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This tool outlines common communication considerations and practices in online learning.
Hanna Coleman | EDTECH 523 Advanced Online Teaching | 03.27.2013 1
Table of Contents
Part 1: Routine Administration Tasks.....................................................3 Part 2: Discussion Forum Strategies.....................................................4 Part 3: Discussion Forum Assessment................................................10 Part 4: Management Issues and Strategies.........................................12 Part 5: Parent Communication Strategies............................................16
Hanna Coleman | EDTECH 523 Advanced Online Teaching | 03.27.2013 2
Part 1: Routine Administrative Tasks
The tasks below are common routine administrative tasks that need to be completed by the online teacher. The frequency provided is a suggestion for how often these tasks may need to be completed and is based on an online teacher having a caseload of 25 students to monitor progress in addition to content courses.
Routine Administrative Task Check and reply to emails from students and parents Check voicemail and phone messages Check text messages [Google Voice or other tool] Contact students under caseload about progress Contact parents under caseload about progress Contact students under content courses about progress Check and facilitate discussion boards in content area Check and reply to discussion boards in help forum Check social media or forums Send out announcements via forum or email Monitor/check links and resources in content area Log [in written form] all communication with parents and students under caseload
Frequency 2x daily 1x daily 2x daily 2x weekly 1x weekly 1x weekly or biweekly 2x weekly 1x daily 1x weekly 1x weekly 1x weekly [prior to student use] 2x weekly
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Part 2: Discussion Forum Strategies
The strategies below are suggested activities for getting started in and facilitating discussion forums. The strategies include: Personal Introduction Statement, Icebreaker Activity, Critical Thinking Prompts, Discussion Guides, and Sample Discussion Forum Responses. 1. Personal Introduction Statement This personal introduction statement was created using the Glogster.edu program. The link to view and embed: http://twchcoleman.edu.glogster.com/aboutme/
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2. Icebreaker Activity This icebreaker activity was created during Module 1 of EDTECH 523. It is a traditional icebreaker activity that has been converted to online delivery.
Author Traditional Icebreaker Name and Source Grade Level Delivery Method Traditional Icebreaker Description
Hanna Coleman Name Tag Match Maker from Kim's Korner for Teacher Talk 712 Asynchronous The traditional use of this icebreaker is in a synchronous classroom setting. All students are given a 5 x 7 card and asked write the following information on the card: 1. Name is placed in the center 2. In the upper left corner, write four favorite activities 3. In the upper right corner, write four favorite singers or musical groups 4. In the lower left corner, write four favorite movies 5. In the lower right corner, write four adjectives that describe you Upon completion, students are asked to view each others' cards silently and determine who has the most similar words, starting with just the upper left corner. Then, they would be given a few minutes to chat with whoever is most similar in that area. Next, the same process would occur for the upper right, lower left, and lower right. The purpose it to meet new people for each group, so students should be encouraged to be in a new group for each area.
Virtual Icebreaker Name and Description
Match Maker Mix Up! The transformed version of the Name Tag Match Maker is for an asynchronous online setting. Students will be asked to use the tool, Tagxedo, which creates word clouds. A brief "getting started" video tutorial should be created for students unfamiliar with Tagxedo. Students will be asked to create a word cloud that includes the following information: 1. Name 2. Four favorite activities 3. Four favorite singers or musical groups 4. Four favorite movies 5. Four adjectives that describe you 6. Four places they would like to travel to someday Once students have completed the creation of the Tagxedo, they will save as an image and post in a discussion forum in the Learning Management
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System. Next, students will be asked to view each others' word clouds and find one person per topic (activities, music, movies, adjectives, places) that they have the most in common with. Students will comment each person's original post. Student Task 1. 2. Watch the tutorial on "getting started" using Tagxedo. Create a word cloud that includes the following information: a. Your name b. Four of our favorite activities c. Four of your favorite singers or musical groups d. Four of your favorite movies e. Four adjectives that describe you f. Four places that you would like to travel to someday. Save your word cloud as a JPEG. Enter the course on Moodle and locate the forum, Match Maker Mix Up!, in Week 1. Create a new discussion post. Use your name as the title. Insert your image to the post and save by the deadline. Once all students have posted, view all their word clouds. Find 1 person that has the most in common with your favorite activities and comment on their post. Next find 1 person that has the most in common with your favorite singers/musical groups and comment on their post. Continue to follow this process for all topics. You cannot use the same person for more than 1 topic.
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
3. Critical Thinking Prompts The questions below are critical thinking prompts intended for use in a 912 online discussion forum. The blanks are meant to be filled in with content or question specific details. ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Compare and contrast your response to your peers’. Describe at least two similarities and two differences. What additional details or facts can you provide to support your view? How might your view or thoughts change after reading this resource? What might happen if _________ changed? Discuss a possible outcome or solution based on your investigation. Can you explain what is meant by ____________ ? Which solution would you propose or support and why? Hypothesize how you and your community might be affected by __________. Discuss the implications for society and your community.
4. Discussion Guides for the Online Classroom The guide below outlines the different types of discussion and communication that you will find in Hanna Coleman | EDTECH 523 Advanced Online Teaching | 03.27.2013 6
the online classroom. The types described include: Introductions, Help, Announcements, Content, Synchronous, Email, and Phone.
Discussion Mode Introduction Forum
Description and Guidelines The introduction forum will be used at the beginning of the course and can be referred back to when you are working with other students. You will complete the icebreaker activity within this forum. The icebreaker activity will be graded and is a required task. The purpose is to introduce yourself to your peers and teacher. I hope that you will use this forum to share with others and to begin developing relationships with your peers. The help forum should be used throughout the course. You can post questions related to technology or content lessons in this forum. You should plan on visiting this forum once a week to check and see if you can respond and help your peers. The teacher will also be monitoring this forum and responding to questions. This is a good place to start if you have a question or concern before emailing the teacher directly. The announcement forum will contain weekly tips and helpful suggestions for completing the activities. The teacher will post in the announcement forum at the beginning of each week. You should be checking the announcement forum at least once a week, before starting the weekly assignments, in order to make sure you have all information needed. Content forums will be located within various weeks of the course. These forums are graded and required for all students to participate in. Please see the discussion forum rubric for grading and the deadlines for contributing to each forum. There are several opportunities for synchronous communication throughout the course. ● On campus lab: The campus is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 2:00 p.m. You can work independently on lab, meet with your teacher for help or guidance, or collaborate with other students. ● Virtual office hours: The teacher will be available M, W, F via Google chat and hangout from 10 a.m. 11 a.m. ● Class synchronous sessions: Synchronous sessions using “GoToMeeting” and “Google Hangout” will be conducted two times per term. You are expected to attend at least one session. If you have questions that were not answered in the “Help Forum” or you need to communicate with the teacher about
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setting up a help session, please email the teacher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email should include a specific subject, course name, and specific details on how I can help you. Please remember to use professional writing and netiquette. The teacher will respond to you within 24 hours during the Monday Friday work week. Phone Communication You can also communicate questions and concerns via phone. The teacher has both voice and texting options. Phone calls and texts will be responded to within 24 hours. Office Phone: 6512132055 Google Voice Cell: 6124862303 [voice and text]
5. Sample Discussion Forum The table below contains three sample discussion forum posts by students and possible responses by a teacher encouraging deeper thinking and modelling questioning techniques.
Student Task: To increase your critical thinking about hunger, you are going to spend some time generating possible solutions for hungerrelated problems.We can take action in our local communities and as global citizens. 1. In the forum below, you will find five hunger obstacles. 2. Read through each obstacle. 3. Select one obstacle to investigate and reflect on. 4. After a little investigation and reflection, reply to the obstacle post of your choice (you only need to reply to 1 out the 5 obstacles) with a possible solution for tackling the problem. Your solution does not necessarily need to "fix" the problem, but can begin to move towards a solution. 5. For your solution, provide an explanation as to why you think this is an appropriate solution. Please cite any resources that you used to think of your solution. 6. Reply to one other student and ask them a question about their proposed solution for any of the obstacles. Example Posts: Student 1: Maybe we can have a city fundraiser to help them to get food and we can change it to a food fundraiser but we may not know what they eat so money will be best and we can have a place where kids can have fun almost like a carnival. If they come then they can go in for free and have all free food they would like. Hanna Coleman | EDTECH 523 Advanced Online Teaching | 03.27.2013 8
Teacher Reply: I think you have a great start on thinking about a possible solution for hunger within our community. Can you expand on your idea and provide some resources that may be beneficial for organizing the carnival and fundraiser? Student 2: I think a good solution to this problem could be having community days that would be somewhat like a potluck. Parts of the community could get together once a month or more often and bring a bunch of food. It would be a good way to get the community together and those who do not have food could also come and eat which would solve their hunger. This would be a good solution because it could really help those in need. When asked why this is important, it is important so nobody in the community goes hungry. Teacher Reply: How might you encourage the community to participate? What might be some concerns community members might have? Student 3: I would try to make awareness about the issue with signs and have them be placed in town where people can see clearly. I would also go to the community center and ask them if we could have an annual community dinner thats free so everyone could get a meal. I would also bring awareness to the local food shelfs and get my family/friends/accquaintences to donate if they are able to do so. I could also get my community to have a gardening week so everyone would try to get a garden up in this period so they could donate the foods to the food shelf, that would be a part of the gardening week, requires to have 1/4 to 1/2 or all of the foods produced go to the food shelf. Teacher Reply: Thanks for sharing your original ideas! The gardening week would help to promote the idea of growing our own food and also sharing with the community. I would like you to explore and articulate this proposal further. What might a plan for implementing the gardening week include? What resources would need to be obtained? Who will need to invest in the plan?
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Part 3: Discussion Forum Assessment
The rubric below was created to use for a content based discussion forum assignment. It is written for 912 grade students, but can be adjusted based on level. There are four criteria being assessed: Content, Clarity and Organization, Professionalism, Participation and Netiquette. Based on a 5 point scale, the total points a student could earn is 20.
Excellent (5) The discussion post demonstrates thorough reflection on the topic. It connects the topic to previous or current learning. Statements or opinions are supported by facts and/or examples.
Proficient (43) The discussion post demonstrates some reflection on the topic. It shows some connection of the topic to previous or current learning. It gives some specific facts or examples, but lacks full support. The discussion post has adequate organization with headings or subtopics. The content may have some unclear areas or may lack in quality or writing. The discussion post has few (12) grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. The initial discussion post and 1 reply to a peer is posted
Basic (32) The discussion post demonstrates limited reflection on the topic. It shows a basic connection of the topic to previous or current learning. It has very little facts and examples.
Unsatisfactory (10) The discussion post does not demonstrate reflection on the topic. It lacks connection of the topic to previous or current learning, specific facts, and examples.
Clarity and Organization
The discussion post is organized with headings or subtopics. The content is presented in a clear and concise manner, showing high quality writing. The discussion post has no grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. The initial discussion post and at least 2 replies to peers
The discussion post has minimal organization. It has unclear areas and does not flow. It lacks concise and/or quality thoughts.
The discussion post has poor organization and clarity. It lacks in quality.
The discussion post has some (34) grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. The initial discussion post is posted prior to the deadline.
The discussion post has many (5+) grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. The initial discussion post is not posted prior to the deadline.
Participation and Netiquette
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are posted prior to the deadlines. Replies to peers are respectful. They encourage deeper learning by asking thoughtful questions or clarification specific to the topic.
prior to the deadline. Replies to peers are respectful. They may encourage learning by asking a question or for clarification specific to the topic. Some replies to peers are respectful. They lack questioning or clarification. Replies lack respect, further questioning, and clarification.
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Part 4: Management Issues and Strategies
The table below contains common issues in time, discussion, and collaboration management. Possible strategies for addressing or preventing the issues are provided in the right hand column.
Time Management Issues Students email, text, call, and post questions throughout the day and night.
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Develop policies for communication and responding to student contact. Clearly communicate your availability to students. Plan a specific time during the day for responding to questions related to course content or within in discussion forums. Plan a specific time for checking and responding to emails, texts, and calls during the day.
Course links and activities may need updated or fixing.
Plan a specific time during the week to double check links and troubleshoot problems focus on the upcoming week of content. Communicate to students about how to contact you about broken links and a time frame for fixing. Maintain a list of activities that may need updating or more support based on student response throughout the term. Evaluate these activities and determine a time to update when course is not running.
Several students are having issues with the same question or activity.
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Use an announcement forum to preaddress particular lessons. Create a forum where students can post questions and peers can help with answering. Encourage use of this forum over emailing instructor. Create a forum where students can post questions and the teacher addresses. Update the lesson plan to include more direction. Create a YouTube video to address the question and send or post for all students.
Working from home can lead to lack of direction in what needs to be completed or distractions.
Create a daily checklist that includes priorities and timelines for completion.
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● ● When working from home, you find yourself working too much as the tasks are always accessible. (i.e. evenings and/or weekends)
Set daily, weekly, and term goals. Organize your workspace and keep it clear of clutter.
Establish boundaries for yourself, such as when you will check or work on items. Create a separate space in your home for completing work.
Classroom [Discussion] Management Issues Expectations may not be fully communicated or understood.
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Establish specific guidelines and expectations at the beginning of the class. Revisit expectations prior to discussions post in an announcements forum. Directions should be very specific and include models. Create a forum for student questions so that the teacher can respond and inform all students.
Students may be at various points in the content and unprepared for the discussion.
Contact students prior to discussion to provide support and additional resources. Stagger posting dates
Some students may dominate the conversation, while others will remain inactive.
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● Technology fails for synchronous discussion.
Establish specific guidelines and expectations at the beginning of the class for participation. Redirect or encourage participation through oneonone interactions with students such as email or phone call. Develop a system or heuristic for discussion [both synchronous and asynchronous] that specifies type and amount of participation or replies. Break up students into smaller groups for discussion.
Hold a practice session with students prior to the actual discussion in order to troubleshoot issues.
You are unable to find a common time for all students to participate in a required synchronous discussion.
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Offer more than one session that students can choose from for attendance. Hold online office hours that students can attend if miss a session. Record the synchronous session and have students watch and complete an additional assignment if missed.
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The synchronous discussion either lacks discussion from students (teacher does most of the talking) or is out of control/off topic.
Establish expectations and guidelines for replying to others at the beginning of the course. Develop a system or heuristic for discussion [both synchronous and asynchronous] that specifies type and amount of participation or replies. Create discussion prompts that are connected to content and ask openended, higher level questions.
Replies or responses to peers in asynchronous discussion lacks application or deeper thinking (i.e. I agree.)
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Establish expectations and guidelines for replying to others at the beginning of the course. Have students participate in a “practice” discussion at the beginning of the course in order to model and give feedback on student posts. Provide models or examples throughout the course for discussion. Use a rubric for grading that students have access to. Make your presence in discussion known. Develop a system or heuristic for discussion [both synchronous and asynchronous] that specifies type and amount of participation or replies.
Students may be more inclined to share personal or sensitive information. (i.e. I am a cutter or I had a miscarriage)
Create discussion prompts that are connected to content and ask higher level questions. Discuss appropriateness or privacy through oneonone interactions with students such as email or phone call.
Students may use inappropriate language.
Provide netiquette guidelines. Include netiquette in grading rubric.
Some students do not participate in the discussions.
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Write expectations that make participation mandatory and worth a grade in the class. Discuss the benefits of forums or synchronous discussions at the beginning of the class. Encourage a safe and comfortable environment. Create forums that encourage casual conversation or help tools from peers.
Collaboration Management Issues All 9 weeks of the course are open at the beginning of the term allowing students to work at their own pace.
Implement deadlines for collaboration activities. Break up work into smaller chunks.
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Use an announcement forum or mass text system for reminders.
Rolling enrollment results in students starting and ending at various times.
Stagger deadlines and posting dates Develop small group collaboration activities that students can choose from throughout the course.
The same group of students always partner or collaborate.
Use strategies to diversify groups.
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Part 5: Parent Communication Strategies
It is important to be in weekly communication with parents on student progress and how they can support their student. The table below contains sample strategies and examples for various ways that the online teacher can communicate with the parent.
Example It is important to be communicating with parents weekly on student progress. Below you will find an example of a weekly parent/student email concerning progress. Dear Student and Parent, We are down to the final 2 weeks of the term! Please check your progress today at this point you should be around 60% complete in your class in order to be on track to pass. I am concerned about your classes, as you below where you should be at this point World Lit (30%) and Geometry A (32%). I know you are motivated to make a lot of progress this week. Please use the checklist that I made you yesterday. Once this is complete, let me know and I can make you another one for the remainder of the assignments. You will need to spend significant time in these classes to get back on track to pass. Important Announcements for Week 8: § Late Lab: On this Tuesday, March 26th, lab is open until 7 p.m. § End of Term 3: All coursework and required assignments are due on Thursday, April 4th at 2:00 P.M. Please continue to let me know if you have questions or concerns! Regards, Hanna
Voicemail or Text
Some parents do not access email regularly. Please make sure to confirm the best mode for weekly checkins with the parent at the beginning of the term. Below is an example of a weekly phone call or text message home concerning progress.
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Hello Darla, This is Hanna Coleman at Wolf Creek Online High School. I am calling to discuss Tim’s progress thus far this term. Please give me a call back at your convenience to discuss further. My number is 6124862303. Thank you! Parent Orientation It is important for parents to understand communication and course expectations at the beginning of each term. Consider developing a parent orientation for your course or Learning Management System. The orientation could take place synchronously or asynchronously. Below are sample topics that could be included in an orientation for parents. Parent Responsibilities Technology Use Organization Working at home Tips and Strategies Using the syllabus and checklists Communicating with the teacher and your student Expectations
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