Changes

I was asked, “What are some of the changes in your life you have had to make as a result of adapting to online teaching?”

The biggest change has been in making exercise, movement and eye-rest a very conscious and deliberate thing. Physically speaking, online teaching requires that I sit for long periods of time in front of a computer, so I have to remind myself to get up and move my body, even if it’s just to go to the kitchen to make myself some tea. I also try to do the ‘stare at something at least 6 m away’ every 20 minutes.

The next change I have had to make is to let go of rigid control over my learners. The fact is that if they are not attempting my work at the allocated time period, there is only so much I can do about that. Also, if students are working on another piece of work before my period and are in a state of flow, do I really want to try and force them to stop just so that they can work on my subject? As a teacher, I am supposed to provide structure and instil discipline, but I think there are better and more appropriate ways to do so. Learning, especially online, is not always going to happen at the time I say it is going to happen.

Another change I have made is to increase my time spent on learning how to teach online. Although I am digitally savvy and count myself as a relatively competent face-to-face teacher, I still struggled a lot with online teaching. There’s definitely an art to delivering teaching online and I realised I have a lot of knowledge and skill gaps in that art. Hence, I have embarked on trying to fill those gaps.

Brief reflection on teaching online

This morning’s read: E-Tutoring: Teaching, Supporting, Managing and Assessing Students Online

Here are my responses to some of the questions posed on their website:

What would it mean to you for your students to be “empowered” by online learning? 

It would mean that students can learn at anytime and anywhere, as long as they have some sort of learning device and an internet connection.

They can attain mastery as they can practice repeatedly and gain immediate feedback.

They can help themselves and help each other through platforms such as forums.

What are the emerging learning needs for experts in your discipline, how might these change the emphasis of existing course objectives and how might online learning support these? 

I think we need to learn how to design curriculum with e-learning in mind. There is definitely a question of how to teach practical skills (such as cooking) online, or even more challenging, how do you assess those practical skills online?

What are your personal opportunities and concerns for e-learning and e-tutoring?

Opportunities – I see e-tutoring (or teaching online / HBL) as an opportunity to expand my skillset. The website mentions that a good face-to-face teacher may not necessarily be a good online tutor, even if the technical abilities are added. I also see e-tutoring as a way of expanding my reach with my teaching.

Concerns – I have often heard Web 2.0 applications being likened to a microphone. It will amplify whatever voice is put to it, whether the singer is good or bad. I am concerned that if I am not so competent in my online teaching, that this will be magnified in some way.

Using ePortfolios or blogs for Home Economics lessons

An ePortfolio, is a website that enables students to collate digital evidence of their learning. Sort of like how I am using this blog as digital evidence of my learning. 

How an ePortfolio or blog can enhance learning

  • It increases peer and collaborative learning between students and teachers when ePortfolios are made visible to other students. For example, students can view each other’s finished products after a cooking class and learn where their peers have done well or not so well.
  • Students have a place to document their achievement and because it can be made visible to peers and the public, it would make the work more meaningful for them (and possibly make them take their work more seriously.) 
  • Would allow students and teacher to look back at the students previous work, any assumptions they might have had on a topic, discussions and work processes
  • ePortfolios accommodate a range of learning styles because it can contain a wide range of files, such as text documents, pictures, videos, links to websites and other online resources. This would be a great way for students to store pictures of the dishes they have cooked or mind maps they have done. Students could even use the portfolio to store pictures/pdfs of their worksheets. 
  • Students will be able to receive more feedback and in a more timely manner because it will be easier for teachers to monitor students’ progress.
  • Increased feedback from teachers will encourage students to reflect more deeply on their own learning
  • Process work can be recorded (instead of just finished products), which would make it easier for students to be reflective of their learning. For example, students could add video clips of their cooking techniques.
  • If students can leave comments on each other’s work which helps students to develop digital literacy skills that enables them to become fully participatory citizens in society

Other advantages of using an ePortfolio or blog

  • Teachers can more easily form supportive relationships with students over the course of their study through interacting with the student’s portfolio
  • Reduces the need to pass bulky portfolios back and forth between teacher and student
  • ePortfolios can help students stay organised 
  • Students become more confident in co-producing class knowledge and content
  • Students can get help on their work outside of class hours from each other and the teacher
  • Students can express their opinions online. This might be good for students who are more shy.

Challenges 

  • Time needed to teach students how to use the e-portfolio unless they have learnt during another subject (FCE has very limited face time with the students so this can be challenging)
  • Time needed at the beginning to set up the structure of the ePortfolio for the students.
  • Some students may be apprehensive about using the technology and may need considerable support
  • Students may not have access to the technology to make it easy for them to build the ePortfolio
  • Possible increase in workload if the teacher doesn’t determine at the beginning the how and when the ePortfolio should be graded

Possible ways to overcome challenges

  • Set aside time after school to teach students the technology
  • Create explainer videos for the students so they can teach themselves
  • Have a clear plan right in the beginning on how the ePortfolio should be used (e.g. a repository of finished work? Process work?) and what, how and when comments should be given to students and grading should be done.

Possible platforms that can be used for an ePortfolio or blog

Free platforms

  • Google Sites 
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, TypePad
  • Padlet

Paid platforms

  • PebblePad seems like a great platform because there are built in ways to grade the portfolio / blog, but you cannot trial the product as an individual and plans start from £25/year (SGD$43.25; AUD$46.75). 

Some articles on ePortfolios

4 ways ePortfolios are going beyond college resume building