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.

Monday, November 19, 2012

6.3 Reflection: Technology and Assessment

This module has explored the use of technology tools for both formative and summative assessment. As you think about how you will implement formative and summative assessments in the online and blended environments, what are some of the factors you need to consider?

For an assessment to really be formative, the process has to go beyond being an interim checkpoint between summative tests. A formative assessment should be diagnostic and actually tell us something about what the student does and does not know. It needs to inform subsequent instruction and give feedback to students as to whether they are on track or need additional practice or alternative resources to further their learning. It’s important to keep in mind the “Student uses feedback to learn” in Tuttle’s Stages for Formative Assessment.

Technology provides both benefits and challenges for assessment, especially in online and blended learning environments.


  • Technology can provide automatic scoring and immediate results, including diagnostics. 
  • Several of the Web 2.0 assessment tools can be set to allow students to practice or do tutorials and then retake the assessment. 
  • Students can take the assessment asynchronously and at times that are convenient to their schedules. 

Challenges and factors to consider:
  • Ensuring that the online tools are fully accessible to all students. 
  • Providing feedback that is respectful and sensitive to students’ needs. Online/blended learning teachers should take care in how and when students are given feedback. Responses should be timely and teachers should be careful in their wording and tone. 
  • Checking that question items actually test what teachers want students to know and be able to do. This is especially important when using pre-prepared quizzes and tools and quizzes created by other teachers. Not all of the quizzes that come up in a search of a particular Web 2.0 tool are high quality and some may have questions that are not applicable. 
  • Instituting policies, systems, and tools to help curb cheating or inappropriate collaboration. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

LEC 4.3 Reflection: Social & Professional Networks

Think about how the Internet has impacted your own personal learning, communication, and sense of community.
  • When does the Internet help your learning? When does it distract from good learning for you? 
The Internet has had a tremendous impact on my own personal learning. Over the past several years, I find that I frequently turn to the Internet for information and resources, not only from online searches, but also from colleagues, classmates, and friends. I have taken online courses, I participate in professional learning networks, I frequent informational forums, and I use social networks.

Just last year, I completed a graduate certificate in Administration and Supervision through a program that is a collaboration between Johns Hopkins University and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The program was conducted almost entirely online and members of my cohort were from all over the United States. The program required participants to communicate and collaborate frequently, and through the progression of courses we developed a PLN using the course LMS and other Web 2.0 tools. This experience pushed me to investigate more online communities and resources to expand my PLNs.

I also use social networks to connect (or re-connect) and communicate with friends and family. This has been important and helpful to me since I had moved 2000 miles away from most of my family and long-term friends. I do use Facebook regularly and I also use video-conferencing tools such as Skype and Facetime to communicate with family and friends.

I also found that with the proliferation of social and professional networks and online interfaces, I have had to become selective - there are so many online communities and tools that I cannot possibly have time to keep up with all of them, much less actively participate and contribute. It can take up too much time and can distract me from other responsibilities. Another issue is that although I do find gems of information posted in some communities and it is nice to see what is new with friends and family, there are also a lot of posts that are trivial or gratuitous, annoying, or irrelevant to my needs. I subscribe to the philosophy that "just because you can, does not mean that you should."

Here are screenshots of Facebook, the JHU Electronic Learning Community, Google +, and Blogger.
JHU - Electronic Learning Community

Google +

  • How might your answers to these questions be similar to or different from the answers your students might give?
  • How might you support your students in using the Internet as their own personal learning space?

For many of our students social media is an integral part of their lives and they use it on a daily basis. The downside to this and the challenge for teachers is that it is too easy for our students to get so caught up in and distracted by their virtual worlds and relationships that they neglect their other responsibilities. Students need guidance in managing their time and allocating time for both social networks and learning environments and tools. Teachers can help provide models and resources for students to build learning communities and can give students the structures and norms for effective online communication and collaboration.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

3.3 Reflection: Using Web 2.0 Tools

Reflect upon what an activity in your classroom might look like using one or more Web 2.0 tools. Think about:
  • what the experience looks like for students. 
  • types of outcomes students might have. 
  • how the outcome is tied to curriculum objectives. 
  • what Web 2.0 tools are aligned to the outcomes and lead to higher order thinking skills. 
  • kinds of directions or guidelines you will provide in order to ensure success. 
Briefly describes the activity you would create and how you might minimize possible challenges students and the teacher might have to address. Make sure that your activity is aligned to a learning objective and uses verbs from the top three levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.

To Drill or Not to Drill-
Cross-curricular project: ELA, Social Studies (current events), Science, and NETS

Energy consumption, energy independence, and the impact of fossil fuel production and use on the environment and on the economy are important issues in the news. They have also been topics in the campaigns of each candidate in the 2012 presidential election.

The CA Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas states
All forms of electricity generation and transportation fuels have associated economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits, both short and long term. Technological advances and regulatory decisions can change the balance of those costs and benefits.
Students will investigate the issue of expanding the drilling for oil in the United States and North America, specifically on the US east and west coasts and in the Arctic. They will collect and analyze information from multiple sources and then evaluate and weigh the pros and cons/costs and benefits of expanded drilling. They will also evaluate each presidential candidate’s stated position and proposed plan.

Overarching Goals:
Students will conduct research on a topic, analyze the arguments of others, assess and evaluate the credibility and accuracy of sources and develop the ability to make oral and written arguments.

Essential Questions:
  • How might expanded drilling for oil affect our economy? (gas prices and heating costs, jobs in various industries) 
  • How might it affect the environment?
  • How does drilling in a particular area (i.e., near-shore off of a coast, or deep-water) impact that local area? Think about and investigate the impact on local businesses, jobs, tourism, environment, health, and safety.
  • How might it affect other energy industries?
  • What are the short-term impacts and the long-term impacts?
  • What is the position of each presidential candidate? What is each candidate’s plan? Are each candidate’s statements factual?
ELA Standards for 7th or 8th grade:
RL.7.1; RI.7.1,8; W.7.1, 9; SL.7.1, 4; L.7.1-6
RL.8.1; RI.8.1,8; W.8.1, 9; SL.8.1; L8.1-6

Students will collaborate in teams to conduct their research, analyze information and evaluate credibility and accuracy of sources
Content and resources (links, documents, multimedia) for students can be housed in an online interface/tool such as Edmodo or other CMS or in Google Sites.
Students will use Google Docs for written collaboration (synchronous and asynchronous) and Chat, Skype, or Facetime for real-time communication and interaction

Student teams will create two products:
A voicethread presenting their evidence, analysis, and conclusions. Members of each team will review the Voicethreads and add their comments. Teams will take the comments into account and make revisions or additions as needed.

A final presentation using a Web 2.0 tool – Students can select Animoto for video, Prezi, Voicethread or another tool. These products can then be embedded in a Google Site or wiki.

Facilitating Success and Mitigating Challenges:
It would be important to provide students with some organizational structures and time management tools including graphic organizers/flow charts, checklists, and reminders.

Aside from possible technical issues, the challenges would be to keep students engaged, organized and on task, and working effectively within their teams and as individuals. I would incorporate links and embed multimedia such as video clips and I would do frequent progress monitoring.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

LEC- 2.2 Reflection: Methodologies of the Online Instructor

1. Reflecting on the information covered in this module so far, how might your instructional methodologies need to change in an online or blended learning environment?

2. What skills and strategies might you improve or expand upon in order to best support student learning in a blended or online environment?

I believe the areas in which methodologies, resources, and strategies need to be modified the most when going from a face-to-face environment to an online environment are 1) planning, 2) resource selection and mode of delivery, 3) communication, and 4) monitoring student progress.

In both f2f and online teaching, the planning and development of lesson objectives, content and materials are (or should be) planned and developed ahead of time. In a f2f class, experienced teachers often make daily adjustments to pacing, materials, modes of delivery, and grouping based upon how students are doing. It may be easier to note when students are struggling, disengaged, or conversely have already mastered the material and are ready to move on. Adjustments in content or delivery can be made on a continual or an on-the fly basis.  Although adaptive software that continually assesses and monitors student progress and then delivers individualized content has become more prevalent in blended learning (especially in intervention or credit recovery programs), it is not as common in fully online classes. In a wholly online environment, content is generally a little more structured and is developed and posted ahead of time. It can be more difficult to know when a student is "not getting it" since most of the work may be done asynchronously and teachers can't see facial expressions or read body language (unless video conferencing). Teachers must use frequent checks for understanding and should incorporate self-checks for students to help them monitor their own learning. Online teachers should provide supplemental resources for differentiation and to address different modalities and they can make themselves accessible to help students through discussion boards, email, chat and conferencing tools like Skype and Adobe Connect.

Making adjustments in the methods and modes of communication can be very important to support student learning, facilitate engagement, and monitor progress. Since synchronous verbal discourse is minimal or non-existent in fully online learning (except for the occasional video conference),students cannot get nuances of meaning through facial expressions, tone of voice, inflections, or gestures. Much of the communication will be in written format and can be supplemented with audio recordings and short videos. Teachers have to adjust to this and choose their written or recorded wording carefully to convey both meaning and tone. Students may also need to be taught how to communicate effectively and respectfully in an online format.

Multimedia and Web 2.0 tools should be utilized to stimulate engagement and increase communication. I am fortunate to have used a variety of these tools when I was in the John Hopkins-ISTE online Admin program. The area that I will need to work on the most will be to effectively design learning activities and incorporate these tools into engaging coursework for students.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Leading Edge Certification - Online and Blended Teaching Course - Module 1

Leading Edge Certification- Online and Blended Teaching Course

1st Reflection- Prompt:
Considering the online learning self-assessment you took this week, and thinking about your reasons for taking this course, what is your highest priority learning goal for this course? What are some specific skills, strategies or tools you are hoping to learn more about?

Online and Blended Learning models and offerings have proliferated exponentially over the past several years. The types of coursework (from mini tutorials to individualized learning plans, to virtual schools and entire degree programs) content, methods of delivery, audience, sheer number of offerings, and in fact, the very definitions of online and blended learning have been growing and evolving.

That is not to say that all online or blended learning content and design is of the highest quality or that all instructors or facilitators are proficient or well-suited to teaching or guiding learners in this environment and interface. I personally have taken courses, workshops, and online programs that varied widely in quality of content and in the degree of interactivity both between the learner and the coursework materials or online tools and between learners and the teacher/facilitator.

My highest priorities in taking this course are to

1) more thoroughly understand what goes into developing online and blended learning opportunities (coursework and models) that are engaging, interactive, rigorous, and effective;

2) recognize and hone strategies for effectively teaching in online and blended learning environments. What methodologies, media, and learning activities and are key to engaging students and increasing their acquisition of content and skills? How can UDL, differentiation, and assessment be incorporated and managed?

3) be able to implement and manage online and blended learning both as a teacher/facilitator and as an instructional technology specialist at the program/initiative level.

In addition, I need to keep abreast of current research on the different models for online and blended or hybrid learning and the efficacy of various tools and programs such as assessment and data systems, adaptive software, and online tools and resources.

Although I have a background in educational technology and have used a variety of Web 2.0 tools, it is difficult to keep up with all of the changes and new products and services. There are so many new online tools that pop up on almost a daily basis and old ones that cease to exist or change into more expensive subscription services. I would like to investigate more of the free and inexpensive Web 2.0 tools and compile a list of ones that are stable entities, particularly useful in K-12 online/blended learning, and work well within an LMS or CMS like Haiku, Moodle, etc.