Life as a High School teacher is a tricky balancing game. Conversation in the office revolves around the trade off between doing something in incredible depth through an engaging lesson or skimming over something quickly.
This tradeoff comes about because as High School teachers we still feel that we are the best people to explain and unpack a concept with students. Students know that only a couple of clicks away are some amazing resources unpacking the same kind of content in often more engaging and informative ways. You need to look no further than Khan Academy, the 200 million viewed Crash Course of YouTube fame, CK-12 Foundation, or bespoke resources such as Kognity to see the role technology plays in the evolution of content creation.
Honest teachers understand where their key advantage lies in a changing landscape.
A contemporary teacher designs quality learning experiences, scaffolds learners, provides targeted feedback and questions students to deepen understanding. The contemporary teacher is comfortable with utilising technology to support students acquire knowledge and skills. They create cleverly efficiencies and hacks; saving time by effectively outsourcing parts of learning process to creators like Crash Course. They use tools like EdPuzzle allowing them to track student progress, collate responses and use this data to differentiate learning experiences in the face-to-face environment.
Yet I feel frustrated when I see teachers “chalk and talk” students through basic foundational ideas. The same teachers who simultaneously bemoan a lack of curriculum time and overloaded syllabuses.
I want to help a greater number of teachers see value in online learning experiences that will likely characterise our same students university lives.
Online experiences at home in a flipped class model or in flexible school environments, segue and amplify what is possible in the face-to-face classroom. We need to strive to spend our class time focused on lifting students conceptual thinking and ability to transfer understanding to new and novel contexts. We need to make the most of the clever content creators and leverage adaptive learning technologies.
In exploring this model of my school, I see four key characteristics as being instrumental to its success.
- Planned content is focused on activating prior knowledge or developing understanding
- Online tools offer high quality external content or teacher created material in a blended (any time, any place, self paced) fashion.
- Software or platforms allow teachers to track participation and engagement with content.
- Connected tools help elicit and collating responses to later support differentiation in the face-to-face classroom.
Otherwise illustrated with the graphic below.
In exploring this in more depth we have a range of suitable tools available to our teachers, many of which are free and accessible. My aim for next academic year is that teachers have a framework to understand the value of online learning experiences and also a toolkits of applications to replicate quality experiences.
Some example workflows could be as outlined below. These include tools such as our Online Learning Platform (Teamie), Padlet, EdPuzzle or Google Docs. Click here to download and view the graphics below.