Category Archives: ECI834

It’s still a work in progress, but I’m excited about that.

This has been an exciting week in the development of our online course because we are finally finished. I have to say that I am really excited about they way it developed throughout the semester and I am happy with the product as it stands right now. Our course isn’t a complete course…yet. But I think Nancy and I are going to continue to develop the course in order to use it in our Technology 9 course or Information Processing 10 course at our school. I feel as though the rest of the course will come together nicely because we have laid out our partial course so nicely that it will be easy to complete it by adding the other modules.

I have to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Canvas when I first started exploring it. I’m not sure what made me a little skeptical about it, but I didn’t think that it was going to be a very user friendly LMS (learning management system). As I started exploring and using it I was happy to find that it was actually really user-friendly. My initial impression was that it was going to be very crowded and unorganized for the students when they accessed the course. However, it is actually really easy to organize the content without making the course seem crowded or overwhelming.

Screenshot of Icons Used on Canvas

One thing I wish could be changed is the icons that are used to indicate whether something is a content page, file, assignment, quiz, etc. They are all the same colour and the image displayed within the icon is difficult to differentiate if you are looking quickly at something. Another problem I encountered was forgetting to publish the items I created when I finished them. If you don’t publish, the users cannot see it or access them – obviously. There were multiple times I signed in as a student to see how things looked only to realize that I never published my work so I had to log back in as the teacher to publish the items.

Now that I feel comfortable with Canvas I feel as though I’m going to move my flipped classroom content onto Canvas from Edmodo. Edmodo is a great tool for communicating, but as a tool for organizing a course it really isn’t ideal. On Edmodo you have to create folders for your content and it organizes information within those folders based on the name of the files, or perhaps the date you uploaded the files. Anytime you post an announcement on the homepage it bumps previous posts down, so it is easy for posts to get lost. You can pin posts to the top of the page, but if you do that you’ll have a bunch of posts pinned which will continue to bump thing anyways so that defeats the purpose.

Example of posts on Edmodo

I really like how you can organize the different modules on Canvas. I like that you can upload files or links and that you can create quizzes and assignments right on the LMS. When students click on the Assignments tab it gives them a summary of all the assignments that are posted and their due dates. I think this is great for students to stay on top of things and stay organized. Students also have the option to upload files to submit an assignment right on the LMS. You can also create a rubric for each assignment so that the assessment/evaluation is on there attached to the assignment.

Module Organization on Canvas

I am looking forward to completing the course with the help of Nancy (hopefully) and using Canvas to develop my other courses at school. Did you use Canvas? What did you think?


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…

where i am where i began best version.png

“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

 

 


Opening the Doors for Learning

I want to start by saying that I have truly appreciated the time away from blogging this past two weeks. The break gave me a lot of time to focus on my major project and I am happy to say that I am quite pleased with the progress myself and my group made. That being said I’m ready to share some thoughts with you on our topic this week – openness in education.

Photo Credit: Piyushgiri Revagar Flickr via Compfight cc

To narrow the topic a little I am going to be focusing on discussion forums for the most part but I will touch on blogging a little as well. I don’t believe that we need to make a forum public in order to make it authentic to for the learners. I do however feel that making it public has the potential to make it more authentic. Maybe authentic is the wrong word. But I feel that making it public creates a certain level of accountability that can provide more authentic learning experiences. If students know that the public can read their questions and responses they are less likely to post something silly that might make them seem uneducated or immature. I feel like a public forum would raise the bar and make things a little more meaningful. The public space provides opportunities for people who are outside of the class to participate and contribute to the learning within the classroom. This can include parents, students from other classrooms or schools, teachers or content experts.

Photo Credit: PeterThoeny Flickr via Compfight cc

There are a few things that we have to consider when we are deciding whether to use an open or closed forum. The first thing we have to consider is the age of the students. Amy brought some good ideas forwards regarding this. I feel as though students who are younger should have a closed forum that would be open to their parents and perhaps other students within their school who could collaborate with the students in your class. Although privacy issues are a concern for all students I fell like we must be especially careful with students who are younger. Of course having a public forum raises privacy concerns and other issues such as inappropriate content or trolls. The possibility for these inappropriate comments can happen in a closed forum as well but they are less likely to, especially if you can tell who is posting the information – which brings up a new point of anonymity. Regardless of the forum it is helpful when real names are used as usernames so that the teacher and students know who is posting. There may be some cases when anonymity may increase the questions or responses given in relation to a topic that might be controversial or more intimate such as sex education.

There will be issues regardless of whether or not you have an open or closed forum. The important thing to remember is how you go about dealing with those issues when they occur. If it is an open forum you need to set expectations on how to deal with negative comments and what to do if a student comes across something inappropriate. In my technology class students blog and I have them join the Student Blogging Challenge. When they register their blog is posted to the student list on the website so that others may find their blog and read it. I have had a few students who have developed a blog buddy (or at least that’s what I will call them) from another part of the world. These students now look forward to reading each others posts and commenting on each others posts. They get really excited when they receive a comment on their blog from someone outside our school. Of course that being said no one has had a bad experience through comments on their blog so it has been a positive experience. This could all change with one bad comment and I keep that in mind all the time. I remind my students on a regular basis that they need to be aware of what they are posting/sharing and be prepared for comments that may be inappropriate or rude. It is not a guarantee that they will have a negative experience but students must always be prepared for what could happen.

There is certainly a time and place for open forums but for the time being I think I will be sticking to closed forums if I use them. I will continue having my students blog publicly but I need to have a little more focus if I want to start using an open discussion forum.

If you’re thinking about using discussion forums in your class here is some advice.


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?

fry hear themselves

“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?

think of the children.jpg

“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.

Open Space Gif.gif

“Corner Gas – Open Space” made via Giphy


Open space…

Open space…

 

Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

-Logan Petlak


Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – and these tools are it!

Deciding which tools to use for interactive purposes in our blended prototype felt a bit like a game of eeny meeny miny moe. With so many tools to choose from how can one possibly decide which tools are the best for what you are trying to accomplish. Fortunately my team and I were able to decide which tools we want to use without much debate. We are going to be using Canvas as our LMS so we will be using some features of that site as well as twitter and blogs. I will go into more detail as to why we selected these methods but I want to start with the quote from Shaping the Metaphor of Community in Online Learning Environments: 

For a community to emerge, a learning environment must allow learners to engage each other intentionally and collectively in the transaction or transformation of knowledge.

This quote really stood out to me and validated the tools we have selected as our community building tools. Nancy, Andrew and I have had a lot of discussions around Twitter and how much we have grown to love it over the past few semesters. I have said this before and I’ll said it again for anyone who hasn’t heard me say it before – I used to think Twitter was pointless and really served little purpose. I didn’t fully understand the value in it. Looking back I now realize that I felt that way because I wasn’t using it to it’s full potential. I didn’t follow a lot of meaningful people, I didn’t understand how to use hashtags to my advantage and didn’t feel it was possible to share something meaningful in 140 characters. Twitter has become one of the most beneficial tool for me as a teacher. It has provided me with great resources, professional development and connections with other amazing teachers – all for free! I have really developed my PLN (personal learning network) and I can’t imagine my teaching career without twitter. I the teacher in this video has done an excellent job of discussing PLN’s and the role twitter plays in developing your PLN.

It is possible for students to build a PLN and we plan to encourage our students to build their PLN through using a course hashtag (which is yet to be decided) as well as hootsuite or tweetdeck. Students will be asked to interact on twitter by sharing articles, retweeting and quoting tweets from classmates within the class as well as people from outside of the class. By using hashtags students will be able to reach out and connect with others far beyond the four walls of our classrooms which will in turn help them improve the community within our classroom by sharing resources and information.

Another way we feel that an online learning community can be established is through blogs. George Couros shares 5 reasons why students should be blogging including developing a positive digital footprint, giving students a voice and allowing for student reflection. It is a great way for students to document their learning and share what they have been doing in class. Through comments on each others blogs the online community can further be established. Like Liz pointed out, it is important to consider digital citizenship and be sure that students are commenting respectfully and mindfully. Being that we are doing a digital citizenship course prototype we will be focusing on this early on in the semester. Students will be expected to follow classmates blogs through an RSS platform such as Feedly. Feedly is a user friendly way to follow blogs without having to go back to the individual blog and check to see if a new post has been written. We felt that this would be easier to use than creating a blog hub.

The last way that we thought we can try to establish a community is through the discussion feature on Canvas. An edutopia article lists many benefits to using a discussion board in an online course including critical thinking, improved reading & writing skills and reflection. The article also suggests having students come up with the guidelines for using the discussion board and just like Sarah I feel like this would be a really great idea. The chart discussing Bloom’s Taxonomy in relation to activities for discussion boards really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities for activities through a discussion board. Although I see the discussion board being used primary for students to connect with one another to ask questions or get help with information related to the course I can see it be useful to have an activity thrown in there every once in a while too.

I feel like there are so many other tools we could have selected but I feel like these are the tools that will help our students build a community online, much like I have experienced in all of my EC&I classes with Alec and Katia.

Are there any other great tools we have overlooked for our course prototype in terms of building community online?


Improving my flipped classroom through interactive videos

After reading Kara’s blog this past week I was inspired to look at my own flipped classroom and reflect on things I feel I am doing well and things that I could improve on. In her post Kara discussed 5 things that she wants to do to start running her own flip class and I am doing 3/5 things that she said she would like to do. I have students watch the video lessons I have created, I use bell work to review or assess student understanding and I allow for work time during class. Kara mentioned starting class with a quick Plickers activity so that she can easily assess how her students are feeling about the material, and allowing class time for “board work” in which students work through extension activities together. As mentioned in my comment on her blog, I feel as though I would use the board work from time to time just for the sake of time, but I would really like to integrate something like Plickers into the classroom so I can have ongoing assessment and reflection.

Kara got me thinking of some of the different hurdles that we come across as flipped classroom teachers. As I was looking into ways to better integrate technology and tools into the classroom for assessment purposes I came across an awesome review of a site called eduCanon – an interactive video creating site. After reading the review I decided that it was something that could add a lot to my flipped classroom. I decided to look into it some more and found out that the site has switched names and is now called PlayPosit. Basically what you can do is add questions to your videos so that students have to answer the questions as they watch the video, similar to EdPuzzle. It also has a feature in which students cannot fast forward the content to skip material. I think that this could be a really nice feature but it may also turn students off who might grasp the concept at an early stage or who may want to review the material at a later date. For an idea of how it works, check out this quick – but very informative – video.

Of course I had to sign up after watching the video. It was extremely easy to sign up and I got started right away to add a question to a video I have already created. The process was as simple as locating the YouTube video I had already created and adding the link to the dashboard on my PlayPosit account. From there I was able to locate the place in the video where I want a question placed. I add the question as well as the answers for students to select. It is my understanding that the free version only allows you to use multiple choice format for questions. One concern I had was how I would enter equations or formulas in the questions, but they have an option to insert equations and it took me a few tries to figure out how to use it but I was able to figure it out and add my question.

Screenshot of my question I added to the video

Screenshot of my question I added to the video

I see a lot of value in adding questions to the video that students watch for a few reasons. First off, I don’t assign a mark or a grade for watching the videos I assign. I give students a handout to work through as they are watching the video so it’s pretty easy for me to see who has or hasn’t watched the video based on who has the handout completed when they come to class. If students haven’t watched the video before class I don’t get too worried about it because they can use the class time to catch up on the video. I always remind them that the time in class that they are using to watch the videos is less time they have in class to work with me or classmates on the assigned work. Another reason I like the idea of integrating the questions is because I can see the results of the questions so it can help me see who may need more help. It is obviously important that the students are watching the videos too, so this keeps them a little more accountable. I plan to integrate more interactive videos but that won’t change the way students are assessed. The feedback I get from student responses in the video will be used for me to identify students who may need more help and to address student needs accordingly.

After spending some time using PlayPosit I had to compare it to EdPuzzle and I was quite surprised at the similarities. The platforms seem to be user friendly and both use the exact same equation editor. I think I will try to use a video from each website with my students to see how the feedback is gathered and documented and then I will decide which site I will stick with moving forward. In the screenshots below you can see just how similar the sites are.

EdPuzzles Equation Editor PlatPosit Equation Editor

I focused a lot on one aspect of my reflecting this week so I will try to quickly touch on the other areas I focused on. The first was setting up Seesaw and trying to get my students active on it. I challenged them via Edmodo to upload 7 videos before the end of the break – for the entire class, not per person. But sadly I only had one video that was shared by a student even after I tried to bribe them haha. However the video was FANTASTIC! The student did an excellent job walking through the question and explaining how she completed the problem. I am hoping it will encourage others to step out of their comfort zone and share their work too. screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-10-25-03-pm

Moving forward I would also like to try move my bell work to an app as opposed to paper as it will be easier for me to assess student understanding that way. As Kara suggested I like the idea of using something like Plickers to get a quick overview of how comfortable students are feeling about the content by asking a simple “How do you feel?” with responses such as “Don’t get it”, “Sort of Get it”, “Completely Understand”. The final thing I want to work on is my video lessons as the quality still isn’t where I want it to be, although it is getting better.

I don’t think I will ever have a completed flipped course because there will always be ways that I can improve even in small ways such as updating my bell work from using paper to using technology. It is important for me to stay up to date with new ways to improve my courses – flipped or not.

Have you tried a flipped classroom? What are some ways that you assess student understanding or address students not watching videos? If you have any tools to share I would love to hear from you!


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


A medium for me, a medium for you.

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

Photo Credit: Dane Vandeputte Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dane Vandeputte Flickr via Compfight cc

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

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

Photo Credit: matsuyuki Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: matsuyuki Flickr via Compfight cc

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

Photo Credit: Pricenfees Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Pricenfees Flickr via Compfight cc

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

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

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


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

 

 


Just do ink

App icon from the app store

App icon from the app store

I took the challenge of finding a new tool to work with this week and I choose to work with DoInk App. Although I knew there were green screen apps available, I didn’t know specific names for any apps. Thanks to Rochelle I was introduced to DoInk. It is available in the app store and can be purchased for $3.99 which I feel is a fair price for what you get. I downloaded the app on my iPhone 6 and feel as though it might have been nicer to work with on an iPad just because the screen is a little bigger to work with. The DoInk website has a lot of

Our green screen made from wrapping paper

Our green screen made from wrapping paper

I decided to jump right in before reading a lot about using the app or viewing the tutorials on the site. Before I could do anything I needed to create a green screen. There are many ways you can make a green screen and most are pretty affordable. I purchased a plastic table cloth from the dollar store to use but it didn’t work out the way I had hoped. The green wasn’t dark enough so our wall color was showing through enough that the app was picking up our grey/blue color. When it picked up the paint color the image that I selected for our green screen background would be very light and almost fuzzy. I doubled up the table cloth but it still didn’t do the trick. On a second trip to the dollar store I bought some bright green wrapping paper. This worked awesome! My only complaint would be the faint green outline that appears around the objects or person in front of the screen. But I suppose that’s what you get for a $3.99 app.

In terms of using the app I would say it is pretty user-friendly. I was able to figure out how to use it without watching the tutorials or reading the user guide that they take you through when you start up the app. I probably could have saved myself some time had I actually read or watched the app, but I’m all about experiential learning. After spending some time exploring their site I noticed all of the tutorials they have as well as some great tips that could be used for making your videos using the green screen.

To create the video I found an image on a creative commons search and took a screen shot of it so it was on my phone. I edited the photo so that it filled the screen and uploaded that to DoInk to use it as the background. My son used some of his Star Wars toys to play and make a mini movie scene. I imported the video into iMovie and added the audio as well as the rolling font. You can add text and draw on the video using DoInk but I wanted to add the audio and credits from iMovie.

From a teaching perspective, I don’t know that I would use this app a whole lot. It would be possible to create some fun video lessons, but I don’t see it as being very practical because it takes time to make and I’m not sure how good it would be at getting content or skills across to the students. I see this as being used for student projects. I think it would be a really fun way for students to present information, maybe create a newscast or make a trip around the world describing the different images being shown while dressed in character. Having students create videos of their own would fall into the constructivist and connectivist learning theories according to Bates. Bates also provides some criteria to consider when selecting videos to use:

  • it is short and to the point;
  • it is relevant to what you want to teach;
  • it demonstrates clearly a particular topic or subject and links it to what the student is intended to learn;
  • the example is well produced (clear camera work, good presenter, clear audio);
  • it provides something that you could not do easily yourself;
  • it is freely available for non-commercial use.

If you are making your own video lesson you would want to keep these tips in mind. Short and to the point is sometimes impossible depending on the skill or topic you are trying to teach. If you cannot keep it short and to the point it might be helpful to break up the video with some humor or integrated videos/images.

Have you ever created a video lesson? How did it go? What did your students think about it? And how did you create it? I’d love to hear from you.