Summary of Learning

Hello all!

I had such a great semester with you all in EC&I 834! I learnt so much about blended learning, new tools to use in my classroom, and probably made one of the best courses for my class. I am so excited to use my course prototype in my classroom!

Thank you for all your help, guidance, and knowledge.

Now, for the moment you are all… reading for…

My Summary of Learning for EC&I 834

 

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The future of online education is here

I think I have learnt a lot in this class, but this week, I looked at the questions provided by Alec and they really had me thinking. This week’s blog post touches on mostly those questions, but also what how I will take the knowledge I have learnt in EC&I 834 and implement it into my own classroom.

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This class has taught me to define my style of teaching as blended learning. I have always used technology in the classroom, but Alec’s classes have taught me which tools to use to take my class to the next level. Using Google classroom, I have created a space where my students can access information anywhere. They can receive instruction, open attachments to handouts and assignments, they can go to links to other websites, view videos and hand everything in on one platform.

 

With my course prototype I was able to complete a lesson that was completely online. Technically there needs to be a facilitator to set up an interview, and career fair but other than that the SYA program can be done without the help of a teacher once the students have entered the classroom. So last week, when Alec asked if schools could ever be replaced by online learning, it really had me thinking.


Photo Credit: Lee Bennett Flickr via Compfight cc

 

In theory, assignments, videos and lessons could we posted online and students could complete them at home. So schools could, at this point, be replaced by online learning, but I do not think it is a good idea. Alec asked if there are limits to online learning and I think the answer is yes.

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The best part of school is the socialization. Learning how to respect each other, learn from one another, how to treat people, act in public, how to speak to people you do not know, and how to form relationships is one of the most important things about schooling. Some of the best moments I have in my class is when we are having a group discussion and we are connecting thoughts, laughing and learning together. It is one of the main reasons I became a teacher, and I do not want to lose that.

 

That being said, I do think there is a spot for connecting online. I think some of the best moments in EC&I have been when we have connected as a group. When we talk about each others blogs, projects and we start really talking about issues or tools that have helped us in class. When we use tools like Zoom, or Flipgrid, it allows us to connect through the screen. Alec asked “how do we ensure that online learners are given opportunities to socialize? (Or, how do we address interactions in online courses where parents have chosen the online route in order to avoid socialization?) First of all, I think that we need to create assignments where students connect. Whether it be looking and responding to each others work, or having face to face conversations. It is possible to create these types of interactions; we just need to plan for them. As for people who avoid socialization. I do not think I agree with it. It will be very hard to avoid socialization throughout your life, plus I do not know if it is entirely healthy. I think there needs to be steps in place to learn how to cope and learn from our fears.

 

Although I have embraced technology in my classroom, it is clear that I think there are limits to what can be taught online. I even think about how many questions my students have, or how they get off track and need to be taught what to focus on, and how they need guidance in order to figure out how to determine what is important. I think there is something to be said about how content is delivered. You need to be able to feel the importance, excitement and passion from the teacher before learners really buy into the content. Tools like Screencastify has allowed us to convey some of this passion, but it is a different skill set to be able to deliver content passionately through a video.

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For now, I think the best option for my students and myself is to keep learning new tools that enhance learning. I want to be able to deliver content to my students, have some connection with them and then teach them the skills and knowledge it takes to use the internet successfully. Technology is only becoming more prominent in the workforce (especially in Auto) so it is important that my students are equipped to use technology, and express themselves in order to be successful. Blended learning, in my opinion is the best way to deliver education right now. It is the best of both worlds.

The end is near… Course Prototype Submission

Hello all,

I have finally finished my Course Prototype and I am really excited.

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This is not only a course I can use within my classroom, but my entire school (and division) can use. As I mentioned in my Course Profile, my intention was to create a place where students can gain access to education about trades, their options and become prepared to enter the field of their choice. I have so many modules I would like to complete for this course, but for the sake of this assignment I took on Sask. Youth Apprenticeship. 

In my Course Walk Through you can see that I have tackled four main areas:

  1. What is Apprenticeship and Sask Youth Apprenticeship
  2. Level One
  3. Level Two
  4. Level Three

I have basically created a place where students can log on and complete SYA with, or without the help of a teacher. I am helping those students who want to enter the trades access knowledge, training, experience, funding, and skills such as interviewing.

I have assigned SYA to my students for years. Usually through different methods (paper copies, matching quizzes) but the students sometimes did not finish. They found it boring and it did not relate to their learning style. By looking at the Passport from SYA, and using tools and knowledge I gained in my Alec classes, I was able to use platforms and create assignments that were interactive, engaging and easier to use. I really think my students are going to see how it all comes together on Google Classroom, what is expected of them and how they can easily gain the benefits of SYA.

I also want to thank my reviewers! I took their suggestions seriously by adding a Work Experience Reflection Via Flipgrid, a 4 point rubric for my Research a Trade report so students are clear on their expectations and how to achieve a better grade, and I added a task where students will spend time editing each other’s trade reports in order to connect the students and make my online classroom more personal.

Campus Regina Public has always focused on SYA, but we have struggled with two issues: not all teachers are aware of what it is, or how to do it, and a platform that is engaging enough to help students want to complete SYA. I think I have found a solution for both of these concerns and I am excited to share it with my peers!

I hope you find this useful, and I am sorry if you are not a part of Regina Public Schools and cannot access the material, but IF YOU ARE, and you think a student would benefit from this course, shoot me an email! The more students who gain the knowledge about their futures, and finish this awesome opportunity the better.

 

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Cutting the strings on censoring student communication

Student interactions online have always worried me. I grew up in a time where MSN and chat rooms were developing. Girls my age used those tools to bully other girls. Negative comments are one of the worst parts of the internet, so allowing my students to communicate freely freaks me out. I do not want them to speak  negatively to each other, or about their work. I just always assumed it was better to leave that part out of my Google Classroom. One time one of my students started a comment feed and I abruptly disabled the option.

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This class has made me think twice about having my students communicate online. In chapter 4.4.1 What is online collaborative learning? They state that “students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge: to invent, to explore ways to innovate, and, by so doing, to seek the conceptual knowledge needed to solve problems rather than recite what they think is the right answer.” I know that there are many benefits to it, so maybe I just need to trust my students.

I think open communication could be good. For example, my students could ask each other questions about the assignments. They could discuss the material, help each other find resources, and have conversations online through my course. In the chapter “Harasim emphasises the importance of three key phases of knowledge construction through discourse:

  • idea generating: this is literally brainstorming, to collect the divergent thinking within a group;
  • idea organising: this is where learners compare, analyse and categorise the different ideas previously generated, again through discussion and argument;
  • intellectual convergence: the aim here is to reach a level of intellectual synthesis, understanding and consensus (including agreeing to disagree), usually through the joint construction of some artefact or piece of work, such as an essay or assignment.”

In my Google Classroom I could try allowing students to read each other’s work, and comment. I have always learnt something from my classmates blogs, so I know it would be the same for my students. It also allows them to improve their typing skills and their communication skills.

Photo Credit: Lee Bennett Flickr via Compfight cc

In my course prototype I have implemented a few ways students would communicate with professionals via Zoom. They will essentially video chat with a Journeyperson in their field and interview them. I will ask the Journeyperson to provide feedback on how the student represented themselves. I think this will be beneficial for when the students have a job interview. I know the roles will be reversed, but they will practice interacting with a stranger. Other than that I do not have interactions online.

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As the chapter points out, the benefits of inquiry and communication online are:

  • social presence ” is the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.”
  • teaching presence  is “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes
  • cognitive presence “is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse“.

So why wouldn’t I try to incorporate more online interactions into my course? One thing I can add is implementing a Flipgrid activity for their work experience reflection. Students can express what they learnt and how it went, maybe even if it helped them decide whether or not to get into that career. And maybe I can even have an assignment where the students edit each other’s Research A Trade Report from module one. This way they can spend time learning about other trades, and improve their essential skills like  reading, writing and communication!

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As the chapter points out, successful online collaboration happens when the course is organized. So it will be my job to ensure that meaningful communication is taking place so that all students can learn in a safe environment.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”- Bill Gates

Getting feedback from my peers always make me nervous, but overall everything went well but I have a couple of things to consider!

First of all, I was one of the people affected by the Regina Public School’s privacy policy. On every feedback form I received, they mentioned how they could not access the course. At first I was really frustrated with the lack of responses and help from my tech department, but I know that Google Classroom is the best option for my class. My students know how to use it and it is easy for me to use.

I was forced to send links via email to everyone so they could open and view my materials. For most of my resources this worked fine, but because my EdPuzzle was connected to my classroom they could not view the assignment. I will need to go back and see if there is a way to get a code, or make it public so everyone can access it. Because they could not get into my Google Classroom, they also could not view my course shell. This is something I didn’t even think about. If I could go back, I would attach pictures of my course shell. Due to the privacy policy of my division, I thought about switching platforms, but as I stated above, it is an easy tool for me to use.

I appreciated that everyone said my module was easy to use, and was organized. I try my best to make things easy for students, so they can feel at ease going into my assignments. One of my feedbackers mentioned that it was easier to use than some of the paper copies that they have seen on the desks of their colleagues. I really appreciate this because I think Sask. Youth Apprenticeship is so important and I want students to finish it in order to gain the benefits of the program.

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For one of my assignments, Research a Trade, a feebacker mentioned that I should use a 4 point rubric instead of marks out of ten. They explain that “students seem to appreciate that they understand more of the criteria it takes to get a higher grade in a certain category, instead of something just being worth 10 marks, and not knowing how to get there.”  I think this is a great point and I will be incorporating one in order to make my assessment stronger and more beneficial for my students.

For my next part, I attempt to finish Level two and three of SYA. One of my feebackers even provided me with a quiz for the terminology challenge. They provided study notes and a quiz.  which I really appreciate (thank you!)

Overall I received some constructive criticism and some helpful resources. I plan to take this feedback and implement it into my module. I need to ensure that it is the best for students and adding in ideas from my PLC is only beneficial!

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My rant on blended learning and teachers who refuse to embrace it

This week’s topic was to explore something of interest that relates to blended learning. To be honest, I was not sure where I wanted to go with this blog post, but then an article caught my attention….

To be honest, it sparked some anger. For years now, colleagues have ignored blended learning, dismissing it’s potential, and many are unwilling to learn about, or implement any online tools or aids. Frankly, this annoys me. I can’t stand when a teacher is at the front lecturing. From my experience, many students tune out (including myself). They miss half the lesson, feel tired and bored and do not see the importance of the given lesson.

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I often wondered why teachers were so negative about blended learning when there were so many benefits. In my research I came across the article 6 Common Misconceptions About Blended Learning and I found these misconceptions to be the most prevalent:

  1. Students work in isolation.

Blended learning “can serve as a means to increase interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers.” The idea that teachers take a break from lecturing to make connections with their students, discuss their work and improve together is very valuable. Maybe it is important to discuss this with teachers and tell our success stories to back up our thoughts and facts.

  1. Blended, hybrid and online learning are less work than traditional, face-to-face instruction. This made me laugh. Blended learning is so much work. I often find that I will finish a lesson and within a couple of weeks, or the next semester I will need to update the information. I find myself constantly making sure my links work and are engaging. I also have the responsibility of teaching the content to my students, but also ensuring my Google Classroom is up to date and everything is ready ahead of time. I wish it was less work, but it is not. I am not complaining, I know my students are more interested, but blended learning is much more then uploading.

The article also had some informative infographics:

Blended Learning Blog Infographic 1

I feel like it is a teacher’s obligation to learn things that are beneficial for student learning, and blended learning is a great way to engage students. Blended learning ensures students are investigating themselves. It provides them with the chance to learn about anything they want, and allows them to be interactive and responsible. It also allows them to use the internet, where they spend most of their time anyway!

I also think it is a great way for teachers to learn new topics, step out of their comfort zone, and heck, get some help with content delivery (I know a lot of us teachers think we know everything, but we don’t!) I am not saying that we need to ditch teaching face to face all together, but we need to be able to combine the two types of teaching and learning in order to do what is best for our students, what will make them take in the most content, and take the time to interact, investigate and participate in the world around them.

In the article BLENDED LEARNING IS NOT AN OPTION ANYMORE BY MATTHEW LYNCH He explains that it makes sense that factory-style education should disappear from schools. Modern technology has changed the way we think about work and how we perform our jobs. This same technology has changed education for the better.

He lists a few reasons why blended learning is for the better, such as it is less restrictive. No one likes being told how to think and do. Blended Learning allows students to research their thoughts and opinions. The students feel like they have a say and in that we create empowered students.

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Blended learning is more authentic- we don’t know everything enlist the help of experts! Lynch describes how blended learning is a “versatile tool that helps students learn new material or reinforce what they have just learned.”

It also creates flexibility. Students are able to work at their own pace, investigate areas of interest and connect with people they might not have otherwise.

I cannot stand when other teachers are against blended learning. I am happy that I was able to investigate my feelings (okay, maybe rant to you guys) but also I was able to educate myself. Read about why people do not like blended learning, but also reaffirm why I incorporate blended learning into my classroom. Hey, maybe I can even change some teacher’s minds with my new found facts!

Photo Credit: Harris County Public Library Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Testing testing… Screencastify

This week, I decided to take on a concept that I have often wondered about… but have been too afraid to try: Screencastify!

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In my past classes with Alec, many people have used it,  but I never took the leap. Last week in class Dani kept saying how easy it was to use, and I trust her, so I decided to give it a try.

The first step to using Screencastify is to download it to your Chrome Suite. I Googled “Screencastify,” clicked on the first link and clicked the download button on the top right. It was super easy.

Right away I was taken to a YouTube video explaining how to use Screencastify:

I am not going to lie to you, this was not my favourite video. It’s not a bad video, and now that I have used Screencastify I can see how it is useful, but as a first time user, I was concerned that this would be harder than I thought. I actually went to a couple more like this one below:

Already it had better music, better details, and made me feel at ease.

So after you decide what to present there are three options: Browser Tab which shows what you are searching though on the web, Desktop which shows what you are presenting, and Webcam Only which is you speaking on the screen. I thought that using all three were fairly simple. I could not figure out how to see the preview of me talking while presenting on Desktop which made me uneasy. I wanted to be able to see how I looked at all times.

I decided to start my project and record my Apprenticeship and Sask. Youth Apprenticeship presentation. Right away I was frustrated with filming. I kept messing up my words and starting over because I didn’t like how it looked. It didn’t help that it counts down how many videos you have left before you need to pay…

After a while, I realized that I needed to practice more to feel at ease. At one point, my webcam went off and it stopped filming. I received a notification saying that it stopped, and that it changed my settings, and to be honest, I am unsure which setting was changed, but it worked after, so I kept going.

At this point,I was worried that I would need to start all over, so I started to Google “How to Edit Screencastify.” After discovering that I could put videos together, I felt better about messing up.  I talked until I flubbed, and then stopped the recording only to pick up where I left off. I ended up filming my presentation in 3 sittings.

At some point, I also lost the option of showing me speaking, but I felt more comfortable and finished talking about the content.

After I was done, I was over the ten minute free trial, so I needed to cut some slides. When I tried to edit, I was quickly reminded that I only had three days to edit…

     

Editing was pretty easy. The only option I was really given was to cut.

From here I had to click the + button to add my three videos. I looked at the presentation, decided where I wanted to cut, took out some parts where I sounded bad, and put it together. It was also longer than the free ten minutes so I deleted some other parts.

When the video was done, I was worried it would delete without the upgrade so I decided to download it to my computer. I took about 10 minutes to fully download, but then was available on my computer!

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What didn’t I like about Screencastify? The tutorials. The lack of free options. The fact that I was pressured into upgrading. It timed out on me. It stopped showing me halfway through, and it took too long to download.

So what did I like about Screencastify? It was pretty easy to use once I practiced. I liked how easy it was to put my three videos into one, and now I have a presentation I can use when my students miss the class!

I think this is a great tool to make presentations, and once I get used to it, I feel like I could make way cooler videos. I actually might pay for the upgrade to make it more interesting for my students. I think Screencastify got the job done, and I am happy I learnt how to make a presentation!