Take your teaching online
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Take your teaching online

Week 8: Evaluating changes and enhancing practice


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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:

Download this video clip.Video player: tto_1_week8_vid1.mp4
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Evaluating the effectiveness of my online teaching. As a nurse, the biggest tool that I use for evaluating any of my practise is reflection. And I use a physical reflective diary, especially when I'm on a course or I'm engaging in new practise. I have recently set up a blog. So this can be used for a more modern reflective journal. And it also will mean I can collect ideas and state ideas and get feedback online, which is something I've recently developed using Twitter and Facebook, for example.
When preparing my teaching, I always include an activity that will enable me to have feedback on my teaching- be that in the classroom, synchronistically online, or as part of blended learning. And I ask the students to, perhaps, consider what they've learned so I can see whether they've picked up on the key elements of the activity or ask them to evaluate what they would rather change, what they didn't like, which is always useful. I also ask for peers to give me feedback, either by supporting me with an online tutorial or by reviewing my learning resources, which is very useful for nursing because we revalidate every three years.
Although some survey tools are useful, I also use online quizzes, for example, and started to use Kahoot, for example, which the students have given a lot of positive feedback around. They find it fun, but it also enables me to see if they've done preparation for the session.
Exploring the learning environment and the Virtual Learning Environment, the VLE, I've also explored what tools are available for that. And I've started to engage with learning analytics. Learning analytics is a term used to define online sources of information that can provide information about student progression and for administration.
So an example of that might be that we set a quiz for our nursing students each week- and it can either be one that you can do over and over again or one that's a one-off- so we can see how well they're faring. By setting up the tracking, we can then see whether students are engaging in the first place and how well they're doing. And that then enables us to increase the effectiveness of our teaching by creating new learning activities for students that perhaps are struggling. So all in all, there's quite a wide range of evaluating learning.
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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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