I teach online so its always on my mind, but things have been happening recently which led me to want to start writing about online teaching and learning. Normally I write pretty vague blogs that can apply to both traditional and distance and hybrid schools but want to focus on my specific model for a little while. Bare with me. Things that have me thinking, in no particular order:
1. I was asked to present at Virtual Schools Symposium about Shared Leadership in a discussion called “How to Start an Online School” then shared leadership seemed to stop at my school when summer began. Feeling a little torn about making that presentation now.
2. I just went through an online training program for Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, CT’s new state online school. I was able to look inside some of the responsibilities their teachers have for developing curriculum (almost none) compared to our teacher’s responsibilities for developing curriculum (100 %). My hypothesis is that teachers who use pre-packaged software solutions can focus more on supplementing instruction, personalizing assessments, and communicating with students than those that have to spend a lot of time building online content. More hypothesizing to come.
3. I was just at NECC2008 and there were almost no relevant sessions about online learning. I attended one and it was terrible, antiquated, inapplicable to my situation or any online teacher’s situation who has taught for more than 5 days. There was nothing in any of the dozen or so E-learning sessions that I thought could benefit a hybrid high school teacher. I think I found a topic to propose to NECC for next year.
4. Clayton Christensen predicts half of all high school students will take online courses ten years from now. If that comes true, my career experience is going to be very relevant to the future of education.
5. A trusted colleague in my PLN asked me to talk to her principal about the challenges of online learning for credit recovery. Her school is thinking about offering online classes next year. Even though the challenges are so vast and so many, I still believe in online learning. That said, everyday I question the potential of online learning as a valuable option for at-risk kids. I’m spending my life trying to figure out a way to teach at-risk kids online, but am losing so far.
As online learning moves past the early adopter phase, the growth
of online programs focused on at-risk students or credit recovery has redefined how educational technology can be used to address the needs of all students, from advanced students in search of Advanced Placement or dual-credit courses, to at-risk students trying to find the right instructional mix to fit their learning styles.
The last half of that last sentence is especially relevant to our learning model. We need to find the right mix to meet these kids learning styles because we are failing nearly 50% of our students right now with another 20% dropping out. Anyone have any ideas for the right mix?
Those 5 things really have me thinking about online learning and interested in seeing where it goes in the near future. I also look forward to tackling these things in future writings, which I haven’t really done in a year of blogging. Wonder why not?