Saturday, June 23, 2012

Combining the Face-to-Face Classroom and the Online Classroom into One Course

For the last couple of years the classes I have been teaching at Lehigh Carbon Community College are web-enhanced. All the classes have an online-classroom page. At first, I simply added links to documents, notes, and websites I found useful for the students, along with the syllabus, calendar, and an announcement or two. However, I've been wading in the waters a little deeper this summer. For the first time, I've added a discussion board, some practice quizzes, and an extra credit puzzle, and for the first time I truly intermingled the regular face-to-face classroom with the virtual one.

So far I am enjoying the variety and the reinforcement that the online classroom webpage adds to the students' learning experience. I am currently teaching a Critical Reading class this summer, and summer semester, as you know, is shorter and very compact. It also gave a couple of students a schedule challenge in the beginning of the semester. I have two students who were finishing their senior year at High School, while beginning this course. I was informed weeks before the our Summer semester started how the students would miss two certain days due to High School final exams and graduation practice. This inspired me to put a little more on the online page as far as instructional activities, reinforcement, and a discussion board. I really think it helped the continuity of the class the week those students were unable to attend, since they were still able to participate within the online classroom. This is a terrific plus of teaching a web-enhanced class, and one I really intend to continue making use of into the Fall and beyond.

We have been reading the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. The discussion board was for the students to discuss their opinion of which parent, Christopher, the narrator of the story, would be better off living with. What I observed with the online discussion was that  a couple of students of mine who were usually a little more shy in the classroom, opened up in the discussion board. This brings a whole new element to classroom participation. It gives those who like to communicate more in print a chance to add their voice too. My grading on participation now takes this into account. I find the mix of the two different classroom environments is a wonderful way to meet every learning style in the classroom, and I am just blown away by how creative you can get with it as a teacher.

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