Category Archives: Ed Tech

The Media Diaries: Five Short Stories of Five Good Friends

No. 1: The Wise Old Mentor

By Dplanet via Flickr

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

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

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

No. 3: The Diva

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

No. 4: The Nerd

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

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

No. 5: Ms. Social Butterfly

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

Challenge

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


Music 9 is going to rock!

In my blog post last week, I asked readers to help me decide which platform to use for my music class prototype course by voting on a poll. I only had two responses. One was in favour of Canvas; one was for Schoology. Then, in our Zoom meeting on Tuesday night, I had a chance to see Alec walk through some different LMS platforms. After playing around with a few of them, I have decided to use Canvas as the platform for my Music 9 course prototype.

(***Tip: This post is long. If you want to skim through for the main ideas, just look for the bolded words.***)

Rationale:

iphone-music-pic
Via pixabay

I have chosen a blended learning approach using Canvas as a platform because I think the learning will be more student centred. Audrey Watters reminds us that “we like the idea that new technologies mean new practices, new affordances. But that’s not always or necessarily how technology works.” Watters also cautions teachers not to allow LMSes to take the student out of the centre of the learning experience. In this case, I really believe that the format could change the way students learn if I keep in mind ways to facilitate students’ individual needs and goals. Personal learning is more likely with a blended approach, and using Canvas as platform is especially exciting for a few reasons:

  • Blended learning increases engagement and teacher-individual student face-to-face time
    • Student choice. Music is particularly engaging when students can learn an instrument that they are passionate about, so that is what I encourage students to do. The online instructional materials available give students this freedom to choose any instrument.
    • Instruments or practice spaces are not always available to students in a period, especially if the class is large. With a blended learning approach, there is more flexibility for what students are able to do.
    • Teachers can give more valuable instruction to individuals during face-to-face class time. With a large number of instruments available to learn, it is impossible for teachers to provide students with instruction about all of them on a regular basis. If teachers can upload self-made or open instructional materials about different instruments for students to look at on their own time, students can come to class with questions and get feedback on what they have practiced.
    • Students need lessons with a teacher, but with the number of students in a class, it is hard to see each student each day. With video posts of progress on blogs, it increases the opportunities for students and teachers to interact and provide feedback.
  • Canvas’s organization options and compatibility with Google. Awesome.
    • Modules – unlike Google Classroom, I can create modules within a course for various instruments to personalize student learning.
    • Intuitive to use, which means I won’t give up on using it
    • I already use Google Apps, and it will be easy to upload my spreading existing materials to Canvas
    • I can use content developed by other Canvas users
    • Students can upload videos of themselves practicing and engage in discussions on Canvas, without needing to create blogs. This is a valuable time-saver in the Music 9 class, which is offered as part of a rotation within FineArts 9.
feel-the-music
By EuropeMusic99 via Wikimedia Commons

Target Student Population and Demographics: The target audience of this course will be grade 9 students; however, the beauty of this platform is that Music 10, 20, or 30 students who have never taken a music course before, could follow the Music 9 blended course initially to learn some basics before moving on to their grade appropriate level. (Eventually, I hope to develop courses at all levels.)

Course Format: This course will be guided by principles of blended learning with both asynchronous and synchronous components. Face-to-face interaction is a necessary component of music, but it can be enhanced tremendously with online components.

  • Online & Asynchronous:
    • instructional videos
    • theory assignments
    • share videos of progress through blogs that students and teachers, as well as community members can comment on
  • Online & Synchronous:
    • discussions on Canvas
    • guest speakers in Skype
    • live streamed concerts
  • Face-to-Face & Independent:
    • practicing  instrument at school or at home
    • recording using the recording studio at school
  • Face-to-Face & Collaborative:
    • playing with others
    • one-on-one or group lessons with the teacher present
    • performances with live audience

Course Toolset:

  • Online
  • School
    • instruments
    • sound reinforcement (mics, mic and instrument cables, mixer, amps, speakers, monitors)
    • paper copies of music (can be easier to read)
    • recording studio and GarageBand, Adobe ???
    • hand-written theory assignments

Do you know of any great tools or apps that music students should use in this course?

Course Content and Learning Objectives: 

For the first module, we will address the following outcomes from the Saskatchewan Arts Education 9 Curriculum:
  • Use voice, instruments, and technologies to express musical ideas.
  • Combine the elements of music and principles of composition to express unified musical ideas.
  • Compose and perform sound compositions to express perspectives and raise awareness about a topic of concern to youth.
  • Respond to professional dance, drama, music, and visual art works through individual or collaborative inquiry and the creation of own arts expressions.

Assessment Strategies:

  • Formative: blogs with videos, feedback in lessons, theory worksheets
  • Summative: performance, composition

Concerns/Challenges:

  • Online
    • low bandwidth
    • poor connectivity to wireless networks
    • student access to devices when working from home, and occasionally at school
    • time it will take to familiarize students with Canvas when Fine Arts 9 rotations are short
    • user friendliness of Canvas on mobile devices (I need to look into this; it might not be a concern.)
    • some students may be able to afford upgraded/superior apps, while others cannot, which could be discouraging
  • School
    • lack of space for students to practice with few distractions from other students
    • availability of instruments for students to use (esp. drums and pianos/keyboards).
    • addressing all students’ personal learning goals

What kind of challenges might you anticipate that I haven’t thought of yet?

 

 

 


Transformers: The Digitizers Evolve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What future projects do you have in mind?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us today.

W: Not a problem.

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


Rookie Sarah Wandy is called up from the Minors

After a brief stint in the Minors, Wandy is ready to step up, once again, to the challenge of Major League Ed. Tech. Today, she told fellow bloggers, “After my last Ed. Tech. class, the focus of which was Social Media, I spent most of my free time checking Twitter and Facebook. It had become a habit from trying to stay in touch with my classmates, and turned into a bit of an obsession.” Wandy said she needed to take herself out of the game for a while to find some balance: “I deleted the apps from my phone and tried to focus on what was happening around me in the moment. I felt so much more clear headed. I traveled, finished some knitting projects, practiced guitar, tried some new cheesecake recipes and took a class.”

scotland

However, Wandy knows that she can’t hide from Social Media forever, nor does she want to. “I’m ready to tackle online and blended learning with the help of my colleagues using social media and other meeting tools. This time, I’m going to focus on balance from the beginning, and find a way to make the most of what both online and face to face interactions have to offer. I know my students and family will appreciate these efforts.”

“find a way to make the most of what both online and face to face interactions have to offer”

Some of Wandy’s ECI 834 teammates have had similar experiences. Jannae Bridgeman also had a brief hiatus from the world of blogging and Twitter, but knows that the professional benefits of these tools will be worth the extra training time. Similarly, Aimee Sipple and Kelsey Lenihan are ready to join the Twitter conversation.

Fortunately, veterans like Logan Petlak and Katherine Koskie are willing to share some of their expertise with the newbies. Koskie: “Gotta expand that PLN.”

Wandy’s 3 Goals for this Season:

  • Become familiar enough with an online learning platform that I could easily design all classes in this way
  • Learn to use a new video-making/presentation program that I can use for my summary of learning. What are your suggestions?
  • Find a meaningful balance between digital and face to face interactions

You can follow Wandy’s progress on Twitter this season @WandySarah.


New conversation, new thoughts

Tonight was a fantastic class with tons of engaging discussions. The area which was of interest to me was around collaboration. If you’ve been reading my blog, you would have noticed I’ve been having some difficulty. My methods/platforms of communicating with others haven’t been successful. Tonight it was mentioned about using different tools/websites/etc to further your learning. My project will remain the same, but I will use additional avenues inquire. 

One area of particular interest in tonight’s class was around sharing resources. I’ve mentioned this before that I appreciate sharing resources and feel like it is of mutual benefit to myself and my colleagues (near and far). My peers shared similar thoughts tonight and feel like it is contributing to the field. I didn’t see many comments of those who were unwilling. Even if they’re were some who were unwilling, it would lead me to believe they have a good reason. Many felt that those around them (colleagues/peers) are at times unwilling to share. That makes me feel slightly better- it isn’t just me experiencing these frustrations. 

While interning in England, sharing resources was expected. It was also expected to use resources which were already created and which were in the specific outcomes database. It was beneficial to review resources, and make any edits that would fit your teaching style. Here, it looks like divisions work differently. Some divisions are working on new ways of sharing documents, some have monthly sharing my groups and some schools exclusively share files, etc. 

As a new educator (third year) I still have a lot to learn. A lot to learn when it comes to policy and procedures as well as my rights as an educator. The hot topic tonight was around what belongs to us as educators and what belongs to our divisions. I was of the understanding that anything on my school server belonged to my school division. Although, I have never looked into this. I have listened to others dialogue around this topic. I believe it is all of our responsibilities as teachers to inquire on issues that are meaningful to us (as well as our responsibility as people to do the same in our daily lives). There are many different conversations that can take place in this realm, can we sell our resources? Can we share online for free? Only in certain spaces?

My action plan for the coming week is to inquire with my superiors and review any information found on the STF Website

For now, I ask you these questions: 

1) Are you willing to share resources with colleagues? Do you have any stipulations?

2) Have you previously shared resources with a friend or colleague? What were your experiences? 

3) Have you purchased resources via Teachers Pay Teachers or another website? 

Hope to hear from you!