Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Looking back on our Moodle year

    Looking back on this year, where my students spent the whole year becoming good blended/online learners, I have these observations:

Offering online work can attract those students who are a bit indifferent to school.  If the work is interesting and worthwhile, they can become very active learners.

But offering work online doesn’t change the kids who don’t want to do the work.  If they don’t want to do it, they don’t do it, no matter how much fun it is.  Middle school kids can be experts at stubborn for its own sake. 

Offering work online helps the organizationally challenged because it cuts out all the intervening steps where work gets lost. 

But offering online work doesn’t help those who are just chronically late to do work.  I don’t usually hear from them until after mom saw the zero grade on the Edline progress report for the week. 

Online work is not a panacea.  It does have its advantages, though. 

As I had hoped, offering online asynchronous discussions has brought everybody to the table.  In the F2F class (Face to Face), I have “shared inquiry”/ Socratic discussions on occasion.  We sit in a circle, everybody has to participate, and we have good discussions.  But it’s excruciating for the shy, and the deliberate thinkers feel out of sync.  

Online, though, everybody participates.  We hear from kids who never would have raised their hands in class – and they have something interesting to say.  I overheard one kid tell another, “I didn’t know you were so smart,” after reading his posting.  And kids write back when they like another student’s post – powerful peer reinforcement. 

One unexpected result is that more kids are comfortable participating, more comfortable raising their hands in F2F class.  The very shyest still don’t talk much, but I’m hearing questions from just about everybody, and I’m hearing answers to my questions from just about everybody. 

The culture of the F2F classroom has changed.  We are all much more comfortable with each other.  Individually and in small groups, students have always talked to each other, but now they talk in the whole-class setting more.

Still another reason to like the blended classroom!

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