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Week 8: Evaluating changes and enhancing practice

Introduction

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In this final week, we will explore ways to monitor, evaluate and analyse your teaching online.

Whereas face-to-face teaching often relies on direct observation of students to evaluate their behaviour, some of the ‘action’ in online teaching is not as readily visible. However, teaching online offers opportunities to use data and to engage with learners in ways that are more easily embedded than they could be in a classroom context. For example, online teaching can harness the teacher’s and learners’ ‘footprints’, which are captured as data in the online realm. This provides opportunities to make greater use of data about the learner’s behaviour and performance. Learning management systems can log data such as attendance in tutorials, quiz responses, views of material, time spent on particular activities and more. The field known as ‘learning analytics’ has been built around understanding the potential of working with such data, including its challenges and risks. It is a complex field that is still developing, but you will start this week with an insight into how learning analytics can be a valuable tool for you.

Gaining feedback and reflecting on practice is important for both teachers and learners, and this is another area where teaching online offers its own opportunities. We will therefore describe some common mechanisms for feedback and look at some strategies to encourage reflection through activities embedded into the learning.

You should also develop the ability to enhance your practice of online teaching. To help you with this, we will explore the notion of conducting ‘action research’ as a practitioner.

Teacher reflections

Let’s see what Sarah H. has to say about evaluating her own online teaching:

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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • understand how learning analytics can be used to evaluate learners’ behaviour
  • be able to gather and understand student feedback
  • apply some strategies for embedding reflection in your online teaching
  • plan an action research project for scholarship that seeks to improve your online teaching.

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