The title of my project is, High School Independent Studies: A Hybrid Online English Course.
The project consists of two main components:
·Creating of a hybrid distance learning course for teaching High School English – Language Arts to independent study students presently participating in an on-ground English program
· Testing the effectiveness of the distance learning course in meeting its goal, which is to give additional learning opportunities to students participating in an on-ground English program
I am defining a “hybrid distance learning course” to mean a course that provides students with learning over both the Internet and in face to face meetings with their teacher.
Background Information - Goal of Course
The Hybrid Online English Course will be created to teach independent study students in grades 9 – 12, English – Language Arts. Presently, these students are enrolled in an independent study program where they are taking all of their required high school courses. The way their schedule is arranged is they come to school one hour each week to meet with their teacher, receive and turn in assignments, take tests and discuss questions regarding all of their courses. The rest of the week they work independently at home, having no further contact with the school or their teacher. They have no opportunity for student interaction or to participate in discussions. The limited amount of time students physically attend school, impacts on their teacher’s ability to provide lessons and other resources that could enrich their learning. The students represent a cross section of learner levels, from slow to accelerated. Their school is in the California school system and is presently undergoing severe budget cutbacks. The effect of these cutbacks is a reduced supply of textbooks and learning materials. In addition, the school district where this course will be conducted has no funds to pay for a CMS.
Rationale for the Project
The purpose of this project is to study if on-ground, independent study high school students can participate in and benefit from online dissemination of pedagogy .
Although the author of this project must teach all the required high school courses to his students, he has chosen to focus on creating a hybrid course that teaches High School English. In his opinion, the study of English – Language Arts has the most universal benefit to all students and makes the most useful online course to create. In addition to improving English – Language Art skills, students will be improving in the following areas:
· Improving computer skills
· Preparing for the High School English Exam
· Interacting with other students
· Working and collaboration with other students
· Communicating with each other using via writing
· Preparing for future online classes
Approach to the Project
A small group of students will be evaluated and designated qualified to participate in the Hybrid Online English Course. The course will be constructed using various principles and applications that the author learned in the CSUH Online Teaching and Learning Masters’ Program, for example, VARK Learning Styles and threaded discussions.
Prior to taking the course, students will be given a Star Reading Test to evaluate their reading levels. Students will also be given surveys to complete related to their experiences with learning English, their perceptions of Online Learning and their expectations for the course. Midway through the course students will be queried as to their experience taking the course. During the students’ weekly on-ground visits with their teacher, students will be interviewed and also will be observed utilizing the course in the presence of the teacher. At the end of the course, students will be interviewed as to their experience with the course. Students will also take the Star Reading Test to see if their reading levels have improved Throughout the course, students will be provided with lessons and tests. These tests will be collected and later evaluated regarding the effectiveness of the course. At the conclusion of the project, the course will be evaluated on the basis of the collected materials. Improvements to the course will be recommended based on these evaluations.
Course Design Issues
My hybrid English course will be designed for high school students in a multi-grade setting: 9 – 12. These students are already functioning as independent studies students, working on their own. The course syllabus will meet and exceed the requirements of the school district in which I am teaching. The course is also designed so that students will have the opportunity to:
· Improve their computer skills
· Interact and hold discussion with other students over the Internet
· Display and discuss their essays and projects in different forums
· Prepare for the CAHSEE (for those needing to pass it.)
Since the school district has no funding available for a commercial CMS, the course will take place on a web site I am creating. The web site will have many of the elements found on a commercial CMS. This web site will function as the CMS. In addition, my CMS will be designed for ease of use by the students. It will also be highly graphic in order to appeal to a younger student.
There are a number of legal issues that will be addressed regarding the participation of minors in an online course.
Asynchronous Start Dates for Students
A characteristic of my school district’s independent study program is, students are enrolling throughout the year. There is no official first day of school. To accommodate this factor, this English course is designed to permit students to join and begin participating at anytime throughout the year. This is a significant factor in the design of the course
The Hybrid Factor
Students will continue to physically meet with their teacher one hour each week in order to participate in their other high school classes. In this meeting, a certain amount of time can be given to discussing any issues related to the English course
Student Enrollment and Course Duration
Due to this course being in its first versions, student enrollment will be limited to no more than ten students. The course will have a duration of ten lessons, rather than weeks.
Student Qualifications and Standards
· Students must meet certain qualifications in order to participate in the course:
· Computer configuration
· Internet connectivity
· Pass a test demonstrating their ability to utilize and communicate using the computer and internet
Prior to the start of the course, students will be required to attend an orientation session that previews how to log on and utilize the CMS.
Students must agree to meet requirements regarding respectful interaction with each other, to participate in discussion and chats, to uphold academic honesty expectations and to meet log-in attendance requirements.
School District Requirements for the Independent Studies Program.
The following curriculum is based on students receiving five credits in High School:
· Read and report on five novels
· Write ten essays
· Accomplish fifteen units of vocabulary
· Study a variety of subject matter including grammar and punctuation
Additional Course Specific Requirements
Students will be required to:
· Type all assignment using Microsoft Word
· Timed reading and writing tests
· Participate in common discussion topics
· Participate in chat
· Participate in a Star Reading test to determine student reading level
Student will utilize a variety of applications in order to communicate with each other and complete assignments:
· Threaded discussions
· Digital drop box
· Telephone conferences
Multi-grade, Multi-skill Level Assignments
Students participating in this course will be in different grade levels. They also represent different skill levels in the subject of English. In order to accommodate this range of students, a variety of lessons will be posted on the CMS. Students will be able to select lessons specific for their grade level.
Evaluation of Course
Data will be obtained for later evaluation of the course by utilizing the following:
Three surveys will be conducted over the duration of the course. Surveys will be given to the participating students and to their parents. Survey One will take place prior to the start of the course, Survey Two, midway through the course and Survey Three on the final day of the course.
· The course instructor will make notes on student and parent feedback (both solicited and unsolicited) throughout the course.
· Observation of students using the CMS
Star Reading Test Results
Reading test scores will be documented prior to and upon completion of the course.
Student Work Samples
Student work samples will document student ability to produce, for example, a five paragraph narrative essay prior to and upon completion of the course.
Interviews with students and parents
Information gathering interviews will be conducted at the conclusion of the course.
Revision of Course
Organize a database of the Course Evaluation data.
Decide on main categories of the course to be evaluated.
Review the data.
Make recommendations for improving the course.
Reference items within the course that correlated directly to results of the Course Evaluation data.
Project Start Date: Oct 15, 2003
Project Completion Date: February 29, 2004
· October 15
o Begin process for qualifying potential students
· November 1
o Seek approval from Final Project Advisor, and revise project proposal
o Seek final approval from my school district to conduct the course
o Finalize all legal requirements for the course
o Notify participating students of course start date
o Ongoing discussion between myself and my project advisor continues until the completion of the project
· November 15
o Course orientation for participating students
o Distribute and collect pre-course surveys
o Perform Star Reading Test
o Conduct pre-course essay assignment
o Begin course
· December 15
o Distribute and collect mid-course surveys
· January 30
o Complete course
o Conduct Exit Survey
o Conduct Exit Star Reading Test
o Conduct Exit Interviews
· February 7
o Create database of data and evaluate
o Propose changes to course based on evaluated data
· February 14
o Submit first draft of project report to advisor for review
· February 21
o Revise first draft of project report
o Submit final project report
Note: A portion of this timeline is based on the timeline and wording of the Project Proposal of Gloria Y. Niles, D.C., 11/8/2002