Last post I explored the meaning of Blended Learning and decided that the definition needs to be fluid if we want to encourage instructors to move towards a blended approach - http://ryanbanow.blogspot.ca/2012/06/call-for-fluid-definition-of-blended.html. Another term I have been wanting to explore is "Just-in-Time Teaching" (JiTT).
The best definition I found for JiTT is from the Just-in-Time Teaching Digital Library at http://126.96.36.199/jitt/what.html. G. Novak defines JiTT as:
a teaching and learning strategy based on the interaction between web-based study assignments and an active learner classroom. Students respond electronically to carefully constructed web-based assignments which are due shortly before class, and the instructor reads the student submissions "just-in-time" to adjust the classroom lesson to suit the students' needs. Thus, the heart of JiTT is the "feedback loop" formed by the students' outside-of-class preparation that fundamentally affects what happens during the subsequent in-class time together.
I really like the idea behind this definition, but I recognize the struggles with implementing it. As teachers we love to have a lesson plan in place often well in advance, but JiTT forces us to think on the fly and design instruction at the last minute. The last minute is key to this method being effective because as the teacher you want to know exactly where the students are at when they enter your classroom. Using the web to collect this information helps quickly collate the data from everyone rather than just from the few students who will speak up in class. I think this data would be best kept anonymous.
How do you motivate the students to complete the questions if the data is anonymous? Student motivation would be a major stumbling block to putting JiTT into practice. Unfortunately, many students want to only do work that is for credit. I think the way that we get around this issue, is by making sure that the activities we have the students complete are meaningful and important for their learning. There may not be a score or number attached to it, but if students can clearly see how important completing these web-based questions are in the actual lesson planning, then they will be more inclined to do it. Therefore, the ball is back in the instructor's court. If you are asking students to do these questions, then you need to actually use the data and not just present the same old lecture.
Student response systems would be another example of an opportunity to use JiTT. Tools like SMART Response (http://smarttech.com/response) are becoming more and more popular these days, and we as educators need to meaningfully use the responses that these devices collect. This is hard to do! I have been having students answer multiple choice questions during my lessons through the use of response cards for the past few years, and it is great when you see that the entire class gets the question right, but what do you do when they all get it wrong? What about when only a handful of students get it right or wrong? This requires major flexibility as educators because you can never really predict the responses. You can't simply move on; it needs to shape your lesson going forward. You also need to ask questions that go deeper than just basic knowledge in order to find out if the students actually understand the content. These questions are hard to ask in a multiple choice format!
Here's a scary thought: When using JiTT, what do you do when the technology fails? As instructors we are depending on student responses to shape our lesson. What happens when the data doesn't show up?! Do we need a backup lesson in our pocket?
Thanks to Faron Hrynewich for bringing this to my attention in his post http://faronatetad.blogspot.ca/2012/05/mobile-learning-disuptive-innovation-or.html.
Thanks for reading! If you have ideas for different ways to implement JiTT or thoughts on this topic in general, please share them below.