EC&I 834 Summary of Learning Project

Hello everyone!

This semester, I had the opportunity to work on my summary of learning project with my friend and colleague, Jayme Lazorko. Jayme and I have collaborated before on previous summary of learning projects, creating a slideshow presentation using Animoto as well as a Podcast. Together, we always have a great time creating digital content! For our summary of learning project for EC&I 834, Jayme and I decided we would try something new! So, we chose to create an animated video using a digital tool called Goanimate. Awhile back, we were asked to experiment with a digital tool that was new to us. We both decided to explore Goanimate as we always wanted to learn how to create animated videos which includes dialogue. After exploring this program, we both found it to be user-friendly, engaging and fun! Seeing as we both had a positive experience using Goanimate, we wanted to represent our learning using this digital tool. Therefore, if you’d like to check out our summary of learning project, just click “play” on the video below! We hope you all enjoy it! I look forward to collaborating with you all in the future, whether it be in person or online! Thank you to everyone who shared in my learning experience this semester and have a wonderful Spring/Summer!

Do we really have to say good-bye?

Hello everyone!

Oh, how quickly this semester has gone by. It is hard to believe that our journey in EC&I 834 is nearly over. I’ve really enjoyed spending my Tuesday evening’s with all of you in the Zoom room and want to say thank you to Alec, Katia and everyone who has shared in my learning this semester! I am also looking forward to viewing everyone’s summary of learning projects before we are officially done!

For our final blog post, we were asked to provide an overview of the developing process of our prototype projects as well as include the link for our course prototype project and a response about making changes to the prototype, based on the feedback we received from our peers. Listed below are some links to previous blog posts that details the developing process of our course prototype project throughout this semester:

Prototype project for blended learning, take one!

Google Classroom it is!

Prototype project is well underway!

That’s a wrap, folks!

Student login information to our course prototype

If I’m being honest, there were many times this semester where I felt somewhat overwhelmed and confused about the prototype project. At times, my group and I were not sure whether we were on the right track or not. However, through collaboration amongst one another and with feedback from Alec, Katia and our classmates, we were able pull it together and create an awesome course prototype project completely from scratch! What an accomplishment! For our LMS platform, Jayme, Andres and I decided to use Google Classroom. This decision was easy for us, seeing as the three of us use Google for almost everything! However, through our experience using Google Classroom to create our course prototype, we definitely were able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of this digital tool. As explained in my blog post from last week, I provide a detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of this LMS platform.

As for the peer evaluations, my group and I were quite satisfied with the feedback we received. I think between the three of us, we were a tad bit hesitant about whether or not our course prototype project would measure up to others. However, through this process we were able to identify a variety of courses which included different subject areas, targeted age levels, LMS platforms, artefact samples and detailed modules! My group and I feel that the feedback we received was very helpful and gave us some ideas about how we can better our course prototype project and its material. It also pointed out many issues with Google Classroom which we honestly hadn’t noticed before or details we omitted without even realizing it. We found the evaluation process to be beneficial and appreciated the constructive criticism we received. We also enjoyed being able to view other course prototype projects. It was nice to finally see some of the things our classmates have been working on all semester!

Changes to prototype project

Overall, I am very happy with the content I learned this semester in EC&I 834. I’ve learned a lot about the pedagogical foundations of online and blended-learning as well as many new digital resources, LMS platforms and even how to create digital content. I am fortunate to have been a part of such a supportive online community. Even though this course is coming to an end, I wish all of you the best of luck in your future endeavors and hope to collaborate with you in the future!

Thanks for stopping by!

That’s a wrap, folks!

Well EC&I 834 community, I cannot believe how quickly this semester has gone by. The end is near and we have come a long way together. Through the process of completing our prototype projects, we have learned about a variety of online and digital resources as well as pedagogical elements that applies to online learning environments. We now have the tools to create online or blended-learning material based on a variety of artefacts and learning experiences that we have discovered together, but in different ways.

This week, we were asked to discuss our prototype projects before we submit them. Like my group member Jayme, I also found the prototype project to be consuming and overwhelming. At times, I felt confused about its components and was not always confident that my group and I were on the right track. However, I really appreciated how Alec and Katia were available to answer any questions or concerns we may have had. Also, the Google+ Community proved to be a helpful space for when we had questions regarding the prototype project. Throughout this course, each week we covered a variety of online and digital resources, which enabled us to explore new tools and assisted in the development of our prototype project. Andres did a terrific job describing our experience using Google Classroom and our LMS platform. Within his post, he explains why we chose to use Google Classroom based on our experiences using a variety of google apps and resources. Choosing our LMS platform was definitely one of the easiest decisions we made.

While working with Google Classroom, my group and I were able to identify both the pros and cons of using this digital tool.

Pros:
– Clean and user-friendly interface
– Going paperless
– Access from any device
– Effective Communication and sharing
– Provide timely feedback
– Personalized learning

Cons:
– Difficult account management
– Lacks room for customization
– Editing problems due to automatic reformatting
– Letter size and fonts cannot be adjusted
– Impersonal

This assignment was a pleasant one. I enjoyed the flexibility and openness that it offered. I also appreciated how the details of this assignment flowed with the weekly teachings, this deepened my understanding of the content. I also learned with this assignment that creating digital content is possible, even to someone who may feel they are not too experienced working with technology. Creating digital content can be fun and also contributes to a unique learning experience. Within this assignment, my group and I had the opportunity to create content in the form of modules as well as artefact videos. This is something I have never done before and now I can say that I have!

Overall, I am very pleased with our prototype project. I truly enjoyed working with Andres and Jayme as collaborating was easy, teamwork was evident, and we challenged each other by taking on a different digital tool to focus on. Creating a prototype project has definitely opened my eyes to all of the different digital tools and resources that are available through online and blended learning courses. Furthermore, I’ve enjoyed my interactions with all of you! I look forward to seeing everyone’s prototypes and summary of learning projects! I am excited to see what all of you have been working on this semester! Also, thank you Alec and Katia for introducing me to the variety of the digital tools and platforms I have not seen/used before!

Thanks for stopping by!

Open education…authentic sharing?

For this week’s blog post, we were asked to reflect upon the idea of openness in education. So far, my experience involving open education has been extremely positive. Due to the flexibility that somewhat comes hand in hand with open education, I now realize that as a teacher and an adult learner, knowledge literally has no limits! Moreover, open education offers a unique, authentic learning experience and helps us grow into the future.

With open education, what we are learning and how we wish to learn appears to be flexible in the sense that it offers somewhat of an unstructured format, allowing learners to explore other people’s perspectives while considering our own. Open education provides a variety of forums which allows for people to expand their knowledge through a collective experience. For instance, being a member of EC&I 834 has allowed me to share my thoughts and opinions as well as learn about my fellow classmates perspectives in regards to similar topics, through class discussions, blogging and using Twitter. Not only is this refreshing, but it continually helps to better my understanding. As adult learners, we may not always have similar perspectives about particular subjects but this does not necessarily mean the information we share is inaccurate or demands its authenticity to be questioned. Open education presents us with the opportunity to study others and to consider numerous perspectives in order to enhance our learning experience.

This week, my classmate Amy Singh wrote a fantastic blog post about open education. She explains how she enjoys the concept of open education tremendously and how its flexibility offers an exciting yet challenging learning experience. She also shares her experience with using Learning Management Systems and how they offer a “one size fits all” mentality, leaving little or no room for collaborative or cooperative involvement. She also notes how closed forums are limited and offer less opportunities for discussion, which contributes to deepening a person’s understanding of information. With that being said, I’d like to thank you, Amy. Thank you for sharing your experience with both open and closed forums. Your perspective regarding open education has contributed to my learning and is a perfect example of the effectiveness of open education!

As a Grade 3/4 teacher, it has been difficult to provide my students with the experience to work with open forums. Within this specific age group, working with closed forums may appear to be somewhat simpler and more effective. My reasoning for this is based on the limited experience my students have with technology and digital resources. As noted in Benita’s blog this week, she states,

“I think that open learning is more challenging in a school setting. Kids are not trained to be self- educators yet. They thrive on structure and guidance. I do think that there is opportunities for open learning within the closed format”.

I agree with Benita’s statement as teaching students how to navigate through closed forums can prove to be a challenging experience. However, it is important for educators to not rule out openness in education because of these challenges but rather find ways to incorporate open education by offering their students choices and the opportunity to gain deeper understanding of concepts.

What are your thoughts regarding openness in education? How do you determine whether the information being shared with you is authentic? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Project prototype is well underway!

For this week’s blog post, we were asked to provide an updated description regarding our course prototype project as well as elaborate on any progress we have made. Within the past few weeks, my group and I have made a great deal of progress, establishing many important details/elements that will be included within our prototype project. Therefore, allow me to share the details about what my group and I have accomplished thus far, starting with the details listed within our course profile.

Jayme-Lee, Andres and I decided the course format for our prototype project will be based on the blended-learning concept, simply because all three of us appreciate the combination of face-to-face instruction and the use of online digital tools. As for the course subject and grade level, we chose to focus on English Language Arts at the Grade 6 level. But most importantly, the purpose of our course prototype project is to provide students with the opportunity to create digital content. Within Andres blog post for this week, he thoroughly describes the goals outlined for our project as well as provides a detailed portrayal of what our project will resemble, from start to finish.

“Students will learn how to use various online and digital tools to help them find new ways of representing their written work. The final project: the summary of learning, will be an amalgamation of everything the students learned throughout the unit. The unit will focus on scaffolding and providing students with the skills necessary to create a final product. The unit has been designed with student collaboration in mind, meaning students will work, interact and collaborate with other students in various ways. The final project will require students to pair up with their reading buddies to create a narrated digital story”.

Due to the stresses technology can sometimes bring, Jayme-Lee explains the purpose for the Grade 6 students actively working alongside with a reading buddy in Grade 1. She states,

“We have all been in situations where technology has been a challenge, especially those teachers in the younger grades. Students are unable to log on; internet access is low etc. So what better way to get our students using technology then to buddy them up with an older student who perhaps more experience using these tools, apps, resources etc. We have decided that our buddies will be a big part of our project, involved, commenting, providing feedback, learning etc”.

Therefore, our group decided that working with technology and online tools is possible for the younger grades and may work to the students’ advantage, if they are presented with the opportunity to work with a student in an older grade. By doing this, student interaction and collaboration will occur and may also promote digital citizenship, along with respect for the various online tools the younger grades have not yet been exposed to.

We have decided to use Google Classroom as our LMS platform and for a collaborative space where we may upload various Google documents, our course profile, modules and our artifact videos. Furthermore, Google Classroom provides an environment where our students have access to the information they will need for our prototype project but also have access to numerous resources and tools if they require additional support. Within our project, we designed Google Classroom to be the primary source for teacher and student interaction as the Grade 6 students already have access to and have experience working with Google Classroom and creating Google documents. Google Classroom also allows the students to work at their own pace and is beneficial for all types of learners.

As outlined in Andres blog post, our course prototype project will be set up in the form of “how-to tutorials”, paired up with assignments as well as assessments for each module. The modules of our project are listed as follows:

– How to use Read&Write for Google Chrome (for assisted learning and when students are brainstorming ideas for their narrative stories with their reading buddies).
– How to use Google Docs, Google Drive and other cloud-based software.
– How to use animation tools such as Videoscribe, Powtoon, Telegami and Puppet Pals.
– How to film using your device. Students will learn the basics to simple screenwriting and script writing; they will be given tips on what makes for good and captivating cinematography; and how to capture good footage for your project.
– How to edit videos and raw footage using Windows Movie Maker, iMovie or other video editors.
– How to create podcasts (learning how to use audio recording software such as GarageBand and Audacity for podcasts and narratives for our stories).
– How to narrate and add life to your videos and digital artifacts.
– How to create a time-lapse video.
– Final project. Summary of learning: a narrated digital storybook that combines everything we learned in the unit.

Overall, our prototype project is progressing smoothly and my group and I are enjoying working together! We are determined to provide our students with a variety of digital tools to work with so they may experiment and find new ways to represent their work as well as actively collaborate with other students. I am eager to see how our final product turns out and I am excited to share it with all of you!

Thanks again for stopping by!

Cell phones…useful technological tool or a distraction?

For our blog post this week, we were given the opportunity to write about an article or articles we read and discuss our reactions to them. Luckily for me, I came across a short article which proved to be very interesting. If you have not yet read, I recently tweeted an article posted from CTV News about a Toronto middle school banning the use of cell phones within classrooms and in the hallways. When I first came across this article, I read it immediately as the title alone caught my attention. The article states,

“Since September, students have been prohibited from texting, taking photos or signing into social media over the school’s lunch hour”.

Following this statement, the article notes that the use of cell phones may be permitted where a cell phone may be “helpful” to the task at hand, which includes a school activity or a specific lesson.

After reading this article, I felt somewhat torn about the situation. I understand the real life struggle that teachers and instructors face with permitting the use of cellphones in schools. It is evident that there are both pros and cons for allowing the use of cell phones within the classroom and now a days, many students own cell phones, starting at a young age. I’m sure we can all agree that it is very easy to become distracted by our cell phones. Personally, I use my cell phone for almost everything. From paying bills online, texting, taking photos and exploring social media, it is difficult for me to put my phone down and remember that moderation is key when it comes to the use of technology. In my opinion, whether or not the use of cell phones is permitted in the classroom depends entirely on the classroom teacher/instructor. However, it is encouraging to know that there are ways cell phones may be put to good use in the classroom. Rather than exhausting ourselves while “fighting the good fight and asking students to put their phones away during class”, consider the different ways technological devices, like cellphones may be used during class time. Recently, my colleague Jayme-Lee tweeted an article about “Five Ways Students Can Use Their Cell Phones in the Classroom”. Within this article, it provides a list of 5 digital resources that includes Kahoot, Quizizz, Pear Deck, Google Slides Q & A and Socrative. These resources are engaging, fun, encourages team work, and are effective for examining informational content. Therefore, if you find yourself in the position of picking battles with your students about the use of cell phones, remember that cell phones do have potential to be used for learning, as long as it is in a controlled and teacher-lead environment.

Since taking online classes with Alec and Katia, I learned about many digital resources available to both teachers and students to assist with learning. Professionally, I have grown and am much more open to technology than ever before. As an adult, I enjoy taking online classes. I am able to learn and communicate online with fantastic individuals, many within the same profession as me. Furthermore, I am able to collaborate from the comfort of my own home. As a teacher, I also believe in the concept of Blended Learning. I appreciate the combination of face-to-face instruction with my students while using technology to assist in my everyday teaching. When implemented effectively, a blended learning program can be beneficial and serve several purposes:

1) Institutions have the potential to manage instructional and facility resources more efficiently, teaching more students within a semester.
2) This approach is beneficial for students, providing the convenience and flexibility associated with online learning, freeing up time for work, family obligations or extra-curricular activities.
3) Blended learning develops a skill set for students that otherwise would not be possible in exclusive face-to-face instruction. Skills include digital citizenship, information management skills, self-directed learning, and web research and collaboration skills.

Therefore, what are your thoughts regarding the use of cell phones in the classroom? In your experience, do you agree we can use them to our advantage to assist in learning or do you feel they are a distraction? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic!

Thanks for stopping by!

Digital resources for online and blended learning

For this week’s assignment, we were asked to reflect on chapter 7 of Bates’ textbook. Within sections 7.1-7.4 and 7.7, Bates’ speaks about the pedagogical differences involving media and discusses methods for deciding which media to use when teaching. We were also encouraged to reflect upon our own experiences with learning from digital sources. After reading Bates’ text, I realized the importance of digital sources but also its usage for learning. Before integrating digital resources, a particular purpose of the exercise should be considered, before being utilized.

As listed in Bates’ text, there are 5 critical questions that need to be reviewed about teaching and learning before the teacher/instructor decides which form of media to select. By doing this, the teacher/instructor is able to determine which form of media (text, audio, video, computing and social media) will be most effective in regards to the representation of content and the development of skills.

  • what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
  • what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  • what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  • what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  • what resources are available?

Throughout my schooling experience (specifically K-12), I do not recall many instances when I worked with technology and media. My only exposure to technology was practicing my typing skills using a desktop computer. Sometimes, I got to play Oregon Trail. When research for an assignment was required, the internet was not an immediate source used to collect data. Instead, I was encouraged to use the many books found within our school library. At this point in time, technology and media was very limited. In fact, it wasn’t until my first year of university that I began using technology and media for learning.

However, with technology advancing every day and technology and media available at our fingertips, there are many reasons why teachers should and need to be incorporating technology into the classroom. Today’s technology sources provide many benefits to students, especially for those who require additional support for learning. Technology allows teachers to experience a variety of learning styles, encourages students to collaborate and share, to be actively engaged and more motivated to learn and to gain responsibility and independence. But above all, exposure to technology and media within schools is helping to prepare students for the real world in which they live. With technology entwined in our everyday lives, it is apparent that students are exposed to technology, and what better way to learn about technology and media than in schools where teachers can focus on the importance of digital citizenship and internet safety!

As a primary teacher, I make a solid effort to integrate a variety of digital resources (print, audio and visual) into my daily teaching. Like my peer Lorraine, I enjoy playing Kahoot with my students. Kahoot is an online resource which is very effective for examining content. The students enjoy playing Kahoot because it is fun and engaging. Although Kahoot can create somewhat of a competitive environment, it also encourages cooperation.

Bates’ encourages teachers/instructors to experiment with a variety of digital resources as experimenting with digital resources will produce different learning experiences. However, this process is often a challenge depending on the task at hand and the diverse levels of experience my students have working with technology. For some, signing into their personal account can be a difficult process. Before I integrate technology, I search for digital resources that will assist me in achieving particular goals or learning outcomes. Through this process, I have learned that technology and media are extremely beneficial for learning. However, it is only effective when it is used appropriately and in moderation. Although working with technology creates an intriguing learning experience for both teachers and students, it is important to note that “face-to-face teaching should also be considered a medium”. Furthermore, it is important to take the time to research the digital resources you intend to use before applying them. According to Bates’ “Different media have different potential or ‘affordances’ for different types of learning”. I strongly agree with this statement for the reason that if we take time to research specific purposes of digital resources, we can feel confident while working with technology and trust that the resources we have selected will contribute towards meeting specific learning outcomes, content and skills involved.

What are your learning preferences when it comes to digital resources? What digital resources have proven to be effective for you and your students? Please share as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!