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Preparing & Activating

Next we shift our focus towards the first two elements of PANDAPREPARE ACTIVATE. If you missed the first part in this 6 part series then click the following link to read to article PART 1: The Power of PANDA!

I’ve grown to love how using PANDA speeds up the process of developing VLE content in a structured way. Do this next part correctly, and you will set the foundation for some great active learning and involvement from your students.

So lets first look at PREPARE, the first element.

What should you add to this element?

Just like any other lesson, whether it be in a classroom, workshop or online the first things you should do it set the scene and lay the ground rules. It may be that you do registers or go through some important health and safety items, in the online world this is no different. I normally add expectations, outcomes to prepare the students for the coming week.

  • Are there things they should bring with them?
  • Is there any criteria they should know?

If so, add it to this element.

PREPARE them for the coming week!

Now, I don’t go crazy in this element. Textual information will do but if you want to add anything such a short video clip then go ahead, even an image is fine. I tend to leave those for the next element, ACTIVATE as I feel it works a little better. Add clear, relevant goals and expectations, this helps to frame participation with progression.

The next element is used to ACTIVATE prior learning. You could do what you did in the last element by adding simple text and an image here and there, but also add questions you want them to think about. This is key as you can circle back later within the ARTICULATE element. This enables you to complete the learning cycle.

Change the Emphasis from Teacher to Student-Led

One of the most power tools on your toolbox is understanding how and when to change the emphasis from a Teacher-Led approach to Student-Led one. You can do this really easily within a VLE in an ACTIVATE element, and it doesn’t matter which VLE is your chosen one. The key is to move away from setting the questions to ones that students ask and set. Then create an activity that your students are encouraged to participate in such as a discussion activity.

Here’s some text you can use within a discussion to set up a student-led activity. Feel free to set a discussion activity using the following and edit it to suit your own needs:

Example student led-discussion activity

We now ask you to create your own goals for the module without too much prompting from us.

Share with your group your own goals:


Compose a discussion post about how [your own text] that you have done in the past?


Reply to your peers.

Discussions in a course like ours are valuable tools for reflection and sharing. We believe that hearing from our classmates adds incredible value to the work we’re all doing. In addition to posting your reflection, please also respond to at least one other post on the board.

  • Keep the conversation going. Reply to your classmates. Add to what they have said, and provide evidence to support your response. For example, you can:
    • Share a professional experience related to their post
    • Provide a link to other sources to help them further their understanding
    • Answer a question posed by a classmate and provide supporting evidence
  • Be sure to check back. See what your classmates share.

When you use this activity make sure to circle back later in the elements, this can be done within the ARTICULATE element.

Improving Participation

Student-led activities naturally increase the opportunity for participation and this in turn leads to increased motivation. If you can increase participation when using a blended approach, you are well on your way to being able to flip your sessions. This then leads to more time in your workshop or classroom for other activities.

We will go over engagement strategies later in the series, but hers a graphic to help you see items concerned with something called the engagement cycle.

The two elements of PREPARE ACTIVATE are really the quickest two to setup. Two resources, a page and a discussion resource for active involvement gets you started.

In the next part we turn our focus towards NAVIGATE and all of the excellent ways we can encourage participation and motivation within it. Hopefully by now you are on your way with a much improved structure on your VLE where engagement is able to be improved.

Do you already use PANDA or a similar approach?

We’d love for you to share this good practice, so add them to the discussion below to get the conversation started.

Where do I go for support?

Not sure how to set up Google Classroom or Canvas as described above? Contact to get up to speed over the summer.

More Resources

Visible Learning (Hattie)

Visible Learning Matrix

A Powerful Model for Understanding Good Tech Integration

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