Sunday, December 9, 2012

LEC 8.1 Reflection: iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Teaching

Reflection on the (iNACOL) National Standards for Quality Online Teaching (PDF), and my readiness for quality online teaching. 

  1. How have you changed as a learner and an instructor through this process?
  2. What is your action plan for implementing changes in your teaching practice as a result of new learning?
  3. How do you plan to continue your learning about online teaching?
At the beginning of the Leading Edge Certification Online and Blended Teaching program, I had considerable experience as an online student having taken several  individual courses and workshops and having completed a rigorous online Administration and Supervision certification program through Johns Hopkins University and ISTE. I believed that I knew what it took to be a successful online learner, I was familiar with using a variety of digital and Web 2.0 tools and resources, and I felt that I knew the difference between online courses that were engaging and those that were not (having experienced both). Although my experiences contributed a significant amount of knowledge and skills that were transferable and applicable to online/blended teaching, I found throughout the LEC course that there were areas in which I had gaps in knowledge or had over-estimated my previous level of proficiency. I believe I have experienced professional growth in all of the standards and that the LEC program has given me insight into what makes for quality online/blended teaching and quality online content. Looking through the dual lenses and perspectives of both an online learner and an online teacher/facilitator/coach has proved very valuable.

I plan to use a combination of the Personal Learning Plan developed for Module 7 and the assessment of my strengths and areas for growth (below) as an action plan for continuing my professional learning about online/blended teaching. Part of the implementation of that plan includes membership and participation in professional organizations, attendance at conferences and in virtual meetings and webinars, ongoing research into best practices, and evaluating and amassing professional and instructional resources. I will also need to continue to stay abreast of changes and updates in the online/blended learning knowledge base and technologies (LMS, data analysis, adaptive software, and Web 2.0 tools).

Strengths and Areas for Growth relative to the iNACOL standards: 

Standard A- 
The online teacher knows the primary concepts and structures of effective online instruction and is able to create learning experiences to enable student success. 

I have learned quite a bit about the continuum and categorization of online and blended learning as well as the selection or creation of resources and strategies for effective online instruction and can rate myself a 3 to 3.5 in most of the criteria. However, since this is an expanding field with continual changes and a growing body of research in best practices and what is and is not working, I expect to need to continually update my knowledge and skills.

Standard B
The online teacher understands and is able to use a range of technologies, both existing and emerging, that effectively support student learning and engagement in the online environment.

Since I have been an instructional technologist for the past several years, being able to "use communication technologies in a variety of mediums and contexts for teaching and learning" is definitely one of my strengths, as is applying troubleshooting skills. Therefore, I can rate myself a 4 in most of the criteria in Standard B. Areas in which I want to increase my knowledge and skills are exploring new tools (especially the expanding number of Web 2.0 tools) and incorporating subject-specific and developmentally appropriate technologies.

Standard C
The online teacher plans, designs, and incorporates strategies to encourage active learning, application, interaction, participation, and collaboration in the online environment.

For several years, I have been mentoring other teachers in incorporating interactive technologies and strategies for increasing student engagement in face-to-face teaching and learning environments. I have begun transferring or modifying tools, resources, and strategies into online and blended environments and need to continue to do so.  

Standard D
The online teacher promotes student success through clear expectations, prompt responses, and regular feedback.

These competencies are essential whether teaching in a traditional face-to-face environment or in  online/blended learning. Over the course of my years of classroom teaching, I developed good systems and procedures for establishing clear expectations, organizing and delivering content, and conducting ongoing assessment and feedback. In transitioning to online/blended teaching, I will need to work on developing strategies for quickly and effectively identifying students' problems (since it may not be as apparent as in F2F interaction) and providing differentiated resources and intervention.

Standard E
The online teacher models, guides, and encourages legal, ethical, and safe behavior related to technology use.

Although I strive to model ethical and safe behavior and have helped to develop curriculum and professional development resources on Cyber Safety and Cyber Citizenship, this is an area that is constantly evolving.
I will need to stay up-do-date on changes in school law as it relates to the online environment, especially since this is a complex area and continually changing as cases move through the courts and new rulings are made and precedents are set. Technology has made copyright issues even more complex, and unfortunately educators have often been some of the biggest violators. I will have to increase my understanding of the finer points of both copyright and academic dishonesty so that I am able to institute appropriate policies and provide resources for my online/blended students.

Standard F
The online teacher is cognizant of the diversity of student academic needs and incorporates accommodations into the online environment.

This is an area in which I had overestimated my prior level of knowledge and proficiency. Before working through the LEC module 5, I believed that I had done a pretty good job of differentiating materials, addressing learning styles, and providing accessible resources. What I learned is that I had been missing important concepts and had not implemented key strategies to make my instructional materials and learning resources accessible to all students. I feel that I learned a great deal in this area and will continue to work at revising my existing materials as well as building in accessibility into new resources.

Standard G
The online teacher demonstrates competencies in creating and implementing assessments in online learning environments in ways that ensure validity and reliability of the instruments and procedures.


Standard H
The online teacher develops and delivers assessments, projects, and assignments that meet standards-based learning goals and assesses learning progress by measuring student achievement of the learning goals.

The transition to the Common Core State Standards makes it even more important to develop and implement more authentic and valid assessment instruments. Our students, whether in F2F, online, or blended learning environments, will be taking online assessments that require more than selecting a multiple choice option and filling in a bubble. Although I have a good understanding of both formative and summative assessment, I do need more practice developing online assessments that really get at higher order thinking and that use scoring criteria that are conducive to inter-rater reliability (can be easily calibrated and result in consistent scores from multiple raters). 

Standard I
The online teacher demonstrates competency in using data from assessments and other data sources to modify content and to guide student learning.

In most districts, teachers and administrators have been given training on analyzing assessment data and on cycle of inquiry and RTI- using assessment data to continually adjust instruction. I have two areas in which I would like to increase my capabilities. I would like to become more familiar with the various online assessment and content providers that use adaptive assessments and feedback of student learning to evaluate where students are and then provide instructional resources to meet them at their level. I would also like to increase my ability to find and implement alternative resources for differentiation (intervention and enrichment). 

Standard J
The online teacher interacts in a professional, effective manner with colleagues, parents, and other members of the community to support students’ success.

I rated myself as a 3.5 to a 4 in this area. I believe that communication and collaboration within the school community (between teachers and students, home to school, and between colleagues) and with other educators and experts in the larger community is essential. Technology can support and enhance communication, interaction, and engagement by allowing anytime/anywhere access and asynchronous connections.

Instructional Design
The following section outlines standards for instructional design skills for the online teacher of record, where applicable. These standards are considered optional, as instructional design does not always fall under online teaching responsibilities.

Standard K
The online teacher arranges media and content to help students and teachers transfer knowledge most effectively in the online environment.

I have done some instructional design and curriculum development work, and in a previous position I evaluated instructional materials for posting on a state curriculum web site, so I believe I have a pretty good grasp of creating and arranging content and media. I would like to get some training on developing and managing content within commonly used LMS tools like Moodle and Haiku.