Online and Blended Courses

I know I almost exclusively talk about my AP Calculus class. Because math is my love! I also, however, teach computer science. Mainly because I think there is a huge need to teach computer science in high school and well… if I don’t teach it, it wouldn’t run. So this year, I am teaching Introduction to Programming and AP Computer Science. The AP Computer Science course is running as an online/blended course, the first our school has offered. I have no training in teaching an online class, but I’m doing the best I can with what I have.

The students are enrolled in an online program (www.eimacs.com), which is AP approved. I meet with my students one time a week after school. And we Skype (group and individually).

While I think the course is perfectly set up to be an online one, I MISS seeing my students on a daily basis. I miss that interaction, seeing their excitement, and having the chance to calm them down when they are frustrated in the debugging process. Talking over Skype is working… It allows me to help them when they need help. It’s relatively fast, individualized attention. It also makes me feel like a high schooler sometimes :) (I have gotten Skype messages at 10:45pm … boundaries must be set!). It’s working, but I’m missing seeing the interaction.

I see the benefits of offering online and blended courses. I think the AP Calculus course I teach with the videos is – in a sense – a blended course. And I’m loving how that one is running. So I think the AP Computer class could be set up better (if I could set the schedule, it might be: meet 2 times per week during the school day and an optional after school meeting with 1 group Skype) to make it more enjoyable for me to teach. We’re only 1 1/2 months in, so I’m still tweaking and improving things.

But the more and more I read about moving to online courses, it gets me thinking… I became a teacher because I love working with kids: I love interacting with them, I love hearing their thoughts, I love playing with their ideas, and I love being there to help them feel stronger than they ever thought they could be. Sometimes I fear that I’ll lose this tight connection I feel with my students…

Post was prompted by this article.

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3 thoughts on “Online and Blended Courses

  1. Aaron Sams put a great thought out today about blended learning: :Blended bad: lecture live, interact online. Blended good: instruct online, interact in class.”
    I’m glad to see that you’re enjoying the time you have with your learners and that you’re craving more time with them. I hope you can find a good balance with the computer science class as you move ahead.
    Maybe you could have open hours before or after school for voluntary attendance? Moving away from a blended learning and more of an “open learning” environment might help push schools the direction we should all be going.

    • I agree; I prefer a hybrid approach. I’m currently looking into doctorate programs and one with flexibility for a working mother and wife. There are many online degree programs specific to my field but prefer a hybrid of face to face with online. As a learner, there is value in building those face to face connections (as Skype seems to be providing a bit of for your class) and the flexibility in online learning. Research hybrid programs and see what seems to best fit your needs and student needs. :)

  2. Pingback: 89 lesson plans and ideas for teaching math #mathchat

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