Let’s talk about… VisiblE-Learning

When you combine the philosophy of visible learning and the philosophy that sits around e-learning you end up with a model that will increase student outcomes. How so? By combining the two and creating a seamless entity you end up with increased student engagement and increased motivation. You end up with motivated teachers. You end up with increased student learning. A win-win –win situation all round.

At Opaheke School we are making a difference but we want to make more of a difference. We are always constantly trying to improve, and our professional inquiries this year have focussed on looking for ways to improve student progress by introducing ‘Mymobile Learning’ and ‘Visible Learning’.

During two recent staff meetings I listened to teachers describing and explaining how they are incorporating a range of digital technologies and explicitly taught strategies to make the learning visible and clear to students. Our teachers are trying new things, such as flipped learning, digital modelling books, and variations on powerpoint such as sway and they shared this in the staff meetings.

The idea of flipped learning fascinates me. In a study, National Faculty Perspectives on Flipped Classrooms, 81% of those surveyed reported improved mastery of information and improvement in communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills. Now it seems to me that if we want 21st century learning, and 21st century skills, flipped learning has real potential. I love the fact that the learner can revisit as many times as they want or need and then pull out what they are finding tricky so that we can get straight to the nitty gritty without the merry dance we normally participate in trying to get to the nitty gritty.

flipped learning1
A poetry unit studied by year 7/8

At my previous school, my class had a web page where I uploaded videos related to literacy. Students would use this often, to learn new information, revisit and clarify their prior understanding and to help explain their thinking to others. The videos provided explanations, step by step exemplars and models. It wasn’t until the classroom computers were all out of action that I realised the students were asking me much more meaningful questions because their surface questions were answered as they watched the videos. We were getting to the deeper learning much more quickly because the students could access information as they needed it time and again. Just as importantly I no longer felt like a broken record. I felt re-energized in my teaching. Let’s face it, there are only so many times you can explain what a verb is before losing the will to dig deep and find inspiration. Discussions went from “What’s a powerful verb?” to “I’d like to look at the use of anaphora in speeches. Can I look at some examples from history?”flipped learning 2

It wouldn’t be right to talk about ‘visiblE-learning’ and not mention the impact of OneNote. Using this tool I have been able to share the planning for the lesson with the students in the collaboration site. (I’ve always shared my planning with my students but doing it digitally is so much more convenient and efficient.) We’ve co-constructed the success criteria and students have evaluated their learning against the intended outcome using the success criteria. They knew the ideal, the reality and the next steps to reach the ideal. And it meant I had a really clear picture of who needed what in the next lesson. The sense of agency increased through the use of the tool and for me that is one of the most important aspects in improving student outcomes.

collaboartive evaluations
Early stages of students evaluating the work.

The ability to record the feedback through audio or video option is something I want to explore further after seeing this in action at the recent information session with Travis Smith, but even without this facility OneNote has allowed for the students to give each other feedback about their work. It’s allowed for collaboration and publishing. OneNote gives you the freedom that traditional modelling books don’t. If I see things that I think will be good models as I’m trawling the internet I can just link it to my modelling book. Anytime, anyplace, anywhere. There’s even a tool that will let me create a quiz and collect data about who is accessing, how long they are spending on the questions, which areas will need further work and what doesn’t need a revisit. I’m looking forward to using this particular tool with maths enrichment next year.

Digital chatBoth concepts of flipped learning and digital modelling books (OneNote I this case) allow teachers to make content more engaging and interactive for the learner. With quality teachers driving this we can’t help but raise student achievement, right? Signs are that we are on the right track. We’re starting to build momentum and a name for ourselves.Opaheke Rocks

It would be very tempting to see e-learning and technology as the panacea to all that ails in the classroom without giving it much thought, but to improve student achievement the use of digital technology and e-learning has to be carefully thought about, quality opportunities constructed and expertly woven into the plan.  Just check out the recent OECD report which was pretty damning of the impact technology has on learning. The problem is not with the technology but in how it is being used. This brings me back to making the learning visible, being clear about the tools we are using and selecting the right tool for the job, whilst ensuring that we are developing and constantly improving the dispositions of successful learners- collaboration, innovation, self-regulation, challenge-taking and (critical, creative, caring) thinking. Hopefully, the examples given above, show a cohesiveness between visible and e-learning.

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