The readings this week discussed the importance of building community in online environments. As teachers, we all know that building community and relationships with our students is of the utmost importance. Students need to feel safe sharing with you (the teacher) but also with their peers. Having a safe, welcoming classroom ensures that learning can and will take place there. It is no big surprise then, that an online space should replicate that feel. So….how do we do this?
Schwier writes “for a community to emerge, a learning environment must allow learners to engage each other intentionally and collectively in the transaction or transformation of knowledge” (2002, p.1). Students need to be able engage with ideas, negotiate meanings, and learn in a collective manner. Communication is extremely important in virtual learning communities and results in interaction, engagement, and learning.
Our online prototype will be a blended learning environment. This will be beneficial in that we will already have creating that community feel within our classroom. We just need that to continue for the online learning portions.
For our prototype, Benita, Megan (my prototype partners) and I will be using a number of different online tools to support online learning. I haven’t completely solidified what will make up my module, but so far here’s what I plan on using.
- Google Classroom – Google Classroom is the learning management system we have chosen for our prototype. Posts can be made to the main page of the classroom. Students can reply to a teacher post or respond to each other’s posts around a topic or question. Discussion boards can also be set up within classroom. Students always have the option to email the teacher if they feel they need some clarification or help.
- Google Docs – Google Docs allows for easy group project collaboration and sharing. Comments, constructive criticism, and feedback can also be added after a document is shared. Google Docs also works seamlessly within Google Classroom and that makes life easier for everyone!
- Blogging – Megan recommends Kidblog for use with middle years students and that’s who our target audience is. This blogging site is engaging and allows teachers to have more control over the privacy of students and their posts. Students can comment on each other’s posts as well.
- Menitmeter – I plan to use mentimeter to make wordles, much like we have in class. This also provides a collaborative sharing opportunity.
For assessments I plan to use rubrics (for blog post and commenting) and have a graphic organizer for students to organize their ideas, especially if blogging is new to them.
Including some different platforms will allow student to interact in different ways and hopefully through the use of Google Classroom they will feel supported. This article discusses how an online or blended learning environment can better support students who are traditionally reluctant to speak up in class or engage in face-to-face environments. Blended or online learning opportunities can provide some students with a sense of anonymity and security and allows them a voice to engage and participate. Through our use of blended learning I hope that all students can find their voice and get the most out of their learning.