The teacher's role in the Block is to facilitate learning in a student-centred, active and collaborative environment.

Teacher presence extends across every learning environment and includes setting the climate, monitoring progress and facilitating authentic learning experiences.

 VU teacher and students in a health simulation lab

The teacher's role in the Block

The teacher's role in the Block is to facilitate learning in a student-centred, active and collaborative environment. The teacher implements the curriculum through prepared lesson plans and unit spaces, and focuses the learning through the learning activities and assessment tasks.

Teacher presence extends across every learning environment, including before and after class activities via the VU Collaborate space and in-class teaching. This includes the following.

Setting the climate

  • Establish teacher and learner expectations.
  • Introduce learning strategies.
  • Show connections and contexts for activities and assessments.
  • Foster the social dimension of learning e.g. ice-breakers.

Regulating learning

  • Maintain the pace of learning.
  • Check learner progress and respond to changes.
  • Interpret and adjust lesson plans for diverse learner groups.

Maintaining teaching presence

  • Adhere to the learning approach and methods.
  • Facilitate collaboration and activities that engage the learner.
  • Focus on and resolve issues.
  • Facilitate discourse complimented by direct instruction.

Teacher presence in class

  • Explicitly connect before-class tasks as springboards for in-class tasks.
  • Appropriately scaffold students who have not completed before-class activities while reinforcing expectations of completion of subsequent before-class tasks.
  • Reinforce expectations for class participation e.g. open contribution and discussion of alternative perspectives; undertaking equal responsibility in group work.
  • Engage students to learn and develop concepts, knowledge and skills, and acknowledge student participation.
  • Monitor learner progress during activities to gain insight into progress.
  • Promote discussion to help students make meaning of the concepts to connect and build upon current knowledge and experience.
  • Encourage relevant peer interaction.
  • Facilitate opportunities to practise skills required in the discipline area.
  • Encourage students to take responsibility for own learning.
  • Reiterate relevance of activities to assessments and later units, including professional context.

Effective questioning

The 'What? So what? Now what?' model for asking questions, developed by Rolfe et al. in 2001, uses carefully targeted questioning to encourage deeper learning and future contributions to discussion by helping students:

  • understand the event, activity or learning experience (What?)
  • make sense of the facts and implications (So, What?)
  • identify how to transfer or apply their new knowledge to different scenarios (Now What?)

See examples of questions below.

To probe for further understanding, questions to ask include:

  • What happened? And then…?
  • What did you do?
  • What did you observe?
  • What did you expect?
  • How did you feel or think when …?
  • How are you feeling about it now?
  • What was different?
  • Who else had that experience? Who didn't? Were there any surprises?

To clarify misconceptions and confirm learning, questions to ask include:

  • What was the purpose of the activity?
  • How did you work with your team?
  • When were you really effective or at your best? Why do you think that?
  • How does this affect us? How does it affect our future?
  • What questions does this information cause us to ask?
  • What conclusions can we draw from this experience?

To direct toward future learning, questions to ask include:

  • Have you experienced this type of situation before? If so, when?
  • What did you learn?
  • What would you do differently?
  • How does this relate to outside the classroom?
  • How will you use/apply what you have learned in this activity?

Teacher presence before & after class

Establish teacher presence before class

Use welcome videos, teacher profiles, introductory news items and before class activities to set the climate. This may include:

  • explicitly connecting before-class activities to assessment tasks
  • setting expectations for completing before-class activities and readings right from the start
  • setting conditions for students to take responsibility for their own learning
  • acknowledging student contributions in discussions by consolidating posts
  • monitoring student participation with learning analytics.

Maintain teacher presence after class

It is important to maintain a visible presence in VU Collaborate to promote active learning. This may include:

  • acknowledging and summarising discussion posts and Padlet contributions, making connections to upcoming concepts
  • actively promoting revision and consolidation of learning, making links with past and future learning
  • connecting current activities to the next stage of future learning or career
  • progressing learning through feedback and feed-forward opportunities.

Find out more



  • Support real teachers: Facilitating Discussions and Debriefs
  • Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013, Teaching in blended learning environments: creating and sustaining communities of inquiry, AU Press, p.14.