Project End Point

The module on solutions that I am building in still incomplete. There are a total of 5 lessons and I have worked on 3 of the 5 thus far. I do intend to finish the module. My classes study solutions in late April so I have time to continue looking for virtual lab activities to enhance the learning experience. Over the weekend I found a great virtual activity that ties together lessons 3 and 4. I included this virtual activity link in lesson 4 and am putting together a lab sheet to go with the activity so that the students will have a good lab report to review prior to the unit test. If this class was entirely online the students would be keeping a lab journal throughout the course. In developing these lessons I realized how much instruction I give verbally in class/in lab and how much clarification I provide as I circulate during lab. It takes quite a bit of time to provide detailed instructions as the students won’t have me by their side to answer any questions.

As for feedback, I would like to know whether the sequence of lessons seems logical. I would also like to know whether the directions are clear and concise. I always look forward to any feedback. The remaining feedback will come from my students when I beta test this with them in the spring. Adults tend to read directions before proceeding where students turn to the data chart and wonder why they can’t figure out what to do next.

Lastly, in developing our modules I had a goal of building something useful for my class. I also wanted to integrate technology as 21st century learning goals push students towards more virtual learning and analysis of data. I do think that what I have built to date has pushed me in this direction. I have stretched myself in terms of using virtual applications while spending hours looking for newer and better activities than I have used in the past. If the goal for developing our modules was personal growth, planning lessons in the digital world, and sharing with others I feel as though I have done a good job.

Final Reflection

Having used Schoology last year with my students I felt as though I had moved somewhat into the world of online teaching. My course is definitely not an online program but I do try to weave aspects of online learning into the class. Using Twitter and blogs are tools that I would not have thought about utilizing in my course. I never went back to the Feedly account once we started working on our modules. Using these different communication methods stretched me the most this semester. It’s not the technology that I find challenging. I am not one to share my thoughts publicly very often so writing blog posts and tweets at first felt like formal assignments. As time went on I did become more comfortable with writing blog posts and tweets. I’m not sure how I would use these tools with my students as they don’t see social media as a means of instruction. With the Schoology platform many online tools can be found in one location making things less disjointed for my students.

When researching the historical and conceptual foundations of eLearning I found that much of this was just sound teaching practice. Teaching presence, cognitive presence and social presence should be integrated within any learning environment whether it be face-to-face or online. I do believe that the way in which we structure lessons and activities helps the student move from essential content knowledge to application of key principles. The Community of Inquiry website was helpful in that so much information was linked to the one website and much of it was written for a general population audience. I enjoyed reading about MOOCs, self-regulated learning but articles about lesson design and instructor roles seemed redundant as these are skills that I have worked on for many years in the face-to-face environment. At least these articles did confirm and support what I do in the classroom each day.

When designing the online module I felt the most comfortable as this is my strength. The TPack lesson plan had me consider other aspects of lesson planning that are unique to online learning. Planning online lessons requires you to focus very carefully on the flow of the lessons and on dialogue between the students along with feedback from the instructor. I did enjoy receiving feedback about my module from colleagues as they teach the same content as myself. It would have been nice to be in these assigned groups from the very beginning. I had the necessary experience to comment on someone’s lesson design where I did not feel as confident responding to blog posts about content that was new to me.

Lastly, the emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, are always a challenging part of teaching. The technologies develop so quickly now that I always feel as though I am one step behind my students. It would have been nice to be exposed to these emerging technologies before the end of the course. Teaching roles and lesson design could have been condensed somewhat allowing for more time to explore new technologies.

Virtual Reality in an Online Classroom

Virtual Reality for me was synonymous with video game technology until I watched Jeremy Bailenson’s talk on the use of virtual reality in education. I felt that touching and manipulating objects in lab was a much better form of instruction. His discussion about sensing the movements of students as an indicator of understanding was amazing or focusing on each student through your avatar and a kinect system. Then when he talked mentioned a virtual scuba diving trip I was reminded of the movie “Fantastic Voyage”. How neat would it be to take my students on a virtual trip of the atom on an atomic scale? The possibilities are endless as long as the software has been developed.

Now for the downside, as with any technology it all comes down to access. The Google cardboard was intriguing but you need a smartphone. We still have plenty of students without reliable access to internet and smartphones. Would this be cost prohibitive for a public K-12 school system? Will this be used mostly at a post-secondary level? In business? How do we prepare our students for the 21st century VR experience if the technology is changing so rapidly? How long can a student use the system before taking a break? Lots of unknowns but exciting potential!

What to do with MOOCs? Hmm……

My initial reaction, at the beginning of the course when we were first exposed to MOOCs, was that these courses offer a means of providing lifelong learning opportunities with access to experts in their respective fields. As with much of what we have researched pertaining to online education I find that MOOCs are designed for a more mature audience. As Zemesky writes less than 4% of students complete their MOOC. I cannot see most high school students learning for the sake of learning. They are very grade driven. In both the Zemesky article and the MacDonald /Ahern study the question of quantifiable learning is discussed. This, for me, is the greatest drawback to using a MOOC as educational option in K-12 education. My other concern is the sharing of incorrect information from student to student as much of the course interaction/feedback occurs between students and often very little, if any, between student and teacher.

As for transforming my course module into a MOOC, I’m not sure. I do feel as though my module design has a very structured flow, requires minimal background knowledge and connects to real-world concepts at the end. There are some aspects of MOOCs in the module as there are planned lessons with video introductions, discussion questions and limited assessments where all work is due using a relatively flexible schedule. I still plan on face-to-face lab time and discussion as I do not feel as though laboratory science is best learned in an online format.

Current Project Status – Solutions Unit

At this point 2 of my 5 lessons are finalized and a 3rd is well underway. My goal is to finish 3 lessons completely before the end of the course. I will finish the rest of the unit after exams as I do plan on using this module in the spring. I am very pleased with the flow of the module and the virtual activities that I selected to use. I look forward to student feedback at the end of the module!