Tag Archives: eLearning

Student-Centered Learning and Attention Disorders

The first test is graded.  However, the totals have not been tallied due to the addition of an “exam wrapper”.  More on this in future blogs, but Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation has great information about these reflection tools.

I would like to address several comments students have made.  Regarding using technology to deliver content:  A freshman told me that she expected college teachers to use technology in the classroom.  She used Moodle in high school and expected most college professors to use the learning management system and technology to deliver content.  This was interesting as I have not seen this expectation from high school students prior to this year.  I believe K-12 teachers are now harnessing the power of e-learning.  Great news!  However, many of my colleagues are not.

Several students told me that they really like having the “lecture” recorded.  Their main reason was the ability to have this information readily available to review.

Several students told me that the “collected and graded” notes were extremely beneficial because it forced them to take notes on the videos and actually watch them!  One repeating student indicated that he was watching them this time and preparing for class.  Bingo!

Other students have expressed that they are having difficulties in class concentrating on the problems because they need silence.  The room is not loud, but when you have 40 students in a small room, the cumulative discussion becomes loud.  Some students have attention disorders and even the smallest distractions become disorienting.  I have not seen any other flipped classroom instructor/blogger comment on this.  My students are not unique so I am sure this is not an isolated issue.  Any suggestions on how to address this will be appreciated. Please feel free to comment below.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, my flipped classroom is becoming highly functional.  It’s not an easy transition, but one I feel is necessary to increase student learning and retention.  If nothing else, the engagement in class has increased and students are not falling asleep.


Thanks @Northcentral! Goal Accomplished!

It’s been a few months since I last posted a blog entry.  The end of the semester brought a flurry of deadlines.  I participated in the online ACS ConfChem where a paper about Flipping at an Open-Enrollment College was presented (more on this in upcoming blogs).  More importantly, I ran my statistics on the data from my dissertation study.  Over the summer months I revised the dissertation, and yesterday I defended and earned the title of Dr. Butzler!

When I began my journey towards a doctoral degree, I researched a variety of institutions.  I was looking for a degree in education with an emphasis in e-learning or online learning.  Most importantly, I needed a degree plan that was flexible and convenient and ONLINE.  Surprisingly there were few institutions that offered such a degree.  I found Northcentral University located physically in Arizona.  I was apprehensive, but as I dug deeper into the degree structure, I knew that this would be a good fit with my busy schedule.

I started in April of 2011 taking courses in 12 week intervals.  I could overlap courses; start a second at about week 4 of the prior course.  I could end early and pick up more classes.  A year and a half of course work was followed by comprehensive exams.  Then came the dissertation courses.  Although frustrating at times, this experience was PERFECT for my busy life… full time job and 4 kids!  I applaud Northcentral for designing and offering degrees that are tailored for adults like me.  I learned so much and as a result, I am a better educator and researcher.  And writer!

Online learning is not for everyone.  A doctoral degree is not for everyone.  You need to be self-disciplined and a self-directed learner.  Above all else, you need to be humble.  The mentors, chairs, and committee members know more than you.  Take their advice and learn from it.  Thank you Northcentral!  My goal of obtaining a doctoral degree has been accomplished!

Online and Engaged?

Is there a way to have an interactive, online environment? I have heard from many that the constructivist approach cannot be taught via online learning. I have found this statement to be false. I will give you my experiences and then link to several sources that not only support the idea of constructivism online, but provide empirical evidence that online discussions can be BETTER than F2F discussions.

I have discussions in most of my online courses. I use the discussion boards to a greater extent in Chemistry and Society and Introduction to Forensic Science. Both of these courses lend themselves very well to the online DB.

This is what I have found:
1. Students are more willing to engage in debate and discussion online than in the classroom.
2. All students contribute to the discussion.
3. Students have time to reflect and research when engaged in an online discussion.
4. I have the ability to reach out to all students online either privately through email or publicly through a DB post.
5. Students are more willing to share their opinions and ideas online.

Not surprisingly, these findings are also cited in the literature. MacKnight (2000) supports the use of online discussions to promote critical thinking. “With the availability of online discussion and presentation tools, faculty can engage their students in a wide range of activities that can contribute to intellectual growth” (MacKnight, 2000, p. 38).

As I have experienced, online discussions can be more robust than in the F2F setting. “Discussing topics online, asynchronously, can be just as beneficial (if not more) as traditional, synchronous, in-class discussion” (California State University, 2009, p. 1).

“The majority of students do not want to participate in classroom discussions” (Maurino, 2006, p. 3).

“A larger proportion of students participate (online) and they appear to do so more often than in the (F2F) classroom. This increased interaction could be caused by any number of factors. Among them would be the fact that most instructors require online participation in threaded discussions and enforce penalties for non-participants. Further, students may feel more of a need to connect to other students and the teacher due to the nature of the online environment. Increased interaction may be an effort to counteract the potentiality for misunderstanding caused by transaction distance” (Maurino, 2006, p. 3).

Reflection is the key. Many students don’t “think on the fly”. They need time to think about ideas, research different points of view, and draw conclusions. In a F2F environment, students (and the instructor!!) don’t have this time. In order to teach students to think critically, we need to teach them to reflect. An online environment is more conducive to reflection.

Introverted students are more willing to share opinions and ideas online. Normal class discussions are dominated by the extroverts.  Not all students are engaged in discussion in the F2F classroom.

There are some disadvantages to online discussions. There is not a way to “see” body language or “hear” voice inflection. These visual and verbal cues are important to conversation. However, with the use of emoticons 🙂 😉 😦 students and the instructor can express feelings to some extent.

Here are links to the sources cited above that support my observations. Please feel free to read them.

Teaching Critical Thinking 
Discussion Board Best Practices
Online vs. Traditional This article provides data that supports discussions online. (you will need to scroll down and go next page to read full article)

Our students are engaged online using social media.  They interact with their friends through Instagram, Kik, SnapChat, Facebook, Vine, and “old fashioned” texting.  Maybe we should take a peek into their world for a moment and view how they are connected in learning.