Final Blog Post

Final Overview of my Course Prototype

with Megan, Jannae and myself

Social Justice – Middle Years

Course Profile  – Please see this link to read through the class profile.

The course prototype and process was a significant learning curve for me. I have never designed an online class and definitely not a blending learning one. I found that the weekly content was great in pacing the project and giving you bits and pieces along the way. Outside of Tuesday night class we had the time to play with LMS systems, creation tools and pedagogy that supported the development and then end product of our blended learning course. Below are links to my blog posts that reflected on my course prototype.

Overall, our feedback from our colleagues was very positive in nearly all areas of our prototype. They praised our prototype for ease of use, variety of tools and activities, and the seamless flow from one module to the next. In addition, they appreciated the small details we added like our introductory video, inclusion of instructional guides, and having access to artefacts and documents in more than one location in Google Classroom. Our colleagues also acknowledged our course profile was comprehensive and well thought out. As with anything, there is always room for improvement. Below are our responses to the suggestions that we will take into consideration when we use this material with our students.

  • One of our colleagues had some trouble with some of our links and access to a Kahoot.
    • Our respondent thought the trouble with the Kahoot may be related to the Kahoot session needing to be started.
    • For our other links, we will go back and ensure that all of our links are accessible and in working condition and make adjustments accordingly.
  • One respondent noticed that some of our documents were in differing formats and would have liked to have seen it consistent throughout.
    • Moving forward, this is something we would definitely change. Ideally, with Google Classroom it would work seamlessly with our Google Drive so all our documents uploaded would be in the format of Google Docs so we would be able to make copies for each student with ease.
  • One suggestion was to add a brief introduction to the unit before the video so students would know what they were watching for (keywords, definitions, aims).
    • We liked this suggestion and felt it worth considering for future revisions.
    • For middle years, we would like to see students connecting keywords with the “word work” that is already going on in class. This may mean using “word work” notebooks or word walls in the classroom.  
  • A response to your feedback (this should be done collaboratively as a group and then posted as part of every member’s blog post)

We used Google Classroom for our prototype. Please see the link: Social Justice Please log into Google Classroom using the @education.uregina.ca usernames and passwords that we used for exploring the LMS. Please enter join code: 9oza6

Thank you Jannae and Megan for all you work and support during this project.

This is the end…beautiful friends

Here we are, almost at the end…well the end before the summary. When I signed up for this course I was hoping to learn how I could create a blended learning environment in my classroom. What I never expected was to actually build a class/module that I could use in my classroom. I think that we (teachers) are really good a creating lessons and teaching content. What I learned while doing this HUGE assignment was how to create a unit that was thoughtful, authentic, purposeful and hopefully engaging. We used google classroom as our platform and since we started ECI 834 my school division has switched over to Chromebooks and I have had the opportunity to attend the google summit in Lethbridge. I feel like I have been googlified and am ready to blend my classroom. 

When we first started the prototype I thought that this was going to be super easy.

 Photo Credit  

Like  many of you had noted in your blogs, the journey had been rewarding (Kyle), overwhelmed (Sarah, AndrewLindy and Roberta), and intimidating (Jessica). I think I had experienced each of these emotions while working through this prototype. On thing I found helpful was that Alec and Katia did a great job of pacing the class content so that we were able to learn and add to our prototype each week.

Megan did a great join her post by writing a short storyboard about her learning. Her story was only three frames but captured the learning and emotions throughout the project. Initially I felt excited and challenged by the assignment. Mid way through I felt overwhelmed, frustrated and worried it wouldn’t get done. At the end just before we hit the submit button on our prototype I felt scared that, “what if we missed something!” In the end I am proud of my group and what we accomplished. I look forward to receiving feedback and then using it in my classroom. Great job team…Jannae and Megan.

 

 

Control vs Chaos

Control…For those of us that work best when we have rules and boundaries, know what to expect, know how to get 100%, and are under constant guidance then closed learning is the place for us. We can enter the pharmacy of education that is prescribed. We will know the rules, how to follow them and how we will be marked. We will be able to do group work and work collaboratively and we will be given a choice between a few topics to work with our group on. We will learn within the framework that we are given and we will be guided along the way. We will get to know our fellow classmates because there will be only between 10 and 40 of us. It will be like the face-to-face classes we took except now its online. It will be safe and comfortable.

Chaos…for those of us that love chaos, breaking the rules, questioning everything, make our own rules and like to be free then open learning is for us. We can enter the forest with no path. We won’t know all the rules, we can create our own path, we can decide what we will learn. We can work in groups, group that we make, on a subject we like. We can change direction when the learning changes or we can dive deeper into the forest and stay focused. It will be all up to us and we won’t need anyone to guide us, we will have our own compass.

So which one are you?

I have had some experience with closed learning formats in the past and present. I have taken a few online classes through the University of Regina mainly because I live 2.5 hours away and needed to continue working as I completed my masters degree. I have not had the luxury to just take a course for fun…like a MOOC therefore all my classes have been credit based. I have taken really good online courses and some bad to really bad ones. Amy Singh described LMS as a “one size fits all” mentality. The one size fits all model allows people to not be surprised, have clear boundaries and expectations as well as it allows them to stick to the syllabus. It is a truly safe place to be. There are parts of this model that I like and that work well for me. I like that I know what is expected of me. I like that it is organized and guided so that I always know what I am supposed to read, when and what I have to do with the reading. The closed online classes that I have really liked had options within the course. Some offered a choice of reading so that you were reading to your interest. Some had an open research paper option that allowed you to read and write about something that pertained to you, your interest and/or your work. Some had discussion forums that were relevant and engaging and added to our learning. Of course in all of the good there were classes that did the opposite.

On the other hand there are those that like freedom, challenge, surprise and the ability to go beyond the syllabus. I am slowly becoming more open to this type of learning. I think that open learning is more challenging in a school setting. Kids are not trained to be self educators yet. They thrive on structure and guidance. I do think that there is opportunities for open learning within the closed format. It is important to give students choice, allow for deeper understanding (scaffolding), ask open ended questions, allow student to guide their learning and be the guide not the dictator. Amy listed great questions at the end of her post that allows students to find their voice. Worth the read!

I believe that closed online spaces have potential for authentic learning and discussions with the right design and guidance.

Building a Community?

Like Melinda Pelletier, I really didn’t put a lot of thought into the “why” were having student interaction in our prototype course. When I read the blog post prompt I kinda panicked a bit. After doing some reading and looking at our ideas for our course I see that we considered it, I just needed to determine…

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Source

Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation was one of the readings that was required for this week. It looked at the benefits of using online discussion boards, having a purpose, being courteous within the discussion, and encouraging critical thinking. Although the reading is talking about online discussion boards I also see many of these practices important in blog posting, class interaction and face-to-face instruction.

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Shaping the Metaphor of Community on Online Learning Environments  (our second reading) says that in order for a virtual learning community to exist you need “a process for engaging ideas, negotiating meaning and learning collectively”. (pg. 1) Assuming that all your students are engaged, motivated and supportive a virtual learning community can be created. So how are these element considered in our course prototype?

In our course we are using mentimeter, class discussion, class activities, blogs, Kahoot, popplet/inspiration, wordle, and SMORE. These may change as we get into the development piece but so far these are what we have looked at.

For my portion of the course I am using Kahoot, blogging, and class activities. Bryce-Davis (2001) in Shaping the Metaphor of Community on Online Learning Environments identify five features for building online communities. They are “rules, roles, rounds, rituals and ringers.” (pg. 3) Rules refer to establishing the rules to govern the operation of the community. There for in our course the rules would define how we would communicate and then the roles would define how the activities would be carried out. (pg. 3)  Rounds refer to patterns that are created within your course. For ours we have a common pattern of blogging, class discussion and activities as well as common presentation tools that the students would use to show their learning. Bryce-Davis (2001) say that rounds are important because they develop skill, become comfortable and then establish routines. If there is a common pattern then ritual is created. Rituals are routines in learning that are consistent throughout the course. Ringers, according to Bryce-Davis are surprise events, that occurs in a course. A surprise event may be a guest speaker, an activity that disrupts the pattern and renews interest. I see our student activities in our course as ringers because they are interactive and engaging.

This weeks discussion, blog post and reading has made me look differently at the course prototype as more than just a course with a list of assignments and activities. Creating a community is challenging but will in the end create an engaging class that challenges and promotes learning. I look forward to continuing to build the course with Megan and Jannae. Roberta said she felt like she felt like she jumped into the prototype backwards and I agree that we need to back up now and re-evaluate what we are doing and why.

 

All work and no play…

So this week is family day and February break. We were asked to, “take this week to read about/explore an aspect of online/blended learning that you are interested in, and then blog about it. This might include your thoughts/reactions to a particularly interesting article that you find, your own exploration of a mode/format/strategy for online/blended learning that we haven’t touched on, or your further research into a course topic that interests you”. (quote by Alec and Katia)

I decided that because it was February break and all work and no play makes Benita a dull girl I would explore some of the tools we were introduced to for my social justice project. First one, screencast of an awesome movie and embed it into my blog, done!

Second tool I tried out was Tellagami. Check this out…I also tweeted it.

https://tellagami.com/gami/XHK1GY/

The third too I tried was VideoScribe. First issue I had was an error message while downloading. Apparently apple doesn’t like downloading things that are not attached to iTunes or the app store. VideoScribe had the help solution, press the control key and click on the file, then press open. I was back in business. I made a very short little video and then realized that you can’t do a lot with it until you upgrade. Very disappointing. But, all is not lost I can still upload to You Tube. Here is the final product!

 

VideoScribe was super easy to use and fun. In order to really enjoy all the features and to use it for a larger project you would have to upgrade but it just might be worth it.

Okay one more tool…Puppet Pals. I thought that this was a super fun too to make short stories. I downloaded the free app and make a little video. I wanted to post it to my blog but for some reason it will not let me save the video. Very frustrating. Puppet Pals can be used on an iPad, iPod or mobile phone which makes it a great tool for students to use. It may also be a way to integrate cell phones into the classroom. Roxanne posted a great blog about cell phones in the classroom. Also Angela blogged about how technology can be inspiring in the classroom. I think that be integrating some of these fun and relatively simple tools in the classroom may challenge and inspire kids to grow and learn in many ways.

Audio vs Video vs text…?

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This weeks blog post asked us to consider our experiences with learning from digital sources in light of the Bates text. We were asked what are preferences were (audio, visual , text,…) and how the Bates text lined up with our experiences. I will talk about audio, visual and text and they are what I use primarily.

As you can see by my opening picture I was a movie girl growing up. I loved watching, renting, and going to the movies. I even sat down with popcorn and watched the Oscars just to see if my favourite movie won or

if I missed one! popcorn-1085072_640

My love for movies did not end there, I watched documentaries, the news, 60 Minutes, True Crime stories etc.  Like Megan  I was always excited to see the TV cart in the classroom when I walked in. Its not that I didn’t like reading it just that the reading I was doing was attached to social studies, science and ELA. Its not that I was a bad reader, I read well and like Jannae I had the skills. I just don’t think I was engaged. Bates writes about what video can be used to do:

  • demonstrate experiments or phenomena
  • Illustrate principles involving change, abstraction, three-dimensional space, changes over time
  • Its a substitute to a field trip visit
  • used as a primary resource or case-study
  • demonstrate decision-making, correct procedures in using tools, performance
  • record and archive events

So my time watching TV was not a complete waste.

In high school I started reading novels in ELA that I actually enjoyed! This changed a lot for me. I read “The Outsiders” and “The Chrysalids” and discovered that reading was like watching a movie. I saw the characters and could picture the landscape and scenes as I read. Since high school I have turned into a reader and like Megan I have a love/hate relationship with it. I get into reading moods, where I will read 5 or six books and not even turn on the TV. Then I will switch and not open a book for a couple months. When I am taking classes I have a hard time reading a book. It feels like work and I don’t enjoy it. Text as Bates says, is the dominant teaching technology.

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I have an iPad and I download books all the time but there is nothing like the feel and smell of opening a new or old book and curling up on the couch or reading chair. It will be a sad day when books are no longer available. I, like Aimee like to use printed text. I often will print off chapters or readings so that I can read, highlight, underline and write in the margins. I still write down grocery lists even though I have an app in my phone. Bates lists 7 characteristics (7.2.1.2) of text and notes that, “no other medium combines all these characteristics, or is as powerful as text with respect to these characteristics”. For me text has become the main source of learning for me. If I am looking up interactions on how to do something online I will (9/10 times) choose step-by-step instructions to a you tube video. I think this is because the text is clear and concise whereas a lot of you tube tutorials have advertising or unnecessary information that waste my time.

As for Audio, I agree that it is unappreciated. I downloaded an audio book a year or so ago to listen to while I am out walking. I struggled staying focused on the audio and when my mind wandered I couldn’t just turn a couple pages back and re-read. I gave up and actually purchased the book. I can see how audio is great for developing skills as Bates describes. He says that audio:

  • enables students to master auditory skills or techniques
  • gets students to analyze primary  audio sources
  • helps changes student attitudes

There are many strengths in using audio as a teaching medium and I may have to re-visit  and give it another try.

In the end my preference is text although I still love a good movie (with popcorn). My primary teaching area is middle years and my students require a lot of engagement. I use text, video, you tube, smart board (a little), various apps, iPads and computers in the classroom but primarily I use text as a teaching tool. Kids today like to be entertained with media of all sorts. I have found that in taking these classes I have expanded my technological knowledge and slowly it is creeping into my classroom. My students look forward to me learning more.