I use online learning in my classroom to differentiate and to facilitate student learning in different formats. Regularly, I will assign online work that allows students to explore a similar topic and then evaluate their understanding based on the tool they have chosen to use. I was recently asked if I could go back to teaching without computers for students to use or without access to the Internet. My response was a quick and loud NO!
Vikki, we are starting to use ITV and Moodle for some of the CTE classes here in Yavapai County. This summer we will be hosting a statewide conference on this very topic. One of the presenters will talk on the skills that are needed for the totally online facilitator with kids that are totally online for their class(s). It truly is a brave new world out there and I firmly believe if you're not getting on board, you will be run over by the train. It's still moving slowly, but it is moving.
One way is through webquests. My fourth graders are currently on a virtual vacation. The vacation webquest integrates math, language arts, and social studies. The teams have a travel calendar, they work at their own pace with me as facilitator, students gather info online, from books, from people, and from experience, and they create a travel booklet to share.
When I was in the classroom, I would have students research tutorials on the current concept and post them for the rest of the class. That way students could see multiple ways of approaching the same topic. Not only did it work well for the content, the dynamic of the class changed from not speaking to one another in the classroom to a very closely knit group after getting to know one another online.
Im very glad that K-12 is now implemented in the Department of Education in our country. We will be using online communication for our students to link with thier teachers and to learn more independently. But still we need government support to provide more technological gadgets for proper communications and wide dissemination of information.
I have blended my entire classroom with online learning. I have a split teaching duty. In the morning I teach elementary, and in the afternoon I teach middle school. In the moning I utilize ipad apps combned with face to face teaching. Students are actively engaged in the learning, because they love working on the ipad. Students are always willing to do the face to face and book work to be able reinfore the information on the ipad. I have found apps that reinforce almost every aspect of what I am teaching.
In the afternoon, I have used online learning for research(google), vocabulary enhancement (glogster), teaching(prezi), video presentation(youtube), ebook publishing (tarheel reader), apeech development (abc phonics), story writing (toontastic), research writing (index cards) and many more. I pair the teaching with online/21st century skills on a daily basis. This pairing keeps students engaged in the activity and helps them feel that they have reached far beyond their world. Using online tools help students feel empowered which is a very good thing for students with hearing impairments.
I tend to think of online learning as students accessing a website or webinar and participating in class that way, but this discussion is giving me more ideas! So far this year I've used a wiki with (different degrees of success) to assign topics for students to discuss, but watching the way they try to give it a facebook character has started me thinking about creating a facebook account with more of a problem solving focus.
I've also used some google docs and I love them. If you want ease of use and clear response viewing, they are great. I learned I have to allow changing answers rather than a one time submit with my students (fifth graders) because they sometimes submit before they are finished, and then after we've discussed the doc in class, they sometimes want to go back and change their answers. I think that is great and shows them what learning is about.
This year I traveled out of the country for a week to Saudi Arabia. With Skype, I was able to meet with students (only once, but we're learning) and show them where I was, let them see the way I dressed for the trip and answer a few questions online. Of course, it was midnight for me and they were getting ready to go home, but we connected. Some of the amazing things that came out of that encounter were that my moslem students really looked at me with new eyes. And students who had never thought about their teacher in different contexts had some pretty revealing thoughts that were expressed in questions when I got back to the classroom. That has made me consider the use of Skype for kids who are away from the classroom.
When kids miss school because of circumstance or health issues it might not mean they have to miss their learning. With the new computers we had in the classroom Skype was easy and I was able to view the children in my class easily. I'm now thinking that kids could participate with a buddy or a group from home using google docs and Skype. That experience could be a plus for them as they access the distance education courses our district offers to high school students. Who knows, some of them may not have to wait for high school to start pursuing their interests.
Next year we begin using ipads and for sure kids will do almost anything to use an ipad :). I read with interest the teacher who was using ipads for apps that reinforce and computers for research in her middle school classes. My class this year was fortunate to have laptops assigned to each and they pulled them out when they came in in the morning and put them away when we did messy science or at the end of the day. They became very comfortable using the computer to research, to "just look it up real quick" and to do their written and wiki work.
Who knows what the children will see in the future. Their jobs may be only available if they can access them from home or on the road. I see people doing this all the time and have seen that even airplanes have usb ports built into their seats! I think the more experience they have, the more easily they'll be able to learn whatever comes in the future.
I love Intel Engage. Everyone's posts are always so interesting and so helpful. Thanks to all of you!