Module 3 Reflection and Summary

Task:  Can you recognize one or two voices and/or tones from the in the activity you completed this week? Do you notice these voices and/or tones in your current discussion board responses with students, if applicable? Discuss potential changes in your approach to discussions in the future. Take into account the need to rely less on hearing your own voice in favor of supporting participants reflections and learning.

Let me start by restating the activity.  The task was to choose a role (Student, Principal, Teacher who wants social networks in the classroom, Parent in support of proposal or Parent opposed to proposal) and respond, with appropriate voice and tone, to the student association’s request to allow access to social networks at school.  My initial response follows below.

As an educator who was stifled from fully utilizing technology, I stand before you today in support of opening up social networking to the student body.  I have heard the concerns of Ms. Harris and Mr. Farmer.  They are valid.  But I believe to hide and shield students from these sites is the wrong course of action.  My colonel in the Army taught me that it may be the Air “Defense” Artillery, but we don’t defend.  We attack!  I realized then that it was a philosophy I used my entire life as a student who was bullied.  My parents taught me to fight back, and I did.  Maybe not always in the right way, but I confronted adversity head-on. And I never had my lunch money taken!  Ironically, one of my bullies later became a fraternity brother of mine.  In the same way, I am not here to fight against you.  Instead, I want you on my side.  I want your input.  I want our students to be prepared for their future – a future including more technology than we can even imagine today – and have the skills and tools to handle any obstacle they face.  And that is why I am here today to announce that I am a pro-technology candidate for the school board.  God bless you and God bless Ampipe High!  Go Bulldogs!

The tone of my initial posting was Whimsical/Humorous/Imaginative.  I posted playing the role of an pro-technology educator running for the school board.  I interspersed hyperbole throughout my comments in order to sound like a politician on the campaign trail.  When I was discussing my history of being bullied, while handled in a lighthearted manner, it was as a Personal Muse.

(Note:  For those wondering, the Ampipe Bulldogs is from “All the Right Moves,” with Tom Cruise and Craig T, Nelson.)

In a response to a classmate’s post calling for an after-school program to educate students and parents on social networks, I posted the following:

I have some questions concerning your proposal for an after school program to educate parents and children on social networking.

1.  Would it be mandatory?  If not, what incentive would there be for people to attend?

2.  Where is the money going to come from?  In today’s age of budget tightening, how are you going to pay for a new after school program, especially one that might not be supported by the constituents?

While my tone could be construed as Curious/Informal, I think it clearly reads as if I am against the idea without knowing the answers to my questions.  I could eliminate the first question in part one.  For the second part, a better rephrasing might be, “In today’s age of budget tightening, how might we pay for a new after school program?”  These changes would come off as less aggressive.

I don’t currently have discussion boards with my students (I teach in a face-to-face environment).  At times, I catch myself using some of less desirable tones with my students.  However, in my discussion board posts with my classmates, I make every effort to review my comments before sending to try to minimize any negative voices or tones. Unlike the spoken word, we get the chance to see our words before others “hear” them. While I should follow the old adage of thinking before speaking, a long time lag would be awkward.  I would look funny to my students standing there and mentally backspacing (or deleting).

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EDTECH 523: Module 2 Summary

In this module I have accomplished the following:

  1. Read, read and read some more.
  • community building
  • collaboration
  • best practices
  • national standards for quality online courses and teaching
  1. Completed draft of Principles for Effective Online Instruction
  2. Began working with my Collaborative Inquiry Project group

I struggled early on with this module due to all the reading and the uncertainty of what was required with regards to the draft of principles and the group project.  I had to force myself to read as much as I could in order to understand the four areas listed above.  The draft of my principles was difficult for me because I was not sure of what to include and what not to include.  Only after looking at a few classmates examples, did I have a grasp of what was required of me.  The group project was also a little confusing, but my group mates reassured me I was not alone.  Together, we were able to come to an understanding and devise a plan for our project.

I think all the hard times I had with this module has helped me to better understand the material.  It has also given me a better perspective on what is it like for some of my students who I see working hard in class and not knowing if it is paying dividends.  For many of them, if they improve on their GED tests but still do not pass the test, they only see the failure.  Getting them to realize that it takes time is a difficult.  Being in their shoes with this module allows me to better understand why they feel as they do and better able to help them overcome this thinking.

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies

For my reflection in Module 2, I read the titled article and reflected on the findings and how they might inform my own teaching practice.

1.  Online learning—for students and for teachers —is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. (page xi)

This is what persuaded me to go for my MET.  Technology use isn’t going to decrease over the years.  It took me 20 years to choose a Masters program, but I chose one that has a clear upside in the future.

2.  Interest in hybrid approaches that blend in-class and online activities is increasing.  (page xi)

I work in a brick-and-mortar school setting.  We acquired Promethean Boards a few years ago.  Once we did, I have been looking at ways to incorporate more and more technology.  While we are not capable of having a true blended classroom, I incorporate anything from my MET classes that will help my students.

3.  Blends of online and face-to-face instruction, on average, had stronger learning outcomes than did face-to-face instruction alone.  (page 19)

4.  Elements such as video or online quizzes do not appear to influence the amount that
students learn in online classes.  (page xvi)

5.  Increasingly, regular classroom teachers are incorporating online teaching and learning activities into their instruction.  (page 1)

As I stated above, I can’t have true online learning blended with my classroom instructions. I can incorporate some ideas into my class in order to increase my students learning.  One thing I have added is using videos to instruct my students on the lesson at the start of class.  I have found that my students pay more attention to the videos than when I taught the lesson.  I think that today’s student is more visual than the past (even the recent past), so statement 4 might not be as true now.  As a side bonus, I can handle administrative tasks while the video is playing.

6.  Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with
media and prompting learner reflection.  (page xvi)

7.  These studies found that a tool or feature prompting students to reflect on their learning was effective in improving outcomes.  (page 44)

I always try get my students to understand that in Math, getting the right answer is NOT to most important element.  Knowing why the answer is correct is far more important.  I’ll give them the answer, but I need them to tell me why it is.  By reflecting on this, then they are more capable of solving future similar problems.

8.  Although K–12 school systems lagged behind at first, this sector’s adoption of e-learning is now proceeding rapidly.  (page 1)

The biggest plus of this is that it will create more online teaching positions.  This will give new online teachers the much needed experience to become effective teachers (just as you need to teach in the face-to-face classroom to be effective in that environment).

9.  The results of three studies exploring the effects of including different types of online simulations were modestly positive.  (page 43)

Simulations is something I have heard about and would like to try.  As a Math teacher, I am curious what kind of mathematical simulations are out there.  I believe that they could be very helpful for students who feel that mathematics is unimportant and wonder when they will ever use it.

10.  There were only two online learning studies of the effects of individualizing instruction, but both found a positive effect.  (page 44)

I have spent nine years of my teaching career doing tutoring.  For many students who have math difficulties, they have developed a fear of doing math, especially in front of other students.  Working in a small setting or individually, these students are more likely to seek help.  Some students have trouble staying focused and can be distracted in a larger group.  Individual instruction forces them to constantly work and develop better skills.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., and Jones, J. Evaluation of evidence- based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Technical report, Center for Technology in Learning. Retrieved from  http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf