Reply – Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
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Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
— by Marcia Klimes Marcia Klimes
I teach 7-12 French, Music, and Digital Arts at Alpha Omega Academy, an online Christian school.  We use Ignitia as our learning management system, and much of our curriculum has been developed and written by a section of our company called Odysseyware.   Our 2400-count student body is international and varied.   We serve students from individual families, students in boarding-type schools, and students from brick-and-mortar public and private schools.  AOA is accredited and graduates @ 200 seniors each year.  

In our courses, there are 5 units (or chapters) in each semester, each containing learning lessons, quizzes, a unit exam, and projects.  The program is designed so that students read, study, and complete 1-2 learning lessons each day.   Each lesson has a set of questions for students to complete before moving on, and they must score at least 80% before they can move on to the next lesson.  Following 4-6 lessons, they take a quiz, and at the end of the unit, they complete a comprehensive unit test.   As teachers here, we are allowed and encouraged to customize our courses.  One way we do that is by creating projects.  I really love that part of my job!  Based on the problems my students have encountered doing their work or the need for more practice with certain skills, I tweak and sometimes rewrite my projects each year.
One of the biggest challenges we have faced as a faculty is maintaining a connection with our students.  We hold online 30-minute classes using gotomeeting or gototraining.  It’s a good place for students to interact with other students since they are connected with audio, and oftentimes, we use activities such as Jeopardy lab games to practice skills.  Additionally, we daily have online office hours in a gotomeeting where students can come for help or complete conversation projects.  However, our school runs year-round and students start their classes at varying times, so it is impossible to assign group projects.  

Much of my instruction to students is one-to-one on the phone.  In French, we practice pronunciation and grammar constructions which eventually leads to conversations.  In Music Appreciation, Music Theory, and Digital Arts, my communications with students involve answering specific questions they may have about music notation software, listening project requirements, and photography.

Since we have the capability of writing lessons and projects as well as assessments such as quizzes and tests, I am very interested in the possibility of adding my own screencasts or videos to both lessons and projects.