Communication Plan for Online Teaching

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ONLINE LANGUAGE COURSE

This communication plan is considering the communication role of the teacher and the student.  It encompasses considerations for the administration, content delivery, peer to peer communication, and assigned work done during an online language course.  It is divided into four parts.

PART 1: ROUTINE ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS

Every Work Day

  • Check General Questions or Technical Problems Forum
  • Reply to direct contact inquiries
  • Post any relevant updates in the News Forum
  • Set up  or solicit a communication appointment with 1-2 students

2-3 Days Into a Module

  • Check for activity on discussion forums and provide feedback
  • Scan LMS for activity or monitor the flow of multiple step activity
  • Dedicate time to grading or offering feedback from previous module
  • Finish grading most activities from previous module
  • Display and comment on poll results if a poll given the first day of the module

2-3 Days Before Module Ends

  • Scan LMS for lack of activity and contact students or parents as necessary
  • Check discussion forum and monitor student feedback
  • Be available for an informal synchronous discussion (offer different times on different days)
  • Prepare supplemental resources for the next module

PART 2: DISCUSSION FORUM STRATEGIES

At the Beginning of the Course

  1. At this point, you should present your prepared orientation of the course, which includes: a teacher introduction, a tour of the course webpage, rules of netiquette, warning about password safety and other security issues, and completing an icebreaker activity with a teacher example.  Also review the  Orientation Guide for Preparing New Online Learners.
  2. For the first activities, ask the students to update their course profile with a short biography.
  3. Also, ask them to complete a poll or brief survey about previous experience in online courses.  If possible, allow the students to see the ongoing statistical results of the poll or survey, so they can compare themselves with the overall level of their peers. 
  4. Lastly, whether it is an icebreaker activity or an assigned post, require the students to upload (with their post) an image within the LMS.  This will help them gain confidence with the technical aspect and the user friendliness of the LMS.  The Caption Contest is just one example of an icebreaker that will allow students to accomplish this goal.

Throughout the Course

  1. For each module, the students will be provided instructions for posting in a discussion, as well as a minimum requirement for responses to other students. 
  2. Each module will provide a prompt that sets the standard for content.  In the “Discussion Forum Assessment” (below)guidelines are provided for the quality of peer responses.  Equal consideration will be given to the use of language and the unique expression, or creativity, of each post. For more information, review the following section.

PART 3: DISCUSSION FORUM ASSESSMENT

Each discussion is worth 35 points.  The grading scales below will indicate how the total point values will be calculated for each discussion.  Review the tips for each scale.  These will indicate the best strategy to maximize your discussion forum grade.

Content Scale: 1-15

Tip: Read the discussion prompt thoroughly.  Make sure you have addressed all of the content requested in the prompt.  Some prompts will have more than one question.  Also, reread any written posts to make sure your ideas are clear for the reader.  Use appropriate structure of sentences and paragraphs as necessary. If the response to the content is unclear, this will affect your overall grade.

Peer Response Scale: 1-10

Tip: When responding to peers, make sure that at least two responses are thoughtful and complete.  For example, a thoughtful response goes beyond the “Good job” or “I like it” and reflects on what the other student has written. Here are some general examples: Your response can connect your own personal experiences to what your peer has written, it can question your peer to seek clarification or ask about his or her sources or opinion, or it could offer constructive criticism about their argument or opinion.  Be cautious with constructive criticism, since the person, who wrote the post, has feelings.  In order to avoid a war of words, be gentle and/or gracious with your criticisms.

Language Use Scale: 1-5

Tip: Make sure that you are checking for general correctness in spelling, vocabulary, capitalization, and punctuation. Also, because this is a language course, text language should be used lightly (not more than 2-3 occurrences in a post).  In other words, make sure your words are complete.  Smiley-cons are acceptable when appropriate.

Creativity Scale: 1-5

Tip: Each person is unique in their own expression, however to tip the creativity scale in your favor you can consider the following.  Look for opportunities to write creative introductions to your posts.  Consider inserting an image, drawing, or video that supports your content.  Add a link to text when you are referencing something that is not directly related to the material or it is not considered general knowledge.

Note: Inappropriate posts or responses may be removed and will affect your grade.  Depending on the severity of the inappropriateness, further action may be taken against the student as indicated in the Code of Conduct.  If your profile security has been violated or breached, communicate this to your professor as quickly as possible, and try to remedy the situation if you can (for example: changing the password, making sure you log out from public computers, etc.).


PART 4:  MANAGEMENT ISSUES AND STRATEGIES (CONTINGENCY PLAN)

When working with a group of students online, there are possible issues that will arise, requiring the teacher to respond with communication strategies.  Consider the following communication needs to confront the related issues.

Individual Communication

  1. As noted in the section “Part 1: Routine Administrative Tasks”, an online teacher will be watching for inactivity in individual students and make contact with those students or parents a priority. 
  2. Other issues that might require a teacher to make individual contact, is when a student shows any dominant characteristics in general, by trying to control discussions or responses, or perhaps he or she may exhibit dominant characteristics in group activities.  Although this may be difficult to perceive online, if there are any repeated actions by one student that may be deemed as unhealthy for group communication, it should first be dealt with by communicating privately with that student. 
  3. If offenses have occurred between 2 students and it has escalated to a heated exchange, it may be necessary to meet with those students privately during a small group chat.

Whole Group Communication

  1. There are instances when a teacher notices undesirable activity in public places and perhaps it needs to be addressed with the whole group. 
    1. If a heated exchange between 2 or more students escalates to an inappropriate level, the teacher may need to consider censoring communication and addressing the whole group about the problem. 
    2. A similar type of teacher intervention may be necessary when a discussion gets off track and the main topic is no longer being discussed.  In this case, consider posting a reminder on the thread or in a general forum area, which reminds students of the topic or redirects them, and if necessary, a thread can be frozen or removed if the discussion is creating a strong diversion. 
  2. Other situations that may call for whole group communication is when a teacher perceives that there is either a lack of whole group activity or a common misconception among many responses. 
    1. In the case of misconceptions, the teacher can address this with more clarity about the instructions, or create an alternative presentation that describes the common misconception, or a presentation that either offers more guidance for the students or even shows a teacher example. 
    2. In the case of whole group inactivity, the teacher can reach out to the whole group through various forms of communication and solicit feedback and try to determine if there is a problem with the material or tasks. 
    3. However, what might work best is gathering information from regular contact with the students and use it to form a poll or survey that can be distributed to the whole group.  By soliciting the students in this way, it is less intimidating for them to voice their opinion or concerns, which are related to the course.

EdTech 505 Week 8: Request For Proposal

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505 Week 8 RFP

This week we had to prepare a proposal for a fictional company that is interested in pursuing a marketing campaign for their educational program development package.  The attached document is my proposal.

EdTech 505 Week 7: PSS Evaluation Model

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Use your new understanding about evaluations to address this question: Which evaluation model from chapter 5 would you choose for your own Evaluation Report-Course Project?

I’m warming up to the idea of doing something creative for one of these assignments, but the amount of time I would have to spend on my creative energies made me resist this time.  So for now, I will explain my choice by writing.   My ideas are not completely clear to me yet, but I find that writing my thoughts helps bring more clarity. 

This is my last year to teach in my current school because my wife and I will be moving back to the USA during the summer.  I am quite invested in one group in particular because I have been working with them for 2 years in a row.  This year in particular, I have established a strong presence of Web 2.0 tools with all students setting up Google accounts from the beginning of the year.  In terms of technology integration, I have been more progressive than most of the faculty.  Though many of my colleagues admire what I have done, no one in the English department has made strides to do the same.  An evaluation of this program, Peer Structure and Support, can help the school, and specifically the English department, to make a decision about more teachers implementing it. 

After reviewing the models, I believe the decision-making model would best suit my evaluation.  This selection is based on my consideration of 3 different factors: 1) the program can establish a continuation for technology integration into their approach to learning, 2) the program demonstrates how students can experience that learning is not a spectator sport, but that they can actually play in the game, and 3) the evaluation will lead to my own decision about further development of the program in my professional life. 

My students already have accounts set up in Google for school use.  When they enter 10th grade next year, they could easily continue using these accounts for multiple assignments.  The x-factor is whether or not the next teacher will facilitate these types of assignments or accept student work in digital formats.  This program asks students to create digital peer assessments by using Google Forms.  Showing that this has a positive impact on students will help other teachers see the benefit of such an initiative. 

Many of my colleagues continue to use teacher-centered instruction.  Evaluating this program will allow teachers to view the results of a learner-centered activity.  Both students and teachers struggle to see the constructivist view of learning, which engages the students to discover learning for themselves.  No longer do they have to look at the material through the eyes of someone else’s assessment, but they can learn to identify objectives and create their own assessments. 

Lastly, as I move on, I hope that this evaluation will validate my beliefs about the effectiveness of this program.  I know this is a bad sign for the evaluation, as I am supposed to remain as unbiased as possible.  Nonetheless, as I enter into a new teaching environment (still unknown at this point), I want to be able to make a decision about whether or not my next group of students can benefit from this program.

EdTech 505 Week 7: Vision and Evaluation

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The following account was taken from or course site; I will respond to the question that follows.

Recently, I was talking with three exceptional education teachers at a technology conference. These three colleagues described their classrooms to me. They invited me to visit. So I did.

I went into several classrooms. I approached one of the teachers and asked, “What are you doing?” “I’m teaching reading,” he replied.

Then I asked another teacher, “What are you doing?” “I’m showing these students how to have good study skills,” she said.

Then, I asked the third teacher, “What are you doing?” The woman put down her pen and said, “I’m helping all my students achieve their maximum potential in academics and social skills so that when they go out into the world they will be magnificent contributors.”

Now, all three of these teachers had the same job, but only the last teacher had vision. She could see beyond the daily grind of teaching and see her students contributing mightily to our society. In our lives and in our jobs, sometimes it’s hard for us to stay focused on the larger vision, to rise above the mundane, above the day-to-day.

In history, special people had that vision, one that has benefited us all. In my own work, I too sometimes get caught up in the details of the the daily grind. I go to meetings, read reports, and talk to colleagues. But there are times when the big picture is as clear as day, when I feel truly connected to issues and ideas much larger than myself, larger than any job, larger than any single organization.

How is this story related to EDTECH 505 and, more specifically, to the readings for this week? Do you have to have vision to be a successful evaluator? How does vision fit with choosing the most appropriate evaluation model for a particular program?

I understand this vision very well as an educator, even though I, too, get bogged down in daily tasks.  One of the main reasons I am studying EdTech is because I think it is the best way to prepare myself for the future of education.  The course work has revealed to me the importance of transferring digital literacy and virtual awareness to my students, empowering them as 21st Century learners.  However, applying this vision to the role and process of evaluation is a new challenge for me.

The readings of this week focused on selecting the right evaluation model for a project.  Though not all models are mentioned, several are discussed with details of their advantages and disadvantages.  In any evaluated program there are many variables to consider.  Focusing on each variable requires detailed attention.  Some models require that the evaluator is present through the process and even provides input with regard to the variables; this supports the overall goal because the “big picture” examines each variable closely.  In this case the system variables depend on each other for efficiency, and this affects the “big picture”.  However, not all evaluation models require this type of analysis. In other words, the variables are not entirely dependent on each other.  In education, it is easy to focus on the variables that we perceive to benefit or hinder a program, thus reflecting positively or negatively on the evaluation.  In reality, the benefits of an educational experience are vast, and they are not always seen during the period of an evaluation.  An example of this is the popular account of Albert Einstein as a school boy: bored, unengaged, underachiever, not the ideal participant in a program being evaluated.  However, somewhere along the way a spark of inspiration led him down the path that helped him to change the world.  Unfortunately, the opposite can be true of a poor educational experience and its long standing impact; these participants eventually  either overcome, persevere, fade away into the history of the world, or achieve some level of infamy.

In my evaluation project I believe that I am considering the big picture.  This is my second year with this group of students, but I know my time with them is coming to an end.  I believe the program can benefit them beyond the time that I am there.  The purpose of the evaluation is to account for the results in such a way that the torch can be passed along to next educational chaperone.  With regards to my current role, the downside is that I am close enough to the action that I may have a tendency to focus on the variables.  I will need to account for these variables in the evaluation, since the stakeholders will be interested in the overall impact, but in reality the variables are not completely dependent on each other.  Therefore, my vision will be challenged, not only by focusing on the variables in the program implementation, but also by my bias of the program itself.

EdTech 505 Week 3: Why Evaluate

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This was more like a case study.  I responded to the questions below about a partnership between a university and a software company.

  • What are the benefits and limitations of an evaluation?

In this scenario there are two entities that can benefit from the evaluation, but there are possible limitations too.  The Maricopa Community College District (MCCD) is wanting to enrich the learning experiences for the students.  The evaluation  provides them with options to measure student engagement or the effectiveness of content delivery; either provide credibility to their institution.  As stated in the case,  Cashflow Technologies, Inc. can also benefit from an evaluation of the use of their products in education, which can be added in their markenting ploy to expand the sales of their product.  However, since this is a new partnership, it means that there will be learning curves for implementing the new resources, and of course, there is the possibility that the resources are not as effective as they hoped.  The evaluation budget seems limited to sustain a long-term evaluation of the programs effectiveness for trainging future course instructors.
• What factors ensure that an evaluation will be successful?

Nonetheless, many measures are taken to ensure the success of the evaluation.  First of all, the evaluators are external and they have been provided with a budget.  They also have been given access to the sales information of the product and student performance data from MCCD.   The team is also encouraged to make individual and group contact with the students and instructors.
• How might one use evaluation results?
The evaluators must report their findings.  Even though it does not specify who the evaluators will report to, the most obvious stakeholders from the MCCD would be the head of department for economics and finance  or even the dean of students.  They could use the result to increase popularity and demand of the delivery system.  From Cashflow Technologies, the CEO or division manager, and the sales director would benefit from the positive results of the evaluation because it helps them to promote the product.  Through the evalution process, some of the flaws with the resources can be detected, and the quality control team could benefit from the results so he can manage an improvement plan on the product.

 

EdTech 505: Week 3 Wellness Center

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This written observation is based on the review of the chart and questions on pages 41-43 of “The ABCs of Evaluation”.

I understand that the wellness center in question is sponsored by a company, not necessarily related to fitness, and it provides this staffed facility for the employees of this company.  Their overall goal is to evaluate the participation in fitness programs within this facility and to measure its effect on the mental health, physical health, and  productivity of the employees.  There is no indication of whether the employees have volunteered, or under what other circumstances might encourage them to participate.  Obviously, the employees will have to agree to a certain amount of commitment and disclosure, as they will be working with a trainer, personnel director, and staff psychologist.  Since this also requires a time commitment, certain labor laws or other legalities would likely need to be addressed.

I suppose the only thing that seems odd about this evaluation is the psychoanalysis, which is aiming to reduce depression through physical activity.  Perhaps the wellness center can help in this regard, but there are many other possible variables that affect the mental or spiritual health of a person.  Physical exercise cannot fix all human woes.  It is not clear how willing the company is to address this, and it is not known how willing the employee is to disclose it.  Additionally, this component of the evaluation will be most challenging to coordinate because it calls for group meetings with the staff psychologist.

However, the company can benefit not only from the success of the initiative, but also from the evaluation.  Improved employee health will benefit the company by promoting better morale, reducing the amount of  health risks, which  increases productivity with more healthy workers, and it also reduces health care costs.   Whether or not the initiative reaches its objectives, the evaluation can serve the company to look for other program incentives to get employees involved in the fitness center, or causing them to evaluate the effect of the work conditions on employee health.

If I were an evaluator, the one thing that I might do differently is put more tangible goals for the employees, both as individuals and a team.  For example, instead of exercising just for the benefit of being healthy, challenge them toward a goal or competition, such as a marathon or team tournament.  Even within the sample group, teams can be formed to create competition and camaraderie.  Rewards can be given to the winning teams or individuals.  These types of activities probably will benefit the psyche more than group sessions.

EdTech 541: Final Reflection

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Two, four, six, eight,
It’s time for us to integrate.
Ten, Twelve, fourteen, sixteen,
There’s so much more I haven’t seen.
Eighteen, twenty, you know the rest,
I hope I pass this final test.
With E-P-I-stemology
It’s time to use technology.

There’s something about the way that God wired me, that when its time to look back over a difficult period of time, I get poetic.  So the above lines were jotted down with the inspiration of this course and this semester.  I’m glad it’s coming to a close, but before it is official, here are my required reflections

Part I: Course Reflection

  • What have you learned?

For integration strategies, I focused most of my attention on applying technologies to English language development.  In the process, I became more familiar with a variety of resources, tools, and strategies for integrating technology.  I also was reminded of some basic principles when working with English language learners.  Additionally, this course has helped me see outside of my usual perspective, by requiring me to consider integration strategies for other content areas and also exploring technologies for students with special needs.

  • How did theory guide the  development of the projects and assignments you created?

During this semester, I was taking another EdTech course along side this one, it was Theoretical Foundations, EdTech 504.  Because of the constant reinforcement of theory, I was developing much of my 541 course activities around the reinforced knowledge.  The theory that I spent the most time researching is the Cultural Historical Activity Theory, which states that human activity, such as education, is a social activity that is manifested through the use of tools and other social practices  (Duvane & Squire, 2010).  This theory made me consider each technology tool for it’s ability to enhance learning opportunities. 

Educational theory is a very dense topic, therefore, I try to simplify it whenever possible.  I really liked the selection of this text book for this course, because the information was presented in a clear and concise way.  In particular, I appreciated how the book identified the differences between directed teaching, which is part of the objectivists’ view point, and constructed learning by the learners, which is part of the constructivists’ views (Roblyer & Doering, 2012).  With both major theories, there are integration strategies that can be used.

  • How does the course work demonstrate mastery of the AECT standards?

The various activities and projects helped me to meet many AECT standards, mostly in Standard 1: Design,  Standard 2: Development, and Standard 3: Utilization.  For a complete list of the specific standards met during this course please visit the AECT Standards Page on my course project page.

  • How have you grown professionally?

This course was quite demanding of my time, but I managed to meet all the deadlines.  Many external factors of my professional life have helped develop me along side the content I have learned for this course.  For example, I was asked at the beginning of the semester to chair the 9th grade department, I also implemented a Project Based Learning module that I developed with a EdTech colleague over the summer, and I managed to coach a little tennis with the Community and Service program in my school.  This semester has taught me more about balance and meeting responsibilities. 

  • How have your own teaching practice or thoughts about teaching been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?  What will you do differently as an educator as a result of this course?

Wherever I have taught, I have tried to take the students where they are and to develop them more with language skills.  This course has reminded me of ways to use technology to develop some of those students that have struggled to develop their language skills.  However, one of my grandest goals is to help my students develop self-confidence in their own ability to learn.  I will try to develop more differentiation skills for working with students that struggle language, but also strengthen their skills with technology tools too.

This course has also given me an awareness of my possible future role in an educational establishment.  I potentially see me moving from a position that mostly emphasizes language development, to a position that promotes technology integration across all the curriculum.  The course has prepared me for a possible transition, but more importantly, it not only has given me a collection of resources, but also it has given me a foothold on the topic of technology integration in all areas of education.

Part II:  Self-Evaluation

Ironically, now that I am at the end of the semester, I have just now paid attention to the rubric for blog and reflection postings.  Throughout the semester, I just read what the professor expected of me, and to my knowledge, I completed all the tasks on time.  Furthermore, I feel that writing is one of my more developed skills, and coupled with my creativity, I always looked for a way to make my reflections as entertaining as possible for my readers.  As a result, I believe that I have developed a bit of a minor following, based on some of the comments that I have read.  If you are one of those readers, who are reading this now, I just want to say thank you for the wonderful feedback that you have given me.

Also, I made a point to give some constructive feedback to many of my colleagues, and I believe that I have met the minimum requirement of always responding to a few colleagues.  I too, have enjoyed reading about my classmates’ experiences and their reflections.

Based on the rubric, I do not see where any points would be reduced from my blog grade.  So I think it will be full points.  However, I welcome any criticism, if there are even the slightest of flaws.

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