TOM – Teaching Online Masterclass

One of my favorite online resources, iCivics, has joined with Adobe, Participate, and ClickView to offer a series of free professional development videos about online teaching.  TOM (Teaching Online Masterclass) includes short (less than 2 min. each) videos produced by Makematic featuring advice given by staff contributors from all over the world.  The various categories include such themes as “Technology as a Tool,” and “Digital Well-Being.”  The one that I imagine many teachers will jump to is, “Pedagogical Strategies.”

Course overview from the TOM manual

Different people will find different TOM videos to be helpful to them.  For example, I liked the idea for giving video feedback online – using a screen casting program to record as you look at what has been submitted and commenting during the process – but the one on “Think, Pair, Share” did not tell me something I didn’t already know.  The good news is that the videos are so brief, that you can spend 15 minutes on the site and feel like you’ve learned something during that time.

TOM also has a PDF manual that goes into a bit more detail about the backgrounds of the contributors and the videos that are available.  The manual includes a link to a Padlet with more resources, as well as information for how to sign up to receive their research, how to get involved with their blog, and an invitation to join their group on LinkedIn.

Once teachers have a chance to develop reliable routines, and the technology becomes more robust, they will want to learn more about the best pedagogical practices for this medium, and TOM can help them do that.

Tell Your Students to Get Lost

I was driving between appointments yesterday, and considered taking a potential shortcut.  After a quick internal debate, I decided to stick to the route I knew even though I would barely arrive on time.  Why didn’t I take the shortcut?

Because I had a guess it would be quicker, but I wasn’t absolutely sure where it would take me.  If it worked, I would get there earlier and be able to use it many times in the future.  But, if I got lost…

So, even though I’ve often thought about using that shortcut, and it would be awesome if it worked because I could forever use it, I haven’t.  I never have time when I think about it that I’m willing to give up if I get lost.

This is what we often do to our students.  We show them the way to do something that we want them to achieve, and we never give them time to discover their own route to the destination.  There is no time for them to stray from the path we prescribe.  If they start wandering, we quickly re-direct them.  Or, we sometimes tell them they obviously can’t read this map so they should just give up and move on to the next destination. It doesn’t matter that they might have found a more efficient way, or even a more scenic route, if given time.

As my students meander their way through their Spy School Missions in our Undercover Robots camp this week, I chuckle at their circuitous routes and congratulate them on discoveries that don’t necessarily relate to the mission.  I wonder what schools would be like if more learning could happen this way, if we told our students frequently, “Get lost.  And be sure to tell me all about it.”

Flickr image from Ian Wilson
Flickr image from Ian Wilson