I was enlightened by this weeks readings. I hadn’t considered potential disabilities of students past a reading deficit. It was eye-opening to learn of all the technology available or in development for students from minor to severe disabilities. I found myself thinking how important it must be for those students to be able to gain an education. It should be important to all students.
Weekly, I am becoming more convinced that it is the responsible thing to do to incorporate some form of technological interaction into the learning environment. I have been posting communications on Blackboard for years but the way I have used it is equal to an email. I am just beginning to become comfortable with WIKI’s, blogging, and Skype. I’m still unsure of myself in Twitter and I don’t know how Google docs entirely, but I’m getting the hang of it.
In Factors in High Quality Distance Learning Courses, McClary talks about the role of the online distance instructor. He states that “Quality feedback provides indication the instructor has thoroughly considered the students work and develops a more quality personal connection between the student and instructor.” I couldn’t agree more. I was just telling a friend today that I’ve been in graduate school going on three years now and this semester is honestly the first time I’ve had my instructors give me timely and clear feedback. Last semester in an online class, I wrote papers, gave presentations, did projects and never received any feedback. I met with my instructor at the end of the class for a “feedback” one-on-one and he had never even looked at my intro…a required assignment as well. When I asked about feedback on my papers, etc. I was reassured that I didn’t need to worry about him “ruining someone’s program by giving them a bad grade.” I was also told how much I was cared about, as an individual and a student, and how this instructor would be happy to help me out with anything should I need to ask. What a bunch of crap and waste of my time. I got an A as my final grade but have no idea where my opportunities or strengths were in the assignments that I painstakingly took the time to complete. Students not only need feedback, they deserve it. Which brings about another point made by McClary that instructors need to be responsible in not taking on too much….if the workload is too great, the students should not be the ones to suffer. (I kinda got up on a soapbox there, hu?)
This week was a tough one and I did not do much to contribute to my fellow students learning. This is a month of volunteerism and fundraising and time is precious and very limited. I am working towards getting the English group in line and trying to make all the meetings that come up weekly. So, this week, my contributions have been to be a presence…even if it’s a small one. I hope what I have written will help people to think about how important communication and feedback is. I also found a resource for K-12 instructors that offers classes that address diversity of students within classrooms and may be used towards professional development at http://www.asdn.org/distance-education/. May be beneficial when thinking about students with disabilities and distance education.
McClary, J. (2013). Factors in high quality distance learning courses. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Volume XVI, Number 11, Summer 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer162/mcclary162.html