Friday, August 27, 2010

A quick history lesson

I know, this is supposed to be all about math. But who doesn't love a little cross-curricular learning? I thought you should know a little about TRECA and TDA so you can see how this new program we're starting fits in.

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A History of TRECA Digital Academy (according to the TDA Training Course)

TRECA Digital Academy (TDA), a branch of Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association (TRECA), began in 2001 with about 400 students. Currently, TDA has on its roster over 2500 students. The school persevered through many changes of curriculum and content delivery system, evolving in 2004 to a radical concept of continuous progress that proclaims, in contrast to the traditional philosophy of education, that knowledge is the constant and time is the variable. TDA is also unique in that it partners with other public school systems in Ohio to collaborate rather than compete in providing students with needed alternatives.

Through years of experience, TDA teachers have discovered that we cannot, nor should we, attempt to recreate the traditional brick-and-mortar school, simply putting it online. Teaching online is a very different situation than being in a classroom in front of your students. While there are advantages to teaching online, it does take a different mindset. For example, if you are teaching in a school that is totally online, like TDA, you work alone the majority of the time, without benefit of colleagues right next door, but you are also free to concentrate on the work, without distractions and without having to devote energy to classroom management.

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If you want to learn more about TRECA, I would really suggest spending some time looking around the site. TDA is only part of how they work with education. They partner with Ohio schools for a huge variety of services, like online courses, technology services, teacher professional development, and a whole lot I probably don't know about yet!

They have a new schooling option opening soon, too, called Learning Without Limits. I don't know too much about it yet, but it sounds really amazing. It's nontraditional like TDA, but it's an in-person school with a campus and everything (which happens to be in a outdoors shopping center...why wasn't that an option when I was in high school?) Hopefully I'll be able to share more about that in the future.

On a side note, here's the history of virtual learning environments. If you read all of it, you have more patience than me. It was interesting though!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And we're off!

Today marks the third official day of the inclusion mission. Things are slowly falling into place and students are off and running with their work. I have spent my time finding my students in our database and matching them on spreadsheets with classes and teachers. I'm hoping this makes it easier to find information when I need it throughout the year.

As we're trying to fine tune our system so that it works with inclusion, I've been thinking about what inclusion is and how that will fit with an online classroom. As far as I know, inclusion in an online classroom is a relatively new concept and I have yet to come across other examples of it through my Google searches (although there very well could be some out there!). Working with the general ed teachers should be no problem. We can chat and email and easily plan together if we need to. But the nature of inclusion is to involve the student.

So what does that mean? Well, I'm a little short on answers for that right now! I'll be finding more and more as time goes on. The one thing I do know is that any student needs to be involved with other students to be "included." If there's no social interaction, there's definitely no social benefits. If it's just the student and the teachers, it's really not a class, is it? I'll keep thinking (and searching) and get back to you.