Monday, November 20, 2017

Activating students: some more tools

Today I took a course about flipping the classroom. Flipping the classroom refers to the idea that students listen to video lectures before class while the teacher helps them with exercises during class (instead of the lecture being spent delivering a lecture while students have to do their homework at home). The most important idea here is that flipping the classroom allows the students to be more active and allows the teacher to help the students where they need help most: to elucidate misunderstandings. In a course by Ine Noben I got some of the following ideas:
Another way to activate students practised for hundreds of years in Tibetan monasteries: requiring them to debate  in pairs while peers are looking on and with large physical gestures.
  1. Get everyone active with 1-2-4-all: students think about a question first alone, then share in pairs, then they share insights with a neighbouring pair and finally you discuss it in the big classroom. Another colleague mentioned that when students are forced to discuss in groups of 4, almost all of them will do some work (because there will always be some active students in the group), especially if you walk around to check on them.
  2. It is important to focus your lecture well, because as H. Simon said "a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention"
  3. A nice blog about peer instruction, with among others a nice series of blogs on why flipped classrooms fail. One thing that can make your flipped classroom fail is if you require students to do all kinds of work, but do not actually give feedback about this work. Another thing that can make your flipped classroom fail is when there are no consequences when students do not do the work, or when students are not clear on what their and your responsiblities are in the classroom. Useful case in point: it's helpful to spell out what you mean by "active participation" in the classroom. I will definitely try this out in my classroom.
  4. Nice platforms for creating online course content: FutureLearn and Google Classrooms. Both allow you to create very nice-looking course materials. Google classroom has the advantage it nicely integrates with googledocs for marking up assignments and things like that. Google classroom also makes it easy to grade with a rubric.
  5. A nice empirical investigation of the flipped classroom: article
  6. Tools for doing online voting: Socrative (allows you to also setup competitions in which teams try to answer as many quiz questions together as possible), mentimeter (allows you to easily vote on single questions and display the results interactively)
  7. A website with active activities: https://compass.itcilo.org as well as a book with game-like activities: Game Storming
  8. If you make quizzes for students to do before class, make sure you give useful feedback, e.g., "go back to section 11.3 of the book"
  9. Tools to make videos: for making screencasts: https://screencast-o-matic.com (e.g., to explain using some data analysis software), or to make cool animated videos/cartoons: https://www.powtoon.com/home/
  10. Another cool tool is "ticket to class"--make sure students do some activity beforehand to earn their ticket to class. One tool I like a lot is Perusall, in which students collaboratively read textbooks or articles. You could also use an exit ticket in which students can only exit the room if they hand in a piece of paper with the answer to a question such as: what is the question still remaining after this class? Name three things that can improve science? Etc (if you require students to add their name to this you immediately have a handy tool to keep attendance).
  11. A very effective tool to get students who are doing poorly back engaged is to find out who is not engaged with learning analytics (checking Blackboard for example) and then sending them a personal e-mail asking why they are not submitting assignments/not showing up etc.
  12. Nice database with exercises for physics, math etc: sowiso
  13. Tool to allow students to make collages of course-relevant information and comment on that (like a kind of instagram): padlet

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