A Reflection: The Art of ‘Noticing’ and Online Collaborative Work

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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.

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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.

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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 nicola@openlearning.com.

28 Replies to “A Reflection: The Art of ‘Noticing’ and Online Collaborative Work”

  1. I agreed that phone should be use in classes because this a effective medium to get the students to stay connected with not just their lecturers,but also with the information and knowledge taught by the lecturers.


  2. I agree that can bring digital devices to class because now is a new generation and we have to try more new way to teach or learn. It is more easy to come to class we can use our phones to make notes or summit our assignment, less paper using and no need to carry heavy books.


  3. i agree that bring phone to class is good for students. Because we can use it for search something that do not know. but i also half disagree because sometimes it will influence when the teacher is teaching in class.


  4. i agree that bring phone to class is good for students. Because we can use it for search something that do not know. but i also half disagree because sometimes it will influence when the teacher is teaching in class.


  5. I agree with this statement as i believe the usage of technology in class helps enhance the potential of students if they decide to use it wisely. The reason some teachers do not allow cellphones in class is that they are afaird that it may distract the students from learning. However, usage of technology during class helps the students get multiple answers from many different aspects within a short period of time. It also allows the students to be able to learn more and improve their standard of grammar.


  6. I agree with this because students in class won’t be paying full attention in class as they get bored from the lectures so they will start using their phones to keep them entertained. It is better this way as it keeps the student more focus and give them something to do.

    Cassandra Tan Gaik Suan


  7. Yes I agree.phone can bring to class for some of their personal use or for their educational reason. For example they can search for more information when they want more info about their studies or that specific subject… And this is the simplest way to understand their studies without wasting time such as asking their friends.


  8. It should be acknowledged that students have grown more accustomed to using technology within classrooms. Whether it is to play a game so they don’t fall asleep, or whether it is to actively participate in the class, I agree that technology is important in classrooms.


  9. I agreed bring hand phone to the class during lessons , because sometimes we need using phone for doing some research or using some apps like Kahoot! to do some exercises that lecturer was given in the class for recap what had teaching before .Bring phone during classes is better because every time will be more easier to let students can do notes also or when have emergency also will be better also .


  10. I’m agree about bringing handphone to class.
    This is because when we bored, we can play handphone for a while to refresh our mind. We can also use handphone to check the answer that we don’t know. We can take photo of the question or the information that teacher write on the whiteboard.


  11. I am agree about bringing handphone to class. Because student can find the information they need on google when they need it. Besides that, family members also can inform the student when someone in sick and students also can inform their family members while they injured.


  12. Disagree. They might be distracted by social media.To demonstrate the student might be chatting with others or viewing Instagram, Facebook during the class.


  13. I agree to use mobile phones in class because there’ll be more efficient and convenient for the student.Also, there’ll be less paper wasted by them.


  14. I agree because students can do a research or get more information during their classes. Somehow , using mobile phone also can distract a student during a class .


  15. I agree. The use of phones in class can help students when they are in need of more infomation on a certain topic. The phone is also a portable dictionary and translator for those who have language barriers.


  16. I disagree in certain aspects of the article. Although phones allow students to explore the vast internet for knowledge,it is more often a distraction to their studies. It is used more frequently for browsing social media or playing games rather than to improve one’s knowledge. The physician self is present but the mental state has driven off into the web and the only reason they attend are simply because of pressure from parents or simply for class attendance. Yes,there are applications such as kahoot that allow mass participation through an online platform but I find it rather ineffective in learning and gives an excuse to students to use their phones without getting caught. They focus on the winning aspect of the application rather than the learning aspect. In conclusion,the way of teaching progresses along with time and as we approach a technological era we need to change our ways on thinking. With great power comes great responsibility. Therefore, we need to learn to use technology wisely


  17. I agree that digital devices can be use and bring to class. Digital devices helps us to improve our study not just having fun. We can just google when we have problems in class even vocabulary and doing group work. We can also interact with lecturers using digital devices.


  18. In this day of age smart phone has become A versatile source for the students to rely on. They are always actively engaging through their phones, specially the students who are less active in class because of them being shy. But through the smart phone they are grinding their brains looking for more answers than just the slides given


  19. In my opinion, I agree that using digital devices can be used in class to a certain extent. It is convenient for students to take down notes on their phones without having to waste paper and ink. Moreover, they can get information in an instant within their fingertips.


  20. I do agree on implementing the usage of devices in the classroom but only for educational purpose. Letting students use their devices in class can personalize and improve the educational experience in many ways. Although students may be distracted at times, but putting a limit to them is possible. With technology introduced in the classroom, students today use e-book. Many of them are purchasing e-books instead of the printed hard copies version. Students today are very familiar with technology as they’ve been grown up with it. Notebooks, tablets and cellphones are all accustomed to them and with all these technologies, students would not loose interest or be distracted but instead they will thrive better in their studies.


  21. I agree. Learning is one of many essentials that we all need. All these different ways of teaching has enhanced the way a student can learn. It can also attract many students to focus during classes.


  22. I agree. Today’s generation has grown accustomed to instant, updated information. Textbooks can’t provide students with the latest information like a mobile devices can. Also, having digital textbooks on their mobile devices keeps students more organized and gives them easy access to their materials.


  23. In my opinion,i agree that bringing phone to class is different way of teaching for the student and teacher.The student can learn more easier by searching through internet without wasting time thinking idea.

    Dasmend 0124064


  24. I may or may not be agree to use digital devices in the classroom. If the student use the digital devices in the proper way for example of doing research, looking for more information about the subject, it should not be a problem. What if the student uses the devices for watching drama, playing games or even chit chatting during lesson, it might a huge problem may cause to the student. Although this is the behaviour of the student, but it must be a problem in between the student and the lecturer.


  25. I disagree to use phones in class because Students can be easily distracted from their studies and having easy access to a phone during class can make it easier for them to lose concentration. they take their phone to play some games or to check their news feed on Facebook or Twitter. 


  26. International Life Skills Olympiad(ILSO) is the World’s First online initiative to test young children’s Critical Life Skills Quotient, and to compare the same with the most skilled children across the globe. Through ILSO, students of Grade III-XII from all over the world will test their Life Skills Aptitude using real-world scenario based questions. Register now : https://www.lifeskillsolympiad.org/


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