I wasn’t sure what to expect of online learning when I signed on to teach summer school this year.

So far, it’s been a really good to see what the mysterious DL world is like, especially since I’ll be participating in a blended learning pilot in the fall.

Here’s what summer school is like as an online teacher:

I work all day in a high school computer lab with 8 other teachers. We’re the Planning 10 group.

The course content has been created by another teacher, so students log on, work through the content at home, and then complete assignments for the group of us to mark.

There are hundreds of students registered. But they have 12 months to finish, so not every student will complete the whole course by mid-August.

Students can complete the units in any order.

Some students have been working steadily, submitting assignments every couple of days. (And they will come in to write a midterm in about a week or so.)

There are some assignments that obviously took quite a few hours to create; while others look like the students skipped the research/reading completely. (A few times, I’ve asked students to resubmit an assignment before I’ll mark it.)

I spend the whole day reading assignments and providing feedback (either by typing directly onto the student’s document, or onto the grading page for that student and assignment). When I go home at the end of the day, there’s still work I haven’t looked at yet.

It’s been really great having a group of colleagues to collaborate with. We help each other out with the content, share ideas, advice, exemplars, and we’re constantly talking to each other about how to improve the course.

The ironic part is that I feel more connected (and therefore better able to collaborate and have discussions) with my colleagues at this online school than I sometimes do at a face-to-face school.

Things I’ve noticed:

-Assessment for learning — all assignments are submitted without my involvement in the learning process; We’ve started using rubrics so that students can see what areas were assessed; But I don’t have a good handle on whether students understand the content until they upload an assignment for marking, and they don’t see those rubrics until the assignment is marked (because the rubric is attached to the grading section);

-Many students have never taken a course online before and have a hard time with how text-based everything is;

-Missing details:  lots of assignments are incomplete because students don’t read through the instructions (which can be very wordy/lengthy); or the questions are unclear and students guess; or students can’t figure out how long their responses should be;

-Diction: some students write their assignments as if they are, like, talking to their friends, you know?

-Some students seem to do a bunch of assignments all at once, and then upload them. The problem is that they sometimes end up making the same mistake in all their assignments since they haven’t waited for feedback before moving on to the next;

-All assignments are scanned through Turn It In, to detect plagiarism, which is a bonus over using Moodle (although I might be wrong — perhaps the district Moodle has plagiarism detection?);