Adaptive Learning Environments: Interactive Outlining?

After recently having numerous discussions with teachers and students about the value of students outlining a course, one thing is clear — the age-old practice of outling is thriving.  One thing that is not as clear is the value of a practice that does not involve any teacher-student interaction. So, I thought it would be fun and interesting to ask, “What if….?”  As an experiment, I have started an interactive outline on my class Blackboard site.   Students can post their outlines on this Web platform — anonymously if they want — and I can post comments.   This type of mutual access might allow information to flow in different directions — to the student who posted, to the prof as formative feedback, and to other students who read the posts.  The site is intended to help visual students, give profs an understanding of how students are learning and permit mid-course corrections and fill-ins.   Will this idea crash and burn?  I will keep you posted.

6 Responses

  1. The idea of interactive course outlines is a great one. It provides formative feedback on a standard study tool that has usually been out of sight of the course professor. It is also a very creative use of available technology. It also would seem to encourage students to view learning as a joint venture among themselves and the professor. Please keep us posted!

  2. This is a terrific idea. Is your Blackboard site like a “wiki” where others can edit and comment? Look forward to hearing about how this works!

  3. So far, we have not used a “wiki,” but that is in the works. I will let you know how things progress (or not!)


  4. I will be starting Albany Law this Fall and find the idea of an interactive outline very comforting. As an older, returning student I will welcome any and all feedback, especially in this no risk, high gain way.

  5. Thanks for the comments. I also see this as a low cost, high benefit idea and the students so far have been very enthusiastic about its potential. We’ll see if it works as well in practice as in theory. I will post the address for the site shortly.

  6. A colleague’s labor law class has experimented with interactive outlining. Her theory was that students should experience some of the aspects of acting as a “collective” (akin to a labor organization but without substantial bargaining rights!). Student groups are collectively outlining the course and submitting their parts to the professor for review and suggestion and final merging. The original idea was for them to learn some of the attributes of acting collectively. Collaborative work is an incident of the experience. The final result informs the professor about what the students have learned (or not), how they conceptualize what they have learned, and how they approach outlining. From this information, the professor can ensure students learn what is intended, and can modify the approach, her’s or theirs as necessary.

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