Keeping your online classroom tidy

My mother is a primary school teacher and at the end of every term, she always stays behind after class to tidy her school room.  Make sure that all the papers are filed away and bin all the old stuff that she doesn’t need anymore.  She does this so that at the start of the new term she walks into her class and her and all her students are ready afresh for the next semester.

This got me thinking about how this can be translated into the digital space.  Throughout each semester, we as teachers and trainers put lots of pieces of throwaway content on our VLE classes, notices that we’ve moved rooms for x weeks or that a lesson is scheduled to start 30 minutes later last Tuesday.  We’ve also created courses that we no longer need.  Let’s use the last couple of days of the semester to do our digital end of term cleaning.

Screenshot 2017-12-11 at 15.49.58Firstly, lets look at Google Classroom.  Have you created classes you don’t use anymore? Well instead of them hanging around your home screen getting in the way, Archive them.  Its easy to do  Just click on the ‘3 dots’ and choose archive.  By doing this you hide your course from your screen and your students screens, but here is the great thing…  You don’t delete any of the content.  If you need it back you can always go and look at the archived course or delve into the classroom folder on your drive.

Now you’ve cleaned up your homepage, have a look in your class.  Have you got any of these kinds of posts.

Screenshot 2017-12-11 at 15.54.18

Again, you don’t need these and they are only clogging up your stream.  Click the 3 dots and just choose delete.  And that’s it.  5 minutes work and you’ve cleaned up your Google Classroom ready for the next term.

So i’ll leave you to have a great holiday season with this macabre Christmas music video (Possibly NSFW)

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eLearning is not just computers…

The thing that demotivates me most about my job in elearning is when I go to show teachers how to use technology in the classroom I get this response.

This is good but I don’t have time for this stuff

Now, i’m not saying that all teachers have this stance but there is a train of thought in some areas of the education sector from a number of teachers that eLearning is doing the same thing just using computers and websites.  They never did it 5, 10 or 15 years ago and they were fine so why do we need it now.

Isn’t teaching the art of passing knowledge on to the next generation? As each cohort of students goes out into the workplace, technology has shifted.  I remember being at college in the early 90’s and having to find something to do to fill in my day and I decided that I’d do the RSA typing exams.  I didn’t think it was that important at the time but in todays world its vital that i can touch type so that my productivity is kept high.  A lot of todays students are already coming to college being able to touch type because they have grown up with technology.

The statement “the youth of today are all tech savvy” is a myth but there are many more students who are than there were 5,10 or 15 years ago. So why do teachers expect that the methods that they used back then are still as relevant and the best way to teach?

Looking at eLearning as just computers is like looking at a 3 star Michelin meal and just saying its potatoes and beef, its how you use it that makes the difference. In my mind ‘eLearning’ is not being able to use a whiteboard properly or even putting your powerpoint resources on the VLE, it is being able to leverage technology to enhance the experience for your students.  This in turn lets your students develop other skills such as critical thinking without being hand-held by the teacher at every step.

Budgets are being squeezed in the FE sector every year and teachers work is getting harder and harder as class sizes expand.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that the teacher could use the make their life easier?  This is where elearning comes in.

I’m working on a project at the moment which aims to automate the teaching and feedback of classes which in turn releases the teacher to work on more interesting things than just marking papers.  In this case we’re using moodle, which is my VLE of choice, to create lessons where the teacher can start a cohort of students on a learning journey.  It pulls in videos from youtube, activities from sites like Khan Academy, and polls using things like poll anywhere all into a single package which walks the student through a concept or task.  It checks the students progress at points through the lesson and gives feedback automatically based on their answers.  If they need more help it sends them to other areas. For a teacher it takes about an hour to create this lesson as they will already have most of the content and concepts to deliver the teaching anyway.  But then look at how this has enhanced the teacher.  In a class of 30 students the teacher can give this one activity out and all 30 students are doing it without having to ask questions of the teacher every 5 minutes. This lets them concentrate on the 2 or 3 students who are really struggling with the ideas and not diminishing the teaching for the rest of the group.  Lets even let them do this activity at home where the teacher isn’t available and then when they are in class they can concentrate on putting the concept into practice.

This is where elearning can transform teaching.  Lets take the mundane learning out of the classroom so that when the students are with their peers they can put what they have learned to the test and run sessions where they can discuss and enjoy the transfer of knowledge.

As a byproduct of this, as your students leave college and move into industry, you as the teacher have already made the use of technology an everyday thing so when they encounter it in the real world they are ready to do their jobs without worrying about the world moving on.