13 January 2013

Reflection: High Expectations Techniques 1-4

The cover of the book I'm currently reflecting on.
When I told my wife the title, she laughed and rolled her eyes.
(Warning: it's a rambly post.)

I read through the first four techniques, and I wonder: can these techniques be translated to online education? Each technique requires a live teacher to basically vigorously push students to be accountable.

Of course, I don't teach online classes, but my blended and rotational models (they're strategies and not techniques, and here I am already trying to put them first when the book told me not to) require a significant number of absentee lessons. For example, it would be difficult to have a lesson about cinematography with each group, each week, when there are a number of other groups also requiring lessons.

Let me stab at it from another angle. The techniques mentioned all seem to revolve around one thing: the importance of feedback. The greatest value a teacher adds to a course is feedback. The teacher must be an expert who can make sure students are learning what they're supposed to be learning. Students can easily fill out worksheets and bubble sheets without knowing the content, but ask that same question live, in a classroom, and then push the problem further to require students to actually apply the knowledge, and that's where you can identify the quantity and quality of learning. On the other hand, when students don't know the answer, a video or a website can't address the issue head-on.

Let me state my conclusion and then my reasoning: live classroom feedback is the most efficient form of feedback. When you're in the classroom, you can immediately see whether each student is ready to move on. In other forms, you have to wait for an assignment submission, and then try to deduce the problem from their answers or lack thereof.

Now back to applying it to my classes. I'll use graphic design as my example. There are things that the students must know. What is a pixel, what does CMYK stand for, what's an extension and what does it do. This lower-order knowledge is paramount to succeeding in the higher-order creative parts of the class, which is actually designing stuff. The lower-order knowledge is the stuff of the techniques mentioned so far in the book. It needs live teaching. I've chosen Monday as my default lower-order knowledge day. Traditional teaching technique. Tuesday through Friday, then, are the blended, higher-order creative work. In this case, to effectively determine student ability to apply the knowledge and tools must be built into the assignments.

If any of that made sense to you, kudos. It's just a rambly reflection, after all.

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