Welcome everyone! EC&I 832 has officially begun!

Hello everyone,

Well, here we are! EC&I 832 has officially begun! For those of you who do not know me from previous online courses with Alec, my name is Roxanne Leung and I am a teacher with Regina Public Schools. On March 22nd, 2017, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy into our family and we have never felt so blessed! Since then, I have been on maternity leave while continuing to take courses through the University of Regina. However, I will be returning to work at the end of March and I do not imagine it will be an easy transition after getting to spend every minute of every day with our son, Beau. But, life goes on…right?

Currently, EC&I 832 is my 9th course towards completing my Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. EC&I 832 is also my 5th online course with Alec. I am so grateful for open education as it allows me to connect and collaborate online with all of you fine people, from the comfort of my very own home. Aside from the convenience yet diverse learning experience online courses provide, I really enjoy learning about educational technology. Within today’s digital world, almost everything we do involves some form of technology. It is almost impossible to avoid. Technology is used often within my everyday life. From paying bills, exploring social media and expanding my PLN…technology is present. To be honest, I am dependent upon technology and do not know if I’d be able to function without it.

As an educator and now a parent, learning more about digital citizenship is extremely important to me. My hope for this course is to learn about what is means to be a successful digital citizen, so that I will be able to teach both my students and my child how to navigate through the online world safely and appropriately. I also look forward to connecting and collaborating amongst all of you! I know we have much to learn from one another and I am excited to read all of your blog posts!!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Summary of Learning

Well, we did it folks! We have officially completed EC&I 831! Although EC&I 831 is my fourth online course, it has definitely been my favourite! I have learned so much about the use of social media and open education! As an educator, this course’s content has been valuable to me, as I intend to utilize social media sources and open education sources in my teaching practices. Throughout this course, we have learned that social media can be beneficial and enhance learning if it is used within a controlled environment. There are many reasons to include social media and open education in our teaching practices, and these reasons are explained thoroughly within my summary of learning project. But first, I would like to express my appreciation for everything I have learned by saying thank you to Alec and everyone in the Zoom room, Google+ community, and Twitter community for contributing to my learning this semester!

For my summary of learning project, I decided to create an animated presentation that includes dialogue, using a program called Goanimate. Although I have used this program once before, I’ve only experimented with the Whiteboard Animation theme. So, this time I thought I would try out the Business Animation theme. Goanimate has proven to be very user-friendly, engaging and fun! I enjoyed using this online tool to represent my learning and highly recommend you give this program a try, whether it be for personal or professional use! I look forward to collaborating with you all in the future! Thank you to everyone who shared in my learning experience this semester and I hope you all enjoy your well-deserved winter break! So without further ado, I present to you my summary of learning project. I really hope you enjoy it!

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My cross stitching journey…guided by social media

Throughout this semester, I successfully taught my-self about the art of cross stitching. As stated in my previous blog, I always wanted to learn how to cross stitch but never really got around to doing it. As a child, I remember watching my older sister cross stitching on her sofa and thinking, “How can she just sit there and stitch for hours at a time…she must be so bored”? Now, as an adult I understand why she enjoyed it. Cross stitching is a skill that requires a steady hand, dedication and above all patience. Cross stitching can also be very relaxing as its process is not designed to be fast paced, although I can see experienced cross sticher’s cruise through patterns. Moreover, as an elementary teacher I can appreciate how cross stitching also includes numeracy skills as it involves counting and patterns. In fact, its original name is “Counted Cross Stitch”.

As an adult learner, I have learned that through the use a of social media sources and online sharing, you can just about acquire anything, really. Within today’s digital world, social media can be a useful tool for educational purposes. Furthermore, there are a wide variety of social media sources that act as valuable learning tools. For me, I relied on the use YouTube, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Screencastify and Instagram to assist in my learning as well as to showcase my work. Specifically, I learned about stitching techniques, threads, aida fabrics, and the assortment of cross stitching patterns available online.  Utilizing these social media tools in order to learn about cross stitching was relatively easy for me, simply because I use many of these tools on a daily basis, for both personal and professional use.

Overall, I am thankful for social media and open networks for being so resourceful. At first, I was somewhat hesitant about relying solely on social media to teach me a new skill. Why? I suppose it is because I have always learned best by hands on instruction. Moreover, I absorb more when I am able to communicate through face-to-face interaction. This experience has lead me to contemplate, “What does it mean to be an online learner”? To me, being an online learner is to understand that you have options to learn beyond traditional instruction practices. It is becoming skillful at selecting and filtering digital content and applying it. Furthermore, to recognize that there isn’t only one way to receive information.

In conclusion, I am grateful for EC&I 831 and its content as it presented me with an opportunity to discover a skill that is enjoyable and meaningful to me. Without the major digital project, I would not have had a reason or perhaps any motivation to learn about cross stitching. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d ever take time to learn. As a wife and mother, my priorities have changed and it is difficult to take time for my-self with such a busy schedule. However, I am thankful for this project as it challenged my ability to learn using open networks and to share in my learning. Also, I would like to thank all of my EC&I 831 colleagues for being so supportive throughout my cross stitching journey. Your encouragement and kind words inspired me to keep on stitching, even when my eyes were tired and sore.

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Socrative…assessment that’s fun and engaging!

For this week’s blog post, we were asked to select an app or online tool we are unfamiliar with and experiment with it. I have chosen to explore Socrative because I want to determine whether or not I can utilize this tool as an elementary teacher. Based on my research, Socrative is an online student response tool that focuses primarily on formative assessment for teachers.

What’s great about this tool is that it makes assessment both fun and engaging for students because of its real-time feature. Socrative has three main options: Quiz, Space Race, and Exit Tickets. Whether you are assessing students previous knowledge about a particular topic or assessing new material, each of these features provide instant and detailed feedback. Now, let me provide you a brief description about the three main options Socrative offers to teachers:

Quizes/Tests

When creating a quiz for your students, you have three delivery methods to choose from: Instant Feedback, Open Navigation, and Teacher Based. Each of these delivery methods offer a unique experience for your students. You also have the option to select the format of your quiz. Socrative offers three formats: Multiple Choice, True/False and Short Answer. When creating quizzes, this user-friendly tool makes it easy for teachers to add content and images.

Space Race

With Space Race, teachers can create a fun and competitive review game in order to assess content. Space Race is designed similar to Kahoot, however it is not timed and does not score students on how quickly they respond to a question. It simply scores how many questions they answered correctly/incorrectly and displays the results instantly for the classroom teacher.

Exit Tickets

This feature is beneficial to teachers because it aims to assess comprehension but also allows students to provide the classroom teacher with feedback. The teacher can see in real-time what the students are thinking by creating questions and having them respond. For instance, the teacher can ask simple questions, such as “What did you think of today’s material” or “How well did you understand today’s content”? Exit Tickets make for a great “out the door” activity but also offer insights the teacher may benefit from knowing.

Aside from the three main options for assessment, Socrative launches three delivery methods: Instant Feedback, Open Navigation and Teacher Based. Each of these delivery methods are effective because they display specific areas for improvement, based on the students results. This way, the classroom teacher can identify the area where their students need improvement. Whichever method you choose to use, you can be sure to benefit from being able to visualize student comprehension.

Overall, Socrative is a tool I can definitely see my-self using. I feel this tool is valuable because it provides teachers with effective and instant feedback. Furthermore, this program offers all types of assessment followed by detailed reports. Socrative would alleviate some of the stress and hours spent on marking because of its real-time feature, which I can appreciate! At first, I assumed this program would be suited more for the middle years level, but I can see how elementary teachers could benefit from this tool as teachers have control of the content they wish to assess their students on. Teachers can create an assortment of assessments and share assessments with their colleagues. Socrative works on a variety of devices, such as laptops, tablets and cell phones. However, there does need to be an internet connection. Although I am very pleased with this online tool, I must point out a common issue teachers often encounter, and that is the availability of technological devices. Often, teachers have limited access to technology due to its high demand. Laptops and tablets are usually shared amongst the entire school; Therefore, it can be difficult to have access to these on a daily basis. The limited use of technology for students would be the only downfall with being dependent on Socrative. Although Socrative can be accessed from cell phones, not every school or teacher promotes or allows the use of cell phones to be used within the classroom. Personally, I do not encourage my grade 3/4 students to bring their cell phones to school (yes, some children own cell phones at this age) due liability reasons.

Overall, I am very pleased with this online tool and recommend teachers try it out for themselves! What do you find valuable about this program? Which subjects would you create assessments for? Is this tool something you can see yourself using?

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Sharing through open networks and chaos

As an educator, I have always shared my teaching resources freely with my colleagues. Why? Well, there are many reasons…but I suppose the most important reason for sharing is because it promotes reflection and learning. It makes me a better teacher.

With teachers, the sharing of resources is almost second nature. For many of us, it makes sense to share resources rather than to build something from scratch or re-create existing ideas, especially if you are teaching the same grade(s)/subject(s). Like Marley states in her blog for this week, “there is no need to reinvent the wheel”. Teachers rely on sharing resources as it promotes collaboration and saves on the cost of teaching materials. Within my nine years of teaching, I have yet to come across a colleague who has not been willing to share their resources with me. Perhaps this is because it is a teacher’s natural instinct and passion to share knowledge. Although I cannot speak for every teacher, personally I feel a desire to share ideas and communicate concepts on a daily basis.

After watching Steven Johnson’s video about the innovation of open networks, I started to ponder what deep thinking really looks like and how great ideas are formed. Johnson explains how an idea is a network and that great ideas are often produced within a chaotic environment, where ideas may be bounced off one another, resulting in innovation. I found this to be really interesting as well as ironic as a chaotic environment can sometimes be a teacher’s worst nightmare! Naturally, we assume minimal learning will take place if our students are too distracted. But on the other hand, we encourage our students to share in their learning by collaborating amongst their peers. I suppose my questions is…can we successfully achieve both chaos and discovery within today’s classroom?

Johnson also speaks about the importance of supporting a space for creativity. This lead me to think about educators and how difficult it can sometimes be to sit down and share ideas, due to our very busy schedules. Throughout the school year, there are a number of days specifically dedicated to professional development. However, these days usually include a demanding schedule with very little preparation time. Therefore, I agree with Ashley when she explains that more time should be dedicated to sharing and collaboration within schools, as it is already lacking.

I understand that not everyone benefits from online sharing as they prefer face-to-face interaction or possibly do not have much experience with utilizing open networks. But personally, I have learned so much through the use of online sharing. Through reading my classmates blogs and interacting with my PLN on Twitter, I have been able to share my ideas and resources, collaborate and most importantly, build connections with people who share in the same profession as me. Online sharing is definitely an experience I’d like to offer to my students. I would like to teach my students how to create digital portfolios for themselves so they may share their learning with the world, reflect on their learning over time and create a personal sense of ownership over their accomplishments! Open networks provide a space for creative thinkers to thrive! So, let’s continue to share in our learning through open networks and watch our students achieve their highest potential, goals and aspirations!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Do I really need my library card anymore?

This week, we focused on the concept of open education as well as open education resources (OER’s). Open education resources are beneficial because they present both teachers and students with the ability to access informational materials online. Teachers can utilize a variety of digital content to assist in their teaching practices. Moreover, digital content is easily accessible and many OER’s are free to use.

This week’s concept was particularly interesting to me, simply because I have spent many years of my life attending university, taking numerous courses to further my education meanwhile spending hundreds of dollars on course textbooks. Although purchasing textbooks and other reading material come hand-in-hand while taking educational courses, it would be nice to somehow save on costs. Therefore, I decided to explore Open Textbook Library to see what it is all about. Before last Tuesday, I had never heard of Open Textbook Library. I discovered that Open Textbook Library is an online resource that is free to use and offers a wide range of textbooks that differ according to specific subject areas. Some of the subjects included are: Education, Economics, Engineering, Accounting & Finance, and Mathematics. However, there are many more subjects available.

Open Textbook Library is very user-friendly! It’s simple lay out makes navigating through its digital content easy and hassle free! With Open Textbook Library, any book you find can be downloaded for free. However, if you wish to print a book it states, “books can be printed at a low cost”. Open Textbook Library can be accessed from a variety of devices. Although it requires an internet connection to download the textbooks, you will have access to these books in the form of a PDF or EPUB once you are offline. Once you find a textbook you are interested in reading, Open Textbook Library offers a very detailed description about the books content as well as information about its author(s) and contributor(s).

Open Textbook Library also gives you the option to submit an open textbook to their website, just as long as it meets the specific requirements. The criteria for this can be found in the “Our Textbooks” tab, under “Submit a Book”. This is a really neat feature! Although Open Textbook Library is a free online resource and offers openly-licensed textbooks, I strongly encourage you to read the Conditions of Use as it explains in detail about the Creative Commons Copyright License.

Through exploring Open Textbook Library, I have found this resource to be valuable for adult leaners. The online reading material focuses primarily on content of a higher academic level, not suited for the elementary level or middle years level. Perhaps some of the online textbooks could be utilized by high school teachers and adapted? Would it be beneficial for Universities to start utilizing this resource aside from traditional textbooks? As an adult learner, would you use Open Textbook Library? Either way, Online Textbook Library offers free informational content and is an effective yet inexpensive open education resource. I highly recommend you check it out!

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