Your online content is only a portion of your blended learning environment.
Tagxedo – Tag Cloud with Styles
You are the same teacher online as in the classroom. However, the duration of it your written words online compared to the spoken words in your classroom is impressive. Your online content is a unique opportunity to truly craft the lasting impression of what you hope your physical classroom environment already is. We work for years to perfect the atmosphere of our physical classroom, but what do we need to be aware of as we create our online classroom?
What is important to you?
You demonstrate what is important in your face-to-face classroom by your actions and with your speech, but how do you plan to show what is important in the online content of your course?
Features of online content providers, learning management system or something lighter, usually provide communication tools. While these are not the same as how you communicate in the face-to-face setting, you can utilize these to provide your message of what you value in this class.
These can easily be set up ahead of time. Think about two things when considering announcements for your class: what would you write on the board/screen on your classroom, and what are those reminders you give every class every time as students complete something? Your announcements to the whole class at the beginning of something are course-level announcements, your reminders at given times are time-released/conditional announcements. Course-level go out at the start of a course, unit, or project. Time-released or conditional announcements are delivered as students progress to a certain spot in your online content.
Discussions are a place where student thinking can become transparent and should be encouraged. Teachers can encourage by asked about things like misconceptions while reserving judgment. Teachers can provide a rubric which provides value for responding thoughtfully, not necessarily correctly.
It is also useful to let the discussion go as long as possible as a student-directed discussion.
Teacher to one student messaging can be similar to a one-on-one conference in the face-to-face setting. They should be used when an intervention in student work is needed. However, they can also be conditionally scheduled to send at the end of units, submissions. They can most effectively be sent after a particularly good job. Unlike face-to-face words of encouragement, these can be saved and shared with parents.
Do you encourage creativity, problem solving? Or are you a micromanager?
The permission you give your students from the start cues them into if they are encouraged to create their own solutions to the problems posed to them, or if they have to stay within certain guidelines. Teachers with the tendency to micromanage find their work load is greater and their students are thinking less than they are!
For the chronic micromanager, distributing projects via online content could be the gift which allows you to let go of the control you sometimes take back in the face-to-face classroom. When crafting your directions, rubrics, guiding online content the instructor can omit references to his/her approval and substitute references to rubrics/guidelines in your online content. One disadvantage the face-to-face classroom has for teachers is that it is (too) easy to revert to our chronic habits – for some of us that means taking control when we see a students struggling. Yet we know that disequilibrium is when the greatest learning can happen.
Building in supports to encourage creative problem solving and independent thinking can be one of the greatest things your online content does for your overall classroom environment!
Participatory or Passive?
Online content might have some connotations for you, your students, or their parents. Choose to confront those beliefs head-on. Many consider online learning to be passive, but your configuration of your online content really dictates that.
Consider selecting to put your projects, project guidelines, project rubrics online first. You could make the online content the destination for participatory events like project work and discussions over more passive ‘worksheet’-type activities.
The online content portion of your blended learning environment can reinforce your core classroom beliefs.
You can preview, introduce, and/or reinforce overall values and select themes as each is introduced in your physical classroom. Are there any other considerations you contemplate when forming your online content presence?