Evidence: Online lesson hosted in VIULearn designed for Adult Fundamental Math (introduction to graphs) (Dec 8, 2014)

OLTD 507 Learning Outcome addressed: Develop an online unit or lesson using cloud tools effectively

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

For the final assignment in OLTD 507, I created an introductory graphing lesson aimed towards adult literacy math learners. This lesson was housed in VIULearn, and includes content as html pages in the website as well as activities designed around various cloud tools. Since VIULearn is password protected, I created a screen capture highlighting some of the activities within my lesson.

Prior to creating a lesson, we were introduced to 3 different course design styles; Project based learning, Flipped classroom, and the traditional delivery model. My teaching style and the course I chose to create a lesson for worked best with the traditional delivery model. This model provides a hook, instruction on the concept and then time for the students to demonstrate their learning. The lesson needed to include evidence of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, and use a minimum of two different cloud tools, discussion, and an assignment with a rubric or assessment criteria. When creating the lesson, I revisited the idea of Backward Design, and determined what it was I wanted my students to be able to understand by the end of the lesson and how they would demonstrate this learning. This helped guide my choices of learning activities and cloud tools for my lesson. While I have been working towards a blended learning environment for my students, after completing this lesson build I realize that I need to re-evaluate some of my lessons to ensure they are easy to follow, support many different learning styles and meet universal accessibility guidelines.

While some content may come prepackaged, many online educators create their own lessons or customize existing ones to suit their own teaching style. Being able to create online units or lessons that include effective use of cloud tools is an important skill for educators. It is always important to create clear, easy to follow lessons but if you are operating in an online environment (without the advantage of face-to-face) it is even more critical. A well-crafted online lesson starts by having a clear idea of what you want your students to know and how they will show you. Knowing this can help guide your choice of cloud tools that will meet your objectives.

 

Evidence link:

Video tour of introduction to graphing unit (adult literacy math) (housed in VIUTube)

 

Evidence: Tool evaluation form and evaluation of seven cloud tools (Dec 2014)

OLTD 507 Learning Outcome addressed: Identify appropriate use of cloud tools in an online course

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

The first major assignment for OLTD 507 was to create a tool to analyze cloud tools in an educational setting. I chose to create my tool using Microsoft Excel, and tried to make it interactive rather than simply a document to read. I then created a walk-through video of my evaluation form using ActivePresenter (a free screen capture cloud tool).

In order to create the evaluation tool, I had to be clear what my criteria would be regarding tool usefulness. After reviewing various tools and participating in discussions with my cohort, I settled on accessibility, usability and privacy as my top three categories. Within each of these categories, I determined what characteristics would make a tool accessible and useful. I found it challenging to narrow down the list to a manageable number. In terms of accessibility and usability, I went back and reviewed Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and based many of my criteria on those principles. I also included a separate section on features of the tool. This section encourages evaluators to consider what type of learning activity the tool may be best suited for. Is it suitable for group learning or better as an individual tool? Can it provide a variety of ways to show what they know? To establish this list of criteria, I considered different ways of learning and how this learning might be reflected through use of a specific tool.

Being able to choose which tool best fits your learning objectives as well as meets your accessibility, usability and privacy criteria is important as an online educator. With the abundance of cloud tools available, it is easy to be distracted by a tool that looks good but doesn’t actually help meet your objectives. Having an evaluation tool can help educators compare tools based on equal criteria and to carefully consider if the tool meets the needs of both the students and the teacher. In my own practice, I would like to use the form I created to evaluate new tools I may wish to use, as well as share the tool and/or the evaluations with my colleagues as they move into teaching blended courses.

Link to blog post with tool and video

Evidence: Academic Paper (Sept 21, 2014)

OLTD 506 Learning Outcome addressed:

Develop understanding of:

  • functional contexts and restraints
  • employment considerations
  • privacy tensions
  • BC legal context
  • school policies and procedures
  • professional ethics

Analyze the BC educational context for social media use

Reflection to Support Evidence:

Social media is a means for society to communicate with each other. For my first major assignment in OLTD 506, I examined how I might use social media within the boundaries of digital footprints and professionalism, privacy, social justice and safety. The evidence piece, my summary academic paper, was built using a series of blogs I wrote as I progressed through my learning of each boundary.

While researching for this paper, I was able to solidify my understanding of what social media really was. Initially, I had seen social media as simply a tool, but I came to understand that social media is broader than that; it is a combination of content, community and digital tools. While I understood the importance of managing my own digital footprint, I was not familiar with the requirements under the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and my responsibility to ensure that I inform my students (even as adults) of potential risks to their privacy. In addition, choosing to use social media as a learning tool means that I must ensure all students have equal learning opportunities, regardless of whether or not they can afford the tools or access to the Internet.

Understanding issues around social media, such as functional restraints, privacy and policies and procedures, is important as an online educator. Policies and procedures may vary from one school district or post-secondary institution to another, and educators must be aware of their applicable policies when implementing social media in the classroom. Some social media tools may not be allowed or approved for use in certain educational institutions based on their privacy policies. As education professionals, we are held to a code of ethics that requires we protect our students privacy and safety. As I develop more online content for my blended courses, I will ensure that I choose tools that minimize risk to student’s privacy and that I am meeting my obligations under FIPPA and my institution’s policies and procedures.

Stewart_Charlene_oltd506_BoundariesPaper edited

Evidence: Resource Package containing suggestions for activities, consent forms and assessment of privacy risks for the mindmapping tool ‘Coggle’ (Oct 14, 2014)

OLTD 506 Learning Outcome addressed:

Develop emergent expertise with at least one social media tool for education.

  • Develop 2-3 developmentally appropriate activities for tool
  • Develop ‘useable’ permission form for tool use in BC K-12 school
  • Create content for student and parental training to address tool use and management of risks; or create incident response chart
  • Share resources with the field

Reflection to Support Evidence:

For the second major assignment in OLTD 506, I created a Resource Package for the digital mind mapping tool ‘Coggle’. This resource package was intended to supply instructors with enough information about the tool so that if they wished they could use it in their classroom with minimal extra research. The Resource Package provided:

  • three possible activities using Coggle
  • an analysis of relevant VIU policies regarding student conduct, technology use and privacy and how these policies may influence how the tool is used by students as a classroom tool
  • a student consent and user agreement form outlining identifiable privacy risks of the tool
  • a completed Planning and Tool Risk Assessment Worksheet (created by OLTD 506 instructor, Julia Hengstler)

Creating this resource package helped me realize how important it is to be aware of what policies should guide my assessment of a social media or other cloud tool. As I teach at a post-secondary institution, my guiding policies were somewhat different than those of my cohort that teach in the K-12 system, but the underlying principles are the same. It is important to ensure all students have a safe learning environment where their privacy is protected. I now understand what information is necessary to share with parents (or in my case the students themselves) prior to asking them to use a tool. The Planning & Tool Risk Assessment Worksheet prompted me to discover information about my chosen cloud tool that I had never before considered investigating. Understanding where to find cloud tools privacy policies, what personal information is collected and where it is stored, and whether privacy settings can be adjusted are all important pieces of information that can help determine whether or not a tool is appropriate for my students.

Social media tools can be ‘flashy’, trying to entice users with various bells and whistles. As an online or blended teacher, it is important to develop appropriate activities for any tool you wish to use, rather than let the tool guide how it will be used in an educational setting. If the tool does not fit the activity or learning outcome you wish to achieve, then a new tool must be chosen. When using social media tools, teachers must ensure that the parents (or adult students) have been informed of privacy risks and have given their consent. Knowing how to create a useable permission form for use in your classroom, as well as being able to share that resource with other educators, whether within your own school or your larger personal learning network, helps contribute to a socially responsible teaching community.

Coggle Resource Package Submission

Evidence: BYOD Seminar website (February, 2015)

OLTD Learning Outcomes addressed:

  • Research and identify emerging technologies with educational applications not yet adopted by mainstream education or in early adoption phases
  • Examine current research around technology adoption, best practices for change management and technology integration
  • Plan learning opportunities most suitable to the strengths and challenges of a variety of environments and tools
  • Undertake engagement with environment through online facilitation for effective learning – moderation and mediation

Reflection to Support Evidence:

Lisa Lewis, Stephanie Boychuk and I teamed up to co-lead a one-week seminar (Jan 16-22) on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for members of our cohort in OLTD 509. This seminar collected personal experiences with BYOD and generated a resource of lesson plans using BYOD. We were given free rein to run the seminar in any way we wished as long as we kept the time-on-task to six or fewer hours for the week. Our team decided to host our seminar in a Weebly site with cross-posting in the Google + community. While all team leaders work at Vancouver Island University (VIU) and were able to meet in person, much of our planning was done via collaboration in a Google doc, a copy of which forms one of the pages in our website. We were fortunate to have two people provide us with interviews on our topic; Graeme Campbell, a member of our cohort, and Bill Beese, a forestry instructor at VIU.

Speaking to the creation of the website and facilitation of the seminar, I have found that moderating and mediating online learning has become easier with time. I feel much more confident with my skills than I did one year ago when I attempted my very first team facilitation. My initial apprehension regarding online facilitation was due in large part to a lack of knowledge of and experience with the tools. As I move through each course in OLTD I am exposed to more strategies for planning effective online learning opportunities. I am able to use these strategies as a filter when looking at emerging technology; will the technology do what I need it to do to meet the learning outcome? Is it the best tool for the job?

I was very happy with our approach of using a website as our seminar platform. I like that it allowed for student created content, as we gave each participant editing rights to the site. I don’t think that this would be a great strategy for a younger, larger group of students, but it seemed to work well with a small group of adult learners. I also liked that our website was easily accessed by all other members of our cohort (and if fact, the entire digital world if they wish), which in theory could increase the amount of content generated and add to the discussions. It was also interesting how much impact the personal interviews had on the participants. This reinforced to me that learners can be more engaged when the content is put in context.

Technology is always changing. It is important to be able to sift through these emerging technologies to identify those that may have educational applications. Not all emerging technology has a place in the classroom, but if an educator wishes to adopt a technology they should be sure to understand the best approach for making the change and integrating the technology. As I continue to add more technology and tools to my teaching practice, I need to carefully consider the educational value of the tool. Learning opportunities should play to the strengths of the tool or device, and challenges (such as barriers to access, whether knowledge or socio-economic) need to be addressed. I will continue to carefully consider how I can best integrate technology so that my students are engaged and effectively learning.

 

Link to Evidence: OLTD BYOD Seminar

 

 

Evidence: The Tech’knowledge’y Tree Story (February, 2015)

OLTD Learning Outcomes addressed:

  • Be familiar with common terms, definitions and elements related to emerging technologies
  • Consider potential design/implementation opportunities and challenges of emerging technologies
  • Demonstrate basic competency with design and implementation with a variety of online learning environments and tools

Reflection to Support Evidence:

OLTD 509 (Emerging Technology) required students to think about how emerging technology connected to or could be used in education, specifically for teaching and learning. As a means of summarizing what we learned during the 6 weeks, we were tasked with answering two critical challenge questions:

How can you select emerging technologies which fit your developing philosophy of education?

How can you inspire, initiate and implement sustainable integration of emerging technologies in your own practice, and in the practice of others?

During 509 we were treated to many different seminars conducted by our peers on emerging technology. While lurking in the gamification seminar, I became intrigued by The Hero’s Journey, a narrative that describes the typical adventure of a (sometimes reluctant) hero who is inspired to take on a challenge. I am starting to see the benefits of gamification, and was inspired by this outline to create a story that would allow me to show what I have learned. To create the story I followed the general narrative, and compiled the many resources provided by my classmates during their seminars and Google Plus posts. I am thankful to be part of such an amazing group of teachers.

Creation of this story allowed me to explore my limited understanding of gamification. I have struggled with how I might incorporate gamification in my own practice as I don’t completely understand the concept. Hero’s Journey has given me a sense of a quest pattern I might be able to use in my lessons. Gathering together resources to fill the Library of Technology in the story helped me synthesize what I learned through participation in various seminars as well as resources I collected during my own research. To address the issue of how to filter through the technology I revisited my teaching philosophy. What I realized is that while I want to move towards student created content using various digital tools it is important to me to maintain a personal connection with my students. The students and their learning is what is important and I need to choose tools based on how they will enhance learning, not simply because it is the newest and shiniest toy.

The story’s main character experienced barriers in her implementation of technology, much like I would in my classroom. Based on my understanding of emerging technology I was able to identify some potential barriers, such as lack of universal access or knowledge of technology, and provide some resources that may help address them. Curating these resources in my e-portfolio ensures that they will be available to me as a future reference.

Technology is increasingly present in our schools but not necessarily as educational tools. Students often have access to technology and communicate in ways that may seem foreign to many instructors. The reality the students graduate into requires them to be competent digital citizens. As instructors it is imperative that we provide opportunities for students to gain knowledge and proficiency in the use of technology. In order to do that, educators must ensure that they remain current with technology and its potential for educational use. When choosing technology it is important to have clearly defined filters:

  • How will you choose what technology to use?
  • What best fits your teaching philosophy?
  • What tool is appropriate for the skill or knowledge level of your students?
  • Is the tool effective in increasing learning of the concept?
  • Is the tool easily accessed by everyone in the class (universal access considerations)?

Equally important is assessing your own comfort level with the technology; educators should have a basic competency with any tool they ask their students to use. I can implement these outcomes in my teaching practice by ensuring I clearly understand and apply my own filters as I review emerging technologies for use with my students.

Link to evidence: The Tech’knowledge’y Tree Story

flasks

BioLab by Amy CC BY 2.0

As our education system experiences greater pressure to get more done with less (equipment, teachers…), science teachers may begin considering the use of online labs to partially or completely fulfill the laboratory requirement. Online science labs are not created equal. There is a difference between a virtual lab and a simulation. The earliest online lab activities were predominantly virtual, in that they mimicked an actual lab experience by providing minimal interaction and feeding participants the data. Simulations, often but not always created by computers running algorithms, provide a more realistic, hands-on feel to an online lab (Keller, 2008). Both have their place in science education.

It’s not just K-12 that may be feeling the pinch. Universities are turning to virtual labs to help relieve the backlog of students needing to take introductory science courses that have a hefty lab component (Rivera, 2014). Running extra sections of labs costs money, in terms of both personnel and wear and tear on lab equipment. If students can get the same experience at home, why shouldn’t they?

That to me really is the sticking point. Are students getting the same experience that they would in a hands-on lab? I don’t think so. Virtual labs are great for many things, including reinforcing concepts learned in class, learning the names and functions of various equipment (especially if your own lab doesn’t own a fancy spectrophotometer or gel electrophoresis setup) and being able to safely explore questions like “What will happen if I mix this and this?” During this week’s Virtual Lab seminar, our group reviewed some fantastic virtual lab/simulation lab websites that ranged in difficulty of both content and user interface. But with all of them I feel that there is a sense of isolation; one of the things I think students enjoy the most about hands-on labs is the chance to talk to each other and help figure things out together. This is missing from online lab work.

It is not always possible, especially if your class is 100% online, to blend hands-on with virtual labs. But my experience this past semester with a blended approach in Biology 067 (Biology 12) (1/2 of our labs face-to-face, 1/2 online) has been very satisfying. Students seem to like that they have some time ‘off’ to work on their online lab on their schedule, but appreciate being able to handle real equipment, such as preparing a microscope slide and viewing your own cells. There are some issues with marking of online work, as students don’t always ‘get it’ (again, probably because they are working in isolation) and the labs tend to take a bit longer to mark. But I think a solution to this may be to provide a preamble for each online lab that discusses the major concepts and helps direct students to some of the observations they will be making. I’m sure I could put together a list of FAQs based on the labs I have marked.

Will virtual labs ever go away? I don’t think so. But I don’t think they will ever completely replace the real thing.

 

References

Keller, H. (2008, May 5). Science Labs: Virtual Versus Simulated. THE Journal. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/Articles/2008/05/05/Science-Labs-Virtual-Versus-Simulated.aspx?Page=1

Rivera, C. (2014, November 15). For some students, virtual labs replace hands-on science experiments. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-college-labs-20141115-story.html