Karen Pautz, Feb. 8, 2014
EDU 561, William Woods University

Instructional tools and strategies

Below is a brief overview via word cloud of the main concepts expressed by members of the Spring 1 2014 EDU 561 class, when asked to discuss instructional tools and strategies in a Week 3 forum discussion post.

The word clouds were developed based on the entirety of suggested teaching strategies and tools, when students were asked to consider the design of their intended course unit. Keywords were gathered from all forum posts other than my own. Those keywords which occured most often are displayed in the largest type size in the word clouds.




Word cloud strategies
Cooperative learning takes the main stage in discussions of teaching strategies, with discussion close behind. Simulations and problem-based learning strategies were also mentioned by several forum posters.





Word cloud tools


Video was a standout in this category, although handouts seemed to be a favorite teaching tool as well, which might be an indication of the lack of consistent digital technology available to all instructors.




It's good to see my classmates striving to use 21st-century educational strategies which focus on active learning from the student. Done properly, the teacher serves simply as a facilitator in strategies such as cooperative learning, discussion, simulation and problem solving (Smalldino, Lowther & Russell, 2012). The traditional strategies of presentation, demonstration and drill and practice were evident, as well, but I don't feel -- based on the wide range of grade levels presented by the teachers in our course -- that those teacher-centered strategies are wholly inappropriate.

Citation: Smaldino, S., Lowther , D., & Russell, J. (2012). Instructional technology and media for learning. (10th ed., p. 20). Boston, MA: Pearson.




Not surprisingly, the use of video in the classroom -- both as an informational vehicle for flipped classrooms, and as a substitute for strictly-in-classroom lectures via blended learning -- was high on our list of classroom tools. I already use pre-recorded video extensively in my classes, but I should take it to the next level by investigating more use of *live* video, a la Skype or Google Hangouts. As technology and bandwidth improves, it will become more practical to not only videoconference with experts in the field, but to use video for live demonstrations and master classes.

I was initially rather disappointed in how prominently handouts appeared in the word cloud. How old-fashioned, I thought. But on further consideration, I think I might enhance my unit by including more handouts: some in traditional printed form, but also as digital .pdf or Word files. The handouts wouldn't be stand-alone resources -- instead, they would augment lessons (as well-designed lecture notes) or serve as study assistants (video guide questions, or posters to laminate and hang on the wall).

To prevent the handouts from becoming boring old direct instruction fallbacks, I could encourage my students to make their own handouts to share with the rest of the class, or collaborate with peers or industry professionals to design useful educational materials.



Technical note: Word clouds developed using Wordle.com.

You can find a variety of word cloud generators here.

For comparison, here are two word clouds generated by Tagul:

Tagul strategies

Tagul tools