Developing a high school science digital citizenship resource

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In my first post, I highlighted my desire to create a resource for digital literacy, I clashed with making a series of vlogs to educate my peers or making a document to assist science educators in delivering digital literacy in their science classrooms that corresponded with the curriculum. I decided to pursue the latter as I feel it may be a more realistic venture with the resources I have available to me (I reflected on my previous attempts to make a video series in the distance learning course I took, and concluded that it takes a lot of resources and time for only one person to put together – not that this won’t also take time, the resources may be less).

In my brainstorming for this assignment I had many ideas come to mind when considering the philosophy and approach that educators should have when implementing a document associated with digital citizenship in a high school science course. Some of my initial considerations to include in the completed document were:

  • Considerations of applicability to general Saskatchewan curriculum focuses like broad areas of learning, specifically how science and digital citizenship coincide to promote lifelong learning, engaged citizens, and a sense of self and community. The same can be said of cross-curricular competencies in science like thinking, literacies, identity, and social responsibility.
  • The creation of digital citizenship resources associated with different senior science courses (including learning outcomes) – ideally in an area where many can access this information and try to make it applicable for curriculum across Canada. This would likely begin with courses I am familiar with: Environmental Science 20, Health Science 20, and Biology 30.
  • Overlap between digital citizenship pieces and an “effective science education program” including attitudes, skills, knowledge and STSE. Ultimately using scientific literacy for digital citizenship, or digital citizenship as a form of scientific literacy. Informed through some guidance associated with 21st century learning.

    Scientific Literacy Framework

    Scientific Literacy Framework via screenshot of Saskatchewan Curriculum

  • Guidelines to equip educators to model online behaviours for students, specifically centered around Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship (dominantly on accesscommunication and literacy – more below). These guidelines would try to provide suggestions to approaches while bearing in mind the diversity of educators existing on a spectrum of digital visitors and residents. The suggestions would be rooted in delivery of digital citizenship through the lens of Respect, Educate and Protect – as all are essential to “ideal” digital consumption.

Access (allowing for access) – as part of a pre-read to the document, or philosophy to approach the guide with, there will a piece for educators on access and attempting to overcome barriers to students’ device-usage, including information that they may want to share with parents regarding the benefits of having their students exposed to and participating in the usage of devices/the online world. I thought this was innovative, then I saw Alec and Katia had included this in their DC Guide, through BYOD practices.

Communication/etiquette/rights and responsibilities – establishing an emphasis on productive communication in text-format existing through social media and other forms of digital writing. This would provide education on being hyper-aware of the implications of word-choice, phrasing, and delivery of ideas.

Literacy – critical analysis of “scientific articles” as well as the utilization of digital technology to enhance understandings and concepts in science as an industry through forms of content curation.

 

As I begin to put this document together the main ideas should act as a framework to begin approaching organizing these ideas together. The reality is the landscape of the digital realm is constantly shifting so it needs to be designed with adaptability in mind as well as inclusive to the variety of learners and educators interpreting the material.

Any feedback or things you feel are necessary to be included in a high school science digital citizenship document, please share!

– Logan Petlak

 

 

 

Additional considerations:

In my other class I am currently taking, ECI 842, we recently discussed the overlap between Indigenous Science and “Western” science and would consider trying to have a sub-document that provided strategies or suggestions for implementing Indigenous ways of knowing in the classroom effectively while coinciding with digital citizenship as an extension of real experiences, diverse worldviews, community and its practices, and the digital realms’ relationship to land and ecosystems. This would include the idea of identity and the digital identity also simply being a part of our greater identity, as Paul Brown mentioned, and not something that is meant to be separate.

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Transgenerational (Digital) Citizenship Education

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“Digital Citizenship is more than just a curriculum to be taught in a classroom; it is an ongoing process to prepare youth for a society immersed in technology, personally and professionally.”  – Robyn D. Shulman

This quote prompted me to begin sifting through all of my old posts because it presented a revelation of its simplicity/goal. I’m shocked that I don’t recall ever making the connection that digital citizenship education is just modern citizenship education; “prepare(ing) youth for society”. How is my school preparing students for this?

When Shulman listed off digital skills that might be taught in schools: “coding, animation, web design, blogging, cyber-security and narrowing down information”, I feared our (my) school only was hitting a couple at best, but it does hit these skills. Unfortunately it’s not with a specific consistently or continuity from course-to-course (it’s teacher-preference, or subject-specific with a heavy emphasis on computer science courses).

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“Service guarantees citizenship” via MemeCrunch

But when broadening the definition to citizenship education that can have digital elements to it, the service learning and other citizenship education that occurs cross-curricularly in the school should promote similar values and skills when approaching the online realm. When considering the “ongoing process” piece Shulman mentioned – perhaps this represents the short-term educational change required to include digital citizenship? But how does one “monitor” or “manage” the learning that occurs in classrooms when it is such a broad, instructor-specific topic to cover elements of digital citizenship? This is where this broadening definition of citizenship also helps in the transition to digital citizenship education in some courses. Shifting the mindset on the digital world comes to be an extension of reality rather than a dangerous, unforgiving world as some parents or students may be approaching it, especially when we observe differences in digital literacy from one generation to the next – previous documents can still be relevant and promote transgenerational (digital) citizenship education in schools and in the home.

 

 

When I read Sklar’s take on digital hygiene, I began considering the impact home has. Education about digital citizenship occurs in a variety of ways today, some would argue it needs to occur in the creation of a positive online presence. and a lack of specific digital citizenship occurring in schools when I was an adolescent in the infancy stages of social media. It makes me feel incredibly fortunate that my father was very much into technology and trying to stay up to speed on it – by extension this helped us at least stay relevant and on top of/familiar with most new tech emerging, and Sklar appears to have their kids in a similarly-privileged position – the students have access to positive models for guided exploration into digital citizenship, but not every student is so fortunate (as Jana mentioned), which dictates the necessity for digital citizenship to be a part of education. Fortunately, this end is partially realized given subject-based outcomes through that expansion of preexisting understandings of what citizenship is to be inclusive of the digital community.

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Mia MacMeekin’s Digital Citizenship via TeachThought

Citizenship occurs through the emphasis of digital citizenship. The critical thinking that occurs in the active deconstruction of our interactions in the digital world is a transferable skill. When considering implementation of this at an education system level – adaptability is key (much like the organic curriculum I’ve mentioned before, Sklar mentioned a “living document editable by students”). It has to shift and evolve with the ever-shifting, ever-evolving landscape to adequately and relevantly prepare students and equip teachers.

This is merely a surface “solution” to approaching digital citizenship (there a some lovely tips on how to implement this to the right, by the way). What does the future have in store for education?

How will schools shift in time? Will we see an increasingly student-centered classroom? Do the number of teachers need to increase to meet a more wide variety of student learning needs as technology further allows learning to be more personalized? Or will classrooms even exist if more technology makes education more available? It’s a tough call, so much is dependent on the “babysitter” properties of school that I see a “educational revolution” deviating from the current educational model as unlikely in the future – but I would welcome being wrong, even it put me out of a job.

Thoughts?

Let me know!
– Logan Petlak

Digital Learners and Digital Wisdom in a Digital World

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I genuinely hold the idea that we can’t villainize the internet. Policing the students who (ab)use technology or criticizing the current contexts our students develop in seems fruitless in the absence of education. Maybe this lends itself to my appreciation for better understanding our respective places in the digital realm in order to proceed with wisdom? (It does). We really need to understand the depth of what we consume digitally (and how) and with this comes the need to identify where we, and our learners, fit in order to grow  and continuously learn about the ever-changing digital landscape.

Ironically, in previous reflections, I’ve kind of grappled with the idea of classifying students and myself with particular labels. At times labeling can be too constrictive, or its too subjective when considering things in a spectrum (but, that’s the point of a spectrum); student (and teacher) experiences and narratives constantly are in flux, so a spectrum to approach the diversity of technological literacy makes sense. The variation is wide from person-person. In this case, “what type of digital user am I”, widely varies depending on which point in my life you look at (my age, and technology available at the time), or in what setting the notion is applied (is it me as a student, teacher, or consumer). In my late teens?

I overshared and would’ve immensely benefited from digital citizenship education
(thanks Facebook Memories, for serving as a daily reminder for how much of a tool I was). The appreciation for the variety of digital consumers I think should keep us humble and empathetic as digital educators (if you’re an educator, your students will be put in a better position to be successful if you acknowledge your need to be a digital educator, assuming you live in a context with access).

This appreciation for empathy when approaching the idea of the spectrum of digital consumers has been a scaffolding process. One of my colleagues was providing a presentation to our staff about English Language Learners, and stated that we are all English Language Learners. That really resonated with me when considering the wide variety of proficiencies that exist regarding our respective grasp of the English language would also apply to the range of our grasps of digital literacy. With this, I consider that range of digital visitor/resident (which is presented as a continuum) as presented by Dave White.

However, upon watching Dave’s video, I became curious as to fluidity of being a digital visitor versus resident. When exploring that metaphor in a literal sense, we can see the impact visitors can make in new communities, and there can still be a trail or trace of their existence. This applies to online activity when considering webpage traffic, cookies, and histories. While we may not leave something easily visible to the public, those with the aptitude to perceive our presence online can do so. Therefore its important to remember our digital user classification isn’t definite either. I understand the context of the distinction Dave White makes as it pertains to our engagement with the digital world, but I also think it’s important to acknowledge the digital realm as an extension/part of our reality. Of which, relatively speaking, we’re all “residents” or “visitors”, and this is subject to change. But are we also digital “immigrants” or “natives”?

With digital immigrants and natives, there is a new issue presented that involves the peril in classifying individuals (clarification below). Its too subjective.

I do acknowledge the multitude of factors that can cause individuals to be predisposed to be better learners in different forms of literacy and the divide a failure to acknowledge this may cause. I acknowledge how certain generations may possess certain characteristics reflective of the context they grew up in. And I acknowledge that the digital world presents an exponentially increasing amount of change and challenges associated with it. But I fear we get too negative about the digital world and this can be a debilitating force against education. Like it or not, it is a part of the world we live in today.

That led me to consider drifting from the binary division of different types of educators and learners that I feel is presented in the distinction of digital immigrant/native, (and I wasn’t alone in this, thanks Megan). As I dug deeper, however, apparently Prensky felt similarly, opting to try to shift focus and emphasize “digital wisdom”, but was he successful in this endeavour?

Apparently the phrase digital wisdom didn’t catch on, but in reading Prensky’s work, he emphasized ideas after his digital immigrant/native article that, despite my personal critiques, he recognized and acknowledged as well. Two of which, I think are reflective of some main takeaways from my (and his) post:

  • Education and, by extension, the context in which digital literacy exists “should evolve” and so too must educators.
  • Educators need to listen to students. With this I think this connects to that empathy piece I mentioned before. 

We have to be cognizant of not over-generalizing the wide spectrum of learners that exist in the ever-changing digital world. Users are constantly increasing their fluency in digital literacy, and we are all digital literacy learners. Approaching all digital learners with that in mind, will keep us empathetic and adaptive to their learning process. With that, we will be practicing digital wisdom.

 

– Logan Petlak

 

Maximizing Education for Digital Literacy

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Greetings ECI 832 bloggers, I’m going to bypass the introductions but if you’d like to know about my thoughts on distance education, EdTech, or social media, that might help you get to understand my philosophies of digital education a little bit better!

I have been really torn over what I should do for my project. Like, Katie, I feel well-versed in the educational app industry that investing my time analyzing some of them or new ones may not be as rewarding as either pursuing a social media activism project or creating a digital literacy resource. I think either of these would improve my capacity for change.

Motivations directing my learning

In the past several years, I have found myself at a loss on my personal social media platforms, specifically Facebook and Instagram. Individuals whom I have spent a variety of stages of my life with, share posts and like pages that either incite division between people, or are factually inaccurate. The specific catalyst to consider this challenge as a project was the sharing of an anti-vaccination video that made claims that had no evidence or validity to their claims (my critique of this video isn’t to disparage critically looking at vaccinations or any medicines at all, mind you, but rather to challenge inaccuracies and our roles in perpetuating them when able). In discussing this with my students, I still noticed the need to approaching it from all sides, and giving each narrative the opportunity to share with dignity. This empathy rarely occurs in social media.

I value the difference of opinion and belief that exists among my friends, yet struggle to simply remain silent when, as an educator, I would feel obligated to address inequities or educate the uninformed when able. However, this presents the paradox of living the life of an educator in a classroom, promoting inclusion, empathy and reflective thought, yet practice the avoidance of “opinion” online and in social interactions among peers.  When considering the neutral-stance some (not all) educators must take on social media as they represent their divisions, schools, families and themselves, it also serves as a reminder to be aware of the wording and permanence of what is shared online, which is good, but it drives the narrative of: “you can educate your students, but beware should you take it to wear what you say never disappears”. I think we have to be digitally literate educators to model these behaviours online for our peers in addition to our students. This “moral imperative to share” needs to occur as educators when we have the means to educate beyond our classrooms.

So, how should this look then? What maximizes the capacity for change and education as it pertains to digital literacy? I was divided between creating activism posts (in vlog format) to share with my peers starring myself (which could double as classroom resources), and creating a senior science digital literacy resource to circulate for my fellow high school science teachers. I approach them as separate below, but it’s important to note that the end game may have some overlap!

Activism Posts: Promoting Empathetic Objectivity in Vlog Format or as a Senior Science Digital Literacy Resource

How I imagine the personal vlogs would look is very similar to that of the vlogbrothers. Attempting to educate others on being objective and empathetic (#empatheticobjectivity) when approaching certain scientifically-rooted “debates” on social media. The specific intention would be to promote mutual understandings, knowledge and therefore progress on issues that people otherwise remain divided on. I find John Green does a great job presenting alternative views (example below) on certain issues while providing evidence-based explanations, and would hope to emulate this with the intention of my videos also getting shares on my social media.

Here is an example I created for my biology courses in the distance learning course also with Alec.

I figured that this sharing would function as activism in my peer groups. I considered activism projects like this alongside my students, however, I want to try this within my social circle rather than having them potentially compromise their own social groups. That being said, I may involve them in the process I pursue by inviting them to observe and critique my comments and postings. If I were to continue these types of videos, but perhaps scale back and revolve around the Broad Areas of Learning in Saskatchewan Senior Science, I would need to identify certain mindsets to approach the vlogging – note that many of these revolve around the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, with a specific focus on digital (and scientific) literacy. The main ideas that have been productive in the classroom when approaching discussions, is empathy and objectivity.

Then I considered the barriers if I were to simply go with vlogging, rather than a digital literacy resource:

  • How do I know peers that I think would benefit from the posting would actually watch it (tagging them in them would be too specific?
  • Resources: do I have enough time, digital recording tools and software to actually create something of acceptable quality.
  • If videos like this already exist, why not just share those?

The reality is, I probably wouldn’t be able to change the first two barriers in the foreseeable future, and the third barrier or consideration could be a positive short-term solution with less input of time required, and more transparency if this was an accumulation of resources educators in a variety of different contexts (not just the one I am apart of). Therefore the necessity or broader creation of the digital literacy resource for a content area in which I have a background, science, would appear to achieve a similar goal of empathetic objectivity. That would allow me to determine a definitive outline for potential videos in the future, were I to secure more resources, or begin promoting these ideals among other educators in our province. If that were successful, this may translate to an increased personal learning network that would increase my sharing-base in the future.

 

Critiques, thoughts?

Let me know!
Logan

Teaching for EVERYBODY.

Term in Review

Over the course of the term, I’ve been developing an idea behind what an online course would look like if I were the instructor. Upon analyzing my altruistic views associated with education, I developed several major conclusions as a result of my original goals:

  • Use free tools.
  • Create a prototype that is accessible all the time and by as many people as possible.
  • Communicate/interact with others and allow individuals to interact with each other in a variety of facets.
  • Stay true to or attempt to replicate my assets as an educator in a traditional classroom.

Self-assessing, I addressed my goals for the term and these conclusions were met in my course, but what about feedback from my peers?

Responding to course feedback

How did my course look and feel on the outside looking in?

Upon receiving feedback from my peers, I learned some of the strengths/shortfalls to my program (as well as some things that I may not know – value of Flipgrid, for example). I could’ve made some things more clear in terms of adaptations for a diverse amount of learners – yet thought I addressed this in my course profile, and as one individual wrote, is this something that would reveal itself over several modules and as the class develops.

The course itself perhaps could have been more clear in terms of the course outline, addressing . While Socrative was used mostly as a formative assessment for students, I should be more clear that it may be used for summative assessment as well – specifically outlining how assessment as a whole would look in the course. That being said, where is the line to establish when creating an open module for everyone while making something that is specifically linked to a high school course. I think my intentions were to create a resource that could be used at any time by anyone, but wouldn’t be the sole foundation of the course (blended with the regular classroom) – whoever presented that notion, however, definitely got me considering the depth at which I want my course to go.

How will I meet the needs of EAL learners beyond telling them to pause the video or use subtitles? Is there anything more you can provide in this format? Resources to help develop science vocabulary?

Can you really provide support to individuals without WiFi when it is a digital course? Do I lend devices to students in need? I could potentially send copies of the course via email, but without internet, what can be done?

Without further ado, here is my summary of learning for this course – highlighting my journey through the creation of an online course prototype. Lyrics are posted below, and I really find it walks through my progression with the creation of the course prototype! Thanks for an awesome term ECI 834 and hopefully you will see more of me teaching online in the future!

Part 1 – The Weeknd – Starboy (1:17)
In a Traditional classroom-ah

Never would use any edtech-ah
I’mma switch to blended classroom-ah
All online to flipped classroom-ah
Assessment toys they free too-ah
socrative, mentimeter, kahoot-yeah
Synchronous face to face class-ah
Asynchronous no time/place-ah
Want to teach kids digital-leeee
Want to make something cool like John Greeeen
Watchin crash course historyyyy
Thinking how will I ever get this made
I need some help so I look to bates
how do I teach in a digital age?
I am dreamin of Youtube fame
buy a domain, show off my name
eight, eight, eight, eight eight
thir thir thirty four
E C and I.
I’mma takin learnin online.
Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec
And Katia
I am takin learnin online.
Part 2 – Twenty One Pilots – Ride (2:20)
On vacation in the sun and what did I find
I said I’d teach online.
Struggled in the mode of delivery grind
Is it hard to teach online?
Yeah, how to interact behind a screen n’ such
Public or private online?
Will random enemies troll the kids that I love
I facilitate online?

Oh, no.
How do I make course with universal design?
Oh, I’m planning how will it look when I go online
(still) Learnin in E, C, and I

An online room
That’s easy to make
There’s a list of systems that I could make
LMS for me
VLE for you
CMS using the google classroom
Nothing is open when the course is through
None open when course is through
Technically I hope I can
share everything but what do I choose
They could email you
That be hard to do
I can’t hear them say
Unless on I’m zoom
But rather than write
I’ll use flipgrid  tonight
Yes people at home could be talking to you
Could they ignore them still
All these questions they’re forming like
Is this authentic?
Or Meaningful?
And are interactions real?

Oh, no.
How do I make course content for reader types?
Oh, I’m broke but OpenStax got free texts online
(still) Learnin in E, C, and I

I’ve been blogging too muc
Not been tweetin enough
Google plussing enough?
Still not tweetin enough.
Sorry

Have I been blogging too much (I’ve been blogging too much)
Not been tweetin enough (sorry)
Have I been blogging too much (Actually like blogging a bunch)
But still not tweetin enough (sorry)
Sorry….

Littlest Hobo (1:00)
Audacity to do audio editing
with Screencast, like Khan Academy.
Use prompts on forums, to make learners friends,
they better discuss, not cause a fuss or I’ll block them

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll try Canvas out,
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep WordPress on.

And if I want to input an image file,
Just google that, use Compfight, free usage style.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll figure Moodle out,
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep Zoomin on.
Ed Sheeran – Shape of You (1:30)

WordPress is my place to make a module
It’s open and here I go
Activities mixed with lecture lots
Evolution facts like a Youtube show
Movie maker record Zoom starring just me
Assessing w/ socrative answers now
Got a plan, stop, put the plan on the webpage
I finally start a class, and now hoping that

Do you feel like learning some?
Something about science-biology?
Learnin now, with a VLE
Don’t be lazy, chat frequently
Say, boy, you better talk enough
Comment, blog and flipgrid video me
Come on now, I’m modelling
Come, come on now, follow my lead

We got us some learning to do
It’s online and you can choose
When you want to give vids a view
You can learn worldwide.
And last night you learned in your room
And last week at a hotel with zoom
Every day can learn something brand new
When ya learn online.
Online Online Online Online
You can learn worldwide
Worldwide Worldwide Worldwide Worldwide
Assuming you got WiFi-e
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Wi-Fi
I’ll teach for every body.
Every day can teach someone that is brand new
I’ll teach for even you.

Module-making: finishing touches to going worldwide.

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Over the past couple weeks I have been plugging away at my course prototype slowly, but surely. And I’ve been through quite the series of emotions associated with this.

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“Panic stressed” via Giphy

I have panicked(This doesn’t look like I thought it was going to!)

I have gotten excited. (This content is SO relevant and meaningful!)

I’ve second-guessed myself. (Does this accommodate all learners?)

 

I’ve felt challenged

yet confident. (I can do this.)

Where I am.
All I have left to do is wrap-up editing and filming some small parts for the module, otherwise everything is ready to go. I failed to appreciate how much planning goes into making a quality video. Taking into account setting, dialogue, visuals, and background music takes time. It’s not like I didn’t predict this would happen, but when you get into the video-making grind, time flies in a big hurry.

Fortunately, as I went through the creative processes, it led me to continue considering my summary of learning. It served as a reminder to be aware of the fact that simply creating and recording a song is actually a lot of work, even thought I have so much fun with it (Thank goodness I don’t have to make a full live action video to go with it too, it’d be too much). While capable of some limited visual work, it also caused me to revisit the idea: what would an Andres Arenada and Logan Petlak summary of learning combined actually look like (and how much time would it really take)?

Regardless, I hope the module is able to reach learners in my regular classroom, but where I began was to bring my regular classroom worldwide…

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“Where I want to be in the world” via Google Maps

Where I began.
In reflecting on what I set out to do in my original outlines, some new barriers to the creation of this prototype revealed themselves, and it all stems back to the original targets I wanted/needed to specifically address and account for: relationships and learners.

  1. Who are my learners and how will I connect? When you have no idea who your learners are, how exactly do you design an asynchronous lesson according to their needs and styles?

    The simplest way to address this, is universal design. When considering multiple forms of expression, engagement, and representation for the module, does my module do this? Does it have more than one opportunity for each? I think so! (Phew!)

  2. And when you only make one module to begin, can you really connect to other content?

    – In my module I found myself saying: “we’ll have to address this next time”, but there isn’t a next time (yet)! Do you plan for the hypothetical or does this make it less authentic?

  3. Does a class need synchronous sessions to be blended? Or can it be pseudo-blended through Flipgrid or Zoom? It is all online, but the learning functions similar to that of a traditional classroom and has some face-to-face components, but these components are not necessarily live. Is ECI 834 considered blended? Or all online?

 

Closing thoughts

Questions are great, and maybe some of them don’t need to be answered. Ultimately, the course prototype will be out on Tuesday, and I look forward to the learners I reach, and the subsequent feedback I receive to hone my skills. Hopefully it serves my main goal, educating people.

 

– Logan Petlak

 

 

Agoraphobia in education.

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Addressing Educator “Fear of Open Space” (agoraphobia)

In the creation of a digital community for education, do we resist the idea of allowing our students into open spaces? The subject and grade level will help determine our personal stance on exactly how “open” we allow our student’s discussion and learning to be… but if the educator is at the secondary level, is it acceptable to open things up then? Or do we still fear the internet? Are there more educators suffering from agoraphobia than we think?

OPen Space

“Wanda in open space” from Corner Gas

“How could anyone be afraid of open space?”

A quote from season two, episode four, of the beloved Canadian show, Corner Gas. Yes, I am working Corner Gas into this blog post.

Open online space, to be clear. And let’s face it, there is a seedy side, with a palpable list of awful instances of abuse in the digital realm. But what about the development of a sense of connectedness with strangers. Strangers who can be from anywhere in the world, yet provide us with ideas, opinions, interests, be they novel or similar to our own!

Why exactly do I get so excited about the online community?

Growing up in the infant stages of the internet and social media, I scoured forums for information on video games I played (Super Nintendo, Pokemon, etc). In my searching, it was always exciting to find websites full of individuals who enjoyed what I enjoyed (in similar or different ways). Sharing the same emotions and ideas with individuals you will never really know (by conventional standards), is a mysteriously unifying concept. You just don’t get that in a closed setting. In closed forums in an educational setting, I only ever saw the keeners dominate forums, and much of the time, I resented their contributions because I felt they used higher vocabulary needlessly that either made their points too convoluted, or served to exclude other classmates who wouldn’t be able to comprehend it as well. I hard a hard time thinking it was practice for language development, and normally felt that it was done to elevate or flaunt language prowess at the expense of making others feel inferior.

I say this, yet use words now in my writing that I would’ve probably resented then. Don’t worry, I have yet to feel it in my graduate classes thus far – but I am always so aware of my motives behind sharing or my vocabulary choices, am I doing it for my benefit, or for others?

fry hear themselves

“hear themselves talk” via Memegenerator

In reflecting on my sharing on the group chat in our discussions. In this course (and my previous courses with Alec), specifically in the chat realm, a lot of my contributions have some desperate attempts at humour laced with relevance to the content – and while it keeps me engaged, I’m sure others, at least once, have thought: “oh my goodness, just stop”. And maybe I’m wrong… but have you ever felt like you were in a class where it seems some individuals just like to hear themselves talk?

That is my fear in the closed setting. I’m a claustrophobic educator I guess. My feelings aside, learning can still happen for students when ones who dominate discussion receive feedback to curb contributions or it pushes others to step up. But are the discussion-dominators even displaying understanding or have they simply learned to fake it?

 

“Learned to fake it”

“Learned to fake it” with it being authenticity. There still is learning occurring when individuals learn to fake it and share what they share in these settings. As such, I would argue that: yes, there is some authenticity, because who it is meaningful to has a wide scope. When we consider the scope and who all the comments reach, we’re bound to find some authentic learning. The modelling of “advanced responses” still benefit others who may get too intimidated to contribute. Therefore, while it may not be authentic for the contributor, whose motives may be less than intrinsic, the responses evoked may be authentic, so where do I (and we) draw the line? And what’s the difference in this between an open or closed setting?

I envision that the more open your discussions are, the more opportunities present themselves for learning to go in more directions as it increases your potential contributors and receivers (positive or negative contributions, mind you).

What age do students begin to have open spaces then?

think of the children.jpg

“Think of the children” via quickmeme

As an individual pushing for openness, I am fortunate to be teaching students mostly sixteen years of age and older. The mentality of allowing students to be exposed or unprotected in the digital realm is not a foreign concept for most of them or us, especially if they have been involved with social media and digital usage throughout their adolescent life.

At the senior science level with open content, the scope isn’t limited to students either. Parents may access the open format if they’re wanting to be involved, yet allow the students to begin to stretch their wings a bit. As long as administration and parents are made aware of the rationale and mentality behind the decision to go public, and concerns are addressed and adapted for as needed, the learning from open commenting and discussion can unfold. If concerns arose like frequent trolling, decisions could be made as a class community (edcuator, students, parents, admin) with how to address them. (All of this is predicated on student buy-in. But… at the senior science level, buy-in is, pretty much, required).

Were I a grade four science teacher, there would be greater restrictions when searching for information and public commenting (as in, it would likely be non-existent as the students would be still, I consider, vulnerable). You would see a closed setting without external influence, but potentially simulated digital citizenship practices in which they’d deal with a pretend troll, or have to select from three information sources to determine which one is most likely false, rather than being thrown to the wolves of the web in my senior science courses. But even then, where is the line where we stop coddling students?

Closing thoughts

While some of my senior students may become “learn to fake it”‘s as I mentioned above, there’s still learning to be had. This learning may be from unknowingly modelling behaviours for themselves, or creating authentic learning for others who may learn from them.

The more open we go, the scope of learning increases. So don’t be afraid of open space.

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“Corner Gas – Open Space” made via Giphy


Open space…

Open space…

 

Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

-Logan Petlak

Online community-buildin’ probs (problems).

Don’t underestimate building a community

I’ve had a pretty clear idea of how interactions and communication will occur in my online classroom since I started designing my course prototype. However, after reading Benita’s post about building a community, she helped me realize that I may have took for granted how easy it would be to simply create an online learning community. So many things are required to build communities as a facilitator like: being welcoming to members, observing, and connecting with members. Yet while providing these, still allowing for members to have opportunities for participation, autonomy, and being a part of establishing the community’s identity. It seems to happen naturally in my regular classroom, but an online community, obviously, isn’t the same. I then considered, will some of the assessment I receive from my peers in the EC&I 834 community reflect or paint a idealized view of  my modules than reality? Will the actual practice and administration of the course be as supportive or receptive? Make no mistake, I’m not panicked, but it’s definitely an element I didn’t think could be problematic.

Pre-Troubleshooting (Anticipating interaction problems)

With that in mind, I should probably consider potential problems that may occur when establishing my online community and then reflect on how this may affect my course prototype plan.

 

Common Pitfalls via Edutopia

  • Students may misunderstand directions or may be unsure of what is expected of them.
  • Student comments can become off track or go in a direction that is not supported in the lesson.
  • Students may stall or put off participating in the discussion board until the last minute.
  • Students may not feel a sense of connection with their classmates.
  • Students may react in an inappropriate way by flaming other students or making disinterested or disrespectful comments to their peers or in response to assignments.

Reflecting on my course plans (while applying what I need to keep in mind), I wanted to:

  • Use commenting on the informative content videos I share on YouTube to clarify content for students.
    Content must be introduced, however, guidelines for commenting (or example questions) perhaps should be included in the video description while verbally stating this at the conclusion of the video in an attempt to help establish “netiquette”. As well as perhaps creating a reply video for frequently asked questions in the comment feed.
  • Allow students to share their own videos with responses safeguarded by Flipgrid (however, I would simply keep the free version so students could share their thoughts, but this would leave them unable to interact and respond to one another).
    This will allow for the virtual learning to occur collectively. As students will need to contribute to share in learning, provide clear instructions (while also being available via email) and deadlines for posting these responses, while simultaneously encouraging informality.
  • Long-term students (this will not be seen in the course prototype) would likely blog thoughts, and comment on others as the course progressed. Reflecting on what they learned in the required community discussions.
    How can I ensure/assess if students are actually feeling connected to others in the course?

If I can provide prompts and students participate asking questiosn and being involved in discussion, this can allow for interactions to be meaningful and supportive. Since the bedrock of the content-based prompts should be establishing relevance of the content, the discussion that appears as a result should reinforce this. An example: The video may establish that evolution and change via natural selection occurs in many ways, students are then prompted why does that even matter? How does it effect us?

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Building Community via Kayako

Any curricular course needs to address and develop “required” knowledge and understanding, but in a virtual learning environment this needs to occur while emphasizing the role community-building has in the learning process. And community-building only happens when there are members to create a community around, so be sure to account for them!

How are my plans looking? Anything else you think I need to focus on? Let me know below!

– Logan Petlak

 

 

 
Resource via Schwier, Athabasca University

Selznick, P. (1996). In search of community. In W. Vitek & W. Jackson (Eds.), Rooted in the land (pp. 195-203). New Haven: Yale University Press.

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!

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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.

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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