous breakout rooms in a Zoom meeting. Depending on the activity, we recommend groups of 4-6 students per room.

More information

Zoom breakout rooms guide

Reporting on Attendance

The Zoom Usage report can be used to check meeting attendance via the Zoom web portal Select Reports in the menu on the left and access the Usage report. The number of participants is shown and you can click the number to display a more detailed report including names. Note: this report is attached to the meeting host’s Zoom account but the results can be exported.

More information

Zoom reports guide

If you would like to discuss how you can make use of the features in Zoom to create interactive learning activities in your class, the CEIST team is here to help! Email us on

Using scenario-based learning online


Law is one of many subjects that makes effective use of scenario-based learning. Scenarios are usually presented as a problem-based learning task with students often required to take on roles and adopt a range of positions in relation to the scenario.

Students in Associate Professor Jeremy Farrall’s LAWS8567 International Dispute Resolution course participate in real-life simulations, involving the six major mechanisms of International Dispute Resolution, namely negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement.

There were two main scenarios used across 5 simulations: the Kashmir Dispute and Myanmar’s legal responsibilities under the Genocide Convention arising from the Rohingya crisis. Students represented various delegations throughout the simulations, for example, India, Pakistan and the Commission of Inquiry during the inquiry stage.

The live simulations were blended with guest lectures, additional pre-recorded lecture material and relevant readings, which had to be sequenced in a way that supported the various stages of the scenario problem.

International Dispute Resolution is normally run as a 4 day face to face intensive. The rapid shift to online learning due to COVID-19 required a complete rethink of the way the course and simulations were facilitated.

CEIST worked with Jeremy to design and set up the online simulations using Zoom pre-assigned breakout rooms. As the name suggests, pre-assigned breakout rooms enable you to set up the breakout rooms in advance of the meeting time.

Zoom Meeting and Breakout Room Structure

Students work in two main teams in each simulation:

  • Separately in their delegations e.g. Commission of Inquiry, India or Pakistan meeting independently
  • Together with the delegations in their group i.e. Commission of Inquiry, India or Pakistan meeting together

The example below shows the structure of groups in one of the simulations. Zoom only allows a person to be pre-assigned to 1 breakout room per meeting, so we had to create 2 Zoom meetings for each simulation, using separate Zoom accounts. Students move between the Zoom rooms to meet with their delegation or entire group, just as they would if they were in a physical classroom.


CEIST and Jeremy planned and rehearsed the use of Zoom breakout rooms prior to the course to ensure that the approach would work and that he was happy that the students wouldn’t find it too confusing.

The CEIST team were available at the start of the first few simulations to resolve any technical issues, of which there were very few, either for Jeremy or the students.

We asked Jeremy for his feedback after the course.

Q: You have run classroom simulation activities face to face for many years – what did you find most challenging about moving into the online space?

A: Many things were challenging, such as:

  • Learning the different possibilities/limitations of the Zoom platform and how to maximise/minimise them;
  • Getting the balance right between pre-recorded and live content;
  • Preparing for the course was considerably more time-consuming than for in-person delivery. I also could not have prepared for online delivery without sustained expert support from our online design and support team.
  • Shaping and managing student expectations prior to the course – there were a number of students who assume that online education is a passive, consume at own leisure exercise. They did not understand why they should be required to be online as if this were an in-person exercise and they asked to be exempt from the participation requirements. My approach was to explain that this is an experiential learning opportunity, that everyone needs to be online at the same time in order to take advantage of this opportunity, that if they were not online then they would be letting their peers and themselves down, that the simulations form more than 60% of class time and they are not recorded (that would be pointless and counterproductive); and that 30% of the assessments required active participation in the simulations (30% reflective journal entry comprises 10% active simulation participation element and 20% reflective journal entry critically evaluating their participation in at least 2 of the 6 course simulations). This meant that by the start of the course the number of students enrolled had decreased from 30 to 20, but all 20 participated consistently and actively in the simulations.

Q: Was the technology up to the job or were there things that you just couldn’t do online?

A: Overall I was impressed by how closely we were able to approximate an in-person simulation-based course. The one thing that was hard to replicate was the space for spontaneous, direct, off-the-record or confidential interactions/consultations between actors involved in a complex simulation. All simulation spaces had to be engineered in advance, all were constrained by the fact that the convenor can only host one Zoom meeting at a time. Next time I would want to explore how to enable the participants playing the role of the third-party dispute resolution mechanism (the Commission of Inquiry; Mediation Team; Conciliation Commission; Arbitral Tribunal; & International Court of Justice) to have the capacity to call for time-out from formal discussions and initiate spontaneous consultations with one or other of the parties, to allow direct consultations between the parties, and to be able to split up so that members of the IDR mechanism can consult one-on-one with members of either of the other parties.

Q: Were there any parts of the online version that were easier than face to face?

A: Documentation was easier. For in-person I print out all documents and distribute them by hand. This is time and labour intensive. You also save on commuting time. There is also less time required for spontaneous conversations with needy students … although this is a disadvantage of the online setup for such students.

Q: What advice would you give to colleagues who are planning to run a course online for the first time?

A: Prepare early. Make your expectations clear to all students so they know what to expect. Seek input from online experts and ask them to help you do practice run-throughs so you understand exactly how the Zoom platform works. Ask them to attend the first few sessions to help you problem solve any challenges. Communicate clearly with students throughout if there are any technical hiccups, so they understand what’s going on and that you’re doing your best to rectify problems.

Student Feedback

The students were asked how they felt about the online scenario activity and the feedback was unanimously positive. Some quotes are included below:

Student 1

I am a big critic of online courses, especially when you have to do them at night (I am an exchange student back at home In Europe). But these simulations were great! They pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was really inspired by others in my simulations.

Student 2

Thank you Jeremy. I was cynical about what this online intensive course would be like, but I thoroughly enjoyed the four days. The course has changed my outlook on working and studying from home. IDR seems easy in theory, but in practice even when you think you are prepared, it’s never enough. You need real skill to be able to think quickly on your feet and absorb so much information in such a short space of time

Student 3

This course definitely took me out of my comfort zone. It helped that Jeremy was so supportive. It was challenging but also very rewarding. It gave me real-life experience.

Student 4

When I found out this course would be online I was disappointed. But it was great! Two things were very good about the simulations. First, I liked the small group sizes. This gave us all the chance to participate actively. Second, the fact that the simulations were based on real-life situations.


Scenario-based learning provides students with the opportunity to practice and perform authentic skills in a safe and supportive environment. It is a form of active learning which is one of the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. Feedback from International Dispute Resolution shows that Zoom breakout rooms can be successfully used to create highly engaging and interactive activities in online learning environments.

If you’d like to learn more about working with Zoom breakout rooms or designing scenario-based online learning activities, contact









Engaging Students Online

Your teaching has gone online! Your tutorials are set up, you are a newly-forged Zoom expert, you’ve recorded some great lectures using Universal Capture, and you’re thinking about the next step – how do I keep my students engaged?

This blog post will look at some options you might consider to ensure your students remain engaged in the learning process, and that you stay engaged with them, too.   


Coffee Meeting

Before you begin

Before you begin, ask yourself – what kind of engagement do I want, and how much can I cope with? The size of your cohort, the course itself, and your mode of delivery should help you to determine the answer, and keep engagement and communication manageable.

Have a clear, logical Wattle site

Sometimes, half the battle is an aesthetic one. Wattle sites that are messy, disorganised, and difficult to navigate can be off-putting for students: they can’t find what they need easily, or swiftly, and they are unlikely to hang around and participate in non-compulsory activities.

  • Is your Wattle site organised logically? Does it reflect the learning path students should take? The structure of your delivery? Is there clear communication regarding the expected path a student should take? If you’re using Zoom, is the meeting link easy to find?
  • Is there unnecessary clutter? Are there resources scattered through that could be in Folders or stored on Pages? Could content be turned into a Book or an Articulate resource? Are all of your longer recordings in the Echo library? If you are using images, are they formatted properly and linked to the content?
  • Are assessments and assessment information all in the one place? Are tasks clearly titled? Are the associated rubrics attached to the task?
  • How do students contact you? Is this information easy to find?
  • Is your site designed for access on different devices? For instance, are you using Collapsed Topics so students can access content easily from a mobile phone or tablet?

Finger pointing to technology apps

Create teacher presence

Teacher presence is how visible and active you, as the educator and facilitator, are within your online classroom. Presence can be relatively straightforward and quick to produce and maintain. It can be done through:

  • Having your photo in the ‘Key Contacts’ Wattle block;
  • Having a ‘communications plan’ which outlines the frequency with which you will communicate with students, and the mediums through which they can expect this (ie. Forums, videos/podcasts, Zoom etc.)
  • Short videos or podcasts (introducing the course/site/topic/difficult concept/providing group feedback/answering FAQs/checking in);
  • Actively posting on assessable discussion forums to let students know you’re engaging with their work;
  • Providing online ‘drop-in’ sessions via Zoom (separate from tutorials) where students can ask questions or just check in (you could even use the Wattle Scheduler tool to create appointment times, if you prefer to be more structured);
  • Using the Wattle ‘Chat’ function at advertised times (ie. the day after your lecture is posted online) to discuss material or deal with queries.

The creation of teacher presence can lead naturally to social presence, which refers a student’s ability to connect, communicate, and present themselves as an individual within a community of inquiry (ie. their peers within a course).

Social presence can be further emphasised by:

  • Group rules/a group code of conduct that is shaped by the cohort and enforced;
  • Formal or informal peer assessment and discussion;
  • A facilitator (you or your tutor/s) forging links between student responses;
  • Allowing personality – both yours and your students’. Do they have an opportunity to respond with voice/video if they are comfortable doing so? Have you encouraged them to fill out their Wattle profiles (being mindful of what they are sharing)? Is your feedback in forums constructive and tailored? Do you use humour when possible?

Foster active learning

Active learning is learning by doing – reading, writing, discussion, problem solving, creation and evaluation. Offering your students opportunities to do this – and opportunities to do this with each other, which creates openings for peer learning and peer assessment – can assist in increasing engagement in your online class, along with promoting a sense of cohort, community, and connection.

  • Are activities in your site assessable? (ie. graded discussions and responses, hurdle peer assessment);
  • Are you creating opportunities for creation and evaluation? Are your students given opportunities to apply their skills and teach their peers?;
  • Are you considering authentic assessment for your course? (Simulations, role-plays, real-life problems, etc.);
  • Are students given low-stakes opportunities to test their understanding? (Hurdle Quizzes, low-mark discussion forums, etc.);
  • Are you creating asynchronous tasks? (Guided reading questions, ‘check your understanding’ Quizzes, discussion forums, short answer responses.)


Image: Student studying at ANU


Students want to know that you are engaging, too. Are you leaving feedback on their discussion forum posts? (Remember that for large cohorts, you can make a short podcast or video giving overall feedback to the group and covering common issues and strengths. You can also provide model answers, or, with student permission, highlight excellent responses within the cohort.) Are you using the Announcements forum? Can they see that you have been active in the site through the addition of resources?

You can seek student feedback informally through the Wattle Feedback tool. This can be used as a check-in at various points in the course, and will let you know what is and isn’t working for students. If they say they’re having issues with content, how are you responding? If they can’t access synchronous online sessions, what is your back-up (asynchronous) plan? If they don’t feel they have enough support prior to submission of the first major assessment task, can you create something extra?

Remember that there is a wealth of information all around you – your colleagues. Ask the ones who have taught online before what has worked for them, and what they found challenging. What would they do differently? What would they do again? How did they define ‘good’ engagement? What did they enjoy about teaching online?


CEIST has blog posts on Effective Online Teaching, Alternatives to On-Site Lectures and Tutorials, and Tutorial Activities for Offshore Students, which focuses on asynchronous learning activities.

ANU Online have a number of Coffee Courses that you can access any time, including Designing Online Learning Environments, Engaging Students Online, and Facilitating Effective Discussions. The Centre for Learning and Teaching has also developed a self-enrol Wattle site, Teaching Remotely, which houses a number of different resources and forums where you can communicate with your colleagues about their experiences. Campus Morning Mail has also been featuring a number of articles about online tertiary education from experts in the field.

If you have any questions, queries, or you just want to bounce ideas off someone, remember that you can always contact us in CEIST: .