My high school has experienced success both in the classroom and through extracurricular activities. This success has happened because of our ability to adjust our learning techniques and environments with the changes in time. It is clear that, over the past few decades, many educational trends have come and gone with each one impacting schools in different ways. One trend though, that has strengthened with time, is online learning. As an educational technology leader within my building, it is my responsibility to encourage the further development of 21st century skills within our classrooms.
There are design theories that best support online learning. I have leaned towards the constructivism and connectivism approaches. Encouraging colleagues to take these approaches as well will best serve the students’ needs within an online learning environment because they are both meant for the students to lead their education with the guidance of teachers. The freedom that the students experience with this type of learning encourages them to connect their learning to prior experiences, both in and out of the classroom. This ability to synthesize information is a fundamental skill (Bates, 2015). Both of these theories also encourage students to learn through experiences where problem-solving is a key component and to consider multiple perspectives when doing so is a benefit (LearningDcto, 2010). The goal of an online learning environment is not to simply upload lectures and activities. It should instead encourage the teachers to create custom content for their online environment (iversityclips, 2013). Students should work together to solve problems, make connections, and learn skills that will prepare them for the next stage of their lives.
After the design theories are established, it is important to determine desired outcomes of the course. This can be done by using the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework. This framework will encourage teachers to plan with the end result in mind. When creating the online course, Transition ePortfolio, the instructor first determined what they wanted the students to understand when they complete the course. This helped the instructor to determine the structure of the course, as well as the discussions and assignments within each module. All of this relates to the purpose of the course which is for students to gain a better understanding of their post-secondary goals and how ePortfolios can assist them in the development of their plans.
As mentioned previously, technology and online learning educational trends which have not extinguished over the years. A reason why our school is continuously developing online courses for each school year is for flexibility. After many meetings, surveys, and research, our school has decided to offer online learning options so that students can participate in more learning opportunities throughout their day, specifically with courses that do not have an online option (i.e. engineering, horticulture, animal studies, ceramics, etc). No matter what the reason may be, offering online learning courses will allow for students anywhere across the world to participate (iversityclips, 2013). While global education is more likely to occur in higher education institutions, collaboration is something that students will need experience with when they enter the workforce. Online learning also provides the opportunity for a variety of multimedia content that can be available for students to view whenever they need to do so, and at whatever pace they require (Bates, 2015; iversityclips, 2013).
As an educational technology leader within my school, it will be important for me to continuously reflect on my role and performance in assisting colleagues who are developing their online learning communities. With that said, there is something that can be agreed upon about online learning and education – it is never complete. As time, the world, and technology change, we as educators will need to adjust our philosophies and methods (Bates, 2015). The level of understanding that teachers across the country and around the world have are vast. We must continue evolving as educators if we expect the same of our students – to evolve as 21st century learners and to be successful in the job market.
Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
ChangSchool. (2011, January 26). Perspectives: Teacher skills in a digital age [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_BJcRVYQsE
iversityclips. (2013, August 18). What is a MOOC? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_N_NHbC80E
LearningDctr. (2010, June 17). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism & learning and instructional theory [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YOqgXjynd0
Successful Online Learning Programs
Udemy Online Courses, https://www.udemy.com
I really like Udemy courses and have paid for a few courses in areas that interest me outside of teaching. These courses do not expire and they are completely self-paced. Self-pacing allows the learner to move through the modules on their own time and allows them to fit it in their own schedule eliminating any stress involved with scheduling. This (along with my special ed background) was the inspiration behind my own online course being self-paced.
PA Safe Schools, https://ojrsd-pa.safeschools.com/login
In our school district, each year everyone has to log into Safe Schools and complete the required trainings about child abuse, staff-student interactions, and sexual harassment. Safe Schools uses their own LMS that paces you through the course and has questions and tests added at various points in the course.
|22. How and where will they submit assignments?||My online learners will submit all of their assignments using the LMS. The assignments will be submitted as discussions, file uploads, picture uploads, and/or link shares.|
|23. Will the pacing or your course be the same for everyone or will you have self-pacing?||The pacing for the online portions will be self-paced. However, for the in person portions, they will be the same for everyone in the course.|
|24. How will you communicate with learners?||Communication will primarily take place using the LMS, however students will be able to communicate through e-mail or face to face interactions as well.|
|25. If your learners are K-12, how will parents be involved?||Parents will not be involved with the online course. The parents of my students will be involved at the students’ annual IEP meetings where we discuss transition planning.|
|26. How will you update your course?||I plan to update my course as my learning and understanding as the instructor develops. Also, when I receive feedback from the learners (both in person and in class) I will update the course.|