Saturday, December 31, 2022

Student-Created Podcasts As An Innovative Approach to Assessments

Typically, podcasts have been used to deliver instructor-created lectures or supplemental course content. Podcasts are audio files that are made available publicly or privately for listening via streaming or download through a range of devices such as laptops and cell phones. This article provides examples of assignments that ask students to produce podcasts as an alternative to traditional assignments.

As a pivot to online teaching during COVID-19, Halabi (2021) described how a student-produced podcast assessment substituted for the final examination in an MBA accounting course. Students were tasked with interviewing a small business owner, entrepreneur, or start-up to create a podcast to help teach or illustrate an accounting concept learned throughout the course. The instructor provided two options for creating the podcast: Kaltura Capture software (supported by the university) and Audacity (not supported by the university). Students also received detailed instructions and requirements of the assessment, a grading rubric, and previous student examples. In addition to creating and submitting the podcast, students created and submitted a one-page description or summary of the podcast. Based on reflections from the instructor and students, the student-produced podcasts provided an efficient learning experience that connected theory to practice while serving as an authentic assessment. Although the traditional accounting assessment was changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, podcast assignments have ongoing applicability as authentic assessments in future semesters, even for other disciplines.

Using the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition) model, Hitchcock, Sage, Lynch, and Sage (2021), redefined a traditional social work research paper to incorporate a podcast interview. The four social work instructors collaborated to develop, implement, and evaluate a podcast assignment in different sections of practice and policy courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  This case study evaluated how podcasting technology contributed to building social work skills in the classroom. It addressed two research questions:

  • Can a digital podcast assignment contribute to social work learning outcomes?
  • Do students perceive the digital podcast assignment to be as effective as traditional assignments in achieving social work learning outcomes?

Students were asked to create a podcast, 15-20 minutes in length, using an interview or discussion approach, on a topic relevant to the course. The creation process started with a written plan and an interview guide, included a written transcript, and ended with a reflection. Students exchanged their podcasts with each other and provided feedback using the assignment rubric as a guide. Instructors also provided feedback to the students using the same rubric. The instructors found that the podcast assignments contributed to social work learning outcomes and enhanced student learning. Overall, students felt that the podcast assignment was better than traditional classroom assignments, such as writing a paper or completing a PowerPoint presentation.

In summary, podcasting in education is a great way to enhance the learning experience for students. One way to implement podcasts in a course is to modify an existing assessment, wherein students use the audio format of the medium in place of a written paper or presentation. Podcasts expose students to opportunities to use technology and show what they know differently from traditional assignments.


Halabi, A. K. (2021). Pivoting authentic assessment to an accounting podcast during COVID-19. Accounting Research Journal, 34(2), 156–168.

Hitchcock, L. I., Sage, T., Lynch, M., & Sage, M. (2021). Podcasting as a Pedagogical Tool for Experiential Learning in Social Work Education. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 41(2), 172–191.


Cite this blog: Washington, G. (2022, December 31). Student-created podcasts as an innovative approach to assessments [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash _________________________________________________________________________

Next Blog Article: January 31, 2023

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Student-Student Interaction

Student-student interaction is a vital part of any student learning experience whether face-to-face, blended/hybrid, or online. With the increasing use of online course delivery in higher education, this is a perfect time to discuss student-student interaction. According to research, the more that students interact with each other through engagement opportunities fostered by the instructor, the more they get to know and learn from each other.

In a recent case study, Amrullah and Zahratun (2022) explored how students interact with each other in online learning environments. The study was situated in a public university in Indonesia with students participating in the Teaching English for Young Learners online course.  The lecturer designed the course to promote student-student interactions. Students participated in real-time virtual discussions as synchronous meetings to discuss, exchange their ideas, and interact with each other.  The lecturer provided new insight and skills to the students through posted materials. Students engaged in WhatsApp groups and used Moodle as an asynchronous platform to discuss course materials and collaborate on group projects. Students had opportunities to learn from each other, the content, and the lecturer. During assigned synchronous meetings, one group served as the expert for a particular topic. The lecturer encouraged the other groups to raise questions and discuss authentic cases with the expert group. In this sense, the lecturer played “a pivotal role in facilitating students to have effective interactions by providing various activities, prepared materials, and support” (p. 37).

Likewise, Morrison (2021) found that student-student interaction in online courses led to greater student success in overcoming barriers and challenges to online learning. Morrison removed and replaced all quizzes with discussion boards in online courses. Students discussed real-world situations to stimulate authentic and creative social interactions to learn from each other. The credit per discussion board was broken into two parts with the initial response worth 15 points and the response to peers worth 5 points. The module topics were incorporated into the discussion board. Morrison discovered that students preferred the discussion boards to the quizzes and developed a greater sense of an inclusive academic community. In addition, in the public organization course, students worked in groups to create a public sector organization based on the topics covered in the course. For the final assignment, student groups presented their project via video. Real-world application through discussion boards and group projects enhanced the students’ subject mastery and critical thinking skills.

In summary, one way to increase student engagement is through student-student interaction. As educators, you can create opportunities for students to engage with other students. As you explore new possibilities, ask yourself these questions: How can I provide opportunities for students to get to know their classmates throughout the semester or year and not just on day one? How can I create opportunities for student-student interaction through activities, assignments, and instructional materials? What technology will I use, such as discussions in a learning management system, VoiceThread, Flip (previously FlipGrid), or Padlet?


Amrullah, & Zahratun N. (2022). Student-student interaction in an online learning during the covid-19 pandemic. Journal of Applied Studies in Language, 6(1), 37–45.

Morrison, J. S. (2021). Getting to Know You: Student-Faculty Interaction and Student Engagement in Online Courses. Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice, 21(12), 38–44.


Cite this blog: Washington, G. (2022, August 31). Student-student interaction [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Photo by Maya Maceka on Unsplash

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Blogs As Academic Writing Assignments

Blogs have evolved as effective digital platforms for student learning and assessment. Blogs can provide a balance between formal written assignments and the freedom of expression through personal writing. Research on the use of blogs in education suggests that students who blog as part of a course requirement demonstrate increased course-related knowledge and experience opportunities for engagement and self-reflection. This article discusses two uses of blogs as assignments for students along with tips for using blogs in educational settings.

In a qualitative study, researchers examined senior undergraduate students’ use of a project-related blog on a curriculum-assessment alignment project completed as a co-op work placement. The students used blog posts to guide the co-op project and to engage in learning and reflection. The researchers found that “students used the blog extensively, to communicate with their faculty supervisor and with one another, to brainstorm solutions to problems, to record notes, and to critique existing learning outcomes and the literature” (Worthington et al., 2018, p. 125). The blog served as documentation of the project from beginning to end. Students wrote about the pedagogy of curriculum mapping and recorded team decisions about the mapping process. Also, students used the blog to describe challenges faced on the job and to reflect on how the knowledge they gained applied to other areas of their lives.

Another use of blogs was in a literacy course for preservice teachers. As students, the preservice teachers created reflective blogs to demonstrate their knowledge of concepts taught by their instructor. Four blog assignments with instructor-created prompts replaced a traditional reflection paper. Literacy blog topics aligned with the course learning outcomes related to reading, writing, lesson planning, and differentiation. Students used materials and resources shared by the instructor, class discussions, and their research to write blog posts. The blog format supported preservice teachers in developing their teaching philosophies and professional identities (Childs, 2021).

Here are some tips for incorporating blog assignments into your course.

  • Align the blog assignment with at least one of the course learning outcomes.
  • Define the focus of the blog and maintain a consistent schedule of posting.
  • Define the criteria for assessing the blog and share it with students ahead of time.
  • Discuss plagiarism and use it as a teaching moment (e.g. Post copyright-free images and cite the source.)
  • Choose a platform (e.g., WordPress, Google Sites, Blogger, Edublogs) where students can build their blogs.

Think about how you can implement blogging to promote learning and reflection in your discipline and educational setting.

Childs, K. (2021). Let’s blog about it: Capturing preservice teachers’ thoughts about literacy education. Texas Association for Literacy Education Yearbook, 8, 26–31.

Worthington, P., Reniers, J., Lackeyram, D., & Dawson, J. (2018). Using a Project Blog to Promote Student Learning and Reflection. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 48(3), 125–140.

Cite this blog: Washington, G. (2022, April 30). Blogs As Academic Writing Assignments [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Image from Pixabay


Next Blog Article: August 31, 2022

Monday, January 31, 2022

Using Social Annotation Tools for Collaborative Learning

As educators embraced returning to the face-to-face classroom with the uncertainty of COVID, technology played a vital role in supporting teaching and learning.  Online social annotation tools (SA), such as Perusall ( and Hypothesis ( helped educators address the challenge of keeping students distanced while collaborating. This article captured experiences and reflections as discussed in the literature related to SA tools.

Social Annotation Tools

Online social annotation tools are digital platforms for making annotations on digital content and shared with a group or community through the internet (Marissa, 2021). Social annotation tools are used in a variety of disciplines to facilitate learning. Kalir and Garcia (2019) identified five common underlying purposes of annotation, namely, “to provide information, to share commentary, to spark conversation, to express power, and to aid learning” (p. 6). Hypothesis and Perusall are two SA platforms known to promote the use of active reading strategies and interactions between course content and students.


The SA tool, Hypothesis, is a free Google Chrome extension or proxy bookmarklet for other browsers. Marissa (2021) explored the usefulness of the Hypothesis platform for facilitating student learning in a Content-Based Instruction (CBI) classroom. Tedick and Cammarata (2012) defined the CBI pedagogical approach of teaching language as “a curricular and instructional approach in which nonlinguistic content is taught to students through the medium of a language that they are learning as a second, heritage, indigenous, or foreign language” (p. 28).

Through the online social annotation tool, Hypothesis, first-year undergraduate students worked collaboratively on assigned reading documents in a 13-week intensive writing course covering the topic of neoliberalism. Students came from a range of disciplines from the arts and social sciences to engineering. Students worked in groups and responded to questions based on the assigned readings using the Hypothesis platform. Students also had the option to make individual annotations. The groups shared their annotations with other groups who made comments on the annotations with questions or comments of their own.

The study’s findings showed that students learned through collaborative peer learning and active engagement using the Hypothesis platform. The SA tool also helped students manage the academic content used in a CBI classroom. The effective application of Hypothesis supported a positive user experience of the platform.


On the other hand, Nel and Marais (2021) used Perusall in a teaching practicum course as an innovative reaction to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Perusall is an online, social annotation platform that was originally designed to promote “high pre-class reading compliance, engagement, and conceptual understanding” (Miller et al., 2018, p. 3). The platform handles different material types, including documents in PDF, e-book format, Word documents, Excel documents, snapshots of web pages, videos, and podcasts. Perusall was designed to be collaborative.

In an exploratory case study, the authors provided an overview of student teachers’ perspectives on the innovative use of Perusall during the “learning from practice” component of a teaching practicum (p. 410).  Student teachers, mentor teachers, and teacher educators (course instructors) engaged “in a learning cycle focused on core teaching practices (e.g., explaining/modeling content). As a SA tool, Perusall provided a platform for collaboration and feedback. Teacher educators created reading and video assignments in Perusall. The student teachers asynchronously annotated the assigned reading or video by posting replies to comments or questions. The teacher educators and mentor teachers contributed to conversations asynchronously by providing feedback on comments or questions made by the student teachers.

The study results indicated that student teachers, teacher educators, and mentor teachers actively engaged with “constructive dialogic feedback that assisted student teachers to make crucial adjustments to the core practice of explaining/modeling content” (p. 410).  Student teachers demonstrated their knowledge, understanding, and skill of a core teaching practice. Perusall provided the opportunity for timely and constructive feedback aimed at improving student teachers’ teaching practices.


In summary, the integration of SA tools into learning activities across a range of educational settings helped students engage constructively with course content. Both studies showed that SA tools displayed benefits in terms of enriching student interaction with the assigned readings, assigned videos, and their peers. Please share how you use social annotation tools for teaching and learning.


Kalir, J and Garcia, A. (2019). Chapter 1. In Annotation.

Marissa, K. L. E. (2021). Using an online social annotation tool in a content-based instruction (CBI) classroom. International Journal of TESOL Studies, 3(2), 5.

Miller, K., Lukoff, B., King, G. & Mazur, E. (2018). Use of a social annotation platform for preclass reading assignments in a flipped introductory Physics class. Frontiers in Education, 3(8):1–12.

Nel, C., & Marais, E. (2021). Addressing the Wicked Problem of Feedback during the Teaching Practicum. Perspectives in Education, 39(1), 410–426.

Tedick, D. J., & Cammarata, L. (2012). Content and language integration in K-12 contexts: Student outcomes, teacher practices, and stakeholder perspectives. Foreign Language Annals, 45(s1).


Cite this blog: Washington, G. (2022, January 31). Social Annotation Tools for Collaborative Learning  [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Image from Pixabay

Friday, December 31, 2021

Revisit The Flipped Classroom

empty classroom upside down

Educators teaching in face-to-face classrooms move beyond passive learning with more active and collaborative approaches to teaching with flipped classroom usage (Bergmann & Sams, 2014). Utilizing a flipped classroom allows student engagement and learning goes beyond just watching videos. Before class, students prepare to participate in class activities. During class, students are actively involved with other students and the instructor through a variety of approaches such as problem-based activities, brainstorming, or group/pair work. After class, students check their understanding and extend their learning. A flipped classroom looks different based on the instructor, students, classroom environment, content, and learning outcomes. According to Bergmann and Sams (2014, p. 18) “A flipped classroom really starts with one simple question: What is the best use of your face-to-face class time?”

In traditional face-to-face business courses taught by three different instructors, students identified the courses as difficult and hard to pass. Students were commuter students, who sometimes had multiple jobs, family responsibilities, and other commitments. Sometimes, students were unable to attend class and when they did attend, they came unprepared. Students were diverse from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds. In addition, the instructors observed that students were disinterested and disengaged in the class. So, the instructors redesigned four traditional courses to a flipped course and studied the effectiveness of the flipped courses as compared with the traditional courses. The courses were taught as both traditional and flipped courses over eight semesters from spring 2015 to fall 2018. Instruction happened outside the classroom, and if students encountered learning issues or had questions, they could contact the instructor or use a discussion forum in the learning management system. Prior to coming to the next class, students completed a short online quiz or low-level skills worksheet that helped the instructors assess student understanding of the material. The instructors found evidence of academic improvement by students in flipped courses compared with traditional courses, a general positive attitude toward flipped courses, and lower withdrawal rates of students from flipped courses without having to compromise on course content (Sarkar, Ford & Manzo, 2019).

Malik, Khan, and Maqsood (2018) found similar results in which the flipped approach improved physical and cognitive engagement of students. Physical engagement referred to active participation and the application of vigor and effort focused toward the completion of a task. Cognitive engagement was the amount of attention, concentration, and focus toward an activity or a task. The researchers used a mixed method approach to compare and contrast the qualitative data and the results of quantitative data. The participants included undergraduate students in an engineering class. From the beginning of the semester until the second exam, students were taught using the traditional mode of instruction. Then, the flipped classroom approach was implemented after the second exam until final exams. Using the flipped classroom approach, the instructors provided students with video lectures, research articles, reference books, and PowerPoint slides a week before the class session. Students brought lecture notes (graded activity), which included key points of the topic and questions to ask during the question and answer session. During the face-to-face class, there was a 25-minute question and answer session based on the lecture notes of students. Group activities included case studies, historical software issues, and real-life scenarios. Each group shared the findings of the activity with the entire class. As a result, the traditional lecture moved from the classroom (group space) into individual space. The face-to-face class time was best used for student interaction and engagement.

In conclusion, the flipped classroom changed the way the instructors mentioned above taught their face-to-face courses. Whether you flip an entire course or portions of a course, students benefit from the active learning and collaborative approach. Higher order thinking is done in the class in the presence of the instructor and the instructor can interact one-on-one or in small groups with students. Learning rather than teaching becomes the goal and students begin to take more ownership of their own learning. Learners are no longer passive recipients of knowledge but active learners.

Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2014). Flipped learning. Learning & Leading with Technology, 41(7), 18–23.

Malik, Z. A., Khan, S. S., & Maqsood, M. (2018). Exploring the relationship between student engagement and new pedagogical approaches. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 47(2), 170-192. doi:10.1177/0047239518788281

Sarkar, N., Ford, W. & Manzo, C. (2019). To flip or not to flip: What the evidence suggests, Journal of Education for Business, doi:10.1080/08832323.2019.1606771

Cite this blog: Washington, G. (2021, December 31). Revisit The flipped classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Teaching in Different Environments

As we near the end of the semester, let us look back at the series of blog articles on teaching in different environments. A brief introductory paragraph is provided for each article. Click the title to read the full article.

Teaching in the Online Synchronous Environment

Are you going to teach online? Will you teach synchronously, asynchronously, or a mixture of both? Learning and teaching occur differently in the online environment. However, synchronous offers the closest experience to a face-to-face environment. Students interact through a Web-based format, which operates like a traditional class, in real-time. As such, this article provides strategies and tools for teaching synchronous online courses.

Related article: Intentionally Designing, Developing, and Delivering Online Courses

Teaching in the Online Asynchronous Environment

Most online courses are asynchronous and provide greater flexibility than traditional, face-to-face courses. In the asynchronous environment, the instructor and students are not required to be online at the same time. Teaching and learning do not happen in real-time. Typically, instructors prepare the course ahead of time with students being required to meet deadlines using a learning management system (LMS). In this article, we will explore some strategies for teaching asynchronous online courses.

Related article: Intentionally Designing, Developing, and Delivering Online Courses

Teaching in the Hybrid Environment

Unlike the asynchronous and synchronous environments, the hybrid environment combines face-to-face course delivery with online delivery. Learning takes place in the classroom and online with online learning replacing some face-to-face instruction. For example, if a class meets in person three days a week, the instructor might replace one day with an online assignment. The key to teaching in the hybrid environment is making connections between in-class and online instructional content, activities, and assessments. Here are some strategies for teaching in the hybrid environment.

Teaching in the Active Blended Learning Environment

 Typically, blended courses or technology-enhanced courses have a technology component, but the face-to-face classes meet according to the traditional schedule without reducing time in the classroom. Technology is used to complement traditional classroom learning. On the other hand, an active blended learning environment supports the “development of subject knowledge and understanding, independent learning, and digital fluency (Power & Cole, 2017, p.668). In this article, I discuss two uses of active blended learning, a student-centered approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching in the Traditional Face-to-Face Environment

The face-to-face environment is the most traditional instructional method where (in which) course content, learning materials, and assessments happen in-person with both the instructor and students present at the same time. However, the pandemic changed teaching and learning with the learning management system (LMS) as a critical platform for continuity in education. What does that mean for the future of the face-to-face environment? This article explores the LMS as a keeper for enhancing communication, instruction, and engagement in the traditional face-to-face environment.

Teaching in the HyFlex Learning Environment

One lesson learned from the pandemic involves offering students the maximum amount of choice possible to engage in high-quality educational experiences from anywhere, at any time, and through a variety of delivery modes. As more educational institutions offer online, distributed learning opportunities, students are no longer constrained by geographical location. However, a HyFlex (hybrid-flexible) learning environment expands learning opportunities by offering different ways for students to participate in the course. This article provides examples of HyFlex learning environments.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read these blog articles. If you have suggestions for future blog articles, please feel free to contact me.


Cite this blog: Washington, G. (2021, November 30). Teaching in Different Environments [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Teaching in the HyFlex Learning Environment

One lesson learned from the pandemic involves offering students the maximum amount of choice possible to engage in high-quality educational experiences from anywhere, at any time, and through a variety of delivery modes. As more educational institutions offer online, distributed learning opportunities, students are no longer constrained by geographical location. However, a HyFlex (hybrid-flexible) learning environment expands learning opportunities by offering different ways for students to participate in the course. This article provides examples of HyFlex learning environments.

A HyFlex course is designed to offer components of hybrid learning in a flexible course structure that gives students the option of attending class sessions in the classroom, participating online (asynchronous or synchronous), or doing both. In the multi-modal course, students have choices about participation mode. On the other hand, faculty have to provide both an online and a classroom experience supporting student learning. Student freedom to choose participation mode is an essential character of a HyFlex design (Beatty, 2019).

Calafiore, Pablo, and Giudici (2021) compared class performance in two relatively large undergraduate introductory finance courses. One class was delivered using the hybrid (blended) format while the other class was taught using the HyFlex model. Both classes were taught by the same instructor, covering the same course materials and the same in-class, proctored exams. In the HyFlex model, students had three options: attend class face-to-face, watch the live class stream, or watch the recorded class asynchronously. For both classes, class attendance and participation were not a part of the grade calculation and attendance was not mandatory. Findings of the study suggested that non-traditional students’ grades were not affected by the type of delivery format selected: HyFlex vs. hybrid. However, in the hybrid class, students had the opportunity to select the option most appropriate to their learning needs.

In another example, Keiper, White, Carlson, and Lupinek (2021) investigated whether a video discussion board learning tool could be used effectively in courses where there was an online learning component. Flipgrid was the chosen virtual learning tool for investigation within HyFlex delivered courses in business education. The author found Flipgrid assisted in increasing student engagement and in creating an engaging online community. Regardless of the course delivery method, Flipgrid is a tool that can be utilized to increase interaction.

In summary, students are offered flexible, customizable, and technology-enhanced learning opportunities through HyFlex courses. Students choose when and how they attend a single course. The alternative participation modes allow students to choose the mode of engagement that works best for them. However, keep in mind that the design of the HyFlex learning environment matters.


Beatty, B. J. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (1st ed.). EdTech Books.

Calafiore, Pablo, & Giudici, E. (2021). Hybrid Versus Hyflex Instruction in an Introductory Finance Course. International Journal of Education Research, 16(1), 40–51.

Keiper, M. C., White, A., Carlson, C. D., & Lupinek, J. M. (2020). Student perceptions on the benefits of Flipgrid in a Hyflex learning environment. Journal of Education for Business, 96(6), 343–351.


Cite this blog: Washington, G. (2021, October 31). Teaching in the HyFlex Learning Environment [Blog post]. Retrieved from 

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash