Category Archives: ECI 834

Module-making: finishing touches to going worldwide.

Over the past couple weeks I have been plugging away at my course prototype slowly, but surely. And I’ve been through quite the series of emotions associated with this.

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“Panic stressed” via Giphy

I have panicked(This doesn’t look like I thought it was going to!)

I have gotten excited. (This content is SO relevant and meaningful!)

I’ve second-guessed myself. (Does this accommodate all learners?)

 

I’ve felt challenged

yet confident. (I can do this.)

Where I am.
All I have left to do is wrap-up editing and filming some small parts for the module, otherwise everything is ready to go. I failed to appreciate how much planning goes into making a quality video. Taking into account setting, dialogue, visuals, and background music takes time. It’s not like I didn’t predict this would happen, but when you get into the video-making grind, time flies in a big hurry.

Fortunately, as I went through the creative processes, it led me to continue considering my summary of learning. It served as a reminder to be aware of the fact that simply creating and recording a song is actually a lot of work, even thought I have so much fun with it (Thank goodness I don’t have to make a full live action video to go with it too, it’d be too much). While capable of some limited visual work, it also caused me to revisit the idea: what would an Andres Arenada and Logan Petlak summary of learning combined actually look like (and how much time would it really take)?

Regardless, I hope the module is able to reach learners in my regular classroom, but where I began was to bring my regular classroom worldwide…

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“Where I want to be in the world” via Google Maps

Where I began.
In reflecting on what I set out to do in my original outlines, some new barriers to the creation of this prototype revealed themselves, and it all stems back to the original targets I wanted/needed to specifically address and account for: relationships and learners.

  1. Who are my learners and how will I connect? When you have no idea who your learners are, how exactly do you design an asynchronous lesson according to their needs and styles?

    The simplest way to address this, is universal design. When considering multiple forms of expression, engagement, and representation for the module, does my module do this? Does it have more than one opportunity for each? I think so! (Phew!)

  2. And when you only make one module to begin, can you really connect to other content?

    – In my module I found myself saying: “we’ll have to address this next time”, but there isn’t a next time (yet)! Do you plan for the hypothetical or does this make it less authentic?

  3. Does a class need synchronous sessions to be blended? Or can it be pseudo-blended through Flipgrid or Zoom? It is all online, but the learning functions similar to that of a traditional classroom and has some face-to-face components, but these components are not necessarily live. Is ECI 834 considered blended? Or all online?

 

Closing thoughts

Questions are great, and maybe some of them don’t need to be answered. Ultimately, the course prototype will be out on Tuesday, and I look forward to the learners I reach, and the subsequent feedback I receive to hone my skills. Hopefully it serves my main goal, educating people.

 

– Logan Petlak

 

 


Learning through connections

What do I think are open online spaces?

When I think of open online spaces, I focus on word open. This makes me think of openness of people having access to the information and questions we put out to the world. It is a way to open up to other people we may not come into contact with on a regular basis. It is an open environment where anyone can join and learn from each other. It is a place to have open space technology.

“Open Space Technology is one way to enable all kinds of people, in any kind of organization, to create inspired meetings and events. Over the last 20+ years, it has also become clear that opening space, as an intentional leadership practice, can create inspired organizations, where ordinary people work together to create extraordinary results with regularity.”

From this open environment where people can learn from each other there can be Connection based learning.

 

When I think of open online spaces I think of people using technology to connect to one another. This allows people to comment, discuss, question and learn from one another.

Why do they scare me so much?

With an open space anyone can see what you post. Everyone sees what you are thinking and how you are learning. It is place where you cannot hide what you think. This makes me feel extremely vulnerable. With an open space there are people all over the world that access your information. It makes me nervous to know that anyone can read what I am posting right now. With that, I am constantly thinking what is okay to post? Will I get judged? Do people agree with my ideas? Am I posting something to “risky?” With an open space a person is completely putting themselves out there to the world. With twitter and hashtags a person is branching out to anyone who follows them or looks at those hashtags. #scary  #public. With a blog, anyone who googles Justine wheeler edublog can find what I post. They can go into my blog and see what I think on certain topics. There are many positive aspects to open spaces and connecting with others, but it is scary to put yourself out there. It is nerve racking to know that anyone can see what I think and how I learn.

What do I use?

As a teacher I would prefer a closed space for the grade that I teach. In grade 1, they are just learning how to log onto a computer. They are just learning how to write and sound out words. They are just learning how to type and explore the internet. I think throwing them onto twitter is difficult. I love using see saw. See Saw requires a special code to access. It is not open for everyone to see. See Saw allows parents to comment on their own child’s work. It allows students to comment on each others work and gives them a safe space to learn from each other. Parents are also more open to having their young child work in an environment like this.

Photo Credit: securebacklink Flickr via Compfight cc


That being said I have tried blogging with my students. It is very simple. I write a question and the students comment back with their response. I have to send out permission slips to all of my parents before we start this. Not all of the parents let their child do this . They do not want them posting on the blog and adaptions need to be made. When the students post they only write their first name. I feel that the students and I cannot be completely open in this space  as it is easy for anyone to access. I am so worried about what they are posting all the time. I am a lot more comfortable with them using see saw.

We do use twitter as a class. Here I do not post pictures of the students. We use it more to connect with other classrooms and educators on twitter. Last year we used twitter to contact the author of Howard B. Wigglebottom and our favorite group from gonoodle the one and only Koo Koo Kanga Roo.

As a teacher I use open spaces, but my students are more closed and secure with see saw.

As a student I do use open spaces. I go on twitter to connect with other educators. I like how easy I can connect to others. I am able to learn a lot through an open space. This class and others have made me open up to open spaces. I am required to blog which makes me feel vulnerable. I do however, like reading other people’s blogs and commenting. I feel that the openness allows me to learn with them. I enjoy forums. I like our google plus environment. I like how it is a bit more closed and I am more comfortable to ask questions.

To conclude, I think there is a time and place for open learning spaces. I think they are a great way to connect and learn from others. They allow a person to collaborate with a wide variety of people. They allow students to learn in a different and enriched way. I think that a person does need to be careful with how they are used. Teachers should have parent permission and let administration know what is happening due to how public everything is. There is a time where open learning spaces are very beneficial and should be used. You just need to know how to use them.

 

 

Agoraphobia in education.

Addressing Educator “Fear of Open Space” (agoraphobia)

In the creation of a digital community for education, do we resist the idea of allowing our students into open spaces? The subject and grade level will help determine our personal stance on exactly how “open” we allow our student’s discussion and learning to be… but if the educator is at the secondary level, is it acceptable to open things up then? Or do we still fear the internet? Are there more educators suffering from agoraphobia than we think?

OPen Space

“Wanda in open space” from Corner Gas

“How could anyone be afraid of open space?”

A quote from season two, episode four, of the beloved Canadian show, Corner Gas. Yes, I am working Corner Gas into this blog post.

Open online space, to be clear. And let’s face it, there is a seedy side, with a palpable list of awful instances of abuse in the digital realm. But what about the development of a sense of connectedness with strangers. Strangers who can be from anywhere in the world, yet provide us with ideas, opinions, interests, be they novel or similar to our own!

Why exactly do I get so excited about the online community?

Growing up in the infant stages of the internet and social media, I scoured forums for information on video games I played (Super Nintendo, Pokemon, etc). In my searching, it was always exciting to find websites full of individuals who enjoyed what I enjoyed (in similar or different ways). Sharing the same emotions and ideas with individuals you will never really know (by conventional standards), is a mysteriously unifying concept. You just don’t get that in a closed setting. In closed forums in an educational setting, I only ever saw the keeners dominate forums, and much of the time, I resented their contributions because I felt they used higher vocabulary needlessly that either made their points too convoluted, or served to exclude other classmates who wouldn’t be able to comprehend it as well. I hard a hard time thinking it was practice for language development, and normally felt that it was done to elevate or flaunt language prowess at the expense of making others feel inferior.

I say this, yet use words now in my writing that I would’ve probably resented then. Don’t worry, I have yet to feel it in my graduate classes thus far – but I am always so aware of my motives behind sharing or my vocabulary choices, am I doing it for my benefit, or for others?

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“hear themselves talk” via Memegenerator

In reflecting on my sharing on the group chat in our discussions. In this course (and my previous courses with Alec), specifically in the chat realm, a lot of my contributions have some desperate attempts at humour laced with relevance to the content – and while it keeps me engaged, I’m sure others, at least once, have thought: “oh my goodness, just stop”. And maybe I’m wrong… but have you ever felt like you were in a class where it seems some individuals just like to hear themselves talk?

That is my fear in the closed setting. I’m a claustrophobic educator I guess. My feelings aside, learning can still happen for students when ones who dominate discussion receive feedback to curb contributions or it pushes others to step up. But are the discussion-dominators even displaying understanding or have they simply learned to fake it?

 

“Learned to fake it”

“Learned to fake it” with it being authenticity. There still is learning occurring when individuals learn to fake it and share what they share in these settings. As such, I would argue that: yes, there is some authenticity, because who it is meaningful to has a wide scope. When we consider the scope and who all the comments reach, we’re bound to find some authentic learning. The modelling of “advanced responses” still benefit others who may get too intimidated to contribute. Therefore, while it may not be authentic for the contributor, whose motives may be less than intrinsic, the responses evoked may be authentic, so where do I (and we) draw the line? And what’s the difference in this between an open or closed setting?

I envision that the more open your discussions are, the more opportunities present themselves for learning to go in more directions as it increases your potential contributors and receivers (positive or negative contributions, mind you).

What age do students begin to have open spaces then?

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“Think of the children” via quickmeme

As an individual pushing for openness, I am fortunate to be teaching students mostly sixteen years of age and older. The mentality of allowing students to be exposed or unprotected in the digital realm is not a foreign concept for most of them or us, especially if they have been involved with social media and digital usage throughout their adolescent life.

At the senior science level with open content, the scope isn’t limited to students either. Parents may access the open format if they’re wanting to be involved, yet allow the students to begin to stretch their wings a bit. As long as administration and parents are made aware of the rationale and mentality behind the decision to go public, and concerns are addressed and adapted for as needed, the learning from open commenting and discussion can unfold. If concerns arose like frequent trolling, decisions could be made as a class community (edcuator, students, parents, admin) with how to address them. (All of this is predicated on student buy-in. But… at the senior science level, buy-in is, pretty much, required).

Were I a grade four science teacher, there would be greater restrictions when searching for information and public commenting (as in, it would likely be non-existent as the students would be still, I consider, vulnerable). You would see a closed setting without external influence, but potentially simulated digital citizenship practices in which they’d deal with a pretend troll, or have to select from three information sources to determine which one is most likely false, rather than being thrown to the wolves of the web in my senior science courses. But even then, where is the line where we stop coddling students?

Closing thoughts

While some of my senior students may become “learn to fake it”‘s as I mentioned above, there’s still learning to be had. This learning may be from unknowingly modelling behaviours for themselves, or creating authentic learning for others who may learn from them.

The more open we go, the scope of learning increases. So don’t be afraid of open space.

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“Corner Gas – Open Space” made via Giphy


Open space…

Open space…

 

Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

-Logan Petlak


Issues on Creating Interactions

My Issue

Photo Credit: Ekspresevim Flickr via Compfight cc

In my prototype we are using google classroom with grade 3 students. Student collaboration and teacher support is very important which was shown in our articles we read this week. In ECI 834, I have also seen the importance of this communication. We have a lot of support with google plus, blogs and twitter. It is easily accessible to ask someone a question, collaborate and work with Katia and Alec to support an issue we are having. Thus being said, I am 26 years old and know how to use all of these programs.

For our prototype I am struggling with creating these same interactions with the students I have in mind for this prototype. I am creating a prototype for younger students who do not all have easy internet access and people who may not be able to support them. This is a struggle for me. How can I get such young students to interact with each other? What can I do if students do not have access to the internet? The best solution I have came up with is to create a flipped learning environment.

Here is what I know..

Remind works. In my school I use remind. People have cell phones and can get text messages. Therefore, I will use Remind for students to interact with me. I can send messages out to them and they can respond with a text message. Yes, grade 3 students do not all have phones but their parents do. I know parents want to support their children in any way possible and will use remind to allow them to communicate to their teacher.

Students get 15 mins at school every morning and do have recess during the day. Our school does have a computer lab and does have iPads. Students can access the videos I have recorded before class using school technology if they do not have access to the internet at home.

Students will be using google classroom. Students can comment using google classroom. We will have to make sure our settings allow students to comment and interact with each other as well as their teachers. I have seen students ask questions using google classroom and get a response from the teacher.

Here is what I am thinking…..

If I can create a flipped learning environment the students can collaborate and interact with me on the project part at school. Blended learning is a combination of face to face and computer time.

This will give these young students the opportunity to still get support. They can turn to their neighbor and ask a question. I would use this because I know with flipped learning all of my students in some way will have internet access. I know that they will have the programs they need to use on the computers in our school. I know that students can collaborate. I know that they will have interactions.

Now that being said, this prototype is not supposed to be all in the classroom and does have a blended aspect to it. Students can post on google classroom to ask questions and interact with each other. With google classroom, they will be using this to post their assignments and see the videos. I know that they will be using it because they have to see it. This way I can guarantee that they have access to it. Like I stated earlier even if it is before school, at recess or during the time they get to work on their project they will be on google classroom. I also know Remind works for my school and students. I will use remind to allow students to interact with me.

As you can tell I am still trying to think this through because I am at a loss with these 2 big issues with interactions and this prototype.

So how can I asses this?

In the article, Effectiveness of Using Online Discussion Forum for Case Study Analysis, there were 2 tables that stuck out to me for assessing interactions. One talks about reading articles and showing evidence that the responses have to with the assignment and the other is about number of posts.

I thought these would be a good starting point to create guidelines. They would obviously need to be adapted. I was thinking I would assess students on talking about the assignment and the video I posted. In the video there are questions I am asking throughout. Students can comment in google classroom on these questions which I could assess them on based on participation. Students will be able to discuss these questions there. I could even leave a prompt in google classroom to encourage conversations.

The other part I could assess them on is if they are asking questions and interacting with each other for the assignment. With google classroom I will be able to see if they are asking questions and answering each other. With remind, I can see if they are interacting with me. I would assess this on participation if students are asking questions and interacting with others they would get a participation mark. I think at this age it is difficult to create a specific rubric. I think if they are asking questions and interacting with each other that is great. I think at this age creating collaboration and supporting one another is more important than a summative mark. It is more for their benefit and is more formative.

To conclude I am going to leave you with the question, what do you think I could use to help with my issues?

Online community-buildin’ probs (problems).

Don’t underestimate building a community

I’ve had a pretty clear idea of how interactions and communication will occur in my online classroom since I started designing my course prototype. However, after reading Benita’s post about building a community, she helped me realize that I may have took for granted how easy it would be to simply create an online learning community. So many things are required to build communities as a facilitator like: being welcoming to members, observing, and connecting with members. Yet while providing these, still allowing for members to have opportunities for participation, autonomy, and being a part of establishing the community’s identity. It seems to happen naturally in my regular classroom, but an online community, obviously, isn’t the same. I then considered, will some of the assessment I receive from my peers in the EC&I 834 community reflect or paint a idealized view of  my modules than reality? Will the actual practice and administration of the course be as supportive or receptive? Make no mistake, I’m not panicked, but it’s definitely an element I didn’t think could be problematic.

Pre-Troubleshooting (Anticipating interaction problems)

With that in mind, I should probably consider potential problems that may occur when establishing my online community and then reflect on how this may affect my course prototype plan.

 

Common Pitfalls via Edutopia

  • Students may misunderstand directions or may be unsure of what is expected of them.
  • Student comments can become off track or go in a direction that is not supported in the lesson.
  • Students may stall or put off participating in the discussion board until the last minute.
  • Students may not feel a sense of connection with their classmates.
  • Students may react in an inappropriate way by flaming other students or making disinterested or disrespectful comments to their peers or in response to assignments.

Reflecting on my course plans (while applying what I need to keep in mind), I wanted to:

  • Use commenting on the informative content videos I share on YouTube to clarify content for students.
    Content must be introduced, however, guidelines for commenting (or example questions) perhaps should be included in the video description while verbally stating this at the conclusion of the video in an attempt to help establish “netiquette”. As well as perhaps creating a reply video for frequently asked questions in the comment feed.
  • Allow students to share their own videos with responses safeguarded by Flipgrid (however, I would simply keep the free version so students could share their thoughts, but this would leave them unable to interact and respond to one another).
    This will allow for the virtual learning to occur collectively. As students will need to contribute to share in learning, provide clear instructions (while also being available via email) and deadlines for posting these responses, while simultaneously encouraging informality.
  • Long-term students (this will not be seen in the course prototype) would likely blog thoughts, and comment on others as the course progressed. Reflecting on what they learned in the required community discussions.
    How can I ensure/assess if students are actually feeling connected to others in the course?

If I can provide prompts and students participate asking questiosn and being involved in discussion, this can allow for interactions to be meaningful and supportive. Since the bedrock of the content-based prompts should be establishing relevance of the content, the discussion that appears as a result should reinforce this. An example: The video may establish that evolution and change via natural selection occurs in many ways, students are then prompted why does that even matter? How does it effect us?

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Building Community via Kayako

Any curricular course needs to address and develop “required” knowledge and understanding, but in a virtual learning environment this needs to occur while emphasizing the role community-building has in the learning process. And community-building only happens when there are members to create a community around, so be sure to account for them!

How are my plans looking? Anything else you think I need to focus on? Let me know below!

– Logan Petlak

 

 

 
Resource via Schwier, Athabasca University

Selznick, P. (1996). In search of community. In W. Vitek & W. Jackson (Eds.), Rooted in the land (pp. 195-203). New Haven: Yale University Press.


Can Flipped Learning Be Used At Any Age: My Learning Journey

In our class I have heard lots about flipped learning. We have not gone in depth with what it exactly is and what it entails. This is what I wanted to find out during reading week.

First Step

My first step was to find out what flipped learning was. I turned to google and youtube to help me grasp the concept. Wikipedia describes it as

“Flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom. In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home and engage in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of a mentor.”

I then found some good videos to help me understand this better.

The Next step

After I wanted to find out more. How can it be used? What are the pros and cons? I turned to blogs written by teachers. What I found was more pros then cons. Here is what I found.

Pros

  • Individualized
  • Students can learn at their own pace
  • Lesson content is more accessible to watch over
  • Students have more control with their learning
  • Parents can see how a topic is taught and can provide extra support
  • Students can collaborate with their work
  • Student- centered
  • More time for hands on work at school
  • Can be more efficient

Cons

  • Not everyone has internet access
  • Trust that students are doing thee prep work for class
  • Lots of teacher preparation.

Can I even use it?

I teach grade 1 and was curious if teachers used flipped learning in primary grades. All the articles I read and discussion I heard was for older grades. Could this model be used with my little people? I went to twitter and our google+ community to find out if anyone used it in primary grades. On twitter I hashtaged many primary chats #kinderchat, #1stchat, #2ndchat, #3rdchat, #edchat and even our #eci834. I was impressed with the response I got. Teachers were it with grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3. Not only were thy using it but it was working. Here is some of the response I got.

I then had deeper conversations with these teachers and they explained some of the tools they used. I found flipped learning happens a lot in math. My findings showed me that primary teachers could use it and be successful.

How can I use it my classroom?

I found an article that simplified flipping a classroom. It said

Don’t flip a class:  Flip a lesson.”

This makes sense. Why complicate it. Start simple, start small. In my class I assign take home reading, sight words and sometimes math homework. With the stuff I assign home I get asked a lot about how my parents can help their kids with reading. I think this would be a great place to start. I could make videos of different reading strategies or comprehension strategies for students to watch with their parents. This way my parents know how I teach this and they can help my grade 1 students with all of the technical stuff that is required. After this is done and all parties understand what to do, I can expand to other subject areas and lessons.

Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell said that it was used in a grade ½ classroom as well as a grade ¾ classroom with a tool called flipgrid. After looking into this program it is a tool I could use. On twitter I was told that a grade 2 classroom used google classroom to flip. I also use seesaw in my classroom and am already connected to parents and students at home. I could use this to post videos of my mini lessons. I am excited that there are some tools shared with me that I could try. Needless to say I am very inspired and excited to get back to my classroom to try it.

Here is how it is done. I flip, you flip, we all flip!! Let me know if you flip and how it goes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRvmjjeZ9CA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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

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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