Reading assignments are, in many disciplines, a fundamental element of any education program: after all, self-study, rather than lectures, often makes up the majority of course hours. But whereas lectures enjoy the benefit of a group dynamic, working from home removes the learning community from the learning experience. This can lead to poorer motivation, less engagement, and overall, a passive encounter with the study materials, if at all.
Some teachers are finding ways to maintain connectivity with learning, even outside the classroom. And most of these ways are nothing new - chat groups, social media, and other tools and technologies have become so integrated into most course designs that they are the rule rather than exception. However, these myriad external tools deny instructors visibility on learning, data on progress and performance, and ultimately, the power to guide learners on a more personal level. The limited time of the instructors should not be used moderating WhatsApp or Facebook chats, and it can not be used individually addressing every question that each student may have.
So is there a one-size-fits-all-solution to having every student engaged 100% of the time with every activity? Not that we know of. But there is Interactive Document, used by instructors to stimulate active participation with reading materials. No wonder it’s a favorite from Texas A&M to Monash for flipping the classroom. This article will share 5 best practices for setting up Interactive Document which you can apply in your course design directly.
Our team started this series with the hope of helping educators make the best out of our tools and create engaging, meaningful learning experiences.
Giving instructions, posing questions, and guiding answers are all everyday tasks on many teachers’ lists. But for online and hybrid course design, these don’t have to be limited to text prompts, nor do they have to be linked from external hosts and websites behind logins and paywalls. There’s enough research out there suggesting multiple forms of expression and representation of content helps make it accessible for a larger, and more diverse cohort of students.
With ‘add items’, (updated from its predecessor ‘attach file’ since v2.81 of the toolsuite), you can record audio or video, as well as attaching existing multimedia, to give your instructions more depth. And it’s not just instructions, but also adding questions or replying to student discussions, that you’ll be able to use multimedia to your advantage when using FeedbackFruits tools.
A little extra encouragement can sometimes go a long way toward ensuring that students complete work on time. And for longer assignments which require multiple iterative steps (such as writing then reviewing drafts before a final paper), having a structured way of working is essential for balancing out the workload over the time allowed. But the reality is that deadlines pose difficulties for some students, no matter how many extra reminders are left in every possible place.
Using the ‘Time window’ functionality, you can make explicit when students start and stop having access to an activity, either by automatically setting a date, or by manually choosing yourself . And remember that the upcoming deadlines you’ve set will generate reminder notifications which are automatically sent to students, both in-activity and via-email. So no more excuses! (for the most part)
Longer, and complex readings, require a lot of attention from students. As mentioned earlier, your lack of visibility on these sorts of tasks make it difficult to judge performance and progress with reading activities, often up until class discussions or final submissions where the content is applied. There are also cases where you don’t necessarily want students to just quickly skim through a text, but instead go though section by section, and point out things in a particular order. In both of these situations, it can be useful to block off text sections and ensure learners read in the order you wish.
In Interactive Study Materials, you can highlight any section of the document and ‘require participants to answer before continuing in the document’. And don’t forget, you can choose which questions to enable this for, so posing optional questions just to get the brain juices flowing is also a possibility!
There are countless more ways in which Interactive Document can save teachers’ time, simplify course design, provide transparency and insights, and foster self-regulation in learners. Check out our use cases for more, and see how instructors from around the globe have made learning materials more engaging, and heightened the chances for student success.
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