Online Learning as a Graduation Requirement?
The last four weeks have been a great learning experience as I have put together my Schoology course. I have learned several things that I am reflecting on and will hopefully explain in my next post but this week I am considering how this could work for other classes at my school.
One of the first classes that comes to mind is one I have taught different ways several times now, Economics. My degree is in Economics so I was excited when I was given the opportunity to teach it the first time. It was the first non technology class I taught and so I of course defaulted back to the way I learned it. It was lecture based but I thought I did a decent job bringing in the interests of my students to apply the theory. Looking back I realize how much it was actually teacher-centered. Then about 5 years ago I became very interested in the flipped classroom and went back for a semester to try out that technique. While it was great and really improved the course, I learned a lot about teaching techniques (DON’T make podcasts, videos or lectures 30+ minutes! – really not more than 10 minutes). Then last spring I taught a blended class where we met 2 or 3 days a week and did online tasks the other 2 to 3 days. That was even a bigger improvement but I think I missed some of the content I taught before in exchange for too many discussions and projects. I would love to remake this class one more time with the knowledge I have gained this last month diving into online learning. I can see how mixing YouTube videos like Crash Course Economics with my own video lessons could bridge that gap in content knowledge. I would continue to emphasize the reflective experience of a blog but require them to create their own instead of using one I had created. I would also utilize more discussion threads to keep them connected outside of the classroom. This would be the first course that came to mind but so did do many others.
The other course that immediately came to mind was the new AP Computer Science Principles course.
Introducing AP Computer Science Principles (2:14)
Published by: Advanced Placement 08.2015
YouTube URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1vFrz4NETg
While it contains many computational thinking practices that could be taught in online modules, it also focuses on big ideas through project-based learning. I think this would be a great mix where most of the traditional assessed material could be taught through modules in an LMS. Then there could be a lab component where students has access to an instructor who could help guide them through their individualized projects that are necessary for the digital artifacts portion of the course. This particular AP Computer Science course was designed to be accessible for more students and I think a blended approach such as this would make it even more intriguing. Thinking about teaching it this way makes me want to push even harder to get it into our curriculum.
The last four weeks has continue to reinforce the idea that more and more of our classes would be successful either blended or fully online. I can imagine a course on Naviance to prepare for the college counseling process, a photography class similar to the one Harvard just put online for free and many more options. As we look at the changing landscape of colleges and universities, I believe requiring an online course as part of our graduation requirements is necessary to truly be a college preparatory independent school.