Wednesday, December 01, 2010

When we say “Online Class” – What does that mean to you?

Eight Floor Moodle Site
There are so many possibilities for the structure and format of a class, both online and face-to-face. When it comes to the Eighth Floor, you pretty much know that when you come to a class, you will likely sit at a computer and participate in active learning. Some of our classes are closer to a lecture/workshop format, but most are hands on a computer. But what about an online class? Besides knowing you are going to use your own computer, what do you think you are going to do in a class that meets online?

Although we have been offering the Online Learning Series for several years (a class that teaches teachers to teach online), we have just begun offering some new regular Eighth Floor classes online, such as Grant Writing 2, Crash Course in Copyright, Cyberbullying, Strategies and Tools for Delivering Online Content, and a new one for spring, Building Learning Communities. We are finding that each person comes with his or her own expectations and that is probably because no one knows exactly what to expect. Fair enough. Online learning is still in its “pre-teen-hood,” so there is room for variety, change, and growth still to come. Many of our consortium members have not taken an online class before, and some who have did not take very good ones. That means many people are not familiar with this kind learning environment. Again, fair enough. Let’s talk about it.

We like to think we have the whole teaching/learning online thing down. The reality is we learn something new with every attempt to teach an online class – just like we did when we were new to the F2F classroom.

We have decided on a general format for our Eighth Floor online classes.

  • Most online classes earn 12 hours of professional development. We design our classes to be about a week and a half long since we figure most people can find about an hour a day to participate in the class (this would be equal to attending a six – ten hour F2F class).
  • We want participants to be active participants in their own learning – it’s best that way!  
  • Classes are meant to be interactive – NOT self-paced. That means you will be involved in class discussions and projects.
  • We try to provide a variety of information. This gives participants the opportunity to explore the topic further or drill deeper depending on their interests.
  • We try to keep content delivery simple and concise.
  • To earn a certificate of completion, participants need only participate with interest in all discussions or activities for that class – you can usually count on a new topic every couple of days.
  • We try to make sure participants have 2-3 days to complete each discussion or activity.
For some people, this sounds like a big time commitment – really, it’s not! Do the math. What it is is an opportunity to learn at your own speed but at the same time as others so that there is an exchange of information and resources. This allows for a real learning community!

Moodle Meets the Eighth Floor!

We are using our own Moodle site now for our learning management system. . Having our own Moodle site means we can share! If you are interested in testing or holding a class or course component for your students in our Eighth Floor Sandbox, let me know.

Just Sharin'
Lee Anne

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