As I continue to explore the theme of professional learning, I am using this week to look closer at what active learning is and how meaningful feedback can influence professional learning. I am using the ISTE Coaching Standards as a starting place and specifically looking at standard 5 indicator 5b which says: Build the capacity of educators, leaders and instructional teams to put the ISTE Standards into practice by facilitating active learning and providing meaningful feedback. This has gotten me thinking more about what this looks like for coaches and specifically during professional learning. How can coaches make sure that they are providing active learning opportunities and more importantly how can coaches incorporate feedback. I also started wondering about how digital resources can play apart in active learning and feedback. So, my driving question for this week is;
What digital resources exist currently that can support coaches in facilitating active learning and providing meaningful feedback to educators?
Active Learning and Meaningful Feedback
What is active learning? ISTE Coaching Standard 5 defines facilitating active learning as “leading professional learning that engages educators in authentic or simulated activities, such as design challenges, problems of practice and reflection” (ISTE, n.d.). This means that educators should be thinking, saying, and doing in order to be engaged in active learning. The activity should have meaning to the educator and should cause them to think critically and reflect. Active learning does not only happen when educators are attending professional development sessions, it can happen anywhere. Coaches can help facilitate active learning by the questions and feedback they provide when working with educators. If feedback is to be meaningful than it must be connected to learning, feedback can not stand alone. According to According to Hattie and Timperley (2007) “Feedback can only build on something; it is of little use when there is no initial learning or surface information” (p. 104).
How can digital resources support?
With so many digital resources out there, it can be hard to determine which ones to use and when. Some of these decisions can be made by the educator, some by the coach, and other times as a collaboration between educator and coach. So, how can a digital resource help provide an active learning experience? It really depends on what the learning goal is and what is trying to be accomplished. As a coach it is important to think about the end goal of the professional learning experience and then determine what digital resources can help support that learning. I have attended many professional learning sessions that have been great but did not always result in active learning. As a coach it is important to provide choice to the educator so that they can make determinations around how they want to actively engage in the learning for the day. Can participants watch a video, engage in some reading, look at an infographic? It can be helpful to utilize some sort of curation tool in order to provide various resources to participants. Something like Wakelet, allows the coach to compile different resources by theme or collection and then these collections can be shared with participants. Collections can even be set up so that participants can add their own resources to the collection. This is a great tool not only to use with educators but also to use in the classroom with students. Check out this video to learn more about Wakelet.
While there are many tools for engaging in active learning, what resources are out there that can support educators in providing meaningful feedback? While trying to determine what resources may be out there I stumbled upon this article by Viewsonic that has some great ideas for using educational technology to provide feedback. While the article is geared at how educators can use this in their classrooms there are ideas that coaches can take away to use with educators. One idea that stands out is the idea of using visual and audio feedback. While this may not work the best during a in person professional development session this is a great idea for providing feedback at a later time. There are many different resources out there too that would allow for coaches to record a video or audio recording that can then be shared with the educator. Many resources even have this built in, some of my personal favorites are Kami and Screencastify. Kami is a Chrome extension that allows the coach to record a screencast directly within the shared document, providing feedback directly to the educator. They can then go back and view the feedback at any time and re-watch as needed. Screencastify is another Chrome extension that allows the coach to record a video. The difference is that Screencastify is not connected to any one document. Instead, the coach can record their video and then share a link to the video directly with the educator. This would be great for using with more than one educator (if working in groups) or if this were connected to some sort of larger professional learning experience. No matter the tool used however it is important to remember that feedback needs to be connected to the learning. It should cause the educator to reflect on their learning, how they are doing, and possible next steps that they might want to take. It is also important to remember that the timing of feedback is important. According to Hattie and Timperley (2007) the timing of feedback has an impact on its effectiveness. If the learning that educators are engaging in requires a higher degree of processing, then we need to provide time for that and thus delaying the feedback may be more effective.
Other ideas for using digital resources
Something else that has been swirling around in my head while researching about active learning and feedback has been the idea of using video during professional learning. Van den Bergh et al. (2014), talk about the idea of video-based learning in professional development. “The use of video allows professionals to look at themselves from a distance, and videos can capture much of the complexity of classroom interactions” (p. 781). While the use of video may make some uncomfortable it can be a powerful experience for support learning. Video can be a great way for educators to focus in on a particular problem of practice that they want to explore more about or even a way for educators to explore a particular lesson together to reflect on teaching practices. Jilk (2016) writes about using a strengths-based video club that has educators focusing on students’ strengths when it comes to mathematics. This same principle could be applied to using video in professional learning. With clear goals and agreed upon norms, video could be used to look for and identify strengths in a particular lesson. Then educators could reflect and make connections to their own classroom. It is important to note that when using video, we can sometimes make it feel personal, however if we use evidence from the video and connect it to the learning goals it can help it feel less personal. Something to consider is the possible use of a sentence stem when discussing the video. In the video club that Jilk (2014) shares about, the teachers were provided with a sentence stem that they used when discussing the students. This allowed the discussion to stay focused on the evidence from the video and how it connected to students’ strengths in math, one of the goals of the video club. So, something that I am still considering is how to take the idea of a video-club and apply it more regularly to the professional learning experience.
As I continue to think about active learning and feedback, I realize that I still have more wonderings than I have answers. While I do have more concrete ideas for how to use digital resources and ideas for what resources I might use, I still have questions. I am still thinking more about the idea of video club and how that might be integrated into professional learning. I am also thinking about different resources that might support the use of video during professional learning and whether this is something better done in smaller groups or one on one.
If you have other digital resources that you use to support active learning or for providing meaningful feedback, I would love to hear them. Also, if you have additional thoughts around the use of video in professional learning, I would love to hear that to.
Davis, C. (2021, January 2). Create Effective Feedback With Education Technology. ViewSonic Library. https://www.viewsonic.com/library/education/create-effective-feedback-with-education-technology/
Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved February 17, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4624888
ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2021, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Jilk, L. M. (2016). Supporting Teacher Noticing of Students’ Mathematical Strengths. Mathematics Teacher Educator, 4(2), 188–199. https://doi.org/10.5951/mathteaceduc.4.2.0188
Van den Bergh, L., Ros, A., & Beijaard, D. (2014). Improving Teacher Feedback During Active Learning: Effects of a Professional Development Program. American Educational Research Journal, 51(4), 772-809. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24546699