Category Archives: ECI 834

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.

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


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

 

 


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.

 

 

To Use or Not to Use

Our group has decided to use google classroom for our prototype. I have heard great things about this LMS (Learning Management System) but have never tried it. This week gave me the perfect opportunity to try it out. Google classroom is new to me and I had no idea where to start.

What is google classroom?

According to Wikipedia

“Google Classroom is a blended learning platform for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way.”

Photo Credit: lizzieisdizzy Flickr via Compfight cc

My Exploration

I started by watching our Jan.24 class. I had no idea how to even set up an account. With watching, emailing Alec and seeking help in the google+ community , I finally figured out how to get onto google classroom as a teacher (thank you everyone for your help). I then explored adding assignments, announcements etc. However I found this to be a false trial as I had no students. I then enlisted the help of my sister (a fellow teacher) who uses google classroom. She kindly gave me her login and I got to explore how google classroom worked with students. I was able to see how students could interact with assignments, how they could comment with questions and how you can see students’ progress. I also enjoyed seeing that an educator can mark students work. After seeing the teachers point of view I wanted to see how students could interact with google classroom. I used youtube to help me with this.

I enjoyed exploring the LMS our group will be using for our prototype.

What do I think?

Photo Credit: clipartillustration Flickr via Compfight cc

Overall I was happy with this LMS. With anything I did find some pros and cons.
I found quite a few pros to this program. I am excited to be able to work with it.

Pros

  1. Easy to use- Google Classroom has an easy to follow layout. It is easy for teachers to post assignments, grade work and track student progress. It is also simple enough for students to add and edit their work. With a little instruction this would be a great resource to use in a classroom.
  2. Can see students’’ work- A big part of teaching is seeing our students process. Google classroom allows you to do just that. It allows you to track students’ progress. You can see who takes extra time, or the process students are doing to complete an assignment.
  3. It is mobile- Since google classroom is online students and teachers can use it anywhere. It can be used for homework assignments. If a student misses a class they can find everything they need on google classroom. It can be used as a platform for an online class or it can be used in the classroom.
  4. It is paperless.
  5. Versatile- Google classroom does not only allow you to post an assignment. Students can work on their assignments. They can ask questions and interact with their teacher. A teacher can insert their resources for students. They can add announcements as well. Google classroom can be used for a number of reasons like an online class or a place for communication for a team. The number of possibilities is endless with this LMS.

Cons

  1. Not everyone can use it – I work in a division where a gsuite is not given to us. Therefore, it took a long time to get onto google classroom and this is something that will take a while for me to set up in the future. It is frustrating that you need the gsuite. I found this is a LMS that not every teacher has access to. If I was not taking this class and was given a domain to use, I would not be able to use google classroom. This is something I am talking to my division about as they are starting to give teachers access while they are introducing chrome books to our schools. Also all students need a gmail account to access this which is something not everyone has.
  2. Not for younger kids- I teach grade 1 right now and I think this program would be very hard to use with a class younger than grade 3. I would prefer seesaw. It is much more user friendly for the little people as it includes pictures, does not require students to type in a logon. However, I would still try it to see how it went.

Overall I am very pleased with google classroom. I am looking forward to using it for the prototype for grade 3 students. This is something I would like to use in the future and I am looking forward to it being introduced into my division.

LMS or VLE? Don’t matter to me! Canvas? Let’s see.

aladdin-shopkeep

If you guessed: “Aladdin”, you are right. Aladdin Shopkeeper picture via Pinterest

Come on down, stop on by, and today we’ll decide, an LMS to tryyyyyyyy!

Guess the reference and forever have the song stuck in your head for this blog post.

Decisions, decisions

In determining which learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE) to try out, I immediately tried to establish my criteria for determining which LMS best fits my ideologies. The LMS should:

  1. Be free, support open content and allow for my course to become publicly available. Reflecting on the creation of MOOCs and open content in the short history of educational technology helped remind me of this.
  2. Allow for easy posting/sharing of videos, images, notes, and updates.
  3. Have a user-friendly interface for students that remains available to them at the conclusion of the course (kind of a continuance on my first point. Audrey Watters, hackeducation, addressed the problem that, in some courses,  “students would lose access at the end of class“, so I want it to be a priority that the content, discussions, and sharing would always be available.
  4. Bonus: does it have any cool additional features/apps that set it apart from others?

Upon doing some additional (beyond-class) research and observing the list of mediums presented in class, I decided to go with Canvas. It’s important to note, however, that I have a hard time segregating one LMS from another as most share the same basic functionality (assignments, discussion, assessment, etc.), ultimately the content and learning within the course is our focus. The LMS is the wrapping, not the present. Whether we are talking assignment submission and distribution of modules, these concepts should be included, so it’s not really a knock on other LMS when it is the foundation of their design.


Exploring Canvas (Instructure)canvas-by-instructure

To begin, I got lost finding out where to actually go to get a class started. The fortunate side of this, was that I ended up exploring more of the depth of Canvas as a whole.

It offers MOOCs!

That being said, the amount of MOOCs are quite limited… I was hoping to find one on music, but came up with online one clear-cut music one: Open Mic Songwriting, and many of you know, I can already write a song.

Arc was another function that allowed for the sharing of videos within the course, keeping track of who had watched the video, how long, and allowed them to comment and discuss (a feature that could likely be completed if you simply embedded a YouTube video as well).

Bridge was another function that is apparently “stops yawning” and is “engaging” but I got lost in several paragraphs of marketing/promotion that I couldn’t track down what it actually was.

I can make my courses public! One of my requirements is apparently confirmed and I would be able to publish my course upon completion or when I felt it was ready. Additionally, as I poked around with assessment and assignments, I can import and export marks and data as needed into the system which may even lead to easy transfer of using formative assessment sites like Socrative and Kahoot (which export excel files), all I would need to do is convert the file to a .csv and fiddle with some student-name/assignment name work!

canvas public domain.png

Screenshot

The website appears to be very user-friendly and includes many of the requirements I would typically have for assignments, group work, and due dates that I would attempt to achieve in a regular class. Uploading of assignments, tracking of attendance, quiz-delivery all seem readily accessible and usable for an educator, with support and tips abundant throughout the course development process.

Final Grades
Open-Source and Availability of Content  4.5/5
I removed some marks due to the fact that it tries to create almost a dependence on its own apps like Bridge and Arc. It does have easy overlap with Creative Commons which lends itself to better and easier open sourcing of content.

Functionality 4.5/5
Has all basic functions I would have expected to see in an LMS.

User-Friendly 4/5
There were initial hiccups in the start-up that slowed me down, but I imagine after working with the students briefly the classroom would function easily.

Additional Features 3/5
There doesn’t appear to be anything too mind-bending or revolutionary for Canvas in comparison what I’ve seen from other learning management systems. Arc and Bridge appear to tell you how great they are, but my understanding of them seem pretty straight-forward and achievable through other avenues.

Closing Thoughts
If I were to use a specific learning management system, and not the hybrid I have in mind for my project, I would actively consider using Canvas. It combines a lot of the ideologies I referenced above in a satisfactory manner and I felt very comfortable using it once I got started!

What learning management systems do you suggest?
Note: After my ECI834 classmates provide some reviews I’ll be sure to update this blog with their reviews of other LMS, so you can compare between each!

Was my evaluation of Canvas on the mark?

Share in the comments!

– Logan Petlak


Transformers: The Digitizers Evolve

Wandy’s latest blockbuster hit, Transformers: The Digitizers Evolve, is set to open in theaters in April 2017. We sat down with Wandy to ask her about her inspiration for this new film.

Q: What inspired such a different direction for this film?

W: For the last 20 years, educators have been incorporating technology in their classrooms. The integration may be as simple as using the internet as a research tool, or as complex as blended learning as a means to achieve personal goals. I thought that a great Transformer character would be a “Digitizer.” An educator who is driven to use technology in transformative ways. They have many tools at their disposal like social media, apps, open education courses, and creative software, so they can constantly change shape to facilitate the learning needs of their students. It might be the best Transformer to date!

Photo Credit: cea via Flickr
The Digitizers in the film appear to be regular robot teachers, until they transform! With the help of coffee as fuel, of course. Photo Credit: cea via Flickr

Q: What evolution can we expect to see the from the Digitizers?

W: The Digitizers are faced with the challenge of thinking about the mere mortals, or students, around them as individuals capable of learning and creating independently based on passion areas if they have the skills, tools, and support to do so. This shift in mindset is difficult as the Digitizers have become so accustomed to protecting the young humans, that they fail to see their strengths.

Q: Fans of the franchise are excited to discuss these ideas on social media platforms. Have you been able to connect with them?

W: Absolutely! I love hearing from them, and they’ve really inspired me to push the limits of what I originally thought the Digitizers would be capable of. Roxanne Leung shared What is Blended Learning? on Twitter and that gave me ideas to get the ball rolling. Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell shared Will Blended Learning Fulfill its Disruptive Potential on the EC&I 834 Google+ Community,  which sparked lots of thoughtful conversation with other fans.

Q: What future projects do you have in mind?

W: Well, I’ve always had a passion for music, and with the inspiration of this latest film and its fans, I would like to create a prototype for a blended learning music class. There would be both synchronous and asynchronous components. I haven’t decided what type of platform might work best, but I’d be interested in getting some input from your readers!

Q: Do you have anyone to work on this project with?

W: So far, I haven’t encountered anyone else who is interested in a blended music class prototype, but I’d be interested in working with someone who also shares this passion. Maybe this interview will spark someone’s interest!

“I’d be interested in working with someone who also shares this passion.”

Q: Do you think that you will be able to transform this class with the help of blended learning?

W: Like the Digitizers in my film, I’m going to have to make sure that I reflect on my philosophy of education and make pedagogical choices that empower and engage students. Like Tony Bates says in Teaching in a Digital Age,

“What is the role of the classroom teacher when students can now increasingly study most things online?”

I haven’t worked through what this will look like exactly, but I want the change in platform to be meaningful to students.

Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us today.

W: Not a problem.

You can help Sarah choose an appropriate blended learning platform for her next project by completing the survey below.


(re)Creating a virtual educator.

What will an online class look like with Mr. Petlak?  What will an online Biology class look like with Mr. Petlak? Are labs done in person? Do students gather their own supplies? What balance of instructional strategies maximizes distance learning? Is content more important than relationships?

petlak to screen.jpg

How do we replicate the left to be delivered like the right? – Computer Screen via FreeGreatPicture

If you don’t know me, relationships make my classroom work (I think). It’s my foundation for learning, but how do I make that happen online, through a screen? Historically, I would argue I entertain to engage, but I think there is the potential to get caught up in engagement and miss out on more content, is content the priority online?

Researching Online Learning

In my digging, I found an article detailing best practices which provides great reminders when planning for distance learning:

  1. Visibility – students may get caught up in text and forget the teacher is a presence in the digital classroom. Be sure to maintain visibility.
  2. Organization and Analysis – plan out course well in advance of offering it, provide timely feedback and be open to constructive criticism of your course.
  3. Compassionate – understanding the requirements of a teacher may actual be more personal than in a traditional classroom because some voiceless students may now have one.
  4. Leader-by-example – model proper behaviour and foster connections with students.

The same article then provides a list of strategies that are critical to online teaching:

“ Student Led Discussions  Students Find and Discuss Web Resources  Students Help Each Other Learn (Peer Assistance)  Students Grade Their Own Homework Assignments  Case Study Analysis”
Bill Pelz, (My) Three Principles of Online Pedagogy , 2008

“ Group problem-solving and collaborative tasks;  Problem-based learning;  Discussion;  Case-based strategies;  Simulations or role play;  Student-generated content;  Coaching or mentoring;  Guided learning;  Exploratory or discovery;  Lecturing or teacher-directed activities;  Modeling of the solution process; and  Socratic questioning.”

– “Best Practices in Online Teaching Strategies“, Hanover Research Council, 2009

How similar do the above sound to an Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt course?

My course

Upon reading plans of Adam and co., perhaps my plan here is a bit too detailed at this point, I normally share Aimee’s approach of crushing it all at once later on (I definitely overdid this post, so if you’ve stuck it out this long, congratulations). With this information in mind, what are my initial thoughts and rationale for an online course?

  • I am going to use Zoom to record videos and screen-share in the recorded videos for any sort of drawing I will draw on the touchscreen (I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab) and deliver the content asynchronously. Additional modules would place an emphasis on discussion.
  • I intend to use my website for students to follow along with content, post notes and presentations as well as class plan.
    My rationale behind this is to open up learning opportunities for any students interested. I have background in Office 365 and Google classroom but intend to make the work as available as possible for students, educators, and parents – Office 365 and Google classroom would require a student login. 
  • The audience will be grade twelve (ages sixteen to eighteen), and the students should have access to all content assuming they have a WiFi connection and a device to utilize it with.
  • Assessment will be completed using Socrativeformatively and summatively. Due to the asynchronous session, the Socrative will be made available for the week and close at the week’s conclusion so that outside learners may still observe content, but weekly work, attendance and accountability for in-class learners will therefore be mandatory.
  • Communication will be completed via email. Or via synchronous sessions when available.
  • Course content/learning objectives will be from the AP Biology© curriculum so that I can use it in my class!
  • Activities will include: brief video lecture for content (~3-5mins), hands-on activity to enhance understanding (~2-4 mins), and subsequent sharing of videos using an open Flipgrid discussion thread or typed discussion through commenting on the YouTube post, teacher access with mobile device should allow for consistent and quick response times.
    Potential concern: sharing video responses online and making this public, students may be susceptible to online risks/harassment. As such, they will be informed beforehand, however, use of Flipgrid seeks to eliminate ease of harassment through simply YouTube commenting. 
  • Students will require device-access (that has a camera) and a strong enough bandwidth for videos to be watched and shared (YouTube).
  • Subtitles will be provided in informative videos, allowing EAL students to observe spelling of terms. The asynchronous nature of the course will also allow students of different ability (technological or learning-wise), will be able to pause on important points. (Important points in the video will also be provided in the information location of the post so that students can go to specific learning points in the video.
  • The content will attempt to include different cultural perspectives in the context of the work. Ie. different explanations for natural phenomena beyond western science.


Closing Thoughts

Plans and reality may deviate slightly, but hopefully this delivering of course content will not only allow for a larger audience to become informed on the content, but also interact with the instructor and others through commenting and sharing. Links can be made available on the YouTube video shared, but also link to my webpage. Ideally, once background content is established, students can take this personalized learning and make it more personal, allowing it to grow form there in a direction of their choosing through inquiry and questions evolving from content discussion.

The ongoing question I intend to ask in the delivery/creation of this content is “am I happy with the decisions I’ve made”, and “are there times I can avoid making a video of myself or simply use open resources”? A great example of the type of video I would hope to create for the content delivery is included.

 

Thoughts, comments, critiques? Let me know!

– Logan Petlak


Connecting to my students lives through blended learning

Why Treaty Education and blended learning?

I teach at George Gordon Education Centre which is located on George Gordon First Nation. In our school we take pride in bringing culture into the school environment. We are constantly incorporating our students’ culture into our celebrations, daily lessons and activities. It is very important for me to do this with our online/blended learning prototype as well

We will be doing our prototype on grade 3 Treaty Education. This is an area where I have never used technology to teach. I am beginning to find that my students love working on

ipads, or on the computer. They are very engaged when I can incorporate technology into a lesson. I am excited to learn how I can expand into this area and use more technology in my lessons. I want to go beyond writing on the smart board and showing a video on youtube. I want to allow my students to create and explore with the use of ipads and computers.

Photo Credit: kcdcloud29 Flickr via Compfight cc

 

What is Treaty Education?

How can I accomplish this?

Treaty Education is cross curricular so we will be covering a number of different outcomes and indicators in different subject areas. In my module I will be discussing the inquiry question; How have the lifestyles of First Nations people changed prior to and after the signing of treaties? I will be focusing on the area of living on the reserve. I want to talk to the people on Gordon’s and get their views of living on the reserve. I will be creating a video that incorporates my instruction with the people from George Gordon. I would then either like to use Seesaw or google classroom for the students to do their assignment. I am thinking a vlog would be nice so the students can talk about their experiences in connection to what they have learnt.

I am excited to incorporate the lifestyle of the children I teach directly into their instruction and assignment. I want the students to have a personal connection to what they are learning. I want them to be able to be flexible in their assignment and individualize their ideas. Students can be more engaged when they can directly relate to their own lives. I hope everything can come together nicely.

If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.