Editorial: Examples of online learning in schools

by Joe Nathan

Both national and local talent is being used to help Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 and other Minnesota students gain the benefits of online videos. That’s good news for students and a compliment to teachers who continue seeking new ways to help students learn.

Jeffrey McGonigal, Anoka-Hennepin’s associate superintendent for high schools, pointed me to HippoCampus, which has hundreds of free videos that educators, families and students can use. www.hippocampus.org/myHippo/?user=myMnLC

This is part of the Minnesota Learning Campus website, a project of the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, and the University of Minnesota.

McGonigal also explained that a number of Anoka Hennepin teachers have created videos.  Here’s a link to some of them:   http://anoka.k12.mn.us/education/components/docmgr/default.php?sectiondetailid=287038&catfilter=30687#showDoc Anoka (Paul Kelley teacher); http://www.anoka.k12.mn.us/education/components/docmgr/default.php?sectiondetailid=287038& Andover (Matt Henderson teacher); http://www.anoka.k12.mn.us/education/components/docmgr/default.php?sectiondetailid=279419& Blaine (Jeff Fedor teacher); and http://www.anoka.k12.mn.us/education/staff/staff.php?sectiondetailid=192615&

Students can view these before a lesson, thus giving the teacher more time to help students practice the concept, and obtain individual assistance.

Linda M. Swanson, Lakeville Public Schools communications coordinator, asked Andrew Hilliard, eighth-grade math teacher at McGuire Middle School, to provide some information about “why he does it and what he does.”

Hilliard explained, “One of the most challenging obstacles for any teacher to overcome, especially in math, is dealing with student absences. The videos we’ve been posting online allow students who have been absent the opportunity to stay connected with the material they’ve missed due to vacations, illnesses, etc.

“Thus far, student and parent feedback has been positive. I had a student who went to a family wedding in the Caribbean for a week in January, for example, and she viewed the videos to stay current on the material we were covering in class. I’ve had other students who missed a day of class due to an illness watch our videos during homeroom so they are caught up to speed prior to coming to class in the afternoon. Now I feel like I have a great resource for students when they come to me and say, “What did I miss?” Here is a link to an example of one of the screencasts:  http://www.screencast.com/t/Elj90Crabx7

Jay Haugen, Farmington superintendent, told me, “When we announced recently that every one of our eight schools would have one or more teachers involved in a flipped classroom pilot, I was amazed at the number of staff who came forward, and how many were already recording lessons for students.”

For a different approach, check out a video by Minnesota Transitions, an inner city charter school that cleverly focuses on negative numbers. It’s called “Don’t be Negative,” and is found at vimeo.com/35905316

Editor’s note: Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher and administrator, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester.  Reactions welcome, jnathan@macalester.edu


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