Whether you agree with it or not, enrollment in online high school education is growing exponentially, with no signs of slowing down. And on top of that, starting during the 2011-2012 school year, incoming Freshman, are required to take at least one online course in order to graduate, in the state of Florida. Having taught online Physics for the past seven years, I am often asked how does learning Physics online compare to the traditional classroom? Although, this answer can be hinged upon the individual student’s learning styles and preferences, I am happy to say that my students are not alone in their learning experience and my role as their instructor is truly to facilitate their learning.
Just as the traditional school teacher uses a variety of tools to teach in their own classroom, I, as well, have a series of tools I use and continue to develop. Some of these tools include required discussion based assessments, daily on call hours, virtual classroom sessions and online simulations. In thinking about my work as an online teacher, I came across an EdTech Digest article, 10 Internet Technologies Educators Should Be Informed About – 2011 Update. Even though taking a class online in itself is considered emerging technology, I wanted to share some of my favorites tools and evaluate how my current practices rate against this list.
- Video and Podcasting Resources – I often refer my students to The Khan Academy and iTunes U.
- Digital Presentation Tools – My favorite simple and free tool is Jing. This program allows the user to capture their computer screen with audio. I often make short recordings for my students to share specific audio/video feedback on various assignments.
- Collaboration, Brainstorming Tools and Survey tools – I use Google Documents for form surveys, student collaboration, and schedule posting. In addition, I use Blackboard Collaborate for my virtual classroom. This site allows me to host virtual classroom sessions with my students. We can work on labs together on the site’s interactive whiteboard.
- Educational Gaming – I think the various applets and animations I use in my course might remotely fall into this category. Although, I would like to explore this area further. Perhaps the Physics of Angry Birds?!
Overall, I feel good about my level of comfort and use of current technologies included in the EdTech Digest list. However, there is always room to explore in every category! In addition, the areas I would like to add to my online educator’s toolbox include: Blogs, Social Networking and Lecture Capture. I’m especially intrigued on how I might try to “flip” my online classroom. Perhaps, an idea to explore for next time.