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EDTECH 524 – Mid Semester Reflection

April 7th, 2014

Mid-semester Reflection

During my undergraduate career, my focus was on teaching but my ultimate goal had been to teach online.  In 2010, the online opportunities were fewer and harder to get.  I’ve applied to IDLA every year since I became certified.  It wasn’t until this year that I’ve gotten an interview.

As I said, online teaching is my goal so when I saw EDTECH 524 as a course offering, I was determined to take the course.  When I found out that IDLA was the partner school, I was very excited.

I’ve taken plenty of online courses at BSU from the student side.  I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate discussion boards, design modules, and conduct a few live sessions.  I regularly conduct live sessions at my job for new agents to the company.  These are live synchronous sessions that last 8 hours per day for three weeks for each class.  It can be rather intense and many of the same techniques used in a face to face classroom can be utilized.    I felt ready for the asynchronous classroom from the instructor side.  Going in, I was nervous and anxious.  I didn’t want to do something wrong.  I did not have much experience with Blackboard outside of my tinkering with Blackboard Coursesites.  I had no experience with Collaborate or Elluminate (which I now understand to be the same.)  I’ve used Adobe Connect plenty of times, but never Collaborate.

Now, more than half-way through the practicum, I realize that I had very good resources and a pretty good plan in place.  Before entering the classroom, I took a course in IDLA’s Blackboard that got me up to speed on IDLA policies and procedures.  I participated in two live sessions one in GoToMeeting and one in Collaborate that further clarified my responsibilities.  I took a crash course in Blackboard and found that it is very similar to Moodle.  I even got to play around with a demo course for English 12B in Blackboard.   I then took two weeks and eased into the two sections of senior English.  It “observed” and watched discussion boards, made a few announcements, and facilitated the discussion for one section.  I also took time to become familiar with the curriculum, read the novels that the students were reading, and become acclimated.  After that, I took the reins and released unit 5 to both sections.  I facilitated both discussion boards, graded all assignments, provided in-depth feedback on the student outlines, and provided positive and personal feedback on most assignment and exam questions.  Basically, they were mine for two weeks.  I even helped to conduct the intervention calls to parents and students for those students below a 70%.  This was a great experience.  I spoke to several students and parents and sent out a bunch of email.  I kept a log so that Kendra could document the information in the Student Information System which I did not have access to.  I did have an incident in which a student violated the academic honesty policy that I handled with the guidance of Kendra and Jeff (the online principle) as well as the site coordinator for the students regular school.

Now that unit 5 is over, I am backing out but remaining in the course to continue grading unit 5 assignments.  Many of the students, and this is common, turn things in late as IDLA’s policy is to accept late work for at least ½ credit throughout the term and Kendra’s policy is to accept it for full credit.  It has been a wonderful and positive experience.  The time that I have spent grading and involved in the class is about what I expected.  I do know a couple of people who teach for IDLA so I had some knowledge for the process.  Like I said, I’ve wanted to teach online, but I have had doubts that it would be stimulating and comparable to classroom teaching.  After this internship, I don’t have those doubts anymore.  I loved it and want to do more.  The only thing that I didn’t really experience is the live session, but English 12B does not include those since the students are scattered and not doing their coursework at the same time.  I did get to conduct office hours in the Academic Help Center in Collaborate.  No students took advantage of it, but it gave me some time to use Collaborate.  I’m not worried about the live sessions though since I do them on a very regular basis in my current employment duties.

As part of the internship process, I did design a discussion based assessment / activity that I targeted toward the beginning of the course that involved course expectations and allowed students to interact with what was expected of them and discuss what they expected to get out of the course.  I included an example of that lesson in my Blackboard Coursesites course as well as all of the announcements that I’ve created as part of the Online Teaching Field Experience.  Those can be found here.  Just log in with the username – user8903 and the password – user.

I don’t think that I could have asked for a more realistic and authentic experience from this internship.  I guess, I’m lucky that way, I had a very positive and realistic experience with my initial student teaching internship before my certification.  I’m very excited about the possibility of teaching for IDLA on a regular basis and other schools in the state.

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