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.