I DID IT!!!!!

AHHHH! I cannot believe the course is over!

At the beginning of this course I was questioning how I was going to make it through!  The thought of switching courses even passed through my mind but, I am VERY glad I did not go down that path.  ETAP 640 is a great course! At this point, I feel any teacher who is teaching should take this course for multiple reasons.  This course does not just teach about online teaching, it speaks about what is necessary for the future of our students and if we truly are educators we want the BEST for our students!  The best for our students is very different that the past had offered.  Today’s students need to be engaged and stimulated constantly due to the technology that is offered in the 21st century.  Everything is changing in our world and that means education needs to as well!  Within this change the way education is being delivered in terms of the type of classroom has changed as well.  The traditional classroom of four walls and a chalkboard is not longer the only way.  Online education is now a huge part of education.  Not only did I take a few of my undergraduate courses online more than half of my masters was online!  This was great!  EDTECH published an article on the 50 Striking Statistics About Distance Learning in Higher Education, a few of the statistics I want to highlight are:

18% of undergraduate students are predicted to receive 80% or more of their education through online courses by 2013.

15% of college students who have taken a class online have earned a degree entirely online.

39% of all adults who have taken a class online say the format’s educational value is equal to that of a course taken in a classroom.

48% of faculty members believe that virtual learning is essential to a 21st-century classroom, compared to 53% of students.

50% of college presidents predict that 10 years from now most of their students will take classes online


I truly believe these statistics are only going to rise!  The thought that I am not completely sure about is whether education will every completely be online.  Personally, I do not think it will as the option for traditional learning should still be available as the online learning environment is not for everyone but, I do believe as students  get older it will be more prominent in their education.

Things that helped me with my learning throughout the course the most are Alex (the professor), setup of the course, learning environment.  Alex was very helpful in this course and always managed to push your thinking and learning to the next level.  This was great!  I personally need that extra push at times due to having a mental block with the possibilities.  The setup of the course was perfect!  Not only was a great example of how a online course should be setup and what should be included, it was organized in a way for the student to understand what needs to be done and where help can be found.  You never felt like you were alone in this course which is how other online courses heave felt!  It was great to have a great model to go on, especially as you were going through it, to create your own course after!  I love that the grade book was updated as we went; I never felt that I did not know how I was doing in the course.  The not knowing drives me crazy! LOL  Video feedback for our course was wonderful, not only did we hear you verbally but it was while you were looking at our course and showing us what you were talking about.  This makes it sooo much easier to understand.  One thing that specifically sticks out in my mind that I have learned in this course is the amount of time it takes in creating a successful online learning environment.  There is a lot of work and thought that needs to go in to the creation but, it is worth it!

The only thing that I believe hindered my learning in this course was my personal life.  It was all positive but, it does take time away. This summer I had a lot going on and unfortunately the course at time fell to the back burning.  This summer I taught summer school and was a nanny while also going into school for summer curriculum writing a few days.  On top of the summer jobs, I got engaged, moved into our new house and got a new puppy, Ivy(Pics below)!  She is a lot of work but could not see our life without her now!

















THANK YOU to Alex and all my classmates for an  excellent course and lots of new knowledge.  This was my last course for my Master’s and I am so happy to have it completed but even though it is finished I do see myself coming back for more courses! (just need a little break first J)

One last thing before I go, the following video I saw on a coworkers Facebook page and it is truly inspiring!





To learn something?

For me to learn something means to walk away from a class/experience with new knowledge that you will be able to apply.  Have I learned something from ETAP 640? Yes I have!  I have been presented with new information in other graduate online courses but can I say I have used it since or during the course felt like I was going to use it? Not like I do with the information that has been presented to me in ETAP 640.  I have thought about why and I believe it is due to the amount of work/research we did on the information presented.  Alex has been a great professor and was very helpful on getting us to focus on concepts within our posts, this can be summarized as digging deeper.  It is through this experience that I feel as a student you learn the most.  The questioning and support of our statements and opinions in the discussion really make you think.  I have always believed and even have the philosophy in my own class that if you look it up yourself you will remember/learn it better.

An article published by Micheal McDade, Children learn better when they figure things out for themselves, states “toddlers learn new words more effectively by using their knowledge about the world to infer the label of an object, rather than by simply being instructed and told which word goes with which object.”  If this is true for toddlers where in a stage of life they are acquiring a lot of information, would it not be true for humans as they age up until adulthood?  I believe so.  It is finding information and knowledge on your own that pushes you more than if information is presented to you.

I googled to see what others would say to this question.  Most were definitions of the word learning but, one person said what it means to have learn something is “To understand or know something you previously did not.”  This summarizes what I was trying to say at the beginning of this post.  From this, I am going to extend and say that if you truly have “learned it” you should be able to teach the information to someone else.  For instance, with the creation of our online course, we have learned how to properly create a successful online course.  Not only do I feel I have been able to successfully create an online course but, I feel I could help/teach my coworkers to do the same.  If I feel I would be able to transfer my knowledge to other, I have “learned it”. (3)

Feeling better…

At this point, I feel better where my course is at.  Do I feel it is finished? No. Would I start a class with it yet? No.  I feel there is a lot of little things that I still have to fix and add and it will take time.  The biggest issue with my online course and starting it is the videos I am using.  I have mentioned this concern before.  The videos I have chosen display and will teach the information the students need to know appropriately but, I am not the one in the videos.  I believe that my students will learn better if there was consistency with the delivery of information from the online class to the face to face class.  What has prevented me from do this?  I currently do not have the technology needed at my home this summer but, when school starts I will have access to it.  My goal this school year is start making the video lessons needed for my course and once I have created them, I will be able to implement my online portion of my course.  Through this process, the one point that sticks out to me most from the readings and exemplar course speakers is time.  Online courses take a lot of time to create and even when it is “finished” I will still find things I want to tweak and refine.  In addition, there will constantly be new technology that can be infused into my course and my students can be exposed to.

From the module videos on engagement, I will not just use tools to have them in my course.  Ed Bowen spoke of how to measure effectiveness of tools we have in our courses through a rubric.  The 5 dimensions that are assessed on a 1-5 scale are Social report building-designs for interaction, Instruction design for interaction, Interactivity of technology resources, Evidence of learner engagement and Evidence of instructor engagement.

So at this point we are getting our courses ready for use.  How do I feel about the move from theory to practice? Ahh nervous! It is always easier to talk about doing something then actually carrying out of the actions.  It is through the actually use of the course that I believe I will learn the most about my course and what I need to add/fix.  At the end, the course needs to work for my class, the curriculum required by NY State, my students and my teaching.  I can lay it all out as I have done but seeing how it works will only occur once I practice.  Looking forward the implementation and the future education is heading in.  From this course and what I have learned I do feel better prepared for the 21st century learning methods.


What do I still have to do??? LOTS!

In terms of my online course, at this time I still need to complete the lesson portion.  It is not so much finding material to display the information but the guided notes that I want to include.  I will need to go through and create each set of notes for the required lessons.  In addition, I need to create all assessments.  I want to finish creating all of the lessons before I start on the assessments.  After I will need to go through and refine the documents and make sure I add any extras I wanted.  One extra I want to make sure I add in is the parent corner.  Since the age of my students is still when parents should be involved, I want to provide a section where they can feel confident if they need to help their children.  The parent corner should not be needed as much as if it was a traditional course as a “flipped” course is suppose to allow more time for one on one with the students.  This allows more of the student’s questions to be answered by the teacher.  The article Flipped Classrooms and Flipped Lessons: What does it mean for Parents? states ways parents can assist their child in a flipped classroom.  They are making sure the child has access to the videos, encouraging their child to stop, rewind, and re-watch any portion of the video needed and provide feedback to the teacher and school about the flipped classroom.  Therefore, in my parent corner I will add additional websites that will be useful if needed for students to understand material but it will consist more of describing a flipped classroom, what it means for them and their child and how to support their child in this type of classroom.

During this process, I have felt overwhelmed by the tools we are using in the course as George Siemans had mentioned.  Right in the beginning of ETAP 640, I was concerned with my ability of keeping up with and learning how to use the tools we were using.  Then I brought that thought into using the different tools in my course.  I came to the conclusion that my online course will constantly be a work in progress and it will not perfect at the end of the course.  There will always be improvements that can be made just as I would revamp my traditional course.  The most important part that I feel my online course needs to have is engaging students.  This was the topic of the videos in the module this week.  As Larry Ragan mentioned students feel connections best when they feel engaged and are an active part of the experience.  This is why engaging students’ is so important.  He suggested the phrase “engage students early and often”.  Thinking about this and my course, I feel I have engaged student’s right at the beginning of my course with the ice breaker activities where students can get to know each other and feel successful in completing the activities.  I do want my course to have engagement equal interest, excitement, fun, confidence, motivation, relevance, and interest as Terry Neal stated it should.  In order for my course to have this result, I do need to make sure my course is designed to support my students and that I am there to support them through the process.


I still have quite a bit to complete in my course and I feel as though I am racing against time right now.  The thought that I will have this at the end of the course and will still be able to work on it and add to it is great.  In the end, my grade is important but, more important is walking away with a tool to implement in my classroom and the knowledge to improve it.


Learning more than I thought!!

Looking back to the beginning of this course, I learned so many things!  The concepts of teaching presence and class community have developed for me and my understanding has increased.  With this knowledge I have been able to incorporate it into my online course and will be able to incorporate the information into my f2f classroom as well.  Little things such as titles can have an impact on the learner.  This is something that I have incorporated into my online course under Alex’s guidance and look forward to incorporating it into my f2f classroom.  In an online course environment, I now understand the importance of ice breaker activities and working with your classmates.  In ETAP 640, I really feel a part of the class which is the first time in an online course.  It is great to be in a course that has the parts necessary for a successful online course as through experience is the best way to learn.  This is really important for me due to my students that will be involved.   I really need to make sure I make them feel apart, are motivated and intrigued to participate in my course.  Through this course and activities so far I have learned to assume nothing in the development but at the same time have trust and faith in my students that they will succeed.  It is through teaching presence and class community that I feel success will follow my students!

Through this course, I felt myself want to participate more and actually participate more in class discussion than I have in previous classes.  This is why I do feel that the aspects of ETAP 640 such as teaching presence and class community are important.  The experience of these aspects means more to me than reading about how they are needed and why they lead to success in an online course.  I am a person that needs to see it to believe it!

I am trying to present my material in a manner that is extremely organized and easy to follow for my students.  From my experience if there is an part in an online course that allows for questions of what you are suppose to do will lead to my students to miss out on the educational opportunity I am trying to expose them to.  My course in a way needs to be “flawless” due to the age group and students not always pushing through to figure it out but just coming to the conclusion of asking me exactly how to do it when they would see me.  Using an online learning environment will be new for my students and I can foresee those avoiding asking questions when confusion arises and waiting to see me in person since it will be a flipped classroom.

One aspect of my course at this moment that I am not going to be completely satisfied with is the videos I will be using for lectures.  I am going to be using videos from Kahn academy and such that I find but, would rather have my own videos.  At this time, due to it being summer, I do not have access to the equipment to create my own as I would in my classroom when school starts.  This will be a part of my course that I would want to change before implementation but, the videos I will be using would convey the information I need to.  The difference between finding videos and creating my own will help with my teaching presence in the course.  I think students will not respond as well as they would if I was the one delivering the information in the lecture videos.  At the beginning of this course, I was content with using others videos but throughout the course and information I have learned they will not be enough anymore!


What has challenged me?!



I would have to say the overall creation of an online course had been challenging for me.  Creating an online math course with which I have never taken an online math course makes it difficult.  I relate this to going through my undergrad classes and the professors always having examples that deal with English and Social Studies but not math.  I had one education math course that was specific towards math and that was after my student teaching experience and the supervisor of my classmates and I creating a new seminar course for us after hearing our reflections of the other education courses. I personally learn best by seeing examples and models of what I am expected to do.  The difficulty I see with a math online course compared to other core classes is the need to demonstrate processes while giving a complete understandable explanation.  This is what lead me to my choice of a flipped classroom especially for the age group, 8th graders, that I am designing my course for.

Another difficulty I have experienced while taking this course is the amount of preparation before delivering the course.  After reading course materials such as a series of unfortunate online events and how to avoid them, and viewing the audio clips attached to the courses for observation I understand the need to fully create my course before the beginning and to have a finished product to use after the completion of the course.  I feel I struggled with this due to having taught for 4 years, I have taught a different course each year and was creating most material as I went.  This really allowed me to taper the material for the classes I was teaching.  This next school year will be the first year I am teaching the same content! With the extensive preparation that online courses require I was worried that I would not be able to taper the material to my students.  To overcome this, I believe I can make up for this with feedback.  When giving feedback to students, if I feel they need more practice or direction with a topic, I can direct them to a source where they can get this.  I feel Alex does this with our activities we have created for the creation of our online courses and within discussions when we have questions getting us to resources to answer our questions.

Going through this course and creating my own, I really have been focusing on creating a course that my students can be successful in.  I feel as though I have had to direct my learning in the course to the age level I am targeting and adapting some of the strategies for the age level.  Of course the teaching presence and class community level that is in my course will need to be just as good as other online courses.  I do feel it is how I present the material for my students and motivate the students in my course that I have had to really consider in the creation.  This is due to the fact that my students are required to take the course as with college courses, students are choosing the course they are taking and the fact of being there.  This has been mentioned in some of the class discussions in previous modules.  One feature in one of the courses we observed had a check in where you would put a code in to mark your attendance.  I think this feature would be good to use for my middle schooler’s as a quick way to see which students had at least logged on to attempt to complete the assignment.  One of the biggest factors I need to continue to use in the creation of the course is thinking from the students perspective.



The discussions this week and readings we have done we making me think about the place of an online course in secondary school.  At this point, I do believe that a flipped classroom is a great alternative to the traditional f2f classroom and could improve the success of some students do to the ability of the student to view the lecture at their own pace and in class be able to work with the problems while asking the teacher as many questions that they have.  It does give an opportunity to increase the average amount of time at teacher can spend on each student in their class.  More time per students is a huge plus do to the increasing class sizes we are experiencing in the public school.














What about a complete online course? At this point, I do feel a complete online course has its possibilities and place in the secondary school.  The one possibility that I have been thinking about lately is for students that are home-tutored.  I personally home tutor outside of teaching for my school district.  Students that I end up tutoring are out of school for various reasons; medical, suspension, anxiety, etc.  Online course offer the opportunity for students t have material presented to them with a teacher that is certified in that course area.  When I am tutoring for the district, I tutor science, English, social studies, and math. If time during our sessions, I do help students with their other non-core courses.  I do my best in the subjects besides math but do find that I have to look up information more.  I have no problem saying that I do not deliver the material as well as a teacher who is certified in that content area.  Not only with this benefit students but, the school districts as well.  Each time a student is out being home tutored, they are paying the tutor hourly.  I personally have 5 of my students out being tutored this year and there were a lot more as I only teach a fourth of the eighth graders in the district.  If the school had online courses, the students could attend class while home and not have that change in the delivery of content. As finances are a important topic for all school districts these days, I do see this a way they could help their budget.


Resistance towards online education decreasing?

At this moment, I feel as though I as less resistant towards the idea of online education working for my students.  Through the discussions, readings and research I have done, I do feel that an online course can be created for my students to be successful just as they would be in the classroom if not more.  My conclusion of a successful course comes from be prepared, providing guidance and support, and designing the course towards my students.  In order to be prepared, I need to have my course fully designed before the start of using it.  This has been a suggestion through the interviews and readings and I could not feel any stronger about this.  In the course, I am going to have minor changes and adjustments but, my focus will be guiding and supporting my students and providing as much feedback as I can.  If my course has not been fully designed, I will not be able to provide the feedback the students will need to be successful.  Through the research I have done and I have discussed this in my postings, I need to make sure I support and guide my students through the online course and their transition (either to the online environment and/or self-regulating their learning).  As Luke had stated, “as Secondary school teachers, who are catering to an interned clientele, we can never solely serve the “some” we must always serve “all”. ”  This statement is what had previous fueled my resistance.  How would I create a course that would work for all my students?  Just as I would in a traditional class, I would differentiate my teaching for the students in my class.  I feel incorporating an online portion (or if I used a full online course) will allow more ways to do this.  I will be able to provide multiple ways of presenting the lesson/lecture and the students can choose the one that works best for them.  I can direct students to review certain skills and point them in the right direction.  This is where the design of the course is key in allowing the option to reach all of my students.

Not only do I need to have faith in myself and my teaching, I need to have faith that my students will rise to the occasion and be successful (as Kelly had mentioned in the discussions).  There are factors of online education that can pull and entice students that are normally disengaged in the traditional classroom.  One is as simple as them using the media of a computer for their learning.

In summary, I feel deep down  I could have come up with the difference between an online course for the secondary level and undergrad/graduate level as being the amount of guidance and support as it is very similar in a traditional course.  This is not the only factor but, I do believe it is a very significant factor as through this support and guidance, I will be able to provide students tools that will help them be successful in an online course as they will be working on self-regulating their learning and take control.  Which students always want choice in their education!



What have I learned?

During or after doing any of these assignments: What have you learned that you did not know before? How will you apply what you have learned to your own course? What decisions have you made so far about your own online course? What did you observe about yourself during your own completion of these learning activities? How do you interact in this course? What is working for you? What would you change/suggest to make it better for you?

I have made it through two modules! I am starting to feel more comfortable in the course and not as nervous but still have concerns with my online course that I am creating.  Personally the change in the discussion requirements was a huge relief for me as reaching the requirements became my focus over the overall learning of the module.  From watching the “what works presentation“, reading the module 2 readings A Series of Unfortunate Online Events and How to Avoid Them and  “Do online students dream of electric teachers?” and participating in the the module discussions, I learned

* to assume nothing when creating my course

* make sure clear expectations and guidelines are present

*have redundant and clear instructional cues

* be clear on my availability and responsiveness in the course

* i need to think literal when creating guidelines and directions

*create course before starting and it takes quite a bit of time

* have a conversational tone within the course as if I am talking to that one particular students

*have consistency with in my modules as in size and material

*it is not possible to effectively incorporate traditional learning activities in the online classroom

As I am going through and creating my course I need to have the above notes incorporated into my course.  I can not assume that because my students are constantly using technological devices and the internet that they will know how to navigate my course or use the tools I will be asking them to do.  From module activities it has been stated that it is very important to have the course created ahead of time.  I can see the importance of this in that it will make the course run well and you can make sure all links activities are working.  The one concern I have with this is the ability to then adapt the material to how students are performing. Since I am not having a fully online course, I will be seeing students and be able to work with them on any topics they are struggling with but if I have my online part of the course set up will this prevent me of changing the pace of certain topics.  Also, as I am creating the course the profile was asking for the activities that I will be using.  This past year, I created my curriculum as I went.  Yes this was a lot of work but I was able to create activities specific to the group of students I was working with.  I feel like if I create all activities ahead of time that will be going with my modules I will be restricting myself.  So I question how can I set up my course as much as possible while leaving  myself room to adjust and adapt the material to my students?

With the age group I am working with, I will need to be very clear in my course especially as noted in Mary’s response in one of the discussions. She noted that the middle school students tend not to take the responsibility of communicating in the course and they were less apt to read and follow directions.   This is where I will need to be very clear, concise and literal with my directions and expectations to ensure the students will get the most out of the course.  I can not assign anything that is length as the students will not spend the time looking at it.

With the creation of my course, I need to think of alternate assessments besides tests.  One alternate assessment that I have thought about is the creation of a “book” with in the book the students will need to talk about the topic and explain how it is to be completed with examples shown.  By completing the book, I will be able to assess the students understanding.

As for how I am doing in this course, I need to make sure I am making connections.  I tend to keep activities separate when in fact they link together and enhance each activity.  This is something I need to work on as this is how I have approached classes before.  I want to complete activities and be done with them where in the online classes the activities keep on going.  One thing I would like to see is an the background of an online course where I can go in and explore.  Seeing the example online courses was beneficial especially to hear the insight of other creators but as we are starting to create our own I would like to see the “programming” part.


Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

After viewing the example online courses, listening to the audio commentary and viewing the what works video by Alexandra it is important to be redundant, have repetition and consistent instructional cues in your online course.  At first I was questioning how much repetition and redundancy is needed.  I started to think about my face-to-face classroom.  I repeat steps and directions so much.  I have the daily agenda on the white board, important dates are listed on the board, Edline (internet homework site for students and parents) and spoken about daily.  On top of all this information, at the beginning of class I verbally walk them through what we will be doing and what they need to start on.  I repeat myself constantly! If I repeat myself this much in the face-to-face classroom, I must need to increase it in the online classroom.

After doing research on repetition and redundancy in the classroom, I came across the redundancy effect. A definition can be found on this website.   The website defines it as “the phenomenon in instruction where learning is hindered when additional information is presented to learners compared to the presentation of less information.”  How do I make sure I do not fall in this category when I create my course? I feel organization is key and making sure to not overload the students with options.  In Bill Pelz online developmental psychology course, he had stated in the audio that his approach to repetition and redundancy has changed, specifically a 180.  The method he now uses is creating instructional documents in one place and then placing links to the material where and when he feels students need it.  So at this point I just want to make sure I repeat enough with out overwhelming and taking away from the learning I want to take place.

This decreases the chance of student confusion.  I do not want my students looking at the online course as this child is to the chalkboard. (3)