The last pitfall (Ignore the ways students learn from each other) particularly resonated with me. The course I teach, ED 340, relies heavily on student-to-student learning as a way to support students with the classroom management piece of teaching. It’s important to get the classroom management piece right; we know that new teachers who struggle with classroom management are at higher risk for relying on more teacher-centered instruction (read: students quiet, teacher talks). They are also more likely to drop out of the profession altogether.
Right now, this student-to-student learning comes mostly in the form of instructor-facilitated problem-solving in the physical classroom (“How would you handle ______situation?” “How could ________situation have been prevented?”). It’s an important part of helping them feel more prepared to take over their own class, and one of the parts of the class that the students say they most appreciate.
But in the online component to my class, I’ll be honest – I almost fell for this pitfall. My first instinct was to load all of my course content (readings, responses, etc.) online, and to forget that some of this student-to-student learning can happen online. Our readings and my reflection over the last couple of weeks have helped me see that a better option is to re-design my class so that at least some of this problem-solving happens virtually.
My own tendency is also to use the online medium for content rather than learning creation. I have tried to use online discussion about required readings to prompt learning from peers. But it remains a bit formulaic. I worry about getting it right.
It’s good to know I’m not alone in this! I tried something new in one of my classes this week, and a couple of my students suggested that it would be a great alternative to online discussion boards in Canvas. I assigned different articles to small groups of students, and then had them annotate as a group. Each student was on his/her own computer, and in real time worked on the same article. They both asked questions and made comments independently and in response to each other.
The students really liked it (Direct quote: “This is actually pretty legit,”) and I was very happy with the quality of the annotations — there was more interaction between the students than I had anticipated! I was able to use an app called “Hypothesis” in Canvas to facilitate the whole process. I’d like to upload a screenshot of one of the screens with student names redacted, but I’m not sure if doing so would violate FERPA. Cub, can you advise?
I’ve often struggled with how to “motivate” students to do the reading. Of course, quizzes are the obvious answer–but they take time, and aren’t always a good measure of whether students engaged a chapter from the textbook. Sometimes I have students write down a few main points from the chapter at the beginning of class, but with the hybrid model, I’m hoping to have students engage the reading (briefly!) in an online discussion post. Then I can draw from those points in class. I’m not even sure they’d need to comment on others’ post… so maybe it’s not discussion? I’m really eager to think more constructively and creatively about discussion posts…