Tag Archives: classroom tips

Let Your Students Have a Do-Over

By Alec Fehl, author of Labyrinth Learning’s Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2016 Essentials and Your Digital Foundation

Learning to Walk

Do you remember learning to walk? Neither do I. Perhaps it went something like this:

Tried to stand up. Fell down. Tried to stand up. Fell down again. Did this for several days. Was finally able to stand. Tried to take a step. Fell down. Tried another step. Fell down. Bumped my head. Cried a little. Tried another step. Woo-hoo! Did it! Tried a second step. Fell down. Repeated process until I walked.

That may not be the exact sequence, but I bet it’s close. I learned by getting a lot of do-overs, and I know this didn’t happen:

Tried to stand up. Fell down and said, “Oh well…I’ll just try to move on to running.”

Why a Do-Over?

Do your students get one chance at an assignment, receive a grade, and then move on to the next assignment? Most of my students worked that way. Get a C and never look back. My students would fail to master concepts if their end goal was simply a grade.

How do educators address this?

With the current education system, we must find a way to balance facilitating learning with the administrative requirement of assessing, tracking, and rating progress.

I’ve had success in my classes by offering “virtually unlimited do-overs.”

How to Do a Do-Over

To begin, I give assignments with an initial due date. I assess these initial submissions and give detailed feedback, commenting on what’s good and what needs improvement or completion. Here’s the kicker: If I leave feedback, the initial grade is zero. Rather than give a letter grade or percentage, I label the assignment “complete” or “not complete.” My feedback indicates exactly what’s needed for me to consider the work complete.

And my feedback comes with a 48-hour deadline extension. They resubmit within the timeframe and the process repeats: They get more feedback, a “not complete” rating, and another 48 hours to work. This continues until the student either completes the assignment (100%) or misses a deadline and the incomplete rating (0%) sticks.

Benefits of Giving Do-Overs

  • I focus less on determining a grade and more on giving relevant feedback.
  • Students learn revision skills, how to accept critique, and other soft skills.
  • Students work, to some degree, at their own pace.
  • Students are motivated to improve from their mistakes, creating a mindset of lifelong learning.
  • Students benefit from formative assessment as they work through mistakes and are more likely to achieve concept/skill mastery.

While this may not be the perfect system for every discipline, I have used a more detailed version with great success in my classes for almost 30 years.

Multimedia Learning Tools: Cater Your Classroom to Every Learning Style

As any good teacher knows, no two learners are alike. Fortunately, professors and community college instructors have more tools than ever to help reach all types of students. Online learning comes with interactive modules and engaging video components that take learning far beyond what traditional textbooks can offer. In particular, video can offer “visual clues” that stimulate memory and problem solving, accelerating the learning process and helping students to deepen their understanding of the topics you teach. Researchers have also found that video’s unique blend of audio and visual cues can help students absorb new information most efficiently.

Using Video and Web Tools in the Interactive Classroom

Your students have grown up with screens and phones that deliver quick hits of information and entertainment at the touch of a button, so relying on ordinary textbooks and 60 minutes of lecture isn’t going to capture their interest. Instead, consider adding short videos and interactive components that let students practice what they’ve learned in a hands-on way. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Spark Discussion: Break up your lecture with a short video and use it as a jumping off point for discussion. Have pairs tell each other what they think, and then have those pairs combine into groups of four to six to work through post-video questions. You can be a “guide on the side” instead of the leader for a change of pace.
  • Hands-on Practice: Interactive modules are especially useful in computer classes, where navigating through drop-down menus on Word or Excel will help your students learn the program far more quickly than just reading about it. Have students pull up practice modules on their laptops to try a skill while you’re still there to clear up misconceptions to accelerate their understanding on the spot.
  • Flipped Classrooms: Video and other online learning modules make it easier than ever “flip” the learning model. Instead of using classroom time to explain a new concept and send students home to practice it, try having them watch a video at home first. When they get to class, you can use your time to answer questions and practice the new skill, which is often a much more efficient use of everyone’s time.

Online Learning Addresses All Learning Styles

Researchers have spent years trying to figure out what makes students tick, and the result is the theory of learning styles that describe sensory modes for absorbing new information. By offering video and web learning, you can help reach students who prefer to learn in different ways. For example, visual learners reap the benefits of videos and web graphics when they shift to online textbooks. They can efficiently scan the page to click on the diagram or chart that supports the text and even pull it up into a popup window for continual reference as they read. Videos with demonstrations that show people using a computer program or solving a problem serve as a high-speed highway of information absorption for these learners.

Online learning also addresses auditory and kinesthetic learners’ needs. Video helps auditory learners absorb material, especially if it’s a recorded lecture with a professor’s voice explaining material. These learners can listen to in-depth discussions and take notes without ever looking up — or they can simply pause or rewind when they need to review a detail. Kinesthetic learners master new concepts by touch and manipulation, so they love to interact with computer programs like Microsoft Office and QuickBooks. An interactive web module allows students to try their hands at using the software as they learn, making it the ultimate hands-on approach.

Multiple Modes for All

Accessing material in a range of ways helps the brain create additional neural pathways, which reinforces learning and allows the brain to retrieve long-term memories more easily. Using a judicious combination of text, video, interactive resources and the teacher’s human touch is the best way to enhance learning and reach students of all types.

Want to learn more about interactive online textbooks that will enhance your teaching of business and computer courses? Contact Labyrinth Learning to see the latest programs for Microsoft Office applications, Payroll Accounting, QuickBooks and more.