Ongoing communication is important in education no matter what but it is especially essential in the online classroom. We don't get to see our students each day and look them in the eyes. When there are questions and students don't ask them, doubts remain. How will we find them if we do not establish and maintain positive ongoing communication? The newsletter is different from mandatory communications in a few different ways. One important way is that it is constantly available to the students in the same place. As long as the teacher keeps the Newsletter updated, the students don't have to reach out and then wait for a response; they can simply access the site where the Newsletter is available and find the answer they are looking for. I established the weekly reflection so that students would look back
There are many highly effective methods of communicating with stakeholders, and I will identify two within this post. The first is a Newsletter that I use biweekly made at smore.com and the second is an email that I send weekly to my students at the end of each week.
over their study habits and decide what they did well and what they could improve on. This is additional- not simply a required communication due to failing grades, etc.- but it is help support the students in their behaviors and help them work to improve. Many times the mandatory communications are due to negative actions; both of these types of communications are positive and based on positive support.
The GAVS communication policy requires specific types of communication but many of the online instructors go above and beyond when it comes to communicating with out stakeholders. I have created an outline of the required communication as well as my personal policies used in my online classroom to maintain close contact with those stakeholders. All of our communications are then collected in the communication log kept so that administration has access to our records as documentation. Take a look!
The questions posed in this section of Communicate are important ones because knowledge of these topics will be what help us prevent breaking the law as an online teacher. It will be easiest to address these questions one at a time.
How can one refrain from violating FERPA and TCPA guidelines in online communication?
To avoid violating federal privacy laws, first all educators must be aware of the laws, what they state and what they mean. After 5 years with GAVS, I can say that they do a very good job ensuring that teachers know what they can and cannot do in terms of communicating within the law. I know that each year we take a course to help refresh us on the laws, as well, so it is not just an awareness, but a constant reminder to help us avoid becoming too comfortable with the communications that we send or receive. It is most important to remember that any type of personally identifying information is off limits, and any information regarding grades should not be shared. It is also always best to speak to your ILT if you are ever in doubt before you establish any type of communication- it is always better to be safe than sorry.
What methods could be employed to verify that copyright is not being violated?
As described in the content of Communication 1.2, there are programs out there designed to assist teachers in spotting plagiarism. Using the tools available to us is very important because other eyes on the work that we look at day in and day out will catch factors that we miss. As a Spanish teacher, I can attest that these sites have come a very long way. Not only will they compare the information submitted with anything on the web, but they will also compare the work to previous work submitted to them so that you can spot students attempting to use the work of others. Again, though, World Language has a unique problem and that is that students will take advantage of the easy step of writing what they would like to say in English and past it into a translating technology. This is much more difficult to spot, but with practice, it becomes easier. As a teacher, I simply tell the students that anything we have learned in a current or previous units is fair game but that I would not be doing my job if I allowed them to practice material beyond what we have learned since I know that they need to practice what they will be assessed over in the end of the course. We must practice to master any topic. I simply communicate that they need to redo assignments where they use grammatical structures beyond what we have learned in the course because they are not responsible for that material on the summative assessments. This has helped me decrease the amount of students using translating technologies as well as using another students' work or work found online!
Does copyright require that all work, images, words, and graphics must be original?
Copyright laws differ depending on what type of license is purchased by the original author of the material. There are some items covered by Free Use laws, while other products will allow someone to, for example, just reproduce their image but only by giving the original author credit. It is important that we all understand how to tell what is available for our use and what we can simply reproduce, manipulate, change, share, and claim as ours. I believe that this type of information should be taught to students in today's society because they are constantly using work, images, words, and graphics from the internet. They need to understand how to properly give credit to author or how to tell if the information/product is off limits!
Communication, like language, is constantly evolving to adapt to the changes that take place in our society. Is it changing because of innovations in technology? Sure! We are finding that technology is something that we no longer have to plug in and walk away from, but in fact we have it at our disposal at all times. When we are constantly connected, we forget how important the physical connection with someone in front of us is, and we neglect to practice the art of a face to face conversation. Once we have forgotten those skills with the people that are truly right in front of our faces, what are we using to create relationships? Technology. The issue with not looking someone in the eye when speaking to them is that we forget that they are human, as well. They are another person with feelings, and they cannot read our emotion, the misunderstandings, the tone of our voice... that simply doesn't happen. We begin to write as if we have no idea that the person that will read those words could feel something after reading them. As online teachers and learners, we have to remember that there is a face on the other side of the computer, and they have feelings. They enjoy positive communication and simply want to please their teachers, just like face to face students. We must remember that we are using our written words in leu of the spoken words, and it will be difficult for the student on the other side of that virtual desk to grasp our personality through those words. We have to adapt.
Classroom communication has shifted all over, not just in the virtual classroom, and it will probably continue to change as technology advances and society continues to evolve. What we cannot forget is that we are still dealing with people and that people crave intimacy and friendship. We all aim to please. Our goals are similar. We also need to make sure that we are taking advantage of every opportunity that we have to speak face to face or at least in a voice conversation so that students see who we are and we see who they are just by hearing them. Those opportunities will prove to be priceless as we build relationships with our students. They don't care what you know until they know that you care, and if all they see you as are words on a screen, they don't feel that you care. Keep that in mind as you continue in the online realm of education! Change will continue but we have the power to make that change be something positive- to make a shift toward powerful voice conversations with our students rather than just harsh written words.