Ten best practices in online teaching from the standpoint of a student-teacher

Isabella Villas Boas recently completed a ten-week online courses and reflects on different practices and their application – including

Making sure that people know each other well so that they can become a true community of learners….  For some cultures more than for others, images are very important to aid communication. In the course I took, for example, I resented the fact that we couldn’t see people’s photos next to each of their posts. Some of us had posted pictures to accompany our introductory remarks inside a folder called “Week 1”, but they were uploaded as documents and difficult to retrieve on a daily basis. Ideally, the LMS should have a sidebar with the participants’ profiles so that they can be consulted easily throughout the course. Instructors might also place so much emphasis on having students introduce themselves that they, the instructors, forget to do the same.

The other nine

 

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Developing Alternative Research Assignments with Students and Faculty

Kathleen DeLaurenti looks at different options available through technology which can change how writing assignments are completed. She refers to a Music of the Civil War class where they completed alternative research assignments. There wasn’t a central learning portal so they developed an online bibliography where students could collect links and get feedback and also used a wiki to support the writing.

For the Civil War assignment, I focused on helping the students get started using the technology, but also on how to evaluate websites. Website evaluation was a significant part of the Worlds of Music project as well, but I also played a greater role in meeting with the students. Each group was required to sign up for a 45 minute meeting with me to make sure they were comfortable with the technology, but also to talk about the research resources and strategies they would need for the assignment. In addition to introducing them to key resources in ethnomusicology, we talked about how to narrow their topics (one wiki page in one semester certainly wouldn’t represent all of the music of China!) and how to present this material in the context of a wiki. For example, using slideshows if they built image collections rather than cluttering up their webpage with so many images it was confusing to other readers.

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Fun is just a click away

Thabo Mohlala reports on the rise of use and appreciation of positive aspects of combining teaching with technology in South African classrooms. They mention the changes with lessons no longer being predictable but where the pupils have more choice and motivation about their activities. A competion was held for a number of pupil projects including:

One was by Sume Delport, who is artistic and whose goal was to make a painting for her room. The other one was by Michaela Zealand, a bookworm who wanted to finish a 170-page book in English, which is her first additional language. Delport did not know how to mix specific colours and had to do a Google search for a colour chart. In the process she learnt which colours complement one another. When she read the book, Zealand encountered some difficult words and had to use the cellphone-based dictionary to figure them out. “Both these pupils used mind maps to brainstorm and organise their thinking and knowledge-building.

 

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The Final Product is a Process, not an iMovie – All about my Final Project

Joy Seed blogs about the experiences of integrating technology and learning in a movie project with Hosoi Sensei

We have had the goal of transforming learning through the integration of specialist subjects, core subjects and digital technologies. We wanted our students to discover important elements of Japanese culture, deepen their understanding of the design process, develop their ability to collaborate, understand that people learn in different ways, practice their instructional writing and experiment with presenting information with imovie

The post has videos that they watched and then describes how they worked with the children to encourage them to take on different movie roles and reflects on the how the students felt about taking part in these processes.

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Technology use in the classroom helps autistic children communicate

The Economic and Social Research Council report findings from Topcliffe Primary School in Birmingham. The project received a grant from the ESCRC and the EPSRC. The children are using a large multi-touch screen and explore the virtual environment, interacting with an agent called Andy. The staff were surprised at the level of social interaction.

Research shows that children with autism often find computers and technology safe, motivating and engaging, particularly in the areas of social interaction and communication. Autistic children often struggle to communicate and learn effectively, but it seems that this technology can tap into their motivation and enable them to communicate in a way in which teachers simply can’t get them to do in traditional classroom settings.

Echoes 2 project

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Doing Internet Research at the Elementary Level

Rajasekar of the scoolbell blog writes about a recent experience preparing to teach research skills to students in grades three to seven. He has broken the topic up into smaller areas which he has mapped on the blog, including topic keywords, testing search terms, synthesizing information and several other areas.

All classes begin with a discussion about what research is and why we do it and how we do it. Each grade will be using their research and applying it to a larger question or problem. For instance, rather than having my third regurgitate answers back to me about animals, they will use the information they find to answer the larger question. (i.e. “Your parents said you can have any pet you want. What will you need to keep the pet?”)

The notes will vary across grades and shows a wonderful research graphic from The Kentucky Virtual Library

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Reflective Notes: International Online Collaboration in Project Work

educalogy blogs about recently participating in an online collaborative project to create an educational handbook with learners from Estonia, Norway and Finland. The project was completed entirely online using virtual classroom / meeting tools, shared online documents, wikis, facebook and other tools. the author writes about how the group dynamics developed and being able to participate in a joint presentation. The ability to participate in live sessions and the distribution of tasks are reviewed with mixed levels of participation as the project developed. There’s an interesting video embedded in the post from one of the presentations and their own presentation using Prezi.

mastery-oriented students in the group will always work for a good result and will all too often do literally all the work for a group’s presentation – as the social norm of not reporting the fellow student’s inactivity is still holding strong – which it should be. I think it is in the responsibility of the course designer and instructor to establish ways of monitoring and controlling a fairer distribution of work in academic collaborative learning groups

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Teaching Foreign Language

Halina Ostańkowicz-Bazan blogs from Poland about different approaches used to teach and learn online. She discusses active learning and how to encourage students to become more active rather than passive recipients of lectures. She describes how blended learning can provide opportunities for students to become more engaged and take advantage of new technologies and mentions the importance of learning meaningfully.

My experience tells that I ought to practice active learning principles to progress activities for my students that best mirror my particular communication style and the topics, forms of thinking, and strategies to the problems which are needed to understand and relate to the topics. This is how I work on creating my “active learners”.

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Closing the gap on aboriginal education

Brian Tompson writes about the exclusion of indigenous students and communities in education. He explains how teachers have looked at issues such as misbehaviour and absenteeism and attributed a lack of achievement against an indigenous label.

If we are to help our students learn then we need to look at student-centred classrooms and learning techniques that encourage learning. It is recognised that Aboriginal students learn best by doing rather than by theory. Neil Harrison recognises that students learn by imitating others (Harrison 2011). Teachers need to differentiate their teaching methods which include avoiding the overuse of textbooks and provide authentic learning experiences which deal with real life situations or themes that students can relate to.

He stresses the role of collaboration with the local communities and parents in developing a meaningful education and have a more informed cultural awareness, moving away from textbooks and other formal learning materials

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Preparing e-learning online

Anne Fox reflects about the UnderstandIT project which has recently been completed in Europe. The project explored possibilities and spaces for elearning developers and designers to create eLearning by collaborating online – using a method known as ConCurrent Design. She provides a diagrams of the sessions plan.

The UnderstandIT project used the previously developed VITAE vocational training course to test out distributed CCeD with partners from Denmark, Norway Lithuania Italy, Germany and Portugal.

They have delivered a range of outcomes including an online tool for making a business plan and a proof of concept using ELGG

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