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As you know along this blog, I am trying to learn about technology, the virtual, and how all that can help learning.

This weekend I am sharing one of my trials (experiment, pilot study, teaching approach, or other similar title) at the Teaching Professor Technology Conference.  It is the first technology conference the Teaching Professor is trying, and it seems to be a success even before we get started: registration is over 600 and full.  The program looks as if there are many good presentations to glean from – including mine, of course, even if for no other reason than to know what I tried and decide for yourself if it is something you may be able to use.

What IS my presentation (experiment, trial, …)?

I tried to use technology to help my students learn.  Novel idea, right?  Working with my learning management system (LMS) and its tools, I was able to provide my students with multiple attempts to show their learning.

More than one try for achieving a better grade is another way of putting it.  Yet this, for some reason, sounds rather negative.  More like what teachers and others would say when they gave a student a “do over” (maybe “extra credit” or “another try because I wasn’t ready…”).   That was not my goal nor my attitude.

I developed the idea after several points came together in my mind:

  • students in this course traditionally do not do well (not all, but many);
  • students in the major needed at least a ‘C’ grade or better in this course;
  • game approaches try to infuse motivation in various ways; and
  • I like using as many tools as I can to help my students and myself.

So, I used what my LMS had in two ways:

  1. repeated attempts for quizzes; and
  2. rubrics for grading.

When students need to know some background information, we typically test them on that content.  But, one test as an “all or nothing” approach is not encouraging to students.  I wanted to encourage them to find out what they knew and then be able to learn more and show me they did.  I let them take the quiz over.  Now, not the exact same quiz – questions came from a test bank and were randomized, so subsequent quizzes were different even though covering the same topic.

When students need to show they can apply information, we often have them write a paper showing examples of this or that (theory, in my case) in “real life.”  Using the rubric tool, my grading was simplified AND the students received feedback on aspects of their papers to help them in subsequent attempts (if needed).

It was successful in my mind, but I will continue to revise aspects.  Successful here means that several students were encouraged to do it over, do better, and overall scores/grades were better.  They learned the background information and they learned how to apply the theory better in their examples.

And, I’ll give details in later, more detailed write-ups or publications – and let you know where to find the information (if not right here!) as I keep exploring technology or the virtual world of learning.

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