Jason R. Levine interviews online teaching expert, Mark Barnes


Mark Barnes is one of 19 esteemed presenters featured in Teachers Teaching Online (TTO), an upcoming MOOC for online teacher professional development beginning June 15 in WizIQ. Mark is an internationally-recognized speaker and education writer whose award-winning books include Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, The 5-Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom, and Teaching the iStudent: mobile learning in the K-12 classroom.


Mark shows teachers how to replace traditional teaching and learning with a student-centered classroom where autonomy and results are in the hands of the learners. A central theme in Mark’s books and seminars is his SE2R feedback system, an approach to assessment aimed at meeting the needs of teachers and learners in the digital age.

Creator and Host of TTO, Jason R. Levine (Fluency MC), recently interviewed Mark, who will be presenting in the MOOC on July 11. (Click here to see the schedule for TTO). Read these excerpts, and then check out the complete interview via the YouTube video below.


Tell us a bit about your background as a classroom teacher and how this led to the pioneering work you’ve done online.


The first thing I ever did was I used a message board…I had my kids watch a streaming debate on CNN…it was one of the coolest experiences I had ever had. The next day, the kids said…”It was just amazing!” I thought…what could I do to bring more of this into the classroom?


What is a student-centered classroom and what role does technology play in this?


To me it’s really exactly what the phrase says: We want to put the kids at the center of learning and move the teacher off to the side…it took me far too long to learn that and understand that…it’s too much about us. We need to get out of the way. We need to have them driving the learning. What I think really makes that function is how we use the technology. With the right tools…it can become really powerful because they can go learn on their own. What I want is for students to become independent learners.


You’ve said that you sense teachers have “a fear of stepping outside of tradition.” What do you mean?


Teaching in traditional ways…it’s easier and what we’ve always known…it becomes a crutch. It can be overwhelming going from this structured environment to this chaotic environment. It takes practice and it takes a lot of learning to know how to be really good at that.


A great deal of your work focuses on assessment, in particular rethinking the ways teachers provide feedback to students. How should teachers be reconsidering how they give feedback to their students?


The first thing I would tell any new teacher is, “Throw out your gradebook.” Putting numbers, percentages, and letters on the the things that kids do…I did it for years…I got to a point where I realized that it wasn’t helping them at all. It has to be a conversation. Learning is a conversation; it’s not a number or a letter. As far as providing feedback…you have to have some sort of a model that works for you. I have a system…that I call SE2R and it just means Summarize, Explain, Redirect, and Resubmit.


Do you think in the future ‘mobile learning’ will be a misnomer; it will simply be called ‘learning’?


We are really right now just scratching the surface. In the future…education won’t look anything like it does right now. Teachers who are reluctant will either adapt or they’ll move out of education because the technology is going to force us to do it…social networking is going to force us to do it…social learning: it’s just going to be the way we do it.


What advice do you have for teachers who are thinking of getting started teaching online?


For me the first thing was platform…I think it’s really important to find a way to deliver your course that you’re comfortable with. (Also, it is) important to create a website. Once you start doing it and you get some people…if you have a good platform and good subject material and people like it, they’ll go back and tell others.


What’s your favorite thing about being a teacher?


I love to see a person’s face light up!


Can people’s faces “light up” in the ONLINE classroom? Come see for yourself in TTO!

We begin on June 15. Several hundred teachers have already enrolled, and we’re chatting away in the course feed. Come on inside! Catch the worldwide vibe!


Click here to link to the TTO course page and enroll for free.

Shamair Cyriac

Musician . Dog Lover. Wordsmith . Traveler .

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