Back in November, I wrote an initial post on my first real foray into extended hybrid teaching. As a quick recap, students progressed through a three-week fully online module on lesson planning for technology integration in the K-12 teaching. Aside from two other single session online experiences, the rest of the 15 week course took place in a face-to-face format. And while the students expressed some discomfort with the fully online module, they were mostly positive about the experience. Before I really looked at the work my students produced, I was fairly happy with the experience. What remained for me to see was what their work in this module looked like. Upon further review, I’m quite pleased.
At the conclusion of the three-week module, students turned in a technology-enhanced lesson plan that they could implement in their student teaching internship. Along with the lesson, students had to turn in a technology product that tied to the lesson. For example, if students planned to challenge their students to create a digital timeline or wiki space, they had to create a sample of what their students might create. Finally, students had to complete a semi-structured reflection on their rationale for the technology they included and how they saw the use of technology connecting with both their content and instructional strategies. The last portion of the reflection asked students to discuss the planning process in which they’d engaged in the module. In this post, I’ll quickly summarize the products they created along with their reflections.
The products that students created were quite strong. I have used a validated assessment rubric to score the lesson plans and products. When I compared the scores of students in two sections of my course this year with students in the prior two years, their rubric scores were significantly improved. The students who completed the experience completely online scored better in all dimensions of the rubric than students in the prior two cohorts. This was encouraging.
Perhaps even more encouraging to me were their reflection responses. While I don’t have a way to systematically compare these reflections to prior years, I am all but certain that these reflections were far more substantive and nuanced than in prior years. The vast majority of the students were able to articulate fairly sophisticated rationales for the technology they included in their lessons and how it connected to their content focus and instructional strategies. This is often difficult for preservice teachers since they don’t have nearly as much classroom teaching experience, even compared with novice teachers. There is a fair bit of research that novice teachers tend to default to their own experience as students when designing their own instruction. In essence, they often “teach how they were taught.” In the case of this cohort, however, it was clear to me that they had developed significantly stronger rationales than prior groups.
It difficult to say whether these differences were solely due to the online module. My gut tells me, though, that this particular cohort was not that different (if at all) from prior cohorts. My strong suspicion is that it was the extended time to reflect, increased chances to discuss their evolving thinking, and the requirement to document their ongoing thinking that was afforded by the asynchronous online module that made the difference. I’m so intrigued by these results that I plan to move more of a similar Spring course to a fully online format to see if these hunches hold up.
I’ll be documenting the process of developing this new blended course, which I hope will be roughly 50% online through a series of posts. I’ll develop out posts on the planning process, facilitation strategies, and the roll-out over the next semester. I hope that you’ll follow along and add your comments as I go.