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Online Teaching

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Online Teaching Using Camtasia®

Whether you teach in a flipped classroom or an online classroom, you will probably need to create a video or a screencast at some point. I have been teaching at University of Phoenix Online for 16 years, and before that I taught at the Electronic High School in Utah. Perhaps one of the most difficult subjects to teach online is mathematics, but all subjects could benefit from lectures or lessons on video. I recommend using Camtasia® from TechSmith company -- it is a powerful product to create videos and GIFS, which illustrate your lessons.

Quality Teaching Methods

Just because you are teaching online with videos or screencasts does not mean you no longer need to adhere to proven teaching methods such as chunking, interactivity, schema learning, correlation, differentiation, articulation, metacognition, and Bloom's Taxonomy. It is also important to create a lesson plan for each video or screencast -- before beginning to record, review that lesson plan for appropriate learning objectives, effective teaching practices, and quality assessment. I create a lesson plan first and check it for good teaching methods (see definitions below). Next, I create a PowerPoint™ slide show. Finally, I record my screencast.

CHUNKING: Chunking is a teaching technique of splitting concepts into small, individual pieces of information. You do not want to create an hour-long video -- no matter how good it is; students will lose attention and have trouble remembering all the concepts you teach. I create 5-10 minutes screencasts covering ONE concept.

INTERACTIVITY: Even when videos are only 10 minutes long, you must keep students' attention and assess learning. You can ask questions in a video, but unless you force students to respond to your questions, learning is limited. Camtasia® from TechSmith company is an excellent video tool to use if you want to incorporate interactivity. Insert mini-quizzes throughout your video to test understanding.

SCHEMA LEARNING: Schema Theory was proposed by J. Piaget. This refers to the fact that we have trouble learning concepts if we don't have any prior knowledge onto which we can "attach" the new knowledge. Good teaching practice tells us to look for pre-requisite skills or knowledge to help students learn new concepts. Teaching with Schema Theory in mind causes us to teach using categories of information and relationships between those concepts.

CORRELATION: Correlation can also be thought of as integrating subjects. It is very difficult to learn mathematics if we don't correlate it to how the math concepts and skills will be used in life. For example, applying math concepts such as geometric progression to a bank savings account, helps students understand WHY they are learning about geometric progression.

DIFFERENTIATION: Students have varying learning styles and come with different pre-requisites. This is no more apparent than in STEM classes, particularly mathematics. Differentiation means we teach to the various learning styles and foundational knowledge.

ARTICULATION: Articulation is connecting a concept to another one, in a hierarchal fashion. As I am teaching concepts we learn from the U. S. Civil War, I would point out how certain actions will relate to other wars or other periods of history.

METACOGNITION: Learning and thinking are often called Cognition. Metacognition is the self-awareness of how we learn and think. The student who uses reflection as he or she is learning employs metacognition skills. Metacognition is an important part of successful learning.

BLOOM'S TAXONOMY: The triangular diagram depicted above is a summary of Bloom's Taxonomy. It was created in 1956 by Dr. Benjamin Bloom in order to foster higher forms of thinking, rather than just memorizing facts. Bloom's Taxonomy has six levels: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

[End of book excerpt -- more next month]

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