Last month I looked at the beginnings of child-centred education – you can read it here. Whilst John Dewey was the father of all free-thinkers in the education sector, it was his ideas and theories which were carried forward, expanded and practically implemented by free-thinking education heavyweights such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and Maria Montessori.Read More
Episode 13 of the Makematic vlog goes through learning on Instagram. The social media platform has evolved immensely over the past few years.Read More
During the last year, we’ve all found our own ways to adapt and this is also the case for how and where we learn. Some students have had the luxury of their own room, a desk, whereas others have had to share the kitchen table or sit on the bed. What’s the connection between student engagement and learning environments?Read More
In this vlog, we’re learning about TikTok. We know the platform; some love it, some hate it, and some refused to download the platform at the start of lockdown last year because it was a platform “for kids”. Guilty. But now, I love the platform and learn so much from it.Read More
Motivating and engaging learners can be challenging in any learning environment. But understanding self-determination theory will give you a structure for helping you do this. Self Determination Theory represents a broad framework for the study of human motivation. It suggests that when people are motivated to grow and change, they become self-determined.
We become more self-determined when we:
- Master tasks and learn different skills (Competence)
- Feel a sense of attachment and belonging to people (Relatedness)
- Feel in control of our own goals and behaviours. (Autonomy)
Moreover, when people engage in activities for an inherent reward, (intrinsic motivation) it’s more motivating than carrot and stick ones (extrinsic motivation). For educators, this means that when designing online learning, it’s important to think about how to incorporate the elements listed above into online lessons or curriculum.
Creating Online Learning Experiences to Motivate and Engage Learners
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing a number of evidence-based strategies to help educators motivate and engage your learners in online teaching environments. The strategies and activities will:
- Encourage student-to-student interaction.
- Facilitate online discussions, virtual brainstorming, and problem-based learning, and
- Develop reflective thinking practices.
Because I don’t want to keep you waiting, check out educator Michael Cohen’s three strategies for increasing student engagement online that you can use in your classes today!
Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) Series 2
In 2020 we released series 1 of TOM. A series of over 50 bite-sized videos to help educators navigate the world of online teaching and learning. Series 2 will take what was included in series 1 further. It will look at the drivers of motivation, engagement, and learning, as well as the key skills educators, need to develop in their students for online learning success.
If you’re curious to find out how educators around the world are faring, check out some of the interviews and blogs we published last year.
Taking Classes Online Interviews
Episode 1, Dr. Heather McClue about the trials and tribulations of taking her law classes online.
Episode 2, Eduardo Mórlan gives advice on how to teach languages remotely.
Episode 3, Physical Education teacher Kylene Simmons talks about how her school used technology to engage students in health and physical education classes.
Taking Classes Online Blogs
Finally, if you’ve got a story to share or would like to write a blog, send me an email and I’ll be in touch.
Chyung, S.Y., (2001) Systematic and systemic approaches to reducing attrition rates in online higher education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(3): 36-49 DOI: 10.1080/08923640109527092
Kerr, S. (2011). High school online: Pedagogy, preferences, and practices of three online teachers. Journal of Educational Technology Systems,39, 221–244. doi:10.2190/ET.39.3.b
Park, J-H., & Choi, H.J., (2009) Factors influencing adult learners’ decision to drop out or persist in online learning. Educational Technology and Society, 12(4):207-217
Roblyer, M.D. (1999) Is choice important in distance learning? A study of student motives for taking internet-based courses at high school and community college levels, Journal of Research in Computing in Education, 32(1):157-171, https://doi.org/10.1080/08886504.1999.10782621
Ryan, R.M., and Deci, R.M. ( 2000) Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being, American Psychologist, 55(1): 68-78, DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68
Sankarn, S.R., and Bui, T. (2001) Impact learning strategies and motivation on performance: A study in web-based instruction, Journal of Instructional Psychology, 28: 191-198
Skinner, E. A., & Belmont, M. J. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 571–581. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.111
Throughout history, educators have learned through no small feat that in order to connect learning with students, they must adapt their learning resources into what works with each new generation. For Gen Z and Alpha, online videos is the way to go. You probably already know that however, so let’s explain ten reasons why educational videos are super effective for students.
#1 – Engagement
Numerous academic studies have been released on how video increases motivation and deeper learning, while also being able to specifically impact students’ ability to facilitate discussions and identify problems.
Want to learn more about the science behind it? We deeply recommend reading Cynthia J. Blame’s ‘Effective educational videos’ from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
#2 – Accessibility
Let’s be honest, accessibility is still an over-looked subject even in 2020 but leaps and bounds are being made to make digital equipment & the virtual space it connects to far more accessibility to a wider range of people, particularly with disabilities.
From subtitling to audio description to transcripts, accessibility is finally becoming more mainstream and we at Makematic continue to discuss what steps we can make to do our part with our own content.
#3 – Portability
Print media is, unfortunately, becoming a thing of the past, especially for the new generations. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, is the need for trustworthy digital, learning resources that can be shared and used immediately around the newly-formed online classroom.
Unsure where to find video content for your students that will work on a wide range of devices? Why not check out our ever-increasing, educational video series on the Makematic VOD available on:
#4 – Ease of Production
You don’t need a PhD to make an effective, learning video, although it may certainly help! As long as you have access to a decent smartphone, you have all the tools at your fingertips to plan, produce and edit an educational video on a subject you love.
For kinesthetic learners, and students with learning disabilities e.g. Dyslexia. Video is a great tool alongside other resource mediums to help overcome barriers when trying to increase your student absorption of cognition & knowledge.
#5 – Replayability
Have you ever re-watched a film or television series and suddenly noticed new things that you didn’t pick up the first time you watched it?
A great benefit for video-based learning is how it allows anyone to pause, stop, rewind, and other timeline manipulation factors that can impact an individual’s learning experience. Unlike the traditional classroom or a group lecture, learning via video – you’d never have to miss something again, just as long as you can re-watch, you can always go back and re-absorb any missing info.
#6 – Visual Factor
Now, I love a good book from time to time, but even have to admit that video is only as good as the source material that inspires it. But that’s not to say the visual element of video is powerful and more appealing to learn from, particularly for my attention span.
Articles, journals, essays and more may feel more offputting to generations raised on television & online video. However, when you combine multiple sources of educational resources together with students, I truly believe you can get the best out of them.
#7 – Authenticity
Humans love to connect with fellow humans and if online video platforms such as YouTube & Twitch have taught us anything, it’s that having a human narration or even industry experts within your video adds a level of user connection that can be lost in translation through other forms of learning resources.
When we released our Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) series, we had this in mind. The free-to-watch series contains numerous industry experts in the education industry. Why not check it out: https://tom.makematic.com/.
#8 – Collaboration
Successful learning is not just an individualistic experience. Having the ability to work with other people opens the conversation for feedback, ultimately providing students with inter-personal, social skills and the ability to take constructive criticism.
Video is a fun way for your students to create brainstorms and group learning experiences that can allow them to see easily their input to an educational topic while giving them that level of passion needed to connect to the subject matter in ways other mediums may struggle.
#9 – Contextual
Unlike relying on just reading literary materials, video provides strong visual cues. These help learners understand what’s happening, even when the language and prose is hard to follow.
Utilising infographics, source material and first-person accounts within your video help provide that much-needed cognitive downtime when learning and help keep the overall topic visually-stimulating.
#10 – Creativity
Video-based learning is a creative process, even when covering a specialist, STEM topic. It opens cognition to not just utilise the logistic side of your brain, but also your creative side too.
Creative thinking is fast-becoming one of the top employability skills for the future generation and by striving to incorporate video into your classroom, you allow the possibility for your students to begin to train themselves in these fundamental skills going forward.
We strive to inspire creativity through our videos, particularly for subjects that don’t get the reach they should. Just like our Untold Series where we delve into the fascinating history topics throughout the History of America.
This is the first article in our series of educator insights. In this first article, Leader of Learning Support, Kate Macpherson talks about how she’s making adjustments to support learners with language and learning disabilities.
I have taught remotely for just over four weeks now and it has been a steep learning curve! At Emmanuel College, we have had to shift our curriculum to the online and remote format with very little time to prepare. We teachers have worked harder than we ever have – and I didn’t think I could work harder than I was!
Teachers are doing their best to teach their curriculum in a remote learning environment, whilst also ensuring we continue to meet our assessment deadlines. At the same time, we need to remember that there is a human that is behind the curriculum and the computer screen. Especially those who have learning challenges and additional learning needs.
The World Has Changed A Lot
In pre-pandemic teaching, students with learning challenges and additional learning needs relied on their peers, as well as the physical classroom, to help them through their lessons. They were able to watch and observe what others were doing, to know they are on the right track, and they had the ability to seek advice from peers. They were used to looking at their teachers non-verbal cues for guidance and reassurance. Teachers could do the same. In the remote learning sphere, all these support networks are no longer possible. Our students are now sitting behind a computer screen, possibly without an adult to support them. They are largely left to complete their assigned learning alone; it’s hard for them to see what their peers are doing, they can’t easily ask their friend what the instruction was, and no longer have teacher notes on a whiteboard to remember how to do a task. They are now largely relying on what the computer screen is telling them to do. And they are struggling with this.
Teachers do not always know what is happening in the homes of their students and cannot understand fully everything that impacts their learning. We can’t see if there is an emotional toll on the student as a result of fear and anxiety related to family stressors caused by this world in which we now find ourselves. We always need to remember that behind our curriculum and computer, a human being sits there needing us to remember that they are there and, if need be, to help them.
Teachers Are Key
This is where the role of us teachers is even more paramount. We need to remember that this new learning environment is more likely harder than the one at school, and that the usual school supports are no longer in the form they once were. That’s why as teachers we need to be making adjustments for our students with disabilities more than ever before. We need to do this with greater emphasis, so that they are able to engage with learning and that they are not disadvantaged as a result of their disability.
Below I’ve created three lists to help you make adjustments to your classes and help your students with disabilities.
10 Adjustments to make to help Students with Disabilities
- Reduce workload expectations. Learning is hard at the best of times, but learning is even harder now. Give these humans half of what you would expect the rest of the class to do. In acknowledgement that work takes longer for them. To avoid unnecessary overload. In a deliberate effort to keep them engaged in the class and their learning. In acknowledgement that work is harder for them now.
- Break work down into smaller, manageable chunks.
- When asking the class to watch and respond to a video – set target watching times on the video with questions directly related to that section of viewing.
- Make sure communication to your students is deliberate and considered.
- Only send emails that are in bullet point format. Use numbers to provide sequence to your instructions
- Be very direct, explicit and succinct in your emails – too many words become overwhelming and are unnecessary.
- Limit the number of platforms you are asking your students to access that lesson. The fewer platforms the better.
- Provide links, where possible, in your written instructions for ease of access
- Try to establish patterns and routines – don’t make every lesson different. These students need familiarity and consistency.
- PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE – give them as much positive feedback as you can. Most importantly, praise them for their efforts and for their attendance. They need your reassurance and support now more than ever. They can’t see your smile in class but they can still receive your praise in the online world. Emoji’s make this fun ?
7 Adjustments to make when holding ‘Live Sessions’
I have become a big fan of Zoom and use this each time I have my class. However, I know there are other video meeting platforms that teachers are using, so please adapt my references to Zoom to your platform.
- Record the live sessions with students so that students can watch it at a later time and at their own pace. This supports a range of students from those who have hearing impairments, to those who process slowly and need learning repeated.
- Hold personalised tutorial sessions in the breakout rooms in Zoom, or have deliberate Zoom workshops with specific students: To further explain a concept, to demonstrate how to do something, to provide small group or 1:1 support and guidance, to encourage workshop participation.
- Ensure a Learning Support Officer, when in your lesson, is placed in a breakout room to provide targeted support
- Have students share their screen with you to show you how they are progressing with their work. I have found this so helpful. Being able to see what the student is trying to do on their computer helps me better respond to their needs.
- Deliberately group students in break out rooms for collaborative tasks. Make sure you are very deliberate and considered in who you are asking these students to work with.
- Avoid asking students to take notes in these sessions. Instead, provide them with a summary or a copy of the presentation – preferably before the session. In acknowledgement of their reading or writing disability. In acknowledgement that copying takes longer and is harder and the mental effort is better used with the actual class activity. In acknowledgement that note-taking is a skill that may be challenging
- Ask your students which form of communication they are most comfortable with so you can communicate with them in that way.
6 Adjustments that support Cognitive Deficits
- Design activities that make specific use of the accessibility tools in the Microsoft suite such as Immersive Reader. The ‘read aloud’ function and the ‘dictate’ function are particularly useful, as is the line focus. Other platforms have similar accessibility functions.
- Give the student an alternative activity to the rest of the class.
- Modify the class activity
- Ask your student to complete only specific sections of work – better yet, give them exactly what you want them to complete so they don’t know they are only doing a certain section.
- When you have a Learning Support Officer (LSO) in your class, design and plan your lesson with them in mind. Be targeted and specific with your use of the LSO.
- SLOW DOWN everything for these students – including your expectations of them.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. As a teacher, you are doing an amazing job at teaching remotely and you can’t be expected to replicate what you do in the classroom in the online world. But you can still remember the human behind your computer screen.