Reflection for DL Teachers

The video conferencing technology can be an asset or a curse.  The equipment can enable you as a teacher to share and gather digital information from all sites.  In some instances it may also require support to achieve the best video/audio results.  The following questions reference the video conferencing technology.

  • To talk to the DL class the same as the other class and have a Elmo to show the problems on.  It is more difficult to understand  the teacher when they are not showing you how to do the problem on the board it would be a lot easier then them just telling you how to do it.” (S)
  • Make sure the students know how to work with the technology and how to be responsible with the mics and other things in the room.” (S)
  • Make sure technology is working properly. I know that is not always the teacher's control, but technological difficulties can bring a class down” (S)
  • Sometimes it is hard to encourage students at off sites to participates and be part of discussions.  Students can often feel they are not part of the class and if they have computers, they may often be disengaged and not even be listening to the teacher but be surfing the internet.” (P/GC)
  • Teachers must be able to over-come the technology barrier and trouble-shoot as technical problems arise. Teachers should also be flexible with schedules due to technical difficulties. (P/GC)
  • Use more technology. Both of our schools are one to one and we never use iPads or laptops. We have them for a reason. (P)
  • Always plan ahead.  Technology does fail from time to time. (T)
  • Put together a website and film your classes.  I am just now able to set up a website which I think will greatly help with getting materials directly to students.   Filming class  is always good for absences and as a study resource for students. (T)
  • Be prepared to explain thoroughly what you are teaching, and be prepared for electronic interruptions, no internet, breakdowns in equipment, and strategies to keep all classes at the same level regarding lessons in spite of different school classroom schedules and district wide early outs and vacations. (T)
  • Keep a close watch over comments and tone of voice of students.  For some reason, words seem to be harsher over video conferencing.  There is a greater chance of misunderstanding which can cause friction. (T)
    1. How important is it for the remote site to have an understanding of the VC technology?
    2. What do you do in preparing an aide or students in providing technical support for the technology?
    3. What are the biggest problems you have with the technology?
    4. What do you need to do in support of student video/audio management issues?
    5. Do you require students to share content using document cameras or computers?
    6. How do you handle missed class time?  Different schedules/breaks? Snow days?
    7. What considerations regarding classroom arrangement have been positive improvements for instruction?

Students emphasized the importance of meeting other students. 

  • “A positive outcome from taking a class over video conferencing is that I get the chance to have a class with other students that are not in my school.” The first few days have projects that will help the students get to know each other as well as the teacher him/herself.” (S)
  • “We can try to meet new people but usually we don’t because we mute our mics when we do our assignment” (S)
  • “Communication is the struggle - finding ways to open that communication with students is the key (either via email, contact 'office' time outside of class via DL, or encouraging interaction over DL system). (P/GC)
  • Try hard to get to know those kids just as well as your own. (T)
  • Include the DL class in class discussions with local students and get them to see the local students and get to know them. (T)
    1. What role do you see this class being a social connection for your students?
    2. Do you see that social connection as important?
    3. Are there any concerns that should be considered when establishing this social network.
    4. What factors have limited the interaction between your students?
    5. What have you done to break down barriers for social interaction? 
    6. What have you done to break down barriers for educational interaction?
    7. Besides the connection(s) with your remote classrooms have you ever participated in a virtual field trip in support of your curriculum?

Video conferencing can take away the ready access of the teacher with students.  The following questions ask how teachers insure that students feel involved.

  • More group projects over the DL. I feel as a student, I know it would be difficult, but I don't feel that we interacted with our peers for projects at other sites. I would recommend more group involvement together, versus just in school projects. (S)
  • COMMUNICATION! The communication between my teacher and I was very weak. It has resulted in late grades, low grades, and frustration. This class is my lowest grade, due mostly to the fact that I didn't know when assignments were due, I didn't know there was an assignment, or didn't know how to do them and couldn't seem to get help from my teacher. Always be clear with the students and make sure they have an easy way to access you outside the DL room.” (S)
  • I feel that the DL system was not helpful. It was very difficult to learn the concepts in this class while not being able to ask questions throughout the lecture and throughout the day. If I was gone for an extracurricular activity it was nearly impossible to get the assignments caught up because you had to try and learn from the video lecture and once again were unable to ask any questions. A face-to-face class would have been much more helpful because the teacher would realize when her students were falling behind rather than keep piling on assignments and quizzes when the students don't even completely understand the topics from the previous chapter. (S)
  • Blending online communication for teacher-student accessibility. (P/GC)
  • DL teachers are not always aware of the schedules, routines, etc. of each site they are sent to.  I have witnessed an on-line teacher displaying a temper at the students in our school when the class was interrupted by an announcement.(P/GC)
  • Using Moodle to share information works very well.  Otherwise it can be a challenge to keep track of all of the assignments etc.  Equipment updating, is not an instructional strategy, but does affect the effectiveness of distance learning. (P/GC)
  • The absolute importance of a face-to-face contact EARLY in the term to build rapport with high school students. This makes the DL teacher so much more real and approachable to the students. Also, for us as a school to be able to monitor grades (at the very least at mid-term and at the end of the term) as well as being informed proactively on students whose grades are falling below an 80 %. (P/GC)
  • Establish a method for students at the remote sites to communicate with you outside of regular classroom time.  In my case, the students at the remote sites are very good about e-mailing me when they have questions about what we have covered in class or questions about what they may have missed when they are absent.  This method of communication outside of the classroom has worked well for me. (T)
  • Keep a close watch over comments and tone of voice of students.  For some reason, words seem to be harsher over video conferencing.  There is a greater chance of misunderstanding which can cause friction. (T)
  • I am a proctor in several college DL classes for high school students and have done it for at least 4-5 years. My suggestion would be more communicating between the students and the teacher.The teacher needs to call on the students from distance sites to get more interaction. The students are usually afraid of being on TV and don't want to talk. If the teacher called on them more I think they would get them use to it and the teacher would get more class discussion this way. (T/Proctor)
    1. What do you as a teacher do to get to know your students better?
    2. How do you use technology to communicate with your students?
    3. How does a LMS or other online information enhance the delivery of the course?
    4. What ways do you use during the class to interact with students at all sites?
    5. In what ways do you provide students to communicate with you outside of class?
    6. Besides the connection(s) with your remote classrooms have you ever participated in a virtual field trip in support of your curriculum?
    7. In what ways have you sought to improve as a (video conferencing) teacher?

Video conferencing has provided opportunities for students that they would not have had including a chance to start on a post-secondary degree. 

  • We had little background knowledge of Spanish and I think he/she thought we knew more than we did. (S)
  • Ability to plan and deliver a lesson that requires traits of independent learning (S)
  • I feel that this experience has helped me gain responsibility in making sure I got my homework from the teacher or by asking other students. it feels more like a college course. (S)
  • If I had one suggestion for a teacher delivering a class over video conferencing it would be that with students gone, or when one school has a day off and the other doesn't, its hard to be clear on when assignments are due and it is also hard to catch up, especially if you can't make an appointment before or after school for assistance. I would tell the teacher that he/she should understand this difficulty.” (S)
  • “I really enjoyed my Distance Learning class. It was actually my favorite class this year, partially because I truly enjoyed the subject. My instructor always did a good job of making sure we understood the material. She/He also put a considerable share of responsibility on me though, which will certainly help me in my future. This was a great experience that I would recommend to any and every student!” (S)
  • Voice tone, flexibility, communication of material, discipline for the receiving site, etc.   The DL teacher has to be a strong teacher or teaching via DL will not be productive.  We have received courses where the teacher had so many discipline problems on the sending end, that our students did not receive adequate instruction.  (P/GC)
  • It is a great option for students--they can meet students from other schools and take classes in a setting that is not as familiar to them.  DL teachers (if from another site) are new and that itself is unique because many of our students have the same teachers throughout high school.  This gives them a "taste" of a college instructor/class. (P/GC)
  • More objective grading compared to Subjective when teacher is in the classroom.  (More like what students will encounter in college)"(P/GC)
  • Stick to your guns.  If you or your school has certain expectations (like every student needs a computer and access to a learning management system and should have a proctor in the room) and a school doesn't abide by these, that school should have to comply or be dropped. (T)
    1. What do you do to help measure what a student’s ability is at the beginning of a class?
    2. Besides academically what are seeking that your students gain from the course? (ie responsibility, interaction,college like, etc)
    3. In what ways do you emphasize the positive aspects of taking a class over video conferencing? 
    4. What are the negative aspects of video conferencing that you feel must be overcome?
    5. How does your upfront information - syllabus - reflect the outcomes you hope to achieve with your students?
    6. How does assessment differ and/or be the same when comparing video conferencing to a face-to-face classroom?
    7. If this is a dual credit class how does it differ in delivery as well as content from high school credit class?
    8. Besides the connection(s) with your remote classrooms have you ever participated in a virtual field trip in support of your curriculum?