Category Archives: edtech

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

 

 


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?

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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.

Open Space Gif.gif

“Corner Gas – Open Space” made via Giphy


Open space…

Open space…

 

Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

-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

 

 


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

aladdin-shopkeep

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

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

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

Decisions, decisions

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

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

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


Exploring Canvas (Instructure)canvas-by-instructure

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

It offers MOOCs!

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

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

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

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

canvas public domain.png

Screenshot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was my evaluation of Canvas on the mark?

Share in the comments!

– Logan Petlak


(re)Creating a virtual educator.

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

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

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

Researching Online Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My course

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

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


Closing Thoughts

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

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

 

Thoughts, comments, critiques? Let me know!

– Logan Petlak


Closing the distance between distance education and myself.

Greetings fellow ECI 834 students. I look forward to learning with you over the course of the term!

who am i zoolander.gif

“Who am I?” via Giphy

Who am I?

I am Logan Petlak.

  • High school science educator (biology, health science, environmental science).
  • Football coach (and track coach).
  • Recreational hockey player.

    jesse.png

    Foster kitten: “Jesse” (now adopted: “Lou”)

  • Physical activity addict (weight training, assorted sports)
  • Frequent co-foster parent of stray cats and kittens (with my beautiful partner, Kristin).
  • NFL/NHL fan.
  • Moose Jaw product and resident.
  • Lifelong learner and critical thinker.
  • Proud Central Collegiate, Moose Jaw teacher.
  • Avid gamer and supporter of gamification of learning.
  • Open education supporter.
  • Student advocate.
  • #EdTech enthusiast and;
  • Fledgling distance educator.

This course revolves around the final point! It’s not necessarily a fresh topic for me, I’ve discussed it before. How exactly can I bring the Mr. Petlak experience worldwide? Not for personal gain, but to simply aid in the learning of others? Better question, how do I best deliver online education and learning to others? Therein lies my goals for this course:

  1. Gain resources and tools to create a distance learning classroom. Then utilize tools to best replicate what it’s like to be in a face-to-face classroom with students (and for students, with me).
  2. Connect with other professionals who can provide examples, suggestions and support as I develop distance learning opportunities.
  3. Critique and analyze the learning inherent within distance education and what learning may be lost outside of a face-to-face or in-school setting.
  4. BONUS: begin developing content for my Biology course as part of our module assignment!

 

In our school, some students are already taking distance education courses. Through informal polling, it has received generally positive reviews! Perhaps it was a shift in thinking but I don’t remember them being offered as much when I was in high school and, in my only distance experience in university, I had a hard time getting engaged without the face-to-face piece…

Fast forward.

When picking where to apply for my Master’s, distance education/universities came up, but I assumed they would hold less validity or reverence than other institutions so I decided against it. Whether it was engagement or validity of distance education, I guess I should’ve watched this video first!

Opportunities for distance education are available for most subjects, at many levels, worldwide. How will I fit into the distance education world and can I provide something that others don’t, and will I stick to my open education-centered morality?

If you were a distance educator, would you capitalize on the potential financial gain associated with private education?

How will your distance classroom work?

Am I foolish to hope that I can almost completely replicate the classroom experience, or is being consistently connected (via email) and using apps/tools like Zoom, Remindvirtual reality, google docs or GAFE to include all of the Google apps I guess (thanks Kyle), and socrative not enough to make it happen completely and becomes a blended learning environment (just shy of a completely online course)?

How will I account for students who don’t have as much access? We know they will be affected negatively, can we supply devices at a distance?

 

Regardless, I intend to close the distance between where I am now, and where I want to be with distance and blended education.

 

Thoughts and comments are welcome!
Logan Petlak


A whole new world: virtual and augmented reality.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR)!

First off, thanks to Bill for being a great presenting partner. I thought our teaching styles complimented each other very well.

Next, I wanted to provide something new to the #ECI833 readers than what we had presented about… and that is my experiences and subsequent beliefs, biases and views towards AR/VR. And for those of you coming in with pre-existing notions about the “uselessness of gaming” (yeah, you, Jayme. Your husband’s a good guy!), I got a class devoted to game creation and gaming’s power for learning that would beg to disagree!

My experience with AR/VR

AR

A student was playing Ingress (an AR game) in my class last year after completing his work and, prior to reminding him he still had more work to do, I listened to him mention that the company that made this was planning on making a Pokemon game… since I was partially raised in the region of Kanto (this is a location in the original Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow games), I patiently waited.

My wait was almost rewarded as the official release of the game was in summer 2016… in the United States… still unavailable to the Canadian public. Fortunately, I had an AP Conference in Anaheim, CA. Let the Pokemon catching begin. The young Logan was ALIVE and, surprisingly, with the augmented reality, viewing my surroundings with creatures of my childhood, I soon connected with strangers and with my environment. Adults. Youth. Men. Women. I met and talked with strangers, I learned about locations in and around Anaheim, and I had fun. I was engaged. Interesting.

VR

I had never tried out a VR device prior to this class. After registering to present about it (mostly out of post-Pokemon GO excitement), I mentioned it to my father, and he conveniently picked up a Playstation VR (for himself, not me, for the record) on sale three weeks prior to our presentation. He told me I needed to come over to try Batman Arkham. Several days later, I did…

And?

Shut.

the.

front.

door.

It was incredible.

I! WAS! BATMAN! I PUT ON THE BAT SUIT, GAUNTLETS, TESTED OUT THE BATARANG, AND I HUNG OUT WITH ALFRED!

There I was in downtown Gotham City, analyzing a crime scene, yet simply doing 360’s in my basement looking around desperately for clues to solve a murder. I searched a morgue to locate a key, problem-solved using tips and inferences from the environment I was in. I was learning in a game. It was more than I’d ever felt playing a game before. My legs responded to the environment as my brain accepted what my sight and hearing had presented as real.

Then the implications came, and I was almost overcome with emotion. Perhaps place-based learning in a Saskatchewan classroom is possible for more than four months of the school year…

Virtual tours. Simulation of activities reimagined. Pseudo-hands on experience/training. Distance learning 3.0. Assistive technologies?! Imagine therapeutic treatments made possible with Virtual Reality… or transcending our mortal lives to exist as a series of light, sound and code for loved ones to reconnect…

But it’s not reality… or is it?

I would be inclined to argue that reality is subject to what we make of it… a virtual reality, though digital, is still reality nonetheless. Are we ignorant to accept it as real or toy with our brains to escape reality?

What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. – Morpheus, The Matrix (1999) via IMDB

At least we’re not in the matrix… (or are we?)


Assistive technology knows no bounds!

Assistive Technology.

Helping the blind, see.

The immobile, move.

The voiceless, speak.

The awkward and anxious, share.

Poor-writers, compose.

The disconnected, connect.

Always developing, never complete.

Assistive technology is an enormous umbrella term. We think of devices developed to help the “disabled” typically as assistive tech (devices), but then we are inclined to extend the definition to include even adaptations in the classroom (services). But where is the line? If we include differentiation as assistive, do we include adaptation? There are extensions of the technology definition to include ideas and classroom practices so I should… but, wow, including that wide definition of technology with a wide definition of assistive tech will that be a infinitely inclusive term. When we consider the definition of assistive technology including means to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability… it feels like everything in a classroom will be included. As such, what responsibilities does the school and education system bear to make this happen? What counts as a disability warranting support? If we include supplying devices in a BYOD classroom to those who have them, who is obligated to supply this? Today, many schools must include WiFi, is this now a mandatory “assistive technology”?

 

This ridiculously inclusive approach now also breaks down the illusion of limitations provided by assistive tech. Why is it simply an illusion? Circling back to the concept of a growth mindset, assistive technologies are constantly being developed and improved for all types and abilities of students/individuals. The strides made in hearing aids allowing individuals to hear again are incredible.

The increasing ease of movement for those bound to wheelchairs is ever-evolving or making music available to those who have lost their hearing. The field encapsulates potential, and while there will be difficulties, is there also the potential for the enhancement of the human form as a result creating a gap between “typical” individuals and those with assistive technologies. What comes to mind is sprinters with prosthetic devices, are they meant to compete against those with regular legs? If performance is drastically increased, is this fair or equitable? If they can afford it, should they be allowed it? Wealth gap aside, consider even grandiose ideas about the direction of human evolution. Is this wrong?

Sarah Reinertsen via Pinterest

I would argue it isn’t wrong, but we simply compare those with similar technology to others with the same tech? Or is this further segregating us? As always, where is the line?

What is a measurable amount of support to be provided to individuals requiring assistive technology? How do we train our educators to be familiar with an ever-changing field?

Where do we head next? What about assistive technology for managing teacher stress and workloads?

What assistive technologies are available to mitigating stress and workloads for teachers? Online assessment tools help reduce marking – but does the net work put into establishing these translate to better learning outcomes for students? Is there a world in which we tell devices to assess learning of each student, highlighting common difficulties students may experience, or individual anomalies and allow teachers to simply focus on learning support and facilitation? Totally possible. Will that negatively impact what a teacher provides their students or result in “worse” teaching?

Comments? Answers? Thoughts?

Logan Petlak


Educational software is changing for us, and us for it.

Snapchat-Based Reflection

Educational Software & Media
Snapchat – Not a conventional educational app – but in terms of responsible use of media and digital citizenship.

Perception vs reality and impacts on education:
Perception – it is a distraction in school OR it is an amazing way to connect with friends and others. Life is more disconnected than ever: Prince Ea: Can we auto-correct humanity
Reality – it IS a distraction BUT it is an incredible opportunity to enhance connectedness between students. I would argue students are better connected now than ever – we can share and observe others lives together. (Connect to Distance Ed) later.

Proponents, opponents, and adopters of these technologies:
If you’re against it, you do not enjoy the distraction of it in classes.
If you adopt it, you’re using it to connect with students.

Effects positive and negative on teaching and learning:
Positive – warm and energetic atmosphere.
Negative – can decrease engagement if not patrolled.

Pedagogical advantages and disadvantages:
Advantage – it keeps us fresh on what is a large part of many of our children’s development.

Disadvantage – it can be a vehicle for abuse, harassment, and as previously mentioned a distraction.

Conclusion
Education is always key – rather than fear and taking things away because we aren’t familiar or can’t control them… educate yourself and others on its use so that you can help them use it responsibly. I’ve observed the use of Kahoot and it seems positive, while the energy that is created as a result may have some short-term management implications a distraction, like Snapchat… and it may not meet the needs of ALL learners – it engages many of them.

Tell me you aren’t feeling more connected to me because of the adorable kittens.


Reflecting on educational software and media in general

Educational software is constantly evolving so as assessment and teaching practices change and become more inclusive of all learners, so too will the educational media to accommodate the demands of educators.

However.

Snapchat is NOT a conventional educational media/software. But it is a form of media that requires education. And the learning inherent within the roots of Snapchat (connecting with others over distances) has positive implications. When we look at the opportunities presented by distance education, the term “disruptive change” rears its head, almost as terrifying as “transformational change”. While sounding negative, disruptive change can be an encouraging as it may disrupt the normal constraints of the four-walled classroom. Personally, I get an opportunity to offer a course through distance education in our division next school year and this presents a lot of challenges and potential. This extends to many educational technologies, but most importantly, in my eyes, is that it poses opportunities for learning that are not limited to classroom walls.

That being said, there are inherent values imposed by new apps that are created, like Snapchat: “why do you need to take pictures of everything you do”? Once again: opportunity. Chance at critical thinking when engaging in online media. A favourite sarcastic quote in my classroom is: “the internet said so, so it must be true”. Which is an encouraging comment… but we see the two-headed dragon of this being that fact (peer-reviewed articles) can be misinterpreted as potentially inaccurate and that only your interpretation and beliefs of the content are much more plausible. It’s okay to synthesize an opinion from various forms of content, but what happens when what is most likely right is taken with too much doubt or discounted as not credible because other sources aren’t?

Educational software and will continue to evolve to meet our needs. As professionals it is paramount we stay up to speed on new means to meet the needs of new learners: changing ourselves to better utilize programs which continue to evolve alongside our evolving educational selves.

Agree or disagree?

Comment.

Logan Petlak



Learning as a chaotic, evolving mosaic.

Which learning theory is right?

learning

“learning” via BlueDiamondGallery

Ashley Murray nailed it: “As teachers I think that it’s important that we avoid getting caught up in which theory is the BEST theory to use.”

Taking a page out of John Dewey‘s playbook, I feel the need to ‘link sciences’. What is my take on learning theory?  Learning as a chaotic, evolving mosaic. I use mosaic in the biological sense, when separate genetics are present together. Substitute genetics for learning theories, and away we go.

Much like evolution as a “theory”, they don’t become theory without reputable and verifiable strategies, experiments, and support. Since so many streams of learning theory hold weight, combining them and treating learning as an evolving and changing process. Let’s allow learning to proceed as a complex science including constructivism, behaviourism, cognitivism, and every other learning theory.

Ultimately, as educators, when we consider our philosophies it comes down to the first two questions Schunk (Learning theories: an educational perspective, 1991) asked:

  1. How does learning occur?
  2. What factors influence learning?

Learning occurs through connecting with others who may have different ideas and perspectives than us, through the chaos of diversity. We associate and establish similarities and differences between what we know and seek to learn. We conceptualize and translate texts, tones, and visuals. Everything we learn, builds to the next lesson. Every experience we’ve had, problems we solve, memories we retain, every innate ability and predisposition we have influences how we learn. Reinforcement and punishment influence our perception of how we view it, but even that knowledge and learning is organic and evolves as we reflect. We independently yet dependently learn holistically (physically, socio-emotionally, mentally) and it manifests itself in our society as a mosaic. This particular quote resonated with me and diversity and complexity of learning: “Which theory [or theories] is the most effective in fostering mastery of specific tasks by specific learners?” Adjust and adapt. To lock yourself into one belief of learning theory and deny others seems counter-intuitive, or think it is something clean and linear (like a pyramid). Humanity learns.

Ideally, that’s what my classroom would look like. Does it look like that every day? Maybe not upon initial viewing, but it’s rooted in what I do. And it’s constantly changing.

you-gone-learn-today

via Giphy

Do you agree that learning is hard to classify? It’s worth looking at all the different beliefs on learning. Some may have more evidence than others, but as a connectivist would tell you, even the opinions we don’t agree with have relevance and meaning to learning.

– Logan Petlak, lifelong learner.