If you missed mast last post, The Race is On..., take a minute to go back and check it out. I think it may be encouraging to you as you face the end of this winter season and the beginning of wrapping up these months of schooling.
This week I have spent much of my time pondering what are the biggest differences in educating students online versus in face-to-face(f2f) classrooms. In theory, a teacher is trying to accomplish the same aims, in terms of content, whether the instruction takes place in a virtual learning environment (VLE) or in a f2f classroom. However, the strategies and techniques for creating community, establishing norms, reinforcing classroom policies and procedures, and facilitating discussions and interactions take on completely new forms (and likely require more involvement on the teachers part) than in the f2f classroom.
While wrapping up my reading for my third ROL annotated bibliography (again looking at online learning, but specifically online discussion boards) I came to the idea that perhaps a giant Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting online education and f2f instruction would be an appealing avenue for presenting my ideas later this Spring. I think I have plenty of information to accomplish this, but I am not jumping on it yet because I fear I have too much information and am worried that all my work will not show well the differences and similarities between the two. This is because even as I begin to explain or try to define the difference I have experienced, I struggle to communicate how even though the aim of the content is similar and that there are tools available to implement many of the IDEA concepts, I just can't seem to make it clear to myself or others why teaching online seems so much more challenging and less rewarding than f2f instruction.
Perhaps it is simply my own personal bias toward online education? Perhaps it is my particular VLE and the polices of the school (that hinder my ability to implement good instructional tools)? Or a combination of the two.
Yet, it is not that part of it that has me so frustrated. It is that I feel I am unable to clearly communicate exactly my perceptions of online education (even after doing loads of research and being an online teacher). And if I have such a hard time with coming to a conclusion on how/if online education is effective, do others not also struggle to determine if online learning is actually a good thing? How much time do other teachers in the online world of education take to reflect on whether how they teach is effective?
Maybe the rub lies in that as an online educator I have no one to ask these questions to? I have no relational-colleagial support network to bounce ideas of from or to seek out answers to questions I have about best practice and adapting f2f teaching to my VLE.
Then I wonder, what are f2f teachers perceptions of online education at the middle and high school level? Are there even perceptions out there? If so, what are teachers in f2f classrooms saying about the online education alternatives available to students (prior to college)?
Links to all the, Go and See Study, sessions.