My name is Lola Barney. I am not, at all, “tech savvy”, but I am passionate about teaching and learning, and I love challenges. So here I am, a new comer of the Digital Learning Community, a new virtual school teacher, and yes, a blogger.
My have taught at various learning institutions including private and public schools, adult education, and adults with disabilities. Each institution had its own unique challenges and rewards, and they all enriched my educational experiences.
As the technology trend is going the direction of faster speed, smaller size, and bigger capacity, mobile devices are the future of virtual learning. iPads and Tablets are among the most popular choices because they have all the qualities, which users are looking for.
Even though virtual learning has provided students the flexibility of time and location, it is still a concern for students who require more individualized instructions. GatherEd has launched a hybrid solution that according to BostInno, is “a virtual learning classroom for small groups of students who can not only learn in real time from a teacher or tutor, but also engage in peer learning via virtual breakout rooms.”
Since the virtual classroom is equipped with blackboard and whiteboard, teachers and tutors can use a stylus to write on an iPad or to present Powerpoint. By using Kinect, the teachers and tutors’ real-life movement appears via an avatar to simulate a traditional classroom.
I chose Adobe Connect to record my sample lesson. Since I did not have much experience using Adobe Connect, I spent some time doing homework on Adobe Connect. After a few takes, the recording process became simpler to me. Using a smaller room for recording will provide a better/clearer sound quality. Personally, I found rehearsal to be a must for a successful recording session because it helps with the flow of the lesson.
When deciding on an LMS for the organization, one should look at the budget and take the needs of the organization into consideration because these are usually the top factors for decision making.
Due to the high cost of a commercial option, many K12 educational organizations use open source systems. Some of the open source options are Moodle, Sakai, Instructure’s Canvas, OLAT, ATutor, Blackboard, and Google’s CloudCourse. Moodle and Sakai are the two top options for K12 learners in the U.S.
OLAT and Blackboard, on the other hand, are designed to handle the complexities of higher educational organizations. OLAT, for example, allows users to create e-portfolio and to upload master thesis. ATutor is designed for the visually impaired and disable learners.
There are four levels of grade reporting: Student Level, Teacher Level, Course Level, and Program Level. Student Level: Some of the components in the student level report are the number of times a student accesses a course, attempts a quiz, visited content, or used a particular tool. This data can be used to determine the effectiveness of the online course. Teacher Level: The teacher level report reflects the effectiveness of the online course based on the course grades by individual course or all sessions offered during the semester. This report also provides teachers a good analysis, which is beneficial for improving teaching strategies. Course Level: The course level report is useful for evaluating and re-designing course structures. Program Level: The program level report provides administrators the over-all result of a course, which helps the administrators to make alterations to a course.
I think Student Level and Course Level are the most valuable for the online instructor in regard to student performance because both level reports provide crucial data of students’ performance and the effectiveness of the online course.
The tools within an LMS can be divided into three categories: communication, assessment, and evaluation. Communication: Common tools found in LMS’s are Email, Notification System, Discussions, Instant Messaging, Blogs, Social Profiles, Calendar, and Alert Systems or Agents. Most of these tools can be turned on or off as needed. Email and Discussions are asynchronous, which provide the learners time to compose their thoughts before responding. Instant Messaging tools such as Google Talk, Facebook Chat, MSN Messenger, and AOL Messenger, etc. are synchronous, which provide instant feedback. Instructors can post upcoming dates/events or reminders via Calendar and Alert Systems. Assessment: Dropbox, Discussions, Quizzing/Testing, Self-Assessment/Surveys, Integrated Rubrics, Gradebook, and Learner Progress/Class Progress are some of the LMS assessment tools. Their purposes are very similar such that learners participate in activities or submit work required by the instructor for grading. Evaluation: A gradebook is used to calculate graded items throughout the course. In general, a gradebook consists of functions such as: Report Generation, Commenting/Feedback, Rubrics, Data Import, and Weight vs. Percentage. Each LMS system has a different function and capacity in regarding students’ course evaluation.
I think Email, Notification System, Discussions, Instant Messaging, Dropbox, quizzing/Testing, and gradebook are all very valuable in online classrooms, in fact, they are fundamental to e-learning. As for what is least valuable, it would depend on the courses, the instructors, and the students’ accessibility to the technologies.