We had a lot of reading and videos to do in the ONL 152 Topic 6 week. Someway, this blogpost from Rebbeca Alber on 6 scaffolding strategies came up (1). At a first glance it looked less relevant, with children and F2F teaching in focus. I decided to dedicate this blogpost to see if it is possible to convert some of her “currency” into a digital setting for adult participants.
- Show and Tell
The Fish Bowl uses a small group of students in the inner circle that do the activity in front of the large group. This modelling can be done stepwise. It’s a good idea to have a finished product at hand as a model.
This activity can transform digitally into a session with Adobe Connect where you show your full audience an example of the “finished product”, e.g. a reflection paper on designing learning environments. Then you ask a group to discuss their view on the content of such a paper, while the larger community are listening in. Finally the larger group is split into smaller groups, each discussing how they want such paper to look like. Eventually the first small group could act as facilitators.
- I think this is a strategy that can be used for complex matters and when you have many participants.
- Tap into prior knowledge
Support students to share their own ideas about the content and how it connect to their lives. Then use this as a framework when you launch the classroom teaching.
Digitally I see this transforming into a general discussion before the actual teaching start. A chat can be formed under different headlines relating to the lecture. The chat can be done just before a webinar, e.g. open the webinar for the chat one hour before. It can also work on a separate channel, like G+, Twitter or any messenger service.
- I believe this is a good way to connect the participants to the teaching.
- Give time to talk
Articulating your learning with others is important, and structured talking can be done by think-pair-share, turn-and-talk, triad-teams, and other techniques.
Digitally you can post questions or topics for learners to reflect on in a social platform, like fb or G+, or use other channels as mentioned above. This can also be done in group discussions. Inviting learners to write a Learning Journal, or a Learning Blog are variants of this theme.
- The digital environment can be challenging for “visitors”, and there is a need of a basic digital literacy for participants.
- Pre-teach vocabulary
Alber proposes to identify words that will come up in the next lesson, and “frontload” them. Not by listing them and ask for their explanation, but rather by visualizing them in photos, symbols or drawings that the students know about. Discussions on the meanings can also be done before the dictionaries are introduced.
In a digital context this can be transferred to present the participants with a list of “common” words or concepts that are to be reviewed in the next lesson, and give them time to discuss these in smaller groups, before the actual teaching starts. In the ONL152 course this could have corresponded to loading the “cases” or the FISH document with new concepts and glossary, with a starting discussion at group level as a recommended initial activity.
- I think frontloading is a central concept. It is really a flipped classroom, and one major way of taking advantage of the digital learning possibilities.
- Use visual aids
Graphics, charts and pictures can serve as scaffolding tools, and may be used to present ideas, sequence and cause, and hereby they guide the students learning so the knowledge can be applied.
In web-based learning many visual aids are available for presentation. Not only the tools, but also how the pictures are used matters. For this reason there is now even a new job title established, the Instructional Designer.
- I think this is one of the major contributions digital learning can provide, to apply ”events” that support participants different learning styles.
- Pause, ask question, pause, and review
Pick up an idea or concept from the teaching material, pause (provide think time), ask a question, new pause for thinking, and then review the answers. This need preparation of the questions in advance, so that they are strategic and open-ended. Activate the passive by asking them to review the answers given (“give the gist”).
This is a strategy for providing information in chewable pieces. In a digital setting this technique can be used as a way of organizing the material, and even propose a way for those learners who are less skilled in organizing material, e.g. by asking questions. This means, as an example, that recommend reading from text books should have pages to read listed, and not list the whole book, unless the reference is clearly to a Textbook. A question for the teachers could be if everything really should be sorted, or if the groups could be left alone with their own decisions for organizing the material.
- I think this is a smart way of supporting the learners.
- Alber, R. 6 scaffolding strategies to use with your students. Edutopia May 24, 2011 and January 24, 2015. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/scaffolding-lessons-six-strategies-rebecca-alber