So, you've moved the learning online...

So, you've moved the learning online...have you prepared your students with strategies for how to learn from online materials?

Combining face to face instruction and online materials, or blended learning, is a great strategy to provide more choice, access to content, and differentiated learning experiences to our students.  Sometimes, though, we make the mistake that because students are so good with technology, they’ll be able to extract the information we expect them to from online materials such as videos, slide decks, and articles.  In the next few posts, we will provide some strategies that will help you prepare your students for what they need to learn. We will share some select strategies for when you assign videos for learning, online texts for learning, and slidedecks for learning.

Learning from Video

Videos are perhaps the most stimulating of all online content.  With sound, images, and often added text, videos provide a lot of potential for learning and a lot of potential for information overload.  When you decide to use a video to deliver content to your students, identify for yourself first exactly what you want students to take away from the learning experience.  Once you’ve decided your learning outcomes, provide a scaffold to help students structure their learning.

Events/Chronological Learning

If the video is being used to present students with background information about events, supplying students with a timeline scaffold may help them best identify the most important components of the video.  

  • Google Slides has a plethora of timeline templates you can supply to students.  Teachers can customize how many dates students are expected to know from the video and share a template slide in Google Classroom so that each student has a copy of the slide to fill in.
To access the timeline templates, head to the menu bar.  Select INSERT > DIAGRAM > TIMELINE.

Categorical Learning 
If students are to understand information about categories of items, consider providing them with a table. As a teacher, you can decide if it is best to supply the column and row headings to the students or just give them a heads up that they should be comparing two items (rows) with five different characteristics (columns). Simple tables can be made in Google slides, Docs, Sheets, or Drawings.

Genetic material


Conceptual Learning 
Many times students must implement a strategy to force students to reflect and review comprehensive information they’ve learned. Consider implementing a summarization strategy from Discovery Education’s Spotlight on Strategies (SOS). The wide variety of strategies in this lesson library will keep the learning interesting for the students and help you check the kids’ understanding from the videos.

It is important to remember a few key practices when assigning video as a method of instruction for students.  First, it is always appropriate to regroup with students after they've all watched a video to develop shared understandings as a group or address misconceptions.  Second, teachers should consider using video to support and extend content they've already delivered rather than as a first line strategy for delivering information.  Finally, it is always important to be mindful of the length of videos we assign students.  Recommendations change based on grade level but teachers should be cautious of assigning video learning experiences where videos are longer than 10 minutes.  Remember, for students to pause, reflect, and gather information from videos, a 10 minute video could easily turn into a 30 minute learning experience. 


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