ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Train the teachers via online work shadowing

Posted on: December 12, 2017

I strongly believe that we learn by doing something: discussing, drawing, scribbling, modeling, reflecting and writing it down (or recording it). Therefore in my (training) classes people have to do something all the time. That’s also the basis of the online cos teachers’ training I developed a month ago and which is running at the moment. Content Strategy (COS)  is a university program for students who work and study. A lot of the learning process is happening online and the teachers want to improve their asynchronous and synchronous teaching performance.

In my training approach my colleagues are now my ´students´. I prepare the online room as I always do with my students – in Slack and based on etivities (online tasks). The most important part of the training will be the project work where my colleagues have the opportunity for online work shadowing – observing their teaching scenarios, respectively.

Training weeks 1 & 2

The objective of week 1 is to build the group. There are six national and international participants in the group.  As teachers in the cos program they know each other but nevertheless they learned something new about each other. They struggled a lot with time management on the one hand and with getting orientation at the other hand. One of the training participants dropped out.

In the middle of the second week I moderated a synchronous meeting on ZOOM to show how I activate my students during an online conference. After a short introduction I told the two participants to do some research and come back to the online meeting and present what they have found. The second part of the video conference was open for discussion about the training weeks so far and about the upcoming project work. The feedback of the persons involved into the online meeting was positive whereas one of the participants who had to watch the video afterwards and to do a different task didn’t like it that much.

It’s not easy to get involved into a topic by watching the recording instead of attending the online meeting. Our cos students have up to 3 online meetings a week and many of them have to watch the video afterwards. As I hate to watch videos and it’s not my media to learn at all I would die! As an enthusiastic MOOC learner I watch videos from time to time. They work for me when I take notes at the same time, do some research, transfer it to my experience.

Also the asynchronous exchange is not that easy going in the teacher training, one of the participants had the feeling that it is a ´forced´activity.


I like Slack as communication platform a lot but in the case of an an online training it doesn’t support a lot of structure. And my nice overview and tasks files were totally ignored 🙂 These were the channels I prepared for the training.

Work shadowing – the observation project

In the weeks to come my colleagues in the training course have to collaborate in a project. At the moment they are preparing and scheduling their collaboration. The project work is unmoderated which means that they are responsible for their learning process and I’m not available for support and information.

According to my training design the participants should observe an online teaching session from each other (work shadowing). The session can be synchronous or asynchronous. Of course I prepared explanations what they have to do in the Slack channels – but based on my experience with this course so far I also created a comic page to visualize the process.

The observation minutes should help them to organize their thoughts during the observation, to create a document which can be discussed and share. I believe it will be helpful that I’m not moderating this phase. The participants have to figure it out and will do it according to their needs and their constraints.

Observation minutes

The training participants should reflect what you saw, heard, thought, felt with respect to:

  • The start of the synchronous session / the asynchronous period
  • The type of work and interaction – what type of interaction takes place? Does it change? 
  • The structure of the session/period of time –  is there a structure? Do I understand it? Is there a kind of dramaturgy? Is the purpose visible at the beginning, in the middle? 
  • What about the tasks? Are they easy to understand? Do the tasks initiate different types of learning – e.g. individual work, pair work, group work
  • Media: what media are used? Is there a mix?
  • Unexpected situations, disturbance: did you observe such a situation? How did the teacher react?
  • The end: How did the session end, the period of asynchronous tasks end?
  • Specialty: did you observe something which didn’t fit into the questions above?

Learning journal

Furthermore with respect to their interaction with their students I ask my colleagues to write weekly contributions to their individual learning journal. They can also record their voice or a video. The documented activities should be clustered according to:

  • What did catch my eye / what did I see, observe?
  • How did I react, what did I do?
  • What did I think?

Finish line

In about a month I will become active as convener/moderator in the training again. I will read the documentation of the projects, the learning journals and will collect material – which we will use in the final workshop at the end of January/beginning of February. Some of the participants will attend the workshop in person, others online.

I’m really curios what will happen in the cos teachers training in the next weeks.

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