I need to unlock more resources. Given the Creative Commons arrangements for so much of the read/write space, this might be done in the first instance at least in an in-house environment such as SharePoint (Since much of our material is licensed for the College's use, not general publication). However, I'd like the resources to be used in more publicly accessible spaces, mounting distilled knowledge through wiki's, and exploring topics of interest through blogs. I want to drive these resources in a discussion direction - for two reasons. First, in a face to face classroom, some students are intimidated and find it hard to share their opinions; a discussion space which is open but a little more 'distant' should help them warm up. Second, in a face-to-face setting, I'm a hopeless discussion facilitator - since I'm deaf in one ear, I can't follow the faint-spoken, nor can I easily filter out the noise from the signal. In a discussion thread, I have much more hope of understanding and moderating digital chat.
Ian, asynchronous discussion is a wonderful thing. I've seen the shy bloom and become empowered. The chance to think before you speak, combined with the ease of hyperlinking to relevant materials makes this form of discourse a more deliberate way to connect than the quick flow of agile speach that often leaves many in the live classroom behind.
If you add to this the opportunity to talke with an international audience working online can be a very satisfying experience.
I will say that sometimes when I'm in a live meeting I have to throw a special switch to speed up enough to participate. I vastly prefer the online world (after 25 years in the live classroom) because the pace allows me to be more measured.
Are there opportunities to pursue this work in Tasmania? Of course the world is your oyster when you're working online!
Certainly there is much talk about online for specialist subjects with too few teachers. (I've recently returned from a conference of Australian Computer Studies teachers examining and sharing progress on this very topic. SiMERR is the acronym.) So, can we resource the struggling schools for Physics, Computer Science, and suchlike? There's not great scope in Tassy per se, but it does have momentum as an idea. One of the hiddens that our administrators might miss is the point made by a high-school practitioner that an on-line class of 10 is a full class, because of the additional communications required.
As always the idea that one guru can empower everybody else tuned into them without any extra support is a powerful, pervasive - and false idea!
My own work will be small-scale, because it will be an adjunct to my live classroom.
Ian, It's a persistent myth that an online classroom can handle more students than a traditional one. I'd agree with you that a smaller group is the way to go. Creating a solid online class takes a huge amount of energy. I estimate about 400 hours to design a university class. A virtual high school class would likely be based on a text book and that might speed things up.
A blended design like you are thinking about is a good way to get the dynamics under control and begin to develop the teamwork concepts that could drive the class.
In so many ways working online requires more effort. You do begin to save some time back once the course is running smoothly... but then all of that time is then poured into actually connecting with the students and teaching the course.
On the bright side, you can polish and improve a class over time. It's deeply satisfying to build a sweet machine that helps people learn how to think.
If you've got a chance to follow this path, take it. It's an interesting journey.
I have been thinking of how best to introduce the use of blogging, wikis, etc to our classrooms. I want to explore how this facilitate educational gains as well as improve the engagement of students. What results have you seen regarding this kind of thing? I'd like to see an online high school class work around more than a text book, but extend beyond that to creative explorations of student learning. Ideas?
I can report that my experience was a little broken last year - by the time I got my students more or less connected I had to leave for some overseas study ( (; ), and no one really followed up from there. My intent this year is to get my students to build a wiki around their project research, and keep a ning discussion/blog platform for posting questions, thoughts and answers. Being senior students, working on projects in ethics in one unit, and science and religion in another, there is scope for good work and strong connections here. We shall see as the year unrolls!
I have also found that classes at Phoenix online are quite expensive. I live in Michigan and have a friend who teaches with Michigan Virtual. All of the students are High School students who are taking her online class in the computer labs of their home schools. As long as they are in High School, the classes are free to the students. Michigan is now requiring that High School graduates take at least one online class before they graduate.
When I was younger, the biggest classroom at my school was probably the library. Today, a screen provides my students with the biggest space. I have my older students participating in blogs and wikis. Just knowing that the world can see it, they really strive for excellence in the writing, spelling and grammar. It's not the same thing when your classmates of 10+ years see your work than having the entire world as an audience!
There is this wonderful sense of sharing and common good among the educational communities online. Eventually one has to jump in an join SOMETHING, It's just inevitable. I had so many resources gathering dust in MY DOCUMENTS, that I ended up publishing them on the web. Immediately I began to see what a treasure online resources collections are to this "new breed of teachers"! Truly, we now live in a time of "if you build it, they will come".
Create something new... hehehe... but every idea I have, it seems that somebody else has done it before! There is little scope for invention any more, or even being original. Blame the internet? Or love the internet?
It's a bit of a love/hate marmite question ;0)