Learning Activity 2 – Situational Factors

  1. Specific Context of the Teaching/Learning Situation

How many students are in the class? Is the course lower division, upper division, or graduate level? How long and frequent are the class meetings? How will the course be delivered: live, online, or in a classroom or lab? What physical elements of the learning environment will affect the class?

There would 24 students in grade 9. There would be online office hours for student to join and ask questions once a week. The course would be online and asynchronous. Students would be required to have a computer and webcam or a smart phone to record and publish their speeches on YouTube or moodle’s discussion board for feedback from other students and the teacher.

  1. General Context of the Learning Situation: What learning expectations are placed on this course or curriculum by: the university, college and/or department? the profession? society?

There would be the expectation that every student in this course would improve their writing, speaking, and presenting skills from the school and its English department.

  1. Nature of the Subject Is this subject primarily theoretical, practical, or a combination? Is the subject primarily convergent or divergent? Are there important changes or controversies occurring within the field?

It is a combination. The students will learn some new English phrases and then create and present a speech based on what they know and what they have learned. I believe that speech creation and delivery would implement both convergent and divergent because the students will use creative thinking to come up with an idea and then focus on that particular idea to create a speech. This course is focused on getting students comfortable speaking with their current and recently acquired vocabulary. I do not know of any controversies within the field.

  1. Characteristics of the Learners What is the life situation of the learners (e.g., working, family, professional goals)? What prior knowledge, experiences, and initial feelings do students usually have about this subject? What are their learning goals, expectations, and preferred learning styles?

Many students are looking to increase their English ability, so they can go abroad for school and work. These students have been learning English since they were in grade 1 and have had an assistant language teacher every grade to help them. Many of these students are interested in English movies and pop culture, so they have a good attitude towards learning English and are determined to reach their goals. They expect to learn how to speak English with an American accent and improve their overall vocabulary and speaking ability. They have the preferred cognitive learning style because they have been primarily memorizing English words and phrases in their normal English classes.

  1. Characteristics of the Teacher What beliefs and values does the teacher have about teaching and learning? What is his/her attitude toward: the subject? students? What level of knowledge or familiarity does s/he have with this subject? What are his/her strengths in teaching?

I have a good attitude toward this subject because I have a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing. I believe that a student needs to speak the language to learn it, and that comes from practicing and listening to English every day. I know what is it like to be terrified of doing speeches and speaking in front of others, so I can give them tips and tricks on how to make that experience a bit more bearable until it becomes second nature and a passion.

How might the information gathered through this step help you to design your online learning experience?

It helps me realize the positive and negatives of designing an online course for this particular subject. The course has the potential to be something that inspires students to go the extra mile and present a speech that is beyond what is required, but it is a lot and could be intimidating. I want to inspire the students to relearn how they look at speaking and learning English to see it as not a task to complete, but as an opportunity to get better.

I think it would work because I have had success with a similar method in a face-to-face classroom. However, when a student has to go online alone and speak in front of a camera alone during a pandemic, it can feel so disconnecting. I am trying to get that connection back through having a lot of interaction and collaboration, but is that just going to make them feel overwhelmed with the amount they need to complete?

Looking at the previous step has helped me realize some potential issues. I do not know if I have all the answers. However, with the amount of speaking and watching speeches they will be doing, it will help them become better than those who were not in this class. I know the difference in ability from my experiences teaching in Japan, but I was there to cheer them on and help them whenever they needed it. In an online class, it is hard to do that.

How do you think the situational factors might influence design for the online environment versus the face-to-face classroom?

The design between an online and F2F classroom would be pretty similar, other than the disconnect that I mentioned above.

During my time in Japan, I would help the students write a speech based on their current vocabulary. Once the speech is complete and the students have had time to practice, they would come to me and present their speech. I would give them feedback and coach them on what to improve by reading it aloud myself and then prompting them to mimic my pronunciation and accent.

For the online version of the class, they can write a speech that resonates with both themselves and their audience after getting input on their idea videos from myself and the others students. Posting their speech videos on YouTube or moodle’s discussion forum allows them to get feedback from me and the other students. If they need additional coaching, they can come to me during online office hours for practice. It would be difficult to make time for everyone in the online format which is why I am emphasizing collaborate feedback and online office hours.

Then, write at least two measurable learning outcomes for the online teaching and learning experience that you would like to design for your Online Design Plan Assignment.

By the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Learn new vocabulary and phrases.
  • Brainstorm creative ideas and use that new vocabulary and phrases.
  • Research those creative ideas.
  • Use their ideas and research to write a speech.
  • Present and record their speech to share with other students.
  • Learn to give valuable feedback to other students, starting with their strengths and then going into their weaknesses.
  • Create a habit of speaking and practicing English every day.

By the end of the Research and Brainstorm module, the student should be able to:

  • Brainstorm creative ideas for their speech and write them down.
  • Present their ideas to their group and why they want to speak about them.
  • Ask about other students’ ideas.
  • Answer questions about their ideas from other students.
  • Give and receive supportive feedback.
  • Choose one idea that they are passionate about.

References

Dee Fink, L. (2003). A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. Retrieved from http://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf

2 Comments

  1. Hi Michael. In your post, you mentioned the balance between building enough opportunities for interaction and collaboration to allow students to connect, and not having them feel overwhelmed. Going through the course design, I found myself getting excited by the opportunities for what we could do and then realized that quality over quantity would be the better way to go! Not sure I’m achieving it yet, but I am now aware of it.

    I’m wondering if you’ve ever sought feedback from students on this and if so, how you did it. I would love to hear what questions you might have asked. I think the junior high age group is a little trickier than older learners to get quality feedback from!

  2. They are definitely trickier. I have yet to find a way to get honest feedback out of them. I tried to get feedback during our morning conversations, but it was always positive. I think they were just biased because they got to spend so much time speaking with their friends about their opinions.

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