Monday, February 28, 2011

Web-Based Courses (WBCs) Examined

Looking at the WBC Manitoba Education site there is a good number of classes.  All the core classes are well represented and a good list of elective classes for students in smaller communities where they might not be able to offer them.  I’m talking about classes like: Webdesign, Law, French, Accounting, Animation, Drafting, Computer Science and Digital Picture.  There could likely be additions made to this, but I feel it is a good base and I’m sure it will be added to further in the future.

I chose to focus in on ELA since that is the field I am most comfortable and where I hope to teach.  The classes here cover all the options a high school would offer (Literary focus, Transactional, and Comprehensive – and gives solid explanation of each of these sections of ELA) and for each grade.  There is a lot of room for creativity in the assignments and good sequencing and structure to the overall classes.  I can’t judge on how well it works, but there seems to be plenty of support for students through WebCT , where you can contact an actual teacher if the student runs into trouble.  There are extensive explanations and directions available for the student to read about how the course works and what is expected, as well as explaining how the student can make this course as much about themselves as a person as they wish.  This is a great idea, ELA is particularly malleable regardless of the grade, section, or even unit, which makes it a nice match for Web-based learning.  The assignments seem straight forward and the rubrics give a comprehensive description of what the expectations are for the assignments.

My criticism of the ELA courses is that there does not seem to be much effort to make these classes exciting for the students.  It seems very bland, and though I realize reading is an important part of ELA, there is too much cold reading of how this course works to realistically expect all but the most motivated students to complete or excel here.  There does not appear to be a move to incorporate any of the exciting online tools we have been learning about in our class into these courses, which seems like a real missed opportunity.  I think the ELA classes are fine for self-motivated and confident students, but I feel that many students would be uninspired to complete an ELA course with this method.

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