Reply – Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
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Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
— by Matthew Hanawalt Matthew Hanawalt
I am a teacher at a private school in St. Louis, and I taught the previous 8 years at a private school in Mexico.  I will reference both schools throughout my post.  Both schools use a learning management system – Haiku or Canvas – and both have online learning options through a program called Global Online Academy.  In this program, students are able to take classes that are not offered within the school.  In both schools, I have been expected to use the learning management system to post assignments.  Online assignments and posting of resources is typical for all teachers.  

Most teachers are using some form of online learning or blending, but the degree of blending tends to depend more on the teacher and than a particular subject or students.  I think virtually all teachers incorporate some online learning whether they involve videos, flipped classroom, or an online applet.  However, some teachers are nearly fully integrated with blogging, forums, and mostly all online assignments.  

I think the biggest obstacles to integrating more online and blended learning is teacher comfort with it.  It takes to time find or make online resources that fit the needs of a particular learning target.  Therefore, it takes commitment on the teacher to be willing to take the time to prepare the activity and courage to take the risk to implement the activity.  I think that online and blended activities need to be implemented incrementally, but it takes a time commitment for the teacher to implement them.  However, I am fortunate that at my schools, resources have not been an obstacle to implementation.

For online learning, I’m a math teacher, but I like the possibilities for a couple of reasons.  First, I like that it incorporates technology for 21st century learning.  Technology usage will be crucial throughout the students’ lives.  Also, incorporating online learning helps students focus on their learning which I believe can be more in control of the direction as opposed to teacher directed learning if students are given the necessary support to take control of their learning.  Additionally, I like that incorporating online learning helps those students who are uncomfortable with whole class contributions to have a voice to share their opinions online.