Colin's Sandbox

Online Math Tutoring Course Design

by on Jul.14, 2013, under #oltak

Course History

As part of the course requirement for the UAS EDET674 “Online Teaching in Alaska” (#oltak) course I was asked to put together a math tutoring unit for a 1:1 effort assisting a student who was to retake the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE). I previously detailed how I set up my course as a weekly Skype session to go over sample problems with asynchronous resources shared solely over email. What I found out over the span of the first two weeks is that I was sending a lot of information in emails to the student and the student’s parents but I wasn’t sure how adept the student was at finding information that I had sent over email or if they had a clear sense of what they were being asked to do. I reviewed several alternatives but what stood out for me was Barbra Donachy’s Point Hope History Project and its use of Edmodo and I liked the potential gains that could be achieved by organizing the material in this fashion. Therefore at the risk of changing horses midstream I decided to move the learning environment over to Edmodo. Since I only had about 2 modules worth of material developed for the task I felt the benefits outweighed the cost in terms of time spent doing the change.

Transforming the Course Design into a Welcome Letter

As listed at the bottom of the previous posting, originally I had put together a Google Document outlining how the course was to be run. I took input from two of my peers in the #oltak course and added sections to the document to clarify assessment and feedback. I modified the document extensively to change the audience from a 3rd person perspective to be a more personal welcome letter that would be used initially to introduce the student to what’s expected, weekly workflow, and the tools we’d be using. Reading this document gives you an idea of how the course is structured from the point of view of the student:

Evolution of the Course using Edmodo

I sent out a “Needs Assessment” to the student after the first week and a half of the class to get a better feel for how they learned and communicated best. Upon reflection, this should have been sent out much earlier to get a sense of the preferred learning and communication styles of the student. The results indicated a preference to corresponding via email but after going over the survey results with a parent I convinced her that using Edmodo would be a good way of chronologically organizing material that we’re going over in class and to provide a common place for assignment submissions, etc.

River of News

I’ve used two main features of Edmodo extensively in the construction of this course environment. The first is the course posts which flows along the screen with the most recent posts put on the top of the list. I have heard this described in other contexts before as the “River of News”:

River of News

The student sees this page when they log in to Edmodo and are alerted that they have an assignment to complete.  They can reply right in the interface if they have questions, and submit work to be graded in this way as well.

Organization by Module

Edmodo uses the concept of the library to organize content. Each course can have a set of folders that contain links to items from your library. For my course I am making one folder per course module that lists the module introduction plus video resources and exercises. The module introduction itself is an Edmodo assignment which is linked here.

Sample module showing a portion of resources available.

Conclusion

How successful this transition to Edmodo will be remains to be seen.  I hope that the change isn’t so jarring that the student loses interest in doing the work, or becomes confused as to what is required.  I think the mechanisms that are in place for resource lists, assignment submission, and feedback are a good step to keep things in one place.  I like the environment enough as an instructor to carry it forward in any future tutoring efforts.

Video Overview


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