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Frank Stonehouse (ITESM, Morelia)

Unit 3 - Intentional Content (Pillar 3 of FLIP)

7 min read

During this week, we have been tasked with exploring the concept of intentional content, specifically:

HD Intro Video: Intentional Content

Action Research makes each interative approach to content more intentional than the previous one(s), as you don't always get it right the first time. Reflection and revision are key.

Consider your current status on thoughts on the following three statements:

  • I prioritize concepts used in direct instruction for learners to access on their own.
  • I create and/or curate relevant content (typically videos) for my students.
  • I differentiate to make content accessible and relevant to all students.

After reading the Andrew Miller Eutopia blog post, Teachers are Learning Designers,  I recalled that in order to know what students need, we as educators must constantly observe our practice in and out of the classroom. What is working and what is not. In order to accomplish this goal, we must devise a routine of action research (referred to as revise & reflect by Miller) which can be described as follows:

"Through systematic, controlled action research, higher education teachers can become more professional, more interested in pedagogical aspects of higher education and more motivated to integrate their research and teaching interests in a holistic way. This, in turn, can lead to greater job satisfaction, better academic programmes, improvement of student learning and practitioner’s insights and contributions to the advancement of knowledge in higher education." (Zuber-Skerritt, 1982: 15)

According to Kolb (1984), the cycle for action research planning might look like this. The teacher plans, acts, observes, reflects, and then revises. The cycle continues as much as required to make iterative adjustments and fine tuning to best meet the needs of all students.

So, in order to effectively deliver intentional content to students, flipped learning or not, this action research process should always be a container in which anaylis of learning takes place.

Now on to the more direct points to be convered in this post:

  1. I prioritize concepts used in direct instruction for learners to access on their own.

    As much as possible, but honestly not enough, I use a Learning Management System (LMS) called Blackboard to embed learning tasks for students to interact with out of the classroom. I usually introduce the concepts in class for each assignment, directing them to the proper modules within the LMS. With this blended learning enviroment, I believe that students get a much better overall learning experience that can be taylored somewhat to their own pace, which they can then access on their own when time allows. By including a variety of tasks such as visual, listening, reading, and speaking in formats that range from games to controlled scaffolding, I try to mix tasks to engage not only the students but also different areas of their right- and left-brain hemispheres. So much of traditional school learning has focused on and rewarded learning that exercises the left side of the brain which was highly necessary during the Industrial and Information Ages, whereas nowadays in this Conception Age of the 21st century, more and more companies are seeking empoyees with more right-brained skills and subskills (interpersonal, creative, critical thinking, networking, dialog, flexibility and ambiguity, team building, active listening, etc.). So, while prioritizing concepts once predominantly found in teacher-fronted instruction to more flexibility in student access via a LMS(s), I also make sure that they are getting right-brained tasks to prepare them for the future. As much as possible this content is then migrated to the online LMS platform to access on their own, with following and more indepth help in the classroom.

  2. I create and/or curate relevant content (typically videos) for my students.

    I'd have to say that I curate more than create. But that is changing. I have recently purchased my own home recording studio with professional lighting, chroma key green screens, iPad teleprompter, HD camera with tripod, video capture & editing software, and such. Although this type of equimpment is not necessary for making your own video content, it sure makes it a lot more fun in doing so. And it's not as expensive as one might think. This minor investment can also be used for personal and home/family projects.

    There is much video content already available on the Internet to curate for or by students. One tool that I would like to recommend for teachers to curate videos and websites with interactive content/info is Pinterest.com. My students curate a TOEFL resource site by adding helpful Internet material that they have discovered and would like to share with other students. Student curation naturally lends itself to students differentiating the material based on what works best for them idividually, but is yet shared collectively. I also populate the site with additional content to enrich the experience. Pinterest permits you to set up a variety of discrete bulletin boards for different topics. Below is a screenshot of the one that my students have created.

    This is a super tool. Nevertheless, I think it's critically important for teachers to also create their own video and instructional content. Doing so accomplishes several goals, including showing students that you aren invested in their learning process, learning more yourself as a teacher, tayloring learning to your groups specific needs. Much of the material on the Internet is good already, but it often doesn't exactly do what we need it to do.


    Pinterest.com (relevant content curated by students and enriched by teacher)


  3. I differentiate to make content accessible and relevant to all students.

    Here at ITESM, there isn't great concern for differentiating the physical aspects of the content itself (DVD, USB flash drive, printed material, handouts, books, etc.) since most students have round-the-clock wide access to the Internet (home, cafes, WiFi plazas, school, etc.) and computers/smartphones/tablets. If I worked in a different school district elsewhere in the world, differentiating physical content would be critical in opening access to all students. Given this, I focus more on the relevancy aspect of differentiation of content online and in their LMS rather than physical delivery systems. Nevertheless, this is one area that I need to really develop more. I do try to do this; however, I feel based on observation and reflection that I need to design learning that is more interactive and motivating. Students usually give me good feedback in this area, but I know that I can do even better. In a way, learning language is already differentiated in that students are always moving between listening, writing, speaking, and reading skills and subskills. Nonetheless it matters greatly how the associated tasks are set up. Do they activate and stimulate different parts of the brain, do they connect with social contexts of the students, do they prepare them for future work/social/personal realities, do they connect with external entitites, do they connect with cross-curricular themes, and such.

    I'd say that due to the makeup of our student base at ITESM, they all have round-the-clock access to the Internet. Even so, at times I give them off-the-grid games and activities to do in class so that they can interact with other materials and their classmates. It does take time to make original tasks, but some games are also readily available on the Internet that can easily be used in class. One such game that students seem to love and gets them motivated (with a bit of healthy competion included) is Kahoot.it. With Kahoot, the teacher can develop content-specific games (I often throw in some off topic elements to had surprise and to break away from the routine) that are fun. Students pick up the content in a more favorable way than teacher-fronted lecturing.

                  getkahoot.com

 

So, in closing, I am committed to spending more brain power on designing learning content for students in a more intentional manner by really thinking it out: then trying it out and reflecting on the outcomes, making adjustments, and then improving the next go around.

Thanks, See ya next time...

 

UPDATE: Today's Google Hangout on Air with Carolina in Colombia and Ken in Guadalajara.