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. Wikidot.com and Ning.com, 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