Supporting Students and Their Teachers for Online Pedagogy

Aleta May

Initial Blog Post Week 8

EDTE674 with Dr. Lee Graham


Essential Question: How can we support students in being successful in our online course? Why?

One way for learners and facilitators at the sites for our online American Literature course to be successful using a tool that may not be familiar to them is to create a design pattern throughout the modules that is consistent.  Each module will have a wide range of variety as far as activities, but the structure of these modules will be consistent.  We also have a plan to create a write up for each module that will make it easier for facilitators to guide students.  This will be a simple format, such as an outline.  An additional study guide may include things like the links for each section of the module that are already embedded within the activities, and perhaps a glossary section for vocabulary that has links and/or a definition that applies to the word read. 


Students will need to be supported, but problem based learning (PBL) will be the goal as much as possible.  PBL is learner-centered pedagogy that can be individualized learning or paired/group learning.  The design of our course will include some Web 2.0 tools; such as, forum discussion, using the Blackboard as a way to meet and discuss with others in class, Skype, and Google hangout.  The benefit of the blackboard option is that only students signed up for the class may enter into the discussion.  The benefit of Google hangout is free discussion group time, for up to 10 people, where students can see each other.  If a problem is presented from a reading, students may first write out or talk out in a recording how they interpret the problem in the story to be.  then students could be divided into pairs or groups to write about or discuss their view of a problem from a reading.  The idea is to shift the power of learning and decision-making away from the teacher to the student (Tambouris, Panopoulou, et al., 2011).  One way to organize tasks like this is to create a group desk, an individual desk, and class desk to organize who is in the whole class, who is in a small group that is sharing resources like bookmarks and imported resources, and an individual space for each student to store resources (Tambouris, Panopoulou, et al., 2011).  This may need to be set up in a Wiki separately from Blackboard.


Wikis promote collaboration on assignments.  After the Wiki is set up through a web page, students can open up their group reports and resources, and teachers can check progress. and, and others are options, but I am thinking the Alaska Learning Network (AKLN) may provide a space for Wikis for our class.  As stated in an article I read, our Blackboard platform is limited in tools that can be very engaging for high school students (Revere and Kovach, 2011).


Another important way to support students is to keep them engaged.  “Students with disabilities exit school prior to graduation for many reasons. . . factors compounding the issue include high absenteeism, course failure, discipline problems, grade retention, poor mentoring, low self-esteem, and poor academic support”  (Repetto, Wayer, & Spitler, 2013, p. 2).  We need to remember that the purpose of raising the standards is primarily to encourage students to take charge of their learning and therefore their lives.  This is difficult even for college students.  There is evidence that five themes/factors increase student engagement, and if considered and applied within course design, can improve outcomes of students whether they struggle with disabilities, are English Language Learners, or are in the general education group.  These were grouped into the 5 Cs in the paper I read:  1) Learner Control  needs to be taught.  2)  Engaging Curriculum 3)  Safe and Supportive Climate 4)  Caring Community  5)  Connection to real purposes and to the real world (Cavanaugh, 2013, p. 2).  The article further explains the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework that points to learning differences and the need to learn through “ multiple means of representation, multiple means of action and expression, and multiple means of engagement” (Repetto, Wayer, & Spitler, p. 4).  In our recent group meeting, we discussed how writing in a discussion forum is not the only way to express learning for some students. 


In our text (p. 166), it states that students are often surprised at the amount of work it takes to complete an online course (Moore and Kearsley, 2012).  Our job will be to provide enough scaffolding to make new learning an adventure.  Social networking between students will be key to making this happen.


Repetto, J.,  Wayer, N.  and Spitler (2013).  Online learning for students with disabilities:  A framework for success.  Journal of Special Education Technology, 28(1).

Revere, L. and Kovach, J. V. (2011).  Online technologies for engaged learning:  A meaningful synthesis for educators.  12(2). 

Tambouris, E., Panopoulou, E. Tarabanis, K., Ryberg, T., Buus, L., Peristeras, V., Lee, D., & Porwol, L. (2012).  Enabling problem based learning through web 2.0 technologies:  PBL 2.0.  Educational Technology & Society, 15(4), 238-251.

Moore, M. G. and Kearsley, G. (2012).  Distance education:  A systems view of online learning.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth-Cengage Learning

10 thoughts on “Supporting Students and Their Teachers for Online Pedagogy

  1. jcrocker2

    I think it would be great to set up a place (a forum, google group, facebook group, or wiki) that is outside of Blackboard that would essentially be a place for students to socialize and work on helping each other through the course (it would also be a good place for collaboration). Of course, we’d need to monitor/moderate to make sure that nobody is cheating, but I think that most students do a great job at helping each other. Some are even great teachers themselves.

    It might be wise to require google accounts for all students taking the course. That would allow them to upload videos (of presentations or vlogs) to YouTube, to take part in a Google+ group, and also allow them to use Google Docs to comment on each others’ written work (much the way that we do).

    I’ve been using Google Docs with my students lately as a way for them to help each other revise. It’s been pretty effective so far. I think that if middle school kids can handle it, we could use that as a tool as well.

    1. tvanwyhe66

      Great idea, Jon…but something to consider is this: Not all districts have Google open to students. My district might be the only one on the planet that still bans Google across the board, but our tech department does. So, if we would require Google accounts and utilize Google+ for social networking, students in my district would either be out-of-luck for taking the course, or they would have to do all of the non-Blackboard work from home, if that’s an option for them. Since they’re already students in a credit recovery class, the chances that they will do ANY homework outside of school is slim (I am in no way doubting the integrity or motivation of the students; it’s just a fact when it comes to the typical student needing a credit recovery class).

      In a perfect world, all schools would be on board with GAFE (Google Apps for Education). The power behind the suite of tools Google has put together is absolutely amazing! I love being able to use so many integrated tools to organize, communicate, collaborate, and have fun…all through a single log-in. 🙂


  2. aletakmay Post author

    You’re right about monitoring or moderating the site. Maybe students could post their draft in Blackboard for a few points, then post it into the external Blackboard place for editing each others’ work. After reading your response this afternoon, I tried to set up a google site where we could collect all the standards with rubrics in a place that is easy to just to go to and click to open each individual document like having a folder on my desktop. I did set up an account that I guess I have to wait one or two weeks for to receive the free Google Apps place as an educator. Maybe it will be faster. I thought I was going to set up a Google Docs account 🙂

    Here is the link:
    Do you know about this? I’m checking it out, don’t know much yet.

    Are the google accounts based on having gmail accounts? How do I set u a Google Docs account we could use for our class? I really like your idea for uploading videos of presentations or vlogs and YouTube clips they made. What is a vlog?


    1. hmiller2014

      Hi Aleta, Nice posting! It sounds like your group has thought of everything. You are sooo organized. 🙂 The link you mentioned above, it’s something a school or institution adopts rather than an individual teacher. A couple private vocational colleges I taught at signed up for it, then had their own school-based collection of the free google apps and students had their own email addies like first-name dot last-name @ The schools could then manage everyone’s access to emails and school-based Drive, Docs, websites, etc. I still had my own personal gmail account too and all those Drive, docs, websites,etc. Even created an e-portfolio template for my HIT students on Google sites 🙂

  3. jcrocker2

    A vlog is just a video version of a blog- video of the student speaking their thoughts instead of writing them down.
    As for google apps, they’re pretty much all available if you have a gmail account. If you’re logged into gmail, you’ll see a set of 9 squares (little tiles) in the top right corner of the window. That’s the button to access all google apps, including google +, youtube, google docs, google drive (where your google docs are stored), calendar, and more.
    Let’s see what the rest of the group thinks about making a Google+ group and using all of these tools… I think it has potential.

  4. Thomas Mellen

    Thanks for the post. I like the idea of shifting the discussion making way from the teacher and on to the students. Any time teachers can empower students and give them ownership of their learning the better off the student will be and the more engaged.

  5. Pingback: Reflecting: One Foggy Winter Afternoon . . . | aleta57

  6. tvanwyhe66

    Aleta wrote: “Each module will have a wide range of variety as far as activities, but the structure of these modules will be consistent.”

    Aleta, I don’t know about you, but now that we’re this far down the road with our course design, I wish I could go back and start again…now that I finally (sort of) know how to build an online class…with a team of folks I’m finally getting to know! 😉 If I could go back to the beginning, one of the things I would want to start with is an outline or template for EACH module. The way we have divvied modules up for development has worked well, but I worry that they will lack the cohesiveness needed to make the course seem like a “whole” rather than a bunch of independently designed and created modules. Thank goodness Jon had a module completely done in Blackboard so that I had someone else’s lead to follow!


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