Reflection of Online Learning

We have discussed and considered online learning options during this course and have had some really insightful conversations. I have generally been really pleased with my online learning experiences. Courses are engaging, lively and these experiences are helpful when living in an isolated community.

In general, online learning provides students with more options for their education, and creates new learning environments connecting people all over the world.

It is difficult to know where education will take us in the future, because new technologies are evolving so quickly, we often loose track. Online educational platforms are being constructed to maximize students learning potential at an unprecedented rate. Even still there are lots of things to consider when exploring online learning options. I have gone through my notes on online learning throughout the course and have compiled some points on both the benefits and disadvantages when considering online learning options.

The benefits of online learning:

Flexibility- online learning supports students who don’t often fit the norms of standardized education. It can also allow students to catch up on coursework or take courses that may otherwise not be offered. In addition, online learning provides students with a safe place to explore social interactions.

Accessibility- while online learning is not yet providing accessibility for all, it is moving education in a positive direction, especially for those who are not physically able to attend schools in person.  Online courses also allow students to access course material any time. Students are able to refer to material as they need it and refer back to course information and concepts.

Experience- Students can gain valuable insights and online learning offers students opportunities to learn with other learners as well as instructors and guests from different disciplines.

Opportunity- online learning can provide students with the means to personalize their learning, creating unlimited options for learning and should be used as a supplementary or add on, not replacing something that already exists. Online learning options also provide students with more ownership in their learning. It can also provide students with valuable skills to take ed-tech and their valuable skills into the real world.

More opportunity-online learning can also mean more options for coursework in a variety of disciplines. Online courses can provide students with options for equivalently weighted courses offered at educational institutions that are face-to-face classes. In addition, students are provided with opportunities to learn course content from instructors who are highly experienced in their discipline.

The potential disadvantages of online learning:

Student motivation- the level of motivation may be affected by students participating in online course work. Many students choose online learning as an alternative option to high school if conventional schooling has not been a fit. In addition, online learning requires a great deal of self-discipline, as students need to work out time management and organization skills in order to stay on top of their work and ensure they have enough time to complete assignments.

Self regulation- often these skills are lacking, students leave work until the last minute. Students often feel disconnected as they are not interacting with their professors and colleagues face-to-face. Often this idea of not meeting face-to-face can be underestimated and the impact can mean that building relationships with your instructor and classmates require more effort in this online learning environment.

Standards- its hard to say whether the standards are similar from one online institution to another. In addition, when considering options for online learning, it is important to consider whether a program is accredited and recognized by credible universities or colleges.

Accessibility- When thinking about online learning access plays a huge part. While online learning is flexible and provides access to learning, it does not alleviate the issue of access for all. It presumes that everyone has a computer and access to the internet. It also does not guarantee that everyone is familiar with the platform chosen for the course. To further think about access, most schools are not equipped to support students who are participating in distance ed. Furthermore, schools that promote many online platforms for learning do not have alternate options for students who do not have access to technology or whose parents choose for their children not to participate.

Risk- What are the risks of online learning for students? Online courses lack opportunities for hands on learning, which can make reinforcing concepts for students who require practical applications. Online learning also makes us think about the basic needs that are lacking for many students. It does not address basic needs such as nutrition or even additional services that students often can access on campus such as mental health services.

Regardless of whether you are a proponent of online learning options or not, online learning provides students with the autonomy to choose what their learning experience will involve, promotes many transferable skills and narrows the gap of accessibility. While there is still more work to be done in terms of fully addressing accessibility, online learning is a stepping stone in the right direction to see education made more accessible for all.

Comments from the CBC Podcast

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/spark/spark-guide-to-life-google-for-education-1.4806191

Our ed camp discussions focused around the security and privacy of online learning and some of the challenges facing both students and educators. While teachers are encouraged to use technology in their everyday teaching practice, there are some real challenges with upholding the security and privacy for all students. As we discussed, there are often not many alternate options to support families who are reluctant to embrace certain platforms.

It seems that there are many assumptions made around using technology for education these days. Technology should improve and enhance student learning, not replace what is currently being used. As I discovered through this podcast, Google for Education is finding its place in education, however growing concerns around privacy and security appear to be at the forefront of this conversation.

The general worries around technology and security, (establishing informed consent) so that students can use platforms such as Google for Education, lead to misunderstandings around information sharing. While Google for Education appears to be the current trend, this idea that technology bridges the divide among people, by creating greater access, it can actually have the reverse effects when it comes to concerns with privacy and security. Parents have to provide consent for their students use, however as one parent noted, there is often nothing to replace tech options, so if you choose to opt out you are willingly putting your student at a disadvantage.

While in our group discussions it did not appear to be a huge concern, it is still a consideration. While the number of students not allowed to use these platforms are few, it begs the question of what we use in exchange? In addition to general concerns that parents have around information sharing and privacy, these online platforms also lend themselves to greater concerns around online etiquette that needs to be taught prior to using any of these platforms. Our discussions led us into talking about the potential for online cyber bullying and the need for online etiquette to be pre-taught as well as the appropriate measures needed to monitor online platforms.

One example provided for group discussion, that came up was the Whats App, which allows students to participate in group chats, while their teachers can also be included to monitor the discussions and ensure that conversations are about the content and respectful.

Google for education premises their products as offering students with an opportunity to collaborate, communicate, explore their creativity as well as gain critical thinking skills. Ed-Tech should enhance student learning or provide something that is not already in place. Using Ed- Tech in the classroom is incredibly valuable, especially when we can offer students exposure to tools that will be relevant to them later on in the work force. Using technology and  collaborating in a meaningful way, prepares our students for the future and real world applications they may require in their careers.

The podcast went on to address the worries that parents have about their children spending too much time on screens. Google for education would argue that its more about the quality of how the time is spent online. For example, students may be encouraged to read more news online, or collaborate and communicate through various forms of social media or social gaming. Their thoughts are that students may in fact become better communicators because of technology.  While I have seen some improvements in many of students have opportunities to practice their reading in ways that are perhaps more engaging (through online books), I personally am not buying the communication piece. While students do have opportunities to engage socially in online gaming, I do not feel this is adequately equipping them for real life experiences and everyday social interactions. It may in fact be hindering their ability to have face-to-face conversations.  General access to technology is so broad, its really hard to manage both at school and home, and further determine if communication and collaboration are happening in meaningful ways online.

Having said this, the power of collaboration is a wonderful thing, especially if it is used to make meaningful connections. The Podcast drew upon a wonderful example of a teacher that used her connections to communicate with a teacher in South Korea. She was able to do an impromptu lesson via video conferencing / Skyping and was able to share experiences and communicate with one another from the other side of the globe.

There are lots of ed-tech options out there that allow us to connect with others and make information more accessible, however we have to be aware of how that information will be protected. FOIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) is in place to protect the privacy and security of personal information, and its important for educators to explore social platforms that are supported by these laws especially when considering where this information will go, long after we are done using it.

It is difficult to know what might happen to data in the future? Information can accumulate over time through schools (especially if you are using a platform for reporting and information sharing such as Fresh Grade).

As we discussed in our group chat it is vital to use a social/ educational platform that does not infringe on FOIPPA and even better to find a platform that is local, as to ensure that vital information is stored in Canada and not in the U.S.

The experts argue that while you should know about how your child’s information is going to be used, collected and disclosed, most people get hung up in the rhetoric of privacy and security.  They argue that it is a level of “misinformed hysteria” of individuals information being shared. While some may argue that student personal information is going to be meaningless to others (the FBI for example), others feel very unsettled knowing that their information is floating around .

Either way, as long as parents are given the appropriate information and education to make informed decisions for their students, the rest is really preference and comfort level. As educators who are encouraged to use technology to its fullest, support needs to be provided around alternate options for students, who may choose to not participate and have their information shared.  On the flip side these platforms provide today’s teachers with dynamic opportunities to teach and make learning more engaging and collaborative through a shared network.

Thoughts on Module 4

Thoughts from the readings of January 14th

Knox, J. (2019). What Does the ‘Post digital ‘Mean for Education? Three Critical Perspectives on the Digital, with Implications for Educational Research and Practice. Post digital Science and Education.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-019-00045-y

“The post digital might be usefully developed as an alternative view of human-technology relationships, and one that challenges common sense ideas about the sequential progress of technology, which tend to limit responses to either an embracing of futuristic technological enhancement, or the desire for a sentimental return to a more ‘natural’ existence.”

I wonder what would happen if we lost access to much of the technologies we have today?

Would we fall apart both professionally and personally?

Have we created an unnecessary reliance on the technologies used today?

Is technology considered essential to our existence?

How does technology effect our educational experience?

The idea of using technology, (regardless of the capacity) should make things easier to do, or enhance the quality of our education.  Technology should be used as an “add- on” enhancing what we are already doing, not replacing something already. I often wonder if technology is being used for the sake of, rather than used in a meaningful way to enhance the learning experience and promote a greater level of understanding?

“propelling humanity towards social equality, or as a dehumanizing force, set to rob individuals and communities of authentic life experience?”

While the idea that digital technology should bring people together, and narrow the gap in terms of access to education, it appears in many ways to create a greater divide and highlight the inequalities that still exist within education.

Caines, A., & Glass, E. (2019, Fall). Education before Regulation: Empowering Students to Question Their Data Privacy. EDUCAUSE Review, 54 (4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/10/education-before-regulation-empowering-students-to-question-their-data-privacy

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

“If students want to participate in standard educational activities, they often have little opportunity for real choice or consent around what data is collected. Additionally, once the data is collected, students have little visibility into how that data will be leveraged, monetized, or exposed later on.”

I think students often don’t think about how their data is collected, and most parents are likely unaware as well.  There are consents required for students to participate, however it is questionable how much of what parents are signing off on, they truly understand, recognizing that their participation is voluntary. Schools have a responsibility to educate students around technology, especially if they are going to use it. Part of that education needs to be around awareness and the protection of privacy, while also teaching students about the value of data collection, I think we should be able to have both. In addition to learning about appropriate usage, should also include learning about online etiquette, so that all participants understand their moral obligation to be both ethical and respectful online.

“We believe that the classroom might be leveraged as a powerful site to raise student awareness about the complex struggles occurring with data privacy.”

I think we have an obligation to teach students about safety and privacy of information pertaining to the use of technology within the educational setting. I do worry that we might scare students about the issues of privacy if not careful. The article suggests an approach which includes a statement within your course syllabus that invites students to consider their data privacy and to further discuss concerns with their instructors or other campus members. While I think this is a good start, we do want to caution students, and not scare them.  Engaging in conversations around these issues is a great start and hopefully will lead to greater problem solving around data privacy.

Some questions to ponder further:

How are social networks used for educational purposes being responsible for the collection and safeguarding of information so that they aren’t infringing on FOIIPA?

How do educators know which social networks are safe to use? I tend to follow the lead of our I.T. department, but ultimately how do we know which are truly secure?

What do these social platforms mean for educators today? (Example: who is seeing it? What standards are being set? Who is monitoring these systems? What kinds of pressure is this putting on educators?

How much pressure is put on teachers to use social networks for home/ school communication or in general?

How much pressure are schools putting on families to access these platforms? Especially when looking at those marginalized groups? How are they accessing information?

Who is responsible for closing the gap for marginalized community groups?

How do we create a mutually agreed upon online space where everyone can participate?

Open Education- What does the future of ed- tech hold?

This week I am going to highlight a few things from each article that really stood out and resonated with me as well as some questions for further considerations. Having spent most of my time in Special Education, both teaching in the classroom as well as working as a Learning Service Teacher and not having had as much experience with using technology to its fullest potential I often find it more challenging to connect with the material. However, I felt like I could really connect with the material this week.

Neil Selwyn, Thomas Hillman, Rebecca Eynon, Giselle Ferreira, Jeremy Knox, Felicitas Macgilchrist & Juana M. Sancho- Gil (2019): What’s next for Ed-Tech? Critical hopes and concerns for the 2020’s, Learning, Media and Technology. https:// doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2020.1694945

“Schools around the world continue to face deficiencies in resourcing, significant inequalities of educational opportunity, alongside poor-quality teaching, curriculum and school organization.”

One would hope that Ed-Tech will be able to support and extinguish some of these disparities, making education more attainable for those who lack opportunities to engage with it, but even still we face many challenges when looking at education and technology in the future.

This article looks at the inequalities in the ways that people use and access technology both informally and formally.

“While the technologies are fast changing and these explanatory models are increasingly sophisticated, the basic message remains the same. Those individuals who are well-resourced and have strong educational backgrounds are likely to benefit the most from digital education.”

This is a challenge for me having spent most of my teaching career in Special Education. This idea that technology should make things inherently “easier” is not the case when the access to technology is not equitable. The increased use of technology I have seen in the schools in my district, however increasing the amount of technology used in school has little or no effect on the access of technology available in marginalized homes.

“To date, policy makers have tried to ‘fix’ these problems by focusing on improving technology access in schools and homes and/ or supporting the development of digital skills.”

Our district has thought about installing kiosks in each school so that technology such as (I pads, laptops and computer stations) are accessible to all. This idea was thought of to encourage families that do not have access to technology at home to come in and use the kiosk to look at student work on fresh grade (as an example). This does not address the socioeconomic, systemic and historical disparities which has kept much of the marginalized population out of the education system in the first place. I don’t currently see this solving anything.

“Initiatives that focus on access and skills are likely to remain an ‘easy’ way for policy makers to signal that they are ‘dealing with’ inequality. Instead, the 2020’s need to be a decade when researchers spearhead a change of approach.”

Questions for further consideration:

When does inclusion exclude?

Who is responsible for making technology in education accessible for all students?

How do we address the inequalities in these wider social structures?

How should we be preparing ourselves for the ed- tech that is still to come?

 

In addition, the article also speaks to the responsibility of establishing a digital society that is sustainable. In the past, digital technologies have been used in excess. The level of consumption and discard is overwhelming, and this is all so true in schools. We see education come and go, like fads and trends. We often get excited about the “next best thing” and educators are often pressured to keep up with the new and ever evolving technologies, however due to budget restraints, schools often find themselves without technology or worse… teachers start to feel proficient in using new technology and before you know it, it is replaced with something else.

“Digital technologies have been excessively consumed and discarded over the past 20 years in the name of education ‘innovation’.

The environmental and ethical impact of digital technology is completely overwhelming. Where do all the old technologies in districts go to die? I am sure there are rooms in every district littered with debris that once was “the next best thing” in school technology. I can appreciate the authors thoughts on these considerations. As part of the planning process, thinking about what ed-tech could look like in the next 10-20 years we really do need to consider how we might adopt more mindful approaches in how we and what we select for digital technology, looking more at the big picture and considering the long-term effects of unnecessary over consumption.

Stephen Downes, Digital Technologies Research Centre National Research Council, Canada.

The article from the International Journal of Open Educational Resources, written by Stephen Downes addresses the consequences when looking at the future of open educational resources. He discusses how the flow or process of information transmission will change through open ed. The previous format of information transmission was from the producer to the consumer. When we now look at open ed, the model will work more as a tool for consumers to use as a means of creating their own content, which they can then consume or use/ share with other consumers.

Through the ever-changing format of open ed, the development can focus on what is required or necessary in that moment in time.

“Developers are now able to use live data for real-world applications, or local or downloaded data for training or for simulations.”

The learning becomes more relevant because it connects learners to real-world applications and experiences. Learning though open-ed therefore becomes less about information transmission and more about learning process and the practical application. I appreciate this shift when we think about learners and meta cognition. We know that students learn best when they can explore and connect with ideas and materials and create their own meaning.

Other questions for further consideration:

I am curious to see what impact open education and the assisted learning design systems that Stephen Downes talks about will have on teachers and their practice?

I wonder if assisted learning design will lead to students having more options to demonstrate their learning through greater means of expression (varied learning styles)?

I am curious about this, because while I am not as comfortable with technology, I do look to differentiate as much of my teaching as possible to allow students to engage and connect with the material I am presenting but also allow for multiple means to explore and demonstrate their learning through varied learning styles. I would hope that AL will lend itself to more flexibility.

Reflections from Module 3

 

Summaries of Module 3: Open Educational Practices and Learning Design

What I found useful from the readings:

Dabbagh, N. (2005). Pedagogical Models for E- Learning: A Theory-Based Design Framework. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 25-44.

This article was interesting and incredibly insightful. Dabbagh explains the pedagogical models, instructional strategies and learning technologies. The strategies presented are focused around their application to E-Learning, however they are applicable to many learning experiences.  Many of the pedagogical models presented: open learning, distributed learning, learning communities, communities of practice, knowledge building communities — Other instructional strategies discussed: authentic learning activities (problem-solving, exploration, hypothesis generation), role play, articulation and reflection, collaboration and social negotiation, multiple perspectives, modeling and explaining and scaffolding.  Dabbagh looks at how transformational learning can be achieved by looking at how technology can be used to support pedagogical models and instructional strategies. I especially like the section of the article focusing on promoting authentic learning activities. When I think about my own teaching methodologies and values I pride myself on developing engaging activities which are realistic, relatable and create meaning. I believe that when students make connections, their engagement increases therefore making for more of an authentic learning experience. Meaningful learning that occurs through relevant learning activities, lend themselves to using skills taught to make real world connections.

Conole, G. (2018). Learning Design and Open Education. International Journal of Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from https://www.ijoer.org/learning-design-and-open-education doi-10-18278-ijoer-1-1-6/

What I found not so useful from the readings:

I found it really difficult to stay focussed on the article by Conole, Dyke, Oliver and Seale (2004). While the summaries of learning theories are helpful when looking at what informs my teaching practice, I think a lot of information presented was not relevant to the context of my current teaching practices. It is difficult to consider and compare learning theories when practical examples of the models are not presented. It makes it more difficult to look at the values (stretches and strengths) of each theory presented.  Having said this, I do like the way table 1 summarizes the learning theories and models, their characteristics and how they might be used or seen in the context of e-learning. I also like how there are other pieces of literature recommended for each of the learning theories for further exploration and consideration. I did overall have a hard time connecting with this reading though, while linking pedagogy with activities and associated tools and resources is helpful for further exploration, I don’t see myself mapping out learning theories to the models presented. It doesn’t feel to me like a realistic practice I would do.

This article looks at the efficacy of teachers and students’ perceptions of OER in its practical application. I especially connected to the section on the challenges facing educators, education and the government today.  Some of the key take a ways from this section included:

  • Approaches to education have changed in such a way that students have become less patient with teacher-centric styles of education. (This makes me think about whether we should question the changes in educational practices, or think about other factors such as over use of technology at home, family life, diet etc.)
  • Education is becoming more expensive while at the same time information is more ubiquitous.
  • Learning pathways are changing as people look to increase their learning in bite-sized chunks, rather than committing to years of university. (This is interesting as we find we have greater access to information of all types. We can look on YouTube or Google something to explore answers to questions we were once curious about. Rather than having to access other professional services, I can now google or look on YouTube for a video that will “show me how”.)
  • These pathways also lend themselves to shifting from acquiring a specific one-time experience to providing lifelong opportunities to enable learners to acquire skills useful across multiple careers.
  • Expectations are high with adopting innovative teaching approaches, alignment of teaching standards, growing requirements and demands on professional development. (I think about the support and training that is available to educators, also the pressures that we often feel with keeping up with the next great thing to enhance our teaching practices).
  • The rise of knowledge economy, the impact of technology, especially with the open sharing of educational resources.

Exploring Open Learning

Exploring Open Learning

As much as we hear that technology is always changing, I did feel that the overall theme of the reading for this week demonstrated that technology and education might not be adapting as quickly as we might think. This can be a huge issue and frustration for many educators and school districts as are looking for immediate results and want change quickly, however change can be difficult and when your looking at the use of technology in education, its important that both technologies and educational practices compliment each other. In addition, its also vital that time be given to practice using new technologies, analyze and reflect on its usage to determine its potential (both how appropriate it is in supporting our learners and how effective it is in enhancing the overall learning experience.) One frustration I often have, is seeing technology used for the sake of using technology and not evaluating how the technology enhances the learning experience. If the technology doesn’t make learning more fun, engaging, accessible or effective- what is the point?

Despite the fact that I graduated from teachers training in 2005, I am not as familiar with using a lot of technology that is out there to support learners. I am familiar with the obvious tech that our district has promoted such as the use of Ozobots and Spheros which are used to teach coding skills, however I feel really removed from so many of the other ways technology is incorporated into everyday teaching practices. In particular when we explored the use of Social Media during our summer course. I was honestly, completely oblivious to the fact that both high schools and universities would be using social media services such as Facebook and Twitter as a way to connect students to the greater school community and their professors.

Weller points out that social media has both negative and positive effects on education. While Facebook and Twitter can be used to allow students and educators to connect and communicate in ways that have not been previously explored, many of these social media platforms are used for other means other than communication. They are often end up being chains for communication that can easily misinform or twist information as well as present an outlet for people to breed negativity about a particular subject. What bothers me the most about exposing or encouraging young people to use these platforms as a way to communicate, is that they are young and vulnerable and I worry about the perceptions that many students have, especially with famous figures, influence-rs etc. that are portraying particular lifestyles or painting a picture that is not reality, therefore causing unnecessary pressure on young people to feel that they need to be more, that they are not enough. This is a huge problem.

While we do provide education to support our students to learn how to safely navigate the internet and stray away from negative figures, bullies etc. Much more needs to be done to support preventative measures. Students don’t need lessons on navigating social media, they can teach us a thing or two, but rather how to protect themselves while engaging in social media.

I do however like the idea of using Blogs for educational purposes. I could see using blogs with older students to document thoughts, ideas, explore questions and curiosities with others. I could see this being an effective practice to use to for novel studies or perhaps for a Social Studies unit, to have students reflect on content and share with one another. Having said this, I am not really sure how much reflection takes place after a course is over. I can’t see myself going back and further reflecting. In the context of our courses, it is helpful however for the purpose of curating ideas, thoughts and overall themes covered.

There have been many technologies that have come and gone, in one minute and then out the next, or built up so much that by the time schools have the money to implement these technologies district wide, the tech has changed and we are on to the “next best thing”. While these technologies seem encouraging, they too change with the evolving teaching practices, curriculum and overall methodologies.

Readings:

  • Weller, M. (2018, August). Twenty Years of Edtech. EDUCAUSE Review, 53(4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/7/twenty-years-of-edtech
  • Zawacki-Richter, O., & Naidu, S. (2016). Mapping research trends from 35 years of publications in Distance Education. Distance Education, 37(3), 245–269. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2016.1185079

Making Connections

Making Connections and Further Considerations with Research in Educational Technology
Mackenzie Hubbell
October 15th, 2019

It was both enjoyable and encouraging to watch my colleagues’ videos and read the handouts while trying to relax this past weekend. Some of the videos were encouraging about the use of educational technology and others made me think about the basic needs of implementing its use as well as the “real” value of educational technology. In looking at the groups, there are a few questions that come to mind.

  • What kind of training is required by educators to successfully use the technology?
  • How do we evaluate the use of technology?
  • What are the overall implications of implementing the technology: ethical, moral, issues of equity etc.?
  • How will the technology affect my learners?
  • How does the technology support the goals of the learner and enhance the overall learning objectives?

In exploring options for my Med project, I am particularly interested in looking at educational technologies that may support the use of fully incorporating Indigenous Education into every day teaching practice. I see the abundance of resources within Aboriginal Education, and question where the limitations lie in the implementation of its use. Providing educators with options to incorporate more digital technologies will support the effective and consistent teaching of Indigenous curricula, but I haven’t entirely hammered out all of the details. What I recognize in my current district, is that we are incredibly “resource rich”, yet there are obvious hesitations with incorporating Indigenous Education into everyday teaching practices.

One particular group that I enjoyed, was Emily and Trevor who looked at the role of leadership for information technology. This topic resonated with me, as we look at how to successfully implement the use of technology in our everyday teaching practice. It boils down to training and having access to people who are confident in using these technologies to assist and support school staff. We have literacy support teachers, math helping teachers, language helping teachers but often don’t have technology specialists, or at least not in my small community. Staff definitely need to feel supported and need to have the opportunity to learn themselves to become proficient with their use of technology.

In looking at the different presentation formats from our groups, its difficult to look at this from an evaluative approach. Using the basic video technology and looking at how each group choose to summarize and make their presentations engaging, entertaining but also knowledge rich, begs the questions when looking at implementing technology into the classroom.

What are the parameters for evaluation?

How do we deconstruct the content and information in a given presentation versus measuring the quality and engagement factor of the presentations?

I think about this as a real challenge in the classroom setting, especially when you give students the autonomy and freedom to explore educational technology, which is both exciting and frightening to me from an evaluative standpoint. If we continue to narrow the parameters and freedoms of expression when looking at student presentation styles, are we limiting our student’s ability to fully demonstrate their level of understanding

I can appreciate many of the new novel ways we look to engage our students and get them excited about learning. We often do this by introducing new technology into our classrooms. We are encouraged to explore new ways of learning and teaching, which in many ways enhance learning opportunities in the classroom. One thing that really resonates with me, having worked in Special Education for quite some time is looking at how of these technologies can be used in an equitable manner. Often the technology is used to present new material, just in a different way. My hope is that some of these new technologies allow all students to be active and engaged in their learning experience and creates more meaningful learning opportunities, rather than simply being a catchy new way to present the same information. Technology should support educators to make learning more meaningful and increase engagement and allow teachers to teach smarter not harder.

For this project, the learning for me was two-fold, understand the content, while also learning to navigate and use the technology required to present it.

What are the future implications?

The educator needs to have a solid foundation and understanding of how the technology is to be used and how to trouble shoot potential pitfalls. I think many teachers stray away from using tech because they don’t give themselves enough time to get comfortable with using the technology themselves, or perhaps aren’t provided with enough training opportunities to get fully acquainted.

In addition, I think its really important to think about how the technology will enhance the overall learning experience. Technology for the sake of using technology is not sufficient if the learning objectives are not clear and it is not made obvious how the educational technology will support the learning experience. Providing students with technology without an understanding and knowledge base of the technology itself, its capabilities and how it intends to enhance the overall learning experience is a common mistake.

More opportunities to explore, play and learn new educational technologies before we teach with them will see them used more effectively in the classroom.

Reference:

Voogt, G. Knezak, R. Christensen, & K-W, Lai (Eds.) Second Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, pp. 3-12. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71954-9

Blog #3 SAMR and TPACK

Blogging in Week 3: Looking at SAMR and TPACK
EDCI 571
September 24th, 2019

These readings were helpful and allowed me to have some good reflections when it comes to evaluating two new models that can support the development and evaluation of using new technologies in my everyday teaching.

The readings lent themselves well to considering how teachers are using and incorporating technology into their instructional practice, this idea of looking at collaborative practices to further enhance and influence student engagement and motivation for learning.

I had not previously heard of the SAMR model before so it was interesting to read about this approach in looking at how technology can be used to go from simply enhancing learning to transforming learning. I definitely see as we shift to using the new curriculum in our province that the use of promoting technology in the classroom, further supports many of the core competencies and “big ideas”. Specifically looking at how the use of technology can be used to transform learning that leads to higher level thinking skills.

I am particularly interested in exploring how the use of technology can be used facilitate and improve literacy. Improving our literacy rates is always something our district strives to work towards and is something we have had embedded in our school improvement plans the last number of years. I think that technology can certainly support and improve the learning needs and perhaps lend itself to make the learning more interesting and meaningful. We do a lot of work around supporting our students to read for pleasure and interest, and I think about the potential use of technology and how this might aid students in their efforts to improve phonological awareness, increase fluency and accuracy and support with comprehension skills. I think after reading about both the SAMR and TPACK models, they will help to support me to further determine how I will choose to use technology better in my everyday teaching.

Both tools can be used to support and inform the use of technology in the classroom setting.

In looking at the SAMR model, the acronym can be broken down in the following way. The examples provided came from the online video: https://youtu.be/9b5yvgKQdqE

The example provided with the writing assignment made it clear to see how technology can be used to transform the learning process rather than simply enhancing the learning process.

Substitution: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change to the task. An example of this might include writing a story using a laptop to type the story rather than print the story.

Augmentation: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement. The same example could be used, only students would use the same technology (laptops) to type their stories, while also being able to use additional features such as changing formatting, fonts and using spell check just as an example.

Modification: Tech allows for significant task redesign. The same story could be written using Google docs, where students can also use collaboration through feedback.

Redefinition: Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. In this example students could create the stories and then bring them to life using video to create multimedia story boards, create animation and include voice over. In this example students are able to employ the use of technology to enhance their skills in creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.

The SAMR model allows for educators to think about how the use of technology can be used to transform the learning design.  “Transformational learning activities that are truly personalized, situated, and connected through the use of a mobile device will go beyond merely using a mobile device as a substitute for more traditional tools. The SAMR model provides a framework that can be used to classify and evaluate mLearning activities. (Romrell et al. (2004).

They encourage educators to think about the following types of questions to inform their decisions around implementation of technology.

Q: What will I gain by replacing the older technology with newer technology?

Q: Have I added an improvement to the task process?

Q: Does this modification depend on the new technology?

Q: How is the new task made possible by the new technology?

If I have to make a criticism of this model, it is that classroom teachers may find this somewhat frustrating as they work to try to incorporate technology despite level of comfort, access to adequate training as well as access to adequate technology. Teachers are often skeptical and resistant to using technology in the classroom, and in my experience a lot of the resistance comes from a lack of training and exposure with technology. Teachers often do not feel they have the appropriate training or opportunity to utilize the available technologies. The technology changes so quickly, we often don’t feel that we get to use the technology enough before it is changing yet again.

 

TPACK: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Koehler and Mishra (2009) outline the TPACK model allowing teachers to evaluate and analyze their everyday teaching practices through three particular areas or lenses: content knowledge, technology and pedagogy. This model allows for teachers to recognize the value of each skill-set, while looking at how each of the areas compliment one another. This model is student centered and promotes more informed planning from educators and speaks to the intentionality of each area (content knowledge, technology and pedagogy). This model will require ongoing analysis and adjustments as teaching practices change and technologies evolve. In addition, this model allows educators to identify and focus on their strengths and also evaluate their “stretches” or areas to further explore and work on. Educators are able to explore, much like our students explore their learning, reflecting on learning needs and styles when exploring how they will best employ the use of technology in their classroom. However, if I have to make one criticism of this model, it is that the TPACK appears to be teacher centered rather than student centered.

I have worked to evaluate my own intentionality of incorporating the use of technology in my everyday teaching practice. I feel that the SAMR model works well with evaluating how I can use technology to better my practice and think about how it will contribute to improving students learning.

 

 

Clark/ Kozma Debate

Blog # 2
September 17th, 2019
EDCI 571
Discussion around the Clark/ Kozma Debate

This was a challenging read, and what was even harder was reading the position Clark took on the media having little or no influence on education and learning. It didn’t speak to the fact that technology is evolving, or that education changes and develops over time. It felt narrow in scope if I am being both honest and critical. Clark suggests that it really doesn’t matter what you use to get the material across, which makes me question how anyone could feel inspired, motivated or challenged in their own teaching practice. If it really doesn’t matter how curriculum is delivered, it would suggest that both learning and teaching is somewhat static. If all we had were textbooks and basic word processors, and learning consisted of regurgitating information and rote memorization, Clark to me is suggesting the outcomes of the learning should be consistent over time. Clark does not account for students needing differentiated instruction and unique learning styles, he does not account for teachers autonomy to choose how they teach and deliver curriculum or whether they choose to use technology. Furthermore the author of this debate suggests that we should not use media in education primarily because it is too expensive. While I do appreciate that finances are always a concern in the public education sector, I have to wonder how long he thought teaching students with textbooks or worksheets would last? It costs a lot less than many of the technologies available today, however it works for a minority of student learning styles and would bore me to tears.

Kozma on the other hand did a great job providing us with examples of how technology is and can influence education and student learning. I had not previously explored the Thinker Tool Program, however this example provided, definitely had me thinking about other tech options used in education to make learning more engaging and meaningful. He suggests that we can use the capabilities of media and technology to our advantage to influence learning in a positive way. This I can completely agree with. The key is ensuring that the scaffolding or pre-teaching of why the technology is being used is important and not a missed learning opportunity.

In reflecting on my own teaching practice, I think there are lots of great things that we as teachers can use that make learning inviting and engaging that does not require media or technology. Having said this when talking to students, most have access to Ipads, computers and cell phones at home. I can use this technology that in many ways is already in place for most if not all children that I teach to augment what I am doing in the classroom. It is important to provide instructional strategies however, so that students understand the skill set they are learning, not to confuse this with just playing with technology. There are many examples that demonstrate how media influences my own students learning. For example, student video projects can be a powerful learning experience and can support varied learning styles.

Does media really have an influence on learning?

Media, in my opinion can provide a positive influence on active learning strategies. Examples of media used for meaningful education include film clips, songs you hear on the radio, a podcast of a lecture or an online newspaper article. Furthermore, opportunities to use social media in the classroom to increase engagement can be helpful, however I feel that I would approach these options with caution, consider for what purpose I am intending them to be used, and at what grade level they are appropriate. Specifically when I am speaking about social media I am referring to the use of networking sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter as well as students personal blogs.

Media does in my opinion have a great influence on meaningful learning and can be used to enhance teaching, support or compliment many traditional teaching practices. Some of the positive aspects of using media to improve or influence education in today’s classrooms include:

  • Bridging the gap between students’ knowledge and the learning objectives
  • Increasing student engagement
  • Supporting retention of skills taught
  • Motivating students through interest areas
  • Creates greater sense of meaning and relevance of concepts

I feel that the best learning happens when students are able to establish meaning. When the learning is made meaningful the learning is richer and more likely to resonate with students. With the increase and accessibility of technology, it seems obvious that such use would be hugely impactful on the learning experience and not likely to go away anytime soon.

Overall I found the debate a bit confusing and somewhat frustrating with the fact that it felt really outdated. It is difficult to choose sides in this debate, although I think I would tend to side more with Kozma. Learning is not one dimensional and there are so many ways of learning now that it seems that the use of media and technology would positively influence education today. I feel like the Clark/ Kozma debate is looking for its readers to arrive at a definitive answer or opinion, and how do we get there when what we know and love about both education and technology is constantly evolving, nothing is static.

Student Engagement & Technology

EDCI 571
Assignment 1A
September 10th, 2019

“Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.” -George Couros

Well it’s been quite the start to the school year already. Excited to embark on a new school year teaching grade 3 & 4, I prepared myself over the summer both my curriculum and also how I would take some of what we explored in our previous two courses and apply them to my own teaching practice. I found myself quite interested in exploring e-portfolios and the fresh grade system focusing on digital demonstrations of learning as a primary form of assessment.

I was informed late last week that due to the district shortage of LST’s, I will now be working as a Learning Service Teacher for my current school for this year, in addition to my administrative duties. Although I have worked in this capacity many times before, I am sad to say good bye to my class.

Having said this, I always try to focus on the positive. I have tried to shift my focus and thinking on how I can support the students on my case load using technology, furthermore re-imagining what role technology can play in my current practice working in Special Education.

“One of the most important aspects of technology in education is its ability to level the field of opportunity for students.”- John King

The use of technology in the classroom can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. Technology can help to affirm and advance relationships (both student and teacher), reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration and minimize longstanding equity and accessibility gaps and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.

In reflecting on the technologies available, looking at how technology can be incorporated into everyday teaching practices and how these technologies can enhance the overall learning experiences, makes me think about how I will incorporate these ideas in my own teaching practices. My comfort level is definitely a limitation as well as what we have available. Having said this as I mentioned in our previous course I feel that the school district I work in (School District 52- Prince Rupert) is relatively rich with accessible technology for its size.

In looking through the blogs and articles provided to us for this week reading I feel that the integration of such technologies mentioned in our reading lead us to think about how technology is able to:

  • Increase student engagement
  • Meet the needs of diverse learners
  • Increase accessibility, mobility and creativity
  • Create more equitable learning opportunities by having a variety of access points
  • Enable students to demonstrate their learning through diversified learning styles
  • Support students with communicative difficulties
  • Develop transferable skills

I feel like in one way or another all of the reading samples spoke to address one or more of the previously mentioned benefits of increasing the usage of educational technology in the classroom.

Using Technology in my classroom

I think I try to use technology as much as I can, despite being shy around it. I try to find ways to incorporate the use of technology into my everyday teaching practice and if nothing else and explore, play and introduce new technologies to my students, hopefully providing them with enough exposure to decide whether or not they will find these systems useful in their overall learning experience.

The use of technology has increased accessibility but also alleviated a lot of other concerns that previously existed, including the financial costs for parents. One example of this I have found, is the use of the scientific calculator. There are so many apps available now on cell phones that there is less of need for parents to purchase the traditional scientific calculators.

I can appreciate technology designed to bridge the difficulties with communication. Having had a few students in my class with communicative challenges,  programs  that can support as communicative devices such as Proloquo 2 go can be incredibly useful providing students with a voice.

I can see how as Steven Lahuillier’s blog on the Top 10 K-12 Educational Technology Trends speaks to the idea of using wearable technology would be helpful for students with exceptionalities, especially those who have communicative difficulties. Wearable devices such as watches, allows for increased student engagement and participation and supports student motivation by providing encouragement and praise. It also speaks to the idea of making demonstrations of learning more accessible to students who otherwise may be too shy to share their knowledge. I have used Ipads to allow students to create videos using their peers and other school props to demonstrate their understanding of certain concepts. This alleviates any concerns with students feeling shy about getting up and presenting, as they can simply play their video for their peers without worrying about standing up in front of their entire class.

What is trending now?

When I think about increasing student engagement, the notion of game-based learning comes to mind. Steven Lahullier speaks to this.  “From the days of playing PowerPoint Jeopardy for test reviews to app-based game creation applications, integrating games, technology, and education will continue to be a popular approach.”

Our school has explored the concept of teaching coding skills through fun app-based games and has participated in Hour of Code activities which teach students basic computational skills. Scratch is also something that has been hugely popular in our district, which teachers’ students how to piece together basic computer coding to create their own customized games.

I personally don’t use social media platforms in my class, however I can see how this technology can support teachers to provide instant feedback and improve relations with students as well as keep parents informed.

“In education, technology can be a life changer, a game changer, for kids who are both in school and out of school. Technology can bring textbooks to life. The internet can connect students to their peers in other parts of the world. It can bridge the quality gaps.”- Queen Raina of Jordan

In addition, something that resonated with me when looking at providing students with accessible technology to support their educational journey, was the concept of institutional limitations, or the fear of being stigmatized for disclosing a disability. While universities are often technology rich, and technological resources are put in place to best meet the needs of students with exceptionalities, many of these technologies are not made available and accessible to all learners, but rather those who disclose their learning disabilities. This creates unnecessary vulnerability, but also creates lower rates of awareness of educational technology available to make curriculum accessible for all.

As with UDL, so should educational technology. We might assume that certain technologies will make learning more accessible for a select few students, but we would be wrong to assume this. Technology used to support education today can make learning more engaging, accessible and equitable for everyone involved.

I am a bit skeptical about the concepts of AI, where machines are designed to evaluate students’ competencies through the use of learning machines, which design algorithms to create study guides to direct student learning.  While I can appreciate that these services are designed to be cost-effective and personalized, I question the level of personalization. In my opinion you cannot beat the interaction and personal connection you get from conferencing with a student and engaging in meaningful conversations that guide and direct your teaching path, as well as inform your understanding of how to best help your students with their unique and specific learning needs.

In addition, the other trend I don’t agree with is the concept of students having their own personal technology within their school. An example of this was a netbook program that our district used while I taught at the local middle school. The concept in theory was great, where each student is assigned a netbook, which travels with them from grade to grade and then eventually was meant to go with them as they transitioned to high school. This idea sounded really great, however the updating and general maintenance of these netbooks did not appear to be taken into consideration, and therefore this initiative was not successful. Students ended up with netbooks that were glitchy with inadequate technological support to keep the apps and programs up to date. By the time most students completed middle school, these netbooks were ready for the recycling bins.

Technology now…. Technology in the future…

Reading the Holland article was surprisingly like looking into a glass ball and predicting the future. The predictions were incredibly accurate with where technology is moving and at what pace. It is true with the speed of technology, it is moving so incredibly quickly we often don’t see the shortfalls before it is too late. I often find this with my own learning and usage of technology at school. Just as I am getting familiar and comfortable with using a particular platform or piece of technology, something new has come out and replaced it.

I especially liked the section on motivation. Using technology to provide insight and motivate instructional learning environments, increases engagement, promotes a sense of ownership to learning and makes learning more meaningful and relevant. As the research from Wlodkowsky states, “motivated learners include the desire to, learn, work, meet a need, personal value, reach a goal, complete task, engaging, curiosity, successful effort or ability, achievement, and personal responsibility.” (Jarman, B. pg. 19.)

Conclusion

When we incorporate technology into our everyday teaching practices it allows teachers to support students in meaningful ways which enhance their learning experience and allow them to meet their unique learning needs. Technology has opened the doors further to enable students to demonstrate their learning in a multitude of ways based on specific learning styles.  By increasing student exposure to technology as a way to supplement everyday learning, students gain new opportunities, which increase creativity and overall production, while introducing students to various technologies. This allows students to gain new skills which they can use throughout their school career and beyond.

Technology is not something that should take the place of paper and pen tasks or traditional teaching methods involving reading and writing, but rather supplement everyday teaching practices. Although we are often met with financial limitations or the fear or trying something unfamiliar, incorporating technology into our teaching practice is vital and something that we should not deprive our students of. My personal comfort level with technology is not where I would like it to be, however it is important to gain exposure to various technologies in hopes of enhancing the overall experience. I am finding that exploring the use of new technology in the classroom setting is something that we can do where we are all learning together.

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