Another dot in the blogosphere?

Teaching online: Coarse monitoring

Posted on: August 12, 2021

One critical practice of facilitating online learning is monitoring learners and learning. If online facilitators do not know where their students are, how are they supposed to meet them there?

I use Padlet and Google Docs as staples. Both provide me with alerts so that I can take actions if necessary.

Screenshot of Padlet banner alerts in macOS.

In the case of Padlet, I get pop-up banner alerts in the macOS Notification Centre (see image above). This is because I have given Google Chrome permission to monitor Padlet updates and send me alerts.

In the case of Google Docs, I refrain from getting alerts every time someone accesses or edits their document. There would be too many notifications I went this way. 

Screenshot of Google Docs list in GDrive. The "last modified" dates indicate if students have opened and edited their assigned documents.

Instead, I visit the folder which holds the documents of individuals or groups, and I look for changes to the “last modified” date/time. The arrows in the screenshot above indicate students whose documents have not been opened by them. This is how I know who has attempted the assigned work.

Both these forms of coarse monitoring give me a sense of the effort that my students are putting into their work. In a normal classroom, I can gauge this by observing them. I can also do the same during a synchronous online session.

But these online tools allow me to monitor behaviours outside a ‘live’ session. It might help to think of this as knowing who is doing their homework or who is putting in the effort to learn. Such monitoring is not oppressive to my students nor does it take a disproportionate amount of effort from me. What is not good about that?

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