Sunday, April 9, 2017

Four Steps to Digital Teaching

Pictographs by
Carlos Sarmento

from the Noun Project
(CC BY 3.0 US).
To help with the change in teaching techniques at ANU, I have set out Four Steps to Digital Teaching. These are illustrated on the cover of my book "Digital Teaching In Higher Education". The idea is to provide some quick and easy to understand steps to help academics to adapt existing courses and materials, not to turn them into educational designers or technology specialists. My approach, the educational jargon, is constructivist, collaborative and experiential.
Provide ebooks and other curated content on the topic
  1. eBooks: Provide ebooks and other curated content on the topic. Finding what they should read, and do, when can be confusing for a student. The course materials should be laid out like a book, with a table of contents, providing an overview, the course materials and activities in the order in which the student should undertake them and at the end any additional material. There should be an introduction, and a list of all the assessment the student is to undertake.

    The electronic format used for the course materials and the providing it is not so important. However, using many different systems and formats can be confusing for the student.
  2. Facilitate discussion between the students;
    Discussion: Facilitate discussion between the students. Discussion is not only a useful way for the student to learn, but is a valuable graduate skill in itself. At least on asynchronous text based forum should be provided.

    Synchronous text, audio and video "webinars" may also be used, but students may not be able to all attend at the same time, so multiple sessions and asynchronous alternatives should be provided.

    Students need to be told in advance what the purpose of the discussion is, how they are expected to participate and how the discussion will be assessed. The discussion must be assessed in some way, to provide the student with an incentive to participate and to make it educationally relevant.
  3. Provide tools and techniques for the student to explore the topic; andeTools: Provide tools and techniques for the student to explore the topic. The basic tools used for a course will be the provision of reading materials, discussion questions and a forum to answer the questions in.

    Quizzes may be provided to help students with surface knowledge. There may be more specialized tools which emulate those of the discipline on-line or are actual on-line tools.
  4. assessment, including formative feedback, to help them learn.Assessment, including formative feedback, to help them learn. Whenever a student is asked to do something, there should be some form of assessment to check how well they did it.

    For a standard twelve week course, there should be some form of assessment at least every week, making up about one to two percent of the total assessment per week. To improve learning and reduce the instructor burden, most of this assessment can be automated quizzes and peer assessment. The assessment scheme can be set so that this progressive assessment does not count for high grades (above a "Credit").

    Assessment is stressful for the student and time consuming for the instructor. Stress and time can be reduced by using rubrics, to clearly set out what is required. Also firm deadlines with no extensions can help reduce stress and time: student then know when assessment is due and that missed deadlines result in zero marks. To make this less stressful small progressive assessment items can be on a "best of" basis, such as the best ten out of twelve weeks being counted.

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