Monday, February 25, 2013

Web Based Courses in Manitoba

     On Thursday we had the opportunity to have Donald Girouard & Sophia Palahicky from Manitoba Education visit our class to discuss Web Based Courses. I personally never participated in a web based course when I went through the public school system but I know that I will be working with them in the future so I was interested in learning as much as possible.

     Manitoba Education currently has hundreds of distance learning resources which includes over 40 developed online courses that students can take at the Grade 9 through 12 levels. Since I am in a small rural area I anticipate that the primary reason for introducing web based courses would be due to course availability but I know students will be interested for a variety of reasons. Some reasons why students may take web based courses include:
1 ) Availability of courses/teachers
    - Especially in smaller schools, there may not be enough teachers or
      students to offer all course options every year or at all. Web based
      courses allow students to participate in these courses no matter what
      school they are attending.
2 ) Student choice
     - Some students may find that they are more engaged or are more able
       to learn through a web based course as opposed to a classroom setting.
       This allows students to work at a more flexible schedule where they can
       work ahead or take more time as needed.
     - Students may also find these options more suitable if they are not getting
       along with their peers or specific teachers due to any number of reasons.
3 ) Absence from school
     - Students may be unable to attend school due to involvement in
       extracurricular activities, illness, pregnancy, suspension, etc. Even though
       students may not be able to physically be on campus, web based courses
       allow them to still participate in the course and work towards their credits.
4 ) Enrichment/Remedial options
     - The availability of web based courses allows students to take enrichment
        courses at a higher level or make up for credits from a previous year. This
        lets our students work at a level that best suits them without having to be
        restricted by scheduling concerns.

     One thing that I had never thought of was that web based courses can be a great resource for teachers as well! Teachers, as well as pre-service teachers, can register and access all of the web based courses that are available on the Manitoba Education site even if they don't have students who are using them. Teachers can then see how the course is set up and organized, what examples are used, and access the included resources like video clips, audio clips, text and images. Where else can you find resources and unit plans that perfectly fit the Manitoba curriculum and that are designed by Manitoba Education? I think this would be especially helpful for teachers who are teaching a subject for the very first time or something that is out of their teaching area. Teachers can also use web based courses in their classroom in a blended approach that incorporates some of the online activities as well as classroom based activities. I'm thinking that this might be an easy first step if some teachers are interested in trying to incorporate a "flipped classroom" approach.

     Are you using any resources from web based courses in your classroom?

2 comments:

  1. Hey Kirsten, great post! I've taken a few courses online during my undergrad for various reasons and they were all right. Although I feel like I would have gotten more out of some of them if they were f2f. I agree with you WBC make great teacher resources because they will align with the MB curriculum and are easy to access anywhere. I also agree that they are a great alternative in the classroom, especially if students are wanting to be online (on their own devices possibly).

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    1. Thanks Alaura! Although I've never taken a Web Based Course I agree that you can get more out of it if there is a F2F component. That is why I really liked the discussion around the blended approach that uses both web and F2F options.

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