Virtual Teaching and Learning

Leave a comment

and HEEErrrrsss Naomi!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the last blog in this course. I am to show how I helped to coach teachers in a model design, implement technological learning experiences using differentiation, including adjusting the content, process, product and learning environment while keeping in mind the readiness of students learning levels, styles, interests and personal goals. Boy is that a tall order and only the first of 5 criteria’s I was aiming and challenged to meet.
 First of all…I did none of these things on my own. However, within my group we accomplished these tasks. We coached one another through looking at AKLN standards, hammering out what they meant to all of us, developing rubrics that were student friendly and then creating assessment pieces along side projects to facilitate a learning environment any instructor and student may be able to understand. We reassessed, rewrote, argued, trying to gain footing in what direction to climb. All of us fought for ideas often having to re-evaluate after coming up with something ingenious only to realize we had left out an important component. We reassessed again, pouted, cried (ok, maybe that was just me), felt insecure (maybe me again), and eventually immerged from the mire to be able to take yet another look at what we had done with fresh eyes (definitely all of us!).
 Differentiation came from working within a group of multifaceted experiences in English literature, online instruction, CTE and Special education backgrounds. Throughout this entire project you couldn’t have asked for a more diverse group. The student population that we will potentially serve with this course will be well represented. I must say that I have never worked with such a cohort of dedicated and selfless instructors that truly had the end result, an obtainable education, at heart. We have spent many hours diligently considering the student and vying for their success through constant revision and refinement.

 The second and third piece we (and I say we because again, while I was an important contributor I did not act independently) were tasked with was facilitation of the use of adaptive and assistive technologies while coaching the use of online blended learning, digital content and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning. Luckily, we had Nicole who I’m pretty sure is getting ready to take over the world with her amazing technological brain (hahaha), and is most whiley at minimizing the “click.” I personally understand Blackboard and can pretty well navigate my way around the newest version UAA offers….UAS unfortunately (version 10…UAA is 13.1). is a wee bit behind the times but I still get it…Nicole abhors it…she will deny to the end but I know she holds deep resentment in her heart for that program (it’s ok!!! I understand)! However, against all odds, she put in graphics throughout every module, so that they all corresponded with one another and linked into shorter URLs in order for students to easily access materials. Throughout this entire process she has kept reminding us all of the importance in keeping courses coherent to what our students learning attention span would bear!  Aleta did a wonderful job of creating audio links and finding material that wouldn’t cost the students or district a dime, Jon did voice-overs…quite a lovely speaking voice, and Tammy created a great model for checklists (among other things) for us to create a succinct guide for the students learning. Again, the diversity of formatting while keeping it all synchronic in theme for our students learning. So to be completely honest, I had no real assistance in that area other than encouragement and moral support (oh wait, I kept us all facilitated and responsible to one another, hahaha…oh boy, I’m pretty sure the biggest job of all!! LOL!)!

 The last criteria of deepening content and pedagogical knowledge while reflecting on professional practice in the foundations and improvement to model and facilitate distance learning experiences is easy. This whole process has been just that. This class has had us read, cite, create, think outside of our personal comfort barriers in order to consider other teachers mental, technological, and academic challenges they might face. I have never spent more time unsure of myself while at the same time having to think outside of my own fears in order to serve a greater purpose…students who need the opportunity to graduate on time and those that will teach them. I have said it before and it bears repeating that I wish every single class I had ever taken in my graduate program challenged me this much and had produced such a tangible commodity. Through my learning and my teams collaboration we have all learned a tremendous amount about ourselves, one another, have been forced to overcome fears and obstacles and have achieved success in creating an online learning community through example.

Thank you and good night……..





A day late #oltak

I’m a day late with posting. I was really struggling with inspiration for this weeks blog…to me, our group felt like it was at a stand-still, waiting on technology support with Blackboard and everyone finishing up their specific pieces and parts. This week has also been particularly challenging for me on a personal level with end of semester teaching duties, trying to finally move my toilet back into my bathroom after a month long renovation project, committee obligations and last minute catering events. However, after meeting with my team this morning, I am yet again reinvigorated! We revisited the rubric situation and realized that we don’t have to assign weights or percentages to them. The rubrics may be solely utilized as a learning tool….I realize this may not strike anyone else as an epiphany but for me it was a weight off of my shoulders.
 We were trying to figure out how to justify the numbers attached to the rubric standards and it proved to be unfair to just give a straight out 0, 50, or 100% to the evaluation of a students work. So we decided to change it and assign no point system to the rubric and use it as another way to provide insight as a guide for our students projects. This seems simple and minimal in the scheme of designing a course but it played yet another part in refining student engagement and learning opportunities. It lead to more discussion of how to perhaps allow a student to submit prior work for revision in order to meet the standard, thus bypassing tedious repetition and giving value to what they have already accomplished but teaching them through thoughtful coaching and allowing for revision.

The Chinese proverb is “give a man a fish and he will eat for today, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” Such sage wisdom… how much of a greater buy-in will we be able to gain from offering students the opportunity to take what they have already done, that has been deemed a “failure” and turn it into a success…as instructors, you couldn’t ask for a better learning opportunity than this! Again, I am amazed at the collaborative efforts of my classmates and am left enlightened by our interaction and just I am left feeling as if we are at a standstill, another layer is stripped away and my eyes are opened to yet another aspect of the learning process.


Quality Matters #oltak

This week the English and math group reviewed one anothers credit course recovery Blackboard shells against the 2011-2013 Quality Matters rubric put out by the Quality Matters program found at

 As I went through my portion of the assessment review for the math group, I found myself thinking that I wish we had had this rubric in the first place as we were creating the different components of our course. Especially after watching Lee’s video of what each standard actually meant and how they were to be used in the assessment. But after some reflection, I’m glad we are privy to this information now and not prior. I do think some components of the QM rubric came as a natural focus because of all of our teaching experience and understanding of what our students need and respond too (for the most part). But having this tool has become an invaluable and important resource in refining our program and seeing through what Dr. Graham described as the “expert blind spot.”

 At first, I felt a little deflated, as did some other team members, that our hard-worked and amazing project wasn’t perfectly mind-blowing! Well, it is mind-blowing, just not perfect…yet! Now it feels like a relief to have a clearer direction to move in, know where we need to articulate and pare down materials, and honestly, the hard part is over…except for Jon, who will be the guinea pig in teaching this course for the first time ever.

 This process has been one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever been involved with…meaning that I am learning something new every step of the way..even now within the review process. The QM rubric is a great tool but an even greater asset was Lee actually explaining, in detail, how to interpret the rubric itself. That really helped me look at the material in a much different, indepth and professional light. When she says to watch the video, there’s a reason for it! 🙂

 We have a little ways to go; revision of wording, a few more examples and screencasts, additions to the syllabus and assuring that this course is kid friendly as can be! The only great huge obsticle I foresee is how in the world are we going to refine the grading process in Blackboard…if this course is a la carte, how do we create a gradebook for them to easily access, for immediate feedback on their completed work, that will make sense to a student taking every module vs. a student taking one…ahhhh, the it’s the little things in life that make it interesting.


Marylandonlineinc, (2011). Qualtiy matters rubric standards 2011-2013 edition with assigned point values. Quality Matters Program. Retrieved from