Sunday, June 24, 2012

2.2 Reflection: Methodologies of the Online Instructor

As I read the information in the module about Online and Blended Learning it seemed to be written from my perspective. The basis for the use of technology for learning had several key components that are set up to make a successful experience for all parties involved in the learning process. The teacher, in a position to enhance student learning must be flexible and willing to not only monitor student progress but change the course of the journey as the student grows. 

In my realm, my classroom, I have set up several systems to make sure that communication is done systematically to both student and parent. Communication was the first bullet point of key skills for teachers of online learners. I have set up within my Google + Account a series of Circles (By Classes) for Students and Parents. These Circles allow me to communicate with the persons of interest daily through postings of homework, newsletters, or important class news. I utilize Blogger for my Student Assignments and Newsletters which allows for a digital library of current and past information. By using the App features on my iPhone I am able to take pictures of my homework board, notes, charts, etc. from the class and post them to my Assignment (Blog) Page on Blogger. Once posted I am then able to share it through Google + to my students and parents. This is just one way that communication is done daily to my students and their parents. The newsletter works in a similar manner from my PC, iPad or iPhone depending on the information being communicated.

Another form of communication that I use is Google Voice, a great feature that allows me to communicate immediately with students and parents. Many teachers feel awkward with giving students their personal cell phone number (or home land-line for those that still have one). Google Voice allows for the user to create a separate phone number that can be user-generated and have it forward to their cell phone. This has become a great tool for me both during the school day and after school. Students during class (because I have a BYOD policy) are able to text questions that they might otherwise feel funny with asking publicly in class.This is great for the shy, introverted student or someone of an intra-personal modality. Beyond the classroom bringing 24/7 access to students and parents they are able to text for assignment clarification or other concerns that might arise. Google Voice allows for learning to be one step closer to 24/7.

Keeping students differing learning modalities in mind and understanding that some students do best with visual learning I have set up live study casts for students using UStream.TV. This works wonderful as students would know the date and time of the broadcast and could plan accordingly either to watch live, watch the study cast at their leisure and/or watch it several times at their own pace. Students would send in emails, Twitter Messages, Facebook Messages, text messages with questions that they would like clarified for the study cast. Surprisingly the majority of students would participate either during the live feed or watch it later as their schedule permits.

I believe that using technology as I currently do in my classroom (having only scratched the surface here) will seamlessly translate to an online learning environment.  I do believe that one of my obstacles in an online learning environment would be deadlines as I strive currently to focus on the learning and not the deadline. I do believe my online learning model will be more of a blended flipped classroom this will not pose as much of an issue as I will have students in the classroom face-to-face. 

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