Instructor Update - September 2020
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AEA Learning Online
Instructor Update

Welcome to another school year!

Hello!  You are receiving this because you are an online instructor for AEA Learning Online, serve the AEA system in a registration capacity, or have subscribed to this newsletter in the past.  If this newsletter no longer applies, you may unsubscribe at any time.

We are underway with a new school year, unlike any September we have ever had before.  In some ways, our online learning courses are well-suited for this new COVID reality, but you no doubt are experiencing altogether new conversations in your classes with teachers.

We want to thank you for all that you do.  Much of what you do is on your own, in somewhat isolation, and you are doing great things for teachers.

Quick Updates

• Shelley is on her way back!  While it has been a challenging recovery, Shelley is planning on coming back at the beginning of October.  I will continue to be working with you for payments and cancellations and we transition her back in.

• We are moving to Eversign for the signing of claims for service.  Eversign (similar to Docusign) is an online document signing site.  Essentially you get an email with a link to the document, and when you go to that link, it walks you through the process of signing it.  For those who have been signing their own claims for service, we are hopeful to have this ready for your next claims.  Questions?  Just let me know and we can assist.

• In light of our concerns of lower enrollment in our courses (= we have canceled a higher rate of sections recently), we are looking into how we can better market our courses and what the market for potential students is.  Over the summer, we did a targeted communication to individuals in our training system (who have not opted-out of emails) regarding our Practicing Educator self-paced course, and we saw a large increase in registration for it as a result.  While we are not ready to roll out targeted marketing for our individual catalog courses, we are hoping to do so in the future.  We will have more updates as we go.

• We want to be transparent regarding our learning management system (LMS) usage.  Right now, AEA Learning Online hosts Moodle for both PD courses as well as K-12 schools.  It provides an option that is low-cost (no-cost, actually) and scalable to our needs.  The state of Iowa has recently purchased Canvas, a competing LMS.  There are many variables at play (the purchase was for only one year, made by the DE and not the AEAs, and there isn't a statewide group within the AEAs to direct what the AEAs do for LMSs), it could be that we will be changing our LMS in the future.  In the event that happens, we promise to 1) provide plenty of advanced communication, 2) provide training and assistance to get teachers ready for a new LMS, and 3) provide an ample grace period for that transition.

I want to be clear, I'm not saying that an LMS change is definite.  Just wanted to start the communication about the possibility.

Incompletes & Final Grades

We wanted to share a few things about closing out a course, and what to do with participants who are not done with the course.

First, the completion process includes 3 steps completed within your instructor center on Performance Matters.  When you log in and find the course under your Courses That I Teach area, you will see a drop-down on the left side.  Go to your Roster

From there, you will see your roster.  Click on the Grades/Roster Status button.  Then, you need to do two things:

1. Enter the grade, and
2. Change the registration status to Completed

You can do this en masse by some drop downs above the roster if you would like.  When you have done this, click the Save this Page button.  Then you are ready for the 3rd step. 

3. Click the lock.

At this point, the grade is entered and a student can access their grade.  Please note: This allows you to submit some grades at different times.  Whereas before, you couldn't submit a grade for an individual student if they, say, finished early.  Now you can.  We don't advertise that this is an option, as we don't want to put you in the spot of having to tell students that they can't finish the course early.  But, it is something you can do if you would like.

But, what about those that are not done?  You could change their registration status to Incomplete if you would like, or give them an I as a grade, to be edited later when they finish.  You could also leave it just unfinished until they complete later.  However, a bigger question is, what can we do if they can't finish the section at all?

Here are your options:
• If you hear from them that they are not interested in finishing the course, either have them contact us about withdrawing, or forward us the email and we will withdraw them.  This way, it won't show up on their record.

• If you ask and you do not hear back from them, at some point you will give them an F for failing the course.

• If they intend to finish, but can't do so at this time, you can offer them the option of taking that section at a later time.  Please note, this is not officially a transfer in our system, because our registration system does not allow transferring.  What you essentially will do is say "Hey, you can take my next section of the course.  (If you have some assignments already completed, we'll count those done in the new section).  I'll send out the directions to you on how to get started when I send out them to the rest of the participants".  They will complete the course in Moodle the same way everyone else will in that new section.  But when you submit grades, you will go into the old section to submit their grade.

So while not officially a "transfer", you are essentially transferring them.  This process is an instructor's choice (again, we don't advertise it is an option), but we do encourage instructors to do so, as it provides flexibility to students who otherwise might not be able to finish coursework.


Statewide Courses?  Local AEA?

With the advent of COVID, who provides online PD courses has changed since all courses are now essentially online.  What is the difference between an AEA Learning Online course and a course through another AEA?  Great questions!

• Any catalog course that is available to individuals throughout the state online still must be an AEA Learning Online course.  A "catalog" course is one that is open for anyone to find and register for on the open catalog.

• Courses that used to be face-to-face for a local AEA can be moved to online format during the short-term issue we faced in the spring.

• However, if the AEA will continue to offer that course online long-term, the course needs to be not an open-catalog course (e.g. restricted to a certain district, or restricted to individuals in a certain AEA).  If it is truly an option for anyone in the state, it needs to be an AEA Learning Online course.  (There are a few exceptions for certain certifications like sub authorization and paraeducator licensure).

• So to clarify that last point, whether a course is an AEA Learning Online or a local AEA one isn't about whether it is online; it is about if it is available statewide.  If you are offering a course from Great Prairie AEA and a teacher from Sioux City can reasonably take the course, then it should be a statewide AEA Learning Online one.

Synchronous Learning

More on that last point:  To say that AEA courses are on Zoom and AEA Learning Online courses are on Moodle is wrong.  AEA Learning Online courses can be delivered partially or completely through synchronous learning.  Understand that this makes it harder for participants to commit to than an asynchronous course, schedule-wise.  However, it is an option.

Moreover, the requirements to teach a synchronous course should be different than for an asynchronous course.  We are reviewing what we require, but online teachers looking to teach through a synchronous format only will not need to take the OLLIE sequence.  We will be allowing those proposing courses to be approved (provided they meet our other instructor requirements), with the understanding that at some point, we will be adding a requirement for synchronous instructors (probably in the form of a course).

This will not be a new requirement for those who have gone through the OLLIE series.  You can use synchronous learning partially or completely in your course proposals right now.


We have received more interest in offering online credit for courses done in conjunction with an online conference.  This is a possibility, but it must comply with the following:
  • If attendance for a conference is mandatory, it must be stated clearly in the proposal's description.
  • If the hours for the conference are to count towards the course's required hours, there must be a mechanism for you to know that a person attended.
  • If the hours for the conference are to count towards the course's required hours, you need to provide a detailed description of the conference, and describe how the sessions attended relate directly to the course outcomes
  • When detailing the hours for the course, you would need to break-down the course conference into one-hour (at most) chunks and show the "assignment" that chunk has towards the course.  You can't just say "Conference attendance = 15 hours".
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