I 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.