K-12 teachers are increasingly expected to become part of the digital age and incorporate technology into classroom instruction. Many of them are happy and even excited to do this. School systems are wading into the virtual world with online and hybrid schools. LMS usage abounds!
But are educators being prepared to not only deliver online content to digitally savvy students, but to connect with those students? Are they being coached on how to create community in the virtual classroom and how to create a classroom that is rich with digital content that is interactive and engaging? Are they given digital sources for resources that are current, reliable, and engaging? And, how are principals and supervisors monitoring and evaluating online classrooms?
Colleges and Universities are developing programs and courses to prepare faculty members for the online environment and processes are in place or in the planning stages to evaluate those courses. There is growing pressure from students who want to pursue a college degree online. The K-12 environment is under attack from many directions. As economist Herb Stein says in his book, The K-12 Implosion, our current system does not make sense. http://youtu.be/TXoubX4wncw One change that makes sense is for online learning to become an accepted and viable pathway to multiple career choices for our students.
Our quest should provide alignment with learning objectives, digital resources, activities, learner interaction, assessments, and technology.
Clarification of the alignment points:
- Learning Objectives must be clear to students and couched in language that matches the student’s level of learning and understanding. Learning objectives lay the groundwork for the course or unit of study.
- Digital Resources are aligned to course objectives and clearly support the intended learner outcomes. Resources are varied by format and are chosen to provide information and digital experiences that support desired learning.
- Online Activities should offer choices to ensure that students are engaged in authentic work that is meaningful to them. Activities should also cause students to stretch and grow as instructors monitor work, adjust expectations, and provide feedback.
- Learner Interaction should be balanced for individual work, collaborative work, and access to and response from the instructor. Students should be interacting with digital resources as well as with their peers and instructor.
- Assessments are aligned with the learning objectives and the activities in the course. Courses that are built with these components in place provide a learning environment for students that is built for their success.
- Technology integration and alignment in the online environment is crucial to the success of students. Technology is the classroom space and students’ reactions to the learning management system (LMS), the ease of use with tools, and the fluidity of the tools connected to the course-work color the entire experience.
The teacher who understands and internalizes these points and is meticulous in maintaining alignment of these when creating a course will be far more successful in the digital classroom. More importantly, students who enter this classroom will be more likely to be engaged with the content and more able to perform according to the stated objectives.