Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Web-Based Courses

Last week Donald Girouard & Sophia Palahicky gave my Internet for Educators course an overview of Web Based Courses.
Check out Manitoba Education's webpage for information, since this post will be primarily be reflection.

In high school I took Grade 11 Pre-Calculus online. I must have been on the cutting edge of change, considering I graduated 10 years ago. There were modules to read through, weekly assignments to complete, online, timed tests and a final exam. Thinking back I think the assignments and tests were based on web forms: I could click the appropriate bubble in a multiple choice or fill in text box. I don't think it was the best option for me. Not having a living person to be accountable to, and remind me of when things were do, I did a large percentage of the reading and work last minute. Compounding this was the fact that homework assignments were out of five, so a small error on one of the questions could cost you 20% on the assignment. I don't remember communicating with the instructor or fellow students very much, if I did at all. The final exam was in person, in my school division office no less! I got a final grade of 72% in this course and am still sketchy on some aspects of the geometry of circles. I feel I would have achieved better if I had been in  the face-to-face option of this class, though I think it conflicted with another course I was taking, considering I got 99% next year in Grade 12 Pre-Calculus.

However, web based courses are much different now! Here's a run down on the types of courses offered in Manitoba on an interactivity scale.

There is much more technology available to bring teacher and peer interaction into online courses. IITV utilizes audio/video conferencing. Skype and Google Hangouts enable students to connect with each other outside of school. I could go on and on.

Some key points from the presentation that highlight the changes in WBCs since my day:

  • New WBCs are designed for interaction.
    • Journalling, discussions, blogs, wikis, chat,...
  • Written for students.
  • Predominately asynchronous, but can be synchronous, say using a tutoring session.
  • Teachers have designer access to the courses.

I'm excited about the ability to modify and/or add to the courses. Knowing that all students, and therefore all classrooms, are unique, having the ability to tweak a course to fit your students' needs is very beneficial.

Web based and distance learning courses are used for many reasons. We brainstormed some as a class during the presentation:

  • Small schools can combine to offer courses they would not 
  • Help for students with extended absences.
  • When f2f courses are in the same slot.
  • University entrance course that may not be offered f2f.
  • Credit Recovery.

Take Aways

  • An asynchronous course must have an accompanying f2f time slot. You cannot be given a full teaching schedule, plus a WBC.
  • WBC will NOT replace teachers. (I was unable to take German in high school, because of low enrollment. Therefore no teacher was payed to teach it. If interested students could take it via the web, it would be a job created for a teacher!)
  • Have to update the courses as internet standards are updated: HTML5, Mobile,...
  • We can have access to WBCs as a resource to use in our f2f classes!
  • Communication is key. Call students. Visit their school. Use available web 2.0 tools.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tyler, great post! I agree that I didn't get as much of my WBC compared to a f2f course. I felt weird going to write the exam and just meeting the professor and some of the students for the first time.
    I think that it is important to have that f2f aspect even if it is through skype or other programs like you said. I've never heard of Google Hangouts (?), yet another feature of google to learn!