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Challenging Lessons

 
 

Students need a boost for longer, harder, and independent lessons.


As an instructor, one comes to know that students enter courses with diverse interests, abilities, experiences, and commitments. With the role of facilitator (one who makes easy), an instructor strives to provide supports for students experiencing challenges. In particular, some key lessons prove overly challenging for a number of students because of increased complexity, length, or level of independence. More importantly, these lessons and their accompanying assessments are often key to mastering the competencies of the course and can end up becoming a challenge.

For these lessons, an instructor can and should provide a boost where possible.

One such boost would be to hold a workshop or clinic. In the online anytime world, this workshop or clinic could be setup as a short virtual meeting online with conference software. Students having not attempted this lesson should be invited to attend knowing that the workshop itself albeit helpful remains optional. During the workshop, the teacher could quickly review the key concepts and skills. Then, the instructor could walk through a concept map or an assignment asking the students to follow suit. Lastly, the instructor would ask students questions to promote inquiry. Throughout the workshop, students would be encouraged to ask questions, having been told that everyone should feel safe and comfortable as all of the students are here for the same reasons. Once the workshop is finished, students then finish the assessment and submit it with confidence. A big win would be for students to connect as peers to work on additional challenging and formative lessons together. I currently plan to hold a workshop for doing financial reports in Excel. A colleague and I are similar planning to do reading and writing clinics for our Humanities classes.

Another such boost would be a demonstration video. These demo videos provide an alternative view from the textbook or other resources. They can be highly visual and animated. They can assist students, where appropriate, who have difficulties with reading at the current level. Moreover, with streaming and YouTube, students can watch the videos on mobile devices allowing them to create their work needed. For many advanced skill lessons with lengthy steps and multiple choices, videos work well. I have completed several for document production challenges in Microsoft Office. In humanities classes, writing demos for each parts of a form, such as an essay, have boosted quality of student submissions.

Certainly, there are more boosts available. If you have any mind. Feel free to share.

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