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Well, here we are in this new world with teachers learning new methods and tools to achieve the same great outcomes they had in the classroom, and students learning new ways to learn. With so many difficult factors impacting education at this moment, the Turnitin team wants to offer our support. With that goal, we recently launched our Remote Learning Resources page, and through our blog, we’re focusing on problems instructors encounter as they make these necessary shifts. In our previous blog post Together While Apart: Classroom Communication, we focused on supporting asynchronous learning through effective communication strategies. In this post, the second of three in our Together While Apart series, we want to dive more deeply into instructional delivery challenges in a remote learning setting. 

Instructor Challenge: How will I know whether students have prerequisite skills and knowledge needed to move into new learning? 

Strategies: 

  1. Use a digital pre-assessment to identify gaps in prerequisite knowledge or skills. Doing so will allow you to gauge the needs of the whole class, as well as individual students. Having this insight upfront allows you to differentiate and not lose time to misunderstandings. While it takes additional planning in the short term, it will actually save you time overall as you can avoid full-scale re-teachings or corrections later. 
  2. Create banks of “self-service” resources for review. A “just-in-time” approach allows students to access tutorials and activities as they need them. Rather than assigning them to all students, students can self-evaluate and build their own agency, seeking out the resources needed to address their needs. For students to use a bank of resources this way, consider outlining the connection between the pre-assessment and individual resources. For example, you might set up a resource matrix like this:
If you struggled with these questions... Complete this tutorial...
Questions 1-3 Watch Video 1 [Educator: Insert example title and link here]
Questions 4-5 Practice Activity 2 [Educator: Insert example title and link here]
(The above table is for example purposes only)

Instructor Challenge: How will I know which students need help or know when to intervene when students go off track?

Strategies: 

  1. Chunk assignments so that students aren’t progressing all the way through a series of activities without the opportunity to assess their mastery of new content or skills. 
  2. Build in checkpoints with a quick turnaround time where you can monitor ongoing progress and return timely, relevant feedback. 
  3. Repeat the structure of the resource matrix, where specific resources are matched to areas of concern. For example:
If you struggle with... Use this tutorial...
Pre-writing A strategy list to get you started [Educator: Insert example link here]
Drafting A podcast about overcoming writer's block [Educator: Insert example link here]
Combining sentences Use this [Educator: Insert example link here] interactive practice to work on your sentence-combining skills and then apply those same skills to your own writing
(The above table is for example purposes only)

Pro Tip: For Feedback Studio users, consider setting up Revision Assignments where students can submit multiple drafts. This allows you to provide formative feedback and guidance as they are drafting. Additionally, you can create QuickMark comments with embedded links that take students directly to the appropriate resources; as an example, check out the Source Credibility QuickMark set. By creating a set of QuickMarks, you can use them repeatedly to support any student who needs the same resource. 

Instructor Challenge: How can I help students to evaluate whether they’re on the right track with my assignments? 

Strategies: 

  1. Create a formative loop with ongoing feedback as suggested in the previous section, helping not only you as the instructor but also allowing students to monitor their own progress. 
  2. Explicitly teach self-advocacy strategies to students. For additional information about self-advocacy, take a look at the resources from the National Center for Learning Disabilities or other research available. Although the content is geared toward working with students who have learning disabilities, the strategies can be helpful for all students, especially as they are struggling to understand this new learning environment. 
  3. Set up a peer coaching network where students can seek out support. Just as you might in a physical classroom, leverage the power of positive peer interactions to help students struggling with a particular concept or skill. Pro Tip: Try using a resource matrix such as those seen in previous sections, with an added column for Peer Coach contact or a direct link to request a conference with you. 
  4. Attach all related resources, including the original assignment, scoring tools, and rubrics, supplemental readings, notes, or slide decks to all communications. This creates a pathway for students to quickly access any and all related materials. Rubrics, in particular, can be very useful for self-assessment through a clear explanation of performance level expectations. Pro Tip: Consider attaching exemplars to each level of the rubric so that students have concrete examples of expectations in each area or trait. If you need a model to help guide your development, take a look at the Revision Assistant Exemplar Essays, mapped out by performance level. 

In the end, these challenges represent a deep desire to provide the best possible education for your students, and these strategies are simply ways to anticipate and understand student needs and then leverage every resource possible to meet those needs. Some of the suggestions are easier to implement than others so be kind to yourself and remember that it is okay not to have all the answers. Even the most veteran educators will make some mistakes along the way, and just like you understand and appreciate the need for iterative growth for students, you will need to extend the same grace to yourself. To that end, the Turnitin team is committed to continuing to explore topics that support your efforts. In the upcoming third post of the Together While Apart series, we will turn our attention to supporting both formative and summative assessments in the remote learning context with some special attention for considerations in an asynchronous scenario. 



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