Barriers to blended/hybrid/mixed-mode/distributed learning.

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Blended learning, instruction, styles, systems?

I recently stumbled onto a new term to be used interchangeably with blended or hybrid learning: mixed-mode learning (or distributed learning). More educational buzz words, yay! However, when I first saw the term “mixed-mode”, I thought: that sounds a lot like “modes of instruction”. Although I’ve read about modes of instruction for blended classrooms (and, in practice, plan to center these modes around student needs), I failed to specifically connect student modes of learning to student learning styles. I alluded to this association last week, but I just wasn’t full grasping it. Modes of learning are just students’ different preferred means/styles to learn, made possible through different modes of instruction, but these modes of instruction are not necessarily instructional strategies. But these modes of instruction can be made possible through the use of a LMS (or VLE… or CMS) or what I could call blended systems/environments. Most of which make use of certain instructional strategies.


A “Frustrated with Definitions” Activity
If you’re confused at all, here’s a fill-in-the-blank activity. I put hints for help and I’ll give you a word bank.

_________ _______ (use any of four different terms that mean the same thing) is a mixture of _____ __ __________ combining elements from a ____________ ____________ and a(n) __________ ____________ (compare an old classroom with a “new” classroom), one of which borrows pedagogy from a __________ ___________ model, where the delivery of lecture and homework are reversed. This  can help account for different ____________ _________ (use either of two terms that pertain to diversity of learners). Using different __________ ___________ (or _______ ___ _________) is considered easier in a _________ _______ (use any of four different terms that mean the same thing, but use the same one as above to avoid confusion) because it allows for _________-______ ________ (or _______-________ _________), especially when utilizing a  ___ (use any of three different terms that all basically mean: an online program that facilitates instruction and information distribution). Students may then create artifacts for ____________ of their learning (the words aren’t necessarily the same, but both can be applied).

Word bank: distributed learning, mixed-mode learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, traditional classroom, flipped classroom, online classroom, modes of instruction, instructional strategies, modes of learning, student needs, learning styles, inquiry-based learning, self-directed learning, project-based learning, CMS, VLE, LMS, assessment, evaluation


Does it make sense?

Bear with me.

If the mode of learning targeted was reading using a reading assignment as the mode of instruction, and the content was specifically fact-based, I would argue that would also be direct instruction (learning style). However, a reading that poses questions to the reader or connects the reading to other resources to further extend learning, could potentially be indirect instruction but the mode of learning (and by extension, mode of instruction) was still reading.

Still not sure? Below is a video that highlights what exactly blended learning involves, including how it looks different from classroom to classroom.

So what’s the point of clarifying blended learning; subsequently and seemingly trying to confuse you?

As positive as I tend to be, the reality is there are barriers to blended learning, and these barriers extend beyond terminology. So what are the barriers to blended learning? Not just for educators, but for students as well.

Barriers to Blended Learning

Educators
Like any new implementation, educators need two things: time and money.

  • Time
    Time to learn how to deliver blended learning in your classroom, as well as time for the accumulation and assessment of available blended learning tools (whether it’s presentation programs, editing/animation software, assessment apps, or learning management systems).
  • Money
    Money to actually make these tools available to educators on staff and in the division, as well as money to pay for the time teachers spend preparing.

Students
Just because the educators are prepared for this, doesn’t necessarily mean that the students are as well. Mostly, they need support. How do educators provide this (assuming the above are provided)? Guidance and patience.

  • Guidance
    Students will need to be told how learning will occur in and out of the classroom, including the emphasis this style may place on their role in directing their own learning.
  • Patience
    Students may be fresh to this style, so educators must provide them with time and opportunities to develop the skills to be successful in your particular blended learning classroom.

Making it happen

So with these barriers in mind, what are others tips to make it happen or drive blended learning? See below!

drivers-of-blended-learning

Drivers of Blended Learning via Pinterest

 

Closing Remarks

There will always be barriers to any style of learning. As educators, our first barrier is better understanding what exactly blended learning is and how it connects to what we already know, as most of it draws many parallels to previous pedagogy. However, it’s important to note that these barriers are not only limited to the educator and the student, but also the division, curriculum, and parents. Being aware of these barriers allows us to plan for potential or anticipated problems and implement our blended classrooms as best as we can for our learners.

Do you agree? Disagree? Is my definition of blended learning consistent with what you know? Have you felt my pain of not knowing exactly what all these educational terminologies are?

Have a great break everyone!

– Logan Petlak

Blended learner = blended educator.

I’ve asked this before: what does my classroom look like?  Not in terms of engagement though, what is the balance of technology to traditional means of learning? Where do I fit on the blended learning spectrum? Why do I fit there? Am I doing it for me? Or am I doing it for the learners?

Pro-tip: it should be for the learners.

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Continuum of Technology-Base Teaching via OpenTextBC

Learning Preferences as an Educator

How does my classroom look in terms of print, audio, and video for digital resources? What is my typical practice and, therefore, preference? 70% of the time we’re using a PowerPoint to direct the flow of class, whether it is through discussions, lectures, or providing visual directions for activities. Within that 70%, we’re probably looking at an 80%-20% split of print-video (I provide the audio for most of the print work – lecturing – and this, typically, is not done digitally). But how does this sync up with my experiences from learning from digital resources? Do I emulate what I was exposed to when young? Or what worked best for me?

Learning Preferences as a Learner

What kind of learner was I even? What learner am I now? The different learning styles I was raised on were debunked, but for argument’s sake, let’s say I’m a kinesthetic, auditory/visual, and reading/written learner.

In a traditional classroom setting, when I was in high school at least, I learned best in the order of:

  1. Written and reading (to introduce content),
  2. kinesthetic (to try content) and;
  3. auditory (to explain and clarify content).though in a traditional classroom setting, at least this holds true for when I was in high school.

Now?

I need engagement and/or activities that keep me working. If the individual instructing isn’t enthused or invested, neither am I.

anyone

Anyone? via Giphy

To make matters worse, I typically need additional stimulation in order to stay focused, I need to doodle or have other things happening in order to stay on task. I frequently feel like people talk too slow, yet one of my biggest hurdles as an educator is to slow down the pace of my direct instruction. I find I may not even be looking at the instructor with poor body language/active listening skills – but I am (I swear). Hypocritically, when a student does this in my class I would probably question their engagement though.

Would I be a good student in my classroom today? I think so, my educating style is consistent with my learning style, but what about the evidence and overlap the style has with technology?

My classroom on the continuum

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Benefits of Blended Learning via ELearningIndustry

Connecting the digital back to my classroom – my classroom falls into the blended variety (with flipped/hybrid elements) – and this “blending” checks off a lot of the needs I would’ve had as a learner! In my class, we utilize technology independently and frequently, but it is closely monitored/facilitated by the instructor (yours truly). When so much curricular content is available online, open and free, my role adjusts to that of a facilitator, helping students to synthesize information (because they will inevitably be exposed to it, with or without me). Many of the key concepts are covered by me prior to the students getting to pick a direction and run with it, so they require less pre-class work and a greater emphasis is placed on utilizing class time. With this methodology could I go completely online-based for my courses? Not until the evidence points that it shows a significant improvement in student-learning, right now, blended appears to be the best practice. Reducing costs is becoming a larger and larger priority, and blended learning helps makes that happen, I even use the digital medium to save paper (money and the environment, you’re welcome).

Several years from now, will my classroom look the same? Probably not. Not only may my assignment change, but so will the learners, as I mentioned previously, that’s what it’s all about. Fortunately, blended learning is versatile and adaptable in nature, and this may lend itself to evolving with the students without much transformational change. Perhaps we’ll regain the ability to spend more and we can invest in bio-technologies to use in the classroom to further enhance learning that may only be currently achieved in virtual labs? But maybe the virtual labs are more valuable so that we can drift towards MORE online-only learning?

Where does your class fit on the spectrum? If it’s blended, what modes do you use to make it blended? If it’s not blended, why? Are you doing it for you?

Let me know!
Logan Petlak

Can an educator become YouTube famous? Creating, comparing and critiquing an educational Vlog.

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Part 1: Trying to Create a Vlog

petlak-tube-logo

YouTube Logo via Wikimedia Commons

Vlogging

I think I would be an engaging vlogger. I mean… I’m an engaging teacher (I think), so it should be an easy transition, right? I watch YouTube vlogs frequently, I bet I can create something similar. Maybe I can take advantage of the billion monthly users of YouTube for networking? But what avenue do I select to produce and createPinnacle studio is amazing and is what I used growing up, but a new version would cost money… so let’s try something free, while becoming comfortable with the medium in which I would be delivering the content anyway. Therefore, the means (for me) to create a vlog of sorts is through creating a video using YouTube and YouTube Editor! Clearly I will need to use a program like movie maker prior to upload and editing, but what can I do with YouTube Editor? What are the strengths and limitations of it? Let’s try it out and keep it short (under one minute is my goal).

Video: (Incomplete)

Here are some highlights had I finished my video!

Strengths

  1. Includes links to resources and content.
  2. Personalizes information consumption (it’s like you’re talking with someone).
  3. Condenses into a short chunk.

Weaknesses

  1. Reading is important! And it doesn’t (really) occur in this medium!
  2. Does obligation to create lead to staleness of content-delivery; bound to a particular character and the inevitable monotony? What if people don’t like me? What if I don’t like me?
  3. Expensive/time-consuming at start-up to establish professional content.

Potential for Teachers as a Content Tool

All I needed to create this is basically a script and a means to record video/audio (the latter of which may be mildly expensive/time-consuming, I just used my piano). Then I can add YouTube essentials to the video, like an ending part of my video with links to other videos? Ultimately, the YouTube Editor basically better utilizes the YouTube method of content delivery.

Part 2 – Comparing my Vlog to others

Rather than my video, let’s look/compare it to an example of a professional video, from one of my favourites, the vlogbrothers. Watch the video below!

Vlog Brothers: Understanding Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration
https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=qBvSSsi2vwg
An educator replicating Crash Course w/ Petlak

Can I replicate this? What does one need? And, as Kyle and Natalie pointed out to me, do I even need to recreate it? We (educators) can throw in content and media (all created by others) organically throughout instruction.

Let’s say, hypothetically, I do decide to create my own. Creating a resource for other teachers in SK for health and environmental science could be very valuable and not only save them time, but also allow me to teach concepts if I’m missing due to extracurricular involvement. If I have created enough resources and taught the content several times prior to creation of the module as well, it should be easy to pick up and go (I’ve been writing the script every time I teach it), assuming I’ve accumulated the above and established comfort with the module medium.

But what about the impact on student learning?

In theory, it should be very positive.

Once the nuances of the format are grasped and the user establishes comfort, not only should the format add value to facilitating the content, but may even allow for greater engagement in the content, finding a balance with the right media.

Professional Quality

“Once the nuances of the format are grasped”, I say above, like that’s supposed to be easy! If professional quality is to be established, for starters, professional devices are required. Next, if you look at any of the Crash Courses, you’ll see no shortage of additional people involved in the production of the video; script-writers, fact-checkers, camera-person, producer, animators and someone to compose or create original music. As a vlogger on a budget, I have to do all of these. Unless I talk to Andres and he can take care of animation while I take care of sound.

BUT WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE?!

It’s not like educators ever wear multiple hats, right? (Wrong.)

Devil’s advocate: as educators, we are morally obligated to continue learning, so dive in.

Conclusion

The start-up may be difficult, much like Justine addresses in her post! I’ve been making movies for fun since I was young so my experience with the medium is likely greater than most educators, so some of you may find the learning curve is steep and this is very time-consuming (even I found my limits, and it can be frustrating when it’s just not as good as professional vloggers). So, find your boundaries, and push your technological literacy limits (within reason).

Could you see yourself as a vlogger? Is it hard to establish confidence in the creation of this media? Do we even need to learn it?
Questions, comments, feedback – let me know!

– Logan Petlak

LMS or VLE? Don’t matter to me! Canvas? Let’s see.

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aladdin-shopkeep

If you guessed: “Aladdin”, you are right. Aladdin Shopkeeper picture via Pinterest

Come on down, stop on by, and today we’ll decide, an LMS to tryyyyyyyy!

Guess the reference and forever have the song stuck in your head for this blog post.

Decisions, decisions

In determining which learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE) to try out, I immediately tried to establish my criteria for determining which LMS best fits my ideologies. The LMS should:

  1. Be free, support open content and allow for my course to become publicly available. Reflecting on the creation of MOOCs and open content in the short history of educational technology helped remind me of this.
  2. Allow for easy posting/sharing of videos, images, notes, and updates.
  3. Have a user-friendly interface for students that remains available to them at the conclusion of the course (kind of a continuance on my first point. Audrey Watters, hackeducation, addressed the problem that, in some courses,  “students would lose access at the end of class“, so I want it to be a priority that the content, discussions, and sharing would always be available.
  4. Bonus: does it have any cool additional features/apps that set it apart from others?

Upon doing some additional (beyond-class) research and observing the list of mediums presented in class, I decided to go with Canvas. It’s important to note, however, that I have a hard time segregating one LMS from another as most share the same basic functionality (assignments, discussion, assessment, etc.), ultimately the content and learning within the course is our focus. The LMS is the wrapping, not the present. Whether we are talking assignment submission and distribution of modules, these concepts should be included, so it’s not really a knock on other LMS when it is the foundation of their design.


Exploring Canvas (Instructure)canvas-by-instructure

To begin, I got lost finding out where to actually go to get a class started. The fortunate side of this, was that I ended up exploring more of the depth of Canvas as a whole.

It offers MOOCs!

That being said, the amount of MOOCs are quite limited… I was hoping to find one on music, but came up with online one clear-cut music one: Open Mic Songwriting, and many of you know, I can already write a song.

Arc was another function that allowed for the sharing of videos within the course, keeping track of who had watched the video, how long, and allowed them to comment and discuss (a feature that could likely be completed if you simply embedded a YouTube video as well).

Bridge was another function that is apparently “stops yawning” and is “engaging” but I got lost in several paragraphs of marketing/promotion that I couldn’t track down what it actually was.

I can make my courses public! One of my requirements is apparently confirmed and I would be able to publish my course upon completion or when I felt it was ready. Additionally, as I poked around with assessment and assignments, I can import and export marks and data as needed into the system which may even lead to easy transfer of using formative assessment sites like Socrative and Kahoot (which export excel files), all I would need to do is convert the file to a .csv and fiddle with some student-name/assignment name work!

canvas public domain.png

Screenshot

The website appears to be very user-friendly and includes many of the requirements I would typically have for assignments, group work, and due dates that I would attempt to achieve in a regular class. Uploading of assignments, tracking of attendance, quiz-delivery all seem readily accessible and usable for an educator, with support and tips abundant throughout the course development process.

Final Grades
Open-Source and Availability of Content  4.5/5
I removed some marks due to the fact that it tries to create almost a dependence on its own apps like Bridge and Arc. It does have easy overlap with Creative Commons which lends itself to better and easier open sourcing of content.

Functionality 4.5/5
Has all basic functions I would have expected to see in an LMS.

User-Friendly 4/5
There were initial hiccups in the start-up that slowed me down, but I imagine after working with the students briefly the classroom would function easily.

Additional Features 3/5
There doesn’t appear to be anything too mind-bending or revolutionary for Canvas in comparison what I’ve seen from other learning management systems. Arc and Bridge appear to tell you how great they are, but my understanding of them seem pretty straight-forward and achievable through other avenues.

Closing Thoughts
If I were to use a specific learning management system, and not the hybrid I have in mind for my project, I would actively consider using Canvas. It combines a lot of the ideologies I referenced above in a satisfactory manner and I felt very comfortable using it once I got started!

What learning management systems do you suggest?
Note: After my ECI834 classmates provide some reviews I’ll be sure to update this blog with their reviews of other LMS, so you can compare between each!

Was my evaluation of Canvas on the mark?

Share in the comments!

– Logan Petlak

(re)Creating a virtual educator.

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What will an online class look like with Mr. Petlak?  What will an online Biology class look like with Mr. Petlak? Are labs done in person? Do students gather their own supplies? What balance of instructional strategies maximizes distance learning? Is content delivery more important than relationships (knowing full well they aren’t mutually exclusive)?

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How do we replicate the left to be delivered like the right? – Computer Screen via FreeGreatPicture

If you don’t know me, relationships make my classroom work (I think). It’s my foundation for learning, but how do I make that happen online through a screen? Historically, I would argue I entertain to engage, but I think the potential to get caught up in engagement and miss out on more content may be present; is content the priority in online education?

Researching Online Learning

In my digging, I found an article detailing best practices which provides great reminders when planning for distance learning:

  1. Visibility – students may get caught up in text and forget the teacher is a presence in the digital classroom. Be sure to maintain visibility.
  2. Organization and Analysis – plan out course well in advance of offering it, provide timely feedback and be open to constructive criticism of your course by peers and students.
  3. Compassionate – understand that the requirements of a teacher may actually be more personal than in a traditional classroom because some voiceless students may now have the opportunity to speak in a safe environment (email may keep them isolated and protected as well).
  4. Leader-by-example – model proper behaviour and foster connections with and between students.

The same article then provides a list of strategies that are critical to online teaching:

“ Student Led Discussions  Students Find and Discuss Web Resources  Students Help Each Other Learn (Peer Assistance)  Students Grade Their Own Homework Assignments  Case Study Analysis”
Bill Pelz, (My) Three Principles of Online Pedagogy , 2008

“ Group problem-solving and collaborative tasks;  Problem-based learning;  Discussion;  Case-based strategies;  Simulations or role play;  Student-generated content;  Coaching or mentoring;  Guided learning;  Exploratory or discovery;  Lecturing or teacher-directed activities;  Modeling of the solution process; and  Socratic questioning.”

– “Best Practices in Online Teaching Strategies“, Hanover Research Council, 2009

How similar do the above sound to an Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt course?

My course

Upon reading plans of Adam and co., perhaps my plan here is a bit too detailed at this point, I normally share Aimee’s approach of crushing it all at once later on (I definitely overdid this post, so if you’ve stuck it out this long, congratulations). With this information in mind, what are my initial thoughts and rationale for an online course?

  • I am going to use Zoom to record videos and screen-share in the recorded videos for any sort of drawing I will draw on the touchscreen (I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab) and deliver the content asynchronously. Additional modules would place an emphasis on discussion.
  • I intend to use my website for students to follow along with content, post notes and presentations as well as class plan.
    My rationale behind this is to open up learning opportunities for any students interested. I have background in Office 365 and Google classroom but intend to make the work as available as possible for students, educators, and parents – Office 365 and Google classroom would require a student login.
  • The audience will be grade twelve (ages sixteen to eighteen), and the students should have access to all content assuming they have a WiFi connection and a device to utilize it with.
  • Assessment will be completed using Socrativeformatively and summatively. Due to the asynchronous session, the Socrative will be made available for the week and close at the week’s conclusion so that outside learners may still observe content, but weekly work, attendance and accountability for in-class learners will therefore be mandatory.
  • Communication will be completed via email. Or via synchronous sessions when available.
  • Course content/learning objectives will be from the AP Biology© curriculum so that I can use it in my class!
  • Activities will include: brief video lecture for content (~3-5mins), hands-on activity to enhance understanding (~2-4 mins), and subsequent sharing of videos using an open Flipgrid discussion thread or typed discussion through commenting on the YouTube post, teacher access with mobile device should allow for consistent and quick response times.
    Potential concern: sharing video responses online and making this public, students may be susceptible to online risks/harassment. As such, they will be informed beforehand, however, use of Flipgrid seeks to eliminate ease of harassment through simply YouTube commenting.
  • Students will require device-access (that has a camera) and a strong enough bandwidth for videos to be watched and shared (YouTube).
  • Subtitles will be provided in informative videos, allowing EAL students to observe spelling of terms. The asynchronous nature of the course will also allow students of different ability (technological or learning-wise), will be able to pause on important points. (Important points in the video will also be provided in the information location of the post so that students can go to specific learning points in the video.
  • The content will attempt to include different cultural perspectives in the context of the work. Ie. different explanations for natural phenomena beyond western science.


Closing Thoughts

Plans and reality may deviate slightly, but hopefully this delivering of course content will not only allow for a larger audience to become informed on the content, but also allow interactions to occur with the instructor and others through commenting and sharing. Links to resources can be made available on the YouTube video shared and to my webpage. Ideally, once background content is established, students can take this personalized learning and make it more personal, allowing it to grow from there in a direction of their choosing through inquiry and questions evolving from content discussion.

The ongoing question I intend to ask in the delivery/creation of this content is “am I happy with the decisions I’ve made”, and “are there times I can avoid making a video of myself or simply use open resources”? A great example of the type of video I would hope to create for content delivery is included below:

 

Thoughts, comments, critiques? Let me know!

– Logan Petlak

Closing the distance between distance education and myself.

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Greetings fellow ECI 834 students. I look forward to learning with you over the course of the term!

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“Who am I?” via Giphy

Who am I?

I am Logan Petlak.

  • High school science educator (biology, health science, environmental science).
  • Football coach (and track coach).
  • Recreational hockey player.

    jesse.png

    Foster kitten: “Jesse” (now adopted: “Lou”)

  • Physical activity addict (weight training, assorted sports)
  • Frequent co-foster parent of stray cats and kittens (with my beautiful partner, Kristin).
  • NFL/NHL fan.
  • Moose Jaw product and resident.
  • Lifelong learner and critical thinker.
  • Proud Central Collegiate, Moose Jaw teacher.
  • Avid gamer and supporter of gamification of learning.
  • Open education supporter.
  • Student advocate.
  • #EdTech enthusiast and;
  • Fledgling distance educator.

This course revolves around the final point! It’s not necessarily a fresh topic for me, I’ve discussed it before. How exactly can I bring the Mr. Petlak experience worldwide? Not for personal gain, but to simply aid in the learning of others? Better question, how do I best deliver online education and learning to others? Therein lies my goals for this course:

  1. Gain resources and tools to create a distance learning classroom. Then utilize tools to best replicate what it’s like to be in a face-to-face classroom with students (and for students, with me).
  2. Connect with other professionals who can provide examples, suggestions and support as I develop distance learning opportunities.
  3. Critique and analyze the learning inherent within distance education and what learning may be lost outside of a face-to-face or in-school setting.
  4. BONUS: begin developing content for my Biology course as part of our module assignment!

 

In our school, some students are already taking distance education courses. Through informal polling, it has received generally positive reviews! Perhaps it was a shift in thinking but I don’t remember them being offered as much when I was in high school and, in my only distance experience in university, I had a hard time getting engaged without the face-to-face piece…

Fast forward.

When picking where to apply for my Master’s, distance education/universities came up, but I assumed they would hold less validity or reverence than other institutions so I decided against it. Whether it was engagement or validity of distance education, I guess I should’ve watched this video first!

Opportunities for distance education are available for most subjects, at many levels, worldwide. How will I fit into the distance education world and can I provide something that others don’t, and will I stick to my open education-centered morality?

If you were a distance educator, would you capitalize on the potential financial gain associated with private education?

How will your distance classroom work?

Am I foolish to hope that I can almost completely replicate the classroom experience, or is being consistently connected (via email) and using apps/tools like Zoom, Remindvirtual reality, google docs or GAFE to include all of the Google apps I guess (thanks Kyle), and socrative not enough to make it happen completely and becomes a blended learning environment (just shy of a completely online course)?

How will I account for students who don’t have as much access? We know they will be affected negatively, can we supply devices at a distance?

 

Regardless, I intend to close the distance between where I am now, and where I want to be with distance and blended education.

 

Thoughts and comments are welcome!
Logan Petlak

Ed Tech is/has always been about us and our learners.

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Another semester learning about EdTech is in the books!

What stood out?

Apart from all of the great presentations covering presentation-formats, assistive technology, assessment, the evolution of the web, educational media and several more… there were several major ideas that stuck out.

  • Engagement helps with learning.
  • EdTech has developed over time to continue to engage people.
  • EdTech continues to develop and as educators we have to as well.
  • There are several different theories of education that are inherent within different forms of EdTech.
  • Those who create these technologies possess a significant amount of power in determining the direction of student learning.
  • EdTech can both act as a means to bridge learning gaps yet widen the digital divide.
  • Some forms of EdTech are meant to entertain.
  • Entertainment leads to engagement which leads to learning.
  • Therefore: EdTech is and has always been about us and our learners.

For your viewing pleasure, “Learner”, a remix of “Closer” by The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey.

Lyrics:

E, C and I 8 33
History of Edtech is our topic, okay?
Classmates, I tried to connect with you on google
but I forgot to tweet you again.

Theory is where we start.
Connective, evolving chaotic parts.
Ed-Tech, changes for all
And I am entertainer in my classroom walls
And my, my thoughts,
Oh, I will blog.

So let me tell you more about how education’s grown.
Distance learning for home-schooled
Or for students studyin’ abroad
And I won’t ever get over
The tragic death of Mr. Hooper
Entertainer is engager.
And I will always be an engager.
EdTech’s all about our learners.
And we are all a bunch of learners.


(I could email)
you and use power point inside the classroom
share my screen usin’ the app zoom, ya all day
Say, can we play formative assessment
Kahoot, Menti, or Soc-rative

Assistive tech creates parts
Makin’ learnin’ possible against all odds
And, for free or not
Trying to teach students to have critical thoughts
And I will blog
Oh my, my thoughts.

So Bill C let me know sir
‘Bout Aurasma cree instructor
Angus, bout web 3.0
personalize data or my info
Find out more about virtual
Reality and its scope
Engaging equals learning.
And I will always be a learner.

EdTech’s all about our learners.
And we are all a bunch of learners.

So Alec tell us more sir, bout EdTech and bout our learners.
How to help who can’t afford?
BYOD do we bring ours
AR/VR alters our world
Is real even real anymore?
Questions grow us all as learners
And EdTech keeps us all learners
.

EdTech is all about our learners.
(And we are all a bunch of learners.)

EdTech is all about our learners.
(And we are all a bunch of learners.)

EdTech is all about our learners.
(And we are all a bunch of learners.)

EdTech is all about our learners.
And we are all a bunch of learners.

And I will always be a learner.

A whole new world: virtual and augmented reality.

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Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR)!

First off, thanks to Bill for being a great presenting partner. I thought our teaching styles complimented each other very well.

Next, I wanted to provide something new to the #ECI833 readers than what we had presented about… and that is my experiences and subsequent beliefs, biases and views towards AR/VR. And for those of you coming in with pre-existing notions about the “uselessness of gaming” (yeah, you, Jayme. Your husband’s a good guy!), I got a class devoted to game creation and gaming’s power for learning that would beg to disagree!

My experience with AR/VR

AR

A student was playing Ingress (an AR game) in my class last year after completing his work and, prior to reminding him he still had more work to do, I listened to him mention that the company that made this was planning on making a Pokemon game… since I was partially raised in the region of Kanto (this is a location in the original Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow games), I patiently waited.

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Pokemon GO via MobiPicker

My wait was almost rewarded as the official release of the game was in summer 2016… in the United States… still unavailable to the Canadian public. Fortunately, I had an AP Conference in Anaheim, CA. Let the Pokemon catching begin. The young Logan was ALIVE and, surprisingly, with the augmented reality, viewing my surroundings with creatures of my childhood, I soon connected with strangers and with my environment. Adults. Youth. Men. Women. I met and talked with strangers, I learned about locations in and around Anaheim, and I had fun. I was engaged. Interesting.

VR

I had never tried out a VR device prior to this class. After registering to present about it (mostly out of post-Pokemon GO excitement), I mentioned it to my father, and he conveniently picked up a Playstation VR (for himself, not me, for the record) on sale three weeks prior to our presentation. He told me I needed to come over to try Batman Arkham. Several days later, I did…

And?

Shut.

the.

front.

door.

It was incredible.

I! WAS! BATMAN! I PUT ON THE BAT SUIT, GAUNTLETS, TESTED OUT THE BATARANG, AND I HUNG OUT WITH ALFRED!

There I was in downtown Gotham City, analyzing a crime scene, yet simply doing 360’s in my basement looking around desperately for clues to solve a murder. I searched a morgue to locate a key, problem-solved using tips and inferences from the environment I was in. I was learning in a game. It was more than I’d ever felt playing a game before. My legs responded to the environment as my brain accepted what my sight and hearing had presented as real. (If you have an opportunity to try it, do it!)

Learning Implications of AR/VR

Then the implications came, and I was almost overcome with emotion. Perhaps place-based learning in a Saskatchewan classroom is possible for more than four months of the school year… this could change my environmental science 20 class!

Virtual tours. Simulation of activities re-imagined. Pseudo-hands on experience/training. Distance learning 3.0. Assistive technologies?! Imagine therapeutic treatments made possible with Virtual Reality… or transcending our mortal lives to exist as a series of light, sound and code for loved ones to reconnect…

A New Reality

But it’s not reality… or is it? If it’s not reality… is that okay?

I would be inclined to argue that reality is subject to what we make of it… a virtual reality, though digital, is still reality nonetheless. Are we ignorant to accept it as real or toy with our brains to escape reality? We have built other devices to better observe reality (telescopes, glasses), why is this different?

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Morpheus via Pinterest

What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. – Morpheus, The Matrix (1999) via IMDB

At least we’re not in the matrix… or are we? At least robots aren’t simulating this reality for us… but who is? Who is creating the reality for us? Angus elaborates with detail on the potential for misinformation and personal agendas made possible through these wildly interactive realities.

Ultimately, the uses for AR/VR are whatever we can imagine and create, with some concerns of spam, privacy, . Some of it is available for free; apps like Aurasma can be used in our schools to augment the reality of your classroom. Others with more intense experiences with virtual reality headsets are available in a wide variety of styles and processing power. The industry presents a limitless potential for incredible learning. All of this predicated on the large assumption that you are wealthy enough to purchase a device that makes it possible.

So, if you can, go get a headset and immerse yourself in a whole new world. If you can’t, then, education system, let’s work on making this possible.

What are your thoughts on AR/VR? Comment below!

Logan Petlak

Assistive technology knows no bounds!

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Assistive Technology.

Helping the blind, see.

The immobile, move.

The voiceless, speak.

The awkward and anxious, share.

Poor-writers, compose.

The disconnected, connect.

Always developing, never complete.

Assistive technology is an enormous umbrella term. We think of devices developed to help the “disabled” typically as assistive tech (devices), but then we are inclined to extend the definition to include even adaptations in the classroom (services). But where is the line? If we include differentiation as assistive, do we include adaptation? There are extensions of the technology definition to include ideas and classroom practices so I should… but, wow, including that wide definition of technology with a wide definition of assistive tech will that be a infinitely inclusive term. When we consider the definition of assistive technology including means to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability… it feels like everything in a classroom will be included. As such, what responsibilities does the school and education system bear to make this happen? What counts as a disability warranting support? If we include supplying devices in a BYOD classroom to those who have them, who is obligated to supply this? Today, many schools must include WiFi, is this now a mandatory “assistive technology”?

 

This ridiculously inclusive approach now also breaks down the illusion of limitations provided by assistive tech. Why is it simply an illusion? Circling back to the concept of a growth mindset, assistive technologies are constantly being developed and improved for all types and abilities of students/individuals. The strides made in hearing aids allowing individuals to hear again are incredible.

The increasing ease of movement for those bound to wheelchairs is ever-evolving or making music available to those who have lost their hearing. The field encapsulates potential, and while there will be difficulties, is there also the potential for the enhancement of the human form as a result creating a gap between “typical” individuals and those with assistive technologies. What comes to mind is sprinters with prosthetic devices, are they meant to compete against those with regular legs? If performance is drastically increased, is this fair or equitable? If they can afford it, should they be allowed it? Wealth gap aside, consider even grandiose ideas about the direction of human evolution. Is this wrong?

Sarah Reinertsen via Pinterest

I would argue it isn’t wrong, but we simply compare those with similar technology to others with the same tech? Or is this further segregating us? As always, where is the line?

What is a measurable amount of support to be provided to individuals requiring assistive technology? How do we train our educators to be familiar with an ever-changing field?

Where do we head next? What about assistive technology for managing teacher stress and workloads?

What assistive technologies are available to mitigating stress and workloads for teachers? Online assessment tools help reduce marking – but does the net work put into establishing these translate to better learning outcomes for students? Is there a world in which we tell devices to assess learning of each student, highlighting common difficulties students may experience, or individual anomalies and allow teachers to simply focus on learning support and facilitation? Totally possible. Will that negatively impact what a teacher provides their students or result in “worse” teaching?

Comments? Answers? Thoughts?

Logan Petlak

I’m not secretive, I’m Socrative; Assessing Assessment Tools.

Assessment tools achieve assessment rules in assessment schools. Wisely choose or be an assessment fool. But what does an educator pick to be ‘assessment cool’?

Assessment Thoughts… and Kahoot

The ECI833 class came to a general acceptance and list of many digital assessment tools that are best used formatively. A large part of my experience with assessment tools, albeit limited, reinforced this belief. I had used Kahoot several times this year with my students but found that if students didn’t have their own device, or some had slower connections than others, it led to a misrepresentation of student understanding and has the potential to leave a small minority of students frustrated. Students may not be as successful with a timer (as I’ve used), and some get so caught up in the competition they will go with a speedy response rather than a calculated one for a chance to be in the coveted “top 5”. Therefore, formative, at best. (Kids love it though, just like in Heidi’s class, lots of excitement throughout the high school with grades nine-twelve finding enjoyment from it). I know that you can shut off the timer in Kahoot, but that takes some of the fun out of the activity for some of the students. In order to try and find a solution to the formative problems, I decided to look into the highly-touted Socrative.

Socrative

Socrative is “your classroom app for fun, effective classroom engagement. No matter where or how you teach, Socrative allows you to instantly connect with students as learning happens.”

So how does it work?

Email to login? Done.
Click on create quiz? Done.
Created a question? Done (see picture below).
Share account ID with a student? Done.
Student finishes quiz, I can see immediate feedback.
Pros – accessibility and very straightforward.
Challenges?

am-i-great-socrative

My first quiz from Socrative taken via Screenshot saved with Paint.

The biggest challenge was figuring out what the heck Space Race was. Fortunately, like mentioned above, that too was very easy to fire up and use. Upon using “Space Race”, it appears I’ll be able to scratch the competitive itch for my students that may be done by Kahoot as well. If students didn’t not have availability to a device, this may not be as useful, but they do, so no worries!

Visually, it is far more professional-looking than Kahoot (no offence meant). For my senior science courses, considering a digital  alternative (formative or summative) to paper quizzing, I have every intention of using it. Like any program, there is an incentive to spending money to widen its capabilities (for myself, only $30/year), but the free features are more than enough. You can use images, much like in Kahoot for the question process or combine images with questions.

I decided to look up websites that had lists of assessment tools to see how it compared, but most sites had it listed near the top or in the discussion of great tools (even the EduTechChick did)!

Why digital assessment?

I avoided the thought entirely of whether or not digital assessment is wise in the classroom. I’ve historically used paper and reading body language for assessing student understanding, and justified it by stating that it “will prepare them for post-secondary”. But not only is post-secondary transitioning in assessment, but some students may not even pursue it. Therefore, maximizing engagement in the school including the assessment practice is likely the most student-oriented approach. Not to mention that these apps also minimize my marking workload with exports to excel and instant data recording.

So what more is there to say? It appears to be the next direction I head for assessment in the classroom. I have anticipated student reaction, but have yet to experience it, only time will tell. Unless, dear readers, you provide me with feedback on your experiences! What is your preferred digital assessment tool? Do you think there is still a place for paper and pen assessment as well? Or should we complete a transition to full digital assessment for the sake of engagement?

Comment!

– Logan Petlak