Getting Started in LInC Online - Orientation
Welcome to LInC Online! This page will help you get oriented about Product, Process, People, Resources, Communication, and Getting Started with LInC Online.
Your "mission" for the course is to:
- Create a curriculum unit on the Web (for use with your own students) that incorporates engaged learning and effective use of technology and implement it within your classroom.
You may also be asked to create a staff development "action plan" to disseminate what you have learned in the course.
Educators who are not classroom teachers are encouraged to partner with one or more classroom teachers in creating a curriculum unit.
For a listing of "end products" you will be creating during this course and rubrics for each of these products, please read:
Through participation in this course, we hope to enrich and deepen your understanding of engaged learning and the best use of technology. We expect that you will take the knowledge and skills you learn here back to your schools and/or districts and inservice your staff members. Knowing this expectation helps to understand why the engaged learning project and the staff development plan are part of the course. As you work to create these two tasks, your own personal knowledge is increased. At the completion of this course you will have two valuable tools to model and to share in your own school setting.
The engaged learning project and its various components will take the lion's share of your time in this course. The staff development plan is important, but we do not expect you to develop a full-blown program during this course. It is just a plan on how you will share your work and who the critical change agents in your building/district are.
In the process of completing your project, you will learn many technical skills. These technical skills are needed as a tool to complete your projects. However, these technical skills are not the main focus of the course. The main focus of this course is engaged learning and the effective integration of technology into your existing curriculum.
If you like, you can look at a few model projects that have been created during previous LInC Online courses.
Check with your facilitators about whether graduate credit is available in conjunction with this LInC course.
Whether you are taking this course in a face-to-face, partial-online, or full-online format, participation in (online or face-to-face) discussions and evaluation activities is an essential part of the course. We hope you will share ideas, tips, discoveries, obstacles, and successes with each other during the course. If you are taking this course in an online or partial-online format, this goes doubly. This is not a self-study/solo-type of course. There will be substantial interaction between yourself and the other participants and facilitators during the course.
Your facilitator team is here to guide and mentor you through the process. You are the main player. Please be active in asking questions so that the course can address what you need to know when you need to know it. Please be active in checking your e-mail and electronic discussion board regularly (4-5 days per week). Please also be active in sharing your ideas and expertise with others. The course strives to model the engaged learning principles you will be learning about.
Carpe Diem, Carpe Learnum, Carpe Rodentia!
(Seize the Day, Seize the Learning, Seize the Mouse!)
As we have mentioned, the engaged learning project you will be writing for use with your own students is the major course component. The selection of the topic and the writing of the project scenario are the most challenging aspects of creating the project. We want to make it clear that we see the creation of these two pieces as a process and anticipate several revisions before they are just right. Your facilitators will be actively assisting you in this process. Getting these two pieces fine-tuned makes the rest of the project work flow much more easily.
Although some LInC participants enjoy working on the same project as a team, this is not the reason that teams are requested. The LInC team is formed to support each other in learning the course material, in troubleshooting local technical difficulties, and in conducting staff development in their home district. In addition, the team is critical in supplying emotional support and encouragement throughout the course. Your team will also support one another as you implement your project and the staff development you will facilitate after you finish this course.
The instructor role we play dictates due dates and setting up some common experiences for all course members. We hope these will enhance the total course experience for you.
Please start out by reading:
Please also read the following Web page to get a feel for what participating in the course is really like. This scenario addresses participation in the online course specifically, but many parts are applicable for other course formats.
Although we have already offered 10 LInC courses to about 220 educators from 60 school districts in 18 states, each LInC course is a work-in-progress and has participants with differing needs. We appreciate your patience, suggestions, and humor as we discover together the most effective ways to assist you in your work.
You and your colleagues are one of the main resources for this class. You may be from different states or localities; have differering job roles; teach different subjects and grade levels; and bring different and valuable backgrounds, skills and experiences to the course. We are hoping for some lively discussions and possibly some new collaborations (if this fits with your existing curriculum).
Facilitators - Your facilitators have taken the LInC Facilitators' Academy or the LInC course (or both). They will be on hand to provide guidance as you create your projects. Each team will have a "primary" facilitator that will work closely with you, however, you will be interacting with all facilitators and other participants as the course progresses.
Summary of People, Material, and Communication ResourcesPlease view this diagram to see the variety of resources available to assist you in your journey to create a quality technology-supported engaged learning project:
LInC Online Overview Page and Main Sections
There are many LInC Online resources to help you with your work. One of the most important is the
Please "bookmark" or make a "favorite" of this page right now so you can get to it easily! This page has links for all the LInC materials you may need during the course. These pages provide short descriptions, longer descriptions, guiding questions, resources, instructions, templates, examples, and rubrics to assist you with each part of your project development and staff development planning. These materials also have links to useful outside resources.
The materials are divided into five main sections:
- Introductory materials about the course
- Engaged Learning and Effective Use of Technology
(including how to proceed in creating your own project)
- Staff Development
- Technical Skills
(including authoring Web pages and online communication)
- Educational Issues
(related to use of technology and engaged learning)
There is a flow of lessons from one concept to another. However, we realize that the participants in this course, like any course, have a wide range of abilities and skills. Do not feel constrained to use the pages in any lock-step order. Feel free to move ahead or to skip to pages that contain information you need. As facilitators, we wish to encourage you to use the pages and resources as they meet your needs.
When you are reading LInC pages, you may find it easier to read through a whole page first—without following any links—and then use the links later to find out more about the linked items as you need them.
When you see this book image in the LInC Online Web pages, this means that the following link(s) are a supplementary resource you can use to get more information. These links are not "required" readings and are not part of the main flow of the content.
Each LInC page has a "navigation bar" at the top of the page. The top row of buttons in this navigation bar links to an annotated home page for each of the five main sections (topics) of the course (Introduction, Engaged Learning, Staff Development, Technical Skills, and Issues). The Overview page has a brief description about all sections. The home page for each section describes all the resources available in that section. The top row of the navigation bar looks like this:
The second row of buttons in the navigation bar provides navigation aids to help you find what you need. This row includes a Table of Contents page and a Site Map which list all of the LInC resource Web pages. Also included are a page listing the End Products you will be creating for the course, a page you can use to post Suggestions or problems with the LInC resource Web pages, a page with Help about how the site is organized, and a Search page. The second row of the navigation bar looks like this:
Using the navigation bar and/or the five "topic home pages," you can get from any LInC instructional Web page to any other LInC instructional Web page in just two mouse-clicks.
Several very important pages you will use regularly are included in your LInC course's home page for your site. At any given time, several LInC courses may be being conducted in various parts of the country. Each course will have a home page for their participants that is hosted by the site that is offering the course. If you have not been notified already where this is, please ask your facilitator.
Your LInC course's home page will provide links to:
Assignments - This lists course assignments and due dates.
Chat Schedule - This lists the chat schedule (times, topics, and channels) for each week if your course will hold online chats. This page tells you what channel you should enter for each chat.
Completed Assignments - This lists which assignments have been completed for each participant.
Site-Specific Information - This lists the account, server, and electronic communication tool information for your LInC course. You will need this information to subscribe to your course's mailing list, participate on an electronic discussion board for your course, participate in real-time electronic chats for your course, and to publish your work on your course site's Web server.
These are the most important pages. We suggest that you browse your LInC course's home page and the LInC Online overview page to become familiar with what is available.
Whether you are taking an online, partial-online, or face-to-face course, this is not a "self-study" course. If you are taking an online course, you will be communicating, discussing, collaborating, and sharing questions, obstacles, solutions, and ideas with each other just as you would in a face-to-face course.
You will be using online course materials and online or face-to-face discussions to communicate and collaborate with each other. E-mail, mailing lists, discussion board software, and real-time discussion software will be used. The specific software programs you will use for these functions will vary from course to course. Your facilitators will let you know which electronic communication tools your course will be using. Check your LInC course's home page for this information. You will learn how to use all of these tools (except e-mail) as well as file transfer software and a Web/HTML editor during the course.
Your facilitators will be learning from you as well as vice versa. There are so many new ideas and tools that it is not possible for any one person to be an expert in all areas.
We will use three main methods of communication (besides face-to-face discussion if you are taking a face-to-face course).
E-mail and Listservs (Electronic Mailing Lists)
The listserv that your facilitator has created for your class is an automatic e-mailing system. It allows the sender of a message to type one message and have it sent automatically to all of the people who have subscribed to the listserv. You will probably get most listserv messages from the facilitator of the course. The listserv will frequently be used for course announcements. You may also use the listserv to send messages to all of the participants. Be sure that your message is of importance to all participants. This is not the place to send a message to only one or two participants.
Electronic Discussion Board
This is a communication tool that is designed for participants to post messages for others to read at a time that is convenient for them. People don't have to participate at the same time to have a discussion. This is similar to a bulletin board or newsgroup. This type of tool is very useful for:
- Sharing tips, ideas, and resources (like useful Web sites) with each other as you discover them.
- Posting technical and engaged learning questions you have as you have them.
Other participants and facilitators can then post responses to these questions.
- Homework assignments.
- Requests for online or face-to-face discussion topics.
The messages are usually arranged by topic and subtopic so that you can follow the flow of conversations and find things when you need them later. In many cases this tool will also have a search feature. So all postings by yourself and your classmates can become a searchable "library" of tips, ideas, and resources that is organized by topic and subtopic. This library of information can then be used at any time it is needed. No more rifling through tons of saved e-mail messages to attempt to find that great resource you remember seeing!
Real-Time Electronic Discussion Tool (Chat)
This is the same as a face-to-face meeting except you type messages to someone else instead of talking to them. People must participate (by typing responses to each other) during the same period of time. You can get immediate (real-time) feedback and interaction, just like in a face-to-face meeting. This tool helps you to get immediate feedback to questions, but it does require others to be online at the same time you are. It is most like a phone conversation.
For an online or partial-online course, the real-time electronic discussions are the equivalent of the weekly face-to-face course class time that you are accustomed to attending in a face-to-face college course. You may also use the real-time discussion tool to communicate with others outside of class time whenever it is helpful for your course work.
This method of communication is most useful for conversations that require a lot of back-and-forth responses such as:
- In-depth exploration of a project idea.
- Problem-solving or sharing approaches for various educational topics.
- Lengthy technical help through a multistep process.
- Technical troubleshooting where many questions might need to be asked to determine the exact circumstances of a technical problem.
To get started in LInC Online:
- Bookmark and browse your LInC course's home page. Everything you need for the course can be reached by starting at this home page. It provides "one-stop shopping" for resources for your work. In particular, you will want to take a look at the links for your course's assignment page, chat/meeting schedule page, and assignments completed page.
- Please read this orientation page, the End Products page, Diagram of LInC Course Process: Part I, Diagram of LInC Course Process: Part II, Diagram of Resources for LInC Participants, Tips for Success in LInC Online page, and the Participant Scenario page.
- Start on the assignments listed on the assignments page and post any questions you have as indicated by your facilitators. This will include getting started with the online communication tools you will be using for the course (i.e., listserv, electronic discussion board, real-time electronic discussion tool). It is normal to have some problems at the start getting things working, but it is very important to resolve these problems early so you can have the advantage of full communication with your colleagues and your facilitators.
- Participate in the introductory discussions at the beginning of the course.
- Plan regular weekly blocks of time when you will work on the course both individually and with your team. The course really does need the advertised week allotment of your time in order to create a successful project and end products, as well as to participate in discussions. Please plan accordingly. It is a lot of work, but well worth it as participants are usually very enthusiastic about their finished projects and new skills upon completion of the course.
We hope this has helped give you a better grasp of the "big picture" as it pertains to this course. We are excited to have you taking the course and hope you are excited about creating and publishing your own technology-supported engaged learning project!