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Large Virtual Classroom Management Distance-Learning Seminar: Student Needs and Class Management January 22, 2007 Dr. Marguerite Connor COURSE DESCRIPTION AND GOALS

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large virtual classroom management

Large Virtual Classroom Management

Distance-Learning Seminar: Student Needs and Class Management

January 22, 2007

Dr. Marguerite Connor

course description and goals
  • This course will help students learn to write effectivelyin abusiness environment. Students will focus on improving their communication skills, particularly through writing. We will be using a two-pronged approach to this:
    • developing tools for sound analysis of business situations in order to write appropriately, whether sending brief e-mail messages or preparing long reports; (I saw this as the more important prong) and
    • honing basic writing skills.
  • Students will read case historiesand be expected to discuss them, solve business communication problems, write brief assignments and prepare one long report (10-15 pp).
  • Competency in writing sentences and paragraphs.
    • Many of my students were not competent.
  • Competency in using a word processor and an e-mail program.
most important
Most important
  • The first thing I think we can do to best serve students is to make sure they are in classes that suit their ability level, especially when it comes to writing
student qualities
Student qualities
  • On-line courses are more suited to disciplined and self-motivated students
  • Often appear to take more time than live courses as students don’t realized that the two hours they would spend in class with the teacher is now done “at home”.
calculating home work
Calculating home work
  • Depends on the credits
    • For a 2-credit course—4 hours homework
    • For a 3-credit course—9 hours homework
  • Then I cut it almost in half to deal with the reality.
  • So for this course, I aimed at about 2-3 hours of HW for the average student per week.
class was too difficult
Class was too difficult
  • I had many students who found my class too difficult.
  • I think one reason is that they didn’t read the class introduction and syllabus carefully.
  • Class materials had been prepared the term before the class was offered, so as a teacher, I didn’t have the spontaneity to alter lesson plans that I would have had in a live situation.
  • I also didn’t have the chance to see faces during the lecture to “read” how it was getting across.
  • Also, because I had such a large class, it took me a while to see the “big picture.”
teaching assistants
Teaching assistants
  • I was assigned two TAs:
    • Charity Liu
    • Carita Wang
  • The benefit of this is that I split the class into thirds, and each week, on a rotating basis, we each took a third to correct the HW.
more time
More time
  • That meant I was only reading 13-14 homeworks a week by the time the class size stabilized, so I could spent much more time on them
  • By the end of the third week, I had seen everyone’s HW at least once.
  • The downside to this, of course, is that I didn’t really get a picture of the class as a whole for over a month into the class.
  • It also made it slightly more difficult to track individual’s performance
  • I was responsible for reading the midterm exams all by myself.
  • They needed the control of being read and graded by me.
  • Unfortunately, that is when I saw how much trouble some members of the class were in.
  • Right after the midterm I scheduled one-on-one meetings with students who failed the midterm.
  • That’s when it came out how difficult the course was for them.
office hours
Office hours
  • On MSN and Skype
  • Two to three hours a week, at a consistent time.
  • Open to all my students
odd term
Odd term
  • No student had come to my “office” at all this term. That was strange.
  • Usually I have students popping by to ask questions or just take advantage of having a native speaker willing to “chat” with them.
remedial measures
Remedial measures
  • All the failing students were then assigned to mandatory tutoring with one of the TAs
  • They were also ordered to go to Fu Jen Self-Learning pages.
  • Found here:
problem with some strong students
Problem with some strong students
  • The biggest problem I faced was that there was a small core of students who were performing quite well, and I hope, learning something from the course.
  • I didn’t want to dilute things for them.
easier options
Easier options
  • But for weaker students, I offered very basic writing assignments
  • I made a final paper option that was far more basic than the original options.
    • The final also became a 3-6 page paper.
structure of class worked with this
Structure of class worked with this
  • Luckily, after the midterm, there were fewer lectures and more writing.
  • The first half of the course was learning what to do, the second half, polishing how to do it.
  • This made it easier to switch assignments.
  • I also added some basic reading and vocabulary exercises as this was obviously sorely needed.
learned a lot from experience
Learned a lot from experience
  • Most important, I am moving away from taped lectures.
  • I don’t think they are overly useful.
  • They have some use, but not for extended lectures.
    • In the future no more than 30-40 minutes of taped lecture.
new technology helpful
New technology helpful
  • Now that we have technology like Breeze and JoinNet, I think I’d like to meet “live” with students in small groups for part of the weekly classes.
  • Students really like using JoinNet so far. Very enthusiastic.
ideal plan
Ideal plan
  • I would meet them for 15-20 minutes and the rest of the time would go to their own work.
  • This is especially true in writing classes.
  • Of course, I’d have to meet with 6-7 groups, so I would be spending the two-three hours of weekly class meeting students.
one on one
  • I would also like to schedule more mandatory one-on-one time during office hours.
    • At least once a semester for all students
    • More if needed
  • This goes against my ideas of “asynchronic learning” but I think it’s necessary.
placement test
Placement test??
  • I also think we need to have some kind of testing or placement requirements so that students will be in the right course.
  • Because this wasn’t a beginning course, I didn’t have students give me a writing sample, as I usually do.
    • Won’t do that again.
ice breakers
  • I did ask them to join an on-line icebreaker game (use 8 nouns to describe yourself), but that wasn’t enough writing, and some didn’t fill it out for over a month.
  • But ice-breakers certainly do help build class unity.
    • That’s something I’ve learned over the years teaching on-line.
  • That said, I think the course designed is a useful one (and I originally designed it for EFL students, and in fact, have never taught it to native speakers), but it’s too difficult.
  • It would make a good part two of a two-course sequence.