Online community-buildin’ probs (problems).

Don’t underestimate building a community

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

Pre-Troubleshooting (Anticipating interaction problems)

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

 

Common Pitfalls via Edutopia

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

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

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

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

building-community.jpg

Building Community via Kayako

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

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

– Logan Petlak

 

 

 
Resource via Schwier, Athabasca University

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


Creating Community

What communities do you feel connected to? Why? Why do we need community? Benita and Melinda asked the same question this week. And I hope that I’ll leave you with one of many possible answers by the end of this post.

Whether fostering a community online or face-to-face, the instructor and students must establish expectations, participate in interactions, and develop communication skills. Like Schwier says, an environment doesn’t inherently develop into a community in which participants feel safe, belonging, committed and engaged. So, how do I plan to foster interactions using Canvas in my Music 9 prototype course?

Step #1 – Establish boundaries and participation rubric with students

Via edutech4teachers
                                     Via edutech4teachers
  • What rules are we going to follow in these spaces?
  • How often do you think you would need to participate for others to benefit from your contributions? Can you make this commitment?
  • What type of language are we going to use?
  • Learn about “Netiquette” and digital citizenship
  • Remember, chat comments cannot be deleted once they’ve been posted. You must be responsible.

Step #2 – Practice using the tools, explain their unique purposes/potentials

I plan to use the interactive and connective tools that are built into Canvas as the primary methods of communication: discussion, chat, conversations and conferences. We would practice using all of these tools and outline the expectations associated with each, before setting students “loose” to use them all.

The discussions section in Canvas allows responses to be organized by the question asked. Furthermore, students can add discussion questions if the instructor adjusts the settings to allow this. I would make sure that students would have access to this feature to increase the number of what Bryce-Davis calls “ringers,” which are new or unusual activities that “disrupt the established patterns and expectations just enough to renew interest” in the conversations. These discussions can be threaded, which allows members to focus in on particular comments of interest and follow that train of thought, rather than a stream of feed is more conducive to general comments. The threaded conversations help to ensure that discussion is organized and therefore potentially more meaningful and authentic. Small group options are available as well. Students can join particular focus groups based on interests or projects. Edutopia provides many suggestions in their Mastering Online Discussion Board Education Resource Guide. One idea is

“Instructional Discussion Boards should be used to meet specific course objectives and should be aligned with course content.”

For this reason, I would set the expectation for the discussion forum to be mostly related to the content of the course.

The chat section is a great option for students to socialize and build relationships. This area could be designed as a place for informal exchanges and for straight-forward student questions like, “When is this due?” or “What time are we meeting?”  It is important to note that comments in the chat cannot be deleted and are organized on a separate page from the discussion questions. Students would need to be aware of this ahead of time and know consequences for posting inappropriate comments.

Canvas also offers what they call Conversations, which is really just an email service. It’s a great option for one-on-one student-teacher interaction.

Finally, Canvas offers Conferences through a partnership with BigBlueButton, which is a web conferencing tool for synchronous online meetings, much like what we do with Zoom in EC&I 834. This option is ideal for group instruction or a more face-to-face feeling.

The combination of these tools is important. In his blog post this week, Adam said, “When looking for engagement amongst the class, it is vital to incorporate a number of different interaction opportunities.” The fact that Canvas has all of these tools within the same LMS means that students won’t need to check multiple providers to stay connected with their peers. When the log in to Canvas they will automatically be surrounded by opportunities to connect with each other in a variety of ways depending on the purpose of interaction.

Step #3 – Make the interactions meaningful, supportive and relevant

As I said before, setting expectations for each of the formats for interaction at the beginning of a course is crucial. The various forms of communication available, with students able to guide discussions, will make the interactions more meaningful than a strictly teacher-driven approach. Schwier says, “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. It isn’t enough that material is presented to people and they interact with the instruction. It isn’t enough that the learners interact with instructors to refine their understanding of material.”

Students also need to be taught the skill of asking critical or higher level questions for discussions to go beyond surface-level ideas and observations. Edutopia suggests teaching Bloom’s Taxonomy to ensure that students ask high-quality, purposeful questions.

Students need skills in research and citation as well, so that they find and support answers to their own and others’ questions.

However, my presence as the instructor in each of these areas will model meaningful and supportive interaction.

Schwier, 2001
                                Schwier, 2001

I think that required participation is also necessary, especially initially, to help students develop the habit of being a part of and contributing to the community. Icebreakers and introductions are important to developing historicity, which is an essential element of community.

 

 

I would also use rubrics for participation, as well as teacher, self, and peer evaluation to give students clear expectations and opportunities for feedback and self-reflection.

Step #4 – Troubleshooting

Edutopia helpfully outlines some Common Pitfalls so that educators embarking on this journey can avoid them. I think that I have planned for each of the concerns in my plan above. But the one that I feel I have the least control over is “Students may react in an inappropriate way by flaming other students or making disinterested or disrespectful comments to their peers or in response to assignments.” If this were to happen in a chat, there is one guide that says that the comment cannot be deleted. This is very concerning to me. If one student chooses to make a bad decision, it wouldn’t go away. I’ve emailed Canvas to ask why they’ve chosen this.

Step #5 – Learn!

By Frankieleon via Flickr
                                                                                By Frankieleon via Flickr

The primary benefit of creating a blended learning environment where students can connect online is that it improves the likelihood that they will learn more. Amy noted this in her blog post this week as well.  George Siemens’ Theory of Connectivity highlights the importance of networks in learning. I know this has certainly been true of my experience in EC&I 834.


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

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

First Step

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

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

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

The Next step

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

Can I even use it?

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

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

How can I use it my classroom?

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

Don’t flip a class:  Flip a lesson.”

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let there be teachers

Image result for google classroom Hi friends, It has been awhile.  Reading week has given me some time just to relax and catch up on a few household things, oh yeah and my baby turned 5 months.

I decided with my time that I would ask my group “who would like to take the lead and create the Google Classroom account“? I decided rather than send that email, I would just take it into my own hands. I recalled that as a group we couldn’t use the RBE Google Classrooms because one of our group members is with another division.  I decided the best place to start would be to reread the Google+ Community posts to use the to figure out how to use the education.uregina accounts.  I scrolled through all the posts and managed to find what I was looking for. Ohh and now looking back, there is a search option at the top. I then went to create the Google Classroom account, all went well, or so I thought.  Setting up the initial info was just a matter of filling in a few feilds and a few clicks.  I attempted to invite teachers to my class by adding my group members using their email addresses. My first road block was that they were not contacts, so I went back to the Google menu and added them.  I then tried to invite my new contacts again, and it wouldn’t work.  I then realized I would have to track down their uregina user names.  Aimee replied to my email right away and I added her as a teacher, and voila it worked. Now just to wait for the other two gals!!

8547828004_54b0978dd2_m

Tell me if you ran into any road block while trying to get your project up and running!


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!


Blended Music LMS = Significant Difference

When asked to choose any topic of interest this week, I immediately revisited the idea of Myth of No Significant Difference. Not shockingly, these thoughts surfaced around the same time as my feelings of overwhelmedness about the amount of work that I am going to have to do shortly to finish my blended Music 9 course prototype. It had me thinking about what the benefits of blended learning really are.

So, at the suggestion of Kara, I decided to see what others have done to create Music LMSs, and learn from their experiences, rather than assuming that I am the first to have tried it. I’m definitely not the first. And I found out that music teachers and institutions around the world are doing amazing things with blended LMSs in music, but one pair of music educators has a website that sucked me in for a couple of hours and lifted me out inspired and armed with a few new tools.

freebern

Freebern Music has designed a LMS for music courses at Burr and Burton Academy in Vermont to accommodate lower enrollment and still offer multiple courses. They say,

“We were  teaching students HOW to learn, leaving the WHAT to the digital tools we created. As a result, we found that content knowledge and retention was improving.”

They also built courses that addressed various outcomes around students’ interests WITH those students. In future years, other students used the courses and expanded on them as well.

One of the main concerns that they had after moving all of their music classes to blended environments was that some students still desired to be spoon-fed, and they needed to spend more time helping students develop skills to work autonomously. (Dre and Logan also discussed the importance of scaffolding in their blogs and with me this week.) Unlike in a traditional face-to-face classroom, the Freeberns couldn’t ignore this skill building. Without it, students could not be successful. They came up with three areas of focus: “These three components, a desire for autonomy, the instinctive need for mastery and a purpose for study,  motivate our students to learn in this type of educational structure; a structure that will help them become lifelong learners.” And as we all know, this is the ultimate goal. It’s a key component of Saskatchewan Curricula.

By FotoshopTofs Via Pixaby

Not all of their courses are open, but some course resources are open as well as links to music technology apps and resources. I had so much fun looking through them. It was clear that these educators have done a lot of work already to make this LMS and it was much more useful to spend time looking through their courses, tools, and statements rather than trying to figure it all out myself. One of the tools is sampulator.com. It’s a fun intuitive tool that allows people to create simple beats using pre-programmed sounds. I made one, and I think that I’m going to use this tool as the activity for my Music 9 module.

sampulator

I emailed the developers, Neil and Julie Freebern a note of thanks for sharing their concept, challenges and model and requested temporary access to the modules to see how they have laid them out. Hopefully, they will get back to me! Once again, the results of building a professional learning network have gone beyond my expectations.

The whole website appears to be mind-blowingly professional and comprehensive. Seeing this, has really inspired me. As a teacher who has to promote an elective class in a school with a declining population, I can see how LMS could provide administration with the flexibility needed to give students many opportunities to take music classes.

And that is a SIGNIFICANT difference. 


Barriers to blended/hybrid/mixed-mode/distributed learning.

Blended learning, instruction, styles, systems?

I recently stumbled onto a new term to be used interchangeably with blended or hybrid learning: mixed-mode learning (or distributed learning). More educational buzz words, yay! However, when I first saw the term “mixed-mode”, I thought: that sounds a lot like “modes of instruction”. Although I’ve read about modes of instruction for blended classrooms (and, in practice, plan to center these modes around student needs), I failed to specifically connect student modes of learning to student learning styles. I alluded to this association last week, but I just wasn’t full grasping it. Modes of learning are just students’ different preferred means/styles to learn, made possible through different modes of instruction, but these modes of instruction are not necessarily instructional strategies. But these modes of instruction can be made possible through the use of a LMS (or VLE… or CMS) or what I could call blended systems/environments. Most of which make use of certain instructional strategies.


A “Frustrated with Definitions” Activity
If you’re confused at all, here’s a fill-in-the-blank activity. I put hints for help and I’ll give you a word bank.

_________ _______ (use any of four different terms that mean the same thing) is a mixture of _____ __ __________ combining elements from a ____________ ____________ and a(n) __________ ____________ (compare an old classroom with a “new” classroom), one of which borrows pedagogy from a __________ ___________ model, where the delivery of lecture and homework are reversed. This  can help account for different ____________ _________ (use either of two terms that pertain to diversity of learners). Using different __________ ___________ (or _______ ___ _________) is considered easier in a _________ _______ (use any of four different terms that mean the same thing, but use the same one as above to avoid confusion) because it allows for _________-______ ________ (or _______-________ _________), especially when utilizing a  ___ (use any of three different terms that all basically mean: an online program that facilitates instruction and information distribution). Students may then create artifacts for ____________ of their learning (the words aren’t necessarily the same, but both can be applied).

Word bank: distributed learning, mixed-mode learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, traditional classroom, flipped classroom, online classroom, modes of instruction, instructional strategies, modes of learning, student needs, learning styles, inquiry-based learning, self-directed learning, project-based learning, CMS, VLE, LMS, assessment, evaluation


Does it make sense?

Bear with me.

If the mode of learning targeted was reading using a reading assignment as the mode of instruction, and the content was specifically fact-based, I would argue that would also be direct instruction (learning style). However, a reading that poses questions to the reader or connects the reading to other resources to further extend learning, could potentially be indirect instruction but the mode of learning (and by extension, mode of instruction) was still reading.

Still not sure? Below is a video that highlights what exactly blended learning involves, including how it looks different from classroom to classroom.

So what’s the point of clarifying blended learning; subsequently and seemingly trying to confuse you?

As positive as I tend to be, the reality is there are barriers to blended learning, and these barriers extend beyond terminology. So what are the barriers to blended learning? Not just for educators, but for students as well.

Barriers to Blended Learning

Educators
Like any new implementation, educators need two things: time and money.

  • Time
    Time to learn how to deliver blended learning in your classroom, as well as time for the accumulation and assessment of available blended learning tools (whether it’s presentation programs, editing/animation software, assessment apps, or learning management systems).
  • Money
    Money to actually make these tools available to educators on staff and in the division, as well as money to pay for the time teachers spend preparing.

Students
Just because the educators are prepared for this, doesn’t necessarily mean that the students are as well. Mostly, they need support. How do educators provide this (assuming the above are provided)? Guidance and patience.

  • Guidance
    Students will need to be told how learning will occur in and out of the classroom, including the emphasis this style may place on their role in directing their own learning.
  • Patience
    Students may be fresh to this style, so educators must provide them with time and opportunities to develop the skills to be successful in your particular blended learning classroom.

Making it happen

So with these barriers in mind, what are others tips to make it happen or drive blended learning? See below!

drivers-of-blended-learning

Drivers of Blended Learning via Pinterest

 

Closing Remarks

There will always be barriers to any style of learning. As educators, our first barrier is better understanding what exactly blended learning is and how it connects to what we already know, as most of it draws many parallels to previous pedagogy. However, it’s important to note that these barriers are not only limited to the educator and the student, but also the division, curriculum, and parents. Being aware of these barriers allows us to plan for potential or anticipated problems and implement our blended classrooms as best as we can for our learners.

Do you agree? Disagree? Is my definition of blended learning consistent with what you know? Have you felt my pain of not knowing exactly what all these educational terminologies are?

Have a great break everyone!

– Logan Petlak


Evolution of Technology Through my Eyes

Bates outlines the three different types of education, classroom teaching, blended learning and fully online classes. Throughout my education I have experienced classroom teaching, blended learning and fully online learning.

As I got older and made my way through the school system I got to see technology change and saw how it was used more often.

It all started with Classroom Teaching

In my elementary school days it was explicitly classroom teaching. The only type of technology we had was a cd player. Every couple weeks we got to go to our computer lab full of desktops and play kidspix or all the right type. When I was this age I loved this type of learning. I liked having the face to face interaction with my teacher. They were right there to help me with anything I needed. As I continued into high school and university I continued to have classes in this style.

I agree with Bates

Many students coming straight from high school will be looking for social, sporting and cultural opportunities that a campus-based education provides. Also students lacking self-confidence or experience in studying are likely to prefer face-to-face teaching, providing that they can access it in a relatively personal way.”

This is what I was looking for. To this day, I still enjoy learning in a face to face environment and having my educator right there.

Then it moved to Blended Learning

Technology was not a huge part of my education experience until I reached high school. As I moved into high school some teachers used blended learning. When I was in grade 12, we were lucky and got a new computer lab full of mac desktops. I took a computer class. In this class our teacher setup a blended classroom. We had face to face teaching but we also got to learn on our mac desktops. We got to create videos, songs on garage band etc. This was done by us exploring and learning at our own pace. We were given choices of how we wanted to represent our learning. During this time as well our school was getting smart boards. This changed the way material was presented to us. We could see videos, and interact with the smart board. I love this style of learning. You have interaction with the teacher and the delivery of information is done with technology. This is how I try to teach because I have seen the benefits as a learner.

Then there was Fully Online Learning

I have taken a couple fully online classes. Bates says

            “that fully online courses are more suitable for more experienced students with a strong motivation to take such courses because of the impact they have on their quality of life.”

I agree with this statement. In high school I went on an exchange to Quebec for 3 months. For me to get all of my credits I needed to take an online class. I choose chemistry. This class was a lot of text based. I had to read and answer questions. The teacher was hard to get a hold of and with mostly text the material was hard to understand. I ended up getting help from other chemistry teachers in the school. I was not ready for this class nor motivated.

As I entered university I tried more online classes. As Bates states

“Students study in their own time, at the place of their choice (home, work or learning centre), and without face-to-face contact with a teacher.”

This is the reason why I choose online classes in university. It was on my own time and I do not have to go to the university. I enjoyed these classes better than my high school online class. Professors are more accessible. Videos and recordings are integrated so I am not only reading text. I was ready and motivated to learn. I got to choose these classes and it was not just about getting the credit to graduate.

The Elements and my Experiences

Text

Photo Credit: christian.grelard Flickr via Compfightcc


“Text can come in many formats, including printed textbooks, text messages, novels, magazines, newspapers, scribbled notes, journal articles, essays, novels, online asynchronous discussions and so on.”

Throughout my education text has been a major part. Bates provides different formants text comes in. I have interacted with all of those. Throughout school you are reading or writing essays. You are reading textbooks and novels. You are finding online articles. You are writing journal entries or blog posts. You are reading notes on the board. All schools have libraries. Classrooms are filled with books. Text is everywhere and an important part of education.

I have noticed the evolution of text. It started as a book I would sign out in the library and has changed to an article I will find and read online. I used to write in journals and now am blogging. I used to hand write notes in a notebook and now I am typing up notes on my laptop. Text has changed as technology and blended learning is being implanted. The delivery of text is changing and will continue to change.

Video

I have got to see video in classrooms transform while I went to school. It started with a big box TV on a rolling cart. When you heard the TV rolling down the hall it was an exciting day. We got to enjoy magic school bus on VHS. Our VHS changed to DVD’s and a smaller TV. This eventually moved to YouTube videos on the smart board. When the Mac lab came in high school teachers and students could now make their own videos. Teachers could record what we were doing and create videos. The limits became endless.

“The ability to stop, rewind and replay video becomes crucial for skills development, as student activity usually takes place separately from the actual viewing of the video”

I agree with this statement. As video was integrated into my education experience you could stop and ask questions. You could replay something you missed. We got to learn all of these skills. For me, video made learning more fun and allowed me to take control of my learning.

Social Media

“The main feature of social media is that they empower the end user to access, create, disseminate and share information easily in a user-friendly, open environment.”

I agree with this statement as well. During university I have learnt that I can learn from social media. With social media being an open environment you have so much access to resources and other people. This is where I have done a lot of my learning lately. I am able to connect with other people on twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. and learn from them.

 Conclusion

I am enjoying where technology is taking education. My favorite style of learning is blended learning. I enjoy having the connection with the teacher in a face to face way. I like how social media, text and video are integrated to allow an engaging way to present content. I love how accessible information is in blended learning.  I love how you learn at your own pace. It is a program that is made just for me. This is the style I learn best in and the style I would like to teach in.

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?


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!