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Posts Tagged ‘distance education’

Test Anxiety

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Spring traditionally signals test-taking time in many parts of the United States. Research shows that being “test wise” improves a student’s scores. To help your child become more comfortable with test taking:

  • Talk about the tests ahead of time with your child.
  • Build your child’s confidence through study and practice at home.
  • Show a positive attitude toward taking tests.

Tell you child:I know you will do the best you can, or

The world won’t end if you are not number one.

  • Encourage your child to listen carefully to spoken test instructions. You can provide practice by giving simple, then gradually more complex, instructions for things to be done at home.

Holidays and the “Missing Parent”

Sunday, December 30th, 2012
Holidays can be difficult times for children when their parents are divorced or separated.  According to psychologists Evan Imber-Black and Janine Roberts”  “The child may be hurt or angry when the parent does not contact him on a holiday.  The parent who lives with the child may then be left to deal with the emotional reactions.  The child may have fantasies that the holiday would be much better with the missing parents.  or he may blame the parent he is with for the fact the other isn’t there.”

Ignoring the emotional stress may be tempting….especially if you yourself are still dealing with the stress and emotions of a divorce or separation.  But that only causes your child to feel worse, the authors say.

They suggest:  Sit down with the child and look at pictures of the missing parent and talk about what it would be like to have contact with him or her.  Set aside your own anger and simply listen to your child’s feeling, say the authors.  help make contact with relatives of the missing parent if they want to see the child.  if there is no chance of the child reconnecting with a missing parent at holidays, have an honest discussion about the subject.

“Family Change: Don’t Cancel Holidays,” Psychology Today

Importance of Accrediting Online Learning Programs

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Accreditation comes from the Latin word credito–meaning to trust since the late 1800’s. American schools and colleges have had their trustworthiness and quality validated through accreditation.  Recently some online educational programs have sought accreditation.  The value of being accredited is that the quality of the online instructional program  is validated through Self-Study and on-site evaluation by educational professionals.

˜Benefits to Students

  • Increased performance. Accreditation focuses the program on improving learning for all students. A six-year study of schools actively engaged in the accreditation process revealed that 79% made verifiable gains in student achievement.
  • Transfer of credits. In addition to raising student achievement, accreditation eases the transition of students as they move from an online program to another accredited school. The regional nature of accreditation allows a receiving school in the same or another state to assess the quality of the online learning program and accept the incoming student’s credits and academic record. This ease of transfer applies across the nation through reciprocal agreements between the regional accrediting agencies.
  • Access to programs and scholarships. Accreditation can also benefit web-based students as they participate in specific sports programs, apply for federal grants or scholarships, or pursue admission to colleges, technical schools, or military programs that require students to come from accredited schools.

˜Benefits to Parents and the General Public

Accreditation assures parents and the public that the program is focused on raising student achievement, providing a safe and enriching learning environment, and maintaining an efficient and effective operation. Accreditation extends across state lines, assuring parents and the public that the online learning adheres to high quality standards based on the latest research and successful professional practice.

˜Benefits to Educators

Accreditation provides the online instructional staff with a proven process for raising student achievement.  Educators benefit from multiple resources (publications, manuals, software, professional development, and conferences), all of which assist in educational improvement. In addition, educators gain access to a network of schools to share best practices and professional knowledge.  Educators gain valuable information about effective practices in other programs through participation on peer review teams. Through the accreditation process and resources, the online program improves its ability to analyze data and make sound educational decisions based on that data. Finally, accreditation provides program administrators with deserved recognition for going above and beyond the minimum to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to quality and to success for all

Online Instructional Framework

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
Online instruction should  focus on relevant and interesting topics emphasizing basic skills with content that applies to real-life situations which students can relate to, such as creating a budget or reviewing a movie.
The e-Tutor lesson modules, consist of nine parts followed by an assessment section, which contains quizzes and an exam.
  1. Introduction – a brief statement explaining the topic of the lesson.
  2. Grade Level – e-Tutor lessons are cross-aged at Primary, Intermediate, Middle/Jr. High, and High School.
  3. Lesson Goals – goals and objectives are modeled after national and state learning standards in the major subject areas.
  4. Resources – links to quality education web sites where students can find information to reinforce or expand upon the information given in the Study Guide.
  5. Lesson Problem – setting the stage for learning by posing a question(s) to be answered in completing the lesson.
  6. Vocabulary – enriched vocabulary words new to students are hyper-linked to dictionaries on the Internet.
  7. Study Guide – the main body of each lesson contains information on basic skills and concepts that students need to be successful learners.
  8. Activities – worksheets, experiments, projects that give the student practice in what s/he has learned.
  9. Extended Learning – additional thought provoking activities that stimulate logical thinking, creative reasoning and critical thinking.

Each section of the learning modules (Resources, Vocabulary, Study Guide, Activities, and Extended Learning) contributes to the learning process in a unique way.  These modules, interesting topics and colorful graphics, make the online instructional program effective and inviting to the student.  With the use of many valuable online educational resources, no place in the world is more than a few mouse clicks away.

For example, in a lesson module that investigates the giant pandas, the student learns about the pressing problem of saving the endangered animal by connecting to the World Wildlife Funds where the giant panda is one of the top ten most endangered species.  The student is later linked to a map of China to study the native terrain of the pandas and to the San Diego Zoo for information about panda research.  In this engaged learning environment, the students routinely take virtual field trips to every corner of the earth from the computer.

Online students are not time-stressed.   A well-developed online instructional program can help students focus on learning, instead of time, by assisting the learner to manage information, by providing resources, and by being “open” 24 hours a day.   This method of learning encourages students to learn by doing, simulating the real world situation.

Seven Governing Goals for Online Learning

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Online education powerfully combines aspects of distance learning and open learning with the expertise of an experienced online instructor who guides the learning process.  Distance learning is generally defined as any mode of learning where the study takes place wholly at home but the materials are still “physical,” like computer programs, books, cassettes, CD-ROMs, and videos. Open learning is where study takes place off site the majority of the time, but requires some infrequent attendance at a center. It includes mediums that are both physical and electronic. Online learning is where the study takes place over the Internet, either live or via email lessons sent to the student’s inbox.

The online instructional program should include seven governing goals:

1. An online community is established and interaction is monitored by an educator.  An online community of learners increases the likelihood of success for students.   Without a social or emotional connection, technology further distances the learner from the desire to connect with the content (Palloff & Pratt, 1999).

2.   Online instruction should follow a set format and needs to be consistent according to preset specifications across all programs, while adhering to core standards for learning.

3. Assessment that includes immediate feedback should be customized to align with student progress through smart software which monitors results of student-self assessment, parent assessment and  program/educator assessment.

4. Parents need to be part of the teaching-learning process.  Online learning lends itself well to parental involvement.  The flexible nature of online learning is ideal for parents who don’t have time to meet with educators.  Parental resources should be available for parents to review 24/7.   Programs need to be simple and easy to use so that parents have equal access to the important information available to them.  Children may be able to help their parents, but this should not be an expected part of the program.

5. Age appropriate Internet links need to be a part of each online lesson module, with smart programs checking for dead links. The links should support the concept or skill being taught in the instructional program.

6. Instructional material should be available for a broad cross-section of students from grades K-12.

7. While completing instructional material, students will learn that the Internet is a tool that can enhance learning, independence, self direction and can provide for the efficient use and validation of reliable information.

Misconceptions About Online Learning

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Current data is misleading, referring to any and all instruction that occurs via the Internet as “online learning” when much of the instruction is nothing more than scanned copies of materials used in the traditional classroom.  The term “online learning” has been muddied as those claiming to use the medium either do not understand the qualitative difference between traditional classroom instruction and online instruction, or they claim use of technology in order to fulfill administrative requirements for such, without providing authentic online instruction. Lack of  training for innovative, thoughtful, and creative use of technology often stymies effective teaching online.

Online education powerfully combines aspects of distance learning and open learning with the expertise of an experienced online instructor who guides the learning process. Distance learning is generally defined as any mode of learning where the study takes place wholly at home but the materials are still “physical,”  like books, cassettes, CD-ROMs, and videos.  Open learning takes place off site the majority of the time, but requires some infrequent attendance at a center. It includes mediums that are both physical and electronic. Online learning study takes place over the Internet, either live or via email lessons sent to the student’s inbox.

Current research would have us believe that the need for online learning is already being met, that K – 12 online learning is the direction education is already headed. Research states that seven hundred thousand students across the U. S. in grades K – 12 were enrolled in online learning in 2006, and 2007-2008 enrollment estimates were at 1,030,000 (Picciano & Seaman, 2009) and that K – 12 Internet-based education is growing by 30 to 47 percent each year (Newman, Stein, & Trask, 2003; Picciano & Seaman, 2007). “Forty four states have significant supplemental online learning programs, or significant full-time programs” (Watson, et al., 2008, p. 8). Other states are in the planning stages for online learning programs. Seventy one percent of school districts that currently offer distance education programs are planning to grow their programs in the next year (NCES, 2008).

While these statistics may be accurate, what is lacking is a clear definition of what online learning looks like in practice.  Defining online courses, as those that rely on eighty percent of instruction online is merely the first step in defining online education. We propose a definition that clarifies some of the misconceptions teachers, administrators, and students may have about online education. These include concerns that online instruction leaves the  teacher out of the educational process, that average or below-average performing students in traditional classrooms fare even more poorly in online courses, and that online courses are inferior to traditional classroom settings (Picciano & Seaman, 2009).

The model online instructional program provides the following:

  • The program meets National Goals for Learning in the areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Science and is designed for students from kindergarten through grade twelve.
  • Each lesson module has several parts including an introduction, vocabulary, a lesson problem, statement of curricular standards, resources, study guide, activities, extended learning, and quizzes and exams.
  • An adequate number of lesson modules are provided to fulfill the instructional requirement for students.  These modules include a wide range of topics, informational web sites and interesting activities that help to create a unique learning experience.
  • The program provides immediate feedback to students and parents. Multiple choice questions follow each study guide to check for comprehension and understanding of concepts learned.
  • The program includes student and teacher/parent resources, discussion area, homework help, and unique email features.
  • Lesson modules are written by educators in multiple subject areas. Students can work at their own ability level and at their own pace. The lesson modules emphasize achievement in basic skills for learning.
  • The most important key to online learning is student success and students are more likely to succeed if the information is interesting and relevant for them.
  • The original content of the lesson modules apply to real life situations that students can relate to, such as, creating a budget or reviewing a movie.
  • The program is fully accessible through the Internet. There should be no plug-ins, or additional software with the program.
  • The depth of content, use of graphics, activities and inclusion of web sites make the typical online instructional program unique when compared to other educational programs and sites on the Internet.

Eight Standards Guide Internet-Based Learning

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Online Instructional Model

An effective online instructional program integrates innovative, research-based components.  eTutor began conducting research in the fall of 1997 and determined that online instructional programs should be guided by the following standards:

  1. Instructional lesson format needs to be consistent
  2. Immediate feedback is necessary for both student and parent
  3. Instruction should be customized to student progress
  4. Parents need to be part of the teaching-learning program
  5. Instruction should be linked to National and State Learning Goals
  6. Appropriate Internet links need to be an integral part of each instructional lesson
  7. Instructional lessons should be available to students from grades K – 12
  8. Students should learn the value and appropriate use of the Internet while completing instructional lessons

Beginning in 1998, eTutor established a new, higher standard for delivering fully integrated, superior learning over the Internet for grades K through 12.  eTutor accomplishes this by incorporating the best of current instructional practice with the power of the latest internet technology.

TEN Ways to Make the Most of STUDY TIME!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Relax a bit after school before doing homework. Then….

1. Find the best time to study

After school, after dinner…..homework should have a definite start and finish time. If the homework is finished early, the remaining time should be used to double-check and review.

2. The best place to study

Homework headquarters should be away from television,  phone, and other distractions. A writing surface and good light are necessities. A small table may be the best place for a young student, while a desk or table, even the floor or a bed, may work for an older student.

3. Be prepared

Have all the materials needed to complete assignments. Pencils, sharpener, eraser and paper for younger students, a pen, ruler, dictionary, thesaurus, and more may be necessary for older students.

4. Make a homework list

Make an easy two-part homework checklist:

______ List homework assignments in each class each day as they are made.

______ Check over the list at the end of the school day to make sure you have all the materials necessary to take home.

Show the assignment sheet to educators. They can help to see that you have everything to complete assignments at home.

5. Keep a homework calendar

Record due dates for major long-range assignments on a special calendar brings the task into focus. Work backwards, identifying all the steps along the way to completion of the assignment.

If a short paper is due on Friday, the last step is to write the final draft on Thursday.  The first step is to begin reading and note taking on Monday.

6. Study rhythms

Tackle the most difficult assignments when you are most alert and save easier tasks for off-peak times. Schedule several smaller segments of time for memorization. It is easier to learn in short stretches than at one long session. Try using an easier assignment as a break from something more difficult.

7. When you get stuck – Ask these questions…..

  • Have you read and followed directions carefully?
  • Are you taking short cuts that are confusing you?
  • Are you using your book properly?
  • Read the directions aloud….now do they make sense?
  • Have you tried making a picture, table, graph, or diagram to represent the known facts and relationships?
  • Have you tried to sold a similar, but less difficult problem?
  • Have you checked the glossaries, the table of contents or the indexes for help?
  • Did you copy the words or numbers correctly?
  • Are you trying to do too much of the work in your head?
  • Have you checked for careless mistakes?

Still stuck? Do other homework assignments for awhile. Go to learning program early and check with the educator. Remember…..educators want success from their students.

8. Ask for help

It is okay to ask for help. Ask parents, older brothers and sisters, just ask.

9. Take a break

Schedule one or more short breaks during the study time. Stretching the mind for an hour, calls for stretching the body for a few minutes. Do jumping jacks, play ping pong or the drums…..get up and move.

10. Book bag at bedtime

Create a fail-proof method for getting completed homework assignments to school on time. A good slogan is “homework goes in the book bag at bedtime.”

The Showcase of Learning, A Portfolio Primer

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Portfolios are powerful because they help students learn about their learning.  They provide an opportunity for students to share the responsibility for collecting proof or evidence of learning.  Portfolios are worth doing well because they are a rich resource for reporting…they help student and parents see the results of student learning for themselves.

All portfolios are a collection of evidence of student learning.  They become powerful when they have a purpose.  There are three major purposes for portfolios:  to display student work around a theme or subject, to show the process of learning and to show growth or progress.

e-Tutor provides a portfolio for each student that the parent can access.  The portfolio gives a report of the lessons completed and the results of quizzes and exams.   We also encourage our students to keep their own  progress portfolio.  We suggest that the student create a folder for each one of the major curricular areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.  As the Activity and Extended Learning sections are completed for each lesson,  these are placed in the folders.  Parents know where to find their child’s work, they can review what their child has done,  the child can refer back to what has been achieved and they provide a basis for discussion.

As time goes by other things can be added to the portfolio, such as a time sheet to record the time the child began and ended a learning session.  Parents can add copies of the e-Tutor portfolio, so that comparisons can be made between accomplishments in  the two types of assessment.

Such a portfolio showcases the learner and his or her own learning, rather than who they could be by making comparisons with others.

Home as the Learning Place

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
  • Provide a quiet appropriate place to study.
  • Encourage children to complete homework assignments by providing help and by answering questions.
  • Monitor television and computer time and contents.
  • Set consistent bedtime and wake-up schedules.
  • Engage your children in discussions on a variety of subjects…..current events, hobbies, nature, sports.