Join Kevin Kelly for an in-depth discussion in this video Aligning resources, activities, and assessments with outcomes, part of Teaching with Technology.
- Hopefully, you've reviewed the learning outcomes from one of your classes. Maybe you've even re-written a couple to make them stronger or to raise the expectations for what students will do. Students can meet any challenge if you give them a chance. To help students meet those higher levels of challenge, let's take a look at how well the different parts of the course align with the outcomes. As we think about how technology fits into teaching, I'm also gonna challenge you to streamline your course. When I think about a class I see it as a molecule. Together the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
At its center is an outcome, surrounded by three things that help students reach that outcome, the content or material students will review, the activities students will perform, and the assessment strategies students will use to demonstrate achievement. To get a fresh perspective, let's put ourselves in our students' shoes. Don't worry, you won't need shoe sanitizer spray from the bowling alley! This is just a mental exercise to help you think about how well content, activities, and assessments align with the learning outcomes.
First, imagine yourself learning something new. Pick something you've never done before, like surfing, beekeeping, or starting a non-profit organization. For a surfing lesson, you'll definitely need to know how to pick which foot goes in front. Are you regular or goofy foot? At some point, you'll want to know about wave group velocity, but if you don't know how to stand on the surfboard, you're gonna wipe out dude! Before you get out on the water, you need to practice paddling and popping up on the board. The best way to show you've learned to surf is to ride a wave, even if it's just a small one.
Now bring yourself back. What content are you assigning for each learning outcome? What's required? What's optional? In what formats are you providing it? Do you have activities related to each outcome? Do your students practice thinking critically or performing skills before they're tested? Do the assessment strategies ask students to show they've reached the actual learning outcomes? Do you ask students to do things in ways they'd be asked to do them outside the classroom? Please note, I'm not asking you to dumb down your class.
I'm asking you to consider the less-is-more philosophy for each learning outcome. For example, studies have shown that many students review textbooks in a non-linear fashion. As a result, new digital textbook environments, like WileyPLUS ask students to answer questions before they start reading each section, so students can focus their efforts on what they don't know. If they get a question wrong, they can jump right to the part of the chapter with the information they need. Some of us might debate whether or not this approach teaches bad habits.
However, the same studies found that students using WileyPLUS got better grades, a half-letter grade to a full-letter grade higher, and did better in following classes that built on what they learned. Want an outside perspective? At the end of the term, list your learning outcomes and ask your students to identify the content and activities that they found most helpful. Be sure to ask them to include content and activities that were not part of the class. Then ask them how well the assessment strategies allowed them to show what they know.
Give them a chance to tell you what other strategies they would have liked to use. Before reviewing your next movie, take a minute to answer the following questions for yourself. Are the content, activities, and assessments for your class all related to learning outcomes? Can technology support streamlining in your class in some way? What can be made optional? And, what can be deleted or removed?
Author Kevin Kelly explains how learning outcomes can be adapted to support technology in the classroom, and guides educators through selecting the appropriate technology for their activity, module, or class. Then he shows how to apply technology in three key areas: finding, creating, and sharing content with students; facilitating classroom activities; and assessing learning inside the classroom or online.
- Including technology in your learning outcomes
- Applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles
- Finding and creating content and instructional materials
- Enhancing lectures and presentations with technology
- Getting students involved
- Facilitating in-class activities
- Assessing learning
- Teaching effectively online