My ideas, thoughts, and experiences

Category: Masters Work (Page 2 of 9)

Taking Learning Design To A Whole New Level

“Neighborhood of Chaos” by byzantiumbooks is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The end of the 2019-2020 school year was one of pure CHAOS. Now that I have had some time to step back , I have been able to do some reflecting.

This summer, I continue to move through courses for my Masters Degree. My focus has been on Educational Technology, which has been extremely beneficial during the recent (and ongoing) COVID-19 Pandemic. The uncertainty of school closures, transition to online teaching, followed by another transition to a blended teaching and learning model has been extremely stressful for everyone within the education community.  Everyone was trying to manage during a crisis – we were doing what we could with the information and tools that we had at the time.

But September is going to be a different story. We are still unsure what it is all going to look like, but we do know that we have learned from the past four months and can use that knowledge to create and develop and even more engaging and effective learning experiences for our students.

As a result, based on our combined experiences during the recent Pandemic, our EDCI 565 course is attempting to create a website to help teachers feel better prepared for teaching in this new era of education. We are doing this in the hopes that we can help fellow teachers feel more prepared and informed during this next transition, as well as experience a whole new kind of course learning design! It is still in the planning phases, but so far we have put together a list of outcomes that we think teachers will need. To go with each outcome we are working on gathering resources, creating resources, and trying to put it together in a way that is clear and easy to navigate.

If you have any suggestions for outcomes, things we should look into, resources you have found and loved, or just want to know more – please leave a comment below!


What is curriculum?

My Metaphor

“Glasses” by shyb is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

To me, curriculum is a pair of eyeglasses. Growing up, I always wanted a pair for myself. I was jealous of the different look they give as well as how it changes the way the people see the world around them.

For this metaphor, the frames provide a solid structure similar to the predetermined content of prescribed curriculum. The style of frames can depend on different regions or countries around the world. Then from that large selection, an individual gets to choose which frame works best for them.

The glass are the lenses in which the viewer looks at the world. The wearer can look at things as a whole, see things out of focus on the periphery, or focus on something quite specific depending on the direction they look and what they are interested in. Everyone has a pair with their own specific perspective in which they are seeing the curriculum through. And as learners – both the students and educators – age and move through the education system, the prescription changes and you are able to see a little bit clearer and with more understanding of your individuality and the direction in which you want your learning to go.


My Context

I graduated with a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Victoria in 2014. Unfortunately, that year the teachers were on strike, so I was unable to obtain a teaching position until January of 2015. Since then I have taught primary grades and spent the last four years teaching a combination of grade two and three students at a school in West Vancouver in British Columbia (B.C.).


Therefore, I have been referencing the ‘new’ B.C. curriculum throughout my whole career. The only exposure I had to curriculum before what is currently available, was selecting specific prescribed learning outcomes (PLO’s) while writing lesson plans throughout my practicums in my undergrad program. They were overwhelming in number as a new teacher, but they provided a specific scope and sequence in the learning for each grade which, naturally, I lacked as a brand-new teacher. As a teacher who has primarily engaged in only the current curriculum in B.C., it was daunting to lose the specific learning outcomes per subject. However, as I have progressed in my teaching experience, I have enjoyed the flexibility it provides me in the classroom.


This last year has given me even more perspective on curriculum and instruction. I was fortunate to be given the amazing opportunity to take on the role of Vice Principal at my current school. Now, not only am I responsible for the learners in my own classroom, but the school as a whole. This unique position allows for me see things in a bigger picture way and think critically about how I can engage in conversations on curriculum and instruction for our school as a learning community.


My Response to Week One Articles

As made clear by my metaphor above, I believe that curriculum is the content, not the container (Egan, 2003). In the K-12 teaching world in B.C., the curricular outcomes are already predetermined and what our governing body “values and has given priority” (Blades, 1997). My job as the teacher is to then work with the students to determine how we want to move through content in a way that is engaging and follows their interests and curiosities. The curriculum documents that I reference tell me the ‘what’, but I (and the learning communities I build relationships with year to year – colleagues and students) work together to determine the ‘how’.


In reference to Blade’s (1997) article, I believe in the importance of including students in the process of curriculum and instruction in order to build ownership of the learning and allow for deeper understanding of content. As a new administrator I have needed to remind myself about the importance of including student voices in the decisions we make. In meetings there can often be so many decisions made at a high level, and our school leadership team often has to take a step back and think about what is best for our small community of learners and ask for their thoughts and feedback. We saw this very clearly during the COVID-19 school closure and transition to online and blended learning.



Blades, D. (1997) Procedures of Power in a Curriculum Discourse: Conversations from Home. JCT, 11(4), 125-155.

Egan, K. (2003) What is Curriculum? JCACS, 1(1), 9-16.


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. Retrieved from:

  • 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, 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

  • 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:

  • 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.  Retrieved from:

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….
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