Classroom teaching is as much art as science. You can see this in action observing a face-to-face class. Teachers are constantly assessing students, providing feedback, and managing pacing for students as needed.
So don’t wonder why teachers are apprehensive to move their practice into a more blended or an online arena. Teachers fear loss of control of the things they already do well. They fear losing the flexibility they enjoy in the face-to-face classroom to change their methods on demand. Teachers fear losing their knowledge of where any given students is in their class.
Let’s examine three hurdles commonly faced in writing blended learning content. Remembering that content is more than just the copy, just the reading or text of any online component of a course. It is also includes assessment and teacher feedback. I wonder if you can focus in on your personal challenges to writing blended learning content by the end of this post?
This is an easy argument for automation of assessments, right? Teachers have been grading by hand for decades asking for a better way.
Maybe this is not just about that 50 multiple choice question, end of unit exam though. Maybe you can assess more frequently and act on that data faster? Maybe the assessment that had to be multiple choice and on the same day for every student can morph into something more exciting and at the right time for each student?
Remember why you were giving those multiple choice questions? That’s right, because they’re easy to score. Here is a chance to look for an opportunity to have students create something and submit it online to you for your scoring – online!
Look for platforms such as MasteryConnect which give rich, meaningful data on mastery. Even if the only component of your classroom you moved online was assessments how could this enrich the student experience in your classroom?
An argument can be made for uniform assessments. Those would be great at the start of a unit to assess if students need to work through some or all of the content in an upcoming unit based on the demonstrated understanding of the content and concepts in the pre-assessment.
Before you are ready to try assessments online via any platform: know how you can track standards, how you will monitor performance, and administer remediation. This does not have to be through a learning management system. There are plenty of assessment platforms out there which meet these requirements. Check with your school/district what they subscribe to, what the future plans are for that platform, and where you can access training on the platform.
How can the teacher provide just the right feedback at just the right time? Start by acknowledging that maybe that did not happen as serendipitously as it seemed in the face-to-face classroom. When the teacher walked up to the student they were able to provide feedback that righted the direction of the student. What if the student did not have to wait for that feedback until the teacher walked around the room?
The complexity of previous software coupled with low access seems to be fading into stories we will tell rookie teachers 10-20 years from now. “I used to have to code it, set the right answers, and then ride a stationary bicycle to power the computer to grade it. And that was for the ten kids who brought their devices to school!” And personalization just might be a possibility if the right program for your classroom, and some time to spend with your laptop before starting with students, is possible.
Some feedback can be delivered through adaptive software, some through ‘hints’ a feature of many online assessment tools, and some can be structured into your videos. This requires pre-loading of hints and well-known misconceptions, but the front end work will save time and apply hints and feedback at the exact time of need versus hoping the need can wait until your walk by the student.
Adaptive software usually is both expensive and not extensively user-editable. If you have a program already available to you, you most likely know about it. For the rest of us…
Most online tools which offer quizzes or assessments allow you the option to present feedback after a student indicates an answer to a question. If the right answer is selected you can provide an affirming or encouraging statement. However, if a wrong choice is made you can choose to give feedback specific to why you believe a student would wrongly choose this option. This feedback most likely was absent for most face-to-face learning as many of the choices are made on paper and not reinforced either way until after the test is completed.
A tool like EdPuzzle allows you to interject micro-assessments into YouTubes. Imagine what you could make a YouTube on and then question them throughout the instruction. Suddenly giving feedback at the exact time of need is not so tough.
Who is currently in charge of the rate of content dissemination in your classroom? Right. Who should be?
One of the indicators of a blended learning environment is student control over pace. In order to change the focus from teacher-directed to student-directed the instructor might need to demonstrate several examples of how the rate of student work can vary. Take a cue from online learning where fully online courses offer 18, 24, and 32 week pacing guides. Consider a page such as this for any type of blended learning approach. Show them what it can look like with only three face-to-face meetings within two weeks and then ask them how will they accomplish that same idea?
You can observe progress through content as completion in a grade book of online activities or any progress monitoring features through your chosen platform. As students demonstrate they are ready for a compacted curriculum through pre-assessments the pacing guides may become more important as you are certain to have differing completion times. In order to better understand the multiple pathways you may want to complete several options for remediation and compacted curriculums you might teach in any given year. Again, this is front end work, not every year work.
Were you able to focus in on your personal challenge(s) to writing blended learning content? If so, how may I help you?