Bringing the Best of Classroom-Based Learning to Online Learning (and Vice Versa)!

Could you imagine an adult education classroom where students are just given worksheet after worksheet or book after book to read on their own?  How dry and boring would that be, and, more importantly, how quickly would those classrooms be empty because students leave due to sheer boredom?  Now imagine the exact opposite of that first situation: a fun, interactive, visually-stimulating classroom where all three types of learning styles are accommodated and everyone’s engaged.  Doesn’t that sound a million (or more) times better?

What sometimes is assumed (and we all know what happens when you assume) is that an online class can’t or won’t have the same components as a successful, engaging, and fun face-to-face class.  But yet, nothing can be further from the truth!  By incorporating varying technologies, you can absolutely do virtually all of the amazing things online that you do in a classroom!  Want to have small group activities so you can target certain learners needing certain skills?  Yup – you can do that online!  Want to have large group instruction so you can get the most “bang for the buck?”  Yes – you can do that too!  What about student study groups or peer tutoring sessions?  Oh, that can certainly be accomplished!  How about having guest speakers talk to your students about how the things they’re studying in class pertain to “real life” beyond the GED test?  That’s easy to accomplish!  And the list goes on & on…experiments or lab studies, field trips, games, videos, etc!

So what does it all boil down to when everything is said & done?  Innovation, technology, and the willingness to try something new and different would be my answer.

Do you want to know more?  Well, I can’t give away all of my “secrets” now, but if you come to the FLC conference and attend the session called “Florida Adult & Technical Distance Education Consortium: Making F2F Classes for Online Students a Reality” at 10am on Friday, May 11th, you’ll learn more!

Kim Gates: What’s new and exciting in the world of online technologies?

The Internet is home to millions & millions of sites: some with educational value and some without it.  Some sites purport to have everything from ways to connect to old friends and colleagues, to ways to find the secret of youth!  How do you know what’s valuable & what’s not?  How do you stay up-to-date with emerging sites, and is ‘newer’ always ‘better?’

While not necessarily “new,” Twitter is a great way to stay connected to reputable organizations like Florida Literacy Coalition, ACE of Florida, FL TechNet, GED Testing Service, and more!  (Not quite sure what Twitter is or what a “tweet” means?  Check out this short Common Craft video explanation!)  While you don’t need to be a member to view various tweats, membership is free & allows you to select who you want to “follow” (which means those organizations’ messages come directly to you & you don’t need to go searching for them).  Twitter is also a great way to connect to your colleagues (both in & out of the state), your current students, and even potential students!  Think of it as allowing you to see & be seen all within 140 characters at a pop!

What would you (or your students) prefer: reading about how to do something or seeing & hearing about how to do it via video?  Khan Academy is amazing!  Their website boasts “With a library of over 2,700 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 238 practice exercises, we’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.”  My favorite part is the math!  Everything from arithmetic to developmental math to  pre-algebra and more can be found there for free!  (In case you’re wondering, Khan Academy has received donations from The Gates Foundation and won Google’s Project 10100 of ideas to change the world.)

Do you ever wish you could participate in professional development without actually having to go somewhere to do it?  To borrow part of the Florida Virtual School’s motto, what if professional development could be “any time, any place?”  The good news is that it can be!  Florida TechNet’s Moodle site has free one hour modules.  There’s something for everyone: administrators and instructors!  Topics include ABE, GED, ESOL, LD, Learning Technologies, Corrections, Literacy, and more!

While these sites may not be ‘new’ to the Internet, hopefully they are ‘new’ to you!  Explore them and enjoy them!!