ONLINE COURSE – This course is created in Schoology which is the Learning Management System used in my school context. Let me show you the course roadmap so that you get familiarized with the learning environment.
Once you open the course you will see a START HERE folder. The first document you will see is the goals of the course. This is the WHY I created this course and what participants will be able to achieve when they complete each module.
The next section has a short description of the instructor. For accessibility purposes, I included a video in addition to the written description.
The next section has the syllabus. This is a very important document because it has the full course description, what the participants will achieve – or learning outcomes, the materials that will be used (which are included in each module).
This is a self-paced online course with synchronous zoom meetings held at the end of each module so that participants can reflect upon the content being targeted and problem-solve some of the stumbling blocks teachers encounter along the way.
Some other sections that I include in the syllabus are:
- How participants can communicate with me and other participants. For example, they can send me an email and I will respond to them in less than 24 hours. Participants will also have the opportunity to use the discussion boards created in the course to communicate with other teachers. I will also share different apps that participants can use to collaborate in a closed environment with others – for example GroupMe or Slack. An additional way for the participants to communicate with me and others is through the Zoom meetings held in each module.
- Technology requirements: Teachers will need a computer and access to schoology.
- Technical support: If participants need technical assistance they can reach out to the HelpDesk at school. They can solve problems with access to schoology, uploading / downloading documents. If participants need support with the content, they can reach out to me or any other team member via email, or any other collaboration app they may be using.
- How discussion boards will be held and the expectations for each assignment. Participants are expected to respond to other participants’ comments so that the discussion stays alive.
- Most of the content will be delivered online. 80% will be done asynchronously and 20% synchronously.
- The course schedule is included in a PDF file which has links to all resources being used throughout the course.
The content involves small, focused segments of learning that are designed for the participants to meet a specific learning outcome. In other words, the learning is chunked so that the cognitive load keeps the participants engaged in learning, giving them time to absorb, recall and implement what they have learned.
The learning theory that is behind this course is the Online Collaborative learning theory which derives from social constructivism since students are encouraged to collaboratively solve problems through discourse and where the I, the teacher, play the role of facilitator as well as learning community member. Another role that I play is that of an active facilitator of knowledge building.
I truly believe that instruction is not simply about learning content or a skill but also supports students socially and emotionally, which is how constructivists view teaching and learning as inherently social activities.
This is shown in the course through the various discussions strategically placed in each module as well as the Zoom meetings which will be held at the end of each module to reflect and build upon each other’s ideas. Therefore, I can say that this is a student-centered course.
Each participant will have access to the information and will work on the implementation of one of the blended learning models in their specific context. Such personalization of content will be accompanied with active collaboration amongst the teachers through discussion boards. I will encourage participants to also collaborate outside the learning environment by using apps such as Slack or GroupMe.
The first module targets what blended learning is and why it should be incorporated. For this module, participants will be provided the background of blended learning by watching a couple of videos and reflecting upon the testimony of a 6th grade teacher. I like to provide choices so another activity that I added was a list of articles that target the same content in different ways. The goal is for the participants to read ONE article and discuss how their initial thinking about blended learning has changed or what hesitations they still have about implementing Blended Learning. Their perspectives will be also shared during the ZOOM meeting scheduled at the end of the module.
The second module explores relevant research literature to help participants construct a new understanding of blended learning. Most of the assignments included in this module ask participants to record themselves (video or/and audio) reflecting upon the content they reviewed. By including video recording, teachers will experience the benefit of some of the tools that can be used when they implement Blended Learning. My goal as the facilitator of learning is to provide feedback to their responses in the same format (via video).
Module 3 addresses the learning blending modules, module 4 targets the planning of the lesson plan or model and module 5 is all about the implementation of the lesson or model. Each module has embedded assessments that provoke discussion, reflection and in which participants need to complete small projects that are essential pieces of the final product in module 5.