Posts Tagged e-learning

Online Learning’s Promising Practices

NACOL just released a report addressing the promising practices of online schools working with at-risk students.  Based on a study of 5 online or blended learning schools, they came up with the following key lessons demonstrated by those successful schools:

Motivating students who have failed in the traditional classroom setting is a key to success for credit recovery programs. The flexible and self-paced nature of online courses can motivate; these attributes can also remove the social stigma of credit recovery. Online courses may be more engaging to some students than traditional face-to-face classes. In addition, programs that use online courses can address mobility issues of students who move regularly from one school in the district to another.

This is the hardest part of our job.  We need to develop better methods of engaging students. Florida Virtual School states they pass 90% of their at-risk kids in credit recovery courses. Does that mean online schools should just design separate credit recovery courses in addition to mainline and advanced courses? There is no separation at our school and we pass half that amount.

Online learning is particularly well suited for students recovering credit because it allows for individualized instruction, both by the teacher and through the use of course management technology. Online curriculum must be rigorous to ensure that students are learning the material, and not simply moving through the course. Diagnostic testing that allows students to demonstrate mastery of the elements of a subject that they learned in their previous attempt to pass the course, and to move on to the parts of the course that they need to focus on, keeps students engaged.

I’ve long been a proponent of diagnostic testing but none of our courses currently offer this.  The rigor of a course has to be enforced by the administration.  Individualizing instruction (and assessments) is the role of the instructor but if your school employs instructors who are trying to teach traditionally online than this won’t happen at your school.

The self-paced aspect of online courses is particularly valuable to at-risk students, who may associate education with difficulties and stress, compounded by learning deadlines imposed  by arbitrary calendars or school hours.

This is also one of the most difficult aspects.  Often these students do not have basic organizational skills or the ability to evaluate course responsibilities and schedule accordingly.

Providing credit for work or community service allows students to be engaged in a valuable activity outside of school and to have this experience count towards graduation. It also
motivates students to complete the program.

Most online programs serving credit recovery and at-risk students—but not all—have a
significant face-to-face component. The blended approach is important because it provides
expanded student support and face-to-face contact. The online component—whether fully
online or blended—provides 21st century skills to a group of students who often have less
than average exposure to computers and technology.

We have kids come in once a week for four hours of face-to-face contact.  Should we increase this to make it “significant?”

Programs that keep students from dropping out or attract students back into the school
system may pay for themselves—or at least defray costs—by capturing the state public
education dollars tied to those students. Online programs are particularly scalable and able
to expand more easily than programs based entirely on brick-and-mortar classrooms.

Success stories and anecdotes regarding the benefits and value of online learning for both
at-risk students and the schools serving them abound. The need exists for federal funding of
quantitative research in this area.

, , , ,

2 Comments

Goods, Bads, and Bests from NECC Week

NECC 2008 was the best conference I’ve ever been to.  Mostly, because it was so dynamic.  Usually I judge a conference only on the quality of the sessions but this one was so much more than lectures.  I wanted to take a couple minutes and reflect on the Goods, Bads, and Bests from NECC Week (EBC, NECC, and NECC Unplugged).

Easily, the best part of EBC and NECC2008 was meeting people from my personal learning networks.

The 2nd best part was participating at NECC Unplugged.  I didn’t get to schedule a session there because my travel plans were made so close to the conference that I had no idea if I would even be attending past Monday afternoon until a couple days prior.  So when I got to sit-in and contribute to an impromptu roundtable conversation with Steve Hargadon, Darren Draper, Robin Ellis, Karl Fisch, and several others from my PLN, I was excited.  We discussed how EBC could be better next year along with social networking in education.  I had been a passive observer at the Blogger’s Cafe until that point, and it feels so much better to contribute to the community.

The third, and last, best part is a little of a selfish one.  I hosted a poster session called Using Web 2.0 to Motivate Student Creativity which focused on Web 2.0 for Beginners and it went really well.  A lot of people stopped to watch our (OCHS) kids talk about their experiences using these tools.  I met hundreds of people and loved talking to educators who really wanted to make their children’s experiences at school more relevant.

The Goods.  The best sessions I sat in were all at EBC.  They were discussions yet, only one of the sessions that I attended at NECC was even close, mostly because they hosted a backchannel chat (pw:necc) through Chatzy. David Warlick and Alan November didn’t dissapoint but Social Networking in Education was the livliest and most passionate session that I attended outside of EBC.

The Bads.  By far the worst part about NECC Week was the lack of wireless connectivity.  In over half the rooms I was in I had nothing, nada, zilch for connection.  Kristen Hokanson said it best to an IT guy trying to solve the problem at EBC once he declared they had no idea so many people would have laptops, “but this is an edtech conference.”  They didn’t have enough access points and in the theater where the spotlight sessions were at, there was nothing.

Those view-blocking Pearson cameras at EBC were annoying, but I wasn’t nearly as mad as others about them recording and profitting from our words.  Spreading information…..good.

The other bad part, which I have encountered at almost every conference I’ve attended, was their take on Online Learning.  When I went to NECC in Philadelphia a few years back, I don’t remember any online sessions so was happy to at least see that strand in almost every concurrent session.  However, most of the sessions weren’t worth attending, the NACOL booth didn’t even have someone sitting at it, and the one session I did attend was horrible.  It was three instructional designers from the University of Houston who lectured for 45 minutes straight about 3 basic lessons you could teach online.  It was like they just discovered e-learning and somehow convinced ISTE to accept their proposal.  I wish they would screen for people who are really doing something with online learning and hybrid schools, its a future of education.

flickr user: kjarrett

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments