“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
― John Dewey
Reflection can be a powerful addition to any module or course both for instructors and for students. Instructors can inform themselves about student learning and whether their teaching is effective. Students can deepen their learning through reflection. Reflecting both on knowledge gained as well as areas of confusion can be valuable.
What types of reflective activities are of use in an online course? Two of the simplest activities to incorporate in a course are the Muddiest Point activity or the One Minute Paper activity. Both are short activities in which students answer questions after a brief reflection on their learning.
- What concept was the “muddiest” to you during this week, that is, which concept was most unclear?
- What was the most important thing you learned during this week?
- What important question remains unanswered?
Reflection questions can be general or can be more specific. An instructor may want general feedback on a module in the course or they may want students to reflection on a specific field experience, collaborative group project, difficult concept, lecture, reading, etc. Reflective questions can be general or specific.
In the online classroom in which there are many active learning opportunities, adding in extra reflection activities to an already busy schedule can seem overwhelming. One solution to effectively create reflection activities online is to use the Graded Survey option within Canvas (under Quizzes). Canvas will automatically give the student full credit for submitting the survey.
Reflection does not have to add significant time to the student’s workload, does not have to add significant time to the faculty workload, and can teach students the value of reflection which can be applied to their own lives and to their workplace.
Analytics in an Ecampus course can be a valuable source of information about students. It can help the instructor quickly “see” student progress through an online course and communicate with students that may be at risk, or look for patterns of behavior that may help guide future course improvements.
Within Canvas there are several different areas in which to review statistics and data to measure the success and activity of students within your course.
1. Course Analytics
From the Home page of a course in Canvas, click on “View Course Analytics”. Course Analytics will display the overall Activity, Assignment status, and Grades within a course across all of the students.
Click on a student name to focus in more detail on one activity and progress within the course.
2. Last Login
Though an instructor can determine the Last Login date for a student from the Canvas Analytics page, the People tool also allows an instructor to quickly check last activity of students within the course.
3. Detailed Page Views and Participation
The Access Report can also be found under the People tool. It allows an instructor to view detailed student activity such as the number of times each page/tool in the course was accessed by a student and the most recent access date.
Currently students do not have access to view their own Analytics but hopefully in the future, they also can see how they are participating in the course to ensure they progress steadily towards success!
Want to find out more about Canvas Analytics? Review the Help guides at Canvas:
Occasionally in my work with faculty I find them wanting to reproduce a brainstorming session activity from the brick and mortar classroom. They want students to ‘shout out’ ideas, arguments, or topics and create a list so that everyone can participate and the best ideas can ‘float’ to the surface. There is value in pooling ideas to generate all possibilities given the varying background knowledge of students.
In OSU’s learning system, Blackboard, there are tools such as wikis and discussions that can allow students to generate ideas but these tools don’t always have the options needed to take the ideas and vote on them and have the class decide which are the best.
So one alternative option is the free digital tool Tricider. Tricider is an efficient online brainstorming and polling tool.
I stumbled across Tricider as I do many tools by reading popular educational technology blogs and bookmarking my favorites, examine any limitations it may have, and then I use it in my own online classroom. After the first term of using it, I found that Tricider required few instructions, did not require a login by my students, and was simple and intuitive to use. Those faculty that use this tool find that it is the only tool that really does what it does.
When would you want to use Tricider:
- In an icebreaker activity
- To brainstorm and collect ideas (class or small group)
- To brainstorm solutions and list pros/cons of each
- To brainstorm ideas and vote on them so the favorites rise to the top
- Have small groups brainstorm and share or compare/contrast their ideas with others
How to get started?
- Go to http://tricider.com, create an account if you want to be able to revisit your “questions”
- Type in a question and click on Go
- Change the deadline if you wish it to be open more than 14 days
- Click on Share and Invite
- Copy and paste the URL anywhere that your audience can access the link
- Brainstorm and/or Vote!
Try it out: http://tricider.com/brainstorming/1GEq1
(Instructional Designer, Ecampus)