Using and Referencing Resources In Online Teaching Settings

by | Education, eLearning

By its nature online teaching tents to be highly modular and unit focused. This means that course content tends to be developed so that one or two core concepts are taught in a lesson. In addition, the lessons themselves tend to be shorter than in real school classroom setting. Obviously then, the resources which you employ to teach a lesson and fulfill the learning objectives need to be succinct and to the point. I am fortunate in that I have access to pre-prepared lesson plans and assessment modules of which there are student and teacher versions.

However, to facilitate clear delivery and so enhance student understanding there is huge scope to augment these plans with supplemental resources. To ensure that students are actually following the course objectives (remember they can be thousands of miles away) set your assignments to directly reflect the content you have referred them to. For instance, if you send a podcast or YouTube link make sure students use a certain number of quotes from the material. The best way to do this is to have them quote from the beginning, middle and end to support (or not) a given point of view. There are a myriad of websites offering teaching materials specifically geared to online settings. Speak with your course coordinators, Heads of department and indeed parents to ascertain the most appropriate resources for your students.

End of unit assessments

In an online setting a formal exam has less relevance than in a school setting. Put simply, although students do demonstrate integrity and are trustworthy, the simple fact is that you are not there to invigilate them. I do set end of term exams and students receive direct to their learning portal at the appropriate time, but if they are at home there is nothing to stop them looking up the answers. Even with the benefit of a web-cam without strict supervision formal exams become less valid as an assessment tool.

A better method of assessment is to set students a formal project assignment where they have an opportunity to apply what they have learned to the environment where they live. Students are able to analyse and evaluate within a flexible framework. For example I taught ecology to a grade 10 biology student, who lives on a corn farm. After approval from the course coordinator she was required to use a quadrat square to compare the diversity of soil organisms in different fields. This particular student finds key words and terminology difficult and so her assessment was focused on using appropriate scientific language to describe and explain her findings. To ensure that the work was actually done she was required to produce a video diary using an ordinary portable device.

In online settings there are ample opportunities to scaffold learning to a particular students overall experience. They have very real and definite scope to adapt formal instruction and apply it and therefore connect their learning with the real world.

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