I feel that lecture, for the most part, is an efficient means of having students put your words on paper to be repeated back to you later. In other words, lecture works great for imposing your understanding of material onto students. As far as achieving real learning goes, it just doesn't work for me anymore.
Because I don't lecture, I am always searching for tools that will help students make their own meaning--because that's the only way for students to own the knowledge and take it with them forever and ever. One tool I have discovered recently is MentorMob. With this tool (you need to create a free account to use it), you can create what they call "learning playlists" that have students walk through resources about a topic and then check their understanding of the topic. You can check out two examples of ones I made for my students below:
- You can insert a variety of media into a playlist. You can insert links to web pages, PDF files, videos, or anything else you can grab a link for--and this includes a Google Doc. It won't display the Google Doc, but it will allow you to click a button so it will take the viewer to the Google Doc. You can also upload files (Word, Excel, and PDF files only) as well, which allowed me to insert some practice into some of my playlists. When you insert any of the various media types for one step in the playlist, you can type in a description. This is where I put the directions for students on what to do, what to do after or during viewing the step, etc. That way, students know exactly what they're supposed to do with each type of media you select to put in your playlist.
- You can create small quizzes for viewers of your learning playlist. This is a great feature for formative assessment, so students can quickly see if they understand the material or not. I like that you can instert these quizzes anywhere in the playlist, so you can have students check for understanding frequently. The creation screen is easy to navigate, and will allow you to create true/false or multiple choice questions. I found that, while I like to include these in my playlists, to get a better sense of student understanding and have that evidence recorded, I still like my students to take progress checks (quizzes) in Juno, an online assessment tool.
- Learning playlists can be created and edited collaboratively. While you can choose to make your playlist publicly viewed by all or just by those to whom you send the link, you also have the option of selecting who can edit your playlist. You can allow anyone on MentorMob to edit it, or you can choose to just have yourself as an editor. I am assuming that, if you leave it private for viewing but open to editing that you can send the link to colleagues that teach the same course, allowing for teachers to collaboratively create and edit a learning playlist for a class.
- MentorMob learning playlists provide a simple and easy method to flip your classroom. I always want to sit down and make Voicethreads and videos for my students, but can never seem to carve out the time needed for doing that. However, when creating these playlists, all I needed was the resources I already collected in my diigo lists and on Pinterest. They still take time, but much less time than creating and editing a video or a Voicethread.
- Students can easily create their own learning playlists to demonstrate understanding. After they signed up for a free account, students could create their own learning playlists, either for themselves or for others. An idea that's been banging around in my head (and one I desperately want to remember to use for next year) is giving my students editing rights to one of my pages on the class Google site for each unit. Then, students can create their own learning playlists for topics, embedding those playlists on the site for everyone to use. If you have students create ePortfolios like I do, these would be an excellent way for students to demonstrate understanding of a topic by creating their own documents and putting them together in a playlist (and making a quiz at the end). I have even more ideas, but I will save them for a later post.
- The playlists are easy for students to use. I gave a brief overview of how to use the learning playlist (brief = 1 minute), and my students have used them without frustration, tears, or wails of lament about using technology. When asked how it was to use them, all I got was shrugs and comments of "Very simple."
- Students can do the work of learning and construct their own meaning using these learning playlists. To me, this is a great alternative to lecture. If you choose to use these to deliver instruction, these playlists allow a teacher to plan for and set up what learning will take place, along with empowering students to do the work of learning if the playlist is set up that way. (Like any learning tool, it can be used for educational good or evil. Please don't use this in the spirit of "more memorized stuff is better learning.") I know that some teachers, especially newer ones that for some reason have never been taught to use educational technology of any kind except PowerPoint and an overhead projector, have a hard time knowing what else to do besides lecture--I know I did when I first started oh-so-many-moons ago--and this is a great and easy alternative to offer those teachers (along with TED Ed and Embedr).