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Posts Tagged ‘Online Learning’

Online Learning – Changing OUr View of Schooling

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that we most often use our own schooling as a standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, children today begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. This provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

This need to assimilate so much information makes the teaching learning process even more challenging.  The Internet offers the opportunity for students to work at their own level, at their own pace, on topics that are of personal interest.  Our work is a continuing effort to assist those we serve to understand and adapt their instructional programs by offering choices for personal learning.

Web-based, online learning gives students a unique opportunity to explore learning and gain knowledge at their own level.  Online learning offers a way to stay ahead of the information tide of an expanding knowledge base.  Students do not need to be time bound by their learning program.   Online learning can offer real-time learning in a vast number of subjects and topics for individual instruction. The best online learning programs will provide students and parents the flexibility necessary for true knowledge to take place.   We know that what we learned in school is not enough for the future of our children.  We have a responsibility to provide programs that offer skills and tools the students can use to ensure a successful future.

In this regard home schooling is reinventing the idea of school.  The integration of knowledge is a personal process, rather than a social process.  By viewing school not so much as a place, but the act of learning, those who home school have forced us to look at a new paradigm for schooling.  These parents recognize that acquiring knowledge does not need to be a group activity but is often more effective as an individual activity.  They know that how they learned is not the best method of learning for their children. Home schooling parents use varied approaches in teaching their children. Many have added online curricular programs to provide a new avenue of learning for their children.

How we learned and what we learned are not adequate measures of education for our children today. When I hear about educators who continue to teach the way they have for many years, it concerns me. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared us for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

Assuring Quality Online Programs through Accreditation

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Online instructional programs should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as CITA, NCA, or SAS.  Since the late 1800’s, American schools and colleges have had their trustworthiness and quality validated through accreditation.  The value of being accredited is that the quality of online education is validated through independent, self-study and on-site evaluation by educational professionals. As a result of the accreditation, the online program is more focused on improving student achievement.

Accreditation assures parents and the public that the online program is focused on raising student achievement, providing a safe and enriching online learning environment, adhering to high quality standards based on the latest research and successful professional practice, and maintaining an efficient and effective operation. Accreditation also extends across state lines, thus facilitating a consistent program for all U. S. students.

Accreditation provides the instructional staff with a proven process for raising student achievement. Online learning programs benefit from multiple resources including publications, current research, manuals, software, professional development, and conferences.  Through the accreditation process and resources, online programs improve their ability to analyze data and make sound educational decisions based on that data.

In addition to raising student achievement, accreditation eases the transition of students as they move from one online program to another accredited online program or into a traditional school program.  The regional nature of accreditation allows a receiving program in the same or another state to assess the quality of the online program and accept the incoming student’s credits and academic record. This ease of transfer applies across the nation through reciprocal agreements among the regional accrediting agencies.

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.

The difference between regular school and online learning…….

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Online education represents a new kind of challenge for students. Each student’s and parent’s expectations differ widely, and the e-Tutor response may not always meet expectations. There are some things all students can expect. Students can expect to be challenged academically. They can expect to not understand everything they experience in an online educational program. They can expect to not always see the relevance of what they are asked to do. But, they also can expect that resources will be available to help them.

It may seem obvious, but it sometimes comes as a shock to students that online learning will require increased academic skill. Consider the following:

Traditional School

e-Tutor Online Education

  • Attendance is required
  • Attendance is not enforced
  • Teachers often test over clearly reviewed materials
  • Three forms of testing take place in each e-Tutor Lesson Module: Self Check (Problem Statement), Parent Review (Activities and Extended Learning), Quizzes and Exams are automatically scored by e-Tutor.  e-Tutor emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Students study an average of one hour per week per class
  • Students are expected to complete no more than four lesson modules each day and to spend one to one and a half hours on each lesson module.
  • Weeks are full of structured activities
  • Possibilities for family, individual and outside involvement are endless and sometimes overwhelming
  • Teachers often remind students of deadlines, overdue work, and their current grades
  • e-Tutor expects students, with parents assisting, to schedule their own learning program and to keep track of the number of lesson modules completed, as well as scores for quizzes and exams.
  • Class structure is discussed in detail at the beginning of the year
  • Recommended learning programs are spelled out in the original email that goes to parents.
  • Teachers can usually be found in their classrooms throughout the day
  • e-Tutor can be contacted anytime 24/7 via email.  Response is within twenty-four hours.

Becoming an Online Tutor

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Make sure that the program you are considering offers the best in educational content, as well as services for educators and parents.  Another component that will provide the most innovative program is one that can be used anywhere there is Internet access without reliance on texts, workbooks or other ancillary materials or equipment.

Before you continue, can you answer the following questions?

  • Are you comfortable using the computer and internet applications?
  • Have you used internet-based templates in the past?
  • Are you creative and able to develop instructional content without aid?

To be considered for a tutoring position with most accredited and reliable online learning programs, applicants must provide the following:

Education

The best accredited programs require tutors to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Teacher certification is preferred, but not required.

Experience

Adequate experience in working with students of all ages in various capacities.

Writing Skills

Most online learning programs use templates to create assignments and or lessons for their students.  Therefore, applicants may be judged on their writing skills. You can practice using a template for writing lessons at Lesson Pro.  You may be asked to submit writing samples for different levels of students.

When using a template, make sure that all sections are complete.  You might find it helpful to write your sample in a text file or another document and then cut and past sections into the template.  Your writing sample may not guarantee a tutoring position.  Other qualifications are taken into consideration.  You can list your qualifications in a cover letter and most important in your resume.

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.

Don’t Pop Our Balloon!

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Over the years we have met with many skeptics. We find the following helpful when someone has tried to “pop our balloon.” It is far better to give an idea a chance….or at least to not immediately shoot it down….than to be one of those who always says “Won’t work,” “Bad idea,” or “Too risky;” and so, never doing anything great!

  • This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union internal memo, 1876
  • “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920’s.
  • “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.” A Yale management professor in response to Fred Smith’s proposal for an overnight delivery service. Smith is the founder of Federal Express Corporation.
  • “A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” Response to Debbi Field’s idea about starting Little Debbi Cookies.
  • “We didn’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Decca Recording Company rejection of the Beatles, 1962.
  • “If had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.” Spencer Silver on his invention of the Post-It Notes
  • “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or, we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So, then we went to Hewlett-Packard and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.’ ” Apple Computer Inc. Founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
  • “Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” 1921 New York Times on Goddard’s revolutionary rocket work.
  • “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of patents, 1899.

From Phi Delta Kappa

Are There Different Kinds of Smart?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Not long ago, most viewed intelligence as a single quantity …an immutable, monolithic construct known as “intelligence quotient” or “IQ.”

Today we’re pretty sure that is wrong.  Thanks to Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work and to corresponding developments in neurobiology, most experts now suspect there are at least several different kinds of intelligence.  Rather than a single quantity, intelligence is now largely seen as a grouping of capacities, each defined by Gardner as “an ability to solve a problem or fashion a product that is valued in one or more cultural settings.”

How many are there?  At last count, Gardner list 8 1/2 … Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist and half for Comedic Intelligence.

How many are likely to emerge?  Nobody really knows, but ultimately the question of precise numbers misses the point:  a more important question may be, “How do we use our many skills most effectively?”  And the answer seems to be.  “Use them often.”

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Overcoming Conventional Wisdom

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

TowerFor centuries, people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all times and surely he could not be wrong. All it would have taken was for one brave person to take two objects, one heavy and one light, and drop them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one stepped forward until nearly 2000 years after Aristotle’s death. In 1589, Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten-pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same time. But the power of belief in the conventional wisdom was so strong that the professors denied what they had seen. They continued to say Aristotle was right.

Considering the Best Measure for Quality Education

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach they way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.