E-learning generations / MOOCs

I was interested in ds106.  When I Googled it, I found out that it was a Digital Storytelling course.  It is online and happens at different times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington.  The most interesting aspect of the class for me was the way participants enter and leave the course at will.  The course is free and only requires a computer and an internet connection.  I was surprised at the freedom of the attendance and the flow in and out.

Because I am a Business Teacher who teaches computer classes for certification and coding is my new hobby, this really interested me.  While it is “billed” as a narrative or language course, it seems to be more of a computer course.  The stories are told using a video narrative.   Ds106 delves into the culture of the web.  The course addresses the web as a media source that allows for publishing in the public.

Because of my newly found love of code, I think that ds106 would be an awesome place to practice and use my coding knowledge.  I think this helps to class to grow and evolve just as the internet has.  I think the way participants are allowed to enter and exit gives life to the course and helps the material stay new and fresh.

I like the way students are able to pick the assignments that appeal to them.  This makes learning and performance more of an endeavor based on interests and likes.  Participants are not forced to explore avenues that do not appeal to them as a way to access the topics that truly draw their attention.

Transactional Distance Theory

I feel that the theory of Transactional Distance is an important theory to understand.  I feel that it applies in more arenas than online learning.  Even in the physical classroom, there seems to be a question of dialog.  While the teacher may be physically close to a student, there are students who are intimidated by the teacher and withdraw.  So even in physical closeness there is an aspect of cognitive space and even, a possible cognitive abyss.

The structure of the class needs to be modern enough to hold the interest of the “tech” generation.  As I have stated, I took an online class that was very much like a class at the college.  We met at the same time and used Blackboard to communicate.  Due to the problems with internet in the rural area, most of us even went to the college library to take the class together.  This was a very different structure than the one we use today that includes social media and blogs.  We can respond to our teachers and classmates any time of the day or night.

This being said, there is a certain amount of learner autonomy that needs to be in place.  If the class is to be taught online, the student needs to expect to do the reading and learning on his own.  The teacher will not be there at 2:00 a.m. to answer a question about the material.  The learner must be prepared to learn and research what is not learned.  In the classroom, a simple raised hand and the question is answered.  Online, you must find your own answer to the question.

I think as a teacher, I use this everyday.  I teach a hybrid course and throughout the course, I use engagement techniques like discussion questions to interact with the students and have them interact with each other.  Structure in this type of class is essential and I maintain that structure with detailed lists of what is to be done and when.  I post due dates in several places and send out reminders.  I realize that learners will decide their own levels of participation and expected outcomes.  With that in mind, I provide a clear definition of the value of assignments and the amount of work it will take to earn maximum points.  The learner will find his level of achievement and work toward that goal.



My name is Phyllis Bullock Eppes.  I am a Business Teacher at Powhatan High School.  I have taken my online classes in the past and I am excited about learning to teach in an online environment.  I have taught a hybrid course here and I am a strong user of Schoology.  This is my 9th year as a teacher.

I enjoyed reading the chapter this week. I think the area that most stuck out to me was accessability. When I was in undergraduate, I remember having one or two classes online (the entire four years). I remember that at that time, you had to be approved for online classes through the dean’s office and if you qualified; you would have to pay a large fee for the limited online classes that were offered. Reading this chapter, I have found that the situation has reversed. Online is now accessible to most, if not all students. People are encouraged to pursue online learning as a means to integrate education into the lives they currently have. When I used Blackboard before, we had times to meet for the discussion board and things were handled very much like being inside a classroom, just in silence. Modern online education is extremely different.
Our school system uses Twitter and so this was not new to me. I feel that students do not take Twitter seriously enough to have it be an important part of education.