Re: Barriers to Learning in DL

Martha Mae,
Your post is a good summary of this very informative article. Many of the articles we were assigned to read for this unit had a similar theme to them: real problems associated with distance learning. I found it refreshing to read other peoples (both authors' and students') thoughts on them.

Personal observation regarding student isolation:
One of my high school graduates recently took an online course given at his community college. He said it was too hard, required too much work and that he also did not feel he was part of a class. He felt alone. He said he will not sign up for any more distance learning courses

I have read studies about high school students participating in distance learning. Most of the findings say they do not do well in it and do not like it. May of them quit.

Personally, I am in my fifties. I also need to complete 45 upper level units to maintain my teaching certification or I will lose my job. Honestly, there have been times I wanted to quit this program because I had the same feelings as the high school students. But loss of job is a high motivating factor. There are some great sides to distance learning, but if a person can't find the motivation to work on their own, they are going to be in trouble.

Like you, I was glad to see the article discuss many of these concerns.
Re: TOPIC 3 Institutional Change

Hi Shannon,
I appreciate you bringing your real experience as a distance learning instructor to this forum. To address your last statement about where you teach, the grass may not be greener elsewhere. I think we are living in a period of transition where there will be resistance from many areas. I see it where I teach.

The Shared Responsibility article really hit home for me. It really showed just how much work (extra work) may be required for the distance learning instructor. They have so many issues, including the technology and course construction, to deal with. It makes you wonder about undertaking teaching courses, especially if the institution you work for is not supportive.

I also appreciated reading the Turoff Article. Using technology to teach seems to be the buzz nowadays. Unfortunately, many in the education world think it is some type of magic solution for student learning. As an Alternative Ed High School Teacher, I now require that my students do not use a calculator to do their math. In fact, I am requiring that they force themselves to solve simple math problems in their head. I tell them to visualize, in their mind, 120 divided by 4. So many of them are TV junkies that they have never learned to use their own mind. It is amazing to see the look on their faces when they learn they can visualize in their mind.

The reason I mention visualizing in the mind is because students should first be trained to rely upon their own brains before asking a computer (or calculator) to do it for them.

But the rising tide of educators who want to jump on technology because it sounds right probably can not be stopped. I ( I know you do too) will try to help the students who walk into my life, the best I can.

Re:Mary & Janet - Marking, grading and returning papers

Thanks for the insight. Those are good tips regarding correcting papers. By the time a student is in college, they should have it together enough to write well. Making use of Word's "Track Changes" feature is a good idea. I could also see using the "Insert Comments" feature.

Presently I am working with high school students. I believe they require higher maintenance in the feedback area. I have read about online teachers sending a tape recording discussing changes back to the student, along with the paper. I am sure there are different approaches.

Re: Discussion thread/size/download time

think it is a fairly simply calculation that needs to be made by the school prior to beginning a course. Limit the size because the system will be overloaded. I have a cable modem, so everything works. But a slow connection would really be frustrating. A little planning could sidestep this problem.

Re: Faculty Issues

Martha Mae you said,
"Teachers/trainers can be encouraged to participate in DL."

This point is thoroughly supported in the Betts' article. She really sums it up by stating, "Faculty and deans at GWU who are interested in distance education, and deans who support distance education and/or who have experience with distance education at GWU will continue to have an increased number of faculty participating in distance education."

She really says it is up to the administration to make the difference and encourage Distance Education. This is a very important observation.

Martha Mae. Thanks for being the facilitator.
How do you like doing it?

Re: High School Professional Development

I am still too new to be looking at the buy back aspect of professional development. You must be an exception to have effortlessly taken care of it.

On another note, I have spent a number of years learning and teaching computer applications. I've also owned businesses . But now that I am close to being a tenured teacher, I have been toying with slowing down my computer studies and focusing on playing my jazz piano and other things, like leaning Spanish. Being a teacher earns you a life of options other people don't have. Many older teachers likewise choose to not participate in using the computer and would rather do other things with their lives. I kind of have to support them, but it seems to conflict with the advancement of supporting distance education.

Oh well, we still have our summers to look forward to.