What will an online class look like with Mr. Petlak? What will an online Biology class look like with Mr. Petlak? Are labs done in person? Do students gather their own supplies? What balance of instructional strategies maximizes distance learning? Is content delivery more important than relationships (knowing full well they aren’t mutually exclusive)?
If you don’t know me, relationships make my classroom work (I think). It’s my foundation for learning, but how do I make that happen online through a screen? Historically, I would argue I entertain to engage, but I think the potential to get caught up in engagement and miss out on more content may be present; is content the priority in online education?
Researching Online Learning
In my digging, I found an article detailing best practices which provides great reminders when planning for distance learning:
- Visibility – students may get caught up in text and forget the teacher is a presence in the digital classroom. Be sure to maintain visibility.
- Organization and Analysis – plan out course well in advance of offering it, provide timely feedback and be open to constructive criticism of your course by peers and students.
- Compassionate – understand that the requirements of a teacher may actually be more personal than in a traditional classroom because some voiceless students may now have the opportunity to speak in a safe environment (email may keep them isolated and protected as well).
- Leader-by-example – model proper behaviour and foster connections with and between students.
The same article then provides a list of strategies that are critical to online teaching:
“ Student Led Discussions Students Find and Discuss Web Resources Students Help Each Other Learn (Peer Assistance) Students Grade Their Own Homework Assignments Case Study Analysis”
– Bill Pelz, (My) Three Principles of Online Pedagogy , 2008
“ Group problem-solving and collaborative tasks; Problem-based learning; Discussion; Case-based strategies; Simulations or role play; Student-generated content; Coaching or mentoring; Guided learning; Exploratory or discovery; Lecturing or teacher-directed activities; Modeling of the solution process; and Socratic questioning.”
– “Best Practices in Online Teaching Strategies“, Hanover Research Council, 2009
Upon reading plans of Adam and co., perhaps my plan here is a bit too detailed at this point, I normally share Aimee’s approach of crushing it all at once later on (I definitely overdid this post, so if you’ve stuck it out this long, congratulations). With this information in mind, what are my initial thoughts and rationale for an online course?
- I am going to use Zoom to record videos and screen-share in the recorded videos for any sort of drawing I will draw on the touchscreen (I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab) and deliver the content asynchronously. Additional modules would place an emphasis on discussion.
- I intend to use my website for students to follow along with content, post notes and presentations as well as class plan.
My rationale behind this is to open up learning opportunities for any students interested. I have background in Office 365 and Google classroom but intend to make the work as available as possible for students, educators, and parents – Office 365 and Google classroom would require a student login.
- The audience will be grade twelve (ages sixteen to eighteen), and the students should have access to all content assuming they have a WiFi connection and a device to utilize it with.
- Assessment will be completed using Socrative – formatively and summatively. Due to the asynchronous session, the Socrative will be made available for the week and close at the week’s conclusion so that outside learners may still observe content, but weekly work, attendance and accountability for in-class learners will therefore be mandatory.
- Communication will be completed via email. Or via synchronous sessions when available.
- Course content/learning objectives will be from the AP Biology© curriculum so that I can use it in my class!
- Activities will include: brief video lecture for content (~3-5mins), hands-on activity to enhance understanding (~2-4 mins), and subsequent sharing of videos using an open Flipgrid discussion thread or typed discussion through commenting on the YouTube post, teacher access with mobile device should allow for consistent and quick response times.
Potential concern: sharing video responses online and making this public, students may be susceptible to online risks/harassment. As such, they will be informed beforehand, however, use of Flipgrid seeks to eliminate ease of harassment through simply YouTube commenting.
- Students will require device-access (that has a camera) and a strong enough bandwidth for videos to be watched and shared (YouTube).
- Subtitles will be provided in informative videos, allowing EAL students to observe spelling of terms. The asynchronous nature of the course will also allow students of different ability (technological or learning-wise), will be able to pause on important points. (Important points in the video will also be provided in the information location of the post so that students can go to specific learning points in the video.
- The content will attempt to include different cultural perspectives in the context of the work. Ie. different explanations for natural phenomena beyond western science.
Plans and reality may deviate slightly, but hopefully this delivering of course content will not only allow for a larger audience to become informed on the content, but also allow interactions to occur with the instructor and others through commenting and sharing. Links to resources can be made available on the YouTube video shared and to my webpage. Ideally, once background content is established, students can take this personalized learning and make it more personal, allowing it to grow from there in a direction of their choosing through inquiry and questions evolving from content discussion.
The ongoing question I intend to ask in the delivery/creation of this content is “am I happy with the decisions I’ve made”, and “are there times I can avoid making a video of myself or simply use open resources”? A great example of the type of video I would hope to create for content delivery is included below:
Thoughts, comments, critiques? Let me know!
– Logan Petlak