It took me a bit to get start my masters, but I finally took the plunge and ended up in ECI 834. I'm I glad I did. I really enjoyed this class and learned so much. I've had a passion for understanding and infusing technology into my teaching practice for my whole career. There is so much to discover, reflect upon, create, and deliver. I have experienced online learning in the past and I enjoyed the experience once again especially connecting weekly with an amazing group of educators. I have also 'dabbled' with Moodle in the past and I enjoyed developing what I think is a solid prototype (with the help and feedback from fellow ECI 834 classmates, colleagues that have online teaching experience, Twitter posts, viewing classmates prototypes and reading their blog posts, class readings and discussions, and students). There is always room for improvement, but I'm happy with how my course turned out. I hope one day to be able to facilitate an online class as an instructor and help students achieve success in this environment. I believe that online learning is and will continue to be a viable and important learning option for various reasons (location, course offerings, module completion, accessibility, upgrading, training, and more). As a matter of fact, my wife was just accepted into the Nursing Program at Sask Polytech. She will be taking most of her classes online, without this option her ability to upgrade and become a nurse may not be possible. I encourage my own sons to take an online course while they are in high school because I would like them to have that opportunity to learn in this environment. . To be able to experience the discipline, challenges, and opportunities in this educational setting can only be an asset in their future education and/or careers. I have really enjoyed creating vlogs and blogs for our ECI 834 class. I have heard so many great insights and has really helped me reflect on online / blended learning from many perspectives and helped me design my prototype. I have been very fortunate to have a variety of educators / learners allow me to have conversations with them on various topics relating to online / blended learning and my prototype. I recently interviewed the principal of RCSD Online Learning and we had a great discussion on the pros and cons of online learning and some of the unique challenges that this setting offers. Many of the points she made tied into what we discussed over the course of ECI 834. I appreciated her passion for online learning and creating positive experiences for students and teachers alike. I've embedded our interview below as well as a student's first look at the course and his thoughts on my prototype. I've included my complete ECI 834 Vlog / Overview Playlist as part of my final entry as well. I really enjoyed the community of learners in ECI 834 and I hope that they remain part of my Professional Learning Network (already lined up a potential project with another math teacher to do a project with our classes in a couple months). I'm working on my summary of learning project (I have embedded part of it as I have collected and curated many of the tweets I have been involved with the hashtag #eci835 using Wakelet which is an awesome tool) and I'm excited to share what I have learned and meet everyone in person (but even online I feel I made some connections and started to build a few relationships which is a great lesson / experience in itself). I hope you enjoy the vlogs. Thanks.
It's been a great learning experience to plan, produce and refine my online / blended learning prototype.
Please list the URL of your final blog post related to your prototype. *
How do I access your prototype? *
When prompted to log in, underneath the login is an option to log in as a guest. If they click on this, one will be able to access the class.
The Course Profile *
The Course Modules *
The modules are laid out in the Moodle. Once you enter in as guest the you can scroll down to find the modules. (note it might not let guest access the exam)
Course feedback *
Please provide the links of the two or three Google docs with the feedback that you left for other groups.
Online/Blended Course Prototype Development - Additional Information
I've really enjoyed this process. When I designed and updated this prototype I took advice from peers, current online teachers, the principal of RCSD Online School, and students - interviews can be found here as part of my playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwdu0bmGFoLl7wGrTQ7NrDyzAkpdqRXj1 I learned so much and would very much like to teach an online class
My Thoughts on Our Class
I went back to the first class we had a few months ago to reflect on how this learning opportunity has met the design principles outline by Bates. I strongly feel that this course has addressed and has been based on the following:
My Thoughts on this Week’s Prompts
What forms of student/student-instructor interactions have you implemented/do you plan to implement in your course prototype (e.g. LMS forums, chats rooms, Flipgrid, blog comments/pingbacks, hashtags, Google Plus, etc.)?
I plan on focusing on four commination tools for interaction for my prototype:
Providing a variety of communication tools can be a bit daunting, but if an instructor understands the potential and the purpose behind each medium it can allow for some great interaction opportunities. This combination can provide the necessary avenues that can meet student a variety communication needs. As mentioned in this week’s readings however, the instructor really has to understand the dynamics and the overall layout of the course. This will help students see the importance of interacting as part of a successful learning experience.
What guidelines or assessment practices will you adopt to ensure that interactions are meaningful, supportive, and relevant?
Instructors have to model and be present in their course. Creating an environment based on digital citizenship practices and clear guidelines, is crucial to positive interactions. There needs to be a strong presence of formative assessment in the form of timely and effective feedback. The instructor must understand the objective of the course to ensure that the flow of interactions are relevant and lead to meaningful dialogue that promote successfully reaching course objectives. Instructors need to provide an environment where these interactions can be organic, student-led, and feel free rather than forced.
My Thoughts On The Textbook Questions
First of all, a big thank you to those who reviewed and critiqued my module. I appreciate the positive feedback that I received. I’m glad that other educators felt it was overall well put together and even got a few ideas along the way. I also appreciate the suggestions and the questions that were posed. So for this blog, I’m going to focus on the questions and see if I can supply some answers.
Can students contact you through here or is it simply email?
There is a way to message through Moodle as well. I’d like to be able to include a forum add on where students could interact as well. I’d also like to add a Flipgird grid for questions and replies as well as Remind to help all involved stay up to date.
I did wonder what kind of interactions would be taking place, is this a stand alone fully online course or is there some teacher face to face time?
The intent of this class is too deliver it as a blended opportunity, but I would like to develop it into a fully online course. I’d have to reflect on the feasibility of some ideas like the Minecraft project in a fully online environment.
Where do students go if they have questions?
In a blended opportunity they can come see me directly / face 2 face. In any case, I do make myself available online (e-mail, Remind, Flipgrid, Moodle).
What are the outstanding recovery days? (I might have to steal this idea; is it a school wide idea or a personal one?)
That's a division wide idea. We have 4 OAR days where students have opportunities submit missing assignments. Admin/ Learning support team organizes and ‘invite’ students to these days that usually coincide with things like staff meeting days. Assignments are collected from teachers and students work on getting them done. It’s not foolproof, but overall it has been successful.
What program did you use to create the videos as well as write on the screen? I’m always looking for more ideas, especially in math courses!
One Note (love the draw features) and was able to use the screen capture feature in Power Point (able to saw the screen capture as .mp4 and upload to youtube). I have a decent Blue – Snowball Mic that helps a lot too.
How much would you expect a student to complete in a day? (One video and lesson?)
In blended opportunity, a day sounds right but I make the time to review the formative data and take questions. Online students could work at own pace.
Do you give them an answer key as well?
On the formatives I usually select feedback / answers as instant so students get timely feedback. There are pros and cons to this, but I feel that students can learn from mistakes quicker and/or check for understanding (like answer key at back of text book). Obvious draw back is they can click until green maybe without understand and me thinking they got it.
Are all your exams written online?
In blended class no. In an online situation yes. This could be huge drawback/problem. The online finals in math are proctored because they are common assessments as with traditional class.
Do you like that format better?
I have no preference as long as students’ needs are met and data is reliable and valid.
Is this what your summative assessment looks like?
I don’t just use multiple choice. I usually use multiple choice for one step solutions and then provide problems to solve that would involve multiple steps.
Do you find students are engaged in them?
Students love the projects and are engaged in blended situation. I think this would happen online as well with proper conditions.
How do you differentiate between giving 3 or 4 marks for a component?
They would have to be missing a major piece of information understanding to go from a 4 to a 3. I’m am reflecting a lot on the rubric for this project and may employ a fresh evaluation instrument for this. Got some valuable feedback on this.
The modules work well, I assume this course is already being used?
Ya, I’ve housed this material in One Note that could also be seen as an LMS. I’m always looking for way to improve this course.
I think you do a good job of addressing all the assignment guidelines, but how will you address different types of learners in your course?
In my blended situation, I will make accomodations for students like extra time, have tests read, and more. I try to provide different assessments to give students another way to share their understandings. I’m hoping that an online offering of this would provide those opportunities as well.
What are concerns you have for students?
In a blended situation that they stay on task, get the help that they may need, and don’t cheat. My concerns for an online class are similar.
From experience, I have noticed that students are not ALWAYS the most academically studious in this particular pathway?
Workplace Apprentice Math students sometimes do get that label whether it is fair or not. I think it’s my job to help them develop a growth mindset and be able to be ok with mistakes. I think this would be important in an online environment as well.
Will you have challenges in your blended environment with a different demographic of students, than per say you would have in a physics class?
There’s always the challenge to provide engaging and fresh learning experiences regardless of the class. Just because physic students may be more compliant / motivated doesn’t mean it’s ok just to give them same thing all the time.
Do you have modified students in your course?
Not officially … we do have a modified math offering. That being said some students could benefit but parents won’t sign off on either.
Is it totally flipped?
Love the flipped concept and use a lot but my class is not totally flipped (will try this one day though).
Work at your own pace?
I really try to provide opportunities for students to work at own pace.
Great questions and lots of reflection. Thank you!
Check out my latest vlog as I have my pre-interns give me feedback on my module and a bit on online education.
Is there a place in education for online learning? For some the answer might be a straight up no … not a chance. But the reality is it has been here for a while and continues to pick up momentum. There is a lot of research that would boldly say that an online environment can be at least effective as a traditional environment. For some this would be seen a blasphemous statement. That only a teacher in a classroom conveying knowledge to the students in a face to face environment is effective. But if an online environment is well organized has rich content delivered in an engaging manner with assessment opportunities, how different is that from a typical traditional classroom?
In fact, an online environment could provide many opportunities that a traditional classroom just can’t afford. One such advantage would be the ability to work at one’s own pace. Let’s face it, traditional experiences are bound by that beginning and ending bell. Where learners are supposed to be able to learn at same pace and only have that designated time to ‘learn’ that concept. On the other hand, if you are ‘catching on’ to things quickly the class can seem to drag on and motivation can dwindle to boredom or loss of interest. An online experience could alleviate this anxiety and the learner could dictate the pace of learning as needed and move forward with confidence and conviction. The ‘physical’ aspect of traditional classroom can also limit or deter learning opportunities. Health concerns, extracurricular opportunities, classes not offered where you are located, credit recovery, sustained travel, and more are examples where an online solution can provide a learner with the opportunity to take that class or get that credit that would not physically be possible in a traditional only system. With technology improving the online experience can become very robust with online forums that are open 24/7, video conferencing to provide synchronous interactions, formative assessment with efficient and effective feedback, increased accessibility, and other options that can be lacking in traditional settings.
Of course there are ‘pitfall’ that are present in this environment. A disorganized online course can leave a learner confused and frustrated especially if there is no one to turn to. Many 'Aha!' and teachable moments that occur in a face to face setting (which are very powerful) can be lost in an online setting. Student motivation and procrastination can be harder to monitor and correct when the learner is not in a teacher’s presence. Of course, there are always the questions of who submitted or what was the academic integrity of assigned assessments? These questions are also pertinent in a traditional setting, but the anonymity of the online environment make academic integrity an extra sensitive topic in this setting. Not seeing your students faces and building those crucial relationships can be more difficult in an online environment, but not impossible. There are unique challenges that an online environment can offer such as tech issues like bandwidth and other specs, but all of these challenges can be overcome and provide a rich learning opportunity for those who want or need this option.
As with any learning opportunity it takes effort from both the instructor and the student. A teacher can design and deliver an online experience with the same passion and drive as they can in a traditional setting and in fact might have more tools and time to differentiate instruction and meet learners’ needs. Classroom management definitely takes on a brand new look. Students will need to employ self-discipline and self-regulation, but will have the flexibility and freedom to choose their own learning path. There are many institutions that offer online opportunities, not only in the field of Education but in other sectors. There are a plethora of online course already available that cover a vast array of topics. I feel that students should at least have blended opportunities as the progress through K-12 education to help students feel comfortable in these situations and acquire the skills to learn in an online environment. The online learning world will only continue to grow. We are preparing students for a world that is and will have drastic and dynamic change. Understanding and being able to thrive in an online learning setting will only grow and become more necessary, as we head into these uncharted water.
Thanks for reading. What are your thoughts? Feel free to reach out to me @vendi55
This week's vlog gets two students' perspective on the pros and cons of online learning.
Dean Vendramin. Educator for over 20 years. Currently Education Leader for Math/Science at Archbishop M.C. O'Neill Catholic High School. Have a passion for all things in education with emphasis on technology integration, assessment, professional development, and 21 Century Education. Posts are articles he has written for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation monthly newsletter The Bulletin, Saskatchewan Math Teachers' Society The Variable, blog requests from memberships he is a part of, and his own thoughts.