The following is a list of ideas on how Ontario’s virtual Learning Environment (vLE) can be used in regular face to face classrooms to meet the needs of today’s 21st Century digital learners.

Discussions

  • use online discussion as an extension of a classroom discussion. After the students post their thoughts in the online discussion, bring it back to a face to face (f2f) discussion and read some of the entries.
  • base a discussion around a video watched in class, or embedded into your course.
  • quickly set up a discussion in class about a student generated topic that came up in classroom discussion. This way students that have ideas to share but are too shy to talk in class can be included.
  • link face to face group discussion with online ones so that each student can demonstrate their offerings to the group or sum up what was discussed in the group in a post.
  • co-generate discussion topics with students in the classroom.
  • have students co-create a fictional discussion between fictional characters in the discussion tool. (You can assign roles like, mayor scientist, business owner, or assign characters from a novel or historical characters, etc.)
  • assign a “Letter to the Editor” opinion posting task in discussions where students then have to respond with their own opinions. Try it with real student opinions or fictional character ones like above.
  • use discussions for creative writing tasks. Start the students with a writing prompt. Click the “Moderated” button if you would like their posts to be private, or use pre-set up learning journals.
  • moderate an online debate in which everyone in your class has an equal say, no matter how loud or quiet they are.
  • have students post responses to open questions in science or math (e.g. I have a line. What’s its equation? How steep is it?)
  • use discussions for peer-editing. Students can post written assignments in a discussion which can then be commented on by other students. (This would require a prior lesson about appropriate commenting on other’s work).
  • give students typed or rubric-based feedback on their discussions (great if you prefer to type feedback).
  • Lesson idea: 1. Students read, watch, or listen to a text. 2. Students write their initial thoughts about the text in a post. 3. In partners or small groups students discuss their thoughts about the text. 4. Continue the discussion in the face to face classroom. Each group and share what they talked about. 5. Each student goes back to their original post and responds to it sharing what they learned and respond to another student’s post which they feel helped them better understand the material.

Dropbox

  • ask students to submit any digital assignments through the vLE dropbox instead of printing it.  
  • type detailed feedback comments quickly, rather than handwrite them.
  • record audio comments for each student.
  • enjoy having all your student work organized and stored securely.  
  • create rubrics and associate them with assignments.
  • check exactly when assignments were submitted.
  • accept work submissions outside of classroom hours.
  • accept image, audio and video assignments from students.
  • turn your class into a paperless classroom.
  • use the integrated Turnitin service for authenticity checking.
  • use the Grader iPad app for ease of grading.
  • Annotate (circle, highlight, etc..) directly on the student files.
  • Students will then receive a PDF of their work with your annotations.
  • Attach audio and/or written feedback
  • Simply tap on pre-made rubrics to auto-generate a mark.

Learning Journals

  • create private teacher and student discussions for use as ongoing learning journals. (Create a discussion group for each student that they alone are a member of).
  • ask students to write reflections about their learning at the end of a unit or lesson.
  • reply to student journal entries in a private, one on one discussion with a short turn-around time.
  • provide typed, recorded and organized feedback and assessment of their learning journals.
  • use digital journals in all curriculum areas to foster reflective learning.
  • use the iPad or Android ePortfolio app for writing journals. Students use the reflection feature, write their journals on the device and then share it with their teacher all within the app.

eLO Created Content

  • differentiate instruction by using eLO-created assignments online. Work face to face with a group of students while another group works ahead or consolidates their learning.
  • have students use the eLO-created learning objects in the vLE or display them on your projector or SmartBoard. You can link them directly in the news stream so that there is little time wasted navigating to the item.
  • use parts of eLO content to kick off a lesson or to consolidate student learning.
  • be as selective as you like in using eLO content.
  • edit the content that exists. Create and upload your own to augment it.
  • be confident that the content and your edits and additions will be there for you year after year.
  • assign entire units or selections from eLO created content for students who are away from school for long periods of time.

Your Own Content

  • upload your own course content or any files that you would like students to have access to. (pdfs, word files, videos, images …)
  • use the advanced text editor to make website-like documents.
  • showcase student work in your online classroom (pictures of artwork, projects, poetry, essays).
  • share your created content with other teachers that are using the vLE.
  • post learning goals so they are always available to students and parents.
  • collect and store resources used in class safely in the vLE so that they are organised and accessible in the future.

Course Planning

  • use the vLE Content Tool to organize and plan your entire course.
  • store, organize and plan all learning activities (even ones that do not use technology) in the vLE, so that everything is saved securely.
  • prepare for class by posting to the vLE all videos, links or images that you will need access to during a lesson. All your resources can be prepared and organized from home and then used with the class f2f.
  • be confident that all the materials you set up in the vLE are safely stored and ready to go for the following year.

Classroom Assignment Posting

  • post all assignment files online so that students and parents have access to digital copies. This is especially helpful for when students are absent, even for long periods of time, or even miss a day. Just direct them to the vLE.
  • upload class handouts to the vLE for online access or printing. They are also then safely stored for future use.
  • post assignment descriptions, rubrics and any important items of information so that nothing depends on students saving a piece of paper.
  • give students 24/7 access to all the class information they need for success.
  • post assignments and easily link them to a Dropbox and a Calendar due date.
  • store a collection of extra work assignments or ‘bellwork’ activities and access them whenever needed.
  • give students access to class assignments and files on their mobile devices.

Quizzes

  • use the quiz tool for all areas of assessment (for, as and of).
  • enjoy the ease of auto-marking on objective quizzes and tests.
  • use the quiz tool for a ‘webquest’ learning activity. Have students look up the questions provided on internet sites, videos, or even print materials in front of them.
  • use the quiz tool and its auto-marking features for test preparation and feedback.
  • create short quizzes that check for student understanding.
  • develop auto-marked quiz activities that target specific learning needs. Direct specific students to specific quizzes to reinforce or practice areas of need.
  • create quizzes that randomly draw questions from a bank of questions larger than the number of questions on the test so that each student gets a different test. If a student wants to try the quiz again, they can get a new quiz each time.

Video

  • insert any videos shown in class into the vLE so that they can be viewed later (YouTube, Vimeo, NFB etc).
  • create your own screencast videos of important lessons so that you don’t have to reteach them to students. Just tell the student to watch the video.
  • record class demonstrations or other significant moments and post them to your online course. Students can access them later which is especially great for absent students.

Classroom News

  • use the vLE as a classroom blog using the News tool.
  • report on upcoming events or comment on past ones.
  • post a schedule for the day or the week
  • use the News stream as a digital wall of anchor charts to remind students of previous learning activities.
  • link to specific sites or videos that you want your students to see.
  • provide easy links to other course tools (discussions, quizzes, etc.) inside the News tool.
  • post learning goals and co-created success criteria.

Group Work

  • use the Groups tool in the vLE to assign F2F groups that can also work together online.
  • give student Groups their own discussion room to share ideas and plan.
  • use the Group discussions in tandem with other collaboration tools like Google Docs.
  • use ongoing discussion Groups throughout the year like the “Tribes” model.
  • have students upload assignments within Group discussions for peer assessment.

Email Messaging

  • communicate with students through email in a safe, Ministry of Education licensed and approved system.
  • provide a discreet method of communication from student to teacher so shy students are empowered to contact that teacher in a differentiated method that matches their communication style.
  • update students on their progress or send a reminder of notice.
  • tell them about something they did well in class that day with a quick message.
  • empower students to use the system even for non-academic issues, or if they need to tell the teacher something that they are uncomfortable talking about.

Calendar

  • keep all important school and class dates in an online course calendar in the vLE.
  • post due dates in the calendar.
  • link due dates in the calendar to assignments in the vLE.
  • attach assignment handouts to specific dates.

Locker

  • encourage students to use the Locker tool to bring files to and from their home computers, which eliminates the need for USB drives which can (often) be lost.
  • forget about students needing to log in to their personal email to send attachments to themselves or any other creative means of getting a file home.

Surveys

  • collect student opinions and ideas with the Survey tool.
  • make democratic classroom decisions with a Survey.
  • create diagnostic assessments.
  • create survey “Exit cards” about student experience with a lesson, unit or the entire course.

Checklists

  • create online Checklists in the vLE that can be used to help students work through steps of an assignment. Each check is saved as they progress through the steps.
  • use the Checklist for a list of materials needed for a project, or anything else you can think of.

Self Assessment

  • use the Quiz or the Self Assessment Tool for student can assessment their own work.
  • an enjoy an easy way to increase the required ‘assessment as learning’ in your classroom.

Glossary

  • use the vLE Glossary tool to list key terms used throughout the course.
  • collect key words as the course progresses like a digital ‘Word Wall.’

Seating Plan

  • keep a seating plan organized in the vLE.
  • assess students f2f participation through the Seating Plan tool.

Grades

  • post student grades using the vLE grades tool.
  • use the tool to post student marks even if you’re not using it for final mark calculations, this way students always know how well they are performing in the course and are more involved and aware of the assessment process.

ePortfolio

  • have students post evidence of their learning in an online ePortfolio.
  • have students collect and share their work with others.
  • use the Presentations editor for student created Presentations of their work.
  • track learning accomplishment with evidence pieces attached.
  • create a memory page of images from class events or trips.
  • upload class photos to ePortfolio directly from an iOS or Android app, or a Chrome browser extension.

Bookmarks

  • use the vLE as a launch pad for all your favourite sites and online services that you want the students to use.
  • direct students to the exact URL you want them to go to without having them to type it in.

Embedding Tools

  • Embed a padlet.com bulletin board into your side bar for posting quick little notes and pictures, just to liven things up.
  • Use timetoast.com to show timelines with popup details about each event. Great for history classes.
  • Embed picasa or flickr web albums
  • Use SurveyMonkey for embedding decent looking surveys where students see the class results after they and can see it update as more votes come in.
  • Embed a class instagram feed into your course homepage. Use Instagram to take pictures of anchor charts made in the classroom so they can appear in a course homepage widget.
  • Create a talking site host on voki.com
  • Create your own personal avatar and get students to as well. Try doppelme.com
  • Embed a Google map when referring to an important place, whether it be the setting of a novel, or in a geography unit, or any course where it would be helpful for students to see the real location.
  • Embed an editable mural with Mural.ly
  • Use a Wordpress or Google Site as your course homepage inside your D2L course so that parents can see what’s going on in your course without having to log into the LMS.
  • Explore a regularly updated list of embeddable tools on www.coursehelp.ca 

Your Ontario board’s vLE has a wealth of potential for increasing student achievement. For support in how to do any of the above ideas, contact your board’s Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact (TELT Contact).

Created by the Sudbury-North Bay Region of eLearning Contacts.