Behind the Whiteboards: Online Teacher Experience (Week 3)

I had to know.

You know?

I really had to know what K-12 online teachers’ experiences were after reading Scott Warnock’s chapters 5 and 6. After reading about organizing material for college distance learners, I needed to know what online teachers had to say about their experiences in K-12 virtual schools. Two articles shed light on the K-12 online teaching experience. Both articles stress that online is not easier, but requires more involvement in writing and communication through emails, discussion boards, whiteboards, and gradebooks.

Virtual Schoolteacher by Karen Faucett in
Educationnext

The narrative article – written by Florida seventh and eighth grade virtual teacher, Karen Faucett – shows even in a math class, students and teachers have to do writing. Faucett mentions she takes time in the morning to write in her gradebook (para. 3). The gradebook writing produces instant communication for parents and students about their progress in the class. Faucett states that she thinks about writing positive feedback first, and then productive feedback (para. 3).

The online gradebook is an essential tool for online K-12 learning, and not one I had thought about until reading Faucett’s article. The gradebook is another tool the teachers use to communicate students’ progress. The gradebook may show a student’s written progress over time. Academically, it provides a record for the student, and the comments are tailored for what the students have accomplished.

Since the article was written in 2011, a few parts of online learning have changed, including the program Elluminate. During the same year, Elluminate changed names when Blackboard bought it. Other audiovisual and whiteboard combination tools are also provided by a virtual school’s CMS or through apps like Google’s Movenote.

Fauccet discusses how she uses the whiteboard tool to show students the steps in a problem using what was Elluminate (para. 6). How is it important for an English and writing teacher? A program combining audiovisual and a whiteboard can help students with grammar lessons. If a student struggles, then the teacher can model it for him or her, and the student can respond verbally or through writing.

What DOES an online teacher do? By Rob Darrow

I wanted to include perspectives from two different articles because I disliked the fact that Fauccet said that she communicates with some students weekly and others monthly (para. 6). To me as a teacher, that is not enough communication with a K-12 student. Some students may work great independently, but I think that weekly communication is essential to keep up the (professional) personalization between teacher and student.

Rob Darrow’s blog “What DOES an online teacher do?” focuses on 2011 Online Teacher of the Year, Kristin Kipp. She is a high school English teacher, and she uses synchronous sessions with her students (Darrow para. 2). Kipp writes about her experiences, but what is fascinating is how she presents the perspective of her students. To me, her way of using audiovisual and whiteboards more often make online learning more personal for the students.


Courtesy of Pearson Foundation and Rob Darrow

Kipp mentions that discussion boards allow students more than 45 minutes to respond to a question. Students who are shy may take the time to respond. According to the video above, Kipp says students can think more deeply about what they want to say. This is important because I have been in a classroom where the same six students will answer a question, and other students, who are always quiet, remain quiet. What if those same students are given a chance to thoughtfully respond in an online environment?

For example, a high school student who has Asperger’s Syndrome sees the answers in his head. He may communicate the answers very fast, and spin off on what interests him about the subject. If he is in an online environment, such as responding to a discussion board, he has the chance to think about the question, and answer what it asks through a thoughtfully written response.

In the video, Kipp says that the online structure allows her to differentiate instruction because students are working at different levels in the course. There is not an expectation for all students to read or write the same assignment at the same time.

What I like most about Kipp’s video is how she maintains an online presence through her written responses in email and gradebooks, and also through her video teaching.

 

By Becca Bridges

Bibliography

Darrow, Rob. “What DOES an Online Teacher Do?” California Dreamin’ Blog (2012): WordPress. Web. 23 June 2014.

Fauccet, Karen. Educationnext 11.3 (2011): Educationnext. Web. 22 June 2014.

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1 Comment

  1. I agree with your point about how shy students, or just students who need time to process, can take that time in an online environment. Like you, I have dominant students who will monopolize class discussions, and while there are strategies to prevent this, it would be easier to assess a student’s individual understanding of a topic through an online response. Homework assignments, essays, and projects work in the same way, but online discussions provide more flexibility and interaction.

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