Week 1 Reflection
Three considerations as I begin transitioning to teaching online:
- Stress communication with students, heavy especially at the beginning: The model set by our instructors encouraged us to respond in a timely fashion to the activities and to communicate with one another.
- Expand the syllabus to answer questions and offer guidance to students. Doing it in book form as the TTOL instructors did makes it easy to follow and find information.
- Keep a routine. I will have to be very focused as I create my course so that students don’t get confused by the way I often follow a trail into new territory.
Group work online is very different online. I liked the fact that we had a small group to work in, but that we could still communicate with other groups’ members. Having the introductions helped focus the voices. I felt really bad when I made a remark that I didn’t explain very well, and it set off a slightly negative thread, so I tried to make up for it with the other participant in other sections. I’m very impressed by my fellows in this class.
For the optional group project, I was happy that a classmate reached out to me from another group. It made me feel really good. I did not feel strong about how to manage working in a small group, though I wanted to, and the invitation was a nice way to teach me how to reach out too. It will probably be necessary to help younger students learn how to reach out too.
- Course prep is critical. Take the time to create and prepare up front.
- Best practices and tips are available; follow them.
- Limit clicks. Find ways to make navigation easy.
26 June: Second weekly reflection
This week was full of deepening appreciation for what it means to put together an online course, and of admiration for my colleagues who have been successful in this field. I love hearing what Lynn has done with guest speakers, and am very impressed with Yanlin’s PLL (so much more organized than mine!)
I can see that I’m going to eventually want some very good software for activities in lessons.
As I made the unit plan revision and the transition plan, I realized that I will have to curtail my enthusiasm for applications. I can’t expect students to be able to learn all sorts of different ones. I feel like a broken record saying this to myself. Ritu put it well when she pointed out that we want students to be spending more time learning language than learning the apps, and that we need to be able to put the time into teaching, rather than learning every new option. Still, I’d like to start with something that works very well, so I look forward to experimenting with more applications next week.
Listening to colleagues’ comments on the pace of the Russian lessons, I can also imagine that everyone is learning about the need to slow down! I am often a culprit in this area, and I continue to think of how to trick students into listening and reading many times online, and how to give them a lot of comprehensible input toward acquisition. Shannon suggested using sections in Google Forms to create that need.
Make it beautiful
The ADEIL video was very helpful in how to present reading material and websites. Again, Yanlin is my model with her beautiful website, following all the guidelines for making a text easily readable.
We have considered how to organize and effect collaboration, now that we understand more about how to connect group members. Random grouping sites might help us, and paying attention to which students comment on others’ responses will also give us ideas in the OL environment. Organizing group work is not simple in face-to-face classes, and we need to help define roles and set out directions for collaboration even more carefully online.
While it may have been somewhat troublesome to organize and participate in the Friday meetings, it’s remarkable how much direct connection adds to the course experience. We are already better in many ways with the pictures than other classes, but having a meeting binds us even more.
I look forward to continuing meeting participants by phone and online. Marlene gave me the information for this class at ACTFL last year, and Shannon was part of a panel I attended at AATSEEL in February. I saw Drew, Ritu, and Lynn in our group meeting Friday. Selman and I were able to connect by phone after the 3:00 meeting as he drove home with his daughter from an appointment, and Lynn and I will meet in Tennessee next month. I wish I’d be in Anchorage this week for Yanlin, and I’m going to keep a little checklist to try to meet everyone else.
2 July: Third weekly reflection
You know how you go on a vacation and think, “I won’t write a journal. The pictures will remind me of what we did,” and then you find that your youngest took a hundred selfies, and the rest of the pictures are vaguely familiar, but you can’t remember what was happening?
That’s the way I feel about our third week. We had a great time creating activities with our new toys: Zaption, Google forms, Screencastomatic, Kahoot, Quizlet, CLEAR RIA, Padlet, Classtools, Cram, Byki, and still others. Who knew that Zaption would be so much fun? And how heartbreaking when we all got the news it wouldn’t be any more. And how silly can teachers get when given assignments to chat online? Answer: very silly, and endearing.
But so much information went by, and it takes so much time to create and tweak and post and respond to others and tweak again because someone made a great comment! And then it takes even longer to do things because everyone is sharing and supporting, and you get inspired to do even more, and then everyone else is pushing you forward – well, it’s the way the end of the semester always is: fast and frantic, even though this is not a semester ending.
This week, we noticed changes. Everyone seems to have made great leaps in their ability to use technology in the ways that we have been directed, everyone is much more positive about areas that they doubted in the beginning, and we can see that in an online class, we can have strong, real connections between instructors and students, as well as between students and students. I expect these connections to go far beyond the basic links that we’ve formed.
I’m coming out with clear ideas of what a good online course looks like and a certain amount of confidence that I have the resources to be able to build one. I hope to be a resource myself for administrators who question how to make online teaching be effective. (Here’s hoping they ask!) I think we who participated in this course have a good chance of being able to adapt as our world changes. We may not have the solid footing we’ve known ever again, but we know how to move our feet to keep up as the sand shifts.