- Reflecting on the information covered in this module, how might your instructional methodologies need to change in an online or blended learning environment?
In reading the assigned text for the week, it became very apparent that the amount of planning and organization required for an online teacher exceeds that of the tradition teacher. In the traditional classroom, I was certainly prepared and organized, but I would follow a general timeline wherein I would change due dates and assignments based on the needs of my students. In an online teaching situation, I would have to carefully plan out each unit and assignment, rather than going with the flow, as I was wont to do as a classroom teacher. It’s not that I was disorganized in the classroom, but I typically just had an overarching timeline I would follow, but was always ready to adjust as my classes needed. An online instructor, on the other hand, has to do the vast majority of the prepping and planning before the course even begins.
Another necessary change in my instructional methodology would be to change my methods of formative assessments. I could still do something similar to the exit slips and class discussions, but would of course need to modify them so that they would be more effective in the online setting. Instead of an oral class discussion to check for understanding, I would have to organize, create, and facilitate an online discussion. Online asynchronous discussion forums can be even more informative than typical classroom discussions, but would need to be facilitated over a period of days, rather than the 20 minutes of class time that I am used to.
I enjoy the idea that with the online and blended learning, I would be able to personalize the learning more for my students. When I instituted a blended learning scenario in my classroom two years ago through the use of Edmodo, I was able to give individualized feedback, build a stronger classroom community, and personalize projects and instruction. I believe the same is possible with online courses as well. I need to learn more about how to effectively personalize learning in an online course.
- What skills and strategies might you improve or expand upon in order to best support student learning in a blended or online environment?
I need to improve upon my organizational strategies and shift my thinking in order to properly prepare and teach an online course. As I stated earlier, my typical classroom instruction style was very flexible and would change from day to day, and from period to period, in order to best serve each particular group of students. I of course would still use that flexibility to meet the needs of students in an online course, but I would need to put in place a more rigid organizational structure for any online course I taught, so that the students had clear expectations of deadlines and of the time commitment required of them weekly. I also need to learn strategies that will help me learn about my students’ learning styles and weaknesses online.
Also, I need to work on my time management skills in regards to teaching and monitoring an online course. When I first started using Edmodo to create a blended learning scenario in my classroom, my students became accustomed to my constant online presence. (I broke my foot and fractured a knee that year, so I was effectively immobile when I got home from school.) This did not pose a problem for the first few months, as I was recuperating from injuries and still going through physical therapy. However, when I was able to resume my typical active lifestyle that spring, my students became frustrated that I did not respond instantly to every question they had. It was entirely my fault that I did not discuss expectations of when/how often I would be online to assist them, but became a problem I had to address. After I healed completely and realized this problem, I made sure to address it with my students and gave them my online office hours, to let them know when they could expect response from me. I still had a tendency to log on immediately after receiving notification that a student had made a new post. I have improved on this, but it is still a weakness.