Online Learning Community

Smiling girl in headset using laptop, talking during videochatThere are a variety of interaction forms included in my course prototype. In the physical classroom, students have the opportunity to problem solve together during their math thinking problems and during the different workstations. Students working virtually have the opportunity to provide and reflect upon peer feedback in their Flip video math journals. After reviewing the feedback given to me last week, I have decided to also create a virtual Flip community for my class to share their thinking and problem solving strategies when completing the math thinking problems by Peter Liljedahl. Students in the face-to-face classroom have the opportunity to interact directly with the teacher during the teacher table workstation. The instructor is also available to provide feedback and interact with students during the thinking problem and exit ticket at the end of the lesson. Online, students receive feedback on their work directly through Google Classroom. Students also receive teacher responses to their Flip video math journal entries.

I’ve chosen to use Flip as the main form of student-student interaction in this course as it is easy for me as the instructor to set-up discussion topics and moderate student responses as needed. I appreciate the variety of options that Flip provides for teachers when setting up discussion grids, and students are easily able to create content and respond to their peers after a brief learning period. To ensure that interactions are meaningful and supportive in the Flip, I spend time with my class co-constructing a behaviour rubric, similar to the workstation behaviour rubric that is posted in my course. This allows students to set the criteria for responding to peer journals, and helps to keep them accountable to the expectations they have decided on together. The rubric also provides an opportunity for students to engage in self-reflection and assessment of their online work and behaviour. I feel it is important to note that these rubrics are not used for formal student assessment, they are solely used for student reflection, discussion of expected classroom behaviours, and classroom management. I will post an example of a Flip response rubric in my course prototype with the next module.

Woman teacher teaching online, coronavirus and online distance learning concept.While completing this week’s readings about building community, particularly the article by Parrish, I found myself reflecting on teaching through COVID. When the pandemic began, colleagues and I noticed when we went online that students who were more connected in the classroom, were more willing to ‘show up’ online. Those who were not regularly included in the classroom community did not engage online. I remember having the discussions with colleagues about students who weren’t joining the online discussions, but they were finishing assignments. We would express our frustration with these students not logging in and joining class discussions because, as teachers, we know the rich conversation and connections that can happen during conversation. At the same time, however, several of these ‘absent’ students were completing their online work with accuracy, so the questions soon became, “How do we measure their success with online learning? Does attendance matter?” Inevitably, the conversation would always return to the point of allowing grace for students who were thrust online while suddenly living in a pandemic, and we accepted whatever we could get from them. We were just happy to be able to continue teaching and connecting with our students in whatever way we could.

I wonder (with the benefit of hindsight) if our online courses would have had higher engagement if the focus at the beginning had been on building community. For myself, in the division I was working in at the time, the focus from the top-down was simply, get students online and focus on math and ELA as soon as possible. I think teaching through COVID and asking these questions raised awareness of asynchronous models of teaching and has created an atmosphere where different modes of learning and content delivery are more acceptable and more readily available, particularly in the elementary classroom. While pandemic teaching was challenging, I think it created a kind of catalyst event in that it has shifted perceptions of blended and online learning. Colleagues of my own are now more open to the capabilities of technology and using them more comfortably in their day-to-day teaching than they had before being pushed online in 2020.

One thought on “Online Learning Community

  1. Thanks, Amy for sharing your blog post. I agree with you that building an online community in the classroom is very important so that students can participate in classroom and the can share their experiences with their friends and develop their interest in their studies. Moreover, your decision of choosing flip in the course prototype is really good and it is the best source of student students interaction. Flip the classroom allows students to quickly generate content and reply to their peers and it helps the students to develop confidence and mental ability.

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