5 Ways to Supplement Your Online Class

A question we hear frequently from instructors that use our materials is how to best supplement their online classes. They have the lectures online and the lab kits, but what are additional ways to engage their students? Our resident scientist and pedagogy genius, Dr. Duane Cagle, weighs in on 5 ways to supplement your courses:

  1. Video content

Students learn better when you give them video. Video gives students more context and visualization on different concepts and allows them to come away with more information. Especially when you are teaching lab science, showing will always be better than telling, and video allows us to tell.

  1. Peer interaction among students

Allowing your students to interact with their labs could greatly improve their learning outcomes. While this is difficult in a distance learning course, video calling platforms- like Skype- make is easy for remote students to interact. When students interact, it gives them a chance to vocalize and understand their data at a deeper level. Furthermore, it allows students to teach each other different concepts, thus solidifying their understanding.

  1. LMS Integration

Giving your students a seamless learning environment will cut down on frustration and give students the chance to focus on what really matters: learning. Luckily our HOLCloud platform can integrate with all the most popular Learning Management Systems.

  1. Newsletters

Keeping your information relevant is important. A lot of instructors and professors write newsletters that update students on news relating to topics discussed in class. For example, if you are teaching students about genetics, a news article about new developments in CRISPR could keep students’ interest.

  1. Linking your lab material and lecture material

“A challenge for a lot of students taking science is relating to the information presented,” says Duane Cagle, our resident scientist. If you have a lecture attached with your lab course, you need to ensure that the two are relating. It will only be confusing for students if the two seem disconnected.

students in a classroom

Are Online Sciences Classes Effective?

Distance and online education is growing. In the Fall of 2016, there were over 6 million students taking at least one online course. Clayton Christensen, a business professor at Harvard University, believes that as many as half of American universities will close in the next two decades due to competition from online and distance education. Outside of the classroom, more and more college students are avoiding  academic advising in a face-to-face setting. As there is a greater push for distance education, it raises the question of whether or not these kinds of classes are as effective as a traditional college setting.

Since distance and online education are relatively new topics, or at least new to mainstream popularity, there isn’t an enormous amount of research on this topic. However, there are a few early studies, which suggest online education is as effective, if not more, than a traditional education.

A recent survey conducted by the Learning House asked 1,500 students who engaged in online education their thoughts on their experiences. From this survey, 86% of the respondents thought that the degree they received was equal or greater in value than the tuition they paid. So from a student perspective, it has a good return on investment! Furthermore, 85% of the respondents thought that their online education was as good as or better than a traditional setting. Looking at this, students clearly value online education.

However, just because students perceivably like online more traditional, it does not mean it is necessarily a better education. Luckily, there are a few studies which can clue us in on this, as well. A study done in 2004 at the University of Connecticut found that students taking food safety courses in a distance setting did as well as students in the traditional setting. This was determined by looking at performance from students in both groups, while also looking at factors like time spent studying, language barriers, etc. Furthermore, research done by professors at MIT, Harvard, and China’s Tsinghua University, found that students taking massive open online courses (MOOC) learn just as much as students in a traditional setting, regardless of their prior knowledge of the material.

So far the signs look pretty good for the effectiveness of online classes. However, Teachnology brings up a fair point when considering the effectiveness of online education. Education is a give-and-take experience. Many students will get out of it what they put in. This is true in a traditional format, as well as a distance format. A lazy student in a traditional setting may not do much better in an online or distance setting. However, there are also many different learning styles depending on the person. For some, a traditional education may be better for their learning need, while for others online education is an obvious choice.

8th Annual Emerging Technologies Int’l Symposium ‪#‎et4online @olctoday

HOL Has Major Presence at OLC-ET4

Hands-On Learning exhibited and presented at the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium, April 22-24 in Dallas.

The information session was titled, “The Data-Driven Classroom – This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Data.” Below is a summary:

New technology in education is all the rage. Today’s technology tools collect quantitative information that drives innovative pedagogies and ramps student engagement and learning outcomes. Classroom data helps instructors work smarter, not harder. But which technology delivers the data you want?
Online courses lend themselves to data-driven instruction. Student knowledge gain can be continuously tracked, classroom analytics can become the root of action, and data can be mined to predict trends in the greater student population.

Tracking Student Knowledge Gain
How do you identify when learning actually occurs? The first step is to create precise learning objectives that can be measured. Learning objectives that begin with vague terms like “understand” and “learn about” are nearly impossible to track with analytics because they are subjective and are not measureable. How could we ever truly measure a student’s understanding of a subject such as photosynthesis? Generalized course-level objectives are too broad to track. So how do you create definitive learning objectives that are well-suited for data collection and point to a specific expectation that can be measured through assessment?
Assessments are the cornerstone of the data-driven classroom. They must be placed at key moments throughout the learning pathway. Where should they be placed to capture key data? What are the different types of assessments? What is the difference between formative and summative assessments? It is important that a variety of evaluations be presented as learning progresses. Student knowledge gain is tracked by identifying a single learning objective and aggregating student data from assessments, which are highly engaging and great for test skill-building. Data about student performance can be continually collected and subsequently applied in a number of ways.

Applying Actionable Analytics
The data-driven classroom is built with meaningful analytics that initiate action and have predictive value. Actions may be taken at the student-level or the classroom-level. How do you create measureable milestones? When do you implement Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT)? With actionable analytics, instructors can quickly identify a student who performs poorly on an introductory topic and provide help or an engaging resource. Learning opportunities are recognized at the moment needed, maximizing the potential for student success. How does adaptive learning contribute to this process?

Data can transform our assumptions and understanding of student knowledge. For example, recent analytics collected on a “Laboratory Techniques and Measurements” learning module indicated massive student success for performing molar calculations but very marginal success on describing the proper use of a graduated cylinder. This confounded the expectations of educators, who anticipated student performance on math-related topics to be the challenge area. Without the assessment data, the educators would have continued to build instructional resources around math. However, with the assessment data, instructors were able to focus their efforts on an important knowledge gap. Analytics allowed the instructors to work smarter, not harder and educational effectiveness was improved.

Predictive Analytics and Big Data
There are endless possibilities in the application of analytics, and the educational market is only now scratching the surface of these applications. How does your classroom fit in with university-wide data? Analytics can be used to gauge students’ own opinions of engagement and perceptions of knowledge gain, and these too can be correlated with student performance. Classroom analytics can be used to inform department-wide approaches and help institutions develop instructional best practices in topic areas. Student performance in introductory classes can be applied toward big data and utilized as predictive analytics for future student success. But most importantly, analytics provide a vehicle to move education away from hypothetical theory, towards pedagogical models that are supported by empirical evidence. Through online resources, instructors are able to generate data about teaching effectiveness and provide support for novel approaches. In many ways, student performance data is able to validate best teaching practices as it never could before. The online environment is the ideal setting for a data-driven approach, and online instructors, who admittedly are the most adventurous and innovative group of educators, are well-suited to the task of revolutionizing education.

HOL also presented a session during the Vendor Showcase entitled, “Yes, You Can Teach Science Online!” The session highlighted how Hands-On Labs has integrated technology with hands-on laboratory experiences to achieve better learning outcomes than many face-to-face classrooms.

HOL exhibited and presented at the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies Int'l Symposium in San Antonio. Holly Houtz presented a session entitled, "The Data-Driven Classroom - This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Data.” ‪#‎et4online @olctoday

HOL exhibited and presented at the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies Int’l Symposium in San Antonio. Holly Houtz presented a session entitled, “The Data-Driven Classroom – This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Data.” ‪#‎et4online @olctoday