If at First You Don't Succeed

My drive to and from school each day has taken on quite a change over the past few months. It used to be that I would set my XM radio (The Loft and The Spectrum are my stations of choice) for a commercial-free and concentration-free commute. Lately, though I have been listening to the Steve Hargadon interviews from FutureofEducation.com and Conversations.net multiple times and each time I seem to find something new to spark ideas and get me thinking about education and things I should try in the classroom. One of those ideas is to create some online content for my students to watch and review from my own lessons, similar to what I have been doing with those recordings.

I planned to set aside some time this summer to create these lessons. These would be topics that I will cover and discuss in class, but can be viewed in a less interactive but maybe more visual format as often as needed. My thought was that this type of lesson would lend itself very well to a discipline like math, where an example could be worked through and then put online for students to examine as many times as necessary. It just seems to make so much sense to create examples of some of the more important (I know, I know, they are ALL important :)) or at least the ones that are more difficult to understand.

I mentioned this to a colleague who teaches math and she seemed somewhat opposed to the idea saying that the students would not pay attention in class if they knew it was going to be online. I have heard similar concerns about placing notes online for a class.

Are these legitimate concerns? What are the arguments for this practice in order to convince those who have their doubts about its effectiveness? While I have every intention of continuing with my intended project, it would be nice to help others do something similar in their discipline that would be effective for them.


  1. If your lesson could be completed online then so be it-let the kids complete it and stay home ;)

    I think any great lesson cannot be taught online. If you are only offering in class what can be read online then I think something is missing from the lesson.

    Yes, factual info can be transmitted online, but those deep conceptual connections and individualized questions and group conversations which push the kids to make those conceptual connections and connect them to other contexts can only take place in class.

    So to the teacher who said students wouldn't pay attention in her class, I would say then maybe her class isn't worth paying attention to if some words on the internet can replace the face-to-face time that her students spend with her.

  2. Paul,
    I totally agree with you about the connections that can only be made in the classroom and through a discussion. I have been part of discussions and classes online that are very close to the classroom setting, though. My point for the math teacher was to give students an opportunity for multiple viewings of an example that the teacher leads the class through. Have you ever thought you had a grasp of something only to realize you didn't totally understand later? This may give them an opportunity to look at it again and reconnect if needed. After all, we can reread material as often as we would like. So why not do the same for examples?

    Thanks for the comments and insight. They are greatly appreciated.

  3. Tom,
    I think your idea is well worth pursuing. This year, I have started to post some of my Notebook lessons on my class wiki. Not only can the students go back and review the lesson, but so too can their parents.
    The discussions moving through education increasingly focus on the teacher being the model/guide as students move into more higher-level thinking and drive their learning. Your suggestion blends well with this concept.
    I would be interested to see/know what tools you use to present your lessons as I too would like to spend more time this summer moving in that direction.


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