Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week 12: Case 09: Online Learning: Virtual School

In considering who is responsible to pay for students attending virtual high schools, the first question should be who should be paying for education, period. If your response would be that parents (families) should be paying for the education of their own children, not government, then parents should also pay for their own students attending virtual high schools. Conversely, if your response would be that government (state and/or federal) should be paying for children to attend public (“government”) schools, then the government should also pay for students attending virtual high schools. However, I would suggest that rather than the government paying private virtual high schools, since the government does not currently assist with private school tuition (despite the fact that the parents with children in private schools probably have paid taxes which assist in the education of other people’s children), each state should have their own public (“government”) virtual high school. If our society were to move into a government voucher system (using tax dollars to be used for the parents’ school of choice), then private virtual high schools should be included in the voucher system. Although I believe that the private sector, because of competition, provides a better educational system, this is not currently the government’s position; thus, the government should be consistent, then, and pay for the educational costs of students attending virtual high schools.

With my position that each state should have a virtual high school, as stated above, I do not believe that it would be necessary or cost-effective for each district to have a virtual high school. This way, state standards and course requirements would remain constant which would eliminate duplication of effort within each district. The districts should still receive local, state, and federal funding for their enrolled virtual students as they do for regular students, but they would also be ‘billed’ by the state to offset the state’s expenses with the virtual high school. This would also assist with growing enrollment issues at the district level and could eventually reduce overhead and physical maintenance costs for the districts.

Question No. 3 assumes, I believe, that districts would notify parents of the opportunity for on-line courses. With or without a state-supported virtual school, I believe parents should be notified via mail as well as high school orientation sessions that the opportunity exists for on-line coursework by the guidance counselors of each high school. These counselors should have personal interaction with each of their students and would be serve the student by discussing educational options. I do not believe that these on-line courses should be available only to struggling learners, behavioral problematic students, those physically unable to attend school, or special circumstance students. Many courses could be available, for example, for gifted and talented students, or even for those students with special interests, such as a foreign language not offered within one’s own school district.

While I would not be a proponent of requiring a degree in teaching on-line courses, I do believe that coursework in teaching on-line courses should be a requirement, as an area of concentration or a minor. Many different strategies, for example classroom management and knowledge/comfort with technology, would be applicable to online instruction and would benefit both teacher and student. But an actual degree in the content area should still be required; how can teachers teach what they do not know?

(As you’ve noticed, I included my thoughts on areas of extra attention within each case discussion question.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week 10; Case 04; Podcasting: Learning on the Go

In preparing my class for podcasting,I would explain what it is and would utilize it for communicating with my students and their parents. Occasionally I would use a podcast as an instructional tool, especially for a lesson on creating a podcast (not just for instruction but also so that students may have it as a reference tool). After students have had some use with my podcasts, I would then model creating a podcast using Following that, I would walk the students through the steps of in class, showing the screens and allowing them to take notes of how to do it. Since I'm an elementary education major, I would not go beyond because students would need to set up an account with I would then have the students make a podcast on their own and submit it on their blog

Potential detrimental effects on education for podcasting use include that live lectures may become obselete, eliminating two great learning tools of dialogue and debate, while also increasing societal isolazation. There are also still detrimental factors including affordability, accessibility, and technological reliability. Potential benefits include ease of use, reduction of work flow, convenience for listener, time-saving and multi-tasking (i.e. listening to the podcast while commuting/traveling), it appeals to different learning styles, is a resource for future learners and absent students, creativity is endless (i.e. can be used for separate instructions in various 'learning stations' in the classroom), can assist shy students in doing presentations, can be used for journaling,and is a way to communicate with the masses (i.e. parents).

The students' obligations, extending to both creating and listening, would include acting responsibily with integrity and morality, while exercising discipline, diligence, and respect for others and their property.

Regarding making class attendnace optional, that will depend on the focus of the class and the instructor's format. For example, if instructors use classtime for lecture only, for example at the college level, then I believe there should be options for class attendance. But if discussions/debate is a large part of the learning process in a class, attendance should be mandatory. On the other hand, podcasts could be used for a lecture one day a week and discussion classes another day of the week. However, at the elementary and secondary levels, I believe podcasts have a time and a place and should not be overutililized for instruction.

Prior to this class, I had never heard of a podcast; thus, I've learned a lot from this article and see many uses for integrating this into my classroom: for absent students, directions for a substitute or even a lesson plan for a substitute,a resource for future learners, messages and reminders to students as well as parents and extra-curricular announcements, field trip notes and possibly even a field-trip-tour-guide, accessibility for different learning styles, and many other ways, I'm sure.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 8: Cell Phones: A Tool for Cheating

After the first test, I would've been more proactive with specifically watching Laura and Jessica with the first exam, because of their having "the exact same explanation", possibly to the point of making it apparent to them that I was concerned with them.  However, once the instructor caught them cheating, she followed through accurately.  Once finding out that they did cheat on the other test and exam, though, I would've given them a zero for those exams and referred them for disciplinary action.  Then I would reiterate to the entire class the school policy regarding cheating, letting them know without any doubt, what consequences they should expect for their actions.  This would also be a great time to discuss ethics and integrity with my students.

Banning all cell phones in my classroom would seem to be a knee-jerk, extreme reaction to an unfortunate situation.  After using the cheating incident as a teaching tool on integrity, I would still allow cell phones to be on, with all sounds off, in the classroom; I believe this is in the best interest for the safety and security of the student.  I would permit cell phones to be placed in the upper right hand of the student's desk, where I could see them, and where students would have access in the event of an emergency.  I would also require that student's hands be visible on the top of the desk.  However, if school policy dictated that cell phones would not be permitted in the classroom, then I would have to honor that policy, regardless of my personal feelings on the matter.  I would then work within the system to try to get the policy modified, again, for the security and safety of the students. 

Laura and Jessica, in my opinion, should be suspended for cheating and should receive a zero for each test when they cheated because there was enough evidence in their answers to indicate it was more than one time. Upon their return, I would have them sit in the front of my classroom, with their cell phones in the upper right hand corner of their desks and with their hands always visible to me, and they would be required to listen to my several talks on integrity.  It would take a lot of time and effort on their part to earn my trust; therefore, I would be watching them like a hawk!

Prohibiting cell phones in schools would not be a good solution for the cheating issue, as I presented in the second paragraph above.  I believe the policy to allow the cell phones to remain on a student's desk in full view of the instructor, while requiring the students to have their hands on their desks also in full view, would be a policy enforceable by each teacher.  This would allow for safety and security as well as avoid any temptation the students may experience.  Additionally, a strict policy should be developed by the school administration for violations of the cell phone policy, and even more strict for cheating....with or without a cell phone. 

Integrating what I've learned into the classroom would be the policy that I've presented as a solution to the cheating problem.  However, it's important to note that if a student wants or feels the need to cheat strongly enough, they will find a way to do so, with or without the cell phones.  It is, unfortunately, a fact of life within the academic world as well as in the real world.  Thus, teachers need to address integrity with students as well as examine their own instructional pedagogical emphasis in the classroom (i.e., emphasis on grades vs. knowledge acquired).  While there may be decline in morality within our society, students need to be taught and to understand that even within our court system, there is a standard.  Ethics may include a grey area, but integrity should not be compromised for technology.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reflection on Digital Story Telling Project

This was my first experience with digital storytelling, and it made a lot of sense when I went to the various websites contained in our lab manual.  However, doing it was another thing.  Summing up my experience would be the phrase, "I can't believe I did this!"  For my lack of computer knowledge, I believe that I presented a quality project.  Once I worked within the imovie product, I was relieved that it didn't seen as difficult as I had thought.  Truly, without this couse, I wouldn't have done something like this, and I really have a sense of accomplishment.

Struggles included not knowing how to get from one piece of technology (google search to get it into imovie).

Classroom applications are endless.....any subject, any grade.  It would be exciting to have students do this type of project because of the creativity involved.

Sorry; out of time.  Great project!  Thanks for the experience.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week Six: Digital Storytelling

From a digital storytelling learning experience, students would have the opportunity to gain the following skills:  written communication skills to describe, inform, entertain, and/or to explain; oral communication skills for narration and an oral presentation; non-verbal communication skills through the use of other media, such as still pictures and video; technological skills such as using audio effect, video effects, editing, inserting text overlays, applying transitions, using jpg files and program files, folders, camera skills and filming;  other planning and organizing skills such as utilizing an outline, a storyboard, following through with the project; and if working within a group, cooperation skills, communication skills, and conflict resolution skills.

For a teacher to properly implement the use of digital storytelling in his/her classroom, the teacher will need to have an understanding of digital storytelling and should have completed an example him/herself to be able to demonstrate and model the process.  Training could be from personal research on digital storytelling via the internet, software instructions/directions, workshops, classes, professional development courses, etc.  In short, the amount of preparation and training will depend upon the individual teacher and his/her previous knowledge and experience with technology.  As seen in our lab for this course, the spectrum of previous knowledge/experience of the teacher candidates is wide and varied.  However, it must be noted that if a teacher would like to utilize digital storytelling but does not have a strong background with technology, there are plenty of resources and examples available on the internet for the teacher to be successful with the lesson.

Digital storytelling would be beneficial to shy, quiet students because the student would be able to produce the final product without having to leave his/her 'comfort zone'.  However, if an oral presentation is required of the final product, this may hinder the shy student.  Also for students struggling with writing skills, so 'shy' in the sense of a lack of confidence in his/her writing ability, the digital story will also make available to them another form of communication.  Exposure to digital storytelling for a shy and/or quiet student may open an avenue for that student that he/she never knew existed, allowing him/her to have an outlet for expression.  Digital storytelling may also help this student to realize his/her potential in communication.

For an outspoken student, digital storytelling will provide for him/her an opportunity to express him/herself in ways other than verbal while also exposing him/her to technology and creativity as additional channels to progress with communication skills.

For integrating digital storytelling into the classroom, I've learned that I must take into account the spectrum of technological experience/knowledge of each student, allow ample time and practice for those who lack technological skills to be successful with the assignment, when considering my obejectives for digital storytelling I will also need to consider the spectrum of  communication skills of the student, and most of all, to allow the students to have 'fun' with this assignment rather than seeing it as merely an assignment to complete.  Digital storytelling has a wide range of uses for history, science, language arts, and most other areas of concentration; each student will learn more by teaching others.