Join Kevin Kelly for an in-depth discussion in this video Sharing content with your students, part of Teaching with Technology.
- So you've found or made your content. How do you get it to the students? And not just as a big folder of files, but in a well-organized fashion wrapped in your course context. Here are some ideas that may help students get and make sense of class materials. Use course-specific file names. Be consistent with your syllabus. Organize course materials in an online environment. Alert students when content is uploaded or updated. And consider cultural diversity.
Many of you have heard the phrase, what's in a name? How about, what's in a file name? Just as we can't control what students do with paper handouts, we can't control what students will do with digital content when they download it. While it might seem overly simple or sound like extra work, renaming your files supports students who haven't developed their own organizational strategies yet. It'll take you a couple of minutes, but it can save students a lot of time. No matter what the materials are, start the file name with the name of your course. That way they'll be recognizable, even outside of any folders or zip archives.
For example, use an abbreviation like CHEM4A for Chemistry, section 4A, or your course number, such as HIST345. Be consistent with your syllabus and how it refers to any digital materials. You can also support students by naming and organizing your materials based on that syllabus. If you use a course calendar, then you might organize your files by weeks or units that span several weeks. To do this, start with the class name, then add the week or unit number, and end with the content each file contains.
For example, let's take a look at this file name, Grade11-ENG- unit1A- Overview.docx. Your students conduce a lot of information by following that naming structure. We're looking at a file for Grade 11 English, Unit 1, titled Overview. If you want to group the files by purpose, like homework or handouts, then put the purpose after the class name, and number them sequentially. Math1A-Homework-06- differentiation .docx is a file name that indicates that this Word document is homework, and that sequentially, it's the sixth piece of homework assigned.
07 and 08 follow, helping to dictate the order of the assignments. If there are more than nine weeks, units or assignments, then use leading zeros, such as Homework-06, so the files stay in order for your students. You can also include instructions about how specific kinds of content might help them reach the learning outcomes. If you want to scaffold the process, create a paragraph or screencast explaining how to use all of the different content for the first week or unit. If you're teaching in K12, your school may have separate portals for students and parents to access different kinds of information.
Or you might create a Haiku page for your class. This may be exactly what you need. If it's not as flexible as you like, consider starting a class blog. This will allow you to share files as well as add instructions and updates based on classroom questions or discussions. Assign students to follow your blog or subscribe to an RSS feed so they get an email each time you post new materials, an assignment or some other file related to the class. If you're teaching in higher education, chances are good that your campus has a learning management system, or LMS.
Again, this may be exactly what you need. Just as you did with the file names, it's important to think about how students perceive and receive your class materials. Use separate pages, topic areas or folders to group files by week, unit or module or function. Many LMS solutions allow you to display a list of recent changes or updates. If that seems overwhelming, consider using an email, a blog or Twitter to let students know you've uploaded new digital content.
Last, consider cultural diversity when posting materials or assigning students to review specific digital content. Carnegie Mellon reminds us that international students and domestic students from other cultural backgrounds may have grown up with different practices related to reading assignments or even interpreting a syllabus. Provide guidance about how thoroughly students should read each assignment or what passages are most important. Some cultures hold students responsible for knowing every word of what they're assigned to read. Provide clear expectations about what students should do, as well as what they don't need to do.
Before reviewing the next movie, take a minute to answer the following questions for yourself. Have you created course-specific file names? Are references to your digital content consistent with your syllabus? Have you organized digital course materials in an online environment? Do you alert students when content is uploaded or updated? And, have you considered potential cultural-diversity issues?
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