Future of Distance Education?

“Distance delivery is and will continue to have an impact on education in the years to come” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 2).

In thinking and researching about future perceptions of distance learning, the two challenges that came up over and over again had to do with being “unsatisfied when they are unfamiliar with the technology used in the course” (UDI Online Project, 2010, p. 2) and isolation. While many people are online (using social media, emailing, etc.), there are many who do not know how to use specific technology tools. I know from my experience as a teacher that just the “simple act” of attaching a file to an email is unknown to many. If we are to begin to change anyone’s perception of online/distance learning, we need to acknowledge that, for some students, the process must begin with an orientation to the different tools being used within a hybrid/online course.

The other side of the story is the benefits that can be gained from taking courses online, such as:

  • “the variety and quality of learning materials available” (UDI Online Project, 2010, p. 1)Quote2 for Blog
  • the “wealth of resources available to help students develop critical thinking skills” (UDI Online Project, 2010, p. 1)
  • the “design of the course, comfort with online technologies, and time management” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 65)
  • being “helpful not to have to travel to the campus” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 65)
  • the “ability to complete assignments and tasks at any time” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 65).

As instructional designers, we must look at the benefits, look at our course materials, work with the subject matter expert, and create a learning environment that enables our students to be successful. “Successful conversion of course delivery method is not always guaranteed” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 1). We cannot simply take an existing face-to-face course, move it to an online format, and assume it will work. As the industry grows, if we create online learning opportunities for students to be successful, this type of learning will become even more mainstream.

The other major challenge had to do with students feeling isolated when taking a course. “When developing a distance delivery course, course designers must provide a way for students and instructor to interact” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 5). It begins with a teacher/professor making the student feel welcomed into the online environment. Instructional designers need to create tasks (discussion boards, group projects, etc.) that encourage communication among students. Once these are created, the teacher/professor needs to respond in a timely manner to the different assignments, emails, journal entries, and discussion posts. If these are all monitored and responded to, students will feel as if there is a community of learners being built, and the isolation will not be felt as deeply by the students.

Quote for Blog“The constant growth of the Web influences and changes how online courses are designed and implemented” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 60). As instructional designers, we must strive to keep up with these changes and to constantly look forward to see what the “next best thing” might be. Research is constantly being completed as to the impact of online, hybrid, and face-to-face education. We must keep up with this research as best we can so we can implement effective processes within our courses.

 

 

Resources

Armstrong, D. A. (2011). Students’ perceptions of online learning and instructional tools: A qualitative study of undergraduate students use of online tools. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(3), 222-226.

Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006, March 18). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from RedOrbit: Your Universe Online website: http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/433631/strategies_for_enhancing_student_interactivity_in_an_online_environment/ Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, XII(1). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html

Schmidt, E. K., & Gallegos, A. (2001). Distance learning: Issues and concerns of distance learners. Journal of Industrial Technology, 17(3), 1-5.

Song, L., Singleton, E. S., Hill, J. R., & Koh, M. H. (2004). Improving online learning: Student perceptions of useful and challenging characteristics [PDF]. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(1), 59-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2003.11.003

UDI Online Project. (2010). Student perceptions of online learning (Issue Brief No. Technical Brief #3). Retrieved from Storrs: University of Connecticut, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability website: http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/technical-brief-student-perceptions-online-learning

Ward, M. E., Peters, G., & Shelley, K. (2010). Student and faculty perceptions of the quality of online learning experiences. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11(3), 1-11.

From Face-to-Face to Hybrid Course

“Scenario: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.”

According to the Central Ohio Technical College, hybrid (blended) course “instruction is required in both face-to-face (F2F) and in an online environment. There must be required F2F class meetings. Instructor may provide course materials for both F2F and online” (Central Ohio Technical College, 2010, p. 10). One of the first aspects of the course to look at is which parts of the course are better in each format, online and face-to-face. There are some activities, like discussions, that might play out better than in the classroom, especially since the training manager is unhappy with the “quality of communication among trainees.” Sometimes students feel it is easier to add to an online discussion rather than talk in class. Another activity that could take place outside of the face-to-face classroom would be any quizzes and/or examinations. If they are created properly using real-world scenarios and work-related processes, these activities would assess student knowledge and on-the job thinking skills.

There are a variety of ways to facilitate online discussions: ask experts, debates, polling, role play, small groups, peer review, and/or content area (TeacherStream, LLC, 2010). There are also many benefits:

  • “Builds class community by promoting discussion on course topics
  • “Allows time for in-depth reflection- students have more time to reflect, research [and] compose their thoughts before participating in the discussion
  • “Facilitates learning by allowing students to view [and] to respond to the work of others
  • “Develops thinking [and] writing skills
  • “Allows guest experts to participate in the course by posting information [and] responding to questions” (TeacherStream, LLC, 2010, p. 2).

The training manager needs to look at the different topics and determine what would be the best discussion questions and/or scenarios to post to generate student responses. Students should be required to post their response early in the week so as to facilitate a complete discussion. In some cases, facilitators also require a set number of responses to peer posts as well. In this way, the conversation will be continued during the week. When necessary, the training manager should step in, ask a question, add resources, and/or give more information to direct the conversation.

There are many steps to ensure the online portion of a hybrid course is created properly. With checklists and forms, an instructional designer can ensure that each aspect of the course is completed properly. Attached are a variety of resources and a zipped file of checklists (ID Checklist Kit) to assist in creating an in-depth, accurate, and robust course that engages learners.

Links to Information

Resources

Anitha@Work. (2010, March 20). Instructional design (id) review checklist [Blog post]. Retrieved from Schema Performs website: http://schemaperforms.blogspot.gr/2010/03/instructional-designid-review-checklist.html

Central Ohio Technical College. (2010, Autumn). COTC distance education guidelines [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.cotc.edu/faculty-and-staff/faculty-resources-page/Documents/DistanceEducationGuidelines.pdf

Fors, PhD, M. (n.d.). Instructional design criteria checklist [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.unitar.org/hiroshima/sites/unitar.org.hiroshima/files/17_AF07WSII_Instructional_Design_Criteria_Checklist.pdf

Gutierrez, K. (2012, November 15). The ultimate 10-point checklist for remarkable eLearning courses [Blog post]. Retrieved from Shift – Disruptive eLearning website: http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/243867/The-Ultimate-10-Point-Checklist-for-Remarkable-eLearning-Courses

OutStart, Inc. (2006, October 30). Best practices for creating e-learning [PDF].

Pappas, C. (2013, April 16). A compact instructional design review checklist. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from eLearning Industry website: http://elearningindustry.com/a-compact-instructional-design-review-checklist

Rajagopalan, R. (2010, July 22). Instructional design review checklists – key to quality e-learning. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from The Writer’s Gateway website: http://blog.thewritersgateway.com/2010/07/22/instructional-design-review-checklists-key-to-quality-e-learning/

TeacherStream, LLC. (2010, June 29). Mastering online discussion board facilitation: Resource guide [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/stw/edutopia-onlinelearning-mastering-online-discussion-board-facilitation.pdf

What is instructional design? (2012, August 4). Retrieved August 18, 2014, from Instructional Design Using the ADDIE Model website: http://raleighway.com/addie/

iTunes U – Distance Learning at its Best?

Stanford  - Entrepreneurship

This shows the iTunes entry for the course with description, course outline and list of videos.

In looking at Open Course materials, I chose to look at iTunes U since I had not used it before. I went to Standford University and chose a business class since I am a Business Education teacher. The course I chose is Entrepreneurship through the Lens of Venture Capital (see picture for more detailed information).

At first, I downloaded the course on my laptop and discovered that only the lectures and one PDF were available to me. There was a note that there would be some extra materials if you downloaded the app on your iPhone or iPad. So my first question was, “What if the person did not have an iPhone or iPad?” Luckily, I have an iPad and was able to download from there.

 

 

ADDIE

In terms of order and topic, there does seem to be a logical progression to the courses. So, let’s look at this based on the ADDIE model of design (“ADDIE Model,” 2014):

Analysis

We have to make an assumption, since it is a university course, Stanford professors looked at their audience, objectives, delivery options, pedagogical issues, and theories to be utilized. There is an assumption by the professors that all students will learn sufficiently through video and readings. There was not really any interactive part where students could ask questions and get answers other than one discussion post assignment. There did not seem to be any “values and services offered to students through their exposure to others” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 155).

Design and Development

While what is shown is a good beginning, there are some missing pieces in this phase. The user interface is different from computer to app. The version downloaded to my computer simply had the lecture videos and one PDF file. While the app has more information, attachments (discussion board link, readings and videos), and functions, it still does not have all the different aspects to create a full course for students.

Piazza Statistics

This shows the statistics from Piazza for the course.

As to the discussion board, there was a comment for students who were at Stanford paying for courses that their board was accessed differently. In logging in and viewing the discussion board for the Open Course, which was on Piazza, it did not seem as if it was moderated well. People were going into any week and posting their introductions. Some students were confused about the discussion board, but I did not see any comments from teachers to point them in the right direction. There were a lot of “unresolved follow ups” for the postings. Out of hundreds of posts, I found about five that were related to the lectures. If a student posted a question about the lecture, it was answered by another student (if it was answered at all). As you can see from the image, zero percent of the questions were answered by instructors.

Implementation

“It is important to remember that no matter which technological formats are used in distance education, the trend is to reduce the ‘amount’ of information delivered and to increase the ‘interactive value’ of the learning experience” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 157). The implementation of this course does not seem conducive to true learning of the material. If a student does not do well with videos and reading on their own, there did not seem to truly be a way for them to reach out to the instructors for clarification or more in-depth information. There was also a difference in how it was implemented across platforms, computer iTunes access versus iTunes app for iPhone and iPad.

In the app, there were links to a discussion board, readings, and extra videos to watch that were relevant to each lecture. The app even has two places to look for information – “Posts” and “Assignments.” The other bit of information I found lacking on my laptop was the video descriptions. When I looked in the app, there was a description and brief biographies on the lecturers.

When looking at the description in the iTunes store, there is a course outline (I-V) and the videos are numbered (1-7 with some duplicates). You are not sure which videos go with the different topics on the course outline. When looking in the app, the information is separated by the weeks the course originally ran, but again, there is no reference to the different parts of the course outline. The videos were created in a face-to-face classroom, and they have a slight echo to the sound at times.

Evaluation

There was no way for students to be evaluated or for them to leave relevant evaluation information and give feedback. In iTunes, you could rate the individual videos or the course with one to five stars or write a review for the course. There was no way to know if anyone had looked at the ratings, and the one review just said “Good.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Michael Simonson stated, “Distance education is not identical to face-to-face education, but it is equivalent” (Laureate Education, n.d.). In viewing the videos, there was more interaction available in the face-to-face classroom than online. Since paying students had a different discussion board, there was no way to tell if there was more interaction with the professors and students. This does not seem to be equal education. While the materials are available 24 hours a day and students can work through the information at their own pace at this point, the students do not have access to the professors or experts as the face-to-face students did. They do not enjoy the give-and-take of discussions, not even online.

Simonson, et al, state that distance learning faculty should:

  • Retool traditional courses for online learning,
  • Illustrate key ideas, concepts, and topics,
  • Create activities for interactivity,
  • Allow for student group work, and
  • Be prepared for technical difficulties (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 153).

This particular course feels more like they simply put the information online and expected potential students to know what to do. There is a lot of reading, but no clear way to know what the instructors expected the student to get out of it. While a discussion board was created, without a moderator, it did not function as well as it could have. There were no interactive quizzes where students could see if they understood the information. If there were any technical difficulties, it was up to the student to figure out how to fix it.

In this open course evaluation, there is still a lot of work to be done to make this more interactive and less of putting the face-to-face classroom lectures out on iTunes. The readings do add to the lectures to a certain extent, but there is no way to understand how the information fits together and gain a deeper understanding of the content. The biggest problem lies in the discussion board that was set up on Piazza. There is no moderator, students are left to their own devices, and there is a lot of confusion about how it works.

As a business education teacher, I can see the value in this information, but for it to truly be a model online course, there is much work still to be done.

Resources

ADDIE model. (2014, July 24). Retrieved August 1, 2014, from Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADDIE_Model

Laureate Education. (n.d.). Theory and distance learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (Fifth ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Defining Distance Learning

“The era of individual contribution has just begun and we don’t even have a vocabulary suited to discuss the issue let alone formulate decisions and then carry them out” (Cross, 2003).

I know I will be dating myself, but my first encounter with distance learning was when my father took a correspondence photography course in the 1970s. He would get a packet of information, follow the instructions, set up the equipment, take the pictures, have the pictures developed, and then send everything in to be graded/reviewed. Then he would wait … and wait … and wait! It had to travel back to the school, be evaluated by the teacher, and sent back with notes and a new packet for the next step in his photography journey. My next encounter would be in the 1990s using a dial up modem for an “online” program I was completing. All the materials were sent to me by (what we now call) snail mail. I had to dial into the school’s computer system to hand in my completed assignments. I would then get an email with notes, corrections, and my grades. There was still very little interaction with the teacher and absolutely none with other students. In 2005, I decided to complete my Master’s degree through Walden University, and I enjoyed the vast differences between the 70s, 90s and 2000s. There was interaction with other people, not all my assignments were for me to just hand in to the teacher, the feedback from other students was enlightening, and there was a little more of a collaborative atmosphere. I am now completing a second Master’s degree through Walden University and enjoying this experience even more as the use of technology has increased yet again.

As you can see, the changes over the years have altered my definition over time from a self-study course to a much more collaborative approach. If you look at the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Research and Improvement definition, it states distance learning is “the application of telecommunications and electronic devices which enable students and learners to receive instruction that originates from some distant location” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, pp. 34-35). Now, if you look back at my examples, the first scenario would no longer fall under this definition as two of the key components seem to be telecommunications and electronic devices. There was no use of any type of technology; it was simply the United States Postal Service doing most of the work. Yet, doesn’t it still count as a learning activity? My belief is (and has always been) that even without the use of technology learning can take place at a distance. I watched it in action. Was it the best type of teaching? Did my father learn as well as he could have if a teacher had been more available? Not necessarily, but it is still a teaching-learning situation. We, as a society, are now so used to technology infiltrating our entire lives that we do not always see the “old ways” as a viable solution. We want our information now!

I am now in a unique position of being both a teacher in an online K-12 school and a student in an online Master’s program. I get to see both sides of the distance learning coin. While the methods of transmitting information have changed drastically, I feel the basic premise of student and teacher being in two separate places is the first component of any type of distance learning. There are still places in the world that rely on the regular postal system and correspondence courses. “Rice (2006) suggested that the effectiveness of distance education has more to do with who is teaching, who is learning, and how that learning is accomplished and less to do with the medium” (Huett, Moller, Foshay, & Coleman, 2008, p. 63). The quality of the course is so important to ensure that learning occurs. We have such technologically driven lives in most urban and suburban places in the United States sometimes we forget there are places do not have access to the modern conveniences of life (yes, even in places in our own country). While we must embrace the changes and use of technology and all it entails, we cannot forget the beginnings of distance learning and how important it can be to some people in the world.

As to creating distance education opportunities using technology, we must be careful that we are not simply creating a self-study course where there is no give-and-take between the teacher and the students. We must ensure that our students have an opportunity to collaborate with others and receive feedback from a teacher. More learning will take place if students and teachers work together to learn than if students are left to their own devices, as my father was in his correspondence course. As stated by Moller (1998), “Logically, meaningful learning is more likely to occur when learners have access to a supportive community that encourages knowledge building and social reinforcement” (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008, p. 74).

The other point to think about IS the actual use of technology. “The challenge for ID professionals is not only to evolve the field, but also to assure that the products of sound professional design practice lead the e-learning enterprise” (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008, p. 70). Which technology is appropriate? Should all technologies be used in every situation? How do we create a positive learning environment that is easily navigated by our students? With the growing plethora of web sites, applications, and plug ins, which ones will truly work in an educational setting? Which ones are “for show” only? We need to make sure the technologies utilized are relevant to our objectives of learning and our students. We can all be mesmerized by the “shiny baubles” of technology, but some are just not worth the time and effort of learning or passing along to our students.

In summary, ” … the future is actually quite positive: We just need to choose to view e-learning as the question rather than the answer” (Huett, Moller, Foshay, & Coleman, 2008, p. 66). We, as instructional designers (or future instructional designers), need to constantly be aware of changes in technologies, theories, and methods that are available. Carefully choosing magazines, blogs, web sites and other sources of information to keep as up to date as possible in our ever changing world is necessary. We cannot become complacent with what we think we know; we must be striving for what we need to know. Putting our students first, understing our audience for learning, must be kept first in our planning of any educational setting. This e-learning world is opening up and has so many positive aspects; it is up to us to keep it moving forward and establish a professional standard to be followed.

distance learning mindmapResources

Cross, J. (2003, November 9). Design [Blog post]. Retrieved from Internet Time website: http://www.internettime.com/blog/archives/001083.html

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web part 3. TechTrends, 52(5), 63-67.

Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web part 1. TechTrends, 52(4), 66-70.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (Fifth ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Reflection of Learning in EDUC-6115 Learning Theories and Instruction

In looking back over this course, there were some frustrations and some moments of “yes, I am going in the right direction.” The weeks we spent on the learning theories were the frustrations. Having completed the Walden MS degree in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, there was a lot of time spent on learning theories. I felt that I was going over a lot of ground I had already spent time on. There was nothing really new, but I did get a couple of new sources for reference. This course did remind me of discussions and issues I may have put aside in the time crunch of my work life.

On the other hand, towards the end of the class, when we started to learn how to use technology to teach, I was challenged and forced to take a look at what I am doing in my classroom. In the past few years, I have been attempting to make my classroom, technology-friendly for the students. For example, I have begun posting classwork/homework online, put resources where they are readily available to students, and having students use Google Docs for their group work. I feel like have just touched the tip of the iceberg now.

With regard to my own personal learning process, I discovered I am on the right track. I did have the evaluations from my previous courses and completed new evaluations for this course. There were significant positive changes in my style. By incorporating different methods in my classroom over the years, I am becoming a better learner, and hopefully as a result, better at getting information across to my students. When I first took an evaluation, I was much more of a visual learner. If I did not see it or do it, I had a hard time. I have improved my skills with reading and writing. I still have some work on the mathematical-logical aspect of my own learning. I do speak to my students about my shortcomings in this area, and many students have stepped up to assist with their classmates’ learning over the past 11 years that I have been a teacher.

The most important thing I learned is learning styles and educational technology need to be combined in different ways to be able to interest our students in what we are teaching. I work at a school with block scheduling, 72 minute blocks, and having students do the same thing for that long means you will have boredom and discipline issues if you do not change up activities. By appealing to different aspects of students’ learning styles, you cause them to think a little harder and keep their attention. By keeping their attention, you keep them motivated to learn within your classroom. The “more a man knew; the greater was his ability to reason and choose those actions that truly brought happiness” (Socrates, http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline). By giving students multiple ways to learn, there will be more engagement within the classroom and hopefully happier students in the long run.

With learning theories, there are times students need to connect their learning to previous learning (connectivism) or change/show a new way for completing their work (behaviorism). As you are creating your lesson plans, there needs to be conscious thought as to what type of theory you are attempting to use with your students.

Technology is ever changing in our world today and most (but not all) students are constantly “plugged in” to their world, whether through smartphones, iPods, mp3 players, tablets, and/or laptops. Part of our job as teachers is to keep up to date on technology and to use our students as resources when necessary to assist with this technology.

I will continue to move in a positive direction and be a lifetime learner. I have been reminded of information learned previously; I need to keep it in mind as I plan my lessons. I need to visit my RSS feeds, continue to do my own research and write in my blog on a regular basis. In this way, I hope to keep myself current within the industry.

As to an actual career as an instructional design, the first two courses in this degree program have been extremely eye opening. I did not realize all the different paths that were open to me as an instructional designer; my thoughts were only on becoming an online teacher. It was my own “aha” moment. I will continue to look at the different paths and see where I can fit best. I have ten years until I am eligible to retire from the classroom. I do not know if I will retire or if I will continue for more than ten years. I also have a few people pushing me to get my PhD to enable me to teach at a four-year college. There is a lot of research and decisions to be made for my future.

References

Socrates (470-399 bce). (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2012, from Timeline of the History of Learning website: http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline.html

Brain-Based Learning Theories

Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

The first article I located was  by Judy Willis. The quote that resounded with me was …

“Event memories … are tied to specific emotionally or physically charged events (strong sensory input) and by the emotional intensity of the events to which they are linked. Because the dramatic event powers its way through the neural pathways of the emotionally preactivated limbic system into memory storage, associated scholastic information gets pulled along with it. Recollection of the academic material occurs when the emotionally significant event comes to mind, unconsciously or consciously. To remember the lesson, students can cue up the dramatic event to which it is linked.” (Willis, para. 34).

From experience, when I do an activity or show a video that evokes some type of feeling from my students, they have a tendency to remember it. One of the hardest concepts to teach to high school students is how to price a product. The unit starts with the lecture, notes, and discussion; there are a few mathematics activities to assist in gaining knowledge. The lesson that solidifies the knowledge is when I have the students create a sandwich they would want to sell. They are given a list of costs for each item they used to create the sandwich and/or meal they would sell and the fixed costs for the business. They need to run through the math and find out if they would make a profit based on what they decide to charge for the sandwich/meal. In six years of this activity, only one student made a profit, because they charge $15 for the meal they created (sandwich, chips and drink). Everyone else feels bad about charging more than $2 or $3 for their sandwich and lands deep in debt. There is an “aha” moment that occurs, because they liked their sandwich and felt their price was fair..

Information Processing Theory Flashcards

This web site is definitely set up so everyone can successfully understand the history and basics of Information Processing Theory. There are flash cards at the top (middle) of the page that you can flip through one at a time. As you scroll down the page, there is a list of all 44 terms and their definitions with an audio icon next to each so you can hear someone else read through them, if necessary. As someone who likes to see and hear information in multiple ways, I will probably be using this site during my current course at Walden.

Resources

Willis, J. (2007). Brain-based teaching strategies for improving students’ memory, learning, and test-taking success. Childhood Education83(5).

Quizlet. Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner Information Processing Theorieshttp://quizlet.com/9181899/piaget-vygotsky-bruner-information-processing-theories-flash-cards/.

Peer Grading

In looking at my Walden University peers blogs, I found many of them interesting. I believe I subscribed to at least one blog from each of my fellow classmates as well as their own blog (created for our class). The one I found most interesting (and a topic near and dear to my own classroom) had to do with peer grading and creating this for an online classroom (Peer Grading in Online Classrooms).

I have my students peer grade for Collaborative Work Skills, which I had found on another web site and adapted for my own classroom. I made it so many years ago that I do not remember which web site I found it on. This is a 32-point rubric, with each category worth 4 points. Students are graded on the following topics:

  • Contribution
  • Quality of Work
  • Time Management
  • Problem-solving
  • Attitude
  • Focus on the Task
  • Pride
  • Working with Others

I have found an interesting phenomenon with peer grading among high school students, you cannot just do it once. It needs to be taught and reinforced throughout the course. I tell my students this is the same as getting evaluated on the job for a raise, promotion or bonus. There will be times you are asked to give input on a fellow employee or another employee will be asked to give input on them. The questions I give them are: “Do you want someone to get a raise, promotion or bonus if you did all the work? How truthful will you be?”

During the first attempt at peer grading, students are apt to be kinder and gentler, because they do not want to cause someone else to get a “bad” grade. The more they are exposed to this particular type of grading, which the teacher has no input on, the more likely they are to be honest. I found that after a while, in a group setting, students get tired of seeing the same people being lazy and still getting a good grade.

I believe this would be beneficial in an online course as well. It would probably take a little more time to set up, whether setting up a group project or a specific assignment, but it would be well worth the effort. This makes the class as a whole more aware of how in-depth some students are working, and the students who work only with surface information may take the extra effort on any other assignments for the course.

We need to teach our students to be critical of, not only their own work, but the work of others. Students may find themselves in a position in their careers where they have to evaluate themselves and/or their colleagues. They may end up working in management. If we do not take the time to teach them to be critical of everyone’s work, where will they learn the necessary skills?

Instructional Design Resources

"If a child cannot learn in the way we teach ... we must teach in the way the child can learn." - unknown

“If a child cannot learn in the way we teach … we must teach in the way the child can learn.” – unknown

As part of a course for Walden University (Learning Theories Instruction), I need to keep a blog and update it pretty frequently. I have not felt the need to blog before, but I am starting to see the positive aspects of this for my professional life. As per the first assignment, below are three resources that I currently – or in the future will – find helpful in my classroom.

UNDERSTANDING BY DESIGN

One of the major professional development courses I took that had a lasting impact on my instructional design had to do with backwards design – Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (http://www.authenticeducation.org/index.lasso). It is very important to know where you want the students to go with their learning before you begin to create any unit or lesson plans. Without knowing the end result, what will you be teaching? How will you know that the students are successful? These are questions I ask myself when I sit down to make my unit plans.

With the UbD method, you must first decide what are the Big Ideas for your unit – what are the one or two ideas that encompass the ideas of the unit. Next, you find the Enduring Understandings, which should flow down from your big ideas, and the Essential Questions students should be able to answer by the end of your unit. With all of this in place, the assessments are created before even looking at lesson plans or assignments. In this way, all of the plans, lectures, and assignments will be geared toward student success of the unit.

My school has worked diligently over the past five years to re-create our curriculum in this manner. To enable teachers to see and use the curriculum, the Curriculum Committee has created a wiki for our reference (http://www.virtualrvrhs.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Main_Page). We have spent time creating our overall curriculum, assessments, and, in the last year, our unit plans. This has created a consistent curriculum when more than one teacher is responsible for a certain course.

eSCHOOL NEWS

eSchool News (http://www.eschoolnews.com) keeps me up to date on different topics that can help me in my classroom. There are articles about new technology, ways to increase learning, and different web sites that can assist in developing engaging lessons. There is a sign up to receive the digital edition in your mailbox.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN BLOGS

As part of my course at Walden University on Learning Theories Instruction, there was one resource that stood out to me, and it was a list of blogs on instructional design (http://en.wordpress.com/tag/instructional-design). In looking over this list of sites, there were many that stood out as helpful. It will take a while to truly investigate the different sites, but I am willing to take the time.