19 Replies Latest reply on May 29, 2012 10:19 AM by nchawes

    Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

    MrsSmoke

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      Taking online and blended courses is becoming increasingly popular for teachers and administrators and even students. Opportunities for quick workshops to full courses are popping up in districts across the globe, especially as professional development budgets and classroom space are limited.

      We want to hear from you.  What are the advantages to blended learning and which environment works best for your learning style (one night a week, daily interaction, discussions with feedback, participating in online office hours, work at your own pace, or video webinars)?

      Also please share any tips or resources you may have about successfully leading or participating in blended professional development. We would especially love to hear about your experiences with Elements if you have completed any of the 5 courses.

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        • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

          Dyane, thank you for posting this thread.  Not only are teachers and admin starting to take classes online to update their PD, but we are starting to see students doing the same for credit recovery, etc.  Here in Yavapai County we will be starting several Moodle and ITV courses for several CTE courses.  Even though these course start before the regular school day, there is a waiting list for several of them. 

           

          I was reading an article the other day concerning how states support schools and the main point was that many states are starting to look at mastery instead of seat time.  I believe we need to really look at that model, but as a friend of mine stated, "It will take a while to get there as the whole school finance formula is based on seat time.  How do you fund a student who shows competency in six weeks rather than a full semester is the question.  They will argue since the student spent less time in the classroom, you should be able to service the student with fewer dollars".  It really is to bad that money drives this discussion instead of what is best for kids. In my mind, if a student has the initive to take these corses online and then show mastery, why shouldn't that be OK?

           

          Here is the link to the article I mentioned.  Education Week:  State Loosening Seat Time Requirements

           

          I think I'm a little off post topic, but maybe not.

           

          I would be interested in hearing what your state is doing in terms of loosening the "seat time" requirement.

           

          Neil

            • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
              Nasiraa

              Thanks Neil for the links ,policy makers have at least started to realize that students may be gauged by  many other options besides the grading system and i think that’s the best input  intel  education initiative has achieved  and very soon there will be a major  shift in the way schools understand teaching and student’s  learning

              • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                erroth

                Neil,

                 

                I read the article you cited and found these as well: Liberating Learning and Scrap Seat-Time Rules

                The first touts the value of online/distance learning and tells where this kind of learning has taken off.The second cites a study that shows how online learning can really help struggling students.

                 

                I know the value of online learning from classes I have taken and that my son has taken. I recently took an online class to be certified to coach baseball and my son took his online driving course to get his driver's license. I also recently took a class for soccer coaching certification; this was face-to-face/hands-on (well, feets-on).

                The online baseball certification class was very convenient and thorough, and provided many great resources, including instructional videos. I would have liked to have had first hand experience on the field as well. The participatory activities in the face-to-face soccer class were a lot of fun and provided first-hand experience. I would rather have completed the classroom part online, allowing for my time for on-the-field instruction.

                 

                I believe that a combination of online learning and first-hand experience to be the best combination (is that what is meant by blended learning?), but, depending upon the learning objectives and goals, a strictly in-class or online environment may be just fine.

                 

                To base funding on seat-time as opposed to mastery of the objectives does not make sense from an academic standpoint. Whether online or in-class, we all have our own pace, based on work habits and ethics, background knowledge and previous experience, etc. Why should efficiency be a bad thing?

                 

                Now, here are a few caveats:

                1) I joke that some of my students only need to be in my fourth-grade class for a couple of weeks because they could pass the TAKS test at that point. Because they have mastered all of the objectives, couldn't they just move on to fifth grade? I don't really mean that they should move on. My point is that the TAKS test (soon to be STAAR) isn't the end-all. There is so much more learning that goes on in fourth grade (and any other grade) than just what it takes to pass the standardized test. So, it needs to be clear what "mastery" signifies.

                 

                2) Online degree programs have proliferated because of convenience and lower prices. But many of these programs are not accredited and may be complete shams. There needs to be some sort of regulation of these programs.

                 

                3) We need to be careful that we don't move too far away from first-hand experience.

                 

                 

                As far as Austin ISD/Texas goes, I don't know what is being done regarding seat-time requirements. I did some looking but couldn't find anything definitive. I'll keep searching and I'll check with my Principal.

              • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                glen_w

                I am so excited about this discussion. Utah is expecting each High School student will take up to two classes a year through online courses. Many of our rural districts are in the unique situation of not having trained people who can deliver such online classes. My understanding is that funding for such courses will take money away from a student's assigned High School. Utah currently has the lowest per pupil funding in the USA. This creates a dilema as it may make delivering other course content difficult due to costs.

                 

                What suggestions do my fellow Engage friends have that may be provided to these Rural Districts? I'm thinking that Intel Teach Elements may help these teachers feel more confident in how their delivery may occur. I, however, think they need more guidance. Where can I direct them?

                  • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

                    Glen, as you know, Intel has teamed with ETLO to create the Elements Moodle courses.  I would suggest, if possible, the teachers actually take one of the courses that is being delivered by one of the ETLO trained facilitators.  Here in AZ, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to go through the ETLO training and it was very well done.  I don't know if it's possible or not, but maybe Utah's teachers could take the Elements Courses we are facilitating. 

                     

                    Just a thought.

                     

                    Neil

                      • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                        glen_w

                        Neil,

                         

                        I like your idea of helping these teachers learn what good blended courses should look like. Many of these teachs have little experience with online courses. Most currently teach up to six different preparations each day. While I am not in (or anywhere near) these rural districts, many of these teachers are friends of mine. I do not have any direct influence on the teachers, but am interested in helping them see possibilities. I'm sure you understand the situation based on similarities in Arizona. I do not know if any funding is available for the teachers to take online courses - I also do not know if these teachers have the time or desire to take such courses. I hope a solution becomes available so these schools do not start losing funding.

                    • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

                      What a great and timely discussion.  My district is beginning to offer more online courses to high school students in the place of their regular classes. 

                      I have both taken and taught online courses and have some opinions about what has worked best for me as well as my students. 

                       

                      My junior high German program feeds into a high school where German is not taught, but there is an online course available.  The feedback from my students has been that the online courses are less effective than than having a quality classroom teacher work face to face with the students. 

                      As the specific question was regarding blended learning, I do know of one German teacher in my district that uses Rosetta Stone as a supplement for his classroom instruction.  He has commented that it helps to reinforce the vocabulary and concepts he teahes, but it not sufficient to use as a stand-alone program. (I realize that many may disagree- especially the software designers, but I tend to agree with him).

                       

                      In language courses, daily interaction (or at least every other day)  is essential for language acquisition and retention.  It is imperitave that students have the opportunity to speak and receive feedback from individuals and in group settings.  Interpersonal communication is key.  If students have the opportunity to interact via video or audio chat with other students and the online instructor, the online programs have been more effective.

                       

                      Although online learning is a good option for some students, I feel that they should not be the norm.

                       

                      For my own personal learning in non language-courses, I work best at my own pace with tutorials and group message board discussions.  It has been extremely helpful when the instructor has online office hours and bi-weekly webinars. 

                        • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                          MrsSmoke

                          Hi Jake and welcome to our community.  Glad you are here.

                           

                          I agree with your friend that the software tools such as Rosetta Stone among others (scripted remedial programs) are never the silver bullet for students.  It's a great supplement, but it doesn't replace a full teacher who can tap into a student's interests and make a personal connection. 

                           

                          With the online office hours in the courses you have taken, what has been the most beneficial to you? 

                          • Open chat?
                          • Assigned live discussion topics?
                          • Group phone/skype calls?

                           

                          Just curious as this is something I've thought about implementing in my own online courses.

                           

                          Thanks

                        • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

                          The benefits and disadvantages probably resemble most of those associated with participation in any form of PD. Everyone has to buy into the need for the PD, be willing to apply the effort necessary for benefiting from their participation, and have access to the resources that will enhance their efforts. While the associated costs may differ with the different forms of PD, the basic concepts are probably present in most forms of PD. However, the most effective form of PD offers unrestrained and equal access to input from everyone, and that is why I think online programs are great for students and adults.

                            • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

                              Motherofthree, I love the online environment.  I have taken several courses online, and for me, they work. Over the last three semesters, I have had the opportunity to facilitate two of the Intel Elements courses.  While the teachers have stated they are learning new skills for the classroom, many are still hesitant to actually apply them. You state "Everyone has to buy into the need for the PD, be willing to apply the effort necessary for benefiting from their participation....." and I agree with you, but my question is how do we, as facilitators, help the teachers get over the fear of implementation. Because teachers face the standardized test, they "don't want to change things right now".  Does "now" ever come?

                               

                              Does that make sense?

                               

                              Neil

                                • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                                  lauren.fox@austinisd.org

                                  I hear you! It's hard to get teachers to truly try out new teachnology. I think holding teachers accountable by requiring them to submit student work samples as part of the course is vital. In my opinion, that has been the changing factor for most of the teachers particpating in out local TechnoScientist group in Austin, Texas. After trying out new technology, we post our work samples in our discussion threads and receive feedback from our peers. I think this works very well for encouraging sustainablility. Thanks to our fabulous facilitator Vanessa Jones

                                    • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                                      diana_M

                                      I too am a member of Technoscientist and have benefited from the online experience and collaboration that Vanessa Jones has provided!  It has been a powerful tool in enhancing my skills and confidence.  I have learned so much and love to get ideas from other teachers who have tried new web tools and equipment and are eager to share their experiences.  My comfort level and confidence is growing and my students naturally ability to embrace new digital tools is enhanced!  I think with budget cuts and time management, blended learning environments will increase.  This past school year, I have notcied a decline in PD courses offered, cancellations, and low attendance.  Online learning saves time, money, and is convenient!

                                • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                                  lauren.fox@austinisd.org

                                  I love the opportunity to learn in a blended environment. I have taken three Elements courses and I have been so pleased with the content and ability to work at my own pace with the support of colleagues online and occasional face to face meetings with those here in my district. I do still feel the need to meet in person at times, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed or behind. The thing I like most about the online learning experiences is the opportunity to see and hear what other teachers are doing outside of my school, district, and state.

                                  • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                                    diana_M

                                    I am in full support of blended learning enviornments.  Last year, I completed my masters program and we colloaborated over 50% of the time virtually.  We were able to post assignments, attend webinars, and connect for classes.  We did have face-to-face meetings and coursework as well.  This style of learning fit the needs of a variety of families and learning styles.  i loved posting at my own convenience and the ability to sometimes work ahead on certain projects.  I attended a few elements classes in the summer and loved the ability to work at my own pace while traveling and on vacation or from my own home.  I think this type of learning offers so many benefits to all! 

                                    • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

                                      I recently participated in a video webinar for international recruiter for teachers and I have to say, I was very impressed with the technology, of being able to hear a the speaker, watch the presentation and then have a discussion with feedback at the end to the event with participants from different countries.  I see this as the future of distance learning and I was sitting in my little patio outside my house, enjoying the sun.  The only problem with that, is that if you do it live, well then it has to be at a certain time, just like being in class.   Regarding Blending learning, I think by having different environment for teaching or learning, it just gives more people the oportunity to receive an education.  Take for example The Open University from the UK, one of the best distance learning institutions, using all kinds of blending education for your blending learner.

                                      • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning
                                        jtotten

                                        I like the opportunity to work online at my own pace but I also like the opportunity of having a once a week hook up as well to keep me on task and up to date.  Technology has caused me to rethink my approach to classroom instruction and I enjoy collaborating and seeing what else is going on in other areas and adapting them to work for me as well.

                                         

                                        I think I have joined too many technology groups and collaborating with too many at times that I get overwhelmed. 
                                        There are many great opportunities for teachers to see and share.   I have been looking at Simple K12 recently and there is alot there as well.

                                         

                                        Online courses is the way to go just as we are seeing more schools providing reteach at school and then the students are receiving the course instruction on line at home at their own pace as well.

                                         

                                        I love TechnoScientists!  What I like most about this group is that teachers are sharing what is working and not working, providing examples and suggestions.  You can get so many ideas by hearing what worked for someone else and then all you have to do is tweek it sometimes to fit your class needs.  Often you just try out the new program they shared and go for it.

                                        • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

                                          I see a lot that I like about online courses. I took the Digital Collaboration course last summer. I could do it at my own pace, including taking into account vacations. I am a part of Technoscientists, online course, but here we get and give feedback as we do the monthly activities. We also get suggestions and things to try. I like the interactive-ness of it.

                                          I feel that webinars fit this category. The Intel Engage webinars are wonderful. You can get information, things to try, and ask questions. You can also go back and review what you might have missed or didn't quite understand. I love this aspect.

                                          A caveat:

                                          When my daughter was in high school (10 yrs ago), she took an online health course in the summer so she wouldn't have to take it during the year. I don't feel she got much out of it. She was just looking for answers and getting it done (and procrastinating). She needed to have some feed back, interaction with others to really get something out of it. So do HS students get anything out of it - maybe, if they are really interested, but I think students need the interaction with others.

                                          I get to pick what interests me, so I enjoy the online courses and I get a lot out of them. As Jackie says, I do need some face to face time. We have a number of Techno4 people on campus, so that helps, but I love getting out of my environment and seeing, brainstorming with others.

                                          Some of us in the PE dept. want to do something similar to Techno4 with the PE people. There are so many people who know things, but nobody knows it all. We could gain and spread around a lot of knowledge. I see this as a way to "work smarter, not harder".

                                          • Re: Online Learning Voyages #2  March Thru May 2012 - An Environment of Blended Learning

                                            Online PD certainly has its advantages: depending on the format, one can go at his/her own rate, on his/her own schedule, and repeat sections if necessary. While I love the "live" webinars, sometimes they are too fast for me to take in all the information, so I like to go back and review the recorded webinars on the Intel website. Another huge advantage to online PD, again, depending on the format, is that it allows one to multi-task. : )

                                             

                                            I still like face-to-face workshops, because one can always learn from the other participants. Often one needs the expertise of the presenter to explain the whys and wherefores, AND to help with "surprises", for example, when one's computer doesn't cooperate as it should (read: when I don't know how to navigate the OS). It's nice to have the security of someone looking over my shoulder, and to answer questions.