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Effective Strategies for Introducing HighSchool Students to Online Components of College Courses

A collection of brief case studies describing our school Nick Rice, Terry Kraabel and Nancy Strand Action Research

Spring, 2013 Summary: Computer-based or web-based learning is increasing in popularity among post-secondary institutions.
Computer-based learning may include an on-line course that is delivered to the student entirely through the internet or as a traditional classroom that requires students to do some components on the internet. Students need to be able to access and use technology to be successful in the workforce or post-secondary institutions. This action research project looks at the effectiveness of some specific online resources and student feedback after using the resources.

Description: Staff collected a variety of data to better understand how students were using technology, what
technologies could be effective in delivering information to students, what technologies are needed for basic college readiness, and students perspectives on different online teaching resources.

Technology Accessibility Survey Results: Students

completed a survey on their access and use of technology. Students completed nine questions about: internet access, computer access, phone capabilities, and internet usage. The most interesting results came in the areas of phone usage, and internet access.

i. Phone Usage: More than 50% of students bring a phone to school on a daily basis that has internet and email capabilitie; however, less than 50% of students actually have internet on their phones. The primary reasons City Academy students use their phones while at school is to make calls (28%) and send text messages (22%). ii. Internet Access: The majority of students (76%) have
internet access at home. When asked where students access the internet, results show that students are mostly using the internet at home (45% of the time) and less at school (17% of the time) or on their phones (24%). iii. Online Simulation: Personal Finance class students completed a post simulation questionnaire. Students were asked if the online simulation was helpful and did it help them pull together what they learned in class. 100% of the students stated that the simulation was helpful and a fun way to end the class. The second question asked students if the computer based format was useful. All of the students stated that the computer based format was useful. 75% of the students added that they liked the combination of using the book along with the computer. The final question asked if the ability to access the simulation outside of class was helpful. 100% answered that yes, the option to access course work outside of class was helpful. 50% of the students actually worked on the simulation outside of class. 1|Page

Technology Usage Survey Results: Students completed a survey in September 2012 and again in February 2013. The
two surveys asked the same questions about important technologies students should be using in school; technologies that are essential at the post-secondary level. Results show a positive increase in student awareness and usage of technology.

Technology Usage Data Table:

Technology Usage Survey Questions: Have you ever heard of the IC student portal? Have you ever checked grades on IC student portal? Have you created a school Gmail account? Have you ever emailed one of your teachers at CA? September 2012 YES NO 21 16 35 9 February 2013 YES NO 42 24 50 21

24 29 10 36

9 29 3 32

Technology Performance Results:

Students were asked to complete a short performance-based assessment using technology. Students were given four specific tasks to complete individually. Students completed the pre-assessment the first day of class and the post-assessment after receiving some direct instruction. Students were required to use email and their studentportals to access grades, attendance, and missing assignments.

EFolio-MN Class Study: Students created an EFolio Minnesota web-based portfolio. Twelve students created a page
and spent some amount of time creating pages and building their personal history page. Six of the twelve students also create a content specific page where they displayed research projects they have completed while working in science classes. EFolio-MN is used statewide and at some of the most frequented colleges . Students were able to navigate the site and create new site content.

Email Correspondence Class Study: A health projects class was taught in October with all communication conducted
via the computer. The syllabus was posted online along with all assignments and due dates. The syllabus clearly outlined that no work would be accepted other than through e-mail. At first students were a bit reluctant to use the computer but after the first week all communication was done through e-mail. Even though I was in the room I would not answer questions except through e-mail, this forced the e-mail process to be more similar to a college type of interaction between college students and the teacher. There were 11 students in the class with 8 students earning grades. Of the 8 students that earned a grade, all agreed that this class felt very different compared to other classes they have taken. At first, students struggled with not being able to directly ask questions, but near the end of class they saw the value of learning how to communicate with an instructor that is not on site. Students stated that this type of learning worked because they could do their work anytime as long as they finished by the due date. Several students did request extensions to the assignments and I did make accommodations for different learning style and ability. All of the students said this was the first time they had ever done a class that was entirely online. Students were asked if they liked the experience of online classes. 6 students said this was a very good way to do the course work and 3 students did not like having to do all the work on the computer. Students were asked if taking this class makes them feel 2|Page

better prepared for college classes; 6 students said they felt more prepared to follow the syllabus and complete the assignments online.

Conclusion: Students were able to efficiently grasp the online components of each course taught. Students generally
reported a positive experience in each course containing an online component. Students were able to easily create email accounts and needed little direct instruction to learn how to use the technologies required in class.

Action Plan: The data indicates that a high percentage of our students have internet access at home. Students should
therefore be able to complete online assignments at home, collect missing assignments through email from home, correspond with teachers when missing a day of school, and be able to provide parents with access to student grades and attendance. In the future, our school may create a portal in which teachers can store class assignments that students can access outside of school.