Thursday, August 30, 2018

Interactive Tools for Teaching Online

For the second half of this summer I haven't been building and glazing in my studio because I am working on some fairly big classroom projects

Last year I flipped my Functional Pottery and my Hand-building classes. The clay class is a fairly straightforward flip where the students watch demos for homework which frees me up to do other things during class, including watching them throw, demoing more advanced techniques, and even adding requirements.

My Hand-building class, on the other hand, is hybrid, which means I expect a little more accountability for their homework. I didn't just put the videos online, I also created scored assignments to check that they were doing the work.

For this fall I've been working on flipping my Intro To Clay class. This class is also hybrid, but I am complicating matters by adjusting the class to allow for more flexibility. The idea is that students can choose their own techniques, rather than everyone doing the same technique at the same time. This is only going to work because the demonstrations are already online and they can prepare separately, rather than having me demonstrate everything during class time.

I am further complicating things for myself, in a good way, by attempting to incorporate new software. Our school recently subscribed to or joined SoftChalk, which is a software to create lessons that are more interactive than a typical lesson in Canvas. I have been trying out the software for a few weeks now and have a few lessons nearly complete. 

Yesterday in an attempt to troubleshoot an issue on my end, I ended up publishing my almost complete lesson using the public instead of personal setting. This morning, much to my surprise, I got an email from SoftChalk telling me that my lesson was featured as lesson of the week. The quick turn-around and the fact that it is August both lead me to believe they chose to feature my lesson  because it was the only lesson submitted this week. Also, as you'll notice below, the second page includes a place holder for an as-yet-non-existant welcome video.

The lesson is fairly close to ready, however, so I thought I'd share it here. It also makes me feel like the hours I've spent staring at the computer screen with no new sculpture to show for it are actually producing something.

I believe you can try the lesson yourself. You can try to use it below, though the sizing may not be ideal for embedding in a blog. Here is the direct link to the lesson hosted on SoftChalk.
As I said, it is nearly complete and I expect to assign the lesson to my Intro to Clay students at the end of next month, but I'd be happy to hear what people think, particularly if you notice any areas that are particularly confusing...or inspiring, I suppose.

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