How to create sequencing tasks

Sequencing tasks are great learning tools. Also known as rearranging or ordering tasks, they can be as simple as numbering a few steps correctly or quite involved, for example if we ask students to explain their ordering or come up with missing steps themselves. 

Sequencing tasks can be used in any subject, from chronologically sorting historical events to ordering the steps of essay writing processes or lab procedures — they're really versatile and powerful learning tasks. Being able to follow and understand certain sequences is essential in many aspects in life; just ask any scientist, project manager, creative or medical professional! Sequencing tasks help students understand not only sequences but also relationships and holistic understanding of more complex concepts.

There are four basic sequence learning problems: sequence prediction ('What's the next step?'), sequence generation ('Which steps are required to do X?'), sequence recognition ('What's the correct order?'), and sequential decision making ('Which step will lead to success?'). Multiple choice questions are great for prediction or sequential decision making, while written-answer questions or a drawing question would probably be best for sequence generation, but the most common type, sequence recognition, is a little trickier to create. However, their puzzle-like nature also make them fun and engaging, much like a game, so they're definitely worth the effort of creating them!

I often get asked how to create these tasks in Stile, and my aim in this post is to show a couple of examples of how to create anything from a simple ordering activity to challenging tasks that really make use of the tools at hand.

Example #1: Historical events & the table question type in Stile

Stilish teacher Tina Fattori from Salesian College Rupertswood created the question on the right for a Russian history class using the Stile table question type. 

She created a table with three columns: students respond by typing the correct order number in the table cells of the first column (‘Number’). The second column ('Visual Cue’) displays pictures related to the event and the third column ('Event') consists of a description of event depicted in the middle column.

To increase the difficulty of the task, she could also have left some (or all!) cells in the 'Event' column blank and got students to fill them in as well, making students rely on the visual cues alone. Finally, a fourth column called 'Cause' could be used to get students to think about causal relationships between the events.

I think this is a very powerful way to use the table question type and Tina's done a great job with it.

Example #2: Leveraging the power of the iPad 

It doesn't all have to be built in Stile, though. One of the great things about our platform is that we can bring content from other apps into Stile to use its powerful feedback tools and keep everything in one easily accessible place. 

Stilish teacher Nathan Dumbleton from Barker College showed me a fantastic idea for using iPads and iMovie in his chemistry class earlier this year that really drove home the usefulness of iPads for education for me.

To test whether his students had internalised the ten steps of lighting a Bunsen burner correctly, he used the iPad's video camera to record each step of the procedure and imported all ten clips into the intuitive video editing app iMovie on his iPad.

He then shuffled the clips out of order (see the screenshot above) and uploaded the resulting iMovie project file to Stile for students to download. They could then open the file on their own iPads with iMovie.

The task Nathan set for students was to assemble the clips in the correct order and label them. Students were given the choice of either adding written titles or narrating the full procedure by recording their voice — easily done by tapping the microphone icon. It would of course also be possible to ask students to do both! All they then had to do was upload the resulting video back to Stile for feedback.

Check out Nathan's YouTube channel iPadagogy for in-depth reviews of various educational apps with handy chapter markers to his reviews so you can jump to the parts that interest you most. He even makes his own apps, such as this cool traffic light feedback app which makes gauging student understanding and quickly setting up a peer-learning session a breeze. Good on you, Nathan!

The R in SAMR

I thought that this was a great way to utilise the full power of the iPad’s multimedia capability. It's certainly one of the best examples of 'Redefinition' of teaching practice for those of you familiar with the SAMR model by Dr Ruben Puentedura (who will be giving a talk in Melbourne next month incidentally — we'll be there!). Doing anything similar with a K-12 class was simply unthinkable only 10 years ago.

Other examples

While historic events and lab procedures may seem the most obvious fit for this kind of task, any learning activity that requires students to demonstrate the knowledge of a certain sequence would work.  

Can you think of other use cases for this technique? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Guido Gautsch I Ed Specialist @ Stile