Differentiated Instruction

While searching for  online teaching and differentiation, I found “10 Sites for Differentiated Instruction” at http://www.techlearning.com/default.aspx?tabid=100&entryid=6226.  Because I read the faces of my students for understanding, I find that online, I have to work harder to give clearer and more concise instructions.  I have to make sure I give step by step instruction and explain any situations that may arise.  With this in mind, I have been able to go back to my face to face classes and give them clearer directions as well.  Variety is the part of the reading that I found to be the most interesting.  When I taught middle aged students a few years ago, I loved using an interactive notebook.  To me, it made the learning so much fun.  I think my joy and enthusiasm rubbed off on the students and made them excited as well.  I cannot wait to do more research on the electronic interactive notebook.  I will rethink my methods of delivery to make my module more interactive and interesting.  I want the students to be excited about learning and I think the visual appearance of my website has a lot to do with adding to or subtracting from the experience.

Best Practices

While reading the Best Practices article, I could not help but think, these are best practices regardless of the method of delivery of information to the students.   Teachers, in-person and online, should be “highly qualified”.  As a classroom teacher, I see students who need assistance in many ways and I go the “extra mile” to make sure they are successful.  Who wouldn’t?  I am extremely flexible with my time.  Many of the other qualities listed, are qualities that you simply need to be a successful teacher.  I think the similarities exist because you need to be a teacher regardless of where you teach.  Because I teach in a computer lab, I rely on technology.  I agree with the best practice of considering “student access to technology when integrating web based components into their course”.  As I am in the lab, my computer and internet access is reliable and available.  When designing an online course,  I have to remember that many of my students may not have internet at home and of those with internet, may not have reliable internet.  I feel that all of the practices listed are valid and I use them.  I am not aware of any that are missing.  My questions for online teaching are more along the lines of including enough information without making the lesson to cumbersome.    Teaching in person, I can go off on a tangent and it’s supported by the time allowed for the class.  I feel that if I go off on a tangent, I will use room that is better served in another way.

Digital Learning

After reading Keeping Pace with K12, I have to admit that I was surprised that the number of states that require online learning was so small.  Before reading, I assumed that most of the states, and certainly the states surrounding Virginia, already had these requirements in place.  Having taken quite a few online college classes, it seemed to me to be a natural progression.  I would have thought high school students would have a class dedicated to teaching them to be successful online students.  Having been in the classroom with students who are taking the hybrid course, my biggest concern is the relationship with how much we think they know about technology and how much they actually know about technology.  We see them “plugged in” all of the time, but they are not using the technology as efficiently as we think they are.  Without the hybrid class, I am sure many would find online college without guidance to be much too difficult and would give up.

Because I have used Virtual Virginia for a few years, I find that their set up and structure work well for me and my plans for the project.  They have definite areas of content and activities and assessments can be easily added.  While my plan is to use Schoology to actually create my module, I will use my experience in Virtual Virginia to design my platform.

While the online learning modules is a very successful way to deliver the material, I miss the interaction between the teacher and the class as a whole.  I know that with different assessment types (material manipulation, interactive activities, and quizzes) you can accomplish the student and teacher engagement with each other, but I miss the way the students learn from each other and how one question from one student leads to greater understanding for all students.

I read “Building Educator Capacity to Personalize Learning for Every Student”.  I think this is important to me because I want to be the best teacher I can be.  I went to school to learn to teach in the traditional way but now times have changed and I need to change with them.  I need to be taught to teach in the new era.  Students deserve that.


My topic is the way businesses handle the use of social media.  I will be using Schoology.  I would like to teach a hybrid class that would last 10 hours (in class) and maybe 15 hours total.  My audience will be high school seniors.  I think because of the age group of the audience, I will have trouble convincing them that not all social media is appropriate for the workplace.  These students will have a struggle with understanding that the workplace may not be as casual as they are used to.

The Coi framework consists of three overlapping ideals.  Social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence.  The idea of online learning must also be structured to include these ideals.  Social presence is simply creating and maintaining a learning environment that is supportive and allows for the development of relationships and trust amongst the participants.  Teaching experience is the methods that the teacher uses to design the instruction that is given to the students.  Cognitive presence is the way teachers reach the students and the way the students understand what the teacher is trying to teach.  By increasing the opportunities to have students use the material to engage with the teacher and other students, the social aspect of the class is increased.  Because the reasoning of how the material relates is up to each individual student, the student must be a master of his or her own cognitive abilities.   I think my module will rely on student contribution.  I plan to set up loose outlines and guides for where I want the module to go, but will include assignments where students add details to the content.  This should lead to forums where students can defend their particular approaches to the assignments.  I feel that the key is student investment.

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.

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