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Synchronous Learning: Cyber Classrooms Essay

1346 words - 6 pages

According to Berliner, engaged time is the time “students appear to be paying attention to materials or presentations which have instructional goals” (Berliner). Educators may refer to this as the time when an instructor has their students’ attention. Engaged time would then be considered a subgroup of allocated time. At PA Online Charter School this can be difficult to measure because of the lack of visual clues. Nevertheless, there are tools which an instructor can use to help determine engaged time in a virtual setting. For example, in BlackBoard Collaborate direct messaging, the web camera, audio responses, polling/quizzes may be used to aid the instructor in measuring a student’s engaged time. Also in the cyber setting, this is where a strong partnership with the parent, also known as the academic or learning coach, becomes essential. The academic coaches are observing the visual cues within the home setting. This is especially true when a student is taking courses asynchronously or when there appears to be a need for testing for special services. In the latter, the parent/academic coach’s input on what they see is invaluable, as many of the symptoms that indicate a need for testing are only seen by those within the home setting. This is because the instructor is not able to see the student perform their daily tasks.
Berliner’s study also discusses time- on task. Time- on task is also referred to as engaged time. Yet, there is more to engaged time than mere student engagement. Time-on task should be thought of as time spent on curriculum tasks or time spent on an activity in which student engagement is clear. Much like engaged time, time-on task can be difficult to measure at a cyber-charter school. Often times, students are placed in breakout rooms in BlackBoard Collaborate to complete instructional tasks. Teachers are able to move, virtually, from room to room to ensure students remain on task. Also, students in breakout rooms are able to work with their classmates. This encourages students to remain active participants in the lesson as well as to stay on task.
In the book, The New Virtual Classroom, authors Ruth Colvin Clark and Ann Kwinn discuss the need to keep students of all ages engaged in their online classrooms. According to Diana Perney, a cyber-school teacher, keeping students engaged in the virtual classroom is easier than some think. She says, “Breakout rooms are the most successful response tool. The room enables the learner to utilize the tools. It also makes the learner responsible for their own learning” (qtd. in Clark and Kwinn 126). The breakout rooms are a way to have students work together in groups on in-class projects. Students are moved into the rooms with the work on which they are collaborating; then, the teacher moves from room to room to ensure the students are on task and that there are not issues.
If a student appears to be struggling, the Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI-I) team will also...

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