Like Jayme-Lee shared, I also do not have experiences with open online courses. So I will focus on how my grade level affects the choices that we (my team teaching partner Lisa and I) make as educators when considering the possibilities for open course environments. It is clear that there are many benefits, as well as challenges to open online forms. For myself, the unknown is hard to imagine in a grade 4/5 classroom.
Throughout discussions and chats read in class, I found it difficult to connect with a lot of open online forms because they are unfamiliar to me. Throughout my own education, I have experienced face to face classes at the University of Regina for every one of my undergrad classes AND 5 grad classes. Due to my lack of experience, I feel a bit out of the loop after reading the chat messages and hearing about all of the widespread experiences of everyone in ECI834. There seems to be many class members who have participated in an open online course and/or discussion board.
I enjoyed reading Andres’ post about his experiences and suggestions for open communication boards. He shares a personal story and includes the benefits of this form, as well as the challenges of having it in a classroom. One challenge being that a moderator/facilitator would have to be reading the comments regularly. How would that be managed?
I often don’t even comment on open online social media sites when a topic is controversial because I’m not comfortable with the unknown of who might be out there. The few times I have commented, I end up thinking, “Why did I even bother?” The comments that some people write and feel are acceptable as well as the trolling occurring online is scary, to say the least. Do I want to put myself out there? According to one of Alec’s tweets, “How Complacent Are You?” I am complacent! Apparently, I need to step up my game!
As far as in my classroom, Lisa and I have been building a blended learning environment as we feel comfortable tackling new tools, always keeping in mind the size of our our classroom and the number of devices available. Of course, this is a challenge because we have limited access to computers and 47 students. So far, we are managing it as best as we can!
In addition to blogging, online reading sites and educational apps, we introduced Google Apps this year. It was a learning curve for sure, but I really think it has been valuable for the students. They love being in control of their own learning and race to the computer cart (figuratively, of course). They walk quietly to the computer cart and get started right away. Ha Ha!
The students are now learning how to navigate in google docs, google classroom, gmail, and google slides. Those who learn quicker or have experience, are happy to help out other classmates so they don’t fall behind. Parents have the opportunity to see their child’s progress at home (if there is a device and/or internet). Considering that nearly all grade 4’s are new to Google Apps at Dr. Hanna School they are doing very well!
I don’t really use online open forms because of my grade level but I’m always willing to have an open mind. I found an edutopia article about Online Educational Resources with numerous ideas and options for students. Something I will now have an open mind about for next year and the remainder of this school year. Here is “Why Open Education Matters.”
One change I would like to make next year at our first parent/teacher/student conference is to take a few minutes to share each child’s blog address information right away. Seeing their child’s blog and progress first hand will help to ‘bring them on board’ to online learning even more. This year, parents were sent home a note as well as, inviting them to Class Dojo. Most parents are loving class dojo because communication is so much easier. They also can see work posted directly to their child’s portfolio page, similar to Seesaw. But with blogging, I have some changes I would like to make to encourage participation by family members as well as students in the classroom. Most students really enjoy writing in their blogs and love to receive comments from their peers, family members and teachers.
I’m willing to continue learning more about open online learning opportunities. For now, I will keep building our Grade 4/5 blended learning environment and look forward to trying more and more new tools along the way.
Would you have your grade 4 or 5 students share their blogs on an open online platform?
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