Reply – Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
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Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
— by Michaela Tinnes Michaela Tinnes
           I should start by stating that I am a substitute teacher. I have been working in the elementary, but mostly the middle school and high school for the last three years. The school where I have been working is what I would consider very blended in terms of online learning. In 2009, our school obtained a grant that has eventually supplied a MacBook computer for each student for grades 5-12. The younger grades have traveling labtop carts that they can access as the teachers find necessary. Even in the few years since the grant has been obtained, I have witnessed a heavy acceptance from the teachers of the blended learning styles. Almost every class has done away with paper and textbooks almost entirely, and all of the learning is typically accessed through the computers. Their projects usually involve some form of paper, slideshow, video, prezi, etc. All the documents that they need for these projects are usually also found on their computers, and then they will go through things as a class, but it's available even to those that can't join the classroom for whatever reason.
        When asked to describe an area within the school program where I believe the online/blended learning offers the most promise, I would have to answer the alternative program. We have a program for students, that if they cannot keep up or stay in a regular classroom for various reasons, they can complete their high school credits for that class through an online program. I have seen a lot of kids in the few years that I have been substitute teaching, that probably would have dropped out, or failed if not for this opportunity. Many that are in this program seem to really prefer the online learning style, and seem to excel at working at their own pace with the guidance of one overall instructor.
        I think one of the major challenges our schools have seen for implementation of blended/online learning is the motivation and distractions that come with online learning. Just like what was discussed in this learning module, the motivation for online learning is completely different than learning in a typical classroom. It has been difficult to encourage students to get their work done and stay on task with so many different avenues at their fingertips. I feel that it would be widely helpful and successful if they could implement a program that would allow the teach to see what each student was doing from her computer screen. I think this lack of monitoring has definitely created some difficulties, and made it more difficult for students to find the motivation required to keep up with their online learning class.
        One recurring item within the introduction to the online learner module that has stood out to me as the most important, is the demand for online learning seems to be constant. In other words it's not going anywhere. It has changed drastically, and already looks a lot different than it did when it first arrived on the scene in Iowa. Who knows what it will look like even a few years from now, but one thing for sure is that it seems to be here to stay.