Many schools and districts are scrambling to support teachers who suddenly find themselves teaching online for the very first time. In addition, of course, to the technical challenges, schools and districts have an enormous professional development and support challenge. For those currently using the TIM Tools, you already have a versatile toolbox to help your faculty through this transition. If you haven’t yet taken a look at the TIM Tools, here is a quick view of two of these tools and a couple of features that may be especially helpful in this disruptive time.
Use the TIM-O for Online Classroom Observations
If your school or district has primarily used the TIM-O as a physical walkthrough observation tool, you might not immediately think of it as an online observation tool. However, the TIM-O is based on the descriptors within the TIM and those were updated last year so that they apply equally well to online and face-to-face teaching. These updated descriptors are now embedded in the TIM-O tool. You can use your learning management system to drop in on an online class and then use the TIM-O to complete an observation just as you would when visiting a face-to-face class.
You can also use the additional two tools that are variations of the TIM-O: the Reflection tool (TIM-R) and the Lesson Plan Review tool (TIM-LP). The TIM-R is a self-report tool that teachers can use to reflect on their own online lesson and rate where they think it falls on the matrix for each of the five characteristics of learning. This is often a helpful way to introduce TIM concepts to your teachers. It can also be used before an observation is conducted with the TIM-O, and can then become a valuable piece of your post-observation discussion.
The TIM-LP can be used simply to review submitted lesson plans without observing the online class. This can be especially helpful in situations where administrators aren’t able to observe online instruction due to time or technical constraints, but do have access to the teachers’ lesson plans.
Each of these three tools will reveal how effectively your teachers are incorporating technology into their online teaching and can help identify teachers who need assistance fully utilizing available technology in their online instruction. When the three tools are used together, they can create a more complete picture of how your teachers are integrating technology, what’s working, and where support is most needed.
Create Custom Surveys within the TIM Tools Environment
While the Survey Tool within the TIM Tools suite is similar to other online survey platforms, it differs in some key respects. It is administered within the same environment as the other TIM Tools, so does not require a separate login or extra steps for adding users. You can easily create surveys that are available to one or any combination of member roles within a TIM Tools instance. If teachers and other staff are suddenly working from home, the survey tool would be a very convenient means of collecting responses from various member groups as needed. For example, you could send one survey out that only teachers would see, asking about how they are doing in this new environment, what support they most need, what challenges their students are experiencing, what is working well, etc. This survey could then be modified to target just school leaders, with questions about the challenges they are facing and the support they need from the district. A different survey could be created and sent to just instructional coaches or mentors, etc.
There is also an option to administer surveys to individuals who are not enrolled as TIM Tools users, such as students, parents, or community members. After creating your public survey in the Survey Tool, simply give them the URL and the special entry code that will be generated to access the survey. If you prefer, you can also create a public survey that does not require an entry code. Respondents can self-enroll by creating their own code, which allows them to return to the survey to complete at a later time if they desire. For schools and districts that have recently moved to online-only instruction, this may be a way to check in with students and parents about how things are going and what additional support might be most helpful. These options for easy creation and administration of surveys to various important groups can help you get a quick sense of what is happening in this rapid transition to online instruction.
And please remember that FCIT is here to help you make the most of your TIM Tools instance. For the quickest response, please email us at TIM@fcit.us rather than calling the land line. We’re all working remotely now!
Christine Harmes is a consultant on research, measurement, and evaluation, and an ICF-certified coach. Her research interests focus on improving teacher use of technology, computer-based testing and usability. At the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida, Dr. Harmes focuses on research and tool development related to technology integration.