Objectives for this Activity: (as presented to students at the very beginning of the course in an announcement)

In this particular activity, objectives are negotiated and not presented formally prior to the activity.

Prerequisites for this Activity: (not necessarily presented to students)

Student should have a desire to teach online and meet student needs.

Materials and Resources:

What needs to be prepared in advance by the teacher? - The lesson outline.

What does the student need to bring to the lesson? - A willingness to learn.

Guiding Questions for this Activity: (not presented directly to students but a question that should be addressed in the readings)

What are the personal goals of the student and how can they best be met in a partnership with the instructor?

Activity as Presented to Students: (The first box is presented in the orientation readings for the course or syllabus. The second box is the actual assignment as presented to students.)

Negotiating Your Learning Contract. This is a private communication assignment between you and me. Resource information is found in the first forum, in the section titled: Learning Contracts "Submit Your Learning Contract Here." You will need to submit the contract by January 20. Final negotiations to be completed by Thursday, January 25. There is a template to download for this exercise.

 

What are learning contracts ?

Structure

Elements

Steps

The Practicum Contract is designed to guide you through the completion of the requirements for this course. The initial contract is in the form of a journal entry (see end of this text) that will be a private negotiation between you and the instructor. Learning contracts are formal agreements that detail what the learners should learn, how they should accomplish it, and the specific evaluation criteria that should be used in judging the completion of the learning. This contract is a very valuable teaching/learning tool. Each contract is unique. Although all students use the same form of organization, the contract is individualized to conform to personal backgrounds and interests, and varied areas of study.

The following quotes apparently originate from a paper by Anne Bostwick and David Boggs in The Role of Faculty in Maintaining Quality [American Council on Education, 1981])

" [A contract] captures, more than any other academic process, the creativity and potential for individualized instruction." (Rhoda Wald)

"The power of the contract comes from its capacity to address the particular strengths and weaknesses of each student." (Arthur Chickering)

"The contract provides the opportunity to individualize learning activities, time, methods, and standards for evaluation." (Anne Bostwick and David Boggs)

For further reading about learning contracts , please see: The Art of Negotiable Contracting for Assessment
By Andi Stix, Ed.D. at http://www.interactiveclassroom.com/articles_003.htm

Structure of the Practicum Learning Contract

This contract contains five elements. They are:
1. Personal Goal (your plan, and reasons you chose your project)
2. Learning Resources
3. Timeline (when each component of your project will be complete for Weeks 3, 6 and 8)
4. Results (what you will produce)
5. Evaluation Criteria and Rubric (how Practicum participants will evaluate your project)

Description of elements

1. Personal Goal The personal goal is a brief statement of what you intend to accomplish during this practicum.

Example only - yours may be different
By the end of the practicum I will design and develop an online unit of instruction.

The unit will have:

  • Learning outcomes
  • List of readings and online resources for the unit
  • Detailed description of assessments
  • Detailed description of activities

2. Learning Resources Learning resources are what you will use to accomplish the goal. When describing the learning resources, be specific. Learning resources can include and are certainly not limited to:

  • Print material you intend to seek and find
  • Web sites you plan to use as a resource for one purpose or another.
  • Peer and Instructor feedback
  • A record of your process.

Example only - yours may be different

To accomplish the goal stated above, I will use the following resources:

  • Review of an existing course
  • Final project completed in the OLO course
  • Results of an interview with an experienced online instructor
  • Feedback from peers and instructor during practicum


3. Timeline A list of the steps with dates (start/completion) of each step in the project. Be sure to describe what you plan to have completed and ready for review by the end of the three review periods.

Example only - yours may be different

Week 3: Identified web resources to use in conjunction with unit 4 of my course and written Discussion Questions for the first two modules.

Week 6: Written scenarios for the first five problem-solving exercises.

Week 8: Online module completed with activities and evaluation criteria.

4. Results (What you will produce) Indicate what results you expect from the project. These items must be something someone else (i.e., classmates, instructor, colleague) can see, hear or touch. Results can include and are certainly not limited to:

  • presentation (e.g. Power Point)
  • written work (e.g. reflective paper)
  • a website with a syllabus and complete information about your course
  • and/or the course material itself.

Example only - yours may be different

At the conclusion of this practicum, I will have completed the following:

  • A Design Document describing the online course I will develop
  • One fully developed unit of instruction.
  • A reflective paper documenting the decisions I made creating the Design Document.


5. Evaluation Criteria These are the criteria that I and your colleagues will use to evaluate how well you have fulfilled the goals set out in the Learning Contract. Think about what criteria you would use to evaluate the project that you have proposed. Create a list of standards or criteria that you, as a teacher would use for grading purposes. You may find it convenient to select these from the set of standards that you developed in OLO. Please be specific. You may wish to give a rubric so that I can rate your project at its completion.

Example only - yours may be different

Rubric(s) to assess one or more of the following:

  • clarity of objectives and expectations
  • web site navigation and design
  • potential for collaboration students-to-students
  • appropriateness of assignments and activities
  • potential for providing feedback from students to teacher
  • appropriate use of technologies

Steps to complete the Learning Contract

1. Compose
Use the space provided for an assignment entry Submit Your Learning Contract Here to send to the instructor a plan that contains the 5 elements of the Learning Contract (described above). There is a Sample Learning Contract available in the course, as well.  This should be done by Day 4 of the Week 1 (Thursday, August 24). There will be a penalty for lateness. This will be a private exchange, which only the two of us will see. I will reply to your message with suggestions and feedback. For example, I might add additional criteria that I feel are essential to a fair and equitable assessment of the project you have proposed. You may respond to me with your thoughts and suggestions.

2. Negotiate and Revise
Continue to negotiate your contract until we are both satisfied. (This is done in the same Submit Your Learning Contract Here area. Hopefully, this will be completed by the end of the first week of the practicum. As appropriate changes, clarifications, amplifications are suggested by the instructor, they should be incorporated into the final version of the contract. Negotiations and revisions should be complete by Day 10 of the course ( no later than Thursday, October 26). This initial contract is worth 10 points.

3. Feedback from the class
By week 3 you should have made progress in completing the project. You will post your contract and your work for your group to view. You will also be required to give feedback to other participants. By week 6 you will have incorporated feedback from others and made further progress on your project. You will again share with your group.

By week 8 you will share your final project, the result of your contract, with the entire class for feedback. You will be required to give feedback to other students.

 

Accommodations:

What accommodations may be needed for students with disabilities or other special needs? This lesson requires few if any accommodations. Most text to speech and speech to text programs can function within most asynchronous discussion tools. The bandwidth requirements are also low.

Ideas for Activity Evaluation and Teacher Reflection:

How did the students like the lesson? End of semester evaluations should ask about the usefulness and learning accomplished through such activities.

How was student learning verified? Here it is a matter of whether or not the student actually completes the learning contract and the points contained within it. The contract is more of a guide for future assessments and their weights.

Sample Rubric:

Learning Contract
(10 points) Submitted initial contract by Day 5 and made revisions to contract by the 10th day based on instructor feedback.
(8 points) Submitted after Day 5, but made revisions to the contract by the 10th day based on instructor feedback.
(5 points) Submitted materials by Day 5 and failed to make revisions by the 10th day or contract submitted after initial deadline.
(0 points) Learning contract not submitted.

 

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