My online course is about blended learning, and it has been created for teachers in my building, so as I’ve designed it I’ve considered what I’ve learned in my research. My research (and experience in speaking with my colleagues) shows that time constraints are the biggest obstacle to teachers’ use of technology in the classroom. Their workloads are more demanding now than ever, due to an increased population of high-need students, pressure to teach to assessments, and demands to learn new content and skills. For that reason, my course is meant to be used in conjunction with traditional learning in staff meetings. It cannot be used effectively by itself. Teachers aren’t comfortable enough using technology to learn about it on their own. They also don’t have time to put in to an online course, unless meeting time is dedicated for them to do so. My live instruction will accompany my course for a number of reasons. First, I want to model the blended learning techniques I’m trying to teach. Second, I want to provide support and guidance as I am offering professional learning. And third, I want to communicate that what we’re doing is important enough for administrators to dedicate time to learning more about it.
Learner participation is a key to the success of this course. While I will provide the guidance and design of the learning process, a majority of the activity will be conducted by the learners. They will participate in a number of activities during our meeting times, and throughout the weeks between scheduled meetings. Evidence of learning will come in the form of their in-class and online discussions, shared experiences, feedback, and PLC meeting minutes. Learning will be mostly experiential, including a number of cooperative, problem-based and inquiry-led activities.
I am making a real effort to make my online course an authentic one that I can use in the fall. While this means that I am not including tons of resources, what I am including is what I consider to be essential to the experience. The informal, one-on-one interaction that accompanies it (in the form of team-teaching experiences) will play a significant role as well.