If schools go virtual, what happens to the role of the teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by BioAngel, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    After attending ISTE's NECC in Washington DC, tech week at my school, and reading up around the web (especially on Twitter, my new love :D), I'm starting to hear a lot more hype and progress made in virtual classrooms/courses.

    I'm familiar with them through doing some ministry courses and some of my education courses online. I found benefits from having it online--- much like having a chance to share and learn from this community. I also found some things that disappointed me, such as not having the chance to speak my ideas (and as teachers we know how strong our verbal skills need to be). (Of course, now with tools like VoiceThread and other software or Web tools that is much easier to do)

    I'm thinking about what role that leaves the teacher in if we do go virtual---- we will have to design the course work and monitor, but once the setting up takes place, do we just become monitors? What if we ever get to the point of just allowing students to monitor their work and each other's work?

    I'm really interested in hearing from teachers who have led online courses--- what do you think are the benefits and what have you noticed are the downfalls of online learning? How has your role changed as the teacher?

    And for those who haven't had a chance to teach an online course (at any level), do you think this is the future? Do you think this will benefit the students in the long run or hurt them as citizens who can't be online 24/7 (at least not yet)?

    I'm currently reading this article "Should all School be Virtual?" (http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3751959), please share thoughts on it too.

    (Sorry a lot on my brain this late at night :thumb:)
     
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  3. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    My online classes are all restricted to half the students (10-15) that are in the on-campus equivalent specifically so there can be increased student/teacher interaction.
     
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  4. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    I'll be honest here. I have taken a few online classes because I think they are WAYYYY easier. I struggle with science, so I sign up for completely online classes. I think education would suffer if schools were completely virtual. I feel guilty now that I type this that I am being a lazy student... But I'm not signed up for any online classes this semester!

    Interesting thread, I'm curious to hear more responses!
     
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  5. Braves09

    Braves09 Rookie

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    I just graduated from a virtual high school, and at my school teachers still communicated with students fairly often. We had office hours where they would review what we are learning, answer questions, ECT. We had assemblies....all kinds of stuff. I don't know how other virtual schools are though.
     
  6. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I always wonder how online science classes work. I can see it for basic stuff, but beyond that, it seems like it would be really difficult. I noticed that the harder my science classes, the less pre-prepared material we had online, or what we did get was less and less useful.

    One potential issue with online classes (and I found this to be true with the odd online class I did at community college) is the tendency to overload students with an enormous volume of busy work. I hope my MAED classes don't do this.
     
  7. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I took 2 on-line classes in grad school and loved them. I'd had a 100 mile comute twice a week so taking an on line class saved me time and money. I did work my buns off though.
     
  8. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

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    I don't think technology will ever replace real teachers, especially in the elementary level. I know many students at my school don't have computers at home so that would not be an option. There's nothing like a human touch.
    My DD goes to USF in CA and they have online classes and some of it is being put on podcast and they are working on iphone applications.
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I LOVE teaching at my online school because I have the opportunity to tailor instruction to the individual student. Girl A has a comprehension deficit? I can stay online or on the phone with her for an hour or so until I am satisfied that she is retaining the information. Boy B works third shift? I have it in my notes to NOT call him until after his alarm goes off at 2pm.

    Bear in mind that my school is K-12, so we're not talking college students who are paying for the privilege of taking the class. Getting students focused and engaged is tough when there's outside and a television right there and I can't physically command their attention by standing in front of them. I am an academic coach and cheerleader. I am the translator of information. I am DEFINITELY still teaching!
     
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  10. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    My division has online classes offered out of our division hub for students in rural high schools. I mean, we have a K to 12 school in the division with a teaching staff of 6.5 teachers - for all student K to 12. Those kids get the bare minimum if they don't have the online option. Its great I think, for those reasons, but I truly believe that you can never eliminate the teacher.
     
  11. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    That sounds like a cool idea-- how did you get such a position? Do you work with other teachers--- like go to "real life" meetings or do you do them online too?
     
  12. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I applied via Ohio's Department of Education's job bank and they were good enough to bring me in for an interview. Had no idea what I was getting into until I started doing research on the school.

    As for meeting with other teachers, absolutely we meet in person. The faculty is too large to meet in one place because we serve almost 10,000 students, so we split up and meet by elementary / high school several times a year. Next time is in two weeks for Convocation. I also have regular meetings with my department and my co-teacher (who lives in my city). There are occasional online meetings as well in an online platform called Elluminate (also used by colleges).

    Any other questions? I love this stuff! BTW, we still have a Special Ed opening for an MH Specialist!
     
  13. paperlabs

    paperlabs Rookie

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    I have taken 4 on line classes. I learned about as much if not more than regular classes. It seemed like the teacher was teaching no different than the regular traditional classes.
    I don't see why it would be much different. I still had colleagues and family, so it is not like I was deprived of social interaction.
    I have been looking for on-line teaching jobs. I would love to save the energy of going to a work place.
    I really don't see why such schools are taking so long to happen. What is the problem? Students just take a class for a semester or two and then go once to an actual building to take the supervised test. Right? Am I missing something?
     
  14. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Cannot speak for all online schools, but when mine runs state standardized testing, we rent spaces all over the state where the students can go easily. I've run testing centers in churches, Mason lodges, public libraries, and at the school's home office. Other testing centers are at police stations and town halls.

    Why aren't there more online schools? I suppose it's easier for national programs like K12 to start a franchise in a state that needs it. Starting any kind of charter school from scratch seems to be a ton of work. My school is not a franchise and has grown steadily over the past decade.
     
  15. paperlabs

    paperlabs Rookie

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    Cat: sorry, didn't understand.
    Are you with K12? Seems like K12 requires a lot of stuff of teachers besides teaching. I get the feeling they expect teachers to be educators. I am guessing the number of on-line students is to small. If there were a lot of students then maybe I could get an on-line teaching job just bringing out the algebra that lies within a bunch of students that all learn about the same way - track the students or use ability grouping to get students into the proper classes. Does that sound right - like I am on the right track?
    I could be a teacher with out all the unnecessary educational skills. Wouldn't that be more efficient? Seems like a lot of teachers want something like this nowdays.
     
  16. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    The courses I've taken personally were a joke. Absolute joke. I bought those credits. They were supposed to be graduate level science courses and I literally found some of the "test" questions in my daughter's fifth grade science textbook.

    We get GREAT results when we put our students in online classes at my school. Two types of students are allowed to take them: the overachievers that want to get the lower classes out of the way so they can fill their normal school hours with AP classes, and the students that have failed a required course at least twice already. The second group of students fly through the course outline in a few weeks, get straight As and move onto another course they've failed. I've always wondered how they could fail a class twice with a teacher right in front of them explaining the material, but breeze through it in no time in front of a computer. If that's the case, why don't we just take all the students that fail it ONCE and put them in virtual schools? Save their time, our time and let go one of the subject teachers! Turns out that for the state tested courses, these same students that get As don't pass the final exam. But they're pushed through anyhow. So GREAT results for the school but I'm not convinced the students learned anything.

    I know a few teachers that do virtual schools and they say that their classes are just as tough online as they are in person. I don't know how it all works out.
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Paperlabs, I am not with K12. My school is only in my state. We do a lot that is outside of direct instruction, including planning for the jump to Common Core. I also run a school club, about which I've written on this forum.

    NCScienceTeach, my course is very rigorous and not a joke. Those who think it is a joke, unfortunately, do not do very well when it's time for final grades to be posted.
     
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  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I had biology and a biology lab online. I was pretty impressed with the virtual lab, epspecially considering that was around 2004...a lot of progress has been made since even then.

    ETA: I've shared my online college experience before, but I'll say again that I was very pleased. The overwhelming majority of my courses were online other other distances learning courses. I had a couple of bunny classes online and a couple bunny classes in person. I had a couple of far too difficult online classes and a couple in person.

    I would enjoy teaching online on the side and see where it takes me. I researched it a couple of years ago and didn't find anything to pan out.
     
  19. paperlabs

    paperlabs Rookie

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    I tried to get some answers (above), but I guess I'll just respond to the original question. I give a lot of feedback during my traditional classes. Most of my students call me to their desk to check their practice work. I guess that is doable on line isn't it?
    Actually I before checking everyone’s work, I start by checking the students who usually struggle. Still doable with an on-line class I would think.
    I put the students in groups to help each other, especially in my science classes, but again, seems easily possible.
    So for the average teacher like me, I guess I don’t see a problem.
    If anyone else joins the discussion late, I wish to repeat my question? Why aren't more on-line schools happening? Seems like they would be far better for most students and teachers.
     
  20. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    I've taken some online classes, and I've enjoyed them. On the other hand, I know many students would not learn well that way. I especially imagine math being hard for students to learn online.
     
  21. paperlabs

    paperlabs Rookie

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    Why? That is the answer I personally am looking for.
    One said the virtual biology labs were good. If labs can be done well, why couldn't math? I have used the paper cut-outs, the algebra and distributive tiles. All of it seems easily done on-line.

    Back in 1987 I wrote a lot of computer programs in BASIC and had students taking my math classes at the computer while I circulated about for assistance. The computer taught starting from guess and check and led them up to the complex abstract formulas. The computer tested them and the grades went automatically into the gradebook that I also developed.

    Though I am no longer keeping up with programming, seems like that and much more should be possible now days.
     
  22. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Well the students I don't see it working for are the students who lack motivation to work on their own. Besides this, if a student doesn't understand the explanation online, it's hard to demonstrate a different explanation online. Besides, for tests and things, it would be hard to show work.
     
  23. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    From what I understand, virtual schools still have teachers, they just function a little differently (without an actual classroom). While I think some schools offer that type of learning, I can't see education as a whole moving towards that direction. I think it's just another aspect of education.
     
  24. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I have taken several online courses in my college years simply because of the convenience of it (I always worked while in college, so my hours were not very flexible), but I always found those courses to be more difficult. The reason being is that instead of hearing a lecture (although by the time I took my masters, one online course had lecture available online), you were responsible for reading all the material and acquiring the information that way. Like I said, I think that's changing now with the technology as teachers can post their lectures online. As far as the work, it was a lot, and I always felt like it was even more than a class that met on campus. If you have an easy online class, it's probably the instructor, and not a true example of all online classes.
     
  25. paperlabs

    paperlabs Rookie

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    I wonder if they make it easy to attract more students.
    Sounds like K12, from the ads I've heard, have much more caring teachers.
    I guess if I was an on-line teacher the students would think I was to hard. I probably wouldn't last. Maybe I wouldn't be caring and enabling enough.
     
  26. paperlabs

    paperlabs Rookie

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    Well, I think it would be ashamed if on-line was not further developed. I know so many parents who are home-schooling and looking for on-line schools. So far it seems there are not that many choices.
    Also, I think it would help alleviate the energy crisis.
    For the past few years I occasionally took my kids to school in the morning and picked them up after school. Every time, the traffic around the high school and the traffic around the mid-school about a mile away made the streets look like a parking lot. I actually hated to see my kids walk to school around all that traffic. I think there might be enough interest in on-line ed.to alleviate at least the traffic grid-lock.
     
  27. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Virtual schools have some terrific teachers, and it's perfect for some students. Overall, students perform much more poorly in virtual schools. The head of K12 makes $5 million and spends much more on lobbying state legislators to allow public money to go into the practice.

    Here are some data points from a fresh report from the National Educational Policy Center:

    Only 27.7% of K12 schools reported meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2010-11. This is nearly identical to the overall performance of all private Education Management Organizations that operate full-time virtual schools (27.4%). In the nation as a whole, an estimated 52% of public schools met AYP in 2010-11.

    The mean performance on state math and reading assessments of K12-operated virtual schools consistently lags behind performance levels of the states from which the schools draw their students.

    Across grades 3-11, the K12 schools' scores were between two and 11 percentage points below the state average in reading.

    In math, K12 students score, on average, between 14 and 36 percentage points lower than students in their host states, with the gap increasing dramatically for students in higher grades.

    The on-time graduation rate for the K12 schools is 49.1%, compared with a rate of 79.4% for the states in which K12 operates schools.

    http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/nepc-rb-k12-miron.pdf
     
  28. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    If schools go virtual, what happens to the role of the teacher?

    They get a "virtual paycheck."
    :lol:
     
  29. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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  30. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    I wrote grades 8-12 full year classes for an online academy. I'm not sure whether they're good or not.
     
  31. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Ooo, cruel, Mathemagician!

    Honestly, I bust my tush teaching online. My classes are larger and my ability to enforce engagement is tougher, but I work every day and every year to be effective.
     
  32. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Cat: I've been wondering is that your cat in your avatar? It's really cute! XD I miss having a cat. Blast my allergies.

    Sorry for the conversation de-rail.
     
  33. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Yes, that is Pandora the Wonder Kitty. She's 14 and currently bugging me for more kibble.
     
  34. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Haha! I had my cat since I was 4 years old, and she passed a few months ago at age 20. She had a good long life.
     
  35. Smithjohn

    Smithjohn Guest

    Dec 13, 2015

    I've taken some online classes, and I've enjoyed them. On the other hand, I know many students would not learn well that way. I especially imagine math being hard for students to learn online.
     
  36. K-5_teacherguy

    K-5_teacherguy Companion

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    I think I would miss the general atmosphere of being at school every day. I enjoy my co-workers (especially my grade level team), and I really appreciate the relationships I get to build with students seeing them in person on a daily basis. I also think many of my elementary students would struggle to learn that way.

    With that said, I did take several online classes in college and actually preferred them to the traditional classes.
     
  37. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Wow, talk about a revived thread! The cat in my avatar has been gone for over a year.

    The Algebra teacher on my team is pretty good at online instruction. He uses the whiteboard in our shared virtual classroom to diagram and calculate examples. I use my webcam so I can read passages aloud and explain words using my expressions as well as my voice. The biggest problem we all face is missing the non-verbal cues when students are confused or just tuned out.
     
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  38. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I can definitely see the benefits of online schools for a lot of students, but I can't imagine it completely replacing traditional schools. The main reason is that I don't think everyone could learn like that, not every kid has the discipline, and children, especially at the elementary / middle school level need social interaction, make friends, etc. Also how would we diagnose learning disabilities and other needs if teachers are not there observing the students? How would we find out if there is abuse at home or basic needs are not met?

    As far as myself, as an adult I've had overall a great experience with online learning. I did most of my masters degree and teaching credential classes online at National University. First I attended classes on campus, one class took up 10 hours of my time (twice a week 5-9 pm, + traveling time) and it was beneficial in the beginning, but the classes were very small. Where it came to discussions, it was so much better to virtually interact with 49 other students and we all got to say what we wanted because communication took place on a message board.
    However, in community college, I remember I took an English class and was struggling from the beginning, already got C-s, etc. It was early enough to withdraw and switch to an on campus class. In that English class I had no problems and finished with an easy A.

    As far as teaching it, I don't think I'd want to do that. Maybe in addition to how I teach now, I can see myself teaching online college classes.Or maybe in 10-20 years when I want a slower pace, but right now I'm enjoying the energy teaching gives and takes.
     
  39. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    My goodness... so much has changed since I posted this thread o_O

    I'm using Google classroom for my 5th and 6th graders and the one downside is that I have them commenting to me about questions, missed work, etc instead of coming to see me face-to-face or ask me during class time. I know it's easier to type out a question and just wait for a response, but it annoys me that they can't bother to come talk to me.
     
  40. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I've never worked with kids online yet, but I would definitely try it. Now, I've taken online courses before as well as completed two entire programs completely online: The earning of my second grad degree (3-yr program) AND all the coursework for my SLP-A license. I did have to find a few facilities to do the clinical supervision work in which I commuted, but overall, I loved it.

    No, the virtual method is probably not great for special ed students who need close one-on-one attention, but working from home for me is fabulous. I currently do mostly non-education related work from home nowadays & love it & am getting so spoiled that I won't want to commute ever again!

    And with all this negative stuff happening out in the world, everyone staying at home sure would be a LOT safer!
     
  41. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    I have used some cuurclick.com stuff. They sent a message out needing High school online teachers... Upper stuff. Their classes are pretty interesting. They use a group room setting can see teacher & ask questions.
     

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