PLN Activity 8: How Online Learning Is Being Used To Enhance Education

Rapid advancement of information technology has not only influenced human life, but also the time and space in which humans learn. This article talks about what are the 5 ways online learning enhances productivity and how exactly does it reduce the cost of education.

The 2012 Survey of Online Learning reveals that the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6.7 million. Moreover, 32 % of higher education students now take at least one course online. Online courses seem to be a trend in nowadays education. As a teacher-to-be, I do agree with the author’s point of view that online learning can enhance education, meanwhile, there’re still some points that I concern. I’m going to clarify my thoughts in the following perspectives:

Knowledge Resources

Online learning can provide students more accesses to educational resources and experiences. It makes us easier to search more additional information online. However, too much information is hard for students to digest and to understand, under this circumstance, the whole bunch of information may just become meaningless and easy turn out to be garbage.

Time & Equipment

Online courses contain no time or space constraints, is built with reusable components, and is highly scalable, which means that the same program can be used with 10 participants to 100 participants or even to 100,000 participants with little incremental financial cost or physical effort. Students can revisit the course over and over again if they need.

However, if there’s no technological equipment or Internet, online courses will not be accessible for students. Institutions and instructors should work together to set their students up for success, with a minimum requirement of Internet connectivity and at least one device for every student.


In an online environment no one stands over the student to remind him to do his homework, or is in front of him to ensure he is mastering the curriculum. In online programs, learning is active and the learner must be engaged at all times. However, there may have lots of distractions that makes students can’t focus on their study. Moreover, students may procrastinate their learning because they think that they can learn anytime.


A good e-platform can record student learning process and outcome comprehensively. It allows teachers to see whether the students are on track or not, they can individualize and differentiate instruction based on students’ performance. Students can also identify and monitor their own learning process.

At this stage, some effective online assessment tools will be needed. Otherwise, we cannot evaluate students’ learning outcome precisely only by counting the click thru rates and number of working hours.


Teacher can integrate lots of multi-media in the online courses, such as some pictures, videos and audios. It helps to fit students with different needs. It can personalize learning by building on students’ interests. However, most of teaching content in online course may focus more on the academic knowledge, which may be kind of hard for teachers to integrate physical / behavioral skills in their courses, for stance, how to respect others and how to manage the emotion etc. Therefore, some courses are better been taught in the traditional classroom, PE and Art education are the good examples.

In the high technology generation, students’ learning styles and needs vary in online instructional environments. I have the following recommendations:

Instructors should train their students to be proficient when using the tools of online courses. Instructors should provide a training program or orientation for students who would like to take classes in online instructional environment. This would enable students to become familiar with the learning setting. Besides, teachers should be aware of students’ preference when designing activities or instructional pedagogies for online instructional environments.

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PLN Activity 7 : Formative vs. Summative Assessments

Classroom assessments can include a wide range of options — from recording anecdotal notes while observing a student to administering standardized tests. The options can be roughly divided into two categories — formative assessments and summative assessments. I’m not going to say which one can best fit in education because each one has its own value. I’d say we should know how to combine these two kinds of assessments wisely so as to progress students’ learning and enhance teaching effectiveness.


In my opinion, there’s a mysterious relationship between formative assessment and summative assessment. The goal of summative assessments is to make a judgment of student competency after an instructional phase is complete. It helps to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs.


On the other hand, formative assessments are on-going assessments, reviews, and observations in a classroom. Teachers can redesign or use different instructional strategies if they notice that students can’t grasp a concept. Besides, students can monitor their progress with periodic quizzes and performance tasks.


Why am I saying that these two forms have the mysterious relationship? In my point of views, if we have periodic quizzes after each unit/chapter, this is called summative assessments. If we take all those quizzes, reviews and students in class performance throughout the semester into account to calculate the final grade, this can be called formative assessment. However, the final grade that the students receive is a summative result under the process of formative assessment. Isn’t it interesting?


  I know that students in the United State need to take the SAT/ ACT as the entrance exam for college while students in mainland China need to take “GAOKAO”, which is a national entrance exam for applying the universities in China. Those are definitely typical summative assessments, students who plan to take these exams are under great pressure. Luckily, I didn’t need to take any of those because I am living Macau, which has the different educational system compare with China. Many nations will use this kind of standardized tests as the entrance exams because they’re convenient and fast! They can “judge” students whether they have mastered specific competencies to make themselves qualified enough to be college students. However, there’re some drawbacks, for example, if the student doesn’t feel well on that day, it may worsen his/her performance in the exam. Therefore, in my opinion, if colleges can also take the academic transcripts in high school and the CVs into account, it helps to evaluate students in a more comprehensive way! 

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Mini Challenge 6: Reflection on the assessment tools

This week, we’ve learnt 3 different assessment forms: including the summative assessment, interim assessment and the formative assessment.

Additionally, we also explored five types of assessment activities and I think those are great helps for educators in the 21st century. In this post, I’d like to talk about each type and share my thoughts on each of those:


Table 1: Discovery Education Assessment

Discovery Education Assessment includes subject area like Reading/Language Arts, Math and Science, it’s done four times a year, which allows educators to identify student strengths and opportunities for growth. The integrated system provides multiple measures to identify and monitor students’ progress throughout the year. Therefore, it allows teachers to see whether the students are on track or not. Teachers can quickly see what students don’t know and teach what they need, which helps to increase instructional effectiveness and efficiency!


Table 2: EXPLORE

EXPLORE is a curriculum-based achievement test that assesses students in four core areas of their studies: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The Test results can show students where they’re strong or weak. It also gives information about students’ knowledge, skills, interests and plans. Students can use this information as they plan their high school coursework and begin thinking about college and work.

Moreover, the report also tells students how they did on the tests and how their scores compare to those of others across the nation. It’s a summative assessment form.

Table 2: CRA

CRA, given twice a year, is a form of interim assessment. It provides the comparison to the school and district level, therefore educators can adapt the curriculum to meet students’ needs.

Table 2: Clicker Report

Clicker allows teachers to require participation from all students. In most instances, teachers can immediately see which students have failed to respond to the presented prompts. Teachers can mandate responses for all students prior to moving on to the next topic, ensuring that no student lags behind his peers.

Table 2: Megan (Multiple choice, open response and with student work)

In my opinion, students can well be guessing while doing the multiple-choice, they may get the answer right even if they don’t know the question. By contrast, in the Open Response Section, students generate the answers by their own words and thus there must be some process going on in their brains.


Table 3: Data Analysis

The software we explore in IPAD is great. It enables us to make the line chart in a minute! It helps educators to identify how the students are making progress, we can also compare with the different line charts so that it guides us to adjust our teaching to progress students’ learning.


Table 4: Dibels

Dibels enables educators to hear the record over again and again, which helps to find out what the students are struggling with. Moreover, other teachers can also listen to the audio and provide some professional advices to help the students out!


Table 5: Question List

In this section, we integrate clicker with the Question List, which is awesome! Clickers allow students to respond to questions in a game-like format. This technologically rich system is often highly intriguing to students. The clicker systems entered information automatically and present the information as a bar graph, which allows students to see if their peers agree with their answers or not! The system allows teachers to view the list of the students who answered incorrectly after each question is asked, it allows teachers to determine which students need more help grasping the material and which students seem to have the topic under control.


 Overall speaking, all the tools we explored are extremely useful in teaching and learning, I deeply realize how IPADS, clickers, websites and audios function in assessment by manipulating them in class. Technology helps us to analyze how students perform promptly, identify what they don’t know and teach them what they need. It also helps to increase instructional effectiveness and efficiency. All in all, I’d say technology is definitely playing a significant role in education in the 21st century.  

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Make A Difference!

I think most of us get into the filed of teaching for the overall same reasons:

we want to make a difference in the lives of our students, and we want to inspire them to do their best both in our classroom and for the rest of their lives.


However, difference doesn’t mean change! We as a teacher can’t force our students to change their lives. The most important thing that must be done by a teacher is guiding them how they must see the problem and solve it. So they can choose their own ways to solve the problem they face. Good examples and guidance should be provided for sure! Our job is to facilitate knowledge and skills, inspire responsible behavior and the development of ethics and morals, and create an environment that student feels safe and protected.


Therefore, making a difference is not about what we teach. Rather, it is about how we teach. Making a difference in students’ lives appears more is that teachers create a supportive and caring classroom atmosphere in which can inspire students to become more confident, motivated, and effective life-long learners while conquering the subject matter. It is essential for teachers not only to consider how students will benefit intellectually from coursework, but also how students will benefit personally and emotionally from it.


Do all we can to encourage our students and inspire them, try to reach every student at his or her level and pulls every individual to levels of greater success.

You never know when one of your students will up and surprise you!

Now, I’d like to hear from you!

Have you ever made a difference in the lives of your students?

Please feel free to share your comments and wonderful experieces below! =]

If you want to know more about my teaching and learning philosophy! Please check it out =]

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PLN Activity 6_Part4_Thoughts on William Blake’s Blog

Click the link to William Blake’s Blog!


A Challenge to Educators: Take Hold of the Social Media Phenomenon – William Blake

Social media is a powerful tool in nowadays society. It even motivates and engages students to learn because it’s something that students are familiar with. They might feel more willing to share the ideas online. Therefore, teachers can create some social media, such as Google blog, class twitter, Facebook pages, Moodle and etc, which provides a platform for students to communicate with their peers and learn to construct knowledge. They can also get more great ideas about how others thought.

Besides, social media helps to connect teachers and students with communities outside school. Community can know better what the school is doing now and might be able to provide some resources that enable students to learn outside the classroom. Teachers can also exchange teaching experience with those who teach in different schools, states and countries.

Social media does benefits to education in several ways. Therefore, as teachers in the 21st century, we should expose ourselves to more social media, and try to figure out which one is appropriate to apply in the classroom in the 21st century.

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PLN Activity 6_part 3_Twitter

I think most of us have experience to search information in Wikipedia. It can quickly provide us the basic definition of concepts and events of pretty much any topic on earth and thus we can get the general ideas in a short time. Moreover, it’s also a platform for people to construct the knowledge, everyone can be the editor and information can be updated in a minute.

However, it also brings out other issues that we should concern. Wikipedia is created by an unmonitored and usually anonymous group of people, we are not sure whether they are experts in the topic or not. The reliability of the knowledge or date is questionable. Even though Wikipedia says that they will usually revise the content quickly if it’s controversial. However, people might be misled when they read the web page. Besides, we still don’t know if the “revised content” is correct and accurate, there still have possibility that some parts of the content remain inaccurate that people just don’t know.

Therefore, when students search information on the net, we should remind them to be critical, encourage them to look up in more webpages, the date and information should be compared, analyzed and synthesized! It’s an important skill for learning!


As we all know, regular physical activity is important for kids’ health and reduces their risk of becoming overweight. This tweet also reveals that physical activity is also associated with higher academic achievement. It helps brain cells communicate and enhance a child’s mood, motivation, and focus.

Unfortunately, many kids aren’t getting enough physical activity at school. Schools are maximizing class time and minimizing breaks.

In fact, children often play games as their physical activity, it benefits to children in several perspectives. It is not only good for their health, but also it helps them to develop the cognitive skills as well as social skills. For example, they learn how to follow the rules, how to use certain strategies in order to win the game, how to respect others, build relationships and practice collaboration. They can learn a set of social behaviors via games.

Physical activity is mentally and physically good for students. Therefore, It’s necessary to be promoted in school!


This Tweet talks about students’ fight or flight responses in classrooms. Cultivating a safe and harmonious learning environment helps students to learn better, which can motivate their willingness and curiosity in learning. When students feel at ease and safe, they have a willingness to be vulnerable, to be open to new ideas and guidance from others, isn’t it an ideal learning scenario?

I remembered when I was in elementary grade, my teacher always dominated in the classroom, she talked most of the class time and we seldom had opportunities to express our thoughts and ideas. Moreover, we would be punished if we broke the classroom rules established by teachers. Therefore, I used to be afraid of going to class in some degree and I dared not to speak up in class.

However, I find there’re a lot of differences in nowadays classroom, especially in the US. I have classroom observation at the University Primary School weekly, which is affiliated with the Education College at UIUC. I find that students here are more willing to speak up, teachers raise questions and students are free to share their thoughts and exchange ideas with peers. Teachers make the classroom rules into lyrics and some gestures, therefore, whenever they want to remind the students to be attentive in class, they will sing the songs and students will follow, it’s very useful and efficient! Additionally, students’ works are posted everywhere. It helps to create a sense of belonging for students in the rooms. I think the classroom in UPS is more like a home than a classroom. I feel like I am one the students engaging in the class too!

Students’ fight or flight responses in classrooms can be affected by the learning environment, the interaction between teachers and students, and the groups in class.

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PLN Activity 5_Part Two_Twitter

Modeling Positive Behavior in the Classroom

Viewing this tweet, it reminds me of my past experience, which is really interesting and I want to share with you.

Do you have an idol that you admire? Yes, I have. My kindergarten teacher was my idol when I was in K-2, I thought she was great because she seemed to know everything. She’s a superwoman to me at that time. I still remember I imitated the way she spoke and I remember that she drank lemon tea very often at that time. I even asked my mom to buy me that particular brand of lemon tea, which is the one my teacher drank. Therefore, I truly believe the action, routine and behavior that teacher takes is very important, it will bring great impacts on students.

By the way, I’d say when we want to show/ demonstrate something in class. We had better remove/ cover the brand of that objects/ products. Try to avoid being the “commercial agent” in class.

Teachers are definitely role models for their students and thus modeling positive behavior in the classroom is a must for all teachers. Students may not tend to imitate you advisedly, but they’re unconsciously influenced. Moreover, I’d say the slogans or quotes hanging on the wall may have certain kinds of influence too. Therefore, we can also using them as a tool to create a positive learning environment. Additionally, teacher is not the one who only conveys the knowledge from books, but also should be the one who teach students how to be a good person! Let’s be the positive role model for our students!


Op-Ed: iPads Transformed My Special Education Classroom

As a teacher, we should believe our students do have the ability to learn. How can students confident in themselves when teachers only have low expectations on them?

I am so glad to hear that Neil Virani changed his students’ lives with technology. I’m really proud of him. Undoubtedly, technologies do benefit to our education, especially for those students with learning disability.

Knowing that one-size fits-all learning is outdated, technology can help every students get exactly what they need and what they want. However, figure out what that things they need is a question worth thinking. As a teacher in the 21st century, it’s necessary for us to think more about how current technology or practices support the demand for personalized learning.


Want to Improve Education? Change the Way You Talk About Teachers

What kinds of career will people consider as professional? Most people will come up with doctors, lawyers, engineers and so on. However, when people talk about teachers, they might just consider it as semi-professional. What causes this phenomenon? I think it’s something related to the social status of teacher in nowadays society.

I would like to use Macau as an example to clarify my thoughts. Some teachers in Macau are not graduated from the Education College and thus they may not have a teacher certificate. However, some schools will employ them as teachers. Well, they may be able to present knowledge to students in school. However, do they really know what education means? Isn’t it very strange? It seems that everyone “can” be a teacher even though they don’t have certain kind of formal teacher training before.  By contrast, will companies employ people without professional training as doctors, engineers and lawyers? Definitely not! Therefore, in my opinion, we should set a higher standard for people who want to become a teacher. Teacher is a professional career. Teachers should have subject knowledge as well as pedagogical knowledge.

Moreover, I think the government should establish some policies to enhance and strengthen pre-vocational and in-service training for teachers and principals to update their teaching skills and to keep up with changing expectations.

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