Have you ever had a project that you considered your baby? You loved it. You cared for it. You watched it grow?
All kidding aside, that’s how I felt about the online government course I taught for six years prior to becoming our division’s E-Learning Coordinator.
Sometimes it’s hard to hand over your, “baby.”
In the case of my “online government baby,” it was quite painless to hand it over to someone who showed it just as much loving care as I did….Meet Stephen Chamberlin, online US/VA Government teacher.
Steve, in his 17th year as an educator, is my November Teacher Rock Star for may reasons. Read on to hear the advice he has for online students as well as some of the unique intricacies of teaching online high school students.
What is your favorite part of being an online instructor for high school seniors?
I really enjoy having the opportunity to interact with students from all over the city—my online students are quite diverse (racially, economically, and intellectually), which allows for a wide variety of view points and results in some unique discussions. Similarly, I get to interact with teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators from other buildings which has been a great way to build a professional network.
What skills do students learn from taking an online course beyond the course content?
Time management, self-discipline, and self-motivation. I also think they learn how to problem solve on their own as well since the teacher is not physically present to immediately answer a question they have.
How have you seen online learning evolve since you began teaching four years ago?
It has become more respected as a “valid” instructional method as the community (students, teachers, administrators, parents) recognize how successful our program is. As we have expanded our course offerings I also witnessed students being able to take classes that they would not have had the opportunity to take due to scheduling conflicts or lack of course offerings. Online learning is moving in the direction of no longer being reserved for a select group of elite students.
What advice can you give to students looking to be successful in an online course?
Participate in the course orientation modules! Students who become proficient in navigating the course software from the beginning are going to be much more successful in the course.
Create an action plan at the beginning of the week to figure out how you will accomplish all of your assignments for the week. Don’t plan on doing everything at the last minute and budget a “cushion” of time to allow for unforeseen interruptions.
What are some common misconceptions about online learning in the K-12 setting?
People always think it is going to be easy—they quickly discover it is not! I think online learning allows for more authentic assignments/assessments that can be more challenging than traditional assignments in classrooms. Because of this students sometimes find they spend more time working in their online classes than they would in a regular classroom which invalidates a second misconception that students in online courses don’t have to put in as much time as students in regular courses. Finally, some people assume that if a student is taking an online course there must be something “wrong” with them. It’s true that some of my students have legitimate medical conditions that prevent them from doing well in regular school, but I also have plenty of students that simply enjoy the flexibility, focus, and independence (think introverts) that online learning affords.
BONUS: Mr. Chamberlin’s favorite tech tools!
Maps are kinda Mr. Chamberlin’s jam. He really enjoys creating maps using tech tools such ArcGIS Story Maps. He has created several for the VA Geographic Alliance, an organization he is highly involved in. Plus, you could call him a BIG Google (everything google!) fan from shared calendars to using Drive to keep track of his digital documents.
Thank you so much for being my November Rock Star, Steve!
If you would like to nominate a rockstar to be featured on EdutechChick, drop me a line! I love to honor deserving teachers!