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By Dr. Jeanine Irons

Help Students to Draw Connections between Things They Learn

In her recent book, Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes, Flower Darby, a seasoned online educator, discusses some ways to promote comprehension of content in online courses including teaching and learning activities that encourage students to draw connections between things that they learn. Some of Darby’s suggestions are:

  • Activate prior knowledge. Ask students to take a pre-test at the beginning of a course or unit of study to remind them of what they already know. As they learn new information, they can connect new knowledge to prior knowledge.
  • Assign concept maps to help students see the connections between ideas. Let them decide whether to create their map online or on paper. Students submit a link to an online map or a photo of a physical one.
  • Assign students to curate online articles or blog posts to explore how course concepts relate to the world outside of class. They can post these in a Google Doc or discussion forum as a repository of their learning. Coach them to pay attention to copyright considerations when using existing resources.

To discuss these ideas in more detail, please contact the CTLE (CTLE@syr.edu )

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