Online learning: it’s not Plan B any more

The premise of this panel worried me; that online learning has been characterised as what you do when classrooms aren’t possible (bird-flu!) Really? Okay, let’s be tolerant. It turned out to be an interesting session, if a little narrow definition of online, and I’d like a bit more about blended approaches. EG> Why are we talking off-line and online if they are mutually exclusive.
It was interesting to hear about student and parent anxiety and asking questions like ‘if you could take this course face to face would you prefer that?’ (mostly, yes) and ‘Did you learn something about yourself at yourself as a learner’. (mostly, yes)  Here’s what the panelist said:
Matt Harris –  Head of Learning Resources, German European School, Singapore
Synchronous and asynchronous learning (German and Dutch offered to replace self-taught learning) using video conferencing primarily. What we’ve learned: pedagogy matters.
Edward Lawless – Principal – Pamoja Education
James McDonald – Head of School, Yokohama International School
Giving students access to subjects they can’t offer internally, but the world is changing.
Glenn Odlund – Head of School, Canadian International School, Singapore
Challenging the notion that online courses are for a ‘certain kind of kid’. Thinking of making it mandatory for students to take up 1 course online and hoping that students will engage in an online experience that  was so powerful it would leverage the more conventional bricks and mortars classes. They decided to offer one subject, ‘Economics’ as an online course only (and they had a good teacher on campus) They expected ‘push-back’ from parents and maybe teachers, but some has come from students. He describes the advantage of online: time and distance but also described the fact that MYP students had been circulating a petition asking that the Economics course be taught conventionally.
Denise Perrault – Head of Online Learning Devp, IB
Denise talked about ‘why bother’ and the four stages of online learning – substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition. What is the desired outcome? she asked.
Dennis Stanworth – Head of Academics, Yokohama International School
Dennis made some provocative statements; ‘are schools that don’t offer online courses going to be swept away by those that do?’, should an online subject be compulsory for all students?
Photo: Apple for the teacher, virtual apples? Photo: Warrick
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