A very eventful Week 2 is done. Late registration enabled two more students, which gives me a total of 8 students. Five students are registered for a ½ credit of Algebra I, and the remaining 3 students are registered for a full credit. With a little more than half the course left, I feel like my students are moving at a snails pace.
I blame a large portion of this on the problems students were having with the links in the course. In week 2, I was informed by a parent – and a couple of students – that there were error messages when the students trying to complete practice problems. It took most of the week, including numerous phone calls and emails with UAS and Helen, to figure out what the problem was and getting it fixed. Then, I found out that students taking the pretest were not getting feedback on what they missed and what the correct answers were. I can just about imagine how frustrating this could be. It was frustrating for myself also because I had no idea on how to fix it. Now, that the issue is fixed, I am hoping students will start working more frequently and completing some assignments.
I found a great blog from Online Learning Insights titled Strategies for Online Instructors: Understanding the Needs of the Online Learner. This particular blog was a four-part series and included a lot of valuable information. While reading the blog, I soon realized that my students are actually at a high risk of failure. To start off with, online learners are at a higher risk for dropping out, performing poorly, or not completing the course. Second, my students are not your typical online learner. They are high school students who normally attend the public high school in their town. They are registered for this course because they have already failed Algebra I in their own school. On top of that failure, we are asking them to complete a course that is hugely independent. Online learners are expected to have self-directed learning style, high technical skills, and increased time management skills. We are asking teenagers to manage their summer time with friends to include schoolwork. I am already worried about how this is going to turn out,
The blog gave some good tips on how to make the transition to online learning easier for the students. There should be an online orientation program – check, immediate feedback – check, weekly announcements – check, and comments to student discussion board posts- check. There are a couple of other things that the blog mentioned that I have added to my list of “to-dos.” The blog mentions creating a personal connection with the students, providing continuous encouragement and acknowledgement of their time. I have decided to create badges to award students for various task completions. I am really excited about my badges. I have also set up a Google spreadsheet where students are asked to schedule a time to meet with me individually. During this meeting, I am hoping to touch base with each student and the progress they have made within the course. I also want to ensure that students are no longer having problems with any links within the course. The agenda for the meeting also includes an introduction to the “My Grades” link and an example of how to complete the discussion board forums. I want to talk to the students about the badges they can earn and another mode of communication – twitter. I have created a Twitter group (#AKMATH) as another mode of communication for students who are having difficulties and need to get in touch with me.
I really enjoyed reading the blog. I believe I am learning a lot through this process and am happy I made the step into online teaching. I love being in the classroom, but I also see a bright future here! Maybe, there could be room for both.