Teach Middle East Magazine Apr - Jun 2020 Issue 3 Volume 7 - Page 11

Sharing Good Practice information has a magnitude of value. “Not all parents can – or have a chance to – support and guide their children’s learning during this isolation period,” Dr Wallinheimo notes. Apart from assessing learning, learning analytics may help educators to take notice of aspects of student well- being. Has an eager learner become demotivated towards their studies? Has a student, who was formerly unable to concentrate and thus under-performing, suddenly begun thriving? These sorts of changes in a student's behaviour and attitude can be identified through formative assessment, and it helps the teacher to understand the student's life- situation better. Formative Assessment Takes The Driving Seat As teachers have limited possibilities to teach their students, teaching will actually be very much about assessment – formative assessment that is. Formative assessment refers to ongoing, qualitative feedback between student and teacher, and it also has aspects of peer assessment. Summative assessment measures students’ understanding of a given subject and is usually graded. Many school systems emphasise summative assessment. “Even adults can find self-study hard. Now it is time to find a balance between formative and summative assessment. Formative assessment can be done continuously, but I would advise being more careful with summative assessment. It could be cut up and done in smaller segments,” Dr Wallinheimo advises. 5 Tips for Digital Assessment 1. Self-regulation is hard The situation we are facing in teaching requires amazing self-regulation skills from students. Children are spending their time studying, often with exactly the same technology they use to play videogames, communicate with their friends or watch Netflix. We, adults, know how tempting it is to catch up with social media when we actually should be working, so one can only imagine what sort of challenges children are experiencing. But this is also a great time to learn about students’ self-regulation skills, and then to develop them through formative assessment. 2. Students may surprise teachers Even in an inclusive class, there tends to be a number of students who have special needs. Some students need more assistance with their reading skills, some have trouble in their capacity to concentrate but others, for example, those with hyper-sensitivity issues, may find it actually quite relaxing to study remotely. Digital learning and assessment actually does make it possible to differentiate learning experience very effectively, and teachers should be ready to learn new aspects about their students. 3. Parents are not Teachers We all knew that digital learning is a thing of the future and we should be prepared for it, but most likely none of us thought that we might be forced into it in a matter of weeks because of a global pandemic. While parents definitely should be there for their children to ease children’s experience of studying in isolation, parents should not worry too much about learning outcomes. Once the situation stabilises, teachers will help the students catch up with learning. “Parents should also accept that their children might not want their advice on the same scale that they are ready to listen to their teacher,” Dr Wallinheimo reminds us. Teachers would be wise to use this time to learn about digital possibilities in teaching and assessment and brush up on their skills. This is a time to be brave and try new techniques and innovations with an open mind. “Many teachers are now seeing opportunity in technology even when they might have had a somewhat negative attitude towards it before”, Dr Wallinheimo says. 5. Go easy with summative assessment This is not a great time to do a strict, summative assessment. Many children are experiencing pressure in their daily life, families are trying to figure out how to adapt to this new situation, and teachers are testing new ways to teach. We all should have mercy on ourselves and concentrate on what we can do well with the technology we have in our hands in our present situation. It could very well be that learning through play and fun has never been more true. “With some students, especially with many in their teens, the main job is to try to keep up their motivation to study,” Dr Wallinheimo says. 4. The future is here It is a bit of a cliché, but a crisis really is also an opportunity. Learning and teaching will not return to “normal” after the coronavirus pandemic is over, but things have changed for good. Kirsi Wallinheimo has been a University Lecturer in foreign language education at University of Helsinki since 2003. Her pedagogical and research interests include the implementation of digital learning environments in teaching and learning, playful approach to learning and digital online assessment. She is also a member of The Finnish Matriculation Examination Board. Further details: https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/fi/persons/kirsi-wallinheimo Class Time Term 3 Apr - Jun 2020 11