The Four Instructor Roles and Challenges Facing them in the Online-learning Environment KWasosky

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Teaching and learning is decidedly different when comparing and contrasting a traditional classroom environment with that of online learning. Because of the lack of non-verbal cues and expression from other students enrolled in the same course and that of the professor, the emotion and emphasis on specific ideas must be relayed differently.

With regard to pedagogical instruction, the instructor must carry out or delegate several roles. The instructor must first of all design the course in the manner to best reach the learners. That task in itself, for a new instructor, can be very time-consuming and will most likely include a great deal of adjustment throughout the course until the instructor figures out what works best and what does not. I can see myself in this predicament, as I do it all of the time in a traditional classroom as well. (What works for some, doesn’t necessarily work for others)

The next role would be as an inspiration to the learners to excite them about what they are about to engage upon in the course and help them hold on to that interest throughout the entire course from beginning to end. A intriguing hook is a great way to reel them in, but online, I feel it may be more difficult to keep them on the line and looking for more without a lot of effort by the instructor. Since emotions are harder to convey to surge interest, the instructor must utilize other measures to keep them coming back for more. I’m not sure what this is when it comes to my module on perspective, but I will figure it out. I was just reminded while writing this that my students may not find the topic or information as engaging as I do. So, I will have to find a way to make it so.

As the feedback giver the instructor as to continuously offer comment and critique to the work created and submitted by the learners. This not only allows the instructor to guide the learner in the right direction, but it allows for the learners to understand that someone is monitoring and “right there” to assist should there be questions. I think that students love hearing your thoughts on their work. The more often you can give them feedback, the more they are interested in continuing on with a clearer direction for completing their tasks.

Lastly, as the interaction-facilitator, the instructor has to determine and inform the learners of what the discussion and feedback rules are from peer-to-peer. Clearly defined rules are important, especially with 7th graders. When teaching my students to peer-edit, we have a specific set of rules that cannot be broken. Those are: critique constructively and be specific in what needs to be changed and why. I feel those rules can also apply in an online learning course, but discussion which can be easily curbed in a traditional classroom, needs to be addressed carefully in an online environment. Informing the students that the instructor has access to all discussion among the students is a positive way to keep them on the right track. The instructor can also pose specific questions and thought provoking ideas to the student to address in their work as part of the facilitation process.

Within the above roles, online instructors can promote and oversee the student-content, student-student, and student-instructor interactions throughout the course.

The many challenges facing the instructors are in any online environment would be, to me, carrying out all aspects of the roles. As a new instructor, it seems overwhelming, but as time and experience passes, it may become more the norm and automatic for the instructor. In the later situation, the instructor can focus on the learners themselves and how to best reach them for each individual course. Tweaking of the different approaches to the individual students will always be addressed for obvious reasons.

I will play several roles listed above to some extent. I am the designer of the course and thus will guide the students through what my expectations are for them while completing the module.  I will facilitate the discussions to a point. I want to be a presence, but I don’t want to control all of the conversation. I wish to throw a possibility out there such as, “Discuss any group that may have no benefit from the railroad and decide if that is acceptable to those that do benefit?”

Revised TPACK Lesson Description K Wasosky

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              TPACK Lesson Description

Students will be identifying different perspectives of people in America that were affected by the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. The population of learners for this lesson consists of a whole group of twenty-two seventh grade students in my U.S. History class. The lesson will occur with some face-to-face interaction and some online interaction between the students and myself. The students were asked to answer a question, “Was the Transcontinental Railroad a positive or negative force in America?” prior to the beginning of the unit on Westward Expansion. In this lesson, the students will engage in online research utilizing provided links to gain information about the different perspectives of each group of people. They will organize their information in a graphic organizer which will be accessed online. They will draft an essay on their finding which will also include whether or not they have changed their opinion after the research. Students will partner up and share their essays with one another for peer editing collaboration before submitting a final, polished essay for assessment to me through Google.docs.

The main Content (C) of this lesson is for students to clearly identify in what ways different groups of people in America were affected by or during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. The groups of people being examined are: Homesteaders/Ranchers, Native Americans, Immigrant railroad workers, Railroad company owners, citizens on the east and west coasts of the U.S. Students will gain insight to this information through the planned websites listed for them to use for the lesson.

The main Pedagogy (P) is based on three of Marzano’s research-based strategies. The first strategy to be addressed specifically targets note-taking to pull out useful information on each group of people listed. The second strategy will involve cooperative learning in which the students will peer-edit for a partner and receive constructive feedback on written work before drafting a final product. The last strategy involves using graphic organizers to sort out the acquired information and recording it in an organized chart to help them analyze the depth of the effects on the people they are researching. This lesson will be best carried out with some face-to-face interaction when discussing online engagement with others. Modeling of procedures on how to achieve student goals are necessary to assure clarity of directions.

The main Technology (T) for the lesson is the utilization of google.docs to share information with each other for using the organizer to collect information, writing an essay, peer-editing response and sharing the final draft with me. A secondary use of technology involves using the schoology platform to engage in the lesson from the start, gain access to all organizers, websites as well as enter the response to the initial question.

The Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)

Seventh grade students using graphic organizers while researching historic information under clearly defined headings offers needed guidance to focus on specific information related to each category when note-taking. Cooperative activities such as peer-editing is beneficial for constructive feedback and suggestions for production of a well-created finished work.

Support: Students produce information in which they can see in an organized form and determine the outcome of how each group was effected by the construction of the railroad. This allows them to develop an essay that clearly identifies the initial question and will or will not validate their initial prediction or opinion. Utilizing cooperative learning is a way to confirm their thoughts with their peers through feedback.

The Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)

Using schoology and Google docs will be the primary place for students to gain access to the lesson module and links to gain content knowledge throughout the module. The module includes all websites, note-taking organizers and organizer activity which allows the students to work at their own pace on their own time without the constraints of a face-to-face classroom. It is within the parameters of schoology and Google docs that the students will gain access to the content,  easily be able to share, comment and suggest edits to their partner’s work. The first assignment for students it to use schoology to add their opinion to the discussion board before beginning any research. This is Marzano’s ninth strategy which incorporates questioning before the lesson has begun.

As the instructor, I will set strict criteria of expectations when having online discussions with one another. Guidelines of acceptable language and behaviors will be addressed prior to the lesson. If students have questions, I will be available to them through schoology messaging which is also where the discussion boards will be set up. I can prevent students from seeing other posts until they post themselves. This will assist me in seeing what opinion each student actually has without copying someone else’s thoughts. I won’t use this measure when students are discussing their findings with each other because that would halt communication altogether.

Modeling of how to share work with another, as well as suggesting editing and comments on work, will be done prior to the lesson in a face-to-face class.

Support: Students feel more confident in completing assignments when they work with others in a non-threatening environment. Marzano’s sixth strategy of working cooperatively to achieve learning goals. They have stated that working cooperatively helps when editing written work because of issues such as spelling, grammar and capitalization are difficult without the “extra pair of eyes looking it over.”

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)

Using schoology as the platform allows the instructor and the students to come together in one place for all learning materials for the module itself. The lesson is explained, the note-taking organizers and concept map activities are available on the site for access at any time. The students simply upload forms that are to be filled out while working with the content to their google docs and  submit them so I can monitor that they are getting the information necessary to complete their tasks. Having all forms and directions in a central location is important for students so they can get help, re-read instructions and gain access to all forms. Should a student need to start over, it is easy to go back to schoology and download another form.

Support: Utilizing ideas from Marzano’s strategies numbers two and seven. Students will be clearly instructed on how to follow the directions to reach their goals. After the initial question, they will have an interest to find out more (hopefully) and will follow the steps to complete their objectives of research, note-taking, writing, and gaining more insight to the various perspectives of people affected by the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)

The prior knowledge of how to use the available technology will allow them effectively apply the pedagogical strategies to record and assess new content information gained through research and note-taking. They will finally use the technology to gain feedback which allows each student to produce a written assignment that demonstrates deeper learning.

Support: The fusion of the technology, pedagogy, and content will blend well for this lesson because the students are somewhat familiar with schoology and how to access courses and modules located there.  Following the website links will lead them to the information they are seeking, and utilizing Google.docs to fill out their organizer is something they can easily complete because of their prior knowledge of how it works. Developing written assignments on Google.docs is an activity that has been done before, so they should be able to carry out the technology-end of the lesson without issue. There is a plethora of information to be gleaned from the provided websites to easily gain access to information which should be used to complete the organizer to help students determine the effects on each group in relation to the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. The content is new to them, so using familiar resources is a logical step to help them engage in deeper understanding of each group’s situation.

Outline KWasosky

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Perspective

This is written for a hybrid class. Students will meet in the classroom for notes and discussion for the unit Westward Expansion.  They will simultaneously be reading assigned material on their own as well as engaging with the lessons online and completing them as assigned.

Objective (Goals):

  • Students will establish a  personal philosophy about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.
  • Each student will coherently express both the positive and negative forces of its affects on the different groups of people involved either directly or indirectly with its construction.
  • Once they have completed their research, students will describe the effects that each group  experienced.
  • Students will then support their original philosophy or that of a newly acquired  perspective due to research in the form of an essay, power point presentation, or a poster.
  • They will clearly express whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative project in the long run.
  • They will use gathered information from three different groups researched to support their opinion.

Lesson 1: Introduction

  • Was the Transcontinental Railroad a Positive or Negative Force in the U.S. in the late 19th century?
  • Look at a map of the U.S. in 1863 with the route of the railroad from California to Nebraska. Answer given questions based on observation of the map.
  • Students will answer based on prior knowledge, if any. They will revisit their answer at the end of the lesson.

Lesson 2: What Groups of People Were Affected by the building of the railroad?

  • Identify the different groups on the given chart.
  • Visit pre-set websites to gather information on each group.
  • Take the quiz at the end of the first website
  • Use one other source of the students choosing to gather information.
  • Fill in the chart as you gather information about each group.

Lesson 3: Listing the Pros and Cons of the Railroad with Respect for Each Group

  • Using the information you have read about and recorded, make a pros and cons chart of how the Transcontinental Railroad affected the lives of the people involved.
  • Who benefited? How did they benefit?
  • Who didn’t benefit? Why not?

Lesson 4: Choose a final Assessment

Choose one option to demonstrate the answer to the initial question, “Was the Transcontinental Railroad a Positive or Negative Force in the U.S. in the late 19th century?”

  1. An essay stating what your original thoughts were and whether or not you have changed your mind or continue to agree with your first thoughts. Give details on why by mentioning the groups of people who support your perspective.
  2. A Poster create illustrations which clearly demonstrate whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative force. Include references through words or illustrations to the groups which support your belief. Use color.
  3. A Power Point Presentation develop a power point presentation that describes how the Transcontinental Railroad affected the different groups of people who would support your belief of whether it was a positive or negative force in the U.S.

How this Module will be completed:

  • Students will access schoology to gain access to the websites, observe the U.S. Map and the chart to fill in throughout the lesson.
  • Students will also utilize google.docs to complete written assignments and share with instructor to show progress of research.
  • Due dates will be provided for each lesson and the final assessment.
  • A rubric will be provided for each assessment option which will include the completion of the chart consisting of gathered notes from research.

Differentiation in an Online Environment– KWasosky

differentiation

Differentiation is a term I am definitely used to. I have been teaching in a collaborative setting for twenty years. I do want to make it clear though, that although I differentiate for Special Education students with disabilities, I also differentiate assignments for regular education students and more advanced students as well. All students are individuals and some may learn easily in one format such as reading and taking notes, others in listening, and some in needing visualizations to comprehend material.

When I went to the UDLW site, I was quite overwhelmed at the way it was set up. I had to get my reading glasses on to start moving through the different offerings. I found Wordgen, which I moved through and found for my content, social studies, it is titled SoGen. (SoGen)WordGen word generation sounds like a good thing for me to use in my classes since history has been tasked with helping to improve the writing skills of the students. I have messaged the company and asked for the link so I can investigate it further. With all of the different levels of students in our classes ranging from non-readers, low readers, on-level and above-level readers, this site may help us a great deal. It incorporates writing in short lessons that can be based on the curriculum we are working on at the time. I think it would make a great addition to our classes and help them improve reading and writing. I am interested in learning more about the resources available and how to use them with students with disabilities. One of my big ones is ADHD and low readers which is also leads to poor writers. I have read through some of the check points and sites, and I like that many are free. After investigating the WordGen site, I noticed that the history section doesn’t seem to match up with my studies. I like the layout and all it offers for struggling readers, so I am going to continue to follow up and see if there is more. Perhaps I can use the layout of other lessons and idea to create my own for my curriculum.

WordGen

As for my own resources, I have located a site that I found quite interesting. The title of the website is:

Differentiated Instruction In eLearning:  What eLearning Professionals Should Know

Differentiated Instruction In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know

I found this link by typing into Google, “differentiation in online learning”. This link was on page three of my search. I believe this was a helpful resource in giving tips to educators on how to differentiate in an online learning environment. Some of these tips I will definitely explore more thoroughly. One of the very first tips was to allow students to progress at their own speed. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was pretty strict on keeping everyone together for discussion purposes, but I can clearly see the need to allow this practice in some situations.

In all five tips of differentiation online, I feel that all of them are a possibility in the face-to-face classroom as well. Supplemental materials can be produced and handed out in a traditional class. Online, other web address can lead students to other materials to help with understanding. Students who need the supplemental materials will have them available and those that may not need them, but would like to see them would have access, too.

The other tips, individualized a plan for each student still seems a bit hard online, but it is no picnic in class all of the time either. It requires a lot of planning and work. Letting the students understand what the expectations are in the beginning and continually reinforcing those is key in getting the lessons completed successfully. I agree with the writer of the article, it is impossible to create a unique learning experience for every single student, but differentiating can level the playing field so that all students have a successful one.

While reading chapter 8, I read about things I had never considered before with online learning. I do comprehend that there are different types of learners, or ones that favor one type of learning style over others. However, I didn’t think about a student with physical limitations such as cerebral palsy being an online learner. In my face-to-face classes, my co-teacher and I have carried out differentiation solutions such as colored paper because a student has trouble seeing words on the paper. We have magnified assignments on “big” paper and had the student use the magnifier on the computer to read assignments on the computer. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that students with physical, cognitive, or sensory limitations wouldn’t flourish under an online learning course umbrella. After exploring the crazy UDLW, I did click and read about a lot of different sites and products available to help the students in many different disabilities that could be helped.

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes several types of disabilities. I have had a variance of every type that is listed in my classroom at some time during my career. I believe online learning can benefit these exceptional students. Utilizing the array of checkpoints and programs available on the UDLW, and there are many to investigate, would definitely offer a teacher an array of ideas to plan for differentiation for the students who need it.

I’m not quite sure how I will incorporate differentiation into the module yet. I am still developing activities to get the notes. I will most likely look for some visuals and audios to put in there to help with the understanding. “I was working on the Railroad” comes to mind.

Best Practices in Online Teaching- Kim Wasosky

girl-on-computerI loved the article in NEA’s Guide to Online Teaching because it said many of the things I believe are necessary to become a successful online teacher. I agree that the best way to learn is hands-on, as we are doing now with this course. I also think it’s important to have an experienced teacher show novices the ropes of the best practices of online teaching. They have the ability to know what generally works and what doesn’t.  I definitely need a person who will help me learn to facilitate a discussion forum. I have never done that before and I am not so sure it will be an easy task. I do agree that online classes should have online training. It just makes sense. I like the way this class is moving along. I have learned some new avenues of technology such as feedly, and even though I have had a twitter account for a few years, I have begun to pay more attention to it and realize that it can used for more than just a social space.

I believe that the best way to learn something is to do it the way you will be doing it. Does that make sense? If I am going to teach online, then I should be a student online to best be able to utilize the resources. For face-to-face teaching, it is important to have a classroom presence and be able to conduct class in a group setting with the mingling of different personalities. Time management online can be different from that of a traditional classroom because most assignments can be done anywhere at any time as long as they are turned in on time. A traditional room depends on the class meeting times for work to be completed and turned in at those specified times. With the blended/hybrid classes, this could be challenging also, but still leave room for flexibility.

I don’t think that behavior issues would be a problem in online teaching simply because the environment is completely different. If inappropriate discussions were taking place online, an instructor could just turn it off. Not let the students see each other’s discussion that was not relevant to the class. In a traditional classroom, that is not always an option. A conference can take place between the teacher and the student without the embarrassment of being pulled out into the hall while everyone watches. By the way, I am not a fan of singling students out like that, but sometimes something has to be done immediately. In an online learning class, this is more discreet.

When reading over best practices by k-12 teachers, I found some things I liked and others I was not so fond of. First of all, I like to know where we are headed in the class. I would want to organize an online class following a syllabus of the content that must be acquired through the different learning techniques. I like the idea of discussion boards for students and teachers. I am definitely for the close monitoring of student conversations. I do however think I would have a problem just having the kids go at a pace of their own without some guidance by me. I want them to stay basically together. As it stated in the article, there may be no one to talk to if everyone is at a different part of a lesson.

I know that many of the students are really “connected” and unafraid of technology, but there are going to be some that need the training in how to create some assignments through specific platforms. Just like our online class, they may need guidance. I didn’t see much of that mentioned in the article. It assumes that students have the ability to navigate technology, even those items that the instructors don’t know about yet. Many of the students currently in my face-to-face classroom exhibit advanced technological skills, and many are equipped with that kind of background knowledge because the technology is available to them outside of class and they are learning many things in their computer classes at school. I have to believe that not all of them have the same advantages and need help learning what comes easy for some. I will be the first to admit, I learn new technology from my students all of the time.

One of the results of the best teacher practices was that students and teachers lose the bond that face-to-face teachers and students have. I feel that a bond can be created online just as easily without the student thinking that all that has to be done is meet the criteria, turn in work and get a grade. I actually have face-to-face students that operate that way. They want to know if everything I assign them will be graded. They seem to put more effort into those things. I always say, “It could be. Work as if it will be.” I believe that attitude can work in either setting. It is the way you approach and challenge the students to continue with dialogue. Requiring discussion keeps them engaged in the conversations of the class. As they address each other and are addressed by the instructor, a relationship can be formed and a clear path is made for students who may not have asked questions to ask them, too.

Current Status of Digital Learning Kim Wasosky

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There was a lot to take in with this assignment. I had to read it several times to digest it because to me, it was more analytical in nature. I am going to try and express what I have learned from visiting the Keeping Pace with the K-12Digitial Learning article. Understanding the digital landscape can be a bit confusing for the parent, student and the teacher. It is all a matter of who has control of the content and digital curriculum. As stated, suppliers cannot issue diplomas, but they do issue a lot of the educational substance for the students and schools who utilize it. With that said there were four things that I gleaned from reading thoughtfully through the Keeping Pace with Digital Learning.

  • Digital learning has definitely been around the block for a while and has continued to grow outside of the private arena. Starting as a tool for students who need to recover credits, take AP courses while attending a physical school setting, offering dual enrollment to students who want to get a jump on college courses before high school graduation, seems to be the most prevalent reason for the online courses offered. The online platform has also been designed to aid students who need to recover credits, students who are likely to drop out of school and need an alternative type of education different than the traditional format, and homebound students who cannot attend a physical school.
  • There are such various forms of digital learning available that it is almost like a restaurant menu that is too large to make a decision. One size does not fit all. However, with careful examination, a combination of the right amount of online classes and traditional classes which fit the aptitude of each individual student can be found. To me, there are too many different variables of what is needed that they outnumber the qualified teachers to teach them.
  • States have been spending a lot of time examining Common Core State Standards and that has left little time to devote to online teaching training or even to begin the online instruction process at all. It’s a small wonder that there are only five states that offer online schools. Not to mention that they are grouped in the Southeast region of the U.S. I was surprised that those were the only offerings in the entire country, since my perception was that the Southern states often seem to be trailing other Northeastern states and even those in the Midwest.
  • Online teaching requires a lot of time-consuming training as well as being able to handle the expense of paying for the certification to teach online courses. That is just for the state where they are certified to teach. When considering offering online courses across state lines, teachers are finding reciprocity an issue. Becoming certified in additional states is also expensive and confusing.

After reading, it seems that supplemental online courses are the centerpiece of the virtual state schools. The blended plan, to me, works well for many students who want to maintain a traditional school experience, but take courses online that may not be available to them in a physical classroom. When I taught 8th grade economics, we set our students up in an online learning environment that taught them “real life” economics. It involved finances, supply and demand, opportunity cost, savings, college, jobs, and more. It was a module where I monitored each student’s progress through the program. They had to reach specified goals by certain deadlines and could log in from home to work on their modules. It was a great experience and is something that would definitely help them in real life. The students were engaged and could ask questions of me or share information with other students while working. This program was created and run by a local Richmond business called Genworth. It was free for the school to use and was the essence of an online learning experience for our students.

I am getting my feet wet in the digital teaching arena with help from our CTRT trainer. I developed a web quest for my seventh graders to complete with a partner. They each have a computer, but one pulls up the website and the other types the answers to gain a set of notes for the unit. One cannot work without the other. Then, when the assignment is complete, the students follow instructions on how to send me the link electronically, which I can grade on schoology and send back. It is so cool. I think once I become more comfortable with the technology, I will do it more. This is a huge step for me and I would like to think that it will help me in the journey of teaching online learning courses for students in the future.

I feel that online learning will grow more in the future, but with many more transitions to make it more feasible for instructors to gain access through the “red tape” of state governments to teach students across the lines in different regions. I also believe that it will be adaptable to any type of student. For example, a student who needs to have complete online learning to complete state required courses will have access to the precise educational platform to be successful. A student that needs or desires some online courses, but doesn’t want to lose the physical connection with people or a school environment will also find a perfectly accessible solution. I can hardly wrap my head around the possibilities of even moving from students in our nation learning online to the world’s student population learning from all corners of the earth one day; problem solving and teaching each other digitally.

The blog I chose to read at the iNACOL site was about Student-centered learning. The first thoughts through my mind as I scanned it and then headed to the Executive Summary was that students could be graduating at the age of 12 or 13 if they are following their own paces and moving along to get the curriculum mastered. Doogie Howser, M.D. flashed through my mind for a moment. Every single student in a program such as this would work and master and move on at their own pace. Those that are slower to learn would move slower, obviously, but I wouldn’t think it would be as frustrating to them because they don’t have to “hurry up”. It is a very interesting idea and if the states had money to pay for it, which I am not sure they will ever get that much money, but hey, who knows? Students could actually get that deeper learning that we are working so hard to instill today.

The more I investigate digital learning, the more I get excited that it would be really great as long as we humans don’t lose sight of our personal socialization.

My project Topic Kim Wasosky

railroad

My topic is the Determining the Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad on different groups of people who were directly affected by its construction. The students are to analyze and identify each group they are given by me by researching websites located on schoology and explaining whether or not the perspective of each would be positive or negative about the TCRR. They will also explain why. I believe this is a lot for a 7th grade student, but I would like to try it out and see what comes of it.

After lessons on the Homestead Act of of 1962 and the interaction among railroad builders, soldiers and homesteaders, the question for this online learning topic is whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative force.

Students will have several links to leading to museum websites  (still looking into those) to use in conjunction with classroom notes and readings to help them identify the perspectives involved with a decision on the advantages and disadvantages of the railroad. They will write their findings based on the guided information which I ask of them. That information will involve the following:

  • From the perspective of the Native Americans, this was in part an ending to the life of which they had on the Great Plains.
  • From the perspective of the settlers, the railroad was a lifeline to the Eastern and Western cities to send and receive goods.
  • From the perspective of the Chinese railroad workers and their sacrifices and poor treatment during the building of and the aftermath of the railroad.
  • From the perspective of the U.S. Government should identify the railroad as a way to join all of the United States and territories together showing a growing and strengthening empire.

The student will gather their information and write a paragraph for each perspective and ultimately make a decision as to whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative force in the U.S. based on which perspective they are using to determine their answer.

The format for this project will be hybrid. Since we have already started taking in the information in my classes and discussing it, the one assignment they will perform will be through schoology and presenting their findings and completed work to me through google docs. I am conducting this project with one class only to see how it works. I predict that this will take one to two class periods to get a final product. (We are working on writing skills in class also, and I would like to have them use their four-square writing organization to be able to clearly present their opinions on the question given.

This module will be created for my 7th grade U.S. History students.

Common misconceptions about my topic depends on the perspective that is taken. Most people when presented with the information about the Transcontinental Railroad construction see it as a positive endeavor that helped the U.S. grow economically and physically. It is expressed to have been a technological advance that helped the U.S. settle in areas that were ultimately “cut-off” from the civilized eastern states. The railroad made a connection that brought prosperity to the U.S.  Often when the topic is explained, there is a downplaying of the effect that the railroad and “progress” had on the Native Americans living in the Great Plains region. I am hoping that some of the students pick up on this and share the information in their opinions.

A seventh grade learner typically struggles with expressing pros and cons of the railroad showing a clear understanding from both perspectives. Developmentally, not all 12 and 13 year olds have the ability to look at something that seems positive and find a negative as well. This is partly because, unless they are looking for the information specifically, Native American perspectives are not exposed as part of the railroad completion. However, if directed to specifically look for that information, the students will be able to gain a better understanding of the perspectives and how something positive to one can be negative to another.

Kim Wasosky COI Blog

Through my reading and trying to understand the language in the COI program. I have learned that there are three levels of presence that will make the online learning experience worthwhile. There is a balance among the teacher, the student and the content itself. The perfect level of autonomy to learn content of a subject is not always present with students by itself. However, combined with the social presence, it seems to be more attractive. Middle school students love working in pairs or groups to carry out goals set out by the teacher. Here is where it gets interesting. Teachers who supply the cognitive concrete lesson with structure to the students and allow them, or better yet, encourage them to work together to dissect the information that is presented and share their own knowledge with other students will be more engaged and more likely to successfully complete the tasks they are assigned, as well as put forth effort into understanding the content which is presented by the teacher. This makes the online challenge seem less daunting and gives the students the support and sense of belonging to a group instead of being completely on their own.

The teacher is happy because the content is being accepted and analyzed by the students through their interaction with each other in discussion and creation of a product that shows the level of their understanding. Within the COI framework, students are learning in a safe and trusting environment in which they can express their views and are more likely to offer information and suggestion to their peers.

The transactional distance in cases such as the one listed above is closer and the security level of the students remains strong so the idea of “putting yourself out there” is not so scary, as it could be in a face-to-face situation such as a classroom setting.

As far as moving throughout the lessons to achieve the learning goals which are set for the students. The teaching presence is the stronghold which anchors the transitioning of the students through the lessons to acquire the desired outcome.

It is clear that the three presences, cognitive, teaching and social balance each other and a shift in any one of them will directly affect the others. For example, if the teaching presence is not precise in the expectations of what the students should accomplish, then I believe the students will do one of three things:

  • Not complete anything because they will not have a structure to follow and will be afraid to move forward without guidance from the teacher;
  • Move forward on what they “think” is expected and possibly follow through on something that doesn’t meet the planned goal of the lesson; or
  • Constantly complete step by step and continually question the teacher or other students as to whether or not he or she is on the right track.

If the cognitive presence is lacking, then the students will have a difficult time, even with teacher presence, to understand what it is that is being asked of them.

Without the social presence, the students will feel isolated and perhaps unable to complete the lessons to meet the goals set by the teacher because there is no feed-back or discussion to help understanding of the information they are to disseminate.

With inclusion of all three presences, the student has an opportunity to be successful, close the transactional distance, and  autonomy will become more apparent because of the confidence that is instilled by the presence of all three items.

 

My online learning experiences are limited. As I stated before, I had to send cassette tapes back and forth and communicate through snail mail. This is all a fairly new concept to me. I am no technology guru and I am excited learn more about the online communication environment which consists of the twitter, feedly, wordpress, and regular blogging experiences because I believe that these platforms offer a conceivable way to learn. It will take some serious time-management on my end to keep up.

I can completely see how a student can feel separated by transactional distance when it comes to being consistent with interacting with other students in the class on a regular basis. It takes a great deal of determination and commitment to stay abreast of new ideas and try to grasp what is being taught. Using the social presence in this online teaching class has made me feel at ease. Reading the blogs of my colleagues has allowed me the “whew, I am not the only one” feeling when I have read and re-read the blogs and articles about the different learning preferences and how they are supposed to work together. The language has been difficult for me, as I have looked up a lot of words just to understand what I am reading in some instances. It is frustrating, but I believe I have a general understanding of what makes the transactional distance become closer between students/ teachers/peers throughout the learning process. All are needed for online learning to be successful.

I hope to incorporate all three of the presences in my project to make learning for my students not only engaging and fun, but rewarding and in the end I hope they reach their learning goals.

 

E-Learning Generations The MOOC

Well, as I began reading this article on the MOOC, I felt as though I were travelling back through time. I never collectively thought about the process of how communication on the WWW evolved so much, I just kept learning more information on how to navigate and use it and thought about how cool it was.

After soaking in the article about how the  MOOC is affecting the sharing of knowledge with one another from “everywhere”, it is almost too big to wrap my head around. I know that earlier generations were more concerned with sharing content with others through the use of the massive Internet. With virtual meetings, virtual gaming and social media growing so quickly, it is no wonder that it can only get bigger. In that time, it was also a more conceivable concept, more concrete, to understand.

The flow is something I cannot yet fathom, and maybe I never will. It may be something that just is, and I know it’s there, and use it to reach my goals and have my e-learning students reach theirs. However, I am not sure how I am going to utilize it in teaching online. I feel I will have to start with baby steps and hope to grow exponentially as I “see” better. I hope there is more clarity on this topic. I understand the part about communication from all over the world and being able to reside in the same online space. I am even in complete understanding of analyzing data to construct a better-tailored lesson on a topic with which students have difficulty. However, I am not sure my brain understands the flow and the constant fluid movement of the e-learning. If I have to teach history in an online course, how does that work together. I would love some feedback. I feel like I may be missing an important point here.

Thank you in advance.

So, I took the term ds106. I expected to find some difficult-to-understand computer jargon that would have no meaning to me, really. All I can say is, “Wow.” The ds106 course was that of digital storytelling. It wasn’t just a closed online class though. It published through Mary Washington College as an open-ended online course in which anyone could sign up for and participate. Before the course even got started, people from all over the world were submitting and posting work through video gifs, audio, written work and other art forms. The interesting part about this to me was that, as a writer myself, it would have been a great place to submit my work where others could see it, and appreciate it. Getting feedback for work is an incredible motivator. I can see how this type of online course would be successful with students who just talk to anyone about what they want to know or having feedback on what they are putting out there. I watched this video and I will list the site for it on how it all started. Hopefully, it will work by hyperlinking it. If not, I can just type it out for you and you can copy and paste it. It is about 32 min. long. You can feel the positive energy from the speaker and his enthusiasm for the project.

http://ds106.us/history/

 

Transactional Distance– My Take on This

kids-using-computer_parenting-blognet

Through the first reading of this article, I was wondering how I will identify the level of autonomy of each student I encounter in the beginning of a distance education course. It will take some time to “flush out” how they will be best served on the online platform. Determining for each learner what their level of autonomy is and how serious they are to learn the material will drive how the course is taught.  It will also have to derive at the best level of structure I incorporate for each course and be prepared to differentiate those levels to each learner. I feel the dialogue can be kept at a constant because those that need the extra communication with the teacher can continue to utilize it, whereas a more autonomous learner can disregard and complete a lot of the work on his or her own. It is quite interesting to determine what will work best for each student. I had to read and re-read it because it is more math-minded thinking and I really have to work at that. I do think I finally understand the relationships between the three structures and how they can be applied differently. As an online instructor, the more I do it, the better improvement I will see in myself, which will in turn help the learners on this alternate road to learning.

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