Personal Learning Network

Learning at a Distance

Distance learning is really interesting. It is something that has the chance to be used in the classroom very often now with the emergence of all sorts of crazy technology. The learning responsibility is shifted away from the teacher and towards the student. The student becomes more responsible for what the learn, how beneficial it is, and how much they learn. The students get what they put into it. It also allows students to still learn if they miss school for an extended period because the majority of the learning is done online, and in class portion can be done collaboratively with GoogleDocs, etc. Technology has its perks and using it to aid education is something that can be huge.

As a teacher, I think the ideas of distance learning will become something I will use in the classroom. I like to think of myself as Tech savvy so I am beginning understand how a lot of this can be incorporated into the classroom. And if I can’t make the whole class in the flipped classroom model, it is my hope to be able to provide students materials for them to supplement their learning at home to help understanding or in case they missed class.

Two questions arose when learning about this. The first is how to get around the fact that some students don’t have the resources available to them to get access to a flipped classroom. What can I expect of that student? How do I grade a student who can’t access the internet on a regular basis? The second is how do I deal with students who don’t do the outside material? If they are in the classroom, the teacher presents the content and the student has to be there, but if they are at home, they may not choose to watch the videos or do activities and when they get to class, they won’t contribute to the activity in class. What does a teacher do about that?

Using Technology in Inquiry, Assessments, and Learning at a Distance

What stood out to me from this section was the big idea. It seems like the big idea moves beyond just the SOL. The big idea is what the students should be taking out into the real world with them. So that 5 years down the road, the student will be in a conversation and be able to recall the big idea from class. Developing a beneficial big idea is the key to having that moment. I thought chapter 8 did a good job of helping develop the big idea through problem-based learning. This way the students can see a problem incorporated with the big idea and are able to try to find a solution. Due to the varying backgrounds of all the students, they will offer differ solutions or answers which can help the class grow as a whole.

Something else that stood out to me was in Chapter 9 about assessments. There are a list of all sorts of assessments that could be offered to the students to measure their achievement. Personally, assessment to me always meant test, but there are many ways to get students to reach a goal and show their achievement.

I hope to be able to incorporate useful big picture ideas that students will say down the road that “Mr. Turner showed me an issue about this and I can feel comfortable answering this question or joining in the argument.” Also, finding ways to measure student achievement besides just tests. I want to make sure I take advantage of the informal methods as well so that students don’t feel that everything in the class isn’t meant for a grade, but rather to show them and myself what is working, what information they are retaining, and what we need to work on or elaborate.

A teacher should use collaboration because it supports the big picture. Every student has a different set of experiences that shape how they react to certain things or answer certain questions. It is important for the students to come to that realization and use the opportunity to understand different ideas and apply them in the classroom. In order to completely understand the big idea, students need to be able to see all angles of the answer. Collaboration can provide an opportunity to create a more complete picture and understand all areas of an answer.

Engaging Students through the Web

The world wide web is well… wide so how can it be used as a tool to facilitate learning?

One thing that I always find amazing is how much information is available on the internet for anyone to use at any time, and how easy it can be to access that information. Students can read primary sources in an instant, and see documents, pictures, and recordings of some of the most monumental moments in history. In a classroom environment, the internet can be a gold mine for learning.

I had an American History class where we did something very similar to Web Inquiry. The teacher would provide sources to the class to be read based on where we were in time, and we would have to analyze the meaning, ask questions, dig deeper, and submit a reflection sheet every day. In class, we had an assigned group that we worked to connect the dots of all of the sources from the previous night to answer big idea questions. At the end of each section, we would have an essay test where we would use all of our sources to answer the essential question for the section. I learned a lot about digging into material, but also about History through the eyes of someone who experienced an event. And pulling all of this information together to answer the essential question was the most rewarding feeling of my college career. I formulated the information on my own, asked my own questions, answered my questions, and applied the information.

So what does this have to do with students? Well, using Web Quests, Web Inquiry, and Telecollaborative activities, students are guided through the information. They create their own observations through a lens. Using the teacher as the guide, the students can chart their own course. So while they learn about a famous explorer, or historical figure, they also learn how to use information presented to them through primary and secondary sources. Coffman says, “teachers should move their students from memorization to higher-level investigation and thinking […] Ideally it is best if students can do this with unfiltered information to provide a real-world approach to learning.” By letting the students ask the questions and answer them on their own, they can have the feeling of reward when they connect all the puzzle pieces.

As the teacher, it is important for the students to be able to collaborate because they all have different experiences and viewpoints. Through collaboration, the students can share how they feel and form a more full picture of the subject of the activity presents. And it is practice for the real world. The real world is full of collaboration in order to complete tasks. The sooner a student is exposed to it and the more practice they receive, the better off they will be after their schooling is done.

The point of teaching isn’t just teaching students math or history or science, but teaching them skills and giving them a chance to practice those skills for the real world. By moving away from memorization to collaboration and inquiry, the students can take a crucial first step.


Coffman, T. (n.d.). What is Inquiry? In Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students (Second ed., pp. 83). Rowman & Littlefield Education