Keep it Simple: Take Your Classroom to the Internet (Week 2)


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In my philosophy of education class, the question comes up: Can the profession of teaching have the same prestige as lawyers or doctors?

One aspect professional teachers will require is training with new technologies.

The approach author Scott Warnock takes in Teaching Writing Online chapters two through four reflects a professional, yet keep it simple approach. Teachers need not leave their teaching styles in the physical classroom. As Warnock states in the first chapter, teachers need to think of migrating their instruction online instead of being nervous about losing a part of their teaching.

To make the transition easier for teachers in an online environment, Warnock explains the difference between a hybrid course—taught partially online and then in the traditional classroom—and a 100 percent online course. I believe the hybrid course is a practical example of Warnock’s use of the migration from the traditional classroom to the online environment because the teacher and students are dipping their toes in the water. They are not completely losing comfort level. Teachers are not overly worried about all the technology tools or how to organize their content online through a school’s CMS.

As a student in undergraduate and graduate courses, I’ve experienced hybrid courses that were asynchronous and synchronous. In an undergraduate course, a small group from the class met with the professor in a chat via Blackboard to discuss course material. In the asynchronous environment, professors let me work on assignments during my time. This may also benefit the professor because he or she may experiment with new technology tools. He or she may want to introduce the Web 2.0 tool during the next traditional class.

Keep it simple. Warnock makes it clear in chapters two through four that teachers need not be an expert with all tools. They should familiarize themselves with their school’s CMS (content management system) and think about how they might transfer their teaching style and content online. One of the useful tools Warnock shows is the chart in chapter three. Teachers evaluate exactly what technology tool they can use for a particular pedagogical need, such as discussion, its availability, and if the teacher requires training. This gives teachers a way to self-evaluate what they know and don’t know.

For example, a teacher may plan the section about Chaucer. The teacher wants to have a discussion at some point during this section, so the teacher analyzes possible tools in the content system available to him or her. It maybe as simple as a listserv or email. The teacher may pose a question or even select a student leader to pose a question to begin the discussion.

One of the tools—discussed in chapters three and four—that I would like to further explore is whiteboard space online. I am familiar with some of the basics, but I think it is a great idea to experiment with it, especially if it is a place where teachers can collaborate with students. It can become a space, which is student-centered, and gives the teacher plenty of opportunities to provide individual help or instruction. For example, students could host a workshop editing their first drafts. Students could also work with the teacher during this time.