Online Classes: The Facts

In this article, the Babson Company conducted various studies regarding online classes. Its main findings suggest that while online classes are on a huge rise, the legitimacy of them is questionable. Students usually take them so they do not have to go to an in-person class, making it more convenient, and not because they prefer the online environment because of the possibilities.

They also discovered that almost 1/3 of students have taken or are taking one currently. While most students are satisfied with their online environment, some are not happy simply because they are either confused or feel “lost.”

It’s worth a glance – http://www.babson.edu/news-events/babson-news/pages/130107-2012-survey-of-online-learning-results.aspx

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Warnock 16-18

I think the most important aspect of these chapters is the importance of training and researching the best ways to be a successful online teacher in an environment that might otherwise be foreign to most professors. I thought it was alarming that less than 30% of teachers receive said training, but I think it is mostly assumed that teachers can handle the online environment if they can handle a face-to-face classroom.

As a GA in the PESH department at Winthrop, I was expected to run an entire online course simply because I was a Graduate Assistant – I received no training, no guidance, and wasn’t sure who to go to if I had questions or concerns. It was overwhelming and I think my students suffered because of it.

In these chapters, I also loved the idea of having students send their emails with the name and assignment in the subject line and on the attachment. I am definitely going to organize students by folder (rather than assignment) on my computer when I am using the online aspect of my classroom. This will ensure that I know who turned in what, and who didn’t, as well as making sure everything is in its right place (because NOTHING is worse than a teacher losing a student’s work).

I also found the various resources helpful, and ways to help students explore the internet as well. When I am in the classroom, I’m sure the internet will have even more resources for students to use that may not be as reliable as others.

Warnock Chapter 15

I loved this chapter because as a future English teacher, plagiarism will definitely be a discussion in my classroom. While there are many tools now that can scan student’s work and deduce whether or not portions of it are plagiarized, I want students to know the importance of using citations since Warnock says most student plagiarism is accidental.

Rather than make a class dedicated to the “DO NOT DO THIS OR ELSE” aspect of plagiarism and student writing, I think it would be best implemented within another lesson. For example, if students have a research paper due, going over the ins and outs of their Works Cited page would be better received than a long lecture of scare tactics.

Rubric

As I look at your online writing assignments, I want you to focus on the following elements and put what grade you think you deserve after every document you turn in. If I agree, then that will be the grade you receive, if not, I will merge our grades together and come to a median number.

It is important that you take ownership of your work and can assess yourself throughout our time together. If there is abuse of this system, your input will no longer be needed and I will grade all assignments as I normally would.

I will If you have any questions, shoot me an email and I’ll respond to you ASAP!

Content:
Have you completed the assignment in full?
– are you on topic
– answered all questions with sufficient evidence to back up your claim or findings
– covered all points that are listed on the assignment’s individual rubric
– met the length requirement without using “fluff” or information that is not needed
– are you analyzing and not just summarizing

Citations and Clarity:
Is everything cited correctly and can others understand your writing?
– are citations correct and in either APA or MLA format
– if you have an online source, did you test all of them to make sure the links work
– do you know what your assignment was about when you finished (is the topic clear?)
– can you and your reader clearly summarize what you wrote

Grammar:
Remember this is an English class! Reach for what we’ve learned throughout the semester!
– check your spelling!!
– read and re-read homonyms (to vs. too, your vs. you’re, etc.) – spell check won’t catch some of them, and the context makes all the difference!

Overcoming Anxiety in Online Courses

After scouring through various mediums and research, I landed on The Illinois Online Network website. This company’s main objective is to stress the importance of online courses to universities and to provide resources for them in order for their online courses to succeed. Their entire website goes into great detail about their overall job mission, but I found the article on effective communication to be the most helpful and applicable to me.

The article says that in order for students to feel comfortable in an online setting, open and constant communication is key. This doesn’t mean blowing up their inbox or sending constant reminders, but maybe a once-a-week email of assignments ahead, a brief overview of what to expect, and a link for further directions that the student can use on his or her own time.

I also really liked the helpful blurb about contacting students who do not participate in the first assignment to make sure they understand the course, the expectations, and most importantly, the technology they are using. Some students need more time to adapt to a technological setting, and may feel overwhelmed. Rather than making this student feel inadequate, professors can offer a helping hand – this may make the student feel like they have guidance instead of falling behind and never being able to catch back up.

The last point in this article was to make sure all students feel comfortable with asking questions by possibly posting a “Common Questions” dialogue that can not only already answer questions, but also make students feel more at ease.

Warnock 13-14

I love the emphasis on consistency here!!

I am a list-maker and rely on doing my every day habits in order to feel comfortable, so I flip out when I feel like I’ve lost something or an assignment is unpredictable and sneaks up on me, or I think something is unclear. I love that this class has a schedule I can follow with due dates on it – I print stuff like that out and cross them off as I complete them.

The importance of these chapters to me was the necessity of keeping things in order for students and ensuring that they can succeed in the course on their time with certain due dates that are predictable. I love the two-days-a-week
in our class, and I’m assuming it came from the book’s suggestion.

I really do enjoy reading Warnock, and his ideas help me as a student and a future teacher. In regards to collaboration, you can’t force students to collaborate, and I can’t stand being forced to do group work, but commenting like we do is a good way to get students to talk to one another without relying on one another’s deadlines and grades.

Teaching Tool: Google Docs

First of all – what?!

I have a Chromebook and while it’s incredibly fast for surfing the internet and that’s about it, I had no idea how awesome GoogleDocs is, and it’s a good thing I finally did because it’s all I can use on my laptop!

First of all, GoogleDocs is ideal for an online class! You can collaborate, comment, and even share documents LIVE with other users! For example, if I was teaching an online class, my students on either a Windows OR Google OR Linux OR iOS system could download GoogleDocs for free and we could all work together on formulating that first and often daunting paragraph – talk about group work!

GoogleDocs also works on both iPhones and Android based phones via the Google Drive app. There are an automatic 2GB that are free, after that it costs money in order to store things on Google’s version of the cloud.

You can receive email alerts or text messages when someone edits or views your document, and you can view their edits in live time because everyone attached to it has a different cursor and color! SO COOL!

GoogleDocs also has the same basic format of Microsoft Word so it’s easy for anyone to navigate, and it even saves as you type so god forbid your computer dies mid sentence – it’s saved!

The downside? There aren’t hardly any, but the main one is that GoogleDocs has to have internet in order to collaborate (duh) but also to automatically save. Any document can be up to 10GB if not saved on the “cloud” (cannot exceed 2GB, and if it does, a membership is $5 – easy!).

Now that I know more about GoogleDocs I’m stoked to explore it!
I found all of this information in the introduction and help section of my Chromebook.

Warnock 11 and 12

I think the main thing I took from these two chapters is the importance of meaningful comments to students and ways to make sure there is active communication throughout the course.

I love the folder idea because I use this myself! Each of my preschoolers has a folder that their daily sheet (what they did, ate, mile stones, etc.) that their parents get every day, and other things go in there as needed. This makes my desk less cluttered, parents more organized, and sheets away from students that might get a hold of them – it’s a great strategy and made me smile to read it 🙂 I’ve also had a professor make an easy manila folder for each of us with a picture of us on the front, we signed and dated when we came to class to make ourselves accountable for attendance, and everything due or handed back was placed in it. He collected them at the end of class and I loved it! I think he loved it too because it made his life a whole lot easier.

Chapter 12 about grading was really interesting to me, online classes leave more space for creativity and should be treated as such. That being said, while deadlines are important, I think content trumps them. Also, the flexibility of online classes are appealing but it’s important to stay in contact with students who may be falling behind.

Baby Flipped Classroom

Instead of doing a mini video here, I am going to do a more transcript-type assignment because not only am I awkward and can’t come up with things off the fly while I’m looking at them, but I think this will be a good jumping off point. My computer is Google Chrome, I can’t run, create, or download any .exe files (no iTunes, no Skype, no Office … it sucks) so I might have to do the final assignment on another computer via the University.

Just so you know how limited my laptop is, this is what happened when I tried to use Screen-O-Matic:

Looks like you are on a Chromebook.

Unfortunately Chromebooks do not support java.

Please use a Mac or Windows PC to record.

So there’s that.

Since I am on track to become a high school English teacher, I think I want to incorporate students who may not have a YouTube ID (I don’t) and I don’t want to go through the hassle of Twitter and Facebook and try to be that teacher that tries too hard to implement technology while making it confusing, that’s annoying, and I know how it feels. Prezis are easily accessible, and I can implement commenting when creating one so my students can comment if they have questions or concerns. Since one of the pillars of a flipped classroom is to use class time to further explore conversation, I will show the Prezi in class and make it available outside of class as well. Students can either comment directly or in person with questions or concerns.

I want my flipped classroom to focus on creating the first paragraph of an essay. I often struggle with this, and it has never been explained to me in a way that I can comprehend and use later in life (or, if you’re an English major, all the time). This is the very little I have for my Prezi so far, I think I’m going to start at the end and work backwards:

http://prezi.com/vxjeyx6g6udw/presenting-your-first-paragraph/#

Post my Prezi being finished, the slides will be done and I will have my voice in the background for extra tips, reminders, and encouragement. Using Prezi, students can even view the presentation without having internet, making it easily accessible regardless of where they are.