The Birth of an Online Course

Week One: Over the next four weeks, I will be using the research to create my first online course. This course on Argumentative Writing can be found by viewing the link provided. The course will follow the outline set out using my Understanding by Design plans developed in 5313. This UbD can be viewed in two parts: UbD Template Part 1 and UbD Template Part 2. This course will provide students the opportunities to create an online learning portfolio, explore how schools are moving into the digital age, evaluate the state of their current school’s transition into the digital age, and create a plan promoting positive changes to their school’s technology policy. This online course will be taken by Florida-based students that must complete one of their courses towards graduation through an online platform. While what I will be developing in EDLD 5318 contains the materials for a complete 6 week unit, I plan on building a semester long course. This will allow students that need half a credit the opportunity to make up their credit online instead of retaking the semester of English in-class. Students that enroll in this course will be asked to achieve a number of learning goals: comprehend how to use a learning portfolio to demonstrate acquired skills, hone critical thinking skills of analysis, evaluation, and synthesis, comprehend the parts and organizational structure of a formal essay, collaborate with peers in order to develop value of multiple perspectives, and demonstrate competency in critical thinking and writing skills. Students will that are enrolled in this course will be asked to provide evidence of learning through multiple desired results: students will develop and use an online learning portfolio, students will analyze and evaluate the use of digital tools within schools across the country, students will develop a technology policy for their school that promotes the use of digital tools within each classroom of the school, and students will develop a formal, argumentative essay with the goal of influencing change in the current technology policy of their school.

Students will work through this course using a multitude of materials:

  • Learners will use WordPress to develop their online learning portfolio.
  • Learners will use a collection of news articles to explore the use of digital tools throughout the country’s schools.
  • Learners will use grammar lessons developed in the program No Red Ink to hone their formal writing skills.
  • Learners will use peer submitted writing assignments to practice revision and editing skills.
  • Learners will use a posting of their school’s current technology policy to compare against postings of other school’s technology policies.
  • Students will use graphic organizers to organize their thoughts before attempting to write a rough draft.
  • Students will use the OWL Purdue website to assist in correctly formatting their essay and works cited page to proper MLA standards.
  • Students will use the FSA rubric to assess peers’ writing assignments and assess their personal writing assignments.

Week 2: When completing the assignments for this week, I decided that I would take my own approach to manage my time within the class. The assignment for the week was to upload all materials that would be used for the course and submit an outline for 50% of the course. I created the outline for 50% of the course and uploaded the materials for that portion of the course. Next week’s assignment is to complete the other 50% of the outline. I would like to receive feedback on the materials I have posted alongside my outline for the first 50% before I create the materials for the second 50% of the class. Therefore, I will create and upload the second half of the class for next week’s assignment along with the outline of the second 50% of the course. I look forward to getting feedback on the first 50% of the course, so I can improve the course as a whole throughout the rest of EDLD 5318.

Week 3: This week was mostly about staying ahead of schedule. This was difficult due to it being the first week of baseball season. Between tryouts, team meetings, and the first practices, time to work on my course was limited. Once I used my discussion post to determine the direction the course would take, I completed the course outline and created the materials for the second half of the course. I determined that I would like to add more digital media within my course to engage the students in the online platform. I will be using the fourth week of the class to search and upload the proper media for each week of class. I would also like to attempt to create some sort of “Getting Started” portion of the course that outlines how to use the LMS and what will be expected within the course. My course is just about complete, and I am anxiously awaiting the final product. I plan on dispersing my final product among my peers at my school to receive feedback on how I can adjust the course to better serve the students at our school. I will then take the course to administration where I intend on gaining a computer lab or set of laptops to teach this course within the school I am at.

Week 4: Having the entirety of my class materials already uploaded to my classroom left me the opportunity to explore Schoology in deeper detail. The exploration of the site and options within the course left me anxious to start a class using the system. The aspects of the classroom that are missing would be filled in by participating members of an active class. Messages, discussions, and updates within the class all need prompting from the needs of an active classroom. I had the opportunity to discuss the concept of using Schoology to create an online course for my English 1 curriculum at my school with colleagues, and I feel empowered in helping to jump-start implementation of blended learning within my organization.

The first step to using Schoology as a functioning role in my innovation plan is to create a professional learning course for teachers. A course that brings the knowledge behind blended learning to teachers becomes an essential part of persuading veteran teachers to efficiently use the technology at their disposal. This step will most likely take the entirety of the 2017-2018 school year to implement, because I will be developing the course alongside the daily whirlwind. Once I have created the course and began to administer it to faculty in Wednesday, voluntary professional learning time allocations, I can use the course that I developed for my English 1 course as a model to the success of the blended learning model. I imagine that the English department will grasp at the idea of blended learning first, but only because I will have created a course for English and Language Arts content.

The second step to using Schoology as a functioning role in my innovation plan is to create a model course in each of the primary content areas: math, science, and social studies. Using OERs and the digital resources provided through my district, creation of a course aligned to the district mandated curriculum would be a matter of moving resources onto Schoology, assigning the students to the course, and finding a teacher that is willing to use the course in a full blended model. I would start with building a course in American History. This course would layout similar to an English course I would build due to the skills required to reach the standards for the content area. A plethora of readings from multiple perspectives can be accessed regarding the development of the United States of America. These readings coupled with assignments arranged in a project-based unit will demand that students introduce themselves to the history of our country and that they think critically about the effects of major events and their repercussions on the American public. The second course I would develop would be an Algebra 1 course. Students within my district must pass the Algebra 1 End of Course exam or a standardized test of equal rigor within the content area. An online course for Algebra 1 could be used as supplemental material for struggling students or could be used in full as a blended classroom. Assembling online math support programs combined with personally developed assignments to hone math skills ensures that teachers can provide their students with as much support possible when taking Algebra 1 and when preparing for standardized tests on the subject.

The creation of these courses provides a template for other teachers within those departments to learn how to use the LMS and to develop their personal classrooms within the LMS. Ideally, this step would take place in the form of me losing classes to teach and gaining time to create the courses. I would teach half of the day using the blended model of my English 1 curriculum and create courses for various other content areas the other half of the day. As part of my innovation plan for professional learning at my school, I could also use time not in the classroom to observe and assist teachers that need support. The future success of my innovation plan depends on my creation of the courses listed above. Teachers want to see concrete plans and data when reasoning if jumping on the bandwagon is worth the effort. The implementation of my innovation plan seems to take on a longer timeline with each new course I take in this program. However, I realize that anything worthwhile takes time. The ability to work over summers autonomously provides the time needed to get a head-start on the course work, but making time for the continuation of the plan alongside the daily whirlwind will be my hardest challenge.

Week 5: Reflections of a 21st Century Educator

This program consistently challenges my preconceptions of using technology in the classroom. The first two years of my teaching career were spent using permission to use technology as a “positive behavior reward.” I soon discovered permission for technology use motivated a portion of my students, but the practice was not effective for the entirety of the class. The achievement gap will only be lessened by providing every student the proper preparation to join the global community (Project Tomorrow). Using my authority to create a law that prohibited students to use the resources they had was counter active to my desire to assist students in their transformation into positive citizens and life-long learners. The material of this course focused my vision on what I assumed the future of education will look like. The inevitable growth of the rate of access to the internet demands our future citizens comprehend responsible practices (Bates). The vision of professional learning in the digital age must accelerate the implementation of digital tools, blended learning, and online learning within schools.

The realization the course developed in EDLD 5318 inspired was a direct result of the previous assignments of the program driving my understanding of the opportunities online education and blended learning provides.  The UbD plan created earlier in the program found a way to seamlessly fit into the culmination of the planning done in regard to my innovation plan. My constructivist approach to learning mandated that I provide my students with the curriculum and the freedom to challenge themselves with the curriculum at their own pace. Structuring the course, originally, using the UbD format clicked with this constructivist mindset. The constructivist need to constantly analyze, evaluate, and synthesize emphasizes that the learner develops personal meaning and connection with the material in order to demonstrate deep learning (Bates). The creation of my course facilitates this need by providing the entire course material from the first day. Students are able to move through each week of the course at their speed, but maintain a challenging pace through the requirements of a culminating activities in each week.

The past five weeks have been instrumental in my abilities to create an effective learning environment and my abilities to lead my colleagues in transforming my school culture to facilitate the 21st century learner. Providing my students with the opportunities to hone their critical thinking skills through the use of digital tools has moved to the top of my priority as an educator. While expectations for my students require them to move through the course autonomously, I realize there can never be enough support for students in any classroom online or traditional. Tailoring my class with learning goals and weekly objectives posted within the course provides my students the structure and boundaries needed to complete the assignments to the best of their ability. While I may not be able to provide my students with the devices needed to make my course entirely online or even a true blended experience, having the course developed as a supplementary resource that follows the pace and content of the curriculum being taught in my class allows me to collect data and experience on how the use of a LMS affects students’ learning.

The collection of data to demonstrate the success of the blended learning format paired with implementing voluntary professional learning focused on introducing blended learning and efficient implementation of blended learning guarantees consideration of my innovation plan. This program has indirectly taught me that change within an organization may start quickly with great ideas, but enforcing the change across the faculty takes much more time. This class has taught me that the change is worth the time and will benefit every member of the school due to the affect blended learning has on the school culture. The benefits of using digital tools and a LMS within the classroom have become commonplace in the field of education. However, the educators in public schools remain in transition from the traditional classroom to the 21st century classroom. The course created in EDLD 5318 serves as a prototype for the infinite amount of courses that could be developed for the use of teachers in every content area within my organization. I plan to create courses for the ELA department, Social Studies department, Math department, Science department, automotive department, etc. as OERs that can be used as supplements to the preexisting curriculum being taught. Teachers that use my OERs will acknowledge the benefits, demand furthering of blended learning within the organization, and push administration to allow me to implement my innovation plan throughout the campus.

References

Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and

learning (Chapters 11-12). Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

Project Tomorrow (2015). “Trends in Digital Learning: Empowering Innovative Classroom

Models for Learning”. Retrieved from

http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/2015_ClassroomModels.html