Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Kind of Classroom in the WECDSB (GUEST POST)

Students in Sonia Jeannotte’s Grade 11 English courses arrive for class in different ways these days.  Her 55 students see her each day in class at FJ Brennan, but they also belong to a community of online learners using the e-Learning Ontario’s learning management system, or the LMS.

Sonia has implemented a blended learning model with her both of her Grade 11 English classes by delivering most of the course in the traditional face-to-face setting and supplementing what she does using the LMS.  When students login to the online classroom, they may read instructions from Sonia, access course content, submit assignments, and collaborate with other students in the class anytime, anywhere. So students have 24/7 access to course content and can participate in 'class discussions' during the school day as well as from home.  Next year, Sonia plans to have students submit work as well.

Sonia regularly posts news items outlining expectations and provides due dates for assignments.  Teachers wanting to try this out need to know that a news item can be as simple as providing a link to a website…

The link above brought the students to a website Sonia uses for Grammar Review

…or as elaborate as embedding a PowerPoint presentation.  The news post below directed the students to a PowerPoint presentation,  made a quicklink to the discussion for this assignment, and included some detailed instructions about the task.

Students may download or simply view the PowerPoint presentation
and can enter the discussion by simply clicking the link
As the teacher and moderator of the online portion of the course, Sonia may customize all that she does by posting content she has created or accessing material from the Ontario Educational Resource Bank (OERB) right within the course.

The next image shows the way that Sonia has structured the content for this course. This is what the students would see if they access the content tab. Please note that this, and all courses are persistent in the LMS, so Sonia will continue to build and refine her course for future classes.

Sonia’s approach to blended learning has been successful for her. She shared some of her thoughts on the process:

My experience with blended learning has far exceeded my expectations. The LMS has allowed me to provide homework reminders, exemplars, and additional resources without taking up valuable class time. Not only does it put the responsibility on the students for their own learning, but it allows me to monitor how much they access the course and to keep them accountable for their participation in the learning process.

Student feedback has been positive, reflected not only by their comments to me and their participation online, but also by their grades.  Having taught two grade 11 university courses last semester, I have noticed an improvement in homework completion, assignment submission, and class averages. I think that having that extra level of communication benefits the students and saves me time in the long run. It is also a great tool in my communication with parents.

I am really excited that teachers have this option available to them, and I am looking forward to using it in my classes again next year.

Sonie Jeanotte is an English teacher at FJ Brennan High School. She has taught Secondary English and loves integrating technology into her practice.

If you would like to begin to use the excellent tool for teaching and learning, 
please contact Joe Sisco, the e-Learning Contact for the WECDSB.

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