This week in reading about best practices, I come to the conclusion that there are more similarities than differences between online teaching and face-to-face teaching. The very first practice mentioned is ‘going the extra mile’ to support student learning. I pray that most people in this profession live by this motto for the betterment of each student whether in a virtual classroom or physical classroom! It definitely isn’t the money that keeps us here! The practice of understanding the varied learning styles of the students is found in both arenas. It’s known as differentiation. Taking into consideration each student and then curtailing instruction, knowledge, and materials to fit the needs of each ensures learning takes place in either environment. Additional similarities are the practices of good organizational skills and having extensive knowledge of and appreciation for the content area being taught. I think that the practice of using student and course data, as well as other sources of information available to self-evaluate the pedagogical strategies used is currently the focus of public schools as well. It can be argued that we spend all of our time assessing to gain data rather than teaching to instill knowledge!
There are a few differences I note between virtual and face-to-face teaching (ftf). The first is that virtual teachers MUST be good at exploring new technologies that have potential value for the student. They Must frequently visit the sites due to constant changes and to ensure accessibility; whereas, FtF teachers have the option to explore if they choose. In my experiences, I have been available for my students (remember K and 1st graders) during the school day and on few occasions after school hours but a virtual teacher is basically on-call for the duration of the course. If my student has a problem with the assignment or doesn’t understand what is being communicated, we can address it immediately and learning can continue. I am a bit confused on how one can manage classroom behavior in a virtual class. The question of cheating or having someone other than the student completing the assignments makes me wonder how would it be known or identified by the teacher? I’m also questioning what it looks like to see a student in crisis in a virtual world? Is it primarily by what and how he/she is communicating with words? This is one area I would like to know more about.
As far as there being any practices that I question as valid or relevant, there are none. At this point, with my limited knowledge of the virtual classroom, I am not going to judge. I feel that the practices made sense as I read them and I see the value/need for them in order for learning environments to be successful.