Reflections on The role of the On-Site Teacher/Facilitator

Aleta May

Blog Post Week 7  Reflection

March 3, 2014

for EDTE674 with Dr. Lee Graham

Initial Blog Post:  https://aleta57.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/the-partnership-of-the-virtual-instructor-team-and-the-on-site-teacherfacilitator/)

(Week 7 Reflection for Essential Question:  What will you require of the instructors who teach the course you design?  Why?)

When I wrote and posted my initial post, I thought about my contribution to the learning of Jonathan and Naomi, who are two of my team members for designing our credit recovery literature course.  During one of our group discussions, I brought up the fact that we are not guaranteed that students will be in the class at the same time as other students, much less the same module.  Neither are we guaranteed that the facilitator will be certified in the subject area of our course, nor even be a certified teacher.  First, our goal in education is to be student-centered (not teacher-centered) when designing online coursework.  The online course we are creating allows instruction to deliver learning that is individualized.  One way it is individualized is through student self-pacing.  The flex model of blended learning “involves students working independently for the majority of the day with the teacher using individual and small group instruction to meet specific student needs” (Werth, Werth, & Keller, 2013, p. 11).

The literature credit recovery online delivered course could be used as part of a blended learning course.  According to a quote in the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) article, “Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, and at least in part at a supervised location away from home” (Horn & Staker, 2011 in Werth, Werth, & Keller, 2013, p. 6).  If students were to rotate between independent computer learning modules and working with a facilitator, they are participating in a form of blended learning.  But what I learned from Jonathan’s previous online teaching experience was that he “was always getting phone calls from facilitators whose students were having a hard time logging into the class or any number of other things” (Blog 3-2-14).  He went on to say that “we need to create a technology troubleshooting guide for the facilitators, or even two of them–one for mac, one for windows” (Blog 3-2-14).  When I responded, I mentioned that this is another need for our class design.  Then Naomi mentioned how she has depended on the UAA technology department for her own learning needs.  Her musing directed my thinking to wondering if some of the questions for technology for our class design could be handled by requesting Blackboard brochures from the UAS technology department that could be modified to answer the most frequently asked questions, from Jon’s experience, into our class.  Also, I wonder if our UAS technology department help desk could be a source for the course facilitator.  Advice from our readings urges us to manage our time as designer/instructors by referring students to the technology department.

Naomi brought up another interesting thought about how students need quick (sometimes immediate) feedback.  To me this means grading needs to be kept simple for the facilitator.  It also means that a certified teacher needs to be involved for this portion.  Maybe the role of an assistant would primarily focus on helping students with the practical daily needs—keeping up with supplies, making sure students are on task with the coursework, managing paper work that is to be turned in to the teacher.

The physical presence of a facilitator (and assumably a certified teacher as well) is reassuring to students.  The non-certified facilitator needs to have a clear sense of their responsibilities so that they don’t simply fall into a helplessness role or a self perception that he/she is only their to “be a presence.”  One way to accomplish this is to provide simple guidelines.  A certified facilitator may require that some of the course writing assignments go through a process of being shared in a blog where peers can comment on each others’ work.  This form of blended learning is may be termed the “Online Lab:  Courses or training are completed entirely online.  Labs rely heavily on software modules, but online instructors or trainers are also available” (Thoeming, 2013).  Our class will have the feeling of presence of the online instructor.  On www.slideshare.net, I found a presentation that included definitions for social presence.  A paraphrase of one that will remain in the back of my mind as I guide students to write narratives regards the extent that students are encouraged to immerse themselves affectively within the medium of writing.  In addition, they need to feel confident in writing with an efferent stance.  If we as online teachers (not real time) communicate through our lessons that we are real teachers, and that we are speaking to our students with care, there will be more of a feeling of teacher social presence.  In a video where one of us is using a think-aloud strategy, or reading to the student, I am “there” when I talk as if the student is there.  But the role of the onsite facilitator is to be the one who is there to reduce anxiety, encourage, watch some lessons with, and help to interpret.  The facilitator is the between computer and student tie.

I stepped outside of my group some and contributed to Thomas’ thinking.  I went to the digital citizenship link he had provided and found that digital etiquette is definitely a factor that should be taught to our students in an introduction to the course.  Since blogging will be used by some students in some modules, I researched further on this topic specifically and found ten essentials.  The first one I quoted and will quote here as it is foundational to an internet class in general:  “1) A blog is like a diary, but public. Once posted is for the world to read it. Write accordingly. Keep in mind that is not for your eyes only. Be especially careful when you write on a corporate or school blog” (http://massabesichighschool.edublogs.org/blog-etiquette/).

For Michael, I responded to him with options for the math group where a highly qualified math teacher may not be available to be on site for this summer credit recovery course,  He talked about ways to humanize the course by knowing students by name.  I responded with ways to teach online that will leave an impression that the teacher is there through video tapped lessons.  In my research for more answers regarding making the class more student friendly (humanize), I found an article that will help me as I write lessons for the American Literature course.

To conclude, throughout this week, I referred back to the essential question about what I expect from a teacher or facilitator of the American Literature course.  Reading the blogs of students in this class brought to mind the need to show teacher presence in course design, create a study guide for students for each module to assist both the student and the facilitator (talked about in last week’s reflection), and to create a troubleshooting guide for predictable situations that will arise and contacts for those that are not predictable.  When I researched so that I could respond to blogs meaningfully, I learned more.  I also learned that it is so true—I am researching for peers in this class because we are creating group products.  We are writing in these blogs for real purposes.  This led me to dig deeper as it would our students.

References

 Crocker, J. (2014) responding to Aleta’s Blog:  https://aleta57.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/the-partnership-of-the-virtual-instructor-team-and-the-on-site-teacherfacilitator/#comments

Horn, M.B., & Staker, H. (2011).  The rise of k-12 blended learning.  Retrieved from http://www.innosight/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/The-Rise-of-K-12-Blended-Learning.pdf (Reference cited from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL))

Blogging etiquette:  http://massabesichighschool.edublogs.org/blog-etiquette/

Social Presence:  http://www.slideshare.net/brocansky?utm_campaign=profiletracking&utm_medium=sssite&utm_source=ssslideview

Thoeming, B. (2013).  Blended learning:  Where teaching meets technology.  Retrieved from:  http://www.desire2learn.com/solutions/k-12/conversations/ on 3-2-14.

Werth, E., Werth, L., & Kellerer, E. (2013).  Transforming k-12 rural education through blended learning:  Barriers and promising practices.  Northwest Nazarene University Doceo Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.  Retrieved from:  International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) http://www.inacol.org.

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