Barriers to blended/hybrid/mixed-mode/distributed learning.

Blended learning, instruction, styles, systems?

I recently stumbled onto a new term to be used interchangeably with blended or hybrid learning: mixed-mode learning (or distributed learning). More educational buzz words, yay! However, when I first saw the term “mixed-mode”, I thought: that sounds a lot like “modes of instruction”. Although I’ve read about modes of instruction for blended classrooms (and, in practice, plan to center these modes around student needs), I failed to specifically connect student modes of learning to student learning styles. I alluded to this association last week, but I just wasn’t full grasping it. Modes of learning are just students’ different preferred means/styles to learn, made possible through different modes of instruction, but these modes of instruction are not necessarily instructional strategies. But these modes of instruction can be made possible through the use of a LMS (or VLE… or CMS) or what I could call blended systems/environments. Most of which make use of certain instructional strategies.


A “Frustrated with Definitions” Activity
If you’re confused at all, here’s a fill-in-the-blank activity. I put hints for help and I’ll give you a word bank.

_________ _______ (use any of four different terms that mean the same thing) is a mixture of _____ __ __________ combining elements from a ____________ ____________ and a(n) __________ ____________ (compare an old classroom with a “new” classroom), one of which borrows pedagogy from a __________ ___________ model, where the delivery of lecture and homework are reversed. This  can help account for different ____________ _________ (use either of two terms that pertain to diversity of learners). Using different __________ ___________ (or _______ ___ _________) is considered easier in a _________ _______ (use any of four different terms that mean the same thing, but use the same one as above to avoid confusion) because it allows for _________-______ ________ (or _______-________ _________), especially when utilizing a  ___ (use any of three different terms that all basically mean: an online program that facilitates instruction and information distribution). Students may then create artifacts for ____________ of their learning (the words aren’t necessarily the same, but both can be applied).

Word bank: distributed learning, mixed-mode learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, traditional classroom, flipped classroom, online classroom, modes of instruction, instructional strategies, modes of learning, student needs, learning styles, inquiry-based learning, self-directed learning, project-based learning, CMS, VLE, LMS, assessment, evaluation


Does it make sense?

Bear with me.

If the mode of learning targeted was reading using a reading assignment as the mode of instruction, and the content was specifically fact-based, I would argue that would also be direct instruction (learning style). However, a reading that poses questions to the reader or connects the reading to other resources to further extend learning, could potentially be indirect instruction but the mode of learning (and by extension, mode of instruction) was still reading.

Still not sure? Below is a video that highlights what exactly blended learning involves, including how it looks different from classroom to classroom.

So what’s the point of clarifying blended learning; subsequently and seemingly trying to confuse you?

As positive as I tend to be, the reality is there are barriers to blended learning, and these barriers extend beyond terminology. So what are the barriers to blended learning? Not just for educators, but for students as well.

Barriers to Blended Learning

Educators
Like any new implementation, educators need two things: time and money.

  • Time
    Time to learn how to deliver blended learning in your classroom, as well as time for the accumulation and assessment of available blended learning tools (whether it’s presentation programs, editing/animation software, assessment apps, or learning management systems).
  • Money
    Money to actually make these tools available to educators on staff and in the division, as well as money to pay for the time teachers spend preparing.

Students
Just because the educators are prepared for this, doesn’t necessarily mean that the students are as well. Mostly, they need support. How do educators provide this (assuming the above are provided)? Guidance and patience.

  • Guidance
    Students will need to be told how learning will occur in and out of the classroom, including the emphasis this style may place on their role in directing their own learning.
  • Patience
    Students may be fresh to this style, so educators must provide them with time and opportunities to develop the skills to be successful in your particular blended learning classroom.

Making it happen

So with these barriers in mind, what are others tips to make it happen or drive blended learning? See below!

drivers-of-blended-learning

Drivers of Blended Learning via Pinterest

 

Closing Remarks

There will always be barriers to any style of learning. As educators, our first barrier is better understanding what exactly blended learning is and how it connects to what we already know, as most of it draws many parallels to previous pedagogy. However, it’s important to note that these barriers are not only limited to the educator and the student, but also the division, curriculum, and parents. Being aware of these barriers allows us to plan for potential or anticipated problems and implement our blended classrooms as best as we can for our learners.

Do you agree? Disagree? Is my definition of blended learning consistent with what you know? Have you felt my pain of not knowing exactly what all these educational terminologies are?

Have a great break everyone!

– Logan Petlak


Evolution of Technology Through my Eyes

Bates outlines the three different types of education, classroom teaching, blended learning and fully online classes. Throughout my education I have experienced classroom teaching, blended learning and fully online learning.

As I got older and made my way through the school system I got to see technology change and saw how it was used more often.

It all started with Classroom Teaching

In my elementary school days it was explicitly classroom teaching. The only type of technology we had was a cd player. Every couple weeks we got to go to our computer lab full of desktops and play kidspix or all the right type. When I was this age I loved this type of learning. I liked having the face to face interaction with my teacher. They were right there to help me with anything I needed. As I continued into high school and university I continued to have classes in this style.

I agree with Bates

Many students coming straight from high school will be looking for social, sporting and cultural opportunities that a campus-based education provides. Also students lacking self-confidence or experience in studying are likely to prefer face-to-face teaching, providing that they can access it in a relatively personal way.”

This is what I was looking for. To this day, I still enjoy learning in a face to face environment and having my educator right there.

Then it moved to Blended Learning

Technology was not a huge part of my education experience until I reached high school. As I moved into high school some teachers used blended learning. When I was in grade 12, we were lucky and got a new computer lab full of mac desktops. I took a computer class. In this class our teacher setup a blended classroom. We had face to face teaching but we also got to learn on our mac desktops. We got to create videos, songs on garage band etc. This was done by us exploring and learning at our own pace. We were given choices of how we wanted to represent our learning. During this time as well our school was getting smart boards. This changed the way material was presented to us. We could see videos, and interact with the smart board. I love this style of learning. You have interaction with the teacher and the delivery of information is done with technology. This is how I try to teach because I have seen the benefits as a learner.

Then there was Fully Online Learning

I have taken a couple fully online classes. Bates says

            “that fully online courses are more suitable for more experienced students with a strong motivation to take such courses because of the impact they have on their quality of life.”

I agree with this statement. In high school I went on an exchange to Quebec for 3 months. For me to get all of my credits I needed to take an online class. I choose chemistry. This class was a lot of text based. I had to read and answer questions. The teacher was hard to get a hold of and with mostly text the material was hard to understand. I ended up getting help from other chemistry teachers in the school. I was not ready for this class nor motivated.

As I entered university I tried more online classes. As Bates states

“Students study in their own time, at the place of their choice (home, work or learning centre), and without face-to-face contact with a teacher.”

This is the reason why I choose online classes in university. It was on my own time and I do not have to go to the university. I enjoyed these classes better than my high school online class. Professors are more accessible. Videos and recordings are integrated so I am not only reading text. I was ready and motivated to learn. I got to choose these classes and it was not just about getting the credit to graduate.

The Elements and my Experiences

Text

Photo Credit: christian.grelard Flickr via Compfightcc


“Text can come in many formats, including printed textbooks, text messages, novels, magazines, newspapers, scribbled notes, journal articles, essays, novels, online asynchronous discussions and so on.”

Throughout my education text has been a major part. Bates provides different formants text comes in. I have interacted with all of those. Throughout school you are reading or writing essays. You are reading textbooks and novels. You are finding online articles. You are writing journal entries or blog posts. You are reading notes on the board. All schools have libraries. Classrooms are filled with books. Text is everywhere and an important part of education.

I have noticed the evolution of text. It started as a book I would sign out in the library and has changed to an article I will find and read online. I used to write in journals and now am blogging. I used to hand write notes in a notebook and now I am typing up notes on my laptop. Text has changed as technology and blended learning is being implanted. The delivery of text is changing and will continue to change.

Video

I have got to see video in classrooms transform while I went to school. It started with a big box TV on a rolling cart. When you heard the TV rolling down the hall it was an exciting day. We got to enjoy magic school bus on VHS. Our VHS changed to DVD’s and a smaller TV. This eventually moved to YouTube videos on the smart board. When the Mac lab came in high school teachers and students could now make their own videos. Teachers could record what we were doing and create videos. The limits became endless.

“The ability to stop, rewind and replay video becomes crucial for skills development, as student activity usually takes place separately from the actual viewing of the video”

I agree with this statement. As video was integrated into my education experience you could stop and ask questions. You could replay something you missed. We got to learn all of these skills. For me, video made learning more fun and allowed me to take control of my learning.

Social Media

“The main feature of social media is that they empower the end user to access, create, disseminate and share information easily in a user-friendly, open environment.”

I agree with this statement as well. During university I have learnt that I can learn from social media. With social media being an open environment you have so much access to resources and other people. This is where I have done a lot of my learning lately. I am able to connect with other people on twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. and learn from them.

 Conclusion

I am enjoying where technology is taking education. My favorite style of learning is blended learning. I enjoy having the connection with the teacher in a face to face way. I like how social media, text and video are integrated to allow an engaging way to present content. I love how accessible information is in blended learning.  I love how you learn at your own pace. It is a program that is made just for me. This is the style I learn best in and the style I would like to teach in.

A medium for me, a medium for you.

I’ve finally managed to pull myself away from reading all the awesome blogs posted this week. I found it so interested to read the varying opinions on different media and preferred media when it comes to learning and teaching. I found that I was able to connect with a lot of classmates on some or many different ideas.

Photo Credit: Dane Vandeputte Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dane Vandeputte Flickr via Compfight cc

Just like Liz and Kelsie I have to admit that I lean more towards text as a medium in which I prefer to learn from. Bates provides strong evidence as to why text has proven to stand the test of time. I liked that Bates commented on text as as essential medium for academic knowledge.  He mentions that text can provide us with more detail and I immediately thought about how we compare the book to the movie. I have yet to see a movie that is better than the book and I would bet that many of you feel the same way. This is because the book can express details relating to emotions, settings or experiences better than a video can.

One reason I like to learn from text is because I have the ability to go at my own pace and read it over as much as I need in order to understand. I prefer to have paper text to read from so that I can highlight, make notes and write questions in the margins as I read. I find that this helps me remember and understand what I am reading more. I must admit that although I prefer text I do not consider myself a reader. I don’t think I have finished a novel for my own reading pleasure since 2012 – I know…that’s insane (and a tad embarrassing). But I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise after saying I’m not a reader.

Photo Credit: matsuyuki Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: matsuyuki Flickr via Compfight cc

In terms of audio I can see the plus to creating it and using it, especially for students who may have difficulty reading text. Like Jess mentioned in her blog, I can see how it could be useful in learning a language so that you can understand the proper pronunciation of the text, however this would have to be combined with text which might make it difficult for some to manage. I like that you can pause and rewind audio and the fact that it can be taken along with you to listen to with your phone or in your car. I personally can’t seem to jump on board with the podcast learning/listening. I find that it is too difficult for me to focus on audio only which brings me to my next topic, video.

Photo Credit: Pricenfees Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Pricenfees Flickr via Compfight cc

I believe that videos are a great tool for learning, especially when learning certain skills. For example, if you wanted to learn how to work a power tool, a video might prove to be a lot more helpful than a manual. In terms of creating videos it does take time and you need to have the right tools in order to create a quality video that will get the content delivered in an appropriate way. I use a flip class model for my math class and provide video lessons for the students to watch as homework. I like that students can pause and rewind as well as watch the video as many times as they want. I feel like this is beneficial to them especially when it comes time for a final exam and they are expected to recall information from the first chapter. With a video lesson they are able to go back and watch the video to help refresh their memory.

As with everything else the medium we choose will vary depending on the content we are trying to deliver. If the content is more skill based, perhaps a video showing the skill can be used. For language courses maybe audio is the best. Regardless of the medium used, I know that for me I have to be in the right frame of mind in order to learn. I would imagine that this is the same for our students. I don’t know if the medium will make a different if students have other barriers such as lack of sleep, hunger or emotional factors getting in the way. We need to be cognizant of all of these barriers when choosing the appropriate medium and be willing to adapt and be flexible for our students. The better we understand our students and how they learn, the better we are able to choose a medium that is best suited for their learning needs.

Perhaps the best thing for the classroom is to have multiple media available in order to give students a choice. I don’t often provide a lot of choice but when I do it’s usually text and video. Do you offer media choices? How do you do it?


The Media Diaries: Five Short Stories of Five Good Friends

No. 1: The Wise Old Mentor

By Dplanet via Flickr

I’m a reader. My parents read to me when I was little, and before I actually could, I would pretend to read stories from the Western Producer on my dad’s knee. I played “music” from the Reader’s Digest Christmas Songbook at my mom’s piano. When letters slowly morphed into words, and words into ideas and stories, my life changed. I would stay up late reading Nancy Drew under my covers, occasionally checking my orange leather wristwatch to see how late it was. I didn’t want to be too tired for school the next day. Yep. That’s me. I think I loved school because I was a good reader and most of what I learned there came from textbooks. Big. Heavy. Books. I survived on painfully slow dial-up, and downloadable version of the Encyclopedia Britannica until I left home for university. Text remained my wise old mentor in this institution as well. Bates argues that text “is an essential medium for academic learning,” and I definitely have found this true in my experiences. It’s kind of difficult for me to imagine that it is unlikely “that books will survive in a printed format, because digital publication allows for many more features to be added, reduces the environmental footprint, and makes text much more portable and transferable.” But I suppose all wise old mentors die eventually, making room for new teachers, though their wisdom lives on.

No. 2: That friend who keeps you company while you run errands and doesn’t stop talking so you kind of stop listening once in a while

pink-jvcMusic and podcasts are comfortable pals of mine. Music has been in my life since my grandpa bought me a bright pink JVC CD player when I was 13, and I was introduced to Podcast last year by a good friend. I have a difficult time relaxing, doing hands-on-work or exercise in silence, so these two keep me company and I enjoy listening to them, even if I drift off on occasion. I don’t find that I learn anything particularly useful or interesting when we hang out. But if Pen or Video join us, then the conversations get juicy. So, I didn’t find it at all surprising when Bates said, “that students will often learn better from preprepared audio recordings combined with accompanying textual material (such as a web site with slides) than they will from a live classroom lecture.”

No. 3: The Diva

Mr. P, my former science teacher, was a huge fan of The Diva. We used to watch The Diva’s presentations on reproduction, chemical reactions, and uranium mines. The Diva thought she was so much better than Mr. Overheadprojector. One day, she was trying to show off with some fancy singing and animation on the topic of Meiosis. And the poor thing flopped. Sighs were heaved. Tears were shed. Minutes of lives were lost. But in history later that year, The Diva shared Schindler’s List. And so, rightfully found a place back at the top as a powerful, evocative celebrity. So, Bates’s thoughts that quality, free and engaging videos may not be easy for teachers to find brought this memory of The Diva’s career “lowlight” to the surface.

No. 4: The Nerd

You know that guy who is so passionate, that he scares people away? The nerd? I recently got set up with him by my EC&I 834 profs, Alec and Katia. Since then, we’ve been on a few dates. He’s pretty deep when you get to know him; he knows so much! And he can really challenge me, which I like. Sometimes he gets a little boring when he’s quizzing me and I really just want to hang out with Music and Podcast, or even The Diva. Still, he has a LONG list of strengths. He’s pretty good looking in most styles, organized, methodical, environmentally friendly, accommodating, and patient. Unfortunately, I think many of those strengths are left unappreciated because the ladies don’t take or have the time to get to know him. And once in a while he shuts you out for no apparent reason. That can definitely be a turn off.

“many teachers and instructors often have no training in or awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of computing as a teaching medium”  – Bates

No. 5: Ms. Social Butterfly

captureMs. Social Butterfly is one of my new teachers. We’ve been collaborating and constructing together for a little while now. Within the last year she encouraged me to blog and join Twitter. To be honest, I got a tad overwhelmed by Ms. Social Butterfly and we didn’t talk for almost six months. We just needed a break. We sat down for a Zoom session just over a month ago, and discussed boundaries. Now, I’m self-directing my learning, just like Bates said was possible. She will be an integral part of my ongoing professional development, and I’m glad that she’s teaching me again.

Challenge

Have you met any of these characters before? Do you have any characters to add to The Media Diaries? Would love to hear what they’ve been up to!


Extra, extra, read all about it…… or just watch the video!

downloadThis week our blog prompt asked us to look at pedagogical differences of various types of media. Like many other classmates, I will be looking back on my experiences as a student. I have always been challenged by reading text.  As a child I struggled learning to read, my mom even hired a reading tutor to alleviate my frustrations. Stephanie mentioned that in her undergrad she began to enjoy reading, for me the opposite I struggle reading chapters, my eyes get heavy and it all turns into a blur and I want to fall asleep.  I even experimented with Kurzwell, having it read to me, but the voices were too boring and I had a hard time following what was being said.

kurzweil-educational-systems-logo-300x132

Roxanne’s post, made me think back to my use of technology in my schooling experience, I recall having Mac computers in elementary school but we rarely used them.  I did manage to figure out how to use the Printshop program to make cards, banners and certificate.  In high school, I took a typing class but we used a typewriter and created cartoon pictures by following written directions of letters and spacing. Although I do recall, my English teacher had us go on the computer and practice typing with these boxes over our hands so we would learn where the keys were, I remember her saying hands on home row.  I did sign up for a Practical Applied Arts in grade 11 and 12; I managed to do all right in the computer class rotation.  We had small assignments such as internet scavenger hunts and sending emails.  I still use my Hotmail account that I created in that class, and lucky for me it was not dorky like powerpuffgirl@hotmail.com my younger cousin had to change his as his first email account was spongebobjtd@hotmail.com.  Teachers really did not incorporate much media into their classes maybe a video or a film on the old projector.

After reading the section 7.4 in the  Bates text I realize that video is a much richer medium than either text or audio. Video can be used as presentational material.  I have always been a visual learner and hands on learner, learning through pictures, demos, videos, and doing an activity.  When a teacher can not provide a learning experience for the class that’s when media comes into play. One thing that really stuck out to me is how Bates notes that video can substitute for a field visit, by:

  • providing students with an accurate, comprehensive visual picture , in order to place the topic under study in context;
  • demonstrating the relationship between different elements of a system under study
  • through the use of models, animations or simulations, to teach certain advanced scientific or technological concepts

I automatically thought of how Ms. Frizzle takes the students on an adventure but we the audience learn through media exposure to the video.

I believe that Roxanne makes a valid point that teachers need to be incorporating more technology and media into the classrooms, there is never enough. By allowing use of media and technology in the classroom it gets students ready for the real world and come to understand and explore the internet in a safe guided manner. Like Roxanne and Loraine I use Kahoot for changing up quizzes and assessment, Kahoot allows me to check for understanding while talking through correct answers.  The students even asked “can you make a Kahoot” or even to create their own.

As an adult learner in an online class, I am finding that technology is allowing me to connect and create with others who are not even near me. I enjoy everything that Alec and Katia share, I am also forever learning from my peers in the Google+ community.

Well friends please let me know which media type you learn best from! Even better share an media learning experience.

 


Blended learner = blended educator.

I’ve asked this before: what does my classroom look like?  Not in terms of engagement though, what is the balance of technology to traditional means of learning? Where do I fit on the blended learning spectrum? Why do I fit there? Am I doing it for me? Or am I doing it for the learners?

Pro-tip: it should be for the learners.

continuum-of-technology-based-teaching-2

Continuum of Technology-Base Teaching via OpenTextBC

Learning Preferences as an Educator

How does my classroom look in terms of print, audio, and video for digital resources? What is my typical practice and, therefore, preference? 70% of the time we’re using a PowerPoint to direct the flow of class, whether it is through discussions, lectures, or providing visual directions for activities. Within that 70%, we’re probably looking at an 80%-20% split of print-video (I provide the audio for most of the print work – lecturing – and this, typically, is not done digitally). But how does this sync up with my experiences from learning from digital resources? Do I emulate what I was exposed to when young? Or what worked best for me?

Learning Preferences as a Learner

What kind of learner was I even? What learner am I now? The different learning styles I was raised on were debunked, but for argument’s sake, let’s say I’m a kinesthetic, auditory/visual, and reading/written learner.

In a traditional classroom setting, when I was in high school at least, I learned best in the order of:

  1. Written and reading (to introduce content),
  2. kinesthetic (to try content) and;
  3. auditory (to explain and clarify content).though in a traditional classroom setting, at least this holds true for when I was in high school.

Now?

I need engagement and/or activities that keep me working. If the individual instructing isn’t enthused or invested, neither am I.

anyone

Anyone? via Giphy

To make matters worse, I typically need additional stimulation in order to stay focused, I need to doodle or have other things happening in order to stay on task. I frequently feel like people talk too slow, yet one of my biggest hurdles as an educator is to slow down the pace of my direct instruction. I find I may not even be looking at the instructor with poor body language/active listening skills – but I am (I swear). Hypocritically, when a student does this in my class I would probably question their engagement though.

Would I be a good student in my classroom today? I think so, my educating style is consistent with my learning style, but what about the evidence and overlap the style has with technology?

My classroom on the continuum

2f2766fb7d5da7e6231d9ac592175eb3

Benefits of Blended Learning via ELearningIndustry

Connecting the digital back to my classroom – my classroom falls into the blended variety (with flipped/hybrid elements) – and this “blending” checks off a lot of the needs I would’ve had as a learner! In my class, we utilize technology independently and frequently, but it is closely monitored/facilitated by the instructor (yours truly). When so much curricular content is available online, open and free, my role adjusts to that of a facilitator, helping students to synthesize information (because they will inevitably be exposed to it, with or without me). Many of the key concepts are covered by me prior to the students getting to pick a direction and run with it, so they require less pre-class work and a greater emphasis is placed on utilizing class time. With this methodology could I go completely online-based for my courses? Not until the evidence points that it shows a significant improvement in student-learning, right now, blended appears to be the best practice. Reducing costs is becoming a larger and larger priority, and blended learning helps makes that happen, I even use the digital medium to save paper (money and the environment, you’re welcome).

Several years from now, will my classroom look the same? Probably not. Not only may my assignment change, but so will the learners, as I mentioned previously, that’s what it’s all about. Fortunately, blended learning is versatile and adaptable in nature, and this may lend itself to evolving with the students without much transformational change. Perhaps we’ll regain the ability to spend more and we can invest in bio-technologies to use in the classroom to further enhance learning that may only be currently achieved in virtual labs? But maybe the virtual labs are more valuable so that we can drift towards MORE online-only learning?

Where does your class fit on the spectrum? If it’s blended, what modes do you use to make it blended? If it’s not blended, why? Are you doing it for you?

Let me know!
Logan Petlak


Forming Discerning Digital Disciples:                   A Pedagogical Calling in Catholic Education

​The Vatican has declared existing and emerging digital technologies as gifts from God to humanity; calling on all Catholics to ensure that the benefits they offer are put to service (Pope Benedict XVI, 2009).  How do we answer the Vatican’s call within the context of Catholic education?  In a world transformed by digital innovation, Catholic educators need to be “bold enough to acknowledge and embrace [our digital landscape] as a new missionary territory for the twenty-first century” (Zukowski, 2009, p.156).  It is imperative that twenty-first century pedagogy is built into Catholic education’s visioning, and that the transformational power of digital technologies is leveraged to enrich our mission.  This will require a readiness and willingness on the part of Catholic educators to stretch their pedagogy by stepping outside of traditional approaches to serve our youth, and empower them to enter a wide world of possibility within a digital milieu.  If our intention is to have students grow in their faith beyond our school walls, we must form, inform, and transform them into discerning digital disciples; fanning into flame a thriving Catholic presence in a digital age.
Picture
​“We can no longer ignore the opportunities that exist for our learners today.  Our job is to create a [Catholic] education system that is better than the one we grew up in, as will be the duty of the next generation of educators.  We must embrace what is right in front of us” (Couros, 2016).  Pope John Paul II (2002) challenged the whole Church, which inherently includes Catholic schools, to “bravely cross this new threshold”, as “hanging back timidly from fear of technology or for some other reason is not acceptable, in view of the very many positive possibilities” (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002).  The Vatican contends that the Church needs to understand the Internet (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002); as an integral part of the Church, it is imperative that Catholic educators understand the Internet as well.  The dramatic proliferation of new digital technologies in our society ought to have an equally dramatic enhancement in "pedagogical strategies designed to address their ethical and responsible use within a uniquely Catholic framework" (Catholic Curriculum Corporation, 2009).  “With or without us, the digital civilization is forming a new way of being human” (Zukowski, 2014).  Jesus was known to “keep abreast of what was shaping the culture around Him” (Kandiah, 2015); likewise, Catholic education must keep abreast and play a leadership role in helping students discover what it means to be a Catholic in a digital age.  
Picture
Photo Credit: David Goldman (AP)
​While young people are often more familiar with digital technologies and social networks than their teachers, Catholic educators must not confuse this comfort for knowledge.  Despite the fact that students were born in the age of digital innovation, they are not digital natives.  The deceiving term of "digital natives" suggests that youth already know how to use the digital technologies in their hands in an ethical and constructive manner; further suggesting digital literacy is not a priority to integrate into curriculum.  However, digital literacy is something that needs to be purposefully taught, modelled, and practiced—it is not innate, as the term “native” would lead one to believe, because "no one is born a native speaker of 'digital' the way no one is born a native speaker of any language" (Lowery, 2013).  The Vatican recognizes this as well:
​Young people, as has often been said, are the future of society and the Church. Good use of the Internet can help prepare them for their responsibilities in both. But this will not happen automatically. The Internet is not merely a medium of entertainment and consumer gratification. It is a tool for accomplishing useful work, and the young must learn to see it and use it as such. (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002).
Having the latest smartphone, or being active on Facebook and Instagram, does not denote that students possess the essential twenty-first century knowledge, skills, and virtues for navigating our connected digital culture critically, effectively, nor faithfully.  “As society becomes more technologically advanced, students will have increased difficulty finding success [in the future]… unless they possess the skills [and Catholic virtues] to use those technologies appropriately” (Okoye, 2010, p. 3).  Even if students never fully adopt the Catholic faith, it is the Catholic virtues that will guide them in their future.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon educators to form, inform, and transform today’s youth into a generation of discerning digital disciples. 
​Catholic educators have the unique opportunity to “teach boldly the way modelled by Jesus” (Groome, 2013, p.149).  In His teaching, Jesus would use examples from everyday life (such as fishing and harvesting); His pedagogy involved connecting His teachings to people’s lived reality.  In essence, Jesus’ teaching was rooted in real life, and Catholic educators ought to follow His eloquent example.  The lived reality of young people today is that they are immersed in, and are therefore formed by, a digital culture.  Catholic education has an opportunity to participate in that formation, and seize the opportunity to make education relevant to our youth’s lived realities in the twenty-first century.  
Picture
​According to a Pew Research study, ninety-two percent of teens report going online daily, and seventy-one percent are active on more than one social networking platform (Lenhart, 2015).  Their phones are often the first thing they look at upon waking up, and the last thing they look at before bed.  A key area of Pope Francis’ papacy is mobilizing youth, and he is acutely aware of the importance that digital technologies play in this vision (Scammell, 2016).  Youth are the future of society and the Church; if we want to reach them, we need to meet (encounter) them where they are.  Pope Francis models this digital encounter by being present on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.  Likewise, if Catholic education wants to be part of the conversation, it needs to move to where the conversation is taking place, lead by example, and harness the power of technology and social networking to build the reign of God within a digital milieu.
Picture
​The Church considers education in the area of digital media and technology not only an opportunity, but a need (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002).  This opportunity and need is beyond developing a technical skill set; it is about building the capacity to use technology from a Catholic moral perspective… as a gift from God to humanity.  The Church has spoken of the “urgent duty” Catholic schools have to educate youth about Catholic virtues in their social communication and interactions (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 1971).  In today’s digital culture, wherein students are increasingly social in online spaces, and wherein their messages travel faster and spread further throughout the digital landscape, the urgency is even greater. 
​Teaching about the Internet and new technology involves much more than teaching techniques; young people need to learn how to function well in the world of cyberspace, make discerning judgments according to sound moral criteria about what they find there, and use the new technology for their integral development and the benefit of others (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002).  
Picture
​How do Catholic educators ensure they are forming a generation that makes “discerning judgments according to sound moral criteria [online]” and “uses technology for their integral development and the benefit of others”?  It starts with moving away from learning about something, to learning to be something: students need to learn how to be digital disciples.  In fact, one of the central roles of a Catholic educator—and an integral dimension of the identity of Catholic schools—is to mentor youth toward authentic discipleship.  “Simply waiting to react to the next inappropriate misuse of technology is no longer an option if all Catholic stakeholders are to leverage and realize the full potential of these technologies in their schools” (Catholic Curriculum Corporation, 2009).  A proactive approach must be taken to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and virtues they need to be discerning disciples within a digital civilization.  
 In Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus speaks to a crowd of people, sharing with them eight special attitudes that we ought to have as disciples of Christ.  These special attitudes (known as the eight beatitudes) lead one to experience happiness and blessings from God.  If Jesus were to speak to a crowd of young people today, I believe he would encourage the same attitudes he preached about over 2,000 years ago, emphasizing the critical importance of these beatitudes also flowing into their digital lives.  I believe the beatitudes are a powerful idea/framework for building discerning digital disciples, which is what inspired me to create the visual below (Digital Beatitudes).  It features a host of ethical and moral questions for youth to discern when reflecting upon their use of digital technologies and their demonstration of virtues in online spaces.
Picture
Click to enlarge and download.
​Why is it critical that Catholic education play a leading role in the meaningful formation of discerning digital disciples?  “The Internet is a door opening on a glamorous and exciting world with a powerful formative influence; but not everything on the other side of the door is safe and wholesome and true” (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002).  Furthermore,
​The Internet is a hyperlinked, digital environment, [whose] non-linear structure provides users grappling with a topic or problem the means to ‘surf’ broadly or to dig deeply through links that connect all sorts of text, audio and video resources. This places responsibility for interpretation [discernment] more heavily on Internet users (Lytle, n.d.).
​The responsibility also rests heavily on the educators of these Internet users.  As previously mentioned, youth are not digital natives that will automatically resist “the easy path of uncritical passivity, peer pressure, and commercial exploitation” (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2000); rather, they need to build their capacity for critical interpretation to make faithful moral judgments and choices.  Discernment is an integral part of nurturing informed conscience formation, which is the pedagogical calling of every Catholic educator; this conscience formation must extend to the digital lives of our students as well.  
​A quality Catholic education, with an intentional focus on digital literacy and discernment, should render firewalls obsolete.  That being said, many schools (both separate and public) are intent on blocking sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  The Pontifical Council for Social Communications (2002) has said that “a merely censorious attitude on the part of the Church toward the media is neither sufficient nor appropriate.”  So why are many schools so consumed with blocking and so reserved when it comes to educating about the Internet?  It is imperative that all schools talk, not block; educate, not abdicate.  Catholic schools have the added advantage of integrating the faith dimension to elevate moral judgment among youth online; guiding them to learn to discern, and harmonize faith and reason.  Instead of asking “what sites/apps do we need to block?” Catholic schools ought to be asking “what knowledge, skills, and virtues (beatitudes) do we need to develop?”   
​Society tends to look at the internet as a dangerous place where youth have access to explicit content.  Yes, the internet certainly does have a plethora of explicit content… but so does television, magazines, radio, etc.; even our modern culture in general.  The material exists even if we irrationally took the internet away.  It is impossible for Catholic schools to block youth from every immoral artifact on the Internet, but it is possible to educate youth about how to faithfully discern and navigate a world infiltrated with this kind of material.  In essence, Catholic educators need to view the Internet as “a gift evoking a call”, as opposed to a “threat provoking fear” (Zukowski, 2009, p.156).  Catholic schools must provide ample opportunity for students to experience the positive power of digital technologies and reclaim digital spaces for making a positive difference.  As youth continue to be immersed in, and impacted by, a digital culture, “success will likely be measured by how effectively Catholic educators can help them to develop and discern what is true, good and beautiful with the human heart, an informed conscience and the critical filter of the Catholic social teachings” (Catholic Curriculum Corporation, 2009).  This does not require firewalls, as firewalls are no match for a truly informed conscience.
Picture
​Catholic schools need to take the Internet from being an engine for consumption to an engine for virtuous contribution and creation.  As a global collective, some 3.6 trillion words are composed every day on e-mail and social media (Thompson, 2013).  In an overwhelmingly secular culture, how many of those 3.6 trillion words reflect a Catholic voice?  Likely not as many as there ought to be.  Herein lies both opportunity and need.  Some people doubt that their online presence matters and believe the cybersphere is already too abundant with information.  Others think that online spaces have an impenetrable dominant voice, deeming online participation pointless.  But online presence does matter.  Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop” (as cited by Le Joly & Chaliha, 2002, p. 122).  The digital ocean truly is less without our Catholic drops.  “The fact that so many of us are writing—sharing our ideas, good and bad, for the world to see—has changed the way we think… and that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge (Thompson, 2013).  If used wisely and intentionally, our youth can also use this medium for the advancement of a thriving Catholic voice and genuine Catholic beatitudes online.  This is why it is imperative that Catholic educators provide opportunities for students to develop their informed conscience, faithful voice and digital literacy, so that they, too, can meaningfully participate in our connected world.
​The two-way interactivity of the Internet is blurring the old distinction between those who communicate and those who receive what is communicated… creating a situation in which, potentially at least, everyone can do both. This is not the one-way, top-down communication of the past. (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002).   
​Every voice and every idea matters; even if the audience is small—Catholic educators need to empower student voice in our digital age.  Traditionally, youth had a limited voice, as publishing was primarily reserved for academics, authors and journalists.  But today, with digital technologies, young people can get their ideas out there—possibly around the globe—and are able to have a voice in a way they once could not.  “You don't need to write a book to influence a culture. Your Facebook status, your tweets and… your blog posts could be a means by which you are able to offer up a Christian perspective on life, culture and justice” (Kandiah, 2015).  Catholic education needs to embrace this new reality and what it affords our learners and our faith!  
​Consider...the positive capacities of the Internet to carry religious information and teaching beyond all barriers and frontiers. Such a wide audience would have been beyond the wildest imaginings of those who preached the Gospel before us... Catholics should not be afraid to throw open the doors of social communications to Christ, so that his Good News may be heard from the housetops of the world” (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2000).
Pope Francis (2014) has praised the Internet for being a medium for Christian witness that can reach the peripheries of human existence, and had said, “By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8)”.  Again, the Internet is a fundamental aspect of the lived reality of youth today; “preparing students to enter this Internet frontier grounded in the Catholic ethos, digital dialogic skills, [and the beatitudes] enables them to be witnesses, if not missionaries, of sorts, in the new [digital] cultural context” (Zukowski, 2009, p.159).  Furthermore, for those youth who have lost or fallen away from their faith, a thriving Catholic presence online could be a place where they receive daily reminders of God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and mercy.
​Catholic schools also need to focus on leveraging the Internet to build community.  Pope Francis (2014) professed “It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters… The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people.”  The Internet offers Catholic schools unprecedented opportunities to reach out and connect their students with people outside of their immediate communities, presenting the “remarkable capacity to overcome distance and isolation, bringing people into contact with like-minded persons of good will who join in virtual communities of faith to encourage and support one another” (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2002).  Pope Francis (2016) has further acknowledged the immense potential that social networks offer in facilitating relationships, encounter, solidarity, and promoting the good of society.  These encounters through digital connections can also empower students to advance social justice both locally and globally.  “When students are able to listen to the people directly affected by development issues, they are more likely to engage them as equal partners in the quest for social justice and equality, than the passive recipients of charity" (Catholic Curriculum Corporation, 2009).  Digital technologies, for all intents and purposes, can act as a catalyst to bring humanity closer together; promoting peace and justice in our connected, yet broken world.
This post ends in a prayer; a prayer for Catholic education to embrace digital technologies and become a model for the future of education.  Heavenly Father, we pray for the intercession of St. Isadore of Seville, patron saint of the Internet; help us to honour the Internet as a gift from God to humanity, and answer the call of ensuring that the benefits it offers are put to service for our students.  May we guide our students to use the Internet as a tool for seeking wisdom, and an instrument for our Catholic presence online to flourish and multiply.  Jesus, may what we do in our classrooms always begin with Your inspiration and continue with Your powerful help.  May our pedagogy follow Your eloquent example, and connect to the lived realities of our students.  May Your spirit guide us in developing future generations of discerning digital disciples.  This is our prayer in Your name.  Amen.
Picture

Can an educator become YouTube famous? Creating, comparing and critiquing an educational Vlog.

Part 1: Trying to Create a Vlog

petlak-tube-logo

YouTube Logo via Wikimedia Commons

Vlogging

I think I would be an engaging vlogger. I mean… I’m an engaging teacher (I think), so it should be an easy transition, right? I watch YouTube vlogs frequently, I bet I can create something similar. Maybe I can take advantage of the billion monthly users of YouTube for networking? But what avenue do I select to produce and createPinnacle studio is amazing and is what I used growing up, but a new version would cost money… so let’s try something free, while becoming comfortable with the medium in which I would be delivering the content anyway. Therefore, the means (for me) to create a vlog of sorts is through creating a video using YouTube and YouTube Editor! Clearly I will need to use a program like movie maker prior to upload and editing, but what can I do with YouTube Editor? What are the strengths and limitations of it? Let’s try it out and keep it short (under one minute is my goal).

 

Video: (To come later)

Here are some highlights had I finished my video!

Strengths

  1. Includes links to resources and content.
  2. Personalizes information consumption (it’s like you’re talking with someone).
  3. Condenses into a short chunk.

Weaknesses

  1. Reading is important! And it doesn’t (really) occur in this medium!
  2. Does obligation to create lead to staleness of content-delivery; bound to a particular character and the inevitable monotony? What if people don’t like me? What if I don’t like me?
  3. Expensive/time-consuming at start-up to establish professional content.

Potential for Teachers as a Content Tool

All I needed to create this is basically a script and a means to record video/audio (the latter of which may be mildly expensive/time-consuming, I just used my piano). Then I can add YouTube essentials to the video, like an ending part of my video with links to other videos? Ultimately, the YouTube Editor basically better utilizes the YouTube method of content delivery.

Part 2 – Comparing my Vlog to others

Rather than my video, let’s look/compare it to an example of a professional video, from one of my favourites, the vlogbrothers. Watch the video below!

Vlog Brothers: Understanding Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration
https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=qBvSSsi2vwg
An educator replicating Crash Course w/ Petlak

Can I replicate this? What does one need? And, as Kyle and Natalie pointed out to me, do I even need to recreate it? We (educators) can throw in content and media (all created by others) organically throughout instruction.

Let’s say, hypothetically, I do decide to create my own. Creating a resource for other teachers in SK for health and environmental science could be very valuable and not only save them time, but also allow me to teach concepts if I’m missing due to extracurricular involvement. If I have created enough resources and taught the content several times prior to creation of the module as well, it should be easy to pick up and go (I’ve been writing the script every time I teach it), assuming I’ve accumulated the above and established comfort with the module medium.

But what about the impact on student learning?

In theory, it should be very positive.

Once the nuances of the format are grasped and the user establishes comfort, not only should the format add value to facilitating the content, but may even allow for greater engagement in the content, finding a balance with the right media.

Professional Quality

“Once the nuances of the format are grasped”, I say above, like that’s supposed to be easy! If professional quality is to be established, for starters, professional devices are required. Next, if you look at any of the Crash Courses, you’ll see no shortage of additional people involved in the production of the video; script-writers, fact-checkers, camera-person, producer, animators and someone to compose or create original music. As a vlogger on a budget, I have to do all of these. Unless I talk to Andres and he can take care of animation while I take care of sound.

BUT WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE?!

It’s not like educators ever wear multiple hats, right? (Wrong.)

Devil’s advocate: as educators, we are morally obligated to continue learning, so dive in.

Conclusion

The start-up may be difficult, much like Justine addresses in her post! I’ve been making movies for fun since I was young so my experience with the medium is likely greater than most educators, so some of you may find the learning curve is steep and this is very time-consuming (even I found my limits, and it can be frustrating when it’s just not as good as professional vloggers). So, find your boundaries, and push your technological literacy limits (within reason).

Could you see yourself as a vlogger? Is it hard to establish confidence in the creation of this media? Do we even need to learn it?
Questions, comments, feedback – let me know!

– Logan Petlak

 

 


My thoughts on Adobe Spark

Hello friends, this week I figured I would check out all the hype with the content creation tool Adobe Spark. I had a lot of fun playing around making my own Adobe Page.  I used it to present my findings. final It was super simple and easy to share to my blog.  I would say that I played around with it for about 30 minutes.  In that time I walked away from my computer and it saved my page for when I came back.
Click here to check out the page I made My thoughts on Adobe Spark

I also made a post.  It was super simple, I found a quote and with just a few pushes of a button, I was able to create this cool looking meme.

adobe-spark

Final thoughts on Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is pretty cool.  You can easily upload to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or just use it as a photo editor.

Pros

  • free
  • easy to use
  • a tool for everyone
  • no download or install
  • high quality end result
  • 300,000 royalty free images to use

Cons

  • Need a up to date computer to use the video feature
  • mobile is only available for Iphone

I hope you find a few minutes to check out Adobe Spark.  From this moment forward I would much rather use Adobe Spark than Powerpont or Prezi.  I find Powerpoint to be so very plain and Prezi makes me motion sick haha!  Let me know your experiences!!

 


What else is out there?


I am always looking forward to finding new ways to my engage students. This week I was excited to see all of these new programs I could use and got to choose one to try. But which one should I try first? After reading Chapter 7 of the Bates textbook   my question was answered for me.

                “One of the arts of teaching is often finding the best match between media and desired learning outcomes.”

I love using videos to introduce a new topic. I am constantly looking for attention grabbing videos on youtube that get my desired outcome. When I am feeling ambitious I do make my own videos on iMovie to show what happened with our leprechaun trap, to introduce myself at the beginning of the year, or make dance videos for our project in the dance unit.

 

The problem with this is it takes me an extremely long time to edit. I am putting hours in for a 2 minute video. There has to be a better way to do this.

I was happy to see that there were other options for making videos on the list provided. I needed to try one. I went with Animoto which “creates short, appealing videos quick and easy.” Perfect! I had the perfect topic, my baby boy. This is what I came up with.

 

As Alec and Katia described it did indeed make short, appealing videos. Animoto was quick and easy to use. The longest part was taking the pictures from my phone and importing them onto the computer.

How easy was it you may ask, I will walk you through it.

                Step one- create an account

                Step 2- Choose your video style

                Step 3- Choose your theme

                Step 4- Import your pictures

                Step 5- Add your captions

                Step 6- Pick your music

                Step 7- Preview and download.

The whole process took me about 10 minutes start to finish.  I am then left with a nice memory video. The final product looks great.

                Let’s Compare

Animoto

  • Easy to use
  • Does not require much exploring
  • Finished product looks great with n0 editing
  • Does not take long time to create a movie
  • Harder to personalize (that I could see couldn’t add in different transitions, or choose duration of the clips)
  • Would only use this for pictures

iMovie

  • Harder to use
  • Takes time to explore
  • Versatile
  • Can be very creative with your videos
  • Cool effects

My Conclusion

I would use Animoto again. It is very fast and easy to make videos. I would use it to put together pictures. This could be used for assemblies, parent teacher interviews, showing student work etc. I will still continue to use iMovie to make my videos for teaching and videos that would not just be a slide show.