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Creating Effective Online Lessons


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#1 Andrew Field

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 12:17 AM

OK... Your starter is nice and straightforward. This is open to everyone and anyone - no experience necessary.

In three words, no more and no less, explain what you think makes an 'effective online lesson'. You have 24 hours. B)

I will start off with:

Interactivity, Accessibility, Impact


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#2 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 08:49 AM

Appealing, Relevant, Accessible.

#3 Andrew Field

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 01:20 PM

OK. More suggestions please?

From my form:

1. "fun, 'learn loads', challenging"
2. "education-al not borin'"
3. "quiet, sensible, fun"
4. "entertaining, special, 'have fun and learn'"


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#4 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 01:24 PM

Visual, auditory, kinaesthetic :blink:

#5 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 06:09 PM

Enriching, challenging, controversial - well, for the older and more intellectual ones at least (hence my site being none of these very often).

#6 Stephen Drew

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 08:15 PM

A four-dimensional classroom.

(I have decided that four-dimensional is one word due to my use of the hyphen! :unsure: )
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#7 Lesley Ann

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 08:21 PM

Innovative

Engaging

Stimulating


:woo:
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#8 Richard Jones-Nerzic

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 09:02 PM

Computers? What computers?.

Or from one I did today:

Patience, bloody patience. :D
All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.
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#9 Andrew Field

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 12:25 AM

Thanks for the ideas so far. The starter is now over! :)

What we can see even from these limited (in number) ideas is that an effective online lesson is the same as any effective lesson. Just as we are urged to provide lessons that have pace, are well structured and organised, spark students' interest, include a range of different activities, offer opportunities for student involvement and encourage long-term learning - 'online' lessons are no different!

As I and others have mentioned many times before, ICT should be made to work for history, not the other way round. You start with the historical objective. What is the point of the lesson? Consider how using ICT makes it a more effective history lesson. If it doesn't, then I believe you simply shouldn't bother.

The most effective online lessons are those created and tailored for your individual students with built in opportunities for differentiation. Strict, formulaic lessons set on a rigid pattern for all students in the school, or indeed the country, to complete are clearly not the way to go.... As I bore people with constantly, using your standard ICT applications (Wordprocessor, spreadsheet, presentation software, database and DTP) you can create some fabulous activities to encourage more effective history. The vast numbers of online resources and sources offer lessons at the tip of your cut-and-paste fingertips!

This is the brilliant thing for us as history teachers. Anyone and everyone can take a class into a PC room. But History is the only subject in the curriculum that covers the ICT national curriculum without even trying to! Almost every single line from the KS3 ICT national curriculum could have been written by a history teacher wishing to create further opportunities to share the joy of our subject. Have a look and see:

KS3 ICT
Pupils should:
  • to be systematic in considering the information they need and to discuss how it will be used
  • how to obtain information well matched to purpose by selecting appropriate sources
  • use and refine search methods and question the plausibility and value of the information
  • analyse and evaluate quantitative and qualitative information
  • to develop and explore information
  • discover patterns and relationships
  • to interpret information
  • reflect critically
  • ...and talking about its significance to individuals, communities and society
  • be independent and discriminating
  • working with others to explore a variety of information sources
KS4 ICT
  • taking into account the information they need and the ways they will use it
  • to be discriminating in their use of information sources
  • reflect critically on the impact of ICT on their own and others' lives, considering the social, economic, political, legal, ethical and moral issues
  • consider how the information found and developed using ICT should be interpreted and presented in forms that are sensitive to the needs of particular audiences, fit for purpose and suit the information content.
  • Pupils should be taught to be independent, responsible, effective and reflective in their selection, development and use of information sources and ICT tools to support their work, including application in other areas of their study and in other contexts
The conspiracy must be revealed. All those ICT teachers are simply teaching history.

The most effective ICT-based history lessons will make use of ICT as a tool to encourage students’ history work. This is all about pushing the use of ICT to enable more effective history.

If you are teaching effective history using ICT, you are teaching history with the happy consequence that you fulfil national curriculum ICT without even thinking about it. Your ICT department will be able to help identify huge areas where you cover the ICT curriculum without even trying to!

So, to sum up this second section of the seminar - effective online history lessons are no different to effective history lessons. Yet perhaps now we can explore the most effective online lessons - if not practical examples, the most effective practices...

ICT National Curriculum available at http://www.nc.uk.net...qvYc22VM76mHQks (unfortunately the complicated urls don't paste too well into here - see KS3 and KS4 links from this link)


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#10 Gidz

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 08:36 AM

History! History! History!

:D

#11 neil mcdonald

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 09:35 AM

Damn it - Missed the starter - but if I can be bold - the three words I would use would be:

Engaging

Challenging

Focused
Bernard Woolley: Have the countries in alphabetical order? Oh no, we can't do that, we'd put Iraq next to Iran.

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#12 Andrew Field

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 10:07 AM

History! History! History!

:D

I'm pleased to have engendered a sense of pride in our subject. It's good that the starter can foster such spirit!

Having got some interest, now let's look into what you have all found to be an effective 'online' lesson.

One of my issues, which is surely still an issue for many of us is the speed of the school internet connection. Thus many of the materials I use are prepared for use online, but I instead I save them onto the school network for immediate access. This has thus made me quite disciplined in what to include and what to leave out.

The most successful lessons are when my class has used a Primary source to adapt for the specific purposes of a lesson. For some of my lower ability classes I build a scaffolding around materials and have found that Flash is an excellent way of doing this. Technical reasons are that Flash can 'store' data while the student is working on it and be used to produce a final composite product. I find this the easiest way to produce some quite complex materials. Lessons like the Elizabeth I conclusions one worked well in this way (although I since want to improve it further!) - http://www.schoolhis....co.uk/lessons/

However, you don't need to be Flashy - quite literally or otherwise. When I was delivering a catch-all ICT session to the PGCE students at my College I asked them to write down what they considered by the term ICT. One responded with words such as ''gimmicky". This is a very important lesson to realise. ICT if not used effectively is particularly unhelpful - students perceive using the computers as having a lesson off, a 'special treat' where it's not a proper lesson. ICT is a tool to be used, and we as historians are able to use it with ease.

Obviously the focus needs to be on not using ICT for the sake of it, rather using it because it allows us to deliver history more effectively. More about this later.... in your experience, what have you found to be effective?


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#13 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 11:30 PM

Obviously the focus needs to be on not using ICT for the sake of it, rather using it because it allows us to deliver history more effectively.  More about this later.... in your experience, what have you found to be effective?

I've found my students have responded particularly well to all of the activities created using Quandary. They all have a very clear purpose, provide students with an appropriate level of challenge - assuming I select the right task of course - and lead to students having developed their understanding of the context in which events happened.

In short, they do what the many 3 word posts ask lessons to do: they are generally speaking engaging, relevant, accessible and have educational value in that the students have used ICT as a tool to further their knowledge and understanding rather than simply for the sake of it.

This is just one form of online lesson though, and Quandary does have its limits - its certainly restricted in terms of the skills it can develop.

#14 joannalouise

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 12:09 AM

I don't teach in a classroom - but I do use ICT in teaching distance learners. I hesitate to post on a Forum predominantly for classroom teachers, but can I suggest that perhaps one of the pretty obvious things that has been missed so far is that the 'C' in ICT stands for Communication.

You asked what people have found effective:

For me the most effective thing is the possibilty for learners/students (often isolated) to communicate with each other on Discussion Boards such as this one. I see (from posts elsewhere on the Forum) that several schools are combining to discuss Factory Reform. The possibility of exchanging ideas with students in other parts of the world strikes me as being one of the most exciting things about teaching with computers - and not something that could readily be done in any other way.

It's a long time since I have been in a classroom so I don't feel qualified to comment on what works well with classes of children in an ordinary school, but my gut feeling is that an effective online lesson has to be one that engages the children's imagination and is using a computer to make possible a learning experience that could not be done just as well using a textbook, paper and pen. I don't have any specific examples to offer from my own experience, but things like Russel Tarr's 'Head to Head with Hitler' are what I have in mind.

#15 John Simkin

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 08:02 AM

The most effective online lessons are those created and tailored for your individual students with built in opportunities for differentiation.  Strict, formulaic lessons set on a rigid pattern for all students in the school, or indeed the country, to complete are clearly not the way to go.

Andrew is clearly right to stress this major advantage of the new technology. I think one of the reasons that online simulations work in the classroom is that the student has a personal relationship with the character they are playing. I remember the first time I used a online simulation in the classroom. It was the one on child labour that Richard Jones and Andy Walker are doing at the moment. The buzz of excitement that went around the classroom as they discovered the character they were playing was amazing. One of the most important reasons for this was that they were playing different roles. This in fact emphasised their individuality. You get a similar reaction with the Home Front simulation where each student has to carry out an individualized research project and then have to feed back the information to the rest of the group.

In his book From Communication to Curriculum Douglas Barnes argues that students dislike being treated as a group whose only role is to “fill in the gaps” left by the teacher. He points out that that students often “fail” because of the inhibiting effects of rigid and formalized methods of teaching which are often in opposition to the natural patterns of inquiry which students develop outside of school.

It seems to me that online learning at its best helps to overcome the problems identified by Barnes. Joanna Louise is right to stress the importance of communication in all this. As she said in her recent posting: “For me the most effective thing is the possibility for learners/students (often isolated) to communicate with each other on Discussion Boards such as this one. I see (from posts elsewhere on the Forum) that several schools are combining to discuss Factory Reform. The possibility of exchanging ideas with students in other parts of the world strikes me as being one of the most exciting things about teaching with computers - and not something that could readily be done in any other way.”

I agree completely with this statement. I particularly like the way Richard has set this simulation up. The idea that students from different countries should work together in groups to develop their ideas on child labour is an interesting development. The fact that it is being done online allows the teachers (and invited guests like myself) to join in these discussions and to shape the learning that is taking place. However, the students will not be able to hide in the group (one of the usual problems of group learning) as later on they will have to use the information they have gained to produce their own individual work.

The main danger of online learning is that teachers will do the same things that they normally do in the classroom. The only difference is that it is being done online rather than in the traditional classroom.

It seems to me that the best online learning takes place when the creator thinks deeply about the way this new technology can best be used to develop desirable educational objectives. As in the case of Richard’s child labour activity, this will often result in the creative use of the technology.




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