Friday, August 8, 2008

Aaargh... and "Just-in-time Teaching"

Just lost a long post about all kinds of things. I'll put my head to those issues again tomorrow. Meanwhile, I had a long conversation tonight with my daughter and son-in-law, both teachers, about something called "Just-in-time Teaching". Here's a description I just found on a JiTT website: "Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT for short) is a teaching and learning strategy based on the interaction between web-based study assignments and an active learner classroom." It goes on to say, " Students respond electronically to carefully constructed web-based assignments which are due shortly before class, and the instructor reads the student submissions 'just-in-time' to adjust the classroom lesson to suit the students' needs." Don't know if anyone out there is operating the method (Geoff? fsjl?), but I have to wonder (1) What's the size of the average class? (2) How substantial are these web-based assignments? (3) What kind of planning goes into the classroom lessons? (4) How fluid are they? I wouldn't myself want to be reading 25 study assignments that I had received shortly before class and attempting to adjust my classroom lesson in the light of what I had gleaned. But that's just me. Maybe there are pre-packaged lesson plans out there that are versatile and easily adjustable...? Very glad to be enlightened on this.


FSJL said...

I've seen a couple of references to it, but I teach in-class rather than online.

What I've done, over the past year is prepare all my classes are PowerPoint presentations and make those available online via my college's 'Blackboard' system.

One of the things that I want to do is get my students used to the idea of making PowerPoint presentations, and also used to the idea of controlling the presentations and not slamming the information on the board all at once (which bores me when I'm sitting in the audience). In addition, I want them to do as I do and combine images and text rather than succumbing to the temptation to cram as much text as possible onto each slide.

Jdid said...

would seem to be a bit stressful on the teacher but maybe its good in this way the teacher knows what the kids know and what they dont know at that point and can change emphasis.

clarabella said...

Hi Fragano, jdid: I think JiTT's interest is in the immediacy of the feedback loop so that, as jdid says, "the teacher knows what the kids know and what they don't know at that point and can change emphasis." I think using technology is meant to enhance the instructional technique, but not take it over, for the classroom remains essentially what it has always been. It's not that there wasn't feedback before (there were always discussions, projects, assignments, tests) but this is faster, and offers the teacher data that can immediately inform his or her purposes and strategies in the classroom, and can be tailor-made to the needs of each student. I think the rationale for making technology a feature is that it's already so pervasive, so "in" with all kinds of students!

FSJL said...

I think it's a good idea to give students feedback quickly. I worry, though, that the use of technology can degenerate into just a set of gimmicks.

Don't get me wrong, I find that the use of PowerPoints is a real enhancement -- though it means that I have to put in more work in early preparation than I would have before. said...

Pam, just popping in before I head off for a next day sans computer.

My average class is about 25 students and I've used a variation of this by having online tests on the material that begin once class begins and then end thirty minutes after the class began.

The readings of "Barn Burning" and "Fences" went up and I was a happier teacher because the students had to read the material. BTW, they got a grade for this and although it wasn't much, it was usually enough for those who needed help on the margins to pass the class.

FSJL said...

I wish I'd heard something about this strategy a few months back. I'd have incorporated online quizzes into a course I've just taken over (my students would curse me, but they'd read the material which is what I want). This is something I'll think about using in undergraduate courses in the future.

clarabella said...

Hi Geoff: I know you're out there in the real world, but maybe you'll see this when next you connect to this fictive place. As always, thanks for stopping by. Can you explain a little better about how the test worked? Your students surely didn't read the assigned material in the course of the 30 minutes? That would be the time assigned for the test, right? I can see that this would be a great way of getting students to read material – I mean, if it's up there, then they'd have to be pretty bloody minded NOT to read it if it goes along with a test or assignment for which they get credit. I do know that ensuring that students read material that's assigned is often a difficulty. Can you tell us a bit more? I can see a real advantage to this approach, though it's not precisely the feedback-loop based method, assuming I rightly understood what I read. How soon do your students know how well they've performed? Does the internet help you to sort levels of achievement and modify teaching strategies based on that data?

clarabella said...

HI fjsl: Aha! Well now you can inject those online quizzes and web based reading cum test assignments. I'd be glad to know how you see them working. As I said to Geoff, I can see that hanging assigned material up there and appending a test, quizz, etc. is a great way to see that reading DOES get done, and that's so often a real difficulty – but it would have to be relatively short bits of reading material, wouldn't it? It occurs to me that if you press the technology hard, you could use it to have a guest lecturer stop by and, by prearrangement, assign a task/test/quiz based on that content. And I can imagine other web-based methodologies too. But I don't know if all this comes under the JiTT heading... said...

Pam, my method was purely survival and the web-based assignments using Blackboard gave me a quick impression of the class as a whole and how individual students were doing.

For example, if most of the students missed question 2 on the use of imagery in "fences," then I could change the lesson to discuss imagery before the next assignment of Emily Dickinson. The great thing was the software gave me an instant read of the class and where they were.

Individual problems were handled in conference.

As you said, "but this is faster, and offers the teacher data that can immediately inform his or her purposes and strategies in the classroom, and can be tailor-made to the needs of each student"


clarabella said...

Geoff: Okay. I've got that. The feedback loop, if it isn't exactly instant, is close enough, and that 'in conference' default (if that's the right way to put it) is an important one. That satisfies one of my misgivings. Thanks. I'm still interested in how lengthy the reading assignments are and whether they're done right then, before the test or quiz or whatever. I can see that this would work with poetry, and with short fiction or short excerpts of fiction, also. But what does one do about the longish reading assignments that are often necessary in subjects like history, soci, psych or philosophy? What then? Hope you're having fun, wherever in the world you are... said...

Pam, my usual assignmnents were 3 to five poems and a short story on a theme.

I don't know how it would work with longer assignments, but if I could "hook" the students, then their enthusiasm paid off 90% of the time.


clarabella said...

Did the students do the assignments ahead of time, Geoff? Or did they do the reading in that half an hour test time of which you spoke?

FSJL said...

Geoffrey: What about in-class short quizzes (five minutes, maybe) at the start of the unit? Presuming, of course, that the students are required to read the material before the unit. said...

They did most of the readings ahead of time and then I quizzed them for a grade.

Sometimes, I didn't quiz them for a grade:

Ten Minute Paper

or they could e-mail me and this would show up in the subject line:

"Most important thing I learned today and what I understood least."

I didn't understand this part of the lesson.

I used the ten minute paper for guest lecturers or anything that needed a quick response.

Hope this helps.


Pam, I've actually been moving around. Repairs to the house and dust, so I'm between my mother-in-law and cheap hotels w/out WI FI.

I'll soon be home to the comforts of my bed....aaaaaaaaaaah!

clarabella said...

It does, Geoff. Thanks enormously, and to fsjl too. As I think I may have said, one of the questions I'd heard debated was whether cyber technology was good to use simply because the students were so plugged into it (which is not in itself a bad reason) or whether there were real advantages to using it. I've certainly had some of my questions about that answered, as I think Fragano has too... I wish you soon back into your own bed!