Recently I came across an interesting guide, published by Quarterfall discussing Time-Saving Teaching Tips. I thought I will share them here, bearing in mind two things. First, we have teachers among our followers, who can simply benefit from provided tips, and secondly, I find it interesting food for thought for all learners.
The tips were collected and shared by Arjan Egges, CEO of Quarterfall and an experienced Computer Science teacher. Throughout Arjan’s extensive career in teaching, he noticed certain practices not contributing to improving the learning experience for students and making a big impact on the time teachers need to spend on teaching their courses.
Assessment through feedback
What serves as a perfect example here is over complicating course structure by including more than necessary assignments to be graded, according to complex grading schemes. This as a result does not contribute to creating a positive class environment and unnecessarily influences the duration of grading process. Wishing to solve this problem he tested and shared some interesting solutions.
What Arjan suggests first is not only reducing grading work (which is nothing more than an assessment mechanism) but also focusing on providing feedback to the learners. This is motivated with the fact that having received a grade, students focus on the grade itself and are no longer interested in the feedback. As a consequence, they don’t necessarily understand what went fine and what did not and why. There is no interest to find out if there is space for improvement and where, as the entire focus is on the grade. What Arjan stresses is that building a relationship with learners is crucial to earn their trust and to be able to get them involved in discussions, encourage asking questions or even giving peer feedback to each other.
The necessity of creating safe dialogue environment
Creating an environment in the class where students can freely express their feedback and comment on their work (in a respectful manner without upsetting each other) is extremely valuable. Interesting and vivid discussions allow students to acquire knowledge faster, and effortlessly and remain motivated and curious. Being able to discuss different points of view creates in learners the sense of belonging to the group and trains soft skills including the ability to take constructive criticism. The ability to develop soft skills is crucial, especially for learners intending to start their professional career (more on the importance of soft skills please check here).
Automation and using modern technology as teaching tool
Speaking of the assessment what Arjan further recommends is rephrasing assignments for the purpose of their automation. What he means is transforming some of the assignment content into closed questions, or deciding which part of the assessment requires actual grading and which one can serve as self-learning assignment.
Another tool for saving time and at the same time optimizing the learning process is lecture recording and publishing. By posting lectures online as a teacher you enable your students to watch them back in their own time and at their own pace, allowing pausing the material, repeating etc.
Moreover, a good practice is also organizing interactive Q&A sessions or integrating lectures into preparatory study materials if as a teacher you wish to experiment with flipped learning. Watching prerecorded lectures provides students with opportunities to comment on presented concepts in class and ask questions, which further contributes to student engagement. Surely, this technique requires from the teacher/instructor solid preparation, including for example practicing lectures and conducting multiple records attempts. However, once the hard work is done, recorded lectures can be used repeatedly as study material. Also, let’s not forget that for some learners enriching the typical study method (based on reading) with introducing recordings to listen to or watch, allows them to acquire the material better and easier as it involves other senses than just vision.
To summarize, doing the above or a combination of shared suggestions not only reduces teachers’ workload but serves to optimize teaching efforts and focuses on delivering the best learning experience. It can also serve as a good basis for providing a more qualitative learning experience for students. With this short blog, we hope we were able to bring some interesting insights and tips for teachers, instructors, and educators or provide a bit of intellectual nourishment for the rest of our readers.
Quarterfall.com (2022) “5 Time-Saving Teaching Tips” Available on: https://storage.googleapis.com/upload.quarterfall.com/docs/5_teaching_tips.pdf (Accessed: 17 November 2022).