Virtual School Meanderings

June 8, 2020

“How To Teach Online” With Online Music Teacher Andrew Mercer

Andrew Mercer is a music teacher with the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.  He’s been teaching music online with the CDLI now for well over a decade (probably coming upon two decades in the next year or two).  Recognizing that many of his colleagues across the province were going to find themselves teaching using online tools during the Fall semester – at least for portions of their time – he’s been creating these three to six minute videos that provide advice based on his year’s experience that he was posting to Facebook.

Anyway, I reached out to him and he was willing to add them to YouTube as well, so I could embed these videos below, along with the descriptions for each.

How to Teach Online – Episode 1 – Student Cameras On or Off – Zoom-Google Meet

Student Cameras On or Student Cameras Off – Here are some of my thoughts on the use of student cameras during Google Meet/Zoom class sessions. Please share your thoughts and strategies below :)

One caveat, many communities have HORRIBLE bandwidth. There will be some students who will not be able to use video during their classes. We need consider this during class planning. There are strategies we can use to engage students in these low-bandwidth situations. We can chat about these as well.

How to Teach Online – Episode 2 – Dealing with Glitchy Sound and Video

Music Teachers: Are you getting glitchy video and sound in your Google Meet/Zoom/FaceTime sessions? Here are a few thoughts on how to get rid of those glitches

How to Teach Online – Episode 3 – Planning for September

Episode 3 – Music Teachers: What do we teach FIRST in Sept? I suggest that you do not jump right into the curriculum in Sept. Take some time to let the students get comfortable with the medium (you too). Push back the curriculum for a little bit and start the year by focusing on getting everyone comfortable with the new learning environment. :) Please share your thoughts?

How to Teach Online – Episode 4 – Student Engagement

Episode 4 – Keeping students engaged in Google Meet and working with individual students while in a group session.

When teaching online we need to use synchronous (G-Meet) and asynchronous (G-Classroom) together to maximize student engagement. When covering a topic in Meet(synchronous) with a full class have supporting materials in G-Classroom that students can work with during the class(asynchronous). Plan times during your Meet session when you can asks student to work on this asynchronous material. During these times you can work 1 on 1 with student who need some extra help.

To work with an individual student in private you just need to open a new tab in your browser and start a new Meet session. Send an invite only to the student who needs help. This will create a private break-out room. Both you and the individual student will be in both rooms. When you are done helping the student you can just close the room and return to the full class.

How to Teach Online – Episode 5 – Taking Attendance and Promoting Engagement in Virtual Learning

Episode 5 – Taking Attendance and Promoting Engagement in and Online Class
Using the Record feature in Google Meet creates a text document of all the texts made by yourself and your students during a Meet session. This text document is automatically saved in your Google Drive for you. You can use this feature to not only complete your attendance but also systematically keep your students engaged throughout the session.

May 13, 2016

Article Notice – The Straight Truth About Online Learning In The Straits: An Investigation Into The Nature Of Education In A Rural And Remote Region Of Newfoundland And Labrador

A notice of this article of mine that was recently published.

Mulcahy, D., Barbour, M. K., & Lahiri, M. (2016). The straight truth about online learning in the Straits: An investigation into the nature of education in a rural and remote region of Newfoundland and Labrador. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 26(1), 27-41. Retrieved from


This paper reports on a naturalistic research project that was conducted in response to the educational concerns of the coastal rural communities of Labrador Straits. The research project investigated the current provision of education available to the children and the youth of these communities and found that due to declining population, changing demographics, lack of qualified teaching staff in the region and several other interrelated factors, there was an increased reliance on online learning in the small rural schools of the Straits as well as other rural regions of the province.

March 10, 2014

History Of K-12 Distance Education In Newfoundland And Labrador

As many of you know, I’m originally from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.  I often speak of my home province and the K-12 distance education program that is there (and that I have conducted research with).

Last week, I came across a collection of blog entries that a colleague – and I’d say friend – of mine from back in Newfoundland that has been involved in K-12 distance education.  I followed along with these entries as Maurice posted them, but he has put them all together in a single collection.

I’d encourage you all to read it, as Maurice’s personal history with K-12 distance education in Newfoundland and Labrador is a pretty COMPLETE history of K-12 distance education in Newfoundland and Labrador. I think it is also a great case study of the development of K-12 distance education and K-12 online learning in any jurisdiction.

Rendering Distance Transparent: K-12 Distance Ed. in NL, CA

I retired from a 30-year career in the K-12 system in Newfoundland Labrador, in August 2013. During the winter, previous to retirement, I decided to elaborate on my experiences with the distance education program in my province. The pages are listed below

K-12 DE: 01  The Setting

K-12 DE: 02  Small Schools Distance Education (1988-2003)

K-12 DE: 03A Teaching and Learning by Distance Education (1988-2003)

K-12 DE: 03B Teaching and Learning by Distance Education (1988-2003)

K-12 DE: 04   STEM~Net: Province-Wide Networking

K-12 DE: 05  STEM~Net and School Connectivity

K-12 DE: 06 The Vista Project: Breaking New Ground (1998-2001)

K-12 DE: 07 The Vista Project: Lessons Learned (1998-2001)

K-12 DE: 08 CDLI Startup and Pilot (2000-2002)

K-12 DE: 09 CDLI: Building an eLearning Team (2001-2005)

K-12 DE: 10 CDLI Implementation: Supporting the Learners (2001-2005)

K-12 DE: 11 CDLI Implementation: Initial Content Development (2000-2005)

K-12 DE: 12 The MLOs (before there was Khan) (2002-2007)

K-12 DE: 13 From mTeacher to mTeam

K-12 DE: 14 Layering in Videoconferencing

K-12 DE: 15 Distance Education and Science Labs

June 12, 2013

Article Notice – Pictures from an Exhibition … of Online Learning: A Creative Representation of Qualitative Data

This is another K-12 online learning article that was published earlier this week (and that I posted the full issue for yesterday).

Pictures from an Exhibition… of Online Learning: A Creative Representation of Qualitative Data

The Qualitative Report 2013
Volume 18, Article 45, 1-15.

Michael Barbour, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan USA
Jason Paul Siko, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids,Michigan USA
Kaye Simuel-Everage, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan USA

Abstract: K-12 online learning at the K-12 level has been around for approximately two decades and is continuing to grow. While researchers have researched a variety of issues related to K-12 online learning, there has been little published on the student experience in web-based learning environments. In this article, two doctoral students were tasked with analyzing existing data, then representing and situating their findings in a format other than the traditional “results” and “discussion” sections found in a typical six-section journal manuscript. One student created an image that focused upon the tools used by the K-12 student in her online learning. The other student created a slideshow to illustrate the challenges faced by a second K-12 student in her online learning. While more research into the K-12 student experience in online learning is required, this article represents one creative attempt to address this need.

Keywords: K-12 Online Learning, Virtual Schooling, Alternative Representation

March 27, 2012

Article Notice – Narratives from the Online Frontier: A K-12 Student’s Experience in an Online Learning Environment

I forgot to post notice of this article when it was first published.

Narratives from the Online Frontier: A K-12 Student’s Experience in an Online Learning Environment
Michael Barbour, Jason Siko, JaCinda Sumara, and Kaye Simuel-Everage
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA

The Qualitative Report 2012 Volume 17, Article 20, 1-19

Abstract: Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolled in online courses, published research on student experiences in these environments is minimal. This article reports the narrative analysis of a series of interviews conducted with a female student at a brick-and-mortar school enrolled in a single virtual school course. Her narratives describe a student who often struggled with the content in her online course and was reluctant to interact with her online teacher. When she interacted with people online, it was using text, because she was shy and the hardware often did not work. Darlene’s experiences, likely typical of many K-12 online students, highlight a system in need of better strategies for the design and delivery of its educational opportunities.

Key Words: Online Learning, Distance Education, Rural Schooling, Virtual Schooling, Narrative Analysis.

Note that for the past three years, half of my teaching responsibilities have been in the area of qualitative research. As such, I have adapted some of my scholarship to focus on methodological issues (such as this narrative analysis piece).

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