10 steps to incorporate effective group work online

Whether students learn online, in-person, or a hybrid of both, group work is an important part of the university learning experience. Not only does group learning expose students to new ways of thinking, but it also teaches students valuable soft skills that will benefit them in their academic, personal and professional life.

That being said, effective group work, particularly when in an online learning environment, is not as easy as pairing students and assigning work. In fact, unless proper steps are taken and student’s individual learning needs are considered, group work can actually detract from student learning. Don’t fear - read on to learn 10 ways to incorporate effective group work online. 

1. Provide structure and set clear expectations

For students to be successful in group work they must have a clear understanding of both what is expected and the mechanics of how group work online will work. By this clarity in multiple ways students understand. For example, go over the expectations in class time where students can ask questions while also providing a written description and outline of the assignment.

Providing structure around group work is also important so that students will be able to easily divide the work amongst themselves. Be mindful of the group size when setting the expectations; if there are more individual tasks involved it makes sense to have more group members, but if there are only 1-2 larger tasks then it is easier to have fewer group members.


2. Having stages and checkpoints throughout the work process

To ensure students stay on track and have an opportunity to receive feedback throughout the process, set checkpoints. This type of assignment format is called staged or scaffolded work, where groups build the final assignment in stages. For each stage, the instructor can engage the groups depending on the class format. For example, for a smaller class, the instructor will be able to check-in with each group during class time to see how they are progressing. For larger classes,  the instructor can address specific questions that are submitted before class, and pair groups together to share their approach and learning. Peer assessment is also an effective strategy to help students iterate through each stage.


Dr. Ellen Pullins, from the University of Toledo has experience incorporating group work with Kritik in her courses.

“Students saw so many examples and had to think critically to decide what is important. On top of that, students were accountable, not only for me but to each other … We created an exercise for students to engage with each other at every point in the [activity] process. Before Kritik, that idea was not viable, and Kritik made it happen."

3. Provide opportunities for groups to share their process and learning with other groups


This process may be built into the various stages, but the objective here is to create cross-group collaboration to expand student learning. During group work, students often think they are confined to their individual group in terms of ideas, inspiration and the direction of their work. Open up the doors to student collaboration and have students share ideas and thinking. The key here is to provide structure, so there is a clear objective for the interaction.

4. Make use of a rubric

Part of the process to set clear expectations should include a rubric. A rubric makes it clear how students and groups can be successful in a given assignment. Students will often use the rubric as a checklist during an assignment to make sure they meet all criteria. 

Co-creating a rubric can be empowering to students by putting them in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Additionally, when they have a say in terms of what elements matter for an assignment they are more likely to be successful in achieving those elements. Keep in mind this approach is best suited to smaller to mid-sized groups. Instructors should only collaborate with the class on certain assignment criteria to ensure a smoother process and consistency among the various work in a course.

5. Use the appropriate group size relative to the scale of work

When it comes to group work, more is not always better. Group size should be reflective of the work required. Start small at first and increase over time to provide students with the opportunity to develop rapport with their peers. Checkpoints and student reflections are a valuable way to get a sense of how students are experiencing group work and to know where corrections or realignments are necessary. No assignment is perfect, however, checking in and seeking student feedback regularly will ensure assignments improve over time. Continual improvement is the benchmark for the success of this and any learning style.

6. Assign pre-work

Particularly for larger assignments, pre-work is an effective way to provide clarity on a course topic and to deliver a method or best approach. The pre-work doesn’t necessarily need to take place within the actual assignment groups. It can be an individual task done during or outside of class time. 

7. Remove competition for grades within the group

As much as possible, it’s important to remove the focus of individual grades of group work. Students should be focused on working together to achieve group success, rather than worrying about securing their own individual grades. Creating strategic working partnerships amongst students can help to avoid ineffective feedback. There are different ways to achieve this, but an important aspect is the assessment design. Ensure the focus is on collaboration rather than individual success. Contract grading is an effective way to establish roles and responsibilities while keeping the focus on group success. With contract grading, students establish rules, responsibilities and timelines for each group member. The group is graded as a whole, but if there is a group member who doesn’t fulfill their individual responsibilities, this becomes clear and this can be addressed on an individualized basis. 

8. Use peer-assessment during and post assignment 

Peer assessment can be used to engage students, enhance learning and encourage iteration throughout the assignment process. Peer assessment can be incorporated through assignment checkpoints, or once the assignment is complete. Kritik is a peer learning platform that helps professors incorporate peer assessment seamlessly into their classes -  large or small. 


Dr. Nada Basir from the University of Waterloo has used peer assessment to facilitate collaborative learning in business pitch assessments.

The students are put into groups, and they need to pitch an idea to the class. Kritik allowed each team to receive feedback from all of their classmates. In other years, students were only getting feedback from me, and students love using Kritik because they receive so much personalized feedback”

9. Reflect on the assignment and identify takeaways

Once the assignment is turned in, it’s important to take time to reflect on the process and identify takeaways. Without these steps, students may fixate on the grade rather than their learning. This reflection is not only beneficial to the students but the instructor can reflect on the process from their own perspective and collect ideas to improve for future assignments.

10. Have students present their findings to the class when applicable

When applicable, it can be an effective culmination of an assignment to students, in their groups, presenting their work and findings. This gives students an opportunity to own their individual sections and the groups can learn from each other. Additionally, having students present to their peers allows them to build valuable life skills. When students know they will be presenting work to their peers, it often motivates them to produce high-quality work. Learning is a multifaceted, interactive, peer-based activity that can be achieved online, using group learning, peer assessment and self-management.


Benefits and Challenges of Asynchronous Learning


What is asynchronous learning?

Asynchronous learning is a teaching methodology whereby learning occurs independently and in different times and spaces. Asynchronous learning often takes place in online learning environments where the instructor sets up a learning path for students to engage with and proceed through  at their own pace.

What is synchronous learning?

Synchronous learning is learning that occurs for students at the same time and place via live online meetings. This means that students sign in to a virtual learning environment at the same time to engage with one another, and follow the learning path together and with guidance from the instructor.

Asynchronous vs. synchronous learning:

The discussion around asynchronous and synchronous learning has been accelerated in recent years. New technology and expanded internet access and made learning more accessible than ever before. Students now have an opportunity to sign in to free learning websites to expand their knowledge or to increase their understanding of a particular school topic. Programs and courses have also emerged to supplement or expand in-class learning. For example, students in university may decide to take online courses along with their in-person learning to get exposure to topics beyond their discipline or to speed up their academic progress. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many academic institutions to move to completely remote learning causing schools and professors to look at how they could leverage programs and tools for asynchronous and synchronous learning so that learning could continue at a high level despite students being away from school.

There is a misconception that asynchronous learning requires less effort and strategy to engage students. As Brown and Voltz (2011) explain, “Asynchronous e-learning design requires an understanding of educational pedagogies, multimedia content, resource publication, electronic technologies, and international web standards”. That being said, by making a deliberate effort to address students’ unique learning needs and incorporating engaging and meaningful opportunities for students to engage with one another and course content, asynchronous E-learning can be a rewarding learning experience. Having dynamism in the classroom prepares the students with the transferable skills necessary to be successful, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Asynchronous learning activities:

Professors have adopted creative approaches to engage students through asynchronous learning. Here are a few ways asynchronous learning can be implemented:

  • Reading articles, or watching pre-recorded lectures, or videos and completing writing assignments
  • Independent research projects
  • Online class discussions via course discussion boards
  • Learning activities, including quizzes, tests, and interactive games
  • Online peer assessment 

Challenges of asynchronous learning (and how to address them):

No immediate in-class feedback

Without live lectures or in-person teaching, students miss the scheduled time to engage with course material and ask questions on the spot. By not having this live in-class interaction, students may not feel compelled  to ask questions, or they miss  hearing the teacher respond to the questions of their classmates. In the end, students are not receiving enough feedback to improve their quality of work.

Address this challenge by providing other means for students to receive immediate feedback, such as through peer assessment. Additionally, ensure students have outlets and regular opportunities to ask questions and clarify their understanding and make sure students have exposure to the questions raised by their peers. Online discussion boards or class communities are another way students can share their perspectives and the teacher can respond in the group when questions arise. 

Lack of personal interactions

Asynchronous learning that is completely independent means students won’t have an opportunity to learn from their peers and interact with them. Peer learning, when students learn from each other, is a powerful way to enhance student learning. Without opportunities to engage in peer learning and interact with their classmates, students may be unmotivated or disengaged from their learning. Peer-to-peer learning has shown stellar outcomes to student mental health, particularly through the pandemic.

Address this challenge by providing opportunities for students to work together and share in their learning with one another. This can mean having students complete an activity in groups, have students discuss their learning, or a topic covered in a course, or engaging in peer assessment to provide feedback on one another’s work.

Students must be able to work independently

Asynchronous online learning will be well received by students who prefer to work independently and at their own pace. However, for students who require more guidance, structure and interactions, it can be challenging to keep them motivated.

Address this challenge by providing guidelines and checkpoints to ensure students who require structure are supported. Students who are able to work well independently will also appreciate the checkpoints as a way to get feedback and improve their work. These checkpoints may be referred to as staged learning, or scaffolded learning. 

Advantages of asynchronous learning

“By logging on at a self-determined time of readiness, learners also will be more focused on task-specific learning behaviour; moreover, because interactions within the group are not in real time, students have the opportunity to absorb and consider information before responding. This type of experiential learning leads to more effective learning” (Li, Greenberg, & Nicholls, 2007). 

Learn at your own pace

With asynchronous online learning, students are able to learn at their own pace. For many students this may be prioritizing commitments, and completing their studies around other schedules. Students often have responsibilities beyond their academics, including jobs, family obligations and caretaking of family members. Learning asynchronously, supports individuals given the complexities of life.

Provide an accessible form of learning

The fact that asynchronous learning can be done at any time and from any location, internet connection permitting, means it is a more accessible form of learning than in-person, or even synchronous live learning. Students can be halfway around the world taking a course with students in different time zones. Additionally, as previously mentioned, students with other life commitments can be accommodated through asynchronous learning. With asynchronous learning, learning can take place at the convenient time for the individual students (Marble et al., 2016).

Reduce social barriers

By providing learners with an opportunity to learn at their own pace while ensuring greater accessibility, educators and institutions reduce social barriers, or social determinants. Social determinants are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, learn, work and age. Asynchronous learning meets the student where and when it is most convenient for them. Allowing for student autonomy and flexibility in course and assessment delivery creates a more fair and equitable learning environment.

Conclusion

Understanding the benefits and challenges of asynchronous learning helps to effectively incorporate it into future online teaching plans. There's no denying that asynchronous learning can be beneficial, but there are constraints to consider before adopting any asynchronous learning strategies.

Asynchronous remote learning is a powerful approach for making learning resources more accessible, however, for some students, that lack of interactivity is a problem. There are ways to address these challenges within your class including interactive learning activities, peer learning and regular check ins.  Additionally, asynchronous e-learning resources, without immediate instructor or technical support, must be self-explanatory in nature and intuitive to use (Sinclair et. al, 2017).

Technology, such as Kritik, can make asynchronous learning a seamless experience for professor and student alike, while building students’ critical thinking and soft skills. Not only that, but “when educators complement in-class time with asynchronous learning opportunities, they can create a community-focused collaborative space for personalized learning experiences” (Stafford, 2011). When asynchronous learning is used in combination with synchronous classes, such as with peer assessment through Kritik, professors can enable more meaningful and engaging discussions and class time interactions. 


5 ways to build a safe and collaborative learning environment


Building a safe and collaborative class environment can be the difference between a student excelling and a student struggling.

It won’t happen overnight, or in one lesson, but a safe and collaborative class can be nurtured and developed consistently over time. Some students feel comfortable contributing and interacting with their peers from the beginning, but for some, interacting takes time. Achieving comfort with class interaction is well worth the time and effort required to overcome apprehension. 

To feel safe and comfortable collaborating, instructors must ensure students grasp the objective and learning goals of each project. These aspects may need to be presented in multiple ways to connect to the diverse learning needs of students. This could mean sharing assignment instructions through written form, rubric, and orally during the in-class time. When students are connected to and reflect on the purpose and objective of the activity, they have a chance to participate in their own unique manner (Curtis & Lawson, 2019).

One of the most important factors in building this positive environment, whether online or in person, is trust. When students trust each other, they are more willing to share information and solutions. They will also be more engaged when working as a team.

Trust must be developed by both the professor and by the students themselves. This means removing assessment bias, valuing all feedback, questions and opinions, providing opportunities for students to share their unique perspectives and provide meaningful feedback that demonstrates care and concern for students’ academic success and personal well-being.

Struggles with students feeling apprehensive  and disconnected with online learning

Technical difficulties are unavoidable in a digital world. There are few things more frustrating than the wi-fi going down mid-sentence or in the middle of a lesson or group work session. That being said, it is important to approach the digital classroom with an understanding of these types of challenges so that students do not have added stress for elements out of their control (Campo, 1993)

It is also important to realize students differ in terms of the technology and workspace they have available to them. It’s important to address this early on in a supportive way, so students know their work quality and classroom interactions are what is most important and not the type of monitor or computer they are using (Dytham, 2017).

Students in an online learning environment often have varying struggles and competing commitments outside of the course. Some students have moved out for the first time, some are working part-time jobs, and others are balancing a full degree with family obligations at home. (Kumi-Yeboah, 2018). Whatever is going on, these unique experiences are a great opportunity to infuse diverse thoughts and opinions into course material.

It is common for students to feel less connected to their classmates and the course material through digital learning, however, there are ways to remedy this. Instructors should make it clear early on what they expect from their students in terms of participation and involvement. In addition to setting the expectations, it is important to explain why participation and engagement in the course material are necessary to get the most out of the course.

Rather than focusing on the limitations of online learning, acknowledge the challenges and reflect on the gains from this type of virtual environment, including developing a skillset with virtual programs, and preparing for a work environment students may experience after graduation. Online learning also allows flexibility for students, and in many cases, it can bring individuals together from a wider geographic area (Oliveira et al., 2019)

Peer assessment and peer learning using the AI-driven Kritik platform is an effective way to build trust in a safe and collaborative class environment. Kritik features, including anonymous peer assessment, team-based learning, and class discussion address these concerns and help engage students in their learning while developing the ever-important soft skills and critical thinking skills.

5 ways to build a safe and collaborative learning environment

1. Encourage dialogue

Promote debate and inquiry in class, across different mediums. This can include written discussion boards, public speaking opportunities, small group live discussion and peer feedback. It is through open and honest dialogue students can engage more deeply with course material and expand their worldview through conversation with their peers. Whether through anonymous and bias-free peer assessment or through open discussion, Kritik fosters open and constructive dialogue.

2. Bias-free assessment

While we may be well-intentioned, it can be difficult to omit our personal biases from our work, our conversations. Assessment bias can occur with the type of assignment, how the assignment is asked, and the examples provided in the assignment. Assessment can also occur through the professor or peer interactions. One effective way to address assessment bias is to incorporate anonymous peer assessment. When students provide feedback to each other without knowing whose work they have in front of them, they are more likely to focus on providing critical and motivational feedback. Additionally, students will feel more comfortable providing genuine assessments to their peers when they know it is anonymous.

3. Incorporate opportunities for Inquiry

Inquiry-based learning not only is a powerful learning strategy, but it is an effective way to engage students and demonstrate appreciation and value for students’ individual interests and perspectives. By providing freedom and agency over what and how students demonstrate their knowledge, students will feel empowered to incorporate their unique perspectives, and opinions. This not only leads to a more welcoming and safe class environment, but it can expand the learning for the entire class when they have exposure to diverse viewpoints.

4. Conduct regular check-ins and in a variety of ways

It is critical instructors check in on their students to understand how they are doing, and what challenges may be occurring. Check-ins help students understand their instructor cares and appreciates their input. Not every student will be willing to share feedback in a class or 1:1 setting, so it’s important to provide different ways to receive the feedback. For example, emails, surveys, scheduled meetings, and class discussions can all be used to conduct check-ins (Colin, 2003).

5. Peer learning opportunities

Peer learning and peer assessment are effective ways to develop safe and collaborative learning environments. Peer learning provides agency to each student for their learning. They become the teacher, with the supervision of their actual instructor, and are required to think critically about their own work and the work of their peers. The benefits to peer assessment are endless, for instructors and students alike.

Conclusion

Safe learning spaces empower students to reach their full potential. They encourage students to step out of their comfort zone and take a leadership role in their own learning.

As humans, when we look back at our most memorable learning and life moments, we gravitate to the feelings and emotions those moments evoked and not on the experiences themselves. With this in mind, it is critical our learning environments allow students to approach course material and interactions in a positive, safe and collaborative way.

Kritik helps professors facilitate peer assessment and peer learning with these exact principles in mind. With Kritik, professors increase student engagement, develop critical thinking and soft skills, and enable students to take more control over their learning.


Multilateral Dialogues in Academics

Multilateral Dialogues

When multiple countries form an alliance in pursuing a common goal, it is known as multilateralism. The concept is mostly used to refer to the government official participating or agreeing upon something. However, as students from different countries become more exposed to the globalization of education, the concept still applies, and the interactions between students are known as multilateral dialogues. 


As a result of World War II, the extreme era of multilateralism, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was formed as a specialized agency of the UN. Its aim is to contribute to social and education renewal in Europe, especially in the most affected area by the war, Germany. The presence of UNESCO in this field demonstrates the multilateral approach to education which has been in order since WWII. [1] 


How is it Incorporated in Education Today?

Living in a digitally advanced era, students from all over the world have been introduced to the concept of remote learning. Taking a class online and connecting with students worldwide encourages multilateralism. While students from different countries come together on a digital platform, it is a great opportunity to promote international relations and discuss issues like hunger, tolerance, bullying etc. 


Specifically focusing on the online platform of education, we've seen recent societal developments and technological advancements coming into action because of the coronavirus outbreak. During the pandemic, most countries were under a lockdown, and students had shifted to applications like Zoom and Google Meet, where they would continue taking their classes. This encouraged different educators to start sharing their knowledge online and connect with a larger network of students across borders. Many organizations and institutions from different countries started conducting webinars.  


Benefits of Multilateral Dialogues


  • Improve Tolerance 

It allows students to interact in a formal and monitored environment which is great for students as each of them has to listen to what the other person has to share. A decorum is to be maintained throughout and that encourages tolerance amongst students from different backgrounds. [2]


  • Cultural Diversity 

There is no doubt that multilateral dialogues in education welcome cultural diversity as it creates an opportunity for students to learn about different cultures and values. With the rise of online learning platforms, students from around the world are able to share their stories innate to their countries, enabling students to have a wider and thorough perspective on global matters while having an appreciation for others’ cultures.  


  • Crowdsourced Knowledge

Considering how students are speaking on a platform where they connect with other international students, it is merely of the essence that any information shared is verified and factually correct. Many teachers encourage conducting a healthy debate and come up with different solutions that the entire class supports. Multilateralism in academics is a great way of attaining better intellect and educating students about today's real-world problems. 


  • Upward Social Mobility

Connecting on an international forum where students can share their perspectives on any of the real-world issues their country may be facing is a chance to recognize and highlight what elements must be changed or brought into notice globally. 


Opportunity to Talk About Course-Related Real-world Issues

It's imperative to understand how multilateral dialogues in academics allow students to discuss course-related global problems. The more relatable the topic is, the higher the possibility for students to engage in conversations. Such class participation encourages healthy debates, creates awareness, reflects opinions of the many and addresses global ethical and political concerns. Highlighting the significance of global governance, students taking different courses such as law, political sciences, or economics have can now deliberate on multiple real-world case studies from anywhere in the world. 


  • Sheds Light on True Facts

When speaking in front of a global audience, every speaker is bound to be careful that any information or data shared must be legit and factually accurate. Inaccurate information will also reflect what extent students are being brainwashed or the sources of promoting the negative connotation related to a political, social, or economical issue. 


  • Empathize with those Who Suffer 

Hearing real-life experiences of other students who remain affected because of what their country is going through can be a real eye-opener. It allows one to empathize with others and understand the kind of pressure they may be facing. 


  • Voice out Against Oppression

Acknowledging real-world problems and encouraging a healthy conversation about them entails voicing out against injustice, and in the education sector, it polishes future leaders to be more responsible and consciously aware of their actions. 



Join Kritik, a Fast-Growing Global Student Network

Students should take full benefit of technological advancements. Kritik is the only peer-to-peer learning platform intended to help students develop their higher-order and critical thinking skills in online and in-person courses. Our learning by teaching approach was developed over the course of years with hands-on work experience in the world of academia which stand the test of time even during the globalization of education. 

Kritik professors allow students to give input and review each other's work which is an amazing way of promoting teamwork, trust and honesty. The platform encourages consistent implementation of innovative ideas to cater to the changing world that requires students to be dynamic. 


Student presenting information

Effective Academic Presentation Tips Your Students Need to Know

Delivering information in a manner that is clear, concise and insightful while providing an audience with great learning opportunities are important components for successful presentations. Today, presentation skills are a basic requirement of every field, and students must practise and aim for mastery in preparation for the workplace. It is integral to students’ academic and career success to learn how to properly present and demonstrate their knowledge while ensuring that their peers are well engaged in the material. Apart from solely providing information, presentations should stimulate interactive learning through a pleasing audio and visual experience for the audience. 


Having students do presentations on a regular basis is an effective way of learning by teaching which is proven to improve knowledge retention and overall comprehension. Not only that, but students get to practice their research, communication and leadership skills. Furthermore, presentations enable students to develop their creativity by implementing innovative ways of adding value to their peers’ education in a way that captures their attention and interests. 


Presentations provide learning benefits to both the presenter and the audience. In order to extrapolate these benefits, the experience must be authentic and well-delivered. This blog post will show you how to do just that!


Pro Tips for Effective Academic Presentation

  • Stay passionate to connect with your audience 
  • Focus on your main topic
  • Maintain eye contact 
  • Use your voice creatively
  • Keep a fluent body language 
  • Stay calm and confident
  • Do not read from your slides
  • Maintain your time limit while presenting [1]


Presentation Skills Students can Acquire and Develop


  • Using PowerPoint Effectively

Students must learn how to use PowerPoint presentations to create a visual representation of the information that is being shared with the rest of the group. Being well-versed in the software allows for more impactful information delivery. Students can add high-quality images, diagrams and highlight the important elements of their research in bullet points. This allows students to present both qualitative and quantitative information in a digestible manner. [1] 


  • Adapting to your Audience

One of the most common mistakes many presenters make is to under or overestimate their target audience. Students should thoroughly research their audience to understand where they stand and draft an engaging presentation accordingly. Presenters must question themselves about what their audience may already be aware of and what new information can the presenter share with them. To eliminate confusion, conducting a brief question and answer session where the presenter can address all the points of concern throughout the presentation can be helpful to keep everyone on the same page and allow the audience to absorb the content more thoroughly.  


  • Time Management 

Most academic presentations have a specified time allotted for each student to showcase his/her work. Students must prepare the material for their presentation, keeping it relevant to the time they have been given. If you're writing your presentation out, 2 minutes per double-spaced page is a good rule of thumb to follow. Make sure you don’t have over 7 double-spaced pages of material for a fifteen-minute talk. [2] 


  • Precision

Most students who drift away from their central point of focus in the presentation are seen with long ineffective presentations that bore your audience. Keeping the presentation short and to the point helps outline your presentation's purpose and highlights prominent aspects of the topic. 


  • Keeping your Audience Engaged 

Students must understand the essence behind presenting in front of others. It is essential to capture an audience’s attention and share your knowledge with them. Having an impactful opening sentence/slide at the beginning of your presentation prevents the rapid deterioration of your audience’s attention which is common in presentations that feel irrelevant, confusing or generic right from the start.

 

  • Effective Preparation

Lastly, with good preparation, a student must have enough practice to present their work with confidence and in an organized manner. Students must be comfortable with their material and slides and practice their presentation both alone and in front of an audience. One can also practice using a laser pointer or props if they will use them during the presentation. 


Keep in mind that you and your research are the stars of the show, and therefore one must avoid adding any unnecessary information or images that will take the attention away from your work. Practicing in front of a mirror allows students to assess their body language and how it compliments what they are saying in their presentation. [3]


Mediums for Academic Presentations

Irrespective of the presentation quality in front of an audience, the way it is being presented also impacts the target audience. Specific mediums play a significant role in setting the dynamics with the audience. Different platforms that students can use to give a presentation are as follows:


  • PowerPoint Presentation

A popular way of presenting in front of an audience includes using a creative slideshow that aids your audience’s greater attention towards you. This also allows a visual representation of both qualitative and quantitative data. This medium allows you to observe your audience’s changing expressions towards your slides and respond accordingly to effectively solidify their learning by complimenting what they see on the screen with verbalized information. It is highly recommended for informative presentations. 


  • Video Conferencing

Living in a digitally advanced era, individuals commonly conduct presentations online. Remote learning today encourages individuals to update their learning style and even present their knowledge in a technologically advanced manner. Video conferencing allows students to present anywhere and participate in the class. With different third-party apps like Zoom and Google Meet, students can also share their screen and share a PPT while they speak. 


  • Oral 

A simple way to present in front of an audience is to speak to them as is. In this type of presentation, your own body language and dressing play a vital role in setting the right dynamics from the very beginning of your presentation. It is important to start with a creative, open line and remain audibly clear for the audience to understand. It is highly recommended for persuasive presentations.  


How to Present in an Online Class?

Remote learning has gained much popularity in recent years, and the pandemic also made it clear for teachers to start adopting various teaching methods and strategies that complement online learning. [4] Educators have started coming up with innovative methods to conduct online classes and encourage their students to participate through class presentations. There are a bunch of ways a student can present in online classes, including:


  • Webcam

Your laptop or computer device’s camera can be used to get face to face with your audience. Different platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Skype can be used to connect with a group of students online and give a live presentation. In such presentations, students need to find a neutral background with minimal disturbance so that their audience does not get distracted during the presentation and focuses on what the presenter has to say. These presentations can be taken to another level as the presenter can also share their screen and support their words with facts, figures and diagrams on their screen. 


For this, you must find a quiet place to conduct a presentation with minimum background noise as it can create a lot of chaos during your presentation. As much as possible, students should use good quality headphones with a microphone that only picks up close-range sounds to eliminate further noise from being heard by the audience. It is also highly recommended that students consider dressing appropriately to appear professional in front of their peers. 


  • Pre-Recorded Video

With multiple screen recording options, you can record a complete video clip and add written or oral narrations for your audience. An advantage of this setting is that it allows students to edit their presentations and share the best quality results. With pre-recorded videos, you cannot answer live questions therefore, you must cover the topic comprehensively. A complete breakdown of detailed concepts through step-by-step presentations is recommended for a better understanding of the audience. 


  • Asynchronous Presentations

In this type of presentation, the recorded file is viewed later by the audience. This allows greater access to a wider audience with no time constraints. This is ideal for students who have anxiety and fear public speaking as they can easily keep taking takes until they have the perfect one. However, the audience cannot immediately ask any questions related to the presentations and they have to go through leaving a comment or email and wait for a response. [5] 


How Kritik Improves Students' Presentation Skills

Presentations are an effective way of developing several skills that are required for professional growth and academic success. By presenting, students learn by teaching which is an efficient way of consolidating knowledge. Given that presentations play a key role in providing students great learning opportunities, it is important to consider the platform wherein students can present their knowledge and interact with one another. With Kritik, students have the ability to present individually or work with teammates and present as a group. The added benefit of Kritik’s peer-evaluation in presentations is that students can provide structured, professional feedback to the presenter(s) using effective, customized rubrics. Students can upload multiple files of various formats such as audio, video and PPT slides which ensures that students can still deliver information in a manner that is interactive and informative despite the remote learning environment. Here at Kritik, we closely work with hundreds of professors who put an emphasis on developing students’ presentation skills. Kritik provides a great platform for an audience to not just listen but to also provide regular constructive criticism back to the presenter. By using Kritik, your students are empowered to become better presenters through an interactive platform that focuses on rubric-based assessments to facilit


Students' collaborating with hands together

Motivating Students Who Receive Negative Feedback from Peers

Nowadays, educators are encouraging students to interact with and review each other’s work. The transition to online learning has accelerated the use of peer feedback in various levels of education and programs. This is beneficial to students’ learning process as it helps them engage with their peers and course content multiple times at a deeper level.

Peer feedback refers to the motivational and critical response from students that aims to enhance their productivity, quality of work, and knowledge retention. It is worth mentioning that peer feedback should be considered as a professional assessment by students and not personal criticism. This blog post will enable its readers to understand the actual gist of peer feedback, its advantages for students and how instructors can motivate their students who receive negative feedback from their peers.

What is Peer Feedback?

Peer feedback refers to the comments and suggestions that students receive from each other in a class. In other words, peer feedback is also known as peer response, peer critiquing, peer review, peer evaluation and peer grading. It is a collaborative activity wherein students are encouraged to read, converse, and provide their thoughts and opinions on other students’ work to enhance their learning through scaffolding (Kuyyogsuy, 2019).

In this interactive learning, students communicate task-related information and data to their peers which are synthesized to enhance students’ self-reflection and academic performance (Huisman et al, 2019; Lui et al, 2001). Proven by research, constructive criticism from someone of the same age or position helps students to be more receptive to the different perspectives compared to when feedback is provided by an authoritative figure. Not to discount the constructive criticism from professors and experts, peer-to-peer feedback is an excellent complementary method for sharing and creating knowledge.

Benefits of Peer Feedback and Kritik

Improve Student Learning

Peer feedback gives students the responsibility to share their skills and expertise with each other. Apart from instilling new knowledge to their peers, the process of providing feedback encourages students to engage in the course content multiple times which improves information retention

Reduce Feedback Turnaround Time

In the traditional pedagogical approach in which only instructors provide feedback to students, it often becomes difficult for instructors to deliver meaningful feedback quickly and frequently. This delay in feedback can limit the students’ ability to improve as the relevance or significance of the recommendations decay over time. However, with peer feedback, students are empowered to receive quick, quality assessments on their work that add diverse perspectives to their learning which can be incorporated into their final assignments in a timely manner.

Improve Students’ Critical Thinking Skills

Peer feedback helps students develop their critical and analytical thinking skills. They are empowered to diagnose various problems and identify their peers’ strengths and weaknesses that engage the Prefrontal Cortex part of their brain which is responsible for higher-order thinking. Furthermore, students become more self-aware of their writing skills as they constantly provide critical and constructive remarks in a manner that professional, helpful and motivational.

Acquire New Knowledge

Students significantly learn from the multiple feedback they receive from their peers. It helps students become aware of various viable methodologies for solving problems. Moreover, peers who ask relevant complex questions as part of their feedback encourages students to acquire more knowledge in order to provide a detailed answer.

Improve Self-Reflection and Collaboration

Peer feedback allows students to gain a better understanding of their own work. This prevents students from overestimating and underestimating their skills and abilities. Collaborative assessment that involves peer feedback encourages students to move away from depending on educators as the sole source of feedback to an autonomous system in which each student contributes to each other’s knowledge and learning process.

Students Receiving Negative Feedback - An Opportunity to Learn and Improve

What students need to know - It is essential to understand how constant feedback that is perceived as negative or poor can affect a student’s motivation to perform at ideal levels. This learning process allows students to differentiate negative criticism from positive ones which enables them to understand how to professionally react to the latter. This knowledge is essential to students’ personal, academic and professional growth as they learn to keep an open mind and be considerate of all perspectives without being biased to their emotions.

What educators need to know - Educators who observe students with consistent poor feedback can monitor their progress from time to time and help them in improving by offering additional mentoring. They must encourage students to take criticism in a professional manner as part of their preparation for the world outside the educational institution.

How Instructors Can Motivate Students?

  • Instructors can employ the following ways to motivate students who receive poor feedback from their peers.
  • Instructors should continually monitor the feedback quality provided and received by peers in class discussions.
  • Another way educators can motivate students is to foster resilience among students and help them build their ability to work constructively and objectively with peer feedback.Instructors should encourage a logical response within students instead of an emotional response to peer feedback.
  • Instructors should encourage students in providing descriptive feedback instead of allocating grades. This will ensure that students focus on qualitative analysis which is more significant in helping their peers.

Conclusion

Peer feedback helps instructors foster students’ personal, academic and professional growth as they evaluate their own and their peers’ learning progress. In this reciprocal process of providing and receiving peer feedback, students are encouraged to ask questions, share information and expertise, identify challenges, and provide diverse strategies that jointly work to improve students’ mastery over the course or subject.

Students who perceive feedback as negative criticism should understand how to react professionally through self-reflection which is a skill that can be developed by constantly being exposed to peer feedback. Additionally, instructors are encouraged to help students identify their own strengths and weaknesses which enables students to have an open mind when receiving multiple perspectives.

Through Kritik, peers and educators work symbiotically to help students prepare for their future academic and professional endeavours.

Student answering multiple choice test

Using Technology to Encourage Critical Thinking Instead of Cheating

Technology and Cheating

In light of the mass transition to online learning caused by the pandemic, academia has experienced major obstacles and dilemmas regarding instructional strategies and assessment procedures in remote environments. From a professor’s perspective, administering quizzes and exams have never been more concerning given the absence of supervision from authority and the increased possibilities of students colluding online for answers and information.

Monitoring students in large classes to prevent cheating can be cumbersome already in face-to-face environments and now that students have 24/7 access to the internet and their devices, students acquiring information online during exams is essentially inevitable.

Online Assessments and Proctoring Softwares

Furthering the problem, many education institutions have adopted proctoring software as a preventive measure and a response to online cheating. In April last year, approximately 54% of institutions have expressed that they were administering digitally proctored assessments by actively restricting computer activities and recording audio and video through third-party platforms.

However, despite the good intentions behind these software, the community is polarized on the legality and ethicality of putting students under digital surveillance. When the technology was approved last year by multiple institutions, a widespread backlash from students was expressed. Many of whom voiced their strong opinions with petitions to cancel the use of such technology pertaining to its invasive nature of nonconsensual data collection and sharing. Using such tools clearly eliminates online cheating as every activity, even webcam data, is stored and analyzed. However, the majority of the community is just finding that the risks of exploitation and data leak far exceed the benefits.

Implementing such software also introduces inequalities to the education space as the tools rely on facial recognition and behaviour analysis technology which has been studied to be racially biased (Stark, 2019). A single miscalculation by the system could cause a student to be locked out of the exam thereby instilling unwanted discomfort and stress in students. While it may detect cheaters and prevent academic misconduct, the softwares could also impair student performance and increase academic parities between students of different learning styles and anxiety levels.

It may seem that there is no hope in online learning given the increased possibilities of students cheating. However, as Jesse Stommel, an Executive Director of Hybrid Pedagogy and Senior Lecturer in Digital Studies emphasizes, “cheating is a pedagogical issue, not a technological one”.

Technology and Critical Thinking

Online learning can be just as effective as in-person classes and can even facilitate the same instructional strategies and assessment procedures with the right tools and platform. Thus, instead of focusing on the limitations of online assessments, cheating as a whole and the factors encouraging it should be addressed. One of which is the nature of administering multiple choice-based exams that tests students’ memorization skills under closed book environments.

These types of assessments focus on lower-order thinking and are very susceptible to cheating as answers can be easily circulated between students. Furthermore, closed book assessments, specifically memorization-based exams have been found to provide little significance in improved knowledge retention and retrieval compared to open book counterparts (Rummer et al., 2019). On top of that, these exams are ineffective in assessing students knowledge and abilities as it completely ignores students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills which are more indicative of students’ overall academic progress.

That said, given the abundance of insightful information on the internet, students should not be discouraged to use technology as a complementary tool that can enhance their learning experience and outcome. Of course, multiple choice-based exams and the likes of should be discouraged first in order to see the benefits of technology and eliminate forms of online cheating. Transitioning from lower-order to higher-order thinking-based assessments such as written assignments and group projects enables students to find any available information to them and appropriately synthesize data to form intelligent conclusions. Through this process, students are empowered to use problem-solving and critical thinking skills which are integral for quality education and improving academic performance.

Choose the Right Pedagogy

By switching over to proven effective teaching approaches such as team-based learning and peer-grading which enable higher-order thinking, not only do students learn at a deeper level but professors’ concerns regarding cheating are addressed and significantly reduced. In the end, conducting and managing online courses require not only the right tools and software but also the right pedagogies to facilitate effective knowledge creation while preventing academic misconduct.

Student calculating budget and finances for university

Cost of Education: How Kritik Adds More Value for Less

Tuition fees, student debt, dropout rates and much more

The cost of education has always been a very important topic for students and society as a whole, and yet, it is not addressed as much as it should be. There is little transparency on information regarding the true cost of completing undergraduate and graduate programs. Additionally, there are concerns over course materials fees such as textbooks and other costs such as amenity fees and matriculation fees and the true value they add to students' education (Davis & al, 2019).

With millions of students entering higher education each year (EducationData, 2021a), one would think that the system is optimized to reduce students' cost burden while maximizing their educational value. However, a study on cost analysis in education has shown that there is a lack of cost-benefit evaluations in climates wherein resources are very limited (Rice, 1997). Sadly, limited is an understatement to students' financial inability to attend and complete higher education while receiving a quality learning experience in today's society.

With that said, to afford higher education, students' take on massive loans to cover the ever-rising tuition fees and other associated costs. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, "two in three college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2018 had student loan debt. These borrowers owed an average of $29,200, 2% higher than the 2017 average of $28,650". Assuming that students enter the workforce six months after they graduate, it takes approximately 20 years for students to pay off their debt (EducationData, 2021b). However, not all students complete their programs, with the overall dropout rate for undergraduate college students in the US being 40% and in Canada being just under 30% (EducationData, 2021c; Government of Ontario, 2020). These alarming numbers of dropout rates and uncompleted programs coupled with increasing tuition fees and debts leave students wondering if there is a more optimized method of acquiring knowledge that is cost-effective, provides quality learning experiences and guarantees better career preparation opportunities.

Higher costs does not equal better education: Quality over quantity

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, recent college graduates' current overall unemployment rate is 3.8%, which is 0.2% higher than the general job market's unemployment rate. Although this might seem insignificant, analyzing the unemployment rates for recent graduates of specific majors such as those in the STEM field is quite alarming. Students who majored in Physics resulted in an unemployment rate of 7.7%, 5.2% for Computer Science majors, 4.9% for Mathematics and General Engineering majors, and the list goes on. Given the high costs of acquiring higher education, one would think that such investment and achievement would automatically result in a more significant competitive edge in the job market. Although this holds true under favourable conditions, most students still feel under-equipped with the right tools, knowledge and skillsets to fairly compete and find employment.

Cost versus quality of education. Finding the balance

A higher education cost does not necessarily correlate to better and higher quality learning experiences. Despite the rise in tuition fees, students are still enrolling in classes but given the scarce resources of universities and colleges, they are subjected to enrolling in large volume classes where learning environments are not as ideal for knowledge creation and retention. Personalized and active learning opportunities are limited. As much as it is ideal for instructors to administer high quality, thought provoking assignments and group projects for immersive learning purposes, carrying out these types of assessments is not feasible in 300+ student-sized classes. As such, students do not have enough opportunities to develop higher order thinking skills as conventional exams and multiple choice-based assessments are administered for time-saving purposes. Naturally, having more students in one class would make it difficult for professors to provide regular feedback and have mentoring opportunities. This could be solved by having more TAs to help with grading and providing feedback to the students but this would undoubtedly increase the tuition even more. Furthermore, textbooks have been notorious for being expensive with other hardcopy published options escalating their prices even more which significantly adds on to students' financial burden. Full-time students are spending approximately $1298 annually on textbooks alone. However, recent research has shown that alternatives such as open educational resources and other forms of knowledge obtainment provide students with the same amount of information and value, if not more, without the high costs of traditional textbooks.

How Kritik can help increase value while lowering costs

Through Kritik, students can obtain more value out of their education in ways that would be impossible with traditional assessments and course requirements. By leveraging peer assessment, students can receive multiple feedback on their assignments frequently instead of heavily relying on TA resources and professors for feedback which is extremely costly and time-consuming. The peer assessment process empowers students to acquire different perspectives on course concepts, consolidate their learning and receive guidance while improving their soft skills such as communication and teamwork skills. These benefits can manifest without needing to consume more university and college resources, employing more TAs than ideal and ultimately, without drastically increasing tuition fees.

Comparing the amount of value students get from peer assessment and the use of textbooks, it can be fairly argued that using Kritik is more effective in reducing costs while increasing benefits. By moving away from the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy associated with textbooks such as memorization and moving towards peer grading and higher-order thinking, students are able to acquire and retain more knowledge for less. Textbooks and TAs are still important, but great alternatives can reduce the overall cost of education while improving student engagement and academic performance.

Most importantly, peer assessment teaches students the process and importance of providing and receiving feedback which is crucial for their future careers and professional development. Unfortunately, this valuable skill is not taught as much to students despite the premium price of education in today's society. By allowing students to participate in an immersive and dynamic learning experience, they are able to acquire the necessary knowledge and life lessons to reach academic success and have better career preparation. Without raising tuition fees and adding too much to course material costs, Kritik is able to add great value to students' education while enhancing their abilities to compete in the job market after graduating.

Conclusion

Although there is still much to be researched on the cost-benefits of the current education system, it stands apparent that students are paying a premium despite the less-optimized value they are receiving. With that said, colleges and universities are all about education. It is an investment that will last a lifetime, so we need to ensure that students are receiving quality education without the extreme financial burden.

Covid-19 and the effects of the pandemic on students' learning and mental health

Remote Education and the Benefits of Peer Learning to Mental Health

COVID-19 and remote education

When the COVID-19 crisis surfaced last year, our society was heavily disrupted as we watched the world go to lockdowns, mandate social distancing and enforce self-isolations. Communities and various populations all around the world had to migrate their social interactions and obligations online in the best interests of reducing COVID-19 cases and preventing the spread of the virus. Of which, a particular population that thrives off of social engagement have experienced drastic and unprecedented changes in their lives - they are none other than students.

Throughout the history of the education system, attending schools have always served the purpose of facilitating and accelerating students’ academic growth (Lukarrinen et al, 2016). It is no doubt that COVID-19 has disrupted the method in which students learn and consume knowledge. However, an aspect of schooling that has not been getting much attention in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak is the impact of the pandemic on students’ mental well being in relation to their lack of social engagement due to extensive stay-at-home orders. As we witness the transition to a more digital society and experience the advantages of remote education, students' specific needs when it comes to their academic and personal growth and well-being should not go unnoticed. Their mental health should still be addressed in current online environments and what better way to handle it in the context of education, than to empower students to virtually interact with one another and build online classroom communities in lieu of social gatherings.

A 2020 pandemic study on the impacts of social isolation on the mental health of students have shown concerning psychological distress levels among those without pre-existing mental health challenges (Hamza et al, 2020). Although high psychological distress levels can be attributed to numerous factors, the study’s multivariate analysis highlights the significance of social isolation on poor mental well being. Prior to the pandemic, students are already “identified as an at-risk population for chronic stress”, anxiety and depression (Linden et Stuart, 2020). According to a journal published by the Canadian Psychological Association “as many as 1 in 5 students met the diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder, and 30% to 50% of students reported experiencing overwhelming stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms during the postsecondary years” (Hamza et al, 2020). Pre-pandemic numbers are already concerning and will only increase as the pandemic persists and uncertainties linger.

As a coping mechanism to help with the challenges of emerging adulthood, students build support systems within their communities by sharing experiences and in the context of academia, through peer learning. This has been studied and the research shows that students who attend an educational institution with peer learning as a pedagogical practice are most likely to show positive results on the Ryfff well-being scale which is comprised of autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance which are all aspects of a healthy mental state (Hanson et al, 2016). However, as much as it is ideal for students to interact with and learn from one another, effectively facilitating such pedagogy is almost unfeasible in these unprecedented times and current remote environments.

Not to worry as there are numerous online solutions - but only a few educational platforms like Kritik can create dynamic, informative and enjoyable peer-to-peer interactions.

Peer learning and mental health

A detailed research conducted by Johnson and Johnson (2009) on working with peers have indicated that student collaborations in the educational space were correlated with positive psychological status. In the current remote environment, the integral collaborations can manifest through the use of effective peer assessment and discussion boards. When students provide evaluations to their peers, not only do their academics improve given the use of their critical thinking skills and the comparative assessments they are empowered to do, but they also feel a great sense of responsibility and belonging which is indicative of a healthy mental well being. This online peer-to-peer interaction promotes healthy academic relationships in the absence of connections built in physical classrooms (NCB, 2015).

Furthermore, through peer learning, students are able to provide guidance to one another in an educational context and build the necessary support groups that are lacking as a result of enforced isolations and students staying at home. Moreover, other psychological health benefits such as ‘emotional maturity, well-adjusted social relations, strong personal identity, ability to cope with adversity, social competencies, basic trust and optimism about people, self-confidence, independence and autonomy, higher self-esteem ,and increased perspective taking skills’ (Johnson et Johnson, 2009) can all be brought out through peer learning which decreases the risk of students experiencing higher stress levels, anxiety and depression.

Peer learning is more than just an effective pedagogical approach to enhance online learning. It also serves a higher purpose of creating communities that allow students to integrate into society albeit virtually but effectively. Despite students staying at home and conducting their academics in isolation, online interactions with their peers provide the social aspect of education required to facilitate both academic and personal growth.

Conclusion

Now that hybrid and full remote education are being widely adopted throughout the world and across educational institutions, students should not have to face the consequences of migrating their learning online. Given the accelerated transition into an unfamiliar education system, only a few platforms exist that facilitate a seamless shift to online learning while still keeping the aspect of peer learning and its benefits to students’ mental health. Although there is still much research to be done on the effects of the pandemic on students’ long-term well being and online learning, the current signs of increased levels of psychological distress brought by COVID-19 provide warnings that vulnerable populations such as students should immediately receive the proper pedagogies and online platforms and technologies to support their learning in a manner that is conducive to their mental health.

It is apparent that students have adapted to remote education since the first lockdowns - but not fully. Although they might be progressing well in their academic careers, we only know so much of their personal growth and mental well-being in respect of the current 'stay-at-home education' system. As such, peer learning should be the focus for all types of education but specifically so for online learning in order to provide students a well-rounded experience, promote academic social interactions and combat the negative effects of isolation.

teaching online during a pandemic

The Challenges of Teaching Online


Throwback to early March 2020. The coronavirus pandemic hit many businesses and institutions hard, throwing the traditional teaching methods into disarray. Most institutions closed or moved fully remote, making students and their professors adapt to new modes of learning. The situation has led to many educators teaching online for the first time, where technology and the internet are being used to pass information from teachers to students, and vice-versa. Regardless of its usefulness during this pandemic, online teaching has its challenges. Read more to find out the challenges and ways to improve the effectiveness of teaching online.

Tips for transitioning to online teaching

Transitioning to online teaching has been extremely difficult and challenging for most educators and students. Most schools and professors have had a hard time making the concept work since they may face many challenges, including unreliable internet connections, lack of gadgets and effective tools, and adapting new learning methods. If you are a professor and are already teaching online, here are some tips to make the transition smoother.

1. Be clear on priorities

First, you need to know your priorities and that of your students. You don't have to cover the basics or information that's readily available online. Ensure you have a good foundation and take time to communicate with students about their challenges. You also have to consider which tools to use when teaching online, including broadcasting equipment and how to possibly record lessons and lecture content for students who are not always online. Save time, improve the quality of peer assessment, increase the amount of feedback students provide, and increase the accuracy of assessment by utilizing our repository of customized rubrics.

2. Communicate and keep students engaged

Ensure to reach out to your students on your expectations and know of any challenges they are facing, including the technology breakdown. This idea avoids the challenges of moving to fast to teaching online. Ensure everyone is on the same page and understand each student's level of engagement. [1]

3. Facilitate remote collaboration

Collaboration between students is essential. Unfortunately, that's not achievable due to social distancing measures and students staying at home. It's vital to enhance collaborative problem-solving by giving students specific tasks and focus on constructive feedback from the class. Professors are using team-based learning and other unique activities in Kritik to facilitate remote collaboration.

4. Keep your students Active

Ensure students are active in breadth, depth, and quality during their online learning. You can enhance this by encouraging them to do independent research to develop skills. You can imply more marks to research to promote this idea.

5. Time Management

you need to manage your teaching time well. Students will likely have more queries, taking much of your office hours and other time. You can have specific class hours and provide emails for sending assignments and other questions. Kritik enables a simplified workflow for professors which saves them time. Also, Kritik's use of peer assessment that is accurate and quality ends up saving professors 100+ hours per term on grading.


What are the challenges of online learning?

Several challenges are happening in online teaching. Some of these challenges facing professors include:

1. Work organization and time management

Most teachers are required to move to online teaching almost immediately with no training and tools. Most of them have to use numerous e-learning tools making the whole process overwhelming. [3]. They are supposed to attend to students virtually, handle bulk information, and prepare for their teaching strategy. Most stay up to ten hours carrying out teaching practices, including cleaning up messes, streamlining processes, and affecting learning, which is intimidating. Kritik saves 100+ hours per term on grading due to calibrated peer review and streamlined workflows.

2. Technology shortage

Not all students and teachers have gadgets to enable them to learn and teach online, respectively. Some are sharing laptops, while other students lag for totally missing these gadgets. Such is giving professors a hard time keeping all students at the same pace.

3. Connectivity

Currently, around the world, there is massive use of internet and streaming services, making it tough to stay connected. There is an increased use of video streaming software, online learning systems, and digital tools. This overloading has led to internet problems, poor quality video and audio, downtime, and connection losses between teachers and students. Most teachers are trying to manage the connection issues, affecting the learning process.

4. Computer literacy

Most teachers, parents, and students got caught unaware and did not know about learning management or streaming systems. With the data and setups required, the whole process is becoming overwhelming to teachers and students.

5. Hard of hearing students

Most hard of hearing students find it difficult to study since there are no interpreters online for their needs. This situation makes them undergo a double problem of what average students are experiencing. At Kritik, We believe in equal learning opportunities for all and comply with all WCAG 2.0 guidelines. We are driven to continuously design and iterate our website and product suite to remain accessible for all users.

6. Data privacy and insecurity

With hackers and other cyber crimes, it's becoming unsafe learning online due to data infringement and hackers sending harmful content during class streaming affecting teachers and students. Most students also don't know how to protect their devices, making the whole class prone to cyber-attacks. Kritik takes data privacy and security very seriously and is FERPA compliant and hosts our servers in the US or Canada, depending on the institution we work with.

How to make online learning more engaging?

As a professor, there are many ways you can make an online class engaging. Some of these include:

  • Ask for Feedback: You can ignite feedback from your students by imposing relevant questions requiring immediate answers. 
  • Let students choose their learning way: selecting topics and units and then picking what's relevant to all. This idea will make everyone engaged in what they need to learn. Ensure it's within their scope.
  • Make the learning social: You can put some social touches to your teaching by sharing and commenting on topics discussed, making everyone interactive. 
  • Invite learners to contribute to teachings: Do not be the only one to talk during the whole teaching online session. Let the students contribute.
  • Encourage Peer Evaluation: Let students view everyone's work to understand what each one is doing. This idea also creates a sharing culture among the students while learning online. Teaching online is now more important after covid became part of our everyday life. Kritik's innovative and calibrated peer evaluation platform that ensures students are rewarded for providing meaningful and quality evaluations of their fellow students. [3]

Institutions and professors need to be upgrading with technology to ensure their students adapt to this learning method, which might stay forever as long as the pandemic is here. With its success, the module can get embraced and remain even after the pandemic.

Class icebreakers

Icebreakers for Remote Learning Environments

Breaking the ice. It’s an important first step in any group setting to get past the awkwardness and to make everyone feel just a bit more comfortable and welcomed. In particular, online icebreakers are a great tool to help students get to know their peers on a personal level and calm down some of those first week nerves. However, with many classes continuing to be online this upcoming term, it is important to find new ways to break the (virtual) ice.

Icebreakers for remote learning environments

Here are some virtual icebreakers that you can use in your classes to help students feel more welcomed in remote learning environments:

1. Where are we?

A simple icebreaker that works for in-person face to face classes, but is even more fun in a virtual setting. Post-secondary students come from all walks of life and it is important not only to recognize this, but appreciate it as well. To open up your first online lecture, ask some icebreaker questions like “Where are we?”. Have each of your students share with the class their name and program, where they are currently located for the school term, and what their favorite thing to do is at this location. This is a great icebreaker as it not only lets students introduce themselves to their classmates, but also provides them with a better scope of how global their classmates are. It can be pretty eye-opening when you realize that there are students from all around the world on that little computer screen in front of you..

2. Virtual background fun

If you’re using Zoom for your lectures, take advantage of its features! During your first few lectures, or even throughout the term, let your students enjoy the fun icebreaker ideas like setting their virtual backgrounds to something fun. For instance, for your first lecture, you can ask your students to set their backgrounds to be somewhere in their favorite movie,  fictional world or a favorite place and then have them explain what the background is of and why they chose it; perhaps it's a scene from a Batman movie, or a backdrop of Hogwarts for those Harry Potter fans. Other examples of what they could set their background to include:

  • Anywhere in the world they wish they could be right now
  • Their favorite meme
  • A picture that best represents their personality

You can even ask your students for ideas! Let them learn in a fun way

3. Group breakouts

Conducting group breakouts early on in the term is probably one of the best strategies you can implement to help your students feel more comfortable with their remote environments. While virtual meetings are different, where the small groups can be divided in Zoom's Breakout rooms, where the students gets to know each other and complete their activities. Depending on the size of your class, you can group students accordingly, such as in pairs or in larger groups of 4-6. Here are some prompts you can give your students to discuss while in their teams:

  • In 2 minutes, try to find as many things as possible that you have in common with your group in an online team meeting. This can be hobbies that you share, sports that you all like, or places you’ve all been to. Be creative with what you come up with, but remember, it has to be something  everyone has in common. Once time runs out, have one member from each group share with the class everything that you came up with.
  • In 2 minutes, have each member of the group share their biggest success story of 2020. This can be things like learning to bake for the first time, getting a co-op placement, or starting to work out. Together, try to find a commonality between each of your stories and come up with a motto that you will each carry with you throughout the school term. For instance, if everyone overcame adversity this year, your motto can be something like “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”. Once time is up, have one representative share this motto and what inspired it with the rest of the class.

These are just a couple of potential prompts that you could use for your class, but there are plenty of others out there. Just remember to have fun with it!

4. Icebreaker games

Icebreaker games are a great way to break down barriers between virtual team members. Consider the icebreaker assembly warm-up, a work out you wish to dodge awkward spasms (conversations) throughout a meeting and build team rapport. It adds a fun element and interactivity to team meetings and brainstorming sessions. Reduces the feelings of isolation and loneliness between the team members.

Virtual team builders are used to form remote teams that will be able to participate in different fun activities performed through video conferencing. Some easily played virtual games include:

  • Virtual team games; trivia, impersonations
  • Online quiz icebreaker
  • Solve a murder; where students specifically will get involved in teamwork.
  • Quick 'Would you rather' questions
  • Two truths and a lie
  • Personality quiz

Fun activities have been a charm of real time classes, where all that was needed were the presence of students. Virtual activities where students can only interact in a video call, to make this fun for the students, to get them to know each other and develop team bonding among them, these team building activities go a long way.

5. Introductory discussion posts

If you don’t plan on conducting live lectures for your online class, another great way to break the ice for your students is to implement introductory discussion posts. Kritik’s discussion feature delivers a social aspect to courses that has been severely lacking since the transition to online learning. Through these discussion boards, students can share stories, ask questions, and even run polls. For an introductory discussion post, some general information you can ask your students include their name, what year they are in, and their program. However, to make these posts a little more fun and engaging, ask questions that bring out more of your students’ personalities. Some potential questions could be:

  • What new hobbies have you picked up since quarantine?
  • If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
  • What does your ideal career look like?

These discussion posts aren’t limited to the beginning of the term either. You can conduct fun polling questions throughout the term like “is a hotdog a sandwich?” or “is water wet?” and have your class choose sides and discuss! Regardless of what you come up with, your students will feel much more at ease about remote learning if they actually get the chance to interact with their peers.

Transitioning back to online learning

How to Re-Transition to Online Learning Following a COVID Outbreak

With the reopening of schools, educators have begun to transition to teaching program. However, the threat of another COVID wave lingers and this may force schools to remain closed. We breakdown the tips you need in case schools are closed and your online class resumes.

With many schools returning to a full session for the fall term, it is vital to be prepared for the possibility of a potential COVID outbreak on campus, resulting in classrooms becoming virtual once again. Regardless of the precautions taken, some high schools and higher education institutions have experienced difficulties with containing the coronavirus across campus. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame has already had to suspend face-to-face lectures following a surge of COVID cases during their first week of classes. These suspensions will not only result in a loss of learning for students but will also present challenges in the teaching method of educators as they must work quickly to modify their curriculum for online learning.

Strategies for re-transitioning to online classes

Educator preparation is encouraged to make the transitioning to online classes much more seamless. The pandemic may have thrust our institutions into unfamiliar territory back in March, but we have learned and adapted to the online environment. We know what works (and what does not) with regards to online learning, but just in case anyone forgot, here are some strategies to help with the re-transition to online classes

1. Be Dynamic

One of the most important things to keep in mind in preparation for transitioning back to online lectures is to keep your course dynamic. Given the uncertain circumstances, a manner of pedagogy that is easily scalable for both synchronous and asynchronous learning would be beneficial. Deciding what approach to use will ultimately depend on your content area, but do not hesitate to get input from your students either! Some students may prefer a synchronous approach where they can still follow a similar routine of live lectures and scheduled assignments to maintain a sense of normalcy. Others might prefer more flexibility and may want to work at their own pace due to the sporadic nature of the school term. A blend of the two approaches could be made to accommodate a wider range of learning styles. For instance, you could have live Zoom lectures as scheduled for those that prefer synchronous learning but also record and upload these lectures to make them accessible at the discretion of students who prefer asynchronous learning.

Most importantly, try not to replicate your in-person lecture for online use; online students require far more mental stimulation to stay engaged during online classes. In a survey conducted among Kritik users in June, we found that 60% of students feel less engaged with online classes and that the most challenging aspect of transitioning to online learning was the absence of face-to-face interaction with their instructors.

2. Take Advantage of Technology

Whether you are planning on using Zoom, Kritik, or an alternative platform, the goal of implementing technology into the classroom should be to facilitate effective learning and to promote student engagement. Take advantage of the features that your technology offers, whether that be a peer-assessment tool, a discussion board, or customer support live chat. Using technology as a teaching method can help improve the full-time student teaching experience. Understanding and using the resources you have effectively will optimize the utility you get from these technologies and will ensure that your students are fully reaping the benefits.

To help ease the transition to online teaching, use technologies that work well for both face-to-face and online learning. For instance, Kritik’s discussion feature allows students to continue their conversations outside the classroom and is an important tool for keeping students engaged even when they are away from campus. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that technology is not a replacement for a TA, advisor, or instructor, but rather an extension that will help bridge the gap between them and students.

3. Be available to students

As mentioned, one of the aspects of education that students value most is face-to-face interaction with their professors. While working from home certainly makes the “face-to-face” aspect a little more challenging, that does not have to mean you can’t be present for your students. Provide multiple communication channels for your students to increase your accessibility to them. This could be through emails, a discussion board, a social media group, or Zoom office hours. Students have shared learning experiences of how their courses used Slack to communicate with both their instructors and their peers. However, it is essential to set realistic expectations for your availability so that your students are aware of when they should contact you.

Moreover, a transition to online courses will result in more time spent addressing student questions and concerns, on top of the preparation time for the coursework. Implementing peer assessment into your course work will help save time with grading, it will also allow for more student teaching students interactions, and it will promote student success. After interaction with professors, interactions with their peers was the second biggest challenge for students following the transition to online learning. Kritik’s platform not only allows for interactions among students through the discussion board but also grants students the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback to their peers and to gain a better grasp of course work through learning by teaching.

4. Keep it simple

Lastly, one of the essential strategies to keep in mind should you have to transition back to the online teaching method is to keep online courses simple and have fun with it! In this time of the pandemic, it’s important to stay light-hearted and be positive for yourself and also for your students. Try to remind your students that there’s a lot more going on in the world besides COVID and school, as tough as it may be to see it. If you plan on doing live lectures, try making the online environment positive with world news, a fun question (what book series would you like to live in and why?), or even a funny meme from social media.

Reevaluate your subject-area and the learning management system of your course to make things as simple for all parties involved. Keep in mind that simple does not mean easy. Continue challenging your students but be cognizant of the obstacles they may be facing in their remote learning environments.

The pandemic has completely changed the teaching method for both elementary education, secondary education, and higher education. The upcoming fall term is going to be interesting to say the least. Hopefully, all goes well, and your schools can effectively implement the necessary precautions and classroom management to keep students and faculty safe. However, whether in-person or online, it is important to remain empathetic through these times and to keep your student success and best interest in mind. These strategies will help ease the transitioning to online learning should it come to that, but they aren’t the only solution.

Zoom Classes

How to Prepare for the First Day of (Zoom) Class

Getting ready for the start of the semester:

The start of a new semester. That time of the year often met with mixed emotions for all the students - kindergarten to higher education. The sadness of the summer coming to its inevitable end, to the excitement of getting back to school and reconnecting with colleagues. Under normal circumstances, this time of year would be pretty routine for most students and educators; unfortunately, these aren’t normal circumstances. As the world continues to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for educators to be well prepared to teach their course content effectively in remote learning environments. In particular, with Zoom taking over as the primary resource for online classrooms, understanding how to use it effectively will be a vital component to whether educators can provide a successful learning experience for their students.  

Here are some tips to ensure you and your students have an effective & engaging learning experience while online.

1.    Keep it Personal

After social distancing with friends and family for the past few months, the last thing students want when they attend their online classes is to only be staring at lecture notes the whole time. While it can be very useful to use Zoom’s Screen Sharing feature to present slides or other documents, it is equally important to keep your camera on and to speak as if you were face-to-face with the class. This helps create a more comfortable classroom environment and a personal connection with your students and will help keep them better engaged. In a survey we conducted this past June, nearly 70% of students agreed that the most challenging part of transitioning to online courses was the inability for face-to-face interactions with their college instructors and professors.

2. Create more group breakouts

A useful tip for both in-person and online lectures is to let your students break into small groups for discussions every once in a while. Zoom’s Breakout Room feature allows you to assign students into groups for a brief time period so that they can discuss different topics together. In a study done by the University of Central Florida, they found that student participation is higher in small-group discussions, as well as the student’s ability to perceive learning outcomes [1]. These breakout sessions also serve as an opportunity to implement team-based learning (TBL) into your classroom. TBL will help keep your lectures dynamic so that students stay engaged, and is more effective than traditional forms of learning as it also offers opportunities for students to have insightful conversations and to hear new perspectives.

3. Utilize chat

While students may not be able to raise their hands during the class session to get your attention anymore, that doesn’t mean they should stop asking questions. To avoid any interruptions or confusion, allow your students to post their questions or comments on a discussion board during the lecture. Zoom’s chat feature is a useful tool, but it can be difficult to monitor while teaching, especially with larger classrooms. By using Kritik’s discussion feature in tandem with your Zoom lectures, you will be able to not only communicate with your students directly, but also keep track of the discussions that students are having with one another.

4. Screen record live Zoom lectures

Should your course be asynchronous or synchronous? Every student learns differently, and it is important for educators to consider these differences when developing learning materials. Live lectures are great for synchronous learners who prefer a little more routine and organization. They can attend Zoom classes as scheduled and learn the content at the pace it was intended. However, for asynchronous learners, a routine might make learning more difficult as they prefer to work at their own pace. A great way to accommodate both types of learners is by recording your lectures using the Screen Record feature on Zoom. This grants students the freedom to choose whether to attend lectures during the scheduled class time or to watch the recordings at a later time. Recorded lectures are also a useful study tool and can help the students a lot as they can be re-watched to help students to get a better understanding of the topics covered or if they missed anything during the live lecture.  

The upcoming school term is going to present many challenges for both students and educators, so it is important to be well prepared to navigate these challenges. Regardless of what strategies you decide to implement into your online classroom, remember that the engagement of your students is what will ultimately determine the success of your methods. As such, choosing the right technologies to use will be crucial not only to your own teaching experience, but also the effectiveness of your students’ learning experience.

Best practices for the first day of class

It makes a huge difference in how the first day of class is spent by the teacher. A day that is stressful both for the students and the faculty.  No class period is more critical to forming students’ attitudes towards learning than the first day of the term. As the first days give way to the first weeks of school, keep these tips in mind;

1. Introduction of yourself and your students in the first class meeting. Try learning the students' names later on.

2. Communicate your goals and class ethics, this is especially important for first year students

3. Student engagement: Students are scared to make a bad first impression, so many prefer staying quiet. Use ice breakers to help them get to know each other and get comfortable.

4. Provide them with your contact information: mention office hours, office phone number, and your time of availability.

5. Course overview: Let them know the syllabus, course material, and group work. Sometimes the enrolment changes in the next weeks, so its better to hand them over in written form.

6. Create a connection:  Share your story of entry into the field, ask questions about their prior knowledge

7. Carry out creative first day learning activities based on their background knowledge.

Zoom fatigue

How to Stop Zoom Fatigue

Learn to stop Zoom fatigue

With the advent of the recent coronavirus pandemic, most people end their work or school day overwhelmed in tiredness and and exhaustion due to the mental fatigue from the day's activities.  Fatigue while working and studying online has become an increasing threat to our well-being since we shifted to remote work at the onset of the pandemic. So what exactly is going on? You might have heard about it, it’s called Zoom Fatigue - a reference to the seemingly endless online video meetings our day now encompasses.

While it’s certainly a cute name, the effect Zoom Fatigue has on our well-being is noticeable. Not only do we feel more tired, we also feel disengaged with our work and colleagues, which in turn, leads to decreases in overall productivity. So how do we combat Zoom Fatigue? Online learning or remote instruction aren’t going away anytime soon for professors or students, so as we head into the fall term, let’s be mindful of what we can do to keep our bodies and mind healthy while learning or teaching over video calls.

1. Don't Stare

When engaging in an online conversation, how do you know if a person is paying attention to you? Usually, we determine if a person is paying attention to us if based on their eye movements during a video call. So, when a person looks directly into the camera we can assume that they are focused on the ongoing meeting. But, when they look through a window, you could interpret that as a distraction or disinterest from the video call. Translate that to real life, how many of us have had 20 min conversations when all we do is look our subjects directly in the eye? Studies have shown that engaging in a “constant gaze” into a person’s face makes us feel uncomfortable and tired. When we have conversations in person, we often glance at other parts of the room for differing forms of stimulation to keep our minds engaged. The question is; if losing eye contact is it not a problem why holding conversations in person, why then is it not welcomed during video calls?

2. Stop multitasking

Although this may seem counter-intuitive, many of us, are looking to work more efficiently. But, how can we get more tasks done in a shorter time frame without sacrificing quality? To master that problem is a note worthy achievable goal for many of us. So what is the low-hanging fruit in our workday whose efficiency can be improved upon? Zoom video conferencing has been an opportunity for people to work on other things like; check and respond to emails, finish a report, and many more. The video call is basically one person talking and the rest just sit and listen. A professor lectures and the students just sit there for hours listening. Research has shown that attempting to do more things at once reduces productivity – the constant switching on-and-off of different parts of your brain as you switch tasks, can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. Plus, your ability to memorize discussion points that were conducted during the meeting is also significantly reduced according to a new Stanford study. Being part of a zoom meeting, and engaging in other activities will affect your learning process. This is enough reason to stop multitasking during your meetings or live classes.

This is a very pertinent issue for students, as their instructors, try and offer your students tips on how to engage in live classes lectures more effectively.

3. Stop looking at yourself

Many of us have formed the habit of admiring ourselves once we enter a video call. You may not acknowledge it, but research says otherwise. On average, we spend more time looking at ourselves than the person speaking, during a video call. That is a lot of distraction for you and the person speaking. "Why is my hair so long?", "I look so tired." "Wearing this shirt was a bad idea." The list goes on. We use our time on video calls to analyze ourselves. How often in real life do you stand in front of a mirror and just stare at yourself? Chances are low. Yet we can spend hours a day or over a week on video calls just looking at ourselves. Encourage your students to hide themselves from their own screen during the next online lecture. Explain to them that a zoom meeting is not the same as social media and it should be regarded as a learning environment.

4. Reduce background stimulation

The issues of live classes is not only limited to people looking at themselves, but also people looking at other people during the video call. The distraction may not necessarily be from looking at their faces, but from the other person's background. It could be their TV, or their sofa, or the books in their book shelf, or even kids running around. The list goes on. We distract ourselves from the tasks at hand by trying to understand our surroundings. If we’re on a call with 7 people, to our minds, we’re in 7 different rooms, and in each of those rooms there are moving parts that our brain are trying to process. Help your students out by placing yourself in front of a neutral background that doesn’t involve too many distractions. Try placing yourself in front of a simple poster or a plain wall; you can also encourage people who are not talking to keep their videos turned off.

5. Be available beyond Zoom calls

Regardless of how well you structure your lecture, students will always have questions – that is the natural part of learning. However, if you’re teaching large classes, it may not be feasible to only utilize the chat function in video calls. Answering dozens of questions at once while you’re lecturing is not very efficient. Try utilizing discussion boards where students are able to post questions and answer each other’s inquiries openly. If students want to speak with their instructors directly, try allocating more time in your day to answering student emails. Remote learning is hard on students, and instructors must adjust their teaching structure to better adapt for online learning.

Adjusting to e-learning is tough for both educators and students, but utilizing these tips can help both professors and students with preparing for Zoom classes.

LMS

How to Enhance Your LMS With Kritik

A learning management system (LMS) is a useful tool for many educators to disseminate course projects, house student grades and act as a communication tool between professors and students. But with the recent shift to online learning as a result of COVID school closures, the limitations of many popular LMS systems became highlighted. Professors aren’t just looking for a tool to post student grades and assignments, professors need tools that help bolster student engagement outside of the classroom. 

Kritik can easily integrate with major LMS providers, so we’re going to run-down how Kritik can enhance your LMS to benefit your students’ learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom. 


Increasing student engagement

One of the key issues that has arisen as a result of online learning has been the learning gap incurred as a result of demotivated students. With many educators opting for asynchronous learning as an approach to online learning, students are often left on their own to navigate course materials. Without proper instruction & feedback on assignments submitted, students have felt disengaged with course materials. In a recent study we undertook, we found that over 80% of students want more personalized feedback on their assignments, and nearly 83% of them would be inclined to continue with online learning if their schools invested in technology that gave them the feedback they needed. 


Unfortunately, engagement approaches such as personalized feedback is not something an LMS can offer. Let's look at how Kritik can integrate personalized feedback into your LMS effectively.


Personalized feedback with your LMS

One of the best options for increased personalized feedback that does not incur more time grading and assessing for professors is peer assessment. Kritik allows students to evaluate each other's work & provide feedback so each student can learn how to improve or gain new perspectives from unique viewpoints. While some LMS platforms offer peer assessment, Kritik’s anonymous peer review & ‘feedback on feedback’ are two features that are unique and help drive student engagement. 

Krik’s anonymous peer feedback tool enables them to offer personalized feedback. This in-turn, reduces bias and ensures overall legitimacy of the feedback. Alongside anonymous feedback, Kritik’s ‘feedback on feedback’ feature ensures students are able to provide comments on the evaluations that they have received. This ensures that students are developing a skill-set in learning how to properly evaluate new ideas which helps increase their critical thinking skills. 


Team-based learning

In an effort to save time, many instructors may move to summative forms of assessment such as multiple choice tests or quizzes, however, students do not benefit from memorization tasks. When applied to Bloom’s Taxonomy, the need to move beyond simply memorizing facts is implicit. Students need to harness their understanding of course concepts and apply them to real-world problems to find unique solutions. One way to do this is through team-based learning, which groups students together to solve complex problems. Unfortunately, many LMS platforms do not offer the ability to integrate teams effectively. Not only can Kritik allow teams to submit assessments, it can even group the students together so professors don’t need to allocate time to creating teams. 


Motivating students to produce better work

LMS platforms are simply repositories of information, the need to help guide students to create better work is something that technology has a role to play. With Kritik, students are motivated to produce high quality work as each student is presented with an evaluation score, which is a score relative to how accurate that student’s evaluation is. Kritik ensures students are grading fairly and accurately, so professors can devote less time to student assessment and more time for one-on-one’s with students to address their learning needs directly.

As the fall term begins, many educators will be using an LMS – some for the first time – take this opportunity to create unique and lasting learning experiences that go beyond just standard technology. Online learning is tough for both students & educators, but introducing technology that has the ability to enhance student learning is an addition that would make your students online learning more enjoyable and impactful. 


Online Exams

How to Limit Cheating on Online Examinations

No matter how many measures are put in place to eliminate academic dishonesty, the sad truth is that at least 1 student will always be willing to bend the rules. Cheating can come in the form of plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, or students looking things up while taking the exam [1]; these problem-areas are magnified with online quizzes and examinations.

Not all online students behave with academic integrity and those who do can even be put to the test if they haven't studied enough or not properly understand the course material and the online courses per se.

Tips to avoid cheating in online education

Below are some of the measures higher education instructors may take to prevent cheaters in their online classes.

1. Increase student awareness on academic dishonesty

For starters, the following guideline will ensure students are aware of what is considered academic dishonesty and the consequences for it.

Present academic honesty statements for every assessment

Define what cheating looks like, students often engage in academic misconduct because they do not know what constitutes cheating [2].

  • Provide students with a clear definition of cheating and a list of unacceptable behaviors. Be explicit with the types of behaviour that constitute an academic offence
  • Briefly describe how the assignment or test should be taken or completed. By making expectations clear, it will leave little grey area for when a student is considered to be "cheating" and when they are not.
  • Convey the importance of academic integrity to students by incorporating an ‘Academic Honesty’ policy into the Course Syllabus.
  • Include the repercussions for academic dishonesty based on university policies and make them clear and readily available for students to see

2. Use these 8 online exam control procedures

According to Cluskey Jr. et al [3], there are 8 Online Exam Control Procedures (OECPS) that can be put into place to thwart cheating in online exams. Let’s take a look at them further:

  1. Offer the exam at one set time - this way, students will not be able to collaborate and sequentially take the exam.
  2. Allow the exam to be accessible (open) for a very brief period of time (15min), this way, students will have a very small window of time for one student to finish the exam and then coach other students.
  3. The sequence of exam questions should be randomized to make collaboration more difficult.
  4. Present questions one at a time, this way students will have to work on one question until it is completed without being able to skip and come back to it.
  5. Design the online exam to take only the limited amount of time allowed for it. This way, "A" and "B" students will be able to finish the exam with a few minutes to spare, and "C" and "D" students may not complete the exam at all. This way, even if students use outside materials (something that is difficult to prevent in online exams), then students will not be able to complete the whole examination if they try to learn the theory or how to solve numerical problems during the exam, they will not be able to finish the exam.
  6. Students can only access the exam one time - this is something most online learning systems already incorporate. The student will only be able to reset the exam and retake it if after an analysis occurs it is found that the problem was not the student's fault.
  7. Require students to use a lockdown browser to access the online exam. These may create a more stable connection that isn't as likely to freeze or lock students out when they submit their exam, and may also make them unable to exit/return, cut/paste, or electronically manipulate the system.
  8. Change at least 1/3 of multiple choice or objective questions every term on each exam. This reduces the value of previous test banks that give some students who have access an unfair advantage.

3. Alternative assessment strategies to curb student cheating

During the sudden transition to online learning as a result of COVID, many professors began scrambling to figure out how to conduct their planned final examinations online. As we can see in the OECPS, there is a lot to consider in exam development and so some professors have opted to avoid that hassle entirely.

By designing take-home assignments that encourage students to think critically about class material and using higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) like creating, evaluating, and analyzing, students learn to be resourceful and are more engaged with the material. Using Kritik, you can also time each phase to only be a certain length which takes care of OECPS 1, 2, and 5, and then in the later phases, students will evaluate each other's work, using another one of the HOTS, which increases their understanding of the material while simultaneously decreasing instructor time spent grading. Dr. Nina Palmo at the University of Texas used Kritik to replace her final exam with Kritik activities.

4. Assignments and assessments for online students

Students cheat in face-to-face, physical classroom, how much more in online classes? The online environment in higher education seems to aggravate student cheating. For this, instructors need to align their test questions in assignments and assessment activities to this online learning experience. Instructors are encouraged to provide students with lower-stake supported opportunities. This helps develop and practice students’ skills, critical thinking, knowledge, and ability in their online courses.

Try to replace exams in courses with low-stakes quizzes – a lot of them which are worth cheating. Digital learning allows students to be open book to many tools giving them access to large question banks. This makes technology, especially mobile devices, a foe that turns students into cheaters.

5. Foster community building

It is significant in an online environment to establish a sense of belongingness among the students. This will make them feel part of the learning management system in higher education. Their learning experience will not just merely about requirements and rules associated with academic dishonesty. It is also about the online course and assignments.

Student cheating may be obvious in remote learning, yet it can be prevented with some viable measures presented above.

Work-Life balance for Professors

Work-Life Balance When You’re Teaching From Home

Colleges & Universities quickly shuttered their doors back in March as the COVID Pandemic swept across the globe. This forces professors to teach their courses online.

Many believed a break from school would have resulted in a burst of academic research. This was the case of Sir Isaac Newton in 1665 who developed his best theories while Cambridge was forced to close due to an outbreak of the plague in London. However, it turned out to not be the case. Maybe Newton was lucky as he did not have children to take care of or learn how to have your own schedule for office hours with Google Calendar. He may not have responded to the queries students are sending their professors today. questions may. in fact, be in dozens if not hundreds. This serves as students' attempt to navigate learning remotely.

Online teaching has blurred the lines between work and home for many professors. Those who have kids are forced to home-sit as their children’s schools/daycares also remain shuttered. With budget cuts, professors are faced with fewer TA's to help grade and assist students in large classes.

For some professors, the technology-learning curve has proven to be stressful. Educational technology is now the name of the game to get a good learning experience. This may include Zoom classes, email queries, and scheduling online 1:1 is a lot to learn in a short period. Learning resources and means like g suite, webcam, video calls, and video conferencing are significant in this time of crisis.

Tips for maintaining a good work-life balance

So, where are all these taking you as an educator? How will you be able to deal with this new normal brought by the pandemic?

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a fall semester of online or hybrid of online & in-person learning. These will help you remain at your best for your students in this new learning environment.

1.  Schedule your time & set expectations

Every educator wants to “show up” for their students, but with in-person classes on hold for the time being, that is proving to be a much more daunting task. Previously, students would interact with their educators before, after, or during class to have any of their questions answered, with online learning, those queries have been channeled to emails. You can spend your entire night responding to emails, but rather, it may be more prudent to set aside a block of time to respond to email queries from students. Couple that by setting a clear expectation to students on when they can expect a response from you on their emails, will help to limit the number of queries you receive. So, schedule your time & set clear expectations so students know what timeline a response may incur.

2.  Interact with your faculty

Over 60% of students surveyed say the hardest part of adjusting to online learning has been the lack of face to face interactions with their fellow students. Can we extrapolate that up to professors as well? Faculty members are not just individuals to bounce new research ideas off of, for many educators, they are friends and sources of understanding. Set aside some time to check in with your fellow faculty members, particularly early academics. Pre-COVID, 64% of PhD Candidates experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation. We all have a role to play to ensure each member in our department is healthy and doing ok.

3.  Avoid burnout

It’s important to realize that we cannot necessarily check everything off of our to-do lists in the timelines we prescribed ourselves – and that’s ok. Sometimes it is ok to not do anything at all – if possible, take a break from your work, recharge, and come back to class feeling recharged and energized.

The pandemic is a daunting time for all of us, but particularly your students. Uncertainty about jobs, the quality of their education, and financial constraints all bleed into their psyche each day.

Students are looking to you as a source of inspiration and energy. If you feel depleted and unmotivated, how do you think that projects on your students? Remote teaching is not an easy task. Care for yourself first, and your students will be better for it.

4. Work from home

While based at home, you will still be able to maintain a work-life balance. This is doable and possible if you are willing to make boundaries between them. Since online learning is the new norm like google classroom, learn how to cope with it. There are some ways to make this possible.

First, set separate areas for fun and work. This makes it easier to have a transition from your teaching work mode to your home mode. You will have equal time for your work and your personal life.

Second, never use your teaching computer during your free time. It is significant to have separate areas and tools for work life and private life. Give equal time to your work and for fun.

Third, go out for a walk after teaching your students. Go cycling is an alternative activity as well as exercise. Move your body and keep yourself up for health.

Fourth, make some plans for your after-work free time. Set a specific time to leave your desk to spend time with your family. A quick walk outside your house would also be a great idea just to ensure that you are getting a life.

5.  Create time-saving remote learning systems

With the new remote learning set-up, you need to adjust your time. Invest more time in setting up academic systems that will save you time. In this scenario, the procedures and routines in a virtual classroom are automated. This gives you focus on both teaching and learning.

The automated systems will help simplify your workload in the coming months or years. Show your students how exactly you would want them to submit their schoolwork. This will save you from responding or messaging to several emails of the same queries.    

6. Teach from home - home learning

You can keep work-life balance while giving students online learning. Be generous and have yourself compassion to teach online. Psychologists recommend online teachers to make plans for physical activities. Make your body move and make it a daily habit.

Acknowledge the stress that any work can give you. Tell your students or your family members what you really feel. Try to discuss stress with them and let them rate their stress level and ease your own.

Also, take note of the fact that you are not alone. Remember, it is us against coronavirus. Stress levels will only get higher when people compete against each other. Work together instead. You can do this by regulating your emotions.

7. Take pride as educators to achieve work-life balance

As educators, you need to figure out how to have a balanced life since teaching is a challenging job. Yes, there are obstacles in your career but you must respect your time. Acknowledge your impact on education. It may be difficult at first but switching off from electronics after work hours is relevant.

Meanwhile, you need to make priorities and your health should be on top of it. Exercise and any physical activities will help you deal and cope with education-associated issues. You still have friends outside of school. They are stress relievers as well. Set schedules and make time to bond with them as you have a flexible schedule now. Dinner dates and outings would not be a waste of time, isn’t it?

There is so much more after your online class. So, go and have a life not just work.

Learning how to have a work-life balance as an educator online can really be tough. However, it is critical for survival. But with the strategies and tips provided above, you can make sure that your career in teaching is also lasting, healthy other than impactful. Make use of these guidelines and the next time you know it, you are enjoying your job while being at home.

Get a life while teaching from the comfort of your home. Have a work-life balance let us be your guide.

Digital learning

How to Improve Student Engagement Outside of the Classroom

Tips to improve student engagement in a virtual classroom

Amidst Covid-19 pandemic, higher education now heightens online programs and courses. Online learning seems not an easy endeavor not just for instructors but for students as well. There is a need to heighten student engagement. This could mean a flock of online learners in this type of learning environment that needs retention of students’ focus on eLearning. So, here are some engagement strategies educators in higher ed can do to improve online student engagement.

Improving student engagement with these 2 strategies

While lectures are becoming more interactive for student learning and engagement, often times this isn't extended to the time between online classes. Unfortunately, more than 20% of students are described as disengaged throughout the term. Historically, student engagement focuses on positive behaviours, creating a sense of belonging and increasing achievement for students.

Increasing student engagement means to:

  • Provide high-quality learning experiences that meet incoming students' expectations
  • Align the learning goals with the students' post-graduation aspirations.
  • When students submit an assignment, learning shouldn't stop.

When students submit an assignment, learning shouldn't stop.

When students are viewed as thinkers, knowledge is generated through collaborative efforts that encourage students to be curious while learning in an online environment. This can be achieved by providing a mechanism for assessing the learning quality of the students through cognitive activities at a higher level of the learning process.

Old and new versions of Bloom's Taxonomy diagram
Figure1: Diagram of Bloom's Taxonomy

Incorporating both peer-to-peer evaluation and feedback-on-feedback can further enhance student’s higher-order critical thinking and comprehension of course material and coursework beyond the traditional classroom. As students complete assignments, they have a greater opportunity to understand and comprehend the task at hand. Through peer evaluation, they have the chance to analyze existing or newly found knowledge which in return will increase their curiosity. The application can be seen through the feedback students will provide on one another's evaluations. Here, students will have the opportunity to engage with their peers through a virtual classroom community outside of class in real-time.

1. Keeping student's prepared before entering the classroom

The concept of the Flipped Classroom Model (FCM) is that basic content instruction is introduced before class and strengthened in class with the support of peers and teachers in a collaborative environment. This pedagogy has been adopted by several professors and now with the implementation of technology and social media, specifically multi-media resources, this can become even easier.

Using Kritik to create open discussions or to create questions that tackle real-world problems will encourage inquiry-based learning from students. Whether it be watching video lectures and conferencing, conducting research, or designing or performing experiments students will be actively engaged while completing learning activities. Team-based learning is also encouraged as students can receive immediate feedback before debating or completing group work in class.

Including various types of activities can make FCM can enable professors to have students learn while building out course content. For example, instructors may ask students to read a chapter of the book, put on a "teacher hat" and create a question out of the content of those readings that can be used for quizzes and exams.

Additionally, since the FCM places great emphasis on autonomous learning for students, learning assessment and student progress can be a concern. To integrate flexible assessment methods that allow for a comprehensive investigation of teaching and learning, rubric-based assessment offers a great solution. A great online teaching and learning solution that implements the pedagogy of Bloom's taxonomy is Kritik's peer assessment software. Given that Kritik allows students to evaluate and receive feedback on these evaluations, additional feedback can help steer students in the right direction.

2. Make learning social and in multiple communication formats

Online instructors should consider social media to spice up online courses and engage their students in learning. When used properly, social platforms help establish a classroom community among students and instructors.

Online education gives instructors various ways to communicate with their students. Discussion posts, discussion forums, and other group discussions are just among the avenues for student interaction. Instant messaging, home page announcements, and embedded video and audio are now the norm. In fact, online instructors now create explanatory screencast videos as they are inexpensive and easy.

Heighten student engagement to give students a better, if not the best, learning experience outside the traditional classroom.

Improve student learning

How to Convert Course Content into Kritik Activities

Create better assignments to help students develop critical thinking.

Break large assignments down into smaller activities

Cumulative assignments can be transformed into smaller segments of peer evaluation that will ultimately help your students produce a higher quality final assignment.

How to:

Start by segmenting the steps necessary to creating the final assignment, and creating activities foreach portion. For example, in a research paper, assign:

  • One activity in which the student presents their hypothesis
  • One activity in which the student presents their data collection methodology
  • One activity in which the student presents their findings and discussions

Benefits: By dividing up final assignments into more digestible activities, students will receive rich feedback for every portion of their assignment, over the course of the term. Not only does this help them with content creation, but it also helps them stay afloat in terms of making final assignment deadlines.

Turn readings into engaging material

Students absorb an abundance of content through weekly readings, but they cannot fully exercise this until in-class discussions or during their exams. You can transform this into opportunities for students to retain this information and extend their learning through peer evaluations.

How to:

Per each weekly reading, you can assign quick, frequent activities such as:

  • Creating a question based on the reading materials
  • Sharing notes and comments made on the readings
  • Teaching the readings in a creative way
  • Answering thought/discussion provoking questions
  • Creating a video explaining the contents of the reading

Benefits:Giving students activities that are relevant to assigned readings increases content retention by also enabling students to immediately apply concepts that they have learned. Open discussions and questions about the readings are now also established, therefore adding more depth to the content assigned. This method capitalizes on enriching pre-existing content.

Homework questions and problem sets

Homework questions are also a great repository for peer evaluation content. Not only can students evaluate solutions to questions, but they can also investigate and build on their peer’s thought process.

How to:

Assign activities per set of homework questions, and ask students to clearly outline their thought processes, formulas, and diagrams for peer review. Be sure to share solutions to the questions with the class as soon the deadline is terminated.

Benefits:This method is a great example of automated grading and feedback. When students are given the solution to a problem set, as well as visibility into the deliberation by their peers, they are equipped with the ultimate tools for peer evaluation. Homework questions are typically straightforward, therefore leaving very little room for student error or misjudgment.

Labs and in-class activities

In-class teaching methods are easily transferable to Kritik. The beauty of using Kritik for labs and in-class activities is that you can reap the benefits of the concise timing of the activity scheduler, and prolong the discussion far after class time.

How to:

Set the deadline for creation shortly after the lab or in-class activity is done. The creation phase can be used to submit lab results or findings done in class. The evaluation and feedback stage are used as a discussion board for the different conclusions that your students have made through their findings.

Benefits:The instructions of labs and in-class methods are consistent among all students who have attended. As a result, students can share and compare the thoughts and outcomes that were produced in the same session. This allows for them to gather the bigger picture, rather than focusing on a singular experience.

Activity templates

Kritik offers four activity templates that are explicitly designed with the structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy. These are only suggestive templates, and may be customized. Each template accompanied with sample instructions, objectives and rubrics.

Blooms Taxonomy

Our activity templates focus on three highest levels of cogitative thinking fromBloom's Taxonomy; Analysis, Evaluation, and Creation

https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5d1107af8bbfc725806e3a83/5de56321f8e71125d43b476c_blooms.png

Create question

This template asks students to formulate a higher order thinking question based on reading comprehension. This activity aims to evaluate the question’s Richness, Complexity, Scope, and Relevance.

Create an essay

This template prompts students to write an argumentative essay based on a controversial opinion/subject. The rubric criteria includes: Clarity ofThoughts, Accuracy, Creative and Critical Thinking, Source and Evidence.

Create content to teach peers

Students are asked to teach content to their peers in a way that promotes higher content retention among their peers. Students are evaluated based onOrganization, Relevance, Clarity, and Knowledge of Content.

Creative communication

This template asks students to communicate course content in a creative way, (i.e. through illustration, infographic item, summary table, short video, animation, or anything that will help convey the message faster or make it more engaging than the plain text). Students are evaluated by Organization, Knowledge, Text and Readability, Creativity and VisualAids.

Peer to Peer Learning

An In-Depth Perspective: Students & Online Learning

32 % of students said they would not enroll in courses this Fall.

COVID's impact on education has been far reaching - institutions hurriedly shut their doors and students were forced to continue their studies online. With many institutions remaining closed in the Fall, or adopting a hybrid on-campus & online learning mix, students are unsure if they will partake in classes come September.
We asked students their plans for the Fall semester, their opinions on online learning and what institutions need to do today to improve online learning to ensure students return to campus.
Download and read our free report today.
Online learning

Implementing Remote Class Discussions

Implementing an interactive online discussion in class.

Since in-person classes have come to a halt, it has become difficult to organize and run interactive activities like in-class discussions. We understand that this component is very important and sensitive for professors as they have to make a transition to the asynchronous manner of online teaching to complete their course material and carry out assessment as well.

Professors want to ensure that they can deal with all of their students' concerns and questions in a timely and efficient manner. Implementing an interactive online communication between the students and the instructors is done through chat sessions, discussion forum and video chats. It reduces the amount of personalized feedback or office hours that the professors will need to provide.

Benefits of online discussion

There are a number of benefits of online discussion, even if conducted in a face to face course.

1. Work- Quality

The specified discussion topic is discussed about according to the expectations and requirements by the instructor. Students take time and reflect on their contribution to discussion before sending. It offers the students to expand their knowledge through more resources available online.

2. Preparation

Usually in the on-campus lectures, when a student comes unprepared, the student is not able to contribute in the discussion. While the online discussion grants the student a benefit to prepare on spot by looking up information online.

3. Writing skill

When a students makes their contribution in the online discussion forum, it gives the student a time to reflect on their writing. This is opportunity to improve writing skill. Student posts and assignments, contributions can be run through plagiarism detectors to limit cheating and motivate the students to write their own thing.

4. Active management

As the instructor is also following the discussion, he is able to direct the students on the course content and address their misconceptions. If the instructors sees in the initial post that students need to learn something else, he may even start new threads.

5. Equal chances

Traditional classroom discussion does not allow an equal student engagement due to the limited time span. Students are able to contribute in the discussion thread at any time they are available. Other than that shy and timid students who are unable to find courage to speak up when every other extroverted student is participation, find it easy to participate in the in depth dialogue with other students.

6. Global connection

Online learning has served the purpose of bringing students together from across the globe. Their can be discussion between the discussion groups of different campuses of the same university or different universities as well. It gives a chance to learn about the cultural perspectives of students from different areas.  

Best practices for online discussions

A number of facilitators are skeptical that it is not possible to replicate the value of face to face discussions with asynchronous discussions. The effective participation of students also depend on their degree level, while the students of masters are self motivates, the among the undergraduates efforts are to be made to make effective online discussions.

1. Have clear expectations

Explain your expectations regarding the number of posts, the number of replies, and the associated deadlines in the discussion prompt.

2. Make first discussions low stakes

Adjust the discussion by making the initial post something that only involve students experimenting with the use of the online discussion board. They may online introduce themselves at first. This is particularly helpful for students who are new to the online learning management system (LMS)

3. Clarify your role

The primary role of the instructor is to keep the discussion going on track by asking open ended discussion questions. He may present them with case studies for their e-learning experience. Regulation of interaction between the students by creating and ensuring the implementation of rules and policies related to the discussion board posts and replies.

4. Provide feedback

The instructor should provide positive feedbacks to the students to motivate them to contribute specially in the initial discussions in their online class.

Asking open ended questions for probing and facilitating critical thinking and discussions.

Encourage note taking in the online classroom as well.

Discussion strategies

Discussion strategies include:

1. Instructor-designed questions

To keep discussions engaging include a mix of open and closed-ended comprehension questions where students are required to reason with themselves when investigating if questions can have a limited number of possible correct answers or if multiple strong answers can be generated [1].

2. Student-designed questions

In order for students to provide complex and insightful questions, giving students instructions or examples of the types of questions to generate discussions will be a helpful aid [1]. Generating questions can deepen student's learning by invoking a level of curiosity whether it be through identifying counter-arguments to their question or making connections to other topics through what's asked.

3. “Stand Where I Stand” Debate

This idea was adapted from Brookfield and Preskill where students are tasked to take an assigned reading on controversial topics with a basis of facts that act as evidence to argue a specific position. Based on the reading, the instructor-designed question will pose a debatable statement on the reading. Students will then need to create a debatable statement that reflects if they agreed or disagreed. In the discussion portion, students can read their peers' positions, provide feedback and have the opportunity to change their position. The outcome of a discussion like this will allow students to identify compelling arguments and see how different perspectives can affect their thinking. [1]

4.  Facilitate Q&A on recorded lecture videos

Professors can also implement an interactive class discussion in their online courses specifically based on pre-recorded lectures. Simply record your lecture/lesson with video or audio using any online recording tool of your choice. This can be valuable for STEM-related courses where students can take a learning-by-asking approach for challenging settings. While student helps their peers' by addressing their questions, it also encourages students to approach concepts in new perspectives.

While forums are most used to administer class-wide discussions, online peer review tools provide the perfect gateway to administer both the assignment and discussion. Kritik allows professors to break down their activity so students can make submissions, receive feedback and give feedback on the comments received. For a Stand Where I Stand debate this is perfect for students to generate a response, evaluate other arguments and during the feedback-on-feedback sessions to see whether their position has changed or not. Rubric-based assessment for peer review not only allows student-to-student interaction but it reduces the need for professors to engage directly in discussions and rather moderate the process.

Engage students

How to Convert Your Course Content Into Kritik Activities

Break large assignments down into smaller activities

Cumulative assignments can be broken down into smaller segments of peer evaluation. This process is known as scaffolding and will ultimately help your students produce a higher quality final assignment.

How to:

Start by segmenting the steps necessary to creating the final assignment, and creating activities for each portion. For example, in a research paper, assign:

  • One activity in which the student presents their hypothesis
  • One activity in which the student presents their data collection methodology
  • One activity in which the student presents their findings and discussions
Benefits: By dividing up final assignments into more digestible activities, students will receive rich feedback for every portion of their assignment, over the course of the term. Not only does this help them with content creation, but it also helps them stay afloat in terms of making finalassignment deadlines.

Turn readings into engaging material

Students absorb an abundance of content through weekly readings, but they cannot fully exercise this until class or during their exams. You can transform this into opportunities for students to retain this information and extend their learning through peer evaluations.

How to:

Per each weekly reading, you can assign quick, frequent activities such as:

  • Creating a question based on the reading materials
  • Sharing notes and comments made on the readings
  • Teaching the readings in a creative way
  • Answering thought/discussion provoking questions
  • Creating a video explaining the contents of the reading
Benefits: Giving students activities that are relevant to assigned readings increases content retention by also enabling students to immediately apply concepts that they have learned. Open discussions and questions about the readings are now also established, therefore adding more depth to the content assigned. This method capitalizes on enriching pre-existing content.

Homework questions and problem sets

Homework questions are also a great repository for peer evaluation content. Not only can students evaluate solutions to questions, but they can also investigate and build on their peer’s thought process.

How to:

Assign activities per set of homework questions, and ask students to clearly outline their thought processes, formulas, and diagrams for peer review. Be sure to share solutions to the questions with the class as soon the deadline is terminated.

Benefits: This method is a great example of automated grading and feedback. When students are given the solution to a problem set, as well as visibility into the deliberation by their peers, they are equipped with the ultimate tools for peer evaluation. Homework questions are typically straightforward, therefore leaving very little room for student error or misjudgment.

Labs and in-class activities

In-class teaching methods are easily transferable to Kritik. The beauty of using Kritik for labs and in-class activities is that you can reap the benefits of the concise timing of the activity scheduler, and prolong the discussion far after class time. Check out how Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser from McMaster University conducts labs online through Kritik! 

How to:

Set the deadline for creation shortly after the lab or in-class activity is done. The creation phase can be used to submit lab results or findings done in class. The evaluation and feedback stage are used as a discussion board for the different conclusions that your students have made through their findings.

Benefits: The instructions of labs and in-class methods are consistent among all students who have attended. As a result, students can share and compare the thoughts and outcomes that were produced in the same session. This allows for them to gather the bigger picture, rather than focusing on a singular experience.

Activity templates

Kritik offers four activity templates that are explicitly designed with the structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy. These are only suggestive templates, and may be customized. Each template accompanied with sample instructions, objectives and rubrics.

Blooms Taxonomy

Our activity templates focus on three highest levels of cogitative thinking from Bloom's Taxonomy; Analysis, Evaluation, and Creation

https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5d1107af8bbfc725806e3a83/5de56321f8e71125d43b476c_blooms.png

1. Create question

This template asks students to formulate a higher order thinking question based on reading comprehension. This activity aims to evaluate the question’s Richness, Complexity, Scope, and Relevance.

2. Create an essay

This template prompts students to write an argumentative essay based on a controversial opinion/subject. The rubric criteria includes: Clarity of Thoughts, Accuracy, Creative and Critical Thinking, Source and Evidence.

3. Create content to teach peers

Students are asked to teach content to their peers in a way that promotes higher content retention among their peers. Students are evaluated based on Organization, Relevance, Clarity, and Knowledge of Content.

4. Creative communication

This template asks students to communicate course content in a creative way, (i.e. through illustration, info graphic item, summary table, short video, animation, or anything that will help convey the message faster or make it more engaging than the plain text). Students are evaluated by Organization, Knowledge, Text and Readability, Creativity and Visual Aids.