Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Information Overload

I began this MOOC with the greatest of intentions, to learn how to teach online.  I found so much information however, that I am lost in the information overload.  I think that I am posting in week three, but I am not sure.  I am also unsure what a sense making artifact is, even though I went to the suggested site and tried to digest that information too.  So I will settle for a simple reflection this week, and try again to digest what I am reading in the upcoming round of information.

I viewed the webinar with Tony Bates and found it to be quite interesting.  The focus was on the steps needed to design and implement an online course.  He discussed some of his 9 Steps that I also mentioned in my last blog. Mr. Bates also outlined the differences between open source learning and classes that are designed "for credit".  The main difference lies in the structure and evaluation that is inherent in courses designed for university credit.  I think I like structure.  I need to know what the ground rules are - specific examples of work that I need to produce to earn my credits.  Although courses for credit require a lot of reading and writing, the information is more contained.  Topics are specific, and discussion posts for the week usually center around one main issue.  If the class is divided into groups, then there is a specific purpose to the grouping, at least as far as I can tell.

In this MOOC, I am never sure if I am responding to one of the instructors, or if I am responding to a fellow student.  From the many blogs that I read, there are a number of people taking the course who are also instructors at a university.  I find that interesting.  Perhaps there is a real need among university professors to improve their online course structure, or to at least find out what all the hullabaloo is about - OR there are a lot of instructors for this course. 

One of my issues with online courses is the evaluation of work.  How is it done so that the student does not feel it is all automated?  It is one thing to turn in a test and know that the score is machine scored, but it is another thing to wonder if the professor actually read any comment or essay that you posted.  Is the entire grade made up of on-time postings, or do instructors at least read some of the comments some of the time?


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Remix and Re-purpose

This week I watched several videos about online learning.  They were mostly about the advantages of incorporating online learning at the university level.  I found that the general consensus is that online learning is here to stay.  Also, many educators feel that the online format is simply what students may prefer, since they are the ones that use the technology. 

The issue I see is how can we develop online instruction in such a way that we can reach individual learning styles and ensure an appropriate method of evaluation?  I followed a number of links to pages that offer a broad scope of information about online learning.  One particular link was to a blog by Tony Bates.  He offers insights that can help us understand the need for students to develop learning skills that go beyond the classroom.  He says


It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university.

http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/

Although most of what he says relates to students at the university level, I think students at the high school level could also benefit from this way of thinking.  At the high school, the students bring their communication devices because that is what they use everyday.  Some teachers might view the i Pads and cell phones as objects of distraction, rather than tools for learning.  I have often heard complaints that the students would rather just take a picture of the notes on the white board than to spend time writing them out.  Another complaint is that students are often "caught" texting their friends in other classes than paying attention to the lecture.  I think that if the teachers had the same skills the students have in using these devices, then maybe they would be more open to communicating their ideas in a different format.  Perhaps that lecture could be redesigned into a video, or those notes can be accessed through a class blog.  How much easier for a student to download a PDF. rather than have to laboriously copy vocabulary notes.  Tony Bates says that the Internet can provide a greater avenue for communication between teacher and their students, as well as communication among students.  He recognizes that communication through the Internet is not the only thing that qualifies online learning.  He says

More importantly though than the quantity of communication is the quality. What can instructors – or other students – bring to the conversation that results in deeper learning or different outcomes? To what extent can this added factor be scaled up? 
I scanned a report about how online education is defined by the US Department of Education.  So apparently, public schools that rely of Title IV funding would not be able to qualify for that funding if they offer only online courses. 

I think that most students in the high schools on Guam are ready for at least some online learning.  The question is, are any of the high schools ready?  Are the teachers ready?  Do we have the resources for this kind of change?  Who will initiate a conversation about this at the district level?  Are our high schools shying away from online learning because we may lose federal dollars? There is also the question of protecting student privacy that needs to be addressed.

I scanned and then bookmarked all of the nine steps to quality online learning by Tony Bates.  I hope to read those again later this week.  I would recommend these pages to anyone in this class.  I know it is redundant, since the link is already on the class pages but I thought to provide one on this blog too.
You can find his pages here:  http://www.tonybates.ca/2012/07/09/nine-steps-to-quality-online-learning-step-9-evaluate-and-innovate/

It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university. - See more at: http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/#sthash.e5IM7IUI.dpuf
It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university. - See more at: http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/#sthash.e5IM7IUI.dpuf
It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university. - See more at: http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/#sthash.e5IM7IUI.dpuf

Why Am I Taking This MOOC?

  1. What is your intention for this workshop (why are you here)?
  2. What issues do you think are important?
  3. How will you contribute?
  4. How would you like to see community develop among participants?
  5. These types of workshops are new for most people. In fact  about 90% don’t even participate. How will you overcome the fear of learning in the open and the frustration of using new technology, courageously work through any setbacks, and not give up?

I decided to try this workshop to see if I could use some of the ideas in my own teaching career.  I would like to learn how to communicate using web tools, and see if some of these methods could be incorporated as part of my own class.

One issue I find, is that online courses for high school students do not exist on Guam.  Yet, these are the students who need the training in learning to use technology responsibly, communicating ideas, and looking for answers to their queries.  The online environment can be daunting for many users, students (including myself) need to be able to avoid information overload, learn to narrow down searches, and in essence, use the web to harness its powers, rather than let the web become overpowering.

I hope to contribute more than I have already.  I think I am a little behind in the posts, but intend to try harder to keep up.  I was confused about the blackboard and web conferencing.  I am not sure if I will need to use the conferencing feature, since most of the times available are times I will be teaching and unable to attend.  I would like to try the blackboard instant messaging, so if someone in class is online, then we can use the feature to discuss ideas.

I am not sure how a  community will develop.  I hope that some one with knowledge on how set up online courses for high school students can help me out with ideas.  I would like to propose some of these ideas to my district office to see if it is viable for our island.

I am ever conscious of where I work, so I always must be careful with the language that I choose in referencing my job.  It is always safer to say how much I love it, rather than use any post to communicate dissatisfaction.  Other than that, most viewers of this post will be others who are also interested in the same things I am interested in, so I do not worry too much about participating.

I am quite shy, I would not post a picture of myself, neither will I offer any personal information, like my age and things like that.  I will say that the new technology can be sometimes daunting, I try my best to figure it out; I need to know how to use these tools in order to teach in the future.  Either to incorporate new ways to communicate with students right now, or to get a job teaching online.

Monday, September 2, 2013

MOOC Introduction



I began this blog in order to participate in a Massive Open Online Course:  How to teach online.
I am looking forward to this course because I believe that online learning can open worlds of opportunity for many people unable to physically attend school.

I have been an educator for many years and I think that students have expectations for learning content online, even when physically attending school.  I want to prepare my lessons so that students can access the information whenever and wherever they are.  I hope to learn about the different online tools for communication that would make learning dynamic and enjoyable.