Tag Archives: online learning

Second Day of School

I teach a technology course for school leaders seeking a master’s degree. Most will become school or division leaders such as principals or curriculum specialists. Normally, the course is fully face to face during the fall semester.

This year, I am implementing a blended, mostly online approach, with weekly synchronous meetings.  We will have three face to face meetings. Last week, we met on campus to get to know each other and make sure everyone was comfortable with the tools we were going to be using to do our work during the semester. More on those tools in another post.

Tonight was our first online meeting using Zoom as our interface. There are 7 students in the class, which seems like a good number for an online meeting, particularly because I wanted to use video and audio. It was good to see their faces, and I think it facilitated conversation. My face to face class is very interactive. My students have a variety of professional experiences related to educational technology that can inform their understanding and provide diverse perspectives to their classmates. We talk a lot about how our work connects with standards and research and practice.

And, we did that tonight. We spent time making sure everyone was comfortable with the Zoom room. We used the text chat and then video discussion to explore the topic of technology transformation. My one technology glitch was that they couldn’t hear the audio on a video. I’ll explore that more this week as I do want us to have some communal viewings.

At the end, I asked what they thought, as many of them hadn’t had an online course or even used Zoom. I got positive feedback and am excited about exploring the possibilities. There are some drawbacks that I will explore in another post.

For now, I am a happy teacher: I had an engaging few hours with some thoughtful, smart educators that allowed me to be closer to my base while they could go home and relax a bit before we connected.

I did do one thing to make sure we would be successful: I am renting office space in the small town next to my farm. The internet at my house is problematic: our potential cable provider has refused to provide us with broadband so we are stuck with DSL, and it is notoriously unreliable. I didn’t want to take any chances with losing connectivity during class. It was the right decision.

I had honestly forgotten what good internet was like…I’ve already messaged the landlord about creating a co-working space. I don’t need daily access but knowing I had a place to go for important meetings and large file uploads would be reassuring.

Teaching, teaching, teaching

I am teaching three courses this semester. Two are face to face and one is online. I’ve taught the undergraduate face to face course for more than five years. It’s the typical “tech” class that pre-service teachers have always had to take. When I took it some 22 years ago, I learned about using film projectors and got a brief introduction to computers through one class period devoted to logo. Even then, I was hooked, and my final project was created on my Tandy 1000 using a free database program to develop a gradebook.

Fast forward nearly a quarter of a century (how DID I get this old??), and the course covers everything from Inspiration to Google Earth to Quest Atlantis. In more recent semesters, I’ve designed the course around the concept of TPACK–Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge–to help students see the relationship of technology to the other areas of their learning. I like the course and enjoy spending time with 20-somethings who are excited about becoming teachers. I haven’t met with this year’s group yet. Monday is our first class. The section I teach focuses on elementary education and this semester I have several men in the course, which is unusual.

The two other courses–both graduate and both focusing on educational technology–are new to me. One is online and one is face to face. I developed the syllabus for the latter. The former has already been developed and I am working as a facilitator. But, the real difference I’ve discovered is how quickly I can bond with the students. I met with my face to face class last night, and I already love it. I knew some of the participants prior to the class so we settled in pretty well. And for the few I didn’t know, I already feel like I have a sense of how we will work together.

Even though the online course started a day earlier, I still don’t have much of a sense of the students. A few of them have posted to the discussion forums, but none have posted their pictures yet nor completed the audio assignment. So, I have no idea what they look or sound like! I’ve got names and email addresses and that’s it. I’ve been checking in several times a day to see what’s happening and am disappointed when there are no new posts for me to review. It is going to be a slow process and I am eager for Monday morning to come so I’ll at least know what they look like, well that is if they actually post pictures of themselves. The course creator gave them the option of posting any picture and I thought about changing that but didn’t want to immediately go in and start rearranging. So, I’m hoping most of them choose to post their own pictures rather than Marge Simpson or a sports team logo. That tells me something about them, certainly, but doesn’t help me really visualize them.

It promises to be an interesting semester! My face to face grad course participants will be keeping blogs and I’ll be posting more here as well to keep up with them.