October 19 2014

Week 2 discussion con’t

Is teaching online a natural outgrowth of classroom teaching?

My initial response to this question was: although there are many similarities in the teaching methodologies used in both the traditional classroom and online teaching, I don’t believe an online venue to necessarily be a ‘natural” outgrowth of the classroom. And then I really thought about it…..And I might be an atypical example of a classroom teacher going online, so not the best representative.  I’m a business and computer teacher. I have always had technology as an integral part of my classroom. That is not to say that my lessons, assignments, or even delivery of content has been solely computer based. It has not. But I have seen a natural progression in the use of technology, and a definite increase in the use of web resources over the last 5-10 years. I used to ‘force’ students to utilized non-web resources when doing research, basically just to ensure that they could , you know, open a book and utilize these other options. Now I have them using their smartphones to take a web generated quiz! Technology has become such an  integral part of everyday life. I have simply stopped fighting the losing battle. So for me it has been a natural, progressive step in the evolution of teaching and learning.  In “Can you see me now…”, the author, Ida Jones, indicates that advancements in technology have simply provided teachers with better instructional tools.  “Educational technologies are best described as tools faculty use to communicate with each learner to disseminate knowledge and facilitate learning”. These tools were once chalk and chalkboard and are now blogs and blackboard.

I don’t believe online learning would be as popular or as successful without the advancements in technology to facilitate both the teaching and the learning. It has naturally progressed right alongside  the technology. It would not even exist if there was not a need or a want for the ‘service’ provided. This is a customer base that is ready and willing to learn in their time, on their terms and on their dime. And let’s not forget…on their smartphone, tablet laptop, PC, surface, iPad, chrome book et. al.


October 18 2014

Week 2 discussion

What do you think your students will expect from you as their online instructor?

In the article “Guidelines for Online Teaching Success” by Mary Bart, the author restates some very specific performance criteria for online faculty that were develop by Penn State World Campus and presented by the director of faculty development, Larry Ragan. At first, I found it reassuring to know that competencies as well as performance expectations have been addressed and are available for others to incorporate into their own guidelines and best practices. After a closer review, I realized that this criteria was very vague with many details left to the discretion of the online instructor and institute or school district.

The performance expectations that are worthy of mention are in the areas of Preparation, Communication and Feedback. Clear expectations were outlined in these areas and include being “operationally proficient” and “prepared with the skills to teach online”. Also instructors are expected to “provide prompt feedback”, “Actively participate in course-related discussions and activities where appropriate” and “Clearly communicate student expectations.”

After reviewing “Five expectations Students have…”, I compared the two sets of criteria and found the student expectations far more realistic and helpful from an online teachers perspective. Availability, Professionalism, Guidance, Experience and Technological aptitude are a true indication of what our audience needs from us in order to be successful in the online learning environment. This criteria can be developed and demonstrated in specific course instruction, syllabi, and guidelines that can then be clearly communicated to the participants in the first week(s) of the online course. I believe this illustrates how important it is to properly identify and acknowledge our audience when developing our online presence.


October 13 2014

Week 1 discussion

learning theory picture

Online Teaching Theory discussion:

As a visual learner, I was drawn to the illustration posted on our week 1 lessons page, with that in mind, I chose to focus on the article “Toward a Theory of Online Learning” by Terry Anderson.  In Anderson’s Chapter 2, he discusses the learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered and community centered “lens” of the online environment. He also touches on the important role of interaction among the actors in the learning model stating “Communication technologies are used in education to enhance interaction between all participants in the educational transaction.” And further “Interaction has long been a defining and critical component of the educational process …” His model illustrates the theory by depicting the student-student interaction process, student- content interaction, student-teacher interaction, teacher-content Interaction in 4 primary components. He goes on to explain the concept of the Semantic Web where “technology” agents will assist and enhance these interactions, thereby providing a more effective and efficient learning environment. He concludes the chapter with an overview of this online learning interaction theory that is very intriguing and fascinating to me.

“Sufficient levels of deep and meaningful learning can be developed, as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student-teacher; student-student; student-content) is at very high levels. The other two may be offered at minimal levels or even eliminated without degrading the educational experience. (Anderson, 2002)”

The challenge for online teachers is, and always has been, to provide a learning environment that touches each component equitably and remains learning centered, content centered, community centered and assessment centered. We must also provide an environment that supports the diversification of our students and effectively addresses “how people learn”.

One specific way I can better apply the concepts presented by Anderson would be to development a more rigorous student-student interactive element within my current online environment. I could accomplish this by adding more online discussion topics to reinforce content delivered in class. I could also bump up the student-content interaction by adding a video of the class lecture/discussion to our class page as content reinforcement. This would also provide content to students that may have been absent for the notes or simply need a review of the material.  According to Anderson, if high levels of interaction in either of these areas exist, even if student-teacher interaction declines due to the online delivery vs. face to face, then a quality ‘educational experience’ will remain.



Anderson, T. (2004). Toward a Theory of Online Learning. Chapter 2. Retrieved October 12, 2014

October 12 2014

Week 1 more reflection

Week1 reflection : wiki 3

One additional point that caught my attention presented in ION’s list of weaknesses, was the potential limitations of students. Maturity and self-discipline are extremely important to a student’s success in an online environment. The authors indicate that this environment may not be optimally suited to elementary and secondary school age learners. There is no doubt that there is tremendous diversity in younger student’s skill and maturity levels. The very young may not possess these necessary skills needed to succeed, but they do possess tremendous passion and curiosity that can be used to an advantage if properly directed.  Many older high-school age students do lack self-motivation and many other skills needed to be successful on-line.  But shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to develop these skills? And what better way than through a ‘classroom’ that mimics the digital realities of the 21st Century.  Time management, organization and taking responsibility for one’s education is a lesson every secondary school student should possess before tackling the stresses of higher-education or a 21st Century work environment.


Illinois Online Network: Educational Resources- Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning. (2010). Retrieved October 12, 2014.

October 12 2014

Capstone Week 1 reflection con’t

Week1 reflection : wiki 2

How do the 2 models (online vs. face-to face) of teaching compare?

According to Cathy Galyon Keramidas, in her study at West Virginia University, Are Undergraduate Students Ready for Online Learning? A Comparison of Online and Face-to-Face Sections of a Course, “Flexibility and freedom to work at their own pace is one cited benefit to students who pursue online Learning”. I strongly agree that in today’s busy work & home environments, the benefits of flexibility that are present in an online course far outweigh any face-to face interaction advantages.  As digital tools become the norm, student interactions with each other and the instructor can become more prevalent and meaningful in an online environment. It can be difficult to capture the instructor for that quick question right before or after class, especially when others are also competing for a moment of his or her time. Online, the mindset is “all business” and the asynchronous atmosphere provides both the teacher and student with a flexible window for one-on-one interaction which can lead to heightened understanding. I believe this to be a win-win situation as the interaction tends to expand the thoughts of  the originating student ,  other classmates involved in the online discussion as well as the instructor.



Galyon Keramidas, C. (2012). Are Undergraduate Students Ready for Online Learning? A Comparison of Online and Face-to-Face Sections of a Course. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 31(4), 25-32. Retrieved October 10, 2014.



October 12 2014

Capstone Week 1 reflection

Week1 reflection : wiki 1

How do the 2 models (online vs. face-to face) of teaching compare?

I hold a relatively optimistic view of the online learning environment, balanced with a touch of realism.  There are always 2 sides to every argument, and online learning is no exception.  Illinois Online Network in Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning from the University of Illinois, presents a solid list of pros and cons in the e-learning environment. One strength that had not occurred to me was the Creative Teaching element. “The nature of the semi-autonomous and self-directed world of the Virtual Classroom makes innovative and creative approaches to instruction … more important. In the online environment, the facilitator and student collaborate to create a dynamic learning experience.” Technology is providing an opportunity for teachers to ‘upgrade’ their skills and methodologies; and to “reflect on their course objectives and teaching styles.” This leads to stronger teaching and learning in both the on-line environment and traditional classroom.


Illinois Online Network: Educational Resources- Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning. (2010). Retrieved October 12, 2014.