If your students know what needs to be learned in order to master a particular objective, they will know what areas to focus on the most.
In online and distance learning in general, learning objectives are key. Students will often experience problems if there are not clear objectives and instructions in order to achieve mastery of that particular objective. Remember that you cannot take a real-time formative assessment of your students understanding of the material (the look in their eyes) , so writing clear objectives helps to guide your students and your quizzes, assignments, and discussions will help you know if they mastered that objective.
The question we must ask is “What will the learner know, be able to do, demonstrate, feel, etc. when these tasks have been completed?” Then how do you evaluate or assess that indeed they did learn it? This can be accomplished by designing your evaluation tool based on your objectives. We call this instructional alignment.
Let’s talk about a few key reasons writing objectives should be important to you – and your students.
Instructional objectives offer a means for the instructor to design appropriate instruction that will facilitate effective learning.
Instructional objectives provide a framework for devising ways to evaluate student learning.
Thirdly, objectives guide the learner. The rationale is that students will use the objectives to identify the skills and knowledge they must master.
The preceding points taken from “Designing Effective Instruction” 2nd Edition Kemp, Jerrold; Morrison, Gary; Moss, Steven).
In 1956, Benjamin Bloom led a group of educational psychologists who identified 3 levels of intellectual behavior important to learning. His taxonomy, “Blooms Taxonomy” is still widely used in education today.
Instructional Objectives are categorized into 3 domains according to Bloom’s Taxonomy:
Cognitive Domain – (Mental Skills and Knowledge)
Psychomotor Domain- (Manual or Physical Skills)
Affective Domain – (Growth in Feelings or Emotional Areas – Attitudes)
Online teaching should really be called online facilitation.
I’ve seen it time and time again; traditional classroom instructors are told they have to teach online. The problem is, many of them don’t know how. They are used to lecturing with a PowerPoint, going on field trips, or doing a lab – they TEACH. But in online environments, “teaching” is not as necessary. Some may argue this, but the fact remains that a clear majority of online courses out there are facilitated courses. Some may site some great innovators who do live lecture sessions, recorded lessons, and more; but the beauty of online learning is that it puts the student in the driver seat and the teacher in the navigational passenger seat.
So I ran across a great article today regarding online facilitation, and I thought it to be pretty simple and accurate tips for online educators.
Creating a rubric can set proper expectations for your students. This short tutorial will show you the basics.
Performance Tasks (Range)
You’ll want to start with the competency, then you will find that your rubric will just flow right together with the performance tasks, and the criteria.
Competency or Objective:
What is the ultimate goal of this project. What is it that the student will have learned when the instruction is complete? This is the area where you will state the ultimate goal or objective. For example:
Competency: “Learners will be able to effectively teach online using Blackboard. ”
Performance Tasks or Range:
This component of the rubric defines the process or product that will provide evidence of learning the competency from above.
Performance Task: “Create an online course using Blackboard”
Criteria or Degree:
This is where you will list the criteria, or specific characteristics that will tell you that the learner has met expectations for the performance task above.
Student is able to navigate effectively inside of Blackboard.
Student will be able to scan at least two images to post inside of their class.
Student will be able to create and edit discussion board items inside of Blackboard.
Student will be able to create quizzes and exams inside of Blackboard.
etc. etc. etc.
After you have the 3 sections above complete, you can plug it into any kind of rubric template and give it to your students and use it as your grading tool. Students will now know what is expected of them and you can justify your grade through the rubric.
Online Teaching 101
Learners will be able to effectively teach online using Blackboard.
Performance Task Description:
Create an online course using Blackboard
Able to navigate to 8 out of 10 given areas of Blackboard.
Able to navigate to 6-7 out of 10 given areas of Blackboard.
Able to navigate to 4-5 out of 10 given areas of Blackboard.
Able to navigate to 3 or less out of 10 given areas of Blackboard.
Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 6 or more course components.
Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 5 or more course components.
Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 4 or more course components.
Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 3 or less course components.
How do students know what is expected of them to get a desired grade?
How does the instructor grade consistently?
“if you get something wrong, your teacher can prove you knew what you were supposed to do.” —- Quote from a student who said he didn’t care much for rubrics.
Rubrics are simply a scoring tool that lists criteria for projects, assignments, or other pieces of work. Rubrics list what needs to be included in order to receive a certain score or grade. It allows the student to evaluate his/her own work before submitting. Instructors can justify their grades based on the rubric.
Rubrics fit well into any kind of course delivery. In regards to online teaching, they fit in very well. The reason is because students can view the rubric for the assignment or project, and then immediately know what is expected of them to get the grade they want. Any questions the student may have is usually answered through the rubric. Students can begin on their project right away and not have to wait for the instructor to answer their question through email or discussion boards.
In most cases, rubrics are set up as follows:
Competency or Objective: What is the ultimate goal or outcome?
Performance tasks or Range: What is the process that will provide me evidence of the goal being met?
Criteria or Degree (in which it is met): What characteristics of the performance are we looking for in order to achieve the best grade? Scale below shows the grading scheme for a sample rubric.
Student has met ALL criteria for the performance task.
Student has ALMOST ALL of the criteria for the performance task.
Student has met SOME of the criteria for the performance task.
Student met NONE, or FEW of the criteria for the performance task.
* Please note that there are many variations for rubrics, but competencies, performance tasks, and criteria almost always remain (terms vary depending on who is explaining it, but the idea remains the same). You may need to get creative with your rubrics depending on your project.
In the sections ahead, we will break this down so it is easier to understand.
Mentoring is especially conducive to the online environment. We talked earlier about facilitating instruction and coaching students. Mentoring is a form of teaching that enables students and encourages them as a guide rather than a provider of knowledge. Mentors serve as the model for expected behaviors while challenging students to perform at higher levels.
In regards to online learning, instructors can mentor and model behavior in several ways.
Offer your own personal experiences in discussion boards.
Include examples of assignments or projects so the students know what is an example of exemplary work.
Try some case studies or role play exercises in which you can constructively offer feedback and encourage expected behaviors.
Case studies present students with a detailed description of a situation related to the class material. The students can then analyze the decision making process of the characters involved. Using hindsight, the students then can identify things that went wrong and explain or justify why they might have went that way. On the other hand, students can identify what went right and explain or justify why it may have went that way.
Case studies give students a look into real situations that have occurred. This lets the student know that the material they are studying is relevant to what they actually need to know out in the field. Case studies allow students to identify mistakes, analyze them, and figure out how to solve the problem. You should be able to find cases in your subject area. Often there are books that are full case studies.
Other ideas for application:
You can put students in a situation where THEY are the case study in progress. You could give only bits of the actual case study at a time then ask the students how they would react. For instance, you could give them a situation, then ask them how they would react. Have them post their reactions using a discussion board. After the students have reacted to the first bit of the case, you could give them what actually happened, then move on to the next bit of the case.
These activities are a creative way for students to assume roles and to think outside of themselves.