Evidence: Blog Post – Investigating OER: LabSpace (May 17, 2014)

OLTD 505 Learning Outcome addressed: Identify, critically assess, and evaluate existing OERs, OER platforms, and repositories

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

My blog post critiquing LabSpace, an Open Educational Resource (OER) based in the United Kingdom, specifically addresses the learning outcome of critically assessing an existing OER. I had never explored open educational resources, and was amazed at the abundance of resources that were available free to use. However, as the learning outcome suggests, looking critically at a resource is important to assess whether or not it will be of use to you in the classroom. All open educational resources are not created equally, and considering the user (students) when deciding which resource to use is important. Following a set of guidelines when critically assessing made me aware of some areas I had never before considered, for example, accessibility of the resource to all students.

The way people access information and learn has changed significantly since the introduction of the internet. As an online educator, I need to be aware of what resources are available, not only to me to use in the classroom, but also to my students as support for their learning. I am very interested in the OER approach to textbooks, and would like to explore my options with free resources in this area. I plan on reviewing more of the OERs that were critiqued by my fellow classmates, and investigate how I can use these resources going forward.

Investigating OERs: LabSpace (Blog post)

Evidence: Final Summary of Learning (Doodle and accompanying video) – Open Educational Resources (June 5, 2014)

OLTD 505 Learning Outcome addressed: Articulate one’s summary of learning in the course in a multimedia, online format

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

This evidence consists of two parts; a ‘doodle’ that summarizes my learning throughout the course, and a video outlining my thoughts about the content as I created the doodle. The evidence addresses the learning outcome in two ways. On the surface, it is in fact a summary of what I learned. When creating the doodle, I reread many of my cohort’s blog posts and G+ comments in addition to reviewing many of the resources selected by our instructor. The illustration is truly a summary of what I learned about open educational resources, as I had only a minimal idea of what they were about prior to the course. I now have a working knowledge of what resources are available (for free) and the importance of sharing resources, particularly in an educational setting.

The second way this evidence supports the learning outcome is in the creation of a multimedia presentation. I had no previous experience in creating a video, and with the support of some of my classmates, was able to learn how to use ActivePresenter to create my video. The use of multimedia online presentation throughout this course emphasised for me the value of using this format when teaching and learning online. I was inspired by many of the multimedia presentations created by my cohort, and appreciated learning in this format.

Articulating one’s summary of learning in the course, in any format, is important as an educational tool. Students benefit from reflecting upon their learning over a course, recognizing how they have grown and celebrating what they have learned. Educators also benefit from reading these summaries, as it illustrates whether you teaching has been effective for that student, or ways you could improve or change your approach. At present, I do not include reflection or summaries of learning in my practice. However, I see the value of this approach, and would like to consider how I might incorporate this into my classroom, in particular with my literacy level students. Recognizing how much they have learned would go a long way to helping them boost their self-esteem.

 

505 summary take 2_edited-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video Explanation of Doodle

Evidence: Final project submission (Prezi presentation and Reflection piece) (April 9, 2014)

OLTD 504 Learning Outcome addressed: Plan learning opportunities most suitable to the strengths and challenges of a variety of LMS and non-LMS environments.

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

As a final project for OLTD 504, students were asked to consider the following critical question:

How can Learning Management Systems (LMS and/or non-LMS) help me develop courses where students learn in the best way for them, while providing me with the tools I require for efficient and efficacious presentation, moderation, support and assessment (for, as, and of learning)?

I chose to create a visual representation of my answer, and reflected upon my presentation in a short written document.

To fully answer this question, I had to become more familiar with non-LMS tools.  I have been very LMS-centric, and was nervous about going outside the walls of my LMS.  Inclusion of non-LMS tools in my course design shows a change in attitude and knowledge towards web tools.  I now appreciate the power a web tool can offer, as they are usually designed for specific tasks and do that job well.  My teaching style has typically relied on behaviourist, cognitive and constructivist learning theories.  But after seeing how I can blend LMS and non-LMS tools to help students learn, I am also interested in exploring connectivism.

To create a Prezi presentation, I had to first learn the software.  As I became more comfortable with the environment, I was able to consider how I might use this tool with my students.  I was able to identify some strengths (e.g., visual appeal and ‘drag-and-click’ features) and challenges (e.g., uploading of PowerPoint movies) as I worked through my project.  Knowing more about this Web 2.0 tool helps me decide if it would be an effective tool for students on specific projects.

I believe the visual aspect of my presentation is one it’s strengths.  I have placed my LMS firmly in the centre of my diagram, with non-LMS tools surrounding the core.  The connections between the LMS and non-LMS pieces flow in both directions, with students starting from their home-base (LMS), reaching out to Web 2.0 tools for research, collaboration and exploration, and then bringing this new information back to the LMS.  I have identified the components of the LMS that I feel are its strengths, and highlighted how I would use them in my course.  I chose Web 2.0 tools based on their strengths and how they would work for the group of learners being considered.  These tools can easily be changed for other learning situations or groups of learners.

Planning learning opportunities that suit the strengths and challenges of LMS and non-LMS environments is important.  Students could easily become disengaged when asked to complete tasks using tools that are inappropriate for the job or are so complicated that more time is spent learning the tool than learning with the tool.  As I work on developing my online courses, I need to carefully consider my learners, what learning is required and what tool may be best for the job.  The right tool may not be the same for every student within a class, nor will it always be the same for every class.

Prezi Presentation

Reflection on Final Project

Evidence: Recording of my presentation on Desire2Learn content tools (synchronous Collaborate session March 15, 2014)

OLTD 504 Learning Outcome addressed: Demonstrate basic competency with design and implementation within a variety of LMS and non-LMS environments and tools.

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

Our cohort participated in a Jigsaw activity in order to learn about Learning Management Systems (LMSs).  We were divided into teaching teams and assigned a LMS (Desire2Learn, Moodle or Canvas) based on our choice.  Each team then met as a group and members chose which tool(s) they would become an expert in and then teach the LMS group during a synchronous Blackboard Collaborate session.  I chose to work with Desire2Learn, as it is the LMS in use at VIU, where I currently teach.

LMSs can be challenging to learn on your own, as they often contain many tools.  Working together as a team to learn how to use D2L is an effective (and efficient) way to gain basic competency with the tools needed for design and implementation of the LMS.  Even though I have used D2L for two years, I still found it very helpful to listen and participate as my team walked me through features that I had never used, or had not used enough to be proficient.  For example, I have never used the Gradebook feature, but after seeing how it works, and hearing how useful it is from team members that already use it, I will be using this feature in my upcoming courses.

Another way this evidence addresses the outcome is in the presentation piece itself.  In order to present successfully, I had to be familiar with the non-LMS environment, Blackboard Collaborate.  To prepare for my piece of the Jigsaw presentation, I met with other team members in the Collaborate room to practice screen sharing, uploading of PowerPoint slides, and a quick run-through of my presentation.  This helped with my confidence during the actual session.

Basic competency with design and implementation within a variety of LMS and non-LMS environments and tools is important. Understanding how a tool works and what it offers is a critical first step in deciding whether the tool meets the learning needs of your students as well as meeting your teaching needs.  Using a combination of LMS and non-LMS tools may be an effective way to approach the design of your course.  As I move forward, I intend to explore more non-LMS tools and include them in my course design to enhance my student’s learning.

Jigsaw for LMS – Desire2Learn (video link to VIUTube)

 

Evidence: Final paper for OLTD 503 – Reflections on Communication and Community in Online Learning (Feb. 21, 2014)

OLTD Learning Outcomes addressed:

Undertake engagement with environment through online facilitation for effective learning

  • building learning communities and communities of practice

Consider responsibility, accountability and civility in online environments

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

As a final assignment in OLTD 503, we were asked to reflect upon our teaching philosophy in connection to online communication. I chose to summarize my thoughts in an APA format academic paper.

A cohesive online learning community plays an important role in effective online learning. During 503, I was introduced to many different models that described the process of group communication and online learning, but they all shared an emphasis on forming a learning community early on in the learning process. I learned that it is important to provide time for students to first become comfortable with the online environment before asking them to begin interacting with others or even to begin learning the content of the course. As a facilitator (instructor), I can foster online learning communities by carefully planning introductory activities (such as ice-breakers) and creating a safe learning environment.

For this assignment, I also reflected upon my responsibilities as a facilitator of an online learning community. Moderators do not need to be active participants in discussions designed for the students; rather, they should respond only when necessary to clarify or encourage further discussion. Planning is essential for successful online facilitation, and as an instructor I have a responsibility to my students to ensure that activities are well-designed with clear instructions. I also need to consider the time required to complete assigned tasks, ensuring that I do not ask so much of my students that they do not have time to process the information and respond thoughtfully.

As a face-to-face instructor, I understand how to build a learning community within my classroom where I am able to read the students’ body language and interact directly with them. Understanding how to build an online learning community is very important for instructors that are transitioning to a blended or online learning format. Online learning is not very effective when done in isolation; it is when a community of learning forms that deeper learning among students can happen. It can also be overwhelming from a workload perspective to transition from face-to-face instruction to an online environment. It is important to consider your responsibilities as an online instructor and clearly define your role to your students. As I move into a blended format, I need to consider what I have learned about building an online learning community and incorporate these techniques at the beginning of my courses.

 

Communication and Community in Online Learning

Evidence: Team Seminar Collaborate Session (Supporting Online Learning) and Seminar Newsletter (Feb. 10, 2014)

OLTD Learning Outcomes addressed:

Undertake engagement with environment through online facilitation for effective learning

  • Moderation and mediation
  • Understand how to build rapport and manage groups

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

During 503 (January 4 – Feb 18, 2014), our cohort formed five teams to conduct learner-led seminars during our 6 weeks together. Each team prepared a 7-day learning experience, including an online seminar. Our four member team designed and conducted the final seminar on the topic of supporting online learning. The two pieces of evidence provided here are our team’s online seminar, where each team member had a speaking and guiding role, and the newsletter I created for our team.

The newsletter contained an outline of the week’s events and contact information for each of our team members. In order to entice our cohort to read over the newsletter, I used visuals such as colour, images and inspirational quotes about education. The newsletter also served to begin building rapport with our students, providing them with a photo and mini-biography of each team leader. The theme of the newsletter was incorporated into the slides used during our synchronous session, tying the 7-day course materials together as one package.

Teaching online was a new experience for me, but working with my team made the job less daunting. We were able to build a rapport with each other, and this carried us through a successful online seminar and learning week. Our team also practiced using the Collaborate environment prior to facilitating the synchronous session, so we were able to effectively use tools within the environment for effective learning. For example, I was able to clearly communicate instructions using video, audio and text, as well as move between rooms to monitor the breakout discussions and help support my teammates through the moderator chat.

The main learning activity for our synchronous session was a jigsaw. I have used this cooperative learning strategy often in a face-to-face environment, but was unsure if it could be successful in an online space. What I discovered is that through careful pre-planning and moderation of the synchronous session, an online jigsaw can be very effective.

Online facilitation requires careful planning and comfort with the environment. When the instructor has developed a rapport with their students, individual or group activities online can be very successful. An instructor must have solid moderator and mediator skills to ensure that students stay on track and learning is happening in a respectful environment. I will continue to practice my moderating and mediating skills as I incorporate more online learning in my face-to-face courses.

 

Team Seminar Blackboard Collaborate Session (must download Blackboard launcher to view) – Supporting Online Learning

Team Seminar Newsletter

Evidence: Final project – Build a technology implementation plan to guide integration of technology in your own setting (Dec. 21, 2013)

“Technology Implementation in an Adult Literacy Math Classroom”

OLTD Learning Outcome addressed: Develop skills to optimize learning experiences through personalization based on characteristics, needs, stages of development, current personalized learning mandates and misconceptions.

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

I chose to design a technology implementation plan for my school as my final project for OLTD 502 (Nov – Dec 2013). I teach literacy math to adult learners and was interested in exploring the challenges around incorporating technology into my classroom. The outcome was a paper discussing my Central Inquiry Question:

Given that mathematics is a very challenging subject to transfer to a digital world, how (and what) math concepts can be learned in an online environment?

During 502, we were introduced to several different frameworks for designing online or blended courses. The framework that I chose to further explore to complete my implementation plan was TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge). This framework outlines the importance of blending all three areas of knowledge to be successful in teaching and learning online. The model allows for personalization in each of the areas. In my paper, I discuss how adult learners learn differently than children (andragogy rather than pedagogy), the importance of Prior Learning Assessment to allow personalization of the content, and careful choice of online tools to reflect adult learners comfort with technology.

Writing this paper has also reinforced to me the importance of increasing my circle of knowledge in terms of technology and the tools that are available for my students. I am comfortable with both content and andragogical knowledge, but have limited knowledge of technology. This learning outcome also speaks to how I must consider my own learning mandates and misconceptions to optimize my learning experience as I move through the OLTD program.

Optimizing learning experiences for our students is one of the main jobs of an educator. Often students are not able to recognize what they need in order to grow and learn. Guiding my students by using carefully designed learning opportunities that address learner’s needs in terms of learning styles and stage of development will help them move towards success. I would also like to begin conducting formal Prior Learning Assessments to identify misconceptions early in my students learning.

Technology implementation

Evidence: Lesson Plan Critique and Re-design (Dec. 9, 2013)

Critique of a Chemistry 067 (Grade 12) solubility lesson plan using the principles outlined in the Universal Design for Learning

OLTD Learning Outcome addressed: Develop and design intentional learning activities suitable for the learning environment and the learner

    • Incorporation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles; and
    • Selection of strategies and resources appropriate for the learning environment, learners, and learning outcomes.

Reflection to Support Evidence:

Although I consider myself a careful planner when it comes to creating a lesson, I have never really examined my lessons using principles of any learning theory. After being introduced to both Understanding by Design and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), I was drawn to the principles of UDL. I appreciated the basic principle behind this design; that everything I do in the classroom should be considered from the perspective of increasing access to learning. This includes multiple means of representation, action, expression and engagement. Considering one lesson plan in light of these principles made me realize that I could create much richer learning experiences for my students. For example, the example lesson plan addressed mainly one type of learner, text-based, but did not provide opportunities for other learning styles.   I believe the evidence I have chosen to support the OLTD 502 learning outcomes illustrates that I have learned how to re-evaluate my approach to teaching and can, with careful consideration, choose strategies and resources that better suit a wide range of learners and learning styles.

Learning how to develop and design intentional learning activities that suit many different learning environments and learners is an important skill for any educator. As I move into an online or blended environment, I will have an increased number of multimedia resources to choose from to enhance my teaching practice. Being able to choose learning activities that suit my student population, and being flexible in how my students show me what they have learned, will go a long way towards creating a rich learning environment. Moving forward, I would like to apply the UDL principles to other lesson plans, particularly for topics where I know students struggle, to see how I can better support their success.

 

Lesson Plan Critique and Redesign

Solubility lesson plan before redesign

Evidence:  Topic 3 Learning Activity: Your Online Learning Design model (Sept, 27, 2013)

OLTD Learning Outcome addressedIntegrate current cognitive learning and brain-based learning theory

Reflection to Support Evidence:

Creating an online learning design model involved careful consideration of my own teaching philosophy relative to different learning theories.  I used SmartArt, a tool in Microsoft Powerpoint, to create a visual model that represented my ideas around learning.  I then explained my model in a short summary.  The files for each are linked below.

When I first attempted to create a visual model, I struggled with how I could get everything to fit neatly together.  I had never used SmartArt before, so there were a few bumps along the way as I became familiar with the tool.  I knew how I did things in the classroom, but I had never been asked to articulate it in any way, and I found it incredibly challenging to put my thoughts on (digital) paper.  There were several false starts.

This learning activity was assigned after spending time discussing different schools of learning and learning styles.  I revisited this information and thought about how it applied to how I teach.  Effectively using brain-based learning requires an understanding of your student and their learning environment.  I incorporated this idea in the design step of my learning model, where I consider who my learners are, where they come from and what they value.  I integrate three different schools of learning throughout my courses (behaviourist, cognitive and constructivist), although I would like to improve upon using the constructivist model and include more case studies or project style learning.  I also learned that assessment (or evaluation) is not only a measure of achievement but can also provide motivation.  Brain-based learning suggests that students’ motivation is increased by immediate, constructive feedback.  I included this idea in my evaluation portion of my learning model, providing learners with both formative and summative assessments.  I also felt it was important to allow the learners to evaluate me and the way they were learning, so I included evaluation “by learners” in my process.  In the end, I feel I created a learning model that integrates cognitive learning and brain-based learning theory.

Much research is currently being conducted on how the brain learns, and it is important to integrate current learning theory into your teaching.  Understanding that learning improves when students are engaged and feel safe and relaxed helps to shape the way an instructor designs a course, course content and activities.  One way of implementing this outcome in my practice is to lead discussions with my students regarding the connection between nutrition, adequate sleep and learning.  I will also continue to reflect on brain-based learning theory when I create new activities for my courses.

A good summary of Key Findings on Brain-based Learning can be found here.

 

Learning Model with Explanation

Evidence: Topic 2 Learning Activity: Script writing and narration of “eLearning Sucks” slidedeck presentation (see below for a link to this evidence) (Sept. 20, 2013)

OLTD Outcome addressed: Select strategies and resources appropriate for environment, learners and learning outcomes

Reflection to Support Evidence:

The narration project addressed the learning outcome in two different ways.  Creation of a narration introduced me to a learning strategy that I had not previously been exposed to.  I had to learn a new skill of recording my voice, along with practicing speaking slowly and clearly, something I often have to remind myself to do in the classroom.  I began to think about how this learning strategy could be applied in my own classroom, perhaps as a project or a review activity.   This strategy would allow for all different levels of learners and styles of learning, such as auditory, visual and kinesthetic.  Creating a narration tends toward a constructivist school of learning, as the interpretation of the slideshow relies on the students own perspectives and connection to their reality, allows them to personalize the meaning and is active learning.

The second way the narration project addressed the learning outcome is through the content of the slideshow.  The first 14 slides identified lecture as a poor choice for learning.  While preparing the narration, I spent some time investigating different learning styles and attention spans of the average adult.  Having a better understanding of how learners learn will help me make better choices in the strategies and resources I use in my instruction.  In addition, my research opened my eyes to other strategies that I have not used in my teaching such as gaming, discussion groups (locally and globally), blog posts, or WordArt.

This learning outcome is important as it is easy to fall into a rhythm of teaching that, while comfortable, does not always address the needs of the students.  Learning happens in different ways and at different rates, and instructors need to be able to provide learning strategies that address learning styles across the spectrum.  Successfully selecting appropriate learning strategies and resources that engage the learner while meeting learning outcomes is a skill that any instructor, including online, should strengthen.  I will continue to explore different ways of learning for both my face-to-face classroom as well as the online environment.

 

 

Evidence:

E-Learning Sucks Script (Slides 1-14)

Audio file for Slides 1-14 “E-learning Sucks”