Category Archives: OERs

Behind the Scenes of: The Learnings of Chris

So my final project is a playful remix of The Legend of Zelda for NES. It is an unusual approach so I thought that I should unpack why I did it this way and what I was hoping to achieve with each scene. To begin with the idea for the project came to me as a result of wrestling with the realization that I would not have time to explore my learning this semester and still have time to talk about my personal learning project of learning to program the Arduino. I knew that we would have a final post to explain our personal learning project, but I wanted something of it to be in my presentation as well. I played around with ideas of somehow working the Arduino into the project, but try as I might I could not figure out a good way that would not distract from the summary of my learning. So I decided that I would instead use programming in a different way, and that I would use it to animate the story. I also wanted something that was original and uniquely me. That was when I decided that it would be neat to have my learning represented as a quest. I knew that creating an animation with all of the sprites (characters in a game are called sprites) would take way too long so I decided to use an existing game that had already been heavily remixed before and go with it. I also decided that even though I focused on learning Arduino this semester that I would program in Scratch, since it is a platform that I am very familiar with, and that I knew would be capable of this kind of project. So that is where the idea for the Zelda adaptation came from.

Concept Map

The first thing I did even before settling on the approach was to go through notes from each class and to look for themes and commonalities. After I found my major themes I went back and started to look at connections and did a concept map. A website that I discovered this semester for creating concept maps with my science students is sketchboard.io I was able to create the following concept map to help me organize my thoughts.

The green circles are my key ideas that most things connected to and branched out of. I decided then that if I did do my learning as a quest that I would need to find a way to visually represent my learning in each of these 8 main areas. I thought about what I had learned in each of these areas and I wrote my transcript of what I wanted to say. I recorded these using my cell phone and made sure that it came to less than 7 minutes. Then I started to think about how to animate each scene.

Part 1 and 2: The title card and the crawl.

The game of Zelda is a genre game, it follows a defined format and that includes providing the player with a backstory. In modern video games this would be done with a cut scene before the player could take over, but there was not enough memory available to the writers of an NES game to include an animation like that. Instead they did what Star Wars did and many other movies before that, they provided the player with a scrolling text that could fill them in. I decided to do the same. So in this part my goal was to explain a little about what the viewer could expect of the learning summary, and then with the crawl to provide a starting point for the beginning of my learning.

Part 3 and 4: The opening scene and the cave. 

In part 3 you first get to see the game and the little character that represents me. During this part I explain about how my personal learning network (PLN) was analog and not digital and I symbolized this by having it as a life meter up in the corner of the screen. It is full health, but it is not digital and you will see this change to developing and growing a digital PLN as the game goes on. Also you will see that I have a SAMR level indicator at the top that shows that much of my technology in the classroom at this point is substitutionary. As for social media I have Twitter but hardly used it and that was represented with the spiderweb on the logo. Finally my two inventory boxes are shown as empty to begin the course with.

Opening part of the my quest.
My little character being introduced to various social media from Alec Couros.

Then I enter into the cave. Here Dr. Couros tells me that I am going to need to learn about these different social media platforms and that I will need to be doing this a lot. My little character receives a phone to do social media on. I feel that I should point out that I did not receive a free phone in this class. Pizza yes, phone no. Also I was pretty pleased with my little 8-bit version of Alec Couros. So anyway, the point of this scene was to highlight the platforms that we used in the course. The other reason I did it was because the original game starts with Link (not Zelda) receiving his sword from a man in a cave to go on his quest with.

Part 5: The Twitter storm. 

In this part I talk about how Twitter was originally intimidating to me and how Dr. Couros taught us about how to use hashtags and tools like tweetdeck to help make sense of everything. I show this by having my little character fire hashtags out of his phone at the twitter birds that are swarming me. As I do this they quit attacking me. You will also notice in this part that the spiderweb leaves the twitter logo and I also get followers below the twitter logo. This is to show the success that I found as I started to use twitter properly. You will also notice that with the addition of Twitter followers that my digital PLN life meter increases.

My character using hashtags to make sense of Twitter.

Part 6: Digital Citizenship and Social Activism.

In this next part I wanted to show the things that we learned from our guest lecturer Katia Hildebrandt about digital citizenship and social activism. I tried to show a digital world with another version of my character in a blue part of the screen surrounded by scenery made of binary. This I hoped would be the clue that it was the digital version of me. When I first enter the scene it is moving up and down independent of my character. As Katia speaks she tells us to take control of our digital identities, so I do and it starts to mirror my offline movement. I can only do this so much though as the digital me hits the wall and stays behind as I leave the screen. If I had had more time I would have had this character continue to follow me throughout the rest of the game, but I could not figure out a good way of doing that so I settled for it only being on this screen. Some of you might have noticed that the sprite I used for Katia is a modified version of Princess Zelda. The other thing that happens in this scene is that as I take control of my digital identity my social media platforms jump to include Google+, WordPress, and Chrome, I also give my digital PLN a half a heart to show growth.

My character controlling its digital identity.

As I leave this screen to the next I encounter a monster who is shouting at me. In the next three screens my purpose is to show the moral wrestling I have done with the idea of social media activism. I can see the logic behind the idea that your digital self should be representing those things that you believe in and that you should be speaking up about issues. My concern that I am still wrestling with is that so often what wins an argument is not the facts, but the relationship and the facts. You can tell someone they are wrong, but if they do not care about the relationship with you they will just ignore you, and in fact thanks to the backfire effect may even become more polarized to your position. Instead by talking with someone as if you are in a partnership in which you are both desiring to seek truth you are more likely to see a change in belief and behaviour. I am convinced that this happens better in private conversations than public ones. So for myself I think that my kind of social activism is to discuss the issue with the other party in a direct message. This has worked sometimes and not others. I show it working as a I change the mind of the troll.

My character initiating a private conversation with someone I disagree with.

Part 7 and 8 Open Education Resources.

In this scene I wanted to present the concept of open educational resources, OERs. These are not locked away behind some kind of paywall so I show them being open by having my character unlock the room that they are in. Also I want people to remember that it is important to contribute and not just to take. I do this by having my character build a lesson and leave it in the OER  room. Then I leave the screen with a book in my inventory and I head to the next screen. In the cave on that screen is a man who wants to buy the OER off of me. I use this to explain the attribution rules that exist on many OERs.  I end up giving the OER resource to the man in the cave after he agrees to the rules of attribution for the document.

My character is creating a lesson plan to put in the OER repository.
My character explaining that you need to follow the attribution rules.

Part 9 SAMR.

The SAMR principle of how to use technology in the classroom is something that I have fallen in love with. The idea that many people at first only use technology as a substitute for the analog way that they used to use it, until they become more familiar with the technology and then they begin to adapt their approach. But to truly use technology well we need to use technology to modify/change, with the best use of the technology being when it completely redefines how learning takes place in our classes. The analogy that we talked about in class was someone exploring the ocean. Substitution and adaptation are shallow water explorations. Modification and redefinition are deep ocean exploration. I tried to show this by having my character put on scuba gear and head out into the water. When he goes below the water the whole screen goes dark blue and he finds and amazing resource at the bottom of the ocean. I am not completely happy with this scene because I do not know if anyone else will get that visually from it. I hope they do but I could not animate it better in the time that I had. In the end I had to say good enough and include the scene as is. Oh yeah, the SAMR level moves over each level as I go deeper and deeper into the ocean in this scene.

My character is underwater with scuba gear getting a redefined lesson plan.

Part 10 and 11 Fake news, 4 Moves, and Filter bubbles. 

I really like the visual for this metaphor. My character comes onto the screen and sees two ponds with apples floating into each pond. He cannot tell which is good or bad so he uses the four moves and a habit and heads upstream to check out the source. He finds the one stream has an apple tree growing and dropping good fruit into the stream. The other stream has a monster who is reform balls of dung to look good before putting them in the stream. I think the metaphor for how fake news is produced and repackaged works well.

My character discovers that some of the news it sees is literally crap.

Then I head upstream even more and find that there is other good fruit that I am not being exposed to. This represents news that is true that I might not agree with, or that falls outside my areas of interest, etc. My character investigates and sees that there is a dam acting as a barrier, this is a metaphor for the filter bubble that we all live in.

This shows my character discovering that the news it receives is being filtered.

Part 12 LaFOIP and THINK.

The final part that I present before the closing credits is about LAFOIP and the acronym T.H.I.N.K. I show this by having a monster be the legal department demanding that I take care of students properly online. I reassure the troll that I am teaching my students how to evaluate if something is true,helpful or honest, inspiring or illegal, necessary or  kind before posting. I also explain the four key points of LAFOIP. My favourite part of this scene is when my character unlocks a record that he is done with and destroys it by burning it. Deleting things on the computer is not nearly as fun as burning it, oh well.

My character is destroying records it no longer needs.

Credits

In the credits I thank everyone and I need to apologize for something here. I mispelled Katia’s name. I called her Katie. I am really sorry. I went based on memory and should have looked your name up. I plan on fixing it in the next week, so if you ever want to link to it in the future you will see your name spelled correctly, I just do not have time before the class it over to re-edit the two places in the video where the mistake are.

In the credits I thank everyone in the class and I also talk a little about the idea of remixing. I really, really, really enjoyed the Everything is a Remix website. I was engaged by it and inspired by it. I hope that my remix of the Legend of Zelda into the Learnings of Chris, was enjoyable for you.

 

Thanks for stopping by.


ECI 831 Summary of Learning

Hi everyone. This post is about my summary of learning for my ECI 831 class. For those of you that might be reading this, who are not in the course with me this assignment was to be about all of the things that we had learned throughout the course. For myself I also wanted to allude to my learning project on computer programming a little without it becoming the focus of the video. For myself I decided to use my programming in the making of the video. I used the language Scratch that was created by MIT. I chose this language because everything that is done on this website is available to others for remixing. In this way I also felt that it fit with the idea of open education, which did get its start partially through the open education at education movement at MIT.

I will include a making of post in the next week, but for now here is the project. I hope you enjoy.


Take the Red Pill

This week in ECI 831 we were given a long laundry list of resources to go through and evaluate. Each of them was an OER (Open Educational Resource) repository or something similar to that. Sapna does an excellent job of explaining what those are for anyone who does not know. Now, I consider myself to be a techie teacher aware of many online tools, but boy was I in for a surprise. I knew that theoretically there were free resources online, but most of the time when I went looking for them I came across piecemeal stuff of middling quality. I would find a worksheet here and a somewhat useful resource there. I had found a few go to sites for simulations for science classes, but I did not expect to find whole courses, well thought out lesson plans, and more online. At least I did not expect to find these things for free.

I am going to confess that I have not yet had time to evaluate all of the sites that we were given. For anyone not in the course, I have included a list of the resources.

    1. Connexions
    2. OER Commons
    3. Archive.org (and Archive.org Education)
    4. MERLOT
    5. Open Courseware Consortium
    6. CK12 Foundation
    7. Curriki
    8. Khan Academy
    9. Lab Space
    10. Open Textbook Library
    11. American Institute of Mathematics
    12. Open Learn
    13. TED Ed
    14. Wiki Educator
    15. P2PU
    16. OpenStax
    17. MOOC Providers: Coursera, Udacity, EdX
    18. A long list of many more repositories, directories, and resources here.

I made it a little over 75% of the way through the list and found myself enjoying one of the resources so much that I needed to just camp out there for a little while. There is some really useful stuff in this list and I do plan on evaluating them all for myself eventually. (I created a rubric that I am working on filling in, but it takes time.)

Here are my thoughts.

Wow, um. So why do I buy educational resources? Why do any of us buy educational resources? I mean I understand why the school would need to purchase physical resources like chemicals for my science lab, and equipment, but I no longer think that I could ever purchase another textbook, worksheet package, or anything like that unless it was absolutely magical. I weep at the fact that I have spent obscene amounts of my own money over my career so far on resources that are no better than what I found for free last week.

I would say that OERs are definitely the future. If you think about the cost for a province to purchase 10,000 textbooks (In a recent speech the minister of education said students should have access to textbooks) for a single grade in a single subject you are looking at a minimum of $600,000 if you can get the books for $50 each. The province would save money if instead it paid an expert teacher, or team of teachers, to develop a textbook and made it available online as an OER. Each teacher in the province could then access it and modify it as needed. You could have a shared repository for it and have teachers upload any lessons and modifications that they make. This would level the learning experience across the province much more. Since not every student has electronic devices available the province would have to print some copies of it, negating some of the savings, but even if you printed and coil bound 5000 copies at about $25 each you would still only spend $225,000 for the OER and the printed material. This would also mean that the textbooks and supporting resources would better match our curriculum than textbooks that we purchase that were developed for other larger markets. BC is already starting to do this as well as other jurisdictions. At a local school level, I know that I will never recommend the purchase of a textbook again without first scouring the internet first for appropriate free materials first. (I modified the image below to create a meme that expresses how I feel about this).

Adapted by Chris Reed from http://shamelesspride.com/red-pill-blue-pill/the-matrix-red-or-blue-pill_original/

So it is clear that OERs are awesome and exist in abundance, but what is the quality like? I really liked ck-12 because it focused so heavily on my area of teaching, maths and sciences at the high school level. Many of the other OERs were focused at the university level, which is great for me to review, but not so helpful to anyone other than my grade 12 students who are looking for supplementary material.

So what makes ck-12 great? Well, it has a teacher and a student side to it which means that there are different focuses on the kind of resources that it brings up for you. As a student it tries to bring up things that will help you learn the material. It is like a study guide or a tutor. It will suggest simulations and learning activities for the material that you are trying to master. It will also find groups to connect you with that are interested in the same kind of material that you are. There was a tool called stoodle that allowed you to ask for help, but also to offer it to others. It is like a big online study chat session. I can see this being really useful to students trying to learn more about a subject when they do not have access to a teacher. The teacher side presents resources differently. It is more trying to help you plan a lesson or a unit. It has a concept mapping tool to help you figure out how the ideas in a unit connect together. When you search for resources you can also narrow it by the type of standard you want it to match. While most of the standards are American you can still use them as a useful guide. I was able to find lots of material for the test concept that I looked up. I made a screencast of it below in case you want a quick peek at how it works.

I am converted to OERs and cannot see myself easily handing money over to anyone in the future for a resource without it doing a lot of things for me. At this point though I am still a taker. I need to learn how to help others by sharing my resources better. As a first step here is the link for the covalent bonding lesson handout that I developed for my class tomorrow. All rights granted. Have fun with it.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comments.