Sunday, January 30, 2011

Online Learning in K-12 Education

21st century learning has moved far beyond the chalkboard and text book. Many educators believe that online learning is not a true form of education. Teachers at my school have voiced their concerns about the future of online learning. Many believe that it is expensive, too different from 20th Century learning, time consuming and students are not motivated to do the work if indeed they are doing the work themselves.
When answering my colleagues fears I have pointed out that higher education has been successfully using online learning for many years. In public education expense is a big issue. With free learning management systems (LMS) such as moodle and ecampus there is no cost to the school, teacher or student. We live in the 21st century and as aeducators we need use the tools that are available to us and our students. We need to prepare students for a very technology filled world. With the aid of LMS teachers can prepare a years course of study easily and then students can pace themselves accordingly. My biggest argument for online learning is the following testimonial from a student that left high school after her sophomore year to finish her education online.
“I chose online schooling because it's free and I can graduate a year early. They work with you more one on one than public schools do. If I have a problem, I just email or call them and they can into this live thing that's like a smart board. It's awesome. I do feel like I'm learning. … I work at my own pace and I can keep doing something if I don't understand it. It has been a good experience. I like it a lot … There's no drama and way more learning. :)”
“As educators, if we want to create a dynamic learning environment to serve future students, we must listen to what students are saying about what excites and motivates them. We must start by changing our approach to how we deliver education and instruction. We must nurture students and give them opportunities to explore, learn, and create” ( Young, Birtolo & McElman, 2009, p.17).

Cavanaugh, C., & Clark, T. (2007). The Landscape of K-12 Online Learning. In P. Adamson, B. Adamson, & N. Clausen-Grace, et al (Eds.), What Works in K-12 Online Learning (Chapter 1, pp. 5-19).

Pugliese, Louis C., 190 West Ostend Street ,Baltimore, MD 21230 retrieved January 27, 2011 from

Young, J., Birtolo, P., & McElman, R. (2009). Virtual success: Transforming education through online learning. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(5), 12–17. Retrieved from the Education Research Complete database.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Course Reflection

As the eight weeks draw to an end, I am happy with all I have learned and accomplished in this class. I enjoyed the collaborative network that we created to share resources through out this course. We worked well together and the ideas that my colleagues provided were very helpful. I have visited and saved many of the links that were posted and have used them in my learning and teaching. Many ideas and words of encouragement were shared that have helped me understand how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Differentiated Instruction (DI) complement each other.

In week three I first began to understand Universal Design for Learning. Maggie McLaughlin (Laureate, 2009) discussed the responsibility of educators to raise the achievement levels of all students from the very beginning of the year. I learned that it is beneficial to be proactive in designing an educational plan that engages and reaches all students not just the disabled. The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) UDL guide lines gave me an understanding of how providing multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement improves a teacher’s ability to reach the diverse recognition, strategic, and affective networks of learners (CAST, 2009).

Differentiated Instruction provides specific strategies for customizing teaching and assessments based on students’ readiness, interests, and learning profiles. Many of the strategies suggested in this course I have been using for years. What I have learned through this class is how technology helps me be more flexible with my assessments and making it more affective.

This class has given me hundreds of ideas. I have spent many hours researching and investigating sites and tools that I can incorporate into the classroom. At times I have been overwhelmed but I am taking the advice of many and letting my inhibitions with technology go. I invested in a smart phone. These last few weeks I have installed over fifty new applications. Students have been the biggest contributors to easing my anxieties. Technology is a tool that I should not be intimidated by but something that I see as necessary in the 21st century classroom. Technology enables teachers to increase learning and achievement for all students.