Welcome to The Educationist, where guest educators contribute their thoughts, experiences and share tips with The Learning Hub on the latest developments in teaching and learning as well as contemporary education issues. The following article is by Marni Jamil, a lecturer in the School of Communication & Creative Arts, KDU University College.
Noticing is a subtle human skill that educators eventually grasp throughout their academic journey. This can simply be the elusive act of noticing learners who are moved by appealing audio-visuals and immersed in lengthy texts, as well as detecting students who keep fidgeting throughout the whole lesson. In mixed ability classes, educators may witness enthusiasm shown by students who are eager to participate in the class activities and students who are physically present but verbally unresponsive.
As educators, if you are able to relate to these situations, welcome on board!
It’s imperative for 21st century educators to be mindful of the cues sent by students that linger within and outside the classroom. There are dedicated, yet silent, students who only actively ask questions in e-mails, or ‘like’ class announcements and brighten up as they see a familiar game-based platform shown in class. These students have one thing in common, which is the love for technology and the want to be in touch virtually. Educators must have decent noticing skills to grasp their students’ levels of anticipation of the upcoming lessons. It’s also undeniable that common scenarios of students positioning their laptop on the desk and lifting their mobile devices to look for online information during a lecture could reflect a classroom that is ready to be infused with technology.
So, if these are the signs of students’ readiness to use their digital gadgets within the classroom, then educators must be able to embark on delivering unreserved focus on quality teaching and learning instruction.
Get feedback! ‘Noticing’ doesn’t have to be passive.
As an educator, gathering my students’ feedback in the early period of the course through online platforms such as an online survey via Google Forms or the online virtual board, Padlet, is useful to tackle this fuzzy phase since it allows them to share their personal strengths, weaknesses, and expectations of the course safely. Anonymously written comments posted at the end of the course via the institution’s online evaluation system also serve as general remedial support that can be considered for future improvements.
Look out for signs that your students are ready to collaborate using technology.
The ubiquity of mobile devices and access to mobile connectivity pave ways to unimaginable lesson outcomes when educators work with students as a team. Accordingly, educators who are in the midst of planning a worthwhile lesson have to put their thinking caps on. For the educators out there, if you notice your students are holding their mobile phones during class, it’s a sign that you are a step closer to unravelling their potential to be more engaged in the course.
Since academic institutions are paving the way for educators and students to utilise technology in boosting the effectiveness of teaching and learning instruction, collaboration is an ideal way to communicate and exchange ideas synchronously and asynchronously wherever we are. In larger groups of students, monitoring and noticing the progress of each student can be a challenging mission for educators. The pedagogical strategies adopted by educators can be made to be more engaging so that students are ready to take charge of their own learning process. That said, educators should be encouraged to design lessons that are more inclusive by considering the familiar form of technology that is within students’ reach, which are their technological gadgets.
Team-based learning allows you to step back and notice more.
A project-based task for undergraduates can be just as exciting as the final outcome of their past high school projects, especially the ones that demand they display creativity through innovative concepts as a team. Likewise, besides encouraging active participation to perform tasks, the ability to create also develops students’ ability to use higher order thinking skills combined with a pinch of creativity. Ultimately, the product of their work will reflect their comprehension and imagination.
Students also have the option of utilising various social media apps that are available to be downloaded and installed. It’s just a matter of browsing and selecting the most suitable app in the digital distribution services for the purpose of completing the task. Due to this nature, students can have the option to work individually during any stage of the task and to progressively exchange the content that they have gathered among their group members. Most importantly, besides being resourceful, they adapt easily due to the familiar sensation of utilising their mobile devices to explore online tools for non-academic matters.
Additionally, clear instruction aids to minimise the educator’s interference during the period of project completion. This is the space where confidence is built. At this stage, online facilitation through video conferencing, voice notes, and instant messages—to name a few—can be done to ensure smooth progress within an appropriate time-frame. For in-class group activities, the initial stage of a group task is crucial for a successful collaboration. Thus, students who are not familiar with one another will have the chance to break the ice and build rapport. This phase enables students to decide the potential team leader to synchronize the task and identify their members’ forte and skills to determine everyone’s responsibilities before proceeding with the task.
Notice your students’ level of preparedness.
It’s important to determine the kind of suitable technologies that students want their educators to use in class. Students’ level of preparedness does matter when it comes to using technology to strengthen the pedagogy. In the age of technology and innovation, students can be considered as the experts in potentially exploring the vast technological avenues around. Due to the inevitable use of technology in education, in-class and out-of-class task-based activities such as group projects and pair work activities can take place in a virtual setting in line with the objectives of the lesson. In light of self-discovery learning, our students should be given considerable trust from educators to use their critical thinking skills to work collaboratively and accomplish the end product.
All in all, may the art of noticing aspire educators to be more innovative and to promote accountability in students towards meaningful learning.
What are some of your best examples of inclusivity in education? Share your thoughts in a comment—or better yet, submit an article to The Educationist at firstname.lastname@example.org.