Reply – Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
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Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
— by Dan Leete Dan Leete
I teach high school art at Sumner-Fredericksburg High School in Sumner, Iowa.  While many of my classes are hands-on classes such as drawing, painting, pottery and sculpture, we do offer classes that are computer bases in the field of Graphic Arts.  We offer Computer Graphic Arts I and Computer Graphic Arts II.  These classes are based on the graphic arts field and are held in a fairly modern computer lab setting.

Sumner-Fredericksburg has been a 1:1 school for 4 years.  Currently we are a Mac iPad school with all students 9-12 are in possession of a school owned iPad.  The iPads were very helpful in the classroom with the many Apps that are available.  The pitfalls that many teachers saw were too many non educational apps (games) and it was hard for word processing.  

This fall we are switching to Chromebooks.  I feel that as an art teacher the iPads are great for use of project development, sketching, searching and collecting reference photos and making digital portfolios of the students work.  As a whole school setting I believe that the Chromebooks will be a better overall fit for our students.  We will still have some iPads for students and teachers to use.  These will be available on  iPad Carts that will be checked out through our technology department.

I feel that the blended learning would be beneficial to my students as a way to work on projects individually and share their thoughts and projects more freely with the instructor and other students.
One issue we face at Sumner-Fredericksburg is time for students to take elective classes like art.  We are on a Trimester schedule with our day consisting of 6 period days.  This makes it extremely difficult for students to find an open class period that allows them to take elective classes.  I believe that the online/blended class offerings may be an excellent way to help these students to still experience those elective classes that I feel are very important in their high school education.  It also allows students that take ICN classes that chance to take a class on their off days and stay up to date with the rest of the class.

I feel that largest challenge would be the willingness of teachers and students to see the possibilities of the blended classroom.  I think a successful teacher is one that can adapt with the times and challenges that come along throughout their teaching career.  The ability to adapt and create a schedule that works and benefits students is a great thing.  I feel that an open communication line between the counselor who schedules classes and the teacher that would incorporate some blended learning opportunities is the greatest aspect of making blended learning in an art room setting.

I believe the statement that technology is no longer a supplement in the classroom is very true.  We use the iPads daily as a tool to document the design process and project progress in a digital portfolio.  We also use technology to share ideas about their project with eachother.