My ideas, thoughts, and experiences

Author: msemilymiller (Page 1 of 4)

Week 8 – Technology Operations and Concepts Reflection

Course Readings:

Sterling, L., “Session L : Coding in the curriculum : Fad or foundational?” (2016). 2009 – 2019 ACER Research Conferences. 4.
https://research.acer.edu.au/research_conference/RC2016/9august/4 Retrieved from:  https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1297&context=research_conference

  • issue – what concepts are being addressed in teaching coding and how essential are they for engendering an understanding of the digital world around us, and improving productivity and innovation?
  • we (teachers) tend to take advantage of the fact that computers are now essential in schools, and students need basic computer literacy skills
  • how to teach computational thinking? and where should it be placed in the curriculum?
    • general lack of agreement in whether computational thinking should ultimately be incorporated into education as a general subject, a discipline-specific topic, or a multi-disciplinary topic
  • to teach computer programming in school or not?
    • ‘coding in the curriculum’ seems to be the current preferred option to programming
    • benefits to teaching code from an early age?
      • thinking engendered by coding (general problem-solving and design skills)
      • appreciation of what computers can and cannot do
      • providing exposure (encourage more students to take up careers in coding)
    • objections to placing coding in the curriculum
      • does not come from an adequate pedagogical basis
      • no evidence base establishing that coding is beneficial (not correct, but evidence is primarily anecdotal)
      • push for coding is primarily about vested interests
      • current popular ‘Scratch like’ environments are too limited to learn the important programming concepts
    • space can be made in the curriculum to connect coding to math and science lessons
  • Important to provide opportunities to children

My Experience:

Our district has been on board and supportive since the beginning. We even have a district coding arcade put together each year where kids create coding games and showcase them to other students and families in the district.

As a Grade 2/3 teacher over the past few years, I have seen the growing fad of incorporating coding into the curriculum. I agree with the author of the article for this week in the sense that it is important to provide these types of coding opportunities to children as exposure to what is possible in the world of technology. My young students are still learning what coding means, but by engaging in activities such as the Hour of Code each year and practicing their game creation by progressing through step by step instructions on Code.org, they are developing computational thinking and gaining a deeper understanding of how technology works.

My Perspective:

Is coding a fad or is it something that needs to be integrated into every curriculum? Why or Why not?

I think it is something that can easily be integrated into the BC curriculum in a variety of ways at each grade level. In the primary years it can be taught without the use of technology by coding and giving directions in play. In the middle years it can be integrated into literacy by having students tell a story using Scratch, and in the older years it can be coding robots to complete a task in shop class! I think coding teaches computational thinking and exposes students to a different way of engaging with technology that they didn’t know was possible before.

Just as the author of the article mentioned, we engage students in other creative endeavours (music, art, etc.) and this is another form of creative expression that students might really gravitate towards.

What is the role of computer science in digital literacies?

The study of computer science (coding) allows students to explore a relationship and language with technology that they did not know existed before and manipulate that relationship to get their desired outcome.

We are becoming more and more digital (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic) and students are engage with digital platforms more than ever before. But they don’t necessarily understand how they do what they do. I think it’s important to provide students insight into that.

How are emerging educational technology trends impacting your learning context?

As a young millennial teacher who is interested in all new technology – I am always game to explore the new trend (with district approval if need be). Personally, I find this process very exciting, and the more experience I get as a teacher, the better I get an integrating them into what I am already teaching in the classroom.

What I am learning now, through my ongoing masters project research, is how to build an environment and a space where I can help the whole staff be risk takers when it comes to technology. I am very happy to say that during this uncertainty in remote teaching and learning, most of our teachers have tested and tried things that they never thought they would! And I am so proud!

Week 7 Communication and Collaboration Reflection

Course Reading:

Rothwell, D. (2017). Social Media in K-12 Schools. BOLT Multi-authored Blog. [Weblog]. Retrieved from http://bolt.athabascau.ca/index.php/2017/09/01/social-media-in-k-12-schools/

  • should school policies be framed in safety (to monitor and block student access to new technologies) or should policies be framed in media literacy (to integrate and teach students how to utilize new technologies within the classroom)?
  • the use of social network sites have been cited as having potential to support collaborative knowledge construction, timely access to information, academic help – seeking, development of communication competencies, and blurring the lines between learning, social, and leisure spaces
  • research uncovered five common themes in the studies of SNS integration in K-12 classrooms:
    • students informal learning outside of school
      • spaces to organize group activities , seek social support, and validate created work
      • platform of self-expression
      • can be easily distracting to students (research encourage use of ‘technology breaks’ to improve focus and stamina)
    • students formal learning in schools and classrooms
      • students are keen to use the social networking platforms to connect , interact, and develop new literacy competencies
      • teachers need more help recognizing how to utilize SNS as a learning and teaching tool
    • connections between in-and out-of-school learning
      • “the more time students spent informally with social network sites and similar technology, the more they craved the use of those tools in their learning environment – especially for visualizing difficult material”
      • students feel that current use is limited and mainly used for assignment submission and grade management
    • pre-service teachers perceptions and practices
      • although they are often willing to try new things, they lacked experience and expertise in integrating these technologies into learning
      • intend to use SNS to increase student-to-teacher and student-to -student interactions, foster collaboration, and share content knowledge – HOWEVER – there is a need for teacher education programs to simulate these experiences for these beginning teachers to improve their effectiveness at employing these technologies
    • in-service teachers perceptions and practices
      • teachers’ positive shifts in their teaching practices by gradually ceding control over the use of technology to students, and the positive impact of this on students ICT skills and science learning
  • studies showed that SNS MAY enhance motivation, higher-order thinking and digital literacy development – HOWEVER – it lacked a review of studies that monitored the social impact of SNS
  • nothing to show best practices
  • people looking for evidence based data to support the use of technology in education

Couros, A., & Hildebrandt, K. (2016). Designing for open and social learning. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Emergence and innovation in digital learning: Foundations and applications. Edmonton, Canada: AU Press. Retrieved from: http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120258

  • theoretical foundations
    • the open movement
    • complementary learning theories (social cognitive theory, social constructivism, and adult learning theory)
    • connectivism
  • concept of ‘open teaching’
    • the facilitation of learning experiences that are open, transparent, collaborative, and social
  • important to develop a PLN and promote the continued development within your context

Expansion of Couros’ research is the Open Learning Continuum

My Experiences:

My experience as a teacher using digital tools to support communication and collaboration is limited as I have been primarily teaching grade 2/3 these past 5 years. There are very few digital tools that have been approved by my district for use and are easily accessible for the age group of my students.

However, as classroom education evolves during the time of this pandemic – we are looking at exploring some different options. Right now I am using FreshGrade as my primary communication platform. It is a great way to communicate information out to families and engage with students online, however, there is no way for students to engage with each other.

One of the platforms that one of our grade one teachers is using right now is Padlet as a way for kids to share ideas and photos of what they are doing throughout the week.

As school administrators we are using Twitter and Instagram to connect and share information with families. We seem to have increased our following by quite a bit over the last few weeks!

I have really enjoyed my experience in this M.Ed Technology cohort as it has exposed me to this firsthand – in the world of post secondary education. I have not been able to connect with any of my classmates face to face as I live in Vancouver, however, there have been many opportunities provided inside and outside of our learning environment to connect and collaborate.

We have:

  • a class website
  • we each have a blog and our feeds are aggregated on our class website
  • used BlueJeans and Zoom to connect with each other virtually each week to discuss course readings (led by the course instructor)
  • have been able to have small group conversations using BlueJeans and Zoom (monitored by the course instructor)
  • Whatsapp group (which didn’t have everyone included on it – so it is not being used as much anymore)
  • Slack channels for coursework, random, and a locked student chat
  • Twitter hashtag to follow (#TIEgrad) discussions and thoughtful posts related to our learning

My Perspective:

What are some examples of digital tools that support communication and collaboration?

  • Google Classroom
  • Google Meet
  • Zoom
  • Padlet
  • Blogs
  • Social Media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.)

How can digital tools expand learning beyond classroom walls?

  • helps to develop class community (sharing and hearing from others)
  • allows students to communicate and connect with classmates (brainstorm, ideate, etc.) that are not in the same place
  • allows students to develop different forms of digital literacies
  • allows students to make connections to things they are seeing outside of the classroom – news, current events, etc.
  • an opportunity to share their thoughts (especially if they are socially isolated)

How does your project promote communication and collaboration between students in your class and with others outside your learning context?

  • students share their poem with others digitally (Google Classroom, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) for review and feedback

Digital Citizenship – Developing & Designing for Safe Learning Spaces

Course Readings:

Kral, I. & Schwab, R.G. (2012). Chapter 4: Design Principles for Indigenous Learning Spaces. Safe Learning Spaces. Youth, Literacy and New Media in Remote Indigenous Australia. ANU Press.http://doi.org/10.22459/LS.08.2012  Retrieved from: https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/learning-spaces%EF%BB%BF

Design Principle 1: A space young people can control

  • historically learning is controlled by institutions (usually with a deficit attitude towards Indigenous students)
  • adolescents tent to be early school leavers or not attending classes regularly
  • policies are often punitive
  • there are few spaces in the public domain where Aboriginal people experience a sense of control
  • access to technology in many remote communities may still be mediated through a non-indigenous ‘gatekeeper’ (new affordable mobile devices are changing that)

Design Principle 2: A space for hanging out and ‘mucking around’

  • ‘digital bedroom’ – one of the most vibrant digital learning spaces for adolescents
  • adolescents in remote communities often do not have that luxury
  • informal learning spaces such as media centers, youth centers, and libraries perform an important function as a communal ‘digital bedroom’
  • access  to new technologies and control of digital practices is allowing young people to gain control, not only over the production process and editing, but also self-representation (structuring their own learning environment based on what is available in the community)

Design Principle 3: A space where learners learn

  • what makes a good facilitator of learning?
    • passionate about what they do
    • ability to teach complex technical skills which engaging learners
    • give agency to young people (don’t seem themselves as ‘bosses’)
    • highly collaborative and respectful (respect for and interest in the language and culture of the learners)
    • facilitated productive learning activities that are project based, rather than assessment driven, and built upon a sense of mutual respect, development of relationships, and recognition of learners existing knowledge
    • allows for peer training

Design Principle 4: A space to grow into new roles and responsibilities

  • expert mentors and other enabling adults play an important supporting role help keep kids engaged in ongoing projects
  • opportunities for students to take on meaningful roles and responsibilities (e.g. video making in a group)
  • ‘rules’ or expectations created by those engaging in the activities in the space

Design Principle 5: A space to practice oral and written language

  • new forms of interactions with adults in the project sites are allowing young people to negotiate different types of social relations where they engage in complex turn-taking interactions with an expectation of high communicative competence
  • young people listen to and interpret instructions, request clarifications, and initiate ideas and actions (become risk takers)
  • mother tongue is valued
  • critical that we conceptualize literacy not only as a skill learned at school, but also as a competency acquired in community with others (without the need for formal lessons)

Design Principle 6: A space to express self and cultural identity through multimodal forms

  • minorities need to see themselves in their learning

Design Principle 7: A space to develop and engage in enterprise

  • cultural values important
  • activities tied to meaningful community projects
  • collaborative intergenerational activities

Design Principle 8: A space to engage with the world 

  • integrating history and the past with digital and contemporary methods

Regan, P., & Jesse, J. (2019). Ethical challenges of edtech, big data and personalized learning: Twenty-first century student sorting and tracking. Ethics and Information Technology, 21(3), 167-179. DOI: 10.1007/s10676-018-9492-2

  • “one of the most heavily marketed, exciting, and controversial applications of edtech involves the varied educational programs to which different students are exposed based on how big data applications have evaluated their likely learning profiles”
  • these raise ethical concerns, especially at a K-12 level
    • information privacy
    • anonymity
    • surveillance
    • autonomy
    • non-discrimination
    • ownership of information
  • are personalized learning programs similar to concerns raised about educational tracking in the 1950’s

My Experiences:

How I have been considering this in my own context?

In the district that I work in, we have district staff the approve digital resources. This team looks at all of those ethical concerns above and works with platforms to help mitigate the risk or walk away from it all together.

This has been a relatively new phenomenon. In the past, teachers have introduces new platforms and applications as a way to engage in a new, fun, and exiciting way. However, there was not much thought about how this could effect our students data.

We are now more aware and things are approved at a district level before being passed off to classroom teachers to integrate and use. However, I have become even more cautious after learning so much in our summer courses last year about data sharing online.

Something that came up once this year was one of our Grade 1 teachers wanted to use an aging app to take pictures of students and age them in order to print pictures of them for 100’s day. However, I heavily suggested against it as it is an application that then has all these little childrens photos saved on it.

I am happy to know that it is becoming second nature for me to questions the privacy and policies of all digital platforms.

We are especially feeling this right now as a conversation has arisen around video conferencing in many districts.

My Perspectives:

How does  a safe learning space influence student learning?

  • its crucial to develop a safe learning space in order for students to become comfortable enough to take risks (academic, social, and emotional risks) in the classroom
  • this can be done in the 4 walls of a classroom, but also online (as I am learning to how do)

How can educators ensure student privacy and safety is considered in digital environments?

  • reading privacy policies before signing students up
  • communicating with their district technology support person
  • finding out what kind of data is linked to their Google Suite
  • teach them about sharing online and examples of some popular sites and the prevalence of data mining

How does your project consider individual student digital identity, safety and choice while encouraging individual cultures and perspectives?

  • working on it….

Creativity and Innovation – MakerSpaces

Course Reading:

Resnick, M. (2007). All I really need to know (about creative thinking) I learned (by studying how children learn) in kindergarten. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & Cognition (pp. 1–6). New York, NY, USA: ACM. http://dor.org/10.1145/1254960.1254961 (This link is updated from the course outline.)

  • in a society characterized by uncertainty and rapid change, the ability to think creatively is becoming the key to success and satisfaction (learning to come up with innovative solutions to unexpected situations)
  • kindergarten approach to learning should be applied to all other levels (spiralling cycle of Imagine, Create, Play, Share, Reflect)
    • children imagine what they want to do, create a project based on their ideas, play with their creations, share their ideas and creations with others, reflect on their experiences – all of which lead them to imagine new ideas and new projects
  • as students get older, their materials need to change (digital technologies can play a transformative role here)
  • IMAGINE
    • materials need to be multipurpose and not too specific that it directs how kids are supposed to engage with it
  • CREATE
    • provide kids with more opportunities
    • more open ended materials where kids have to be creative
  • PLAY
    • plan and learning CAN and SHOULD be intimately linked
    • focus should be on ‘play’ and ‘learning’ (things you do – active learning) rather than ‘entertainment’ and ‘education’ (things that other provide for you – learner is passive)
  • SHARE
    • generally received less emphasis in later years of schooling
  • REFLECT
    • focus in Reggio Emilia, Italy is the way their encourage children to reflect on their design process  and thinking process (shown in drawings and pictures on the walls)

My Experiences:

How do I engage students in this process in my context?

For the past 5 years I have taught some combination of grades 1, 2, and 3. Ever since the beginning, I have strongly believed in the inclusion of play in the classroom. Early on in my career I was doing a lot of free play once a week – and kids viewed it as an opportunity for ‘free time’. As I have gained experience and understanding, I have included it into my practice daily, as well as integrated it into as much of our academic content teaching as well.

This year I teach grade two and I decided to alter our morning routine. It used to be a worksheet activity last year, but this year I wanted to provide students an opportunity for a gently entry in the morning as well as an opportunity to connect with their peers. So each morning this year I have set out activities for the students to engage in. These materials I have been collecting over the years and throughout the year I have added new ones and taken out other ones that don’t seem to capture their attention.

For literacy, I have started engaging students in creative thinking and story ideation with loose parts. This is a tactic in which you provide students with a variety of materials with the hopes that it will help them create a visual of their story, so they remember it, and gain creative ideas for new stories. I started this by modeling my own and having them recreate a story. Then we transitioned into creating visuals a part of their weekend, and then finally have been moving into more creative stories of their own.

For our Units of Inquiry (Social Studies and Science curriculum) I have also worked in some form of creation for them to show their understanding of the concept. In the past I have done:

  • using materials provided, move a LEGO man 1 meter and explain the forces that are helping him move (Content: Force in Motion)
  • create a story of a water droplet moving through the different parts of the water cycle (Content: Water Cycle)
  • create a way to share tourism information about a province of your choice – using  low tech or high tech materials  (Content: Regions of Canada)

For math, I have found that students really need to manipulate materials in order to develop a concrete understanding of number sense. A routine that I continually come back to is called Counting Collections. It has students gather a collection of the same materials (# is dependent on the level of understanding). Students then use their understanding of number to find ways to skip count and reach the total number in the collection. They complete this routine in partners. This way, it ensures students are discussing their mathematical thinking and collaborating on ways to solve the problem (how they are going to count, who is going to do the counting, who is going to do the grouping, etc.).

I am by no means and expert in this, and I am always inspired by my primary colleagues at my school and across districts!

I strongly believe that in order for students to develop a solid foundational understanding of concepts, they need to move through the process of imagine, create, play, share, and reflect.

What materials do I use?

  • LEGO
  • blocks
  • Keva Planks
  • Magnatiles
  • Geometric shapes
  • Marble Run
  • Kinetic Sand
  • Water beads
  • Paper and Paint
  • Loose Parts (popsicle sticks, buttons, feathers, sea glass, small blocks, leaves, tile, corks, mirrors, peg people, felt mats, etc.)

My Perspectives:

How could maker-spaces support creativity and innovation in my learning context and/or project?

As you can tell from my answers above, I think the use of maker-space activities can help support the development and acquisition of creativity and innovation in all learners. As mentioned by one of our guest speakers this week, we have so much content to get through in a week – especially in intermediate grades – so it’s important to integrate play and exploration into already existing content acquisition across the subjects.

What kinds of digital tools encourage creativity and innovation?

I do not have much experience with using digital tools to encourage creativity and innovation other than platforms to show their understanding of a concept – where they can create a presentation of some sort (e.g. Adobe Spark Video, Book Creator, etc.).

The article mentioned the use of Scratch as a way for students to create a story using code.

I would LOVE to hear any other suggestions of digital tools to engage students in the creation and innovation realm of learning!

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making Reflection

Below are some of the learnings that I took away from the course readings, activities and class conversation this week:

Galileo (2019). Designing Learning. Retrieved from https://galileo.org/designing-learning/ (Inquiry and Design Thinking)

  • Teachers as designers
    • improving curriculum and pedagogy (long before the term became popular)
    • an opportunity to really change what teaching and learning looks like in the classroom (Dr. Doug Clark)
    • Its hard to change when you have seen 20+ years of examples around you (13 years of K-12, few years of undergrad, few years of graduate, and a few years of teaching)
    • what is the problem you are trying to solve and how you can go about doing that? (important to reflect on the needs of students during the learning process and then adjusting teaching to better meet those needs)
  • Students as designers
    • in the past it has been more of a passive role
    • now there is a lot more information and ways to access it
    • design thinking provides them the skills (what are the problems that we want to solve? how can I go about find the answer?

Hans Rosling: The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen

  • Until you see statistics shown in a visual way and actually moving over time, you don’t really understand what the data means (visuals make it easier to understand)
  • Great way to visually show data and the change over time (would be a great resource for students to use to make meaning from the data they are finding)

 

What kinds of digital tools promote and encourage critical thinking?

Google Trends (TOTALLY NEW TO ME)

  • Students/teachers can explore trends by term or topic to find out more information

Popplet

  • Allows students to visual map their thinking (groups of students can be working on it at the same time) and its FREE!

FiveThirtyEight

  • sharing data and code behind some of their articles and graphics (students can visually see results of polls and where the information has come from and how dependable it is)

Kaggle 

  • data sets that are open to the public

Canadian Open Data

  • Open data collected and approved by government

 

How does critical thinking influence narratives and perspectives?

People (kids most definitely) are extremely influenced by the adults around them and often take on their internal and external narratives. Kids often hold the same perspectives that their parents do. And parents hold the same perspectives that they grew up with and/or have interacted with in their lives. It is important to get well rounded information and data from a variety of sources before taking on a narrative or perspective. Especially in the digital age, there is so much information found on the internet. And a lot of it is misguiding and misinforming people. It is important to develop skills in students to think critically about what they are reading, seeing, and hearing.

Credible Resource Reflection – Crap Detection

Information from the article that got me thinking:

Through reading the article provided by this weeks topic, I am learning the importance of thinking critically when searching for information online. When searching for information, it is important to not just look at the first thing that comes up as the answer. But delve deeper to determine the validity of the site(s). When assessing credibility of sources, here are some things to consider, based on Rheingold’s (2012) article:

  • Who is the author?
  • What are the authors sources – triangulate by checking three different credible sources
  • Popularity of site
  • Professional reputation/offline reputation
  • Previous experiences with the site
  • Proof of neutral affiliation
  • Tone of the writing
  • Elements of style used

Our ‘infotention’ is often pulled in a variety of directions. It’s important, as a generation that is online for a large portion of their daily lives, to manage their attention on information. And to make sure that the information that they are paying attention to is easily accessible and accurate.

The filter bubble – search engines use precise information about your interests and search history to customize your searches (e.g. liberal vs. conservative viewpoints on current event articles). This is something that I vaguely knew about, but have not paid too much attention to.

How do digital filter bubbles affect the information that we consume about the Global Covid-19 pandemic?

During this time of uncertainty and almost constant stream of information, I am realizing that the information that I am being fed has already been predetermined for me. Ben, one of my Masters course classmates, posted a screenshot of the results when he searched ‘Coronavirus’ using a Google search engine. Cheryl then posted hers and it was so interesting to see there was a difference. My sister and I then just did the same thing and I was amazed to see the difference.

Ben’s Screen                                                                                        

Cheryl’s Screen (same day but later)

My Screen (a few days later)                                                                           

My Sisters Screen (on the same day as me)

Doing this little experiment really showed me how little I know about the information I am consuming and how it is pre-directed to me. As this crisis evolves, I look forward to searching out my own information using the suggestions from the article above.

Reflection Questions:

How can our digital bubble as educators filter the stories we hear and believe?

It depends on how we are engaging with the digital world. Most educators now a-days are using platforms such as Twitter to engage with teachers around the world and get inspiration from other teachers around them. However, the information that they are receiving is only determined by who they are following and who those people are following. It is important to build the collection of who you follow around what you value and want to see on a day to day basis.

Digital platforms such as Twitter can be a great place to connect people and collect inspiration from others. However, it can also be a place where people share their personal opinions and views that do not necessarily align with yours. During particularly difficult times (e.g. pandemics, global tragedies, political unrest, union negotiating) it can become a particularly negative place (depending on who you are following).

What kinds of digital tools expand filter bubbles in your learning context?

  • Variety of search engines/resources – allows for me to collect a variety of information on a topic of interest
  • Twitter – help me engage with teachers around the world
  • Instagram – helps me engage with teachers around the world (I have a personal private account where I can limit what I see and a public teaching account where I am open to seeing and sharing more information)
  • Facebook – help provide ideas and learning prompts for structured play opportunities
  • Conversation with people – help to provide opportunities and information that I have not heard through my usual searches

What are you doing to ensure students are using a wide variety of digital resources ?

In my context, I have conversations with students about digital resources and reliable information. In term two, I looked up some information about Canadian provinces and territories with my Grade 2’s. Together we looked at sites and their authors to determine which would be good sources.

 

“Every (wo)man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him (them).” —Ernest Hemingway, 1965

 

References:

Rheingold, H. (2012). Chapter 2 Crap Detection 101: How to Find What you Need to Know, and Decide if It’s True. In Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. (pp. 77-111). Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press.

Emergent Session #2 Reflection – Online Learning in the K-12 Classroom

The two readings for this week were focused on online learning in K-12 classrooms in Canada. This perspective provided more insight for those of us that live and work in that context. I have used a ‘What?-So What?-Now What?’ critical reflection framework to guide my thinking on the topic based on the assigned readings, annotations on those readings, and class discussion.

“CoderDojo Linz” by rainerstropek@yahoo.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What? 

Online learning is becoming a more prevalent option for students because of the increase in technology application pedagogy, and understanding and Canada’s low population density (Blomgren, 2017). The online learning model allows students from remote communities as well as students that do not fit into the regular classroom, for whatever reason, an opportunity for equitable access to education.

One of the major points that Blomgren (2017) brings up in the article is that in order to strengthen the understanding of online education, there needs to be a refinement and agreement on terminology in this field. The language used to refer to online education and the frameworks that help to build their platforms, differ from province to province in Canada. Therefore, how is there supposed to be growth when there is no common understanding or direction for learning? I guess I was naive in the fact that there was a common language being used. I assumed that because Canada is often a leader in the field of education, the provincially and federally, the language within the context of education would be the same. Because of this, there is change being made and research being done in isolation in provinces but there does not seem to be federal plan or goal that educators are moving towards in the field of online education.

Therefore, it begs the question, is online learning becoming the ‘food back of education’ rather than an appropriate quality alternative? In order to be an alternative instead of a choice, there needs to be research into how to create learning platforms and frameworks that provide the same (and more) opportunities for learning as in class. In order to develop effective online learning opportunities, educators have to  take into account specific teaching practices that are different from classroom teaching (Crosslin, 2018). Below is a list of  her suggestions based on research in the field:

  • spending time and resources to create a high quality learning experience
  • creating lessons that focus on more active engagement and less on passive content
  • shorter course duration’s with simple, straight forward organization
  • less focus time on videos to watch and/or text to read per week
  • one topic or module per week
  • complete the entire course design before the start date
  • utilizing networked learning and interactive activities
  • instructors that participate in the social media outlets and discussion forums
  • listening to and responding promptly to participant concerns
  • connecting content with current events and current life experiences of the learners (time built into the schedule for educators to do this)
  • well written goals/objectives/competencies accompanied by content and activities that align well with them
  • clear communication for ALL aspects of the course

The communication piece is key, especially more so in an online learning environment. As Crosslin (2018) notes in her article, there are many different communication types that educators can be utilizing in their teaching (see below)

From (Crosslin, 2018)

As Leanne mentioned in one of her annotations for this week, she has a hard time as an online educator being able to monitor where students are at in their understanding as so much of the information we as teachers gather from students on a day to day basis in the classroom is based on our observations. She has noticed that there are a few assertive students in her classes that will reach out if they are encountering issues, however, others do not. In order to ensure all students are supported and are successful in online learning platforms, there needs to be a baseline and a general understanding of ‘best practices’.

Online learning programs and frameworks might be a great first step in some of the remote communities in Canada as it allows for flexible time and spaces. However, due to continuing issues, there seems to be a lack of connectivity and buy-in in some communities in Canada (Blomgren, 2017).  Due to historic atrocities, there has been a systemic lack of care and support for Indigenous communities by the government (Episkenew, 2009).

So What? 

The big question that has come out of these readings, for me, is how can there be systemic change when there is different language used across the country on the topic of online education? If there are different institutions running different programs and talking about education in different ways, it creates a fragmented general understanding. Technology is already an ever changing domain in which educators often do not feel competent in their understanding. So how can we expect educators to just jump on board when there is really no guidelines or safety nets? And especially for administrators, it is not fair for us to be asking our staff to be moving in a direction that is so unknown and with very little support. We are currently seeing push-back from teachers on this in Ontario based on the new proposed graduation criteria (Mauracher, 2020).

Connected to the lack of direction for online learning, there also seems to be a growing concern in this realm about ethics and privacy. Educational technology changes so fast and educators often want to embrace the newest toy in order to engage their learners. As a result, students are engaging on platforms that are not protecting their information and identity online. This puts children at risk.

Another question that came out of the reading and came up in small group discussion, was about the possibility to have a meaningful classes without grades. Elementary schools in British Columbia are testing out alternatives, such as a proficiency scale, use of a digital portfolio, and different descriptors but it is coming with limited success. Based on my own experiences, the younger students enjoy descriptive feedback and understand the proficiency scale, but as they get older, parents are still concerned with letter grades and percentages as they are getting ready to transition into post-secondary. Parents and students often compare the scales and feedback to letter grades anyways the emphasis continues to be on the number as opposed to the skills and content knowledge they have acquired. And this definitely has an effect on students learning.

Now What? 

I am currently a grade two teacher in a district that does not have online learning opportunities provided to students. Therefore, there is not much that I can apply to my educators toolbox in regards to effective online teaching practices.

However, what I can take into consideration in my role as a classroom teacher and Vice Principal, is to be more conscious about the technology that we bring into the building. We need to ensure that we are teaching them skills that they would not know otherwise, but doing it through ethical technology and platforms that will keep their privacy secure. My school district is now starting to take things on at a more district level (e.g. iPad apps are now uploaded and sent out from district IT and any new apps have to be reviewed by an ethics team). At a school level I can remind teachers about the importance of this, as well as model it through my own teaching.

 


References

Blomgren, C. (2017). Current Trends and Perspectives in the K-12 Canadian Blended and Online Classroom. In N. Ostashewski, J. Howell, & M. Cleveland-Innes (Eds.), Optimizing K-12 Education through Online and Blended Learning. Information Science Reference. 10.4018/978-1-5225-0507-5 http://ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/login?url=https://www.igi-global.com/gateway/chapter/full-text-html/159551

Crosslin, M. (2018). Effective Practices. In M. Crosslin (Ed.),Creating Online Learning Experiences. Mavs Open Press. https://uta.pressbooks.pub/onlinelearning/chapter/chapter-5-effective-practices

Episkenew, J. (2009). Taking back our spirits: Indigenous literature, public policy, and healing. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Mauracher, J. (2020, January 22). What is e-learning and why does it have some Ontario teachers concerned? Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/6444006/e-learning-in-ontario-schools/

Module #6 Reflection

What?

Siemens, G., Gašević, D., & Dawson, S. (2015). Preparing for the Digital University: A Review of the History and Current State of Distance, Blended, and Online Learning. Retrieved from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website: Pages 199-230 http://linkresearchlab.org/PreparingDigitalUniversity.pdf

  • Focus on: Future Technology Infrastructures for Learning
    • exploration of future technology infrastructures are required in order to help higher education prepare for next generation learning opportunities
    • this paper explores four factors that influence future technologies: who has control, how well are the technologies integrated with other tool-sets and the experiences of learners, who has ownership of the data and the technology, what is the nature of learning structure in terms of centralization and decentralization
    • knowledge has become an easily accessible commodity, resulting in greater emphasis on learning opportunities
    • the technologies selected by teachers will determine the quality of learning, the scope of teaching practices, and ultimately, how well learners are equipped for both employment and engagement in democratic and equitable models of modern global society (just like any other choice of material in a classroom)

Selwyn, N., Hillman, T., Eynon, R., Ferreira, G., Knox, J., Macgilchrist, F., & Sancho-Gil, J. M. (2019). What’s next for Ed-Tech? Critical hopes and concerns for the 2020s. Learning, Media and Technology, 1–6. http://ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/login?url=https://doi.org/10/ggc9w2

  • It is clear that digital technologies are a significant factor in the ways in which our day-to-day lives are different from 20 years ago
  • Therefore, will probably be a significant factor in how the future is shaped
  • Education is still struggling with the same problems (even before the computer was introduced) – deficiencies in resourcing, inequalities of opportunity, poor quality teaching, curriculum and school organization (likely to continue to plague the education system)
  • 6 substantial challenges that the authors expect critical educational technology scholarship to meets as the new decade progresses
    • new forms of digital in/exclusion – individuals who are well resourced and have strong educational backgrounds are most likely to benefit the most from digital education
      • tried to aid this by improving tech in school and homes (this focuses on responsibility for their position in society on themselves, and this response treats technology as an inherently ‘good’ thing
    • platform economies in an age of artificial intelligence
      • people are hungry for data as a result
    • ‘Divisions of learning’ across humans and machines
      • machines now seem capable of learning our habits and influencing our choices in unprecedented way
    • IT industry actors as a leading educational force
      • should major tech corporations continue to exercise ‘soft power’ in influencing and shaping education decision-making, while all the time profiting from the decisions being made?
    • Reimaging forms of EdTech suitable for an age of climate change
      • digital technologies have been excessively consumed and discarded over the past 20 years in the name of ‘innovation’
    • Finding alternatives: solidary economies, convivial technology, respectful design

Downes, S. (2019). A Look at the Future of Open Educational Resources. International Journal of Open Educational Resources, 1(2). Retrieved from https://www.ijoer.org/a-look-at-the-future-of-open-educational-resources/

  • This article explores the impact of four major types of technoloogy on our understanding of OER – cloud infrastructure, open data, artificial intelligence, and decentralized networks
  • A web page today is not just somewhere to find information, but a dynamic resource – connected to live data generated by cloud services
  • New models of open educational resources  will be more like tools that students use in order to create their own learning content – learning happens through the use of the content (not the consumption of the content)
  • licensing issues fade into the background? – learning resources distributed through decentralized networks
  • creators of OER will need to reflect and be cognizant of the learning environment (and experiences within that environment) that they are creating – will require practice and application on new learning design

So what?

  • Where is the most significant and influential learning happening in our societies? – this is a very interesting question (depends on the context and purpose)
  • Is there much movement into critical EdTech research?

Now what?

  • (From our breakout session) How do you develop OpenEd/MOOC spaces and balance the online platform and connection/interaction between students engaged in the program?
  • I always come back to this question – who is going to make the change? (where does the push come for the move away from colonizing technology – consumers?) *if that’s the case, what is their incentive to change?
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