I have a very limited experience involved in distance learning. I do attend online courses with Alec for two semesters. I am studying to use zoom and google plus, and trying to get used to being involved in discussion with classmates without face to face. I prefer to figure out things myself in this stage of my learning. Hiding behind the Internet gives me some safety if I have nothing to share. However, thinking in another way, young students may easily to escape from learning in a distance education model. Online education requires a lot of self-discipline.
Brooke shares the same feeling with me but with his strong teaching experience: “for young children the face-to-face learning and connection with their teacher is invaluable. However, once students gain more independence, work ethic and intrinsic motivation (among other skills!), it makes sense that online/distance education can be highly beneficial. ” He himself enjoys the online type of learning very much in his master level of study.
Mentioning about blended learning, I think it is a great learning model, especially for professional training or some adult courses. I attended the LINC English training for a month. I was so lucky that LINC offered a blended course at that time. I met the instructor and classmates every Monday and Wednesday and finished online courses and assignments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My instructor made very meticulous plans for learning contents, online materials and assignments. As I am a student in education, I paid attention to her curriculum development. I had a strong feeling that running a blended course actually took her more work than running a normal face to face course.
In my opinion, running an online/blended course requires even strict and clear teaching philosophy and methodologies compared to face-to-face teaching. Teaching face-to-facely, teachers can detect and observe students closely so that teacher can react to students intuitively. It is easy to make reactions and changes promptly. Face to fact teaching allows even encourages improvised teaching strategies. An experienced teacher is good at handling unforeseen situations, adopting effective strategies accordingly in the classroom, or changing the contents or the orders of contents. However, online courses are better to stay routinely. Thus, it has an intense request for teachers running online or blended courses to design online courses in a proper way to reduce the occurrence of unexpected situations. The contents and assignments of the course have to meet the ability of most students. What’s more, students are easy to think “I’m just a number” towards online courses. In this case, teachers have to let students have the feeling that they are attending a course, instead of being slipshod in work with no teachers supervising them. A strong teaching plan or curriculum design should be strictly implemented.
Since I took EC&I 833, I keep wondering how can I apply EdTech into my teaching practice. I taught in language lab at the university, but the only technology I have used is the high projector. The only thing I have done is to play videos and audios. For me, my education technology practice is just being a machinist looking for related online materials and play them in the classroom. I really want to figure out how can technology be used variously in a university classroom.
Years ago, my friend and I built an online education blog for teaching Chinese – Wuli Chinese Opening Classroom. Actually, there are lots of Self-Media like our blog teaching second languages such as YouTube accounts, websites or blogs. For example:
These online materials and courses will be very helpful for language learners at a very low cost. I have recommended them to my students and friends as well. However, I still cannot involve more technology factors in my own classroom.