Summary of Learning

I can’t believe we have reached the end of EC&I 833  Here is my last minute summary of learning!

I used Prezi for the first time and I had a bit of a learning curve with it. I recorded the presentation with Zoom. I had to record for maybe let us say 27 times. It is my first time to listen to myself explaining something. Oh!!! It Is different.  Please forgive my pronunciation of English and the heavy accent !!!!

I have enjoyed working with all of you during the last 3 month. The discussions, comments and input from all of the classmates are very well appreciated. I hope We meet again in other EdTech courses at U of R.

All the best for all of you in your other activities.

(Although it may be a bit too early, Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!).

 

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A journey to Make Learning Possible

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This week’s topic and presentation were an eye-opening experience for me.  After, the excellent presentation by Channing, Kelsey, and Haiming, I kept reading and reading about assistive learning and UDL (Universal Design Learning). I believe I will continue reading about this topic even after we finish our course ECI 833 because it touches me personally. Preparing for this blog,  I learned things that I wish I had known ten years ago.

I was able to connect with many concepts that have been said in the presentation.  For example, we talked about some barriers and challenges of using assistive technology and one of the problems was the fear of feeling different.   Another example, when my colleagues mentioned the quote that says

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Absolutely agree.  It is the meaning I have in mind for any technology tool or even strategy we use to make learning possible and sometimes more accessible.

I will discuss in this blog a case I know first hand.  Without, the use of iPad, that person wouldn’t be able to use a simple program like Raz kids to enhance his ability to read as he were a late reader. After many years, now he is in high school, but he is not a good note taker. A teacher advised him to use Livescribe pen to allow him to record the teacher voice while taking notes that he can integrate with his Ipad. It was recommended for that person to take a tutoring class in the high school. He didn’t like it. He didn’t ask for help for the whole year. One reason, he is an introvert and doesn’t want attention. When I asked him why you don’t ask questions or talk to the teacher, he told me, ‘my friends say this class is for stupid students”.  Yes, it is “fear from feeling different.”  We had to think of an alternative to support and help him. Putting into consideration that:
1- He is struggling with some comprehension and memory issues.
2- He is committed and willing to put the effort if he has the time and not feeling stressed.

In our on-going experiment, we went through a couple of stages to provide the required support. (Readers, please provide feedback on what do you think of this).  In the beginning, we came up with a plan to reduce the load for him by taking three classes per semester (instead of five) that he can focus on and have the time to comprehend and study the material. The principle of the school approved and supported this decision. The student himself was happy with this option and there has been a bit of enhancement in his marks and little stress and more smiles.  But he may be delayed by a year graduating high school!!!!!

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Summer was approaching, and the idea of online class came across. He took an ELA online over the summer and did much better than his typical English courses. Two main reasons for this success were, first, Online learning enabled him to access learning content, all the material were well-organized and always there for him to watch, read and listen over and over again. Second, he worked at his own pace and willingness. He can skip a day or study for 5 hours another day.

He felt the difference and asked for more online classes. Again, more challenges. Online courses are expensive, $500 per class for students in the public school system. We explored different options and found out that he can take many online classes if he is enrolled in a homeschooling program. We did not like this as it may result in him being isolated from his friends. Luckily, The homeschooling program here in Saskatchewan allows him to take two courses per semester at his regular high school along with his homeschooling program. We think this mix is perfect for him. He will be a part-time student at school taking two courses and socializing with his friends while taking online courses spread across the academic year to not be too late for graduate while getting the content in the best possible ways that suit his capabilities!!! We took the decision and enrolled him in the homeschooling program starting next term.

Back to you,  do you think we took the right decision? Is this the right approach? Please provide your input or experiences or advises.

Hmm …  I am now wondering if we followed a UDL approach coming up with this plan?  According to the UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING IN BC 

“ Implementing universal design typically occurs in 3 developmental stages: advocacy, accommodation, and accessibility.”

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We advocated for the best interests and style of learning for the case mentioned above. The support we get from the school to reduce the load for him, accommodate his needs for a longer time to absorb and study his material and concept which he can’t achieve if he is taking a full load. Online courses made the learning content accessible for him in an organized way.

While reading about web 3.0 to prepare for a previous blog, I kept thinking about how it can help that case? I imagined him searching for a topic using web 3.0 semantic web along with the artificial intelligence that will analyze his personality and style of learning and come up with the material that is easy for him to understand and absorb. Now, while reading about Assistive tech, I found this article  that explicitly mentions the possibility of this to happen
As we venture into the world of AI in schools, the implications for disabled children are enormous. Children with learning disabilities, like dyslexia, need more time to process information. And, systems which allow students to learn and interact at their own pace will be invaluable for these children. Teachers already provide video lessons for students to watch from home. I believe these lessons will transform into an interactive experience through the use of personal artificial intelligence tutors, helping students with learning delays or autism absorb lessons at their own pace and with personalized electronic help.

The future seems promising especially with the massive advancement in technology and the arousing awareness of different students needs. I hope we achieve this goal “True accessibility is achieved when environments are engineered to ensure that supports are available to everyone at the time they are needed.”  UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING IN BC

After all, the future should be equally accessible to those with disabilities as well as everyone else.

I will leave you with a story of a second grader, who has delays in communication and cognitive skills, and was viewed as essentially non-speaking since she spoke only a few words now and then. One activity that Julie really enjoyed was completing word searches, finding hidden words in a grid and circling them. When the regular classroom work was judged to be too difficult for Julie, her teacher gave her word searches to complete instead.

As part of an initial assistive technology assessment, Julie was given the opportunity to use word
prediction software with audio. The assessment team did not expect this program to be useful to
Julie, since she did not seem to have phonemic awareness. Julie was given the starter phrase “I
like . . . ” She quickly learned how to make the computer read the phrase aloud. With prompting,
she completed the phrase verbally, saying “stars.” Julie’s teacher then typed “Why?” into the
program, asking Julie to listen and read the question. Julie then responded appropriately with
“because,” and with prompting typed the initial letter “b.” When the word “because” appeared on
the monitor, Julie recognized it immediately, reading it aloud and then selecting it with the
mouse.
Julie continued to verbalize her ideas, typing the initial letter for each word and then searching
the word list on the screen for her choice. After just a few trials, she learned that if the desired
word did not appear, she needed to type the second letter of the word. In just 20 minutes she
went on to type: “I like stars.” Why? “Because they are beautiful. I like to clean my room. I like
sleeping up in my bed. I like getting up and going to my school bus.”
Julie’s special education teacher had tears of joy in her eyes as she watched what Julie was able
to do on the computer. The teacher hadn’t realized that Julie had that much to say. Julie had said
more in those 20 minutes than she had all year. Additionally, this was the first time Julie had
written a complete sentence.

Poodll for Moodle

I want to start by thanking Melanie, Sage, Sonja and Justine for their beautiful presentation on Assessment Technology! I discovered many edtech tools for assessment that I didn’t hear about before.

We were challenged this week to use a new assessment technology in our class or choose one that we would like to use or have used in the past. Unfortunately, I was on vacation the past week so that I couldn’t try a new one.  I decided to talk about a tool that I used recently to build a quiz in an online economic class.

The Instructor was used to teach face to face classes, and this economics class was his first online one. He would expect the student to write out the equation entirely, then substitute the appropriate values into the equation and solve for the correct answer. We had to think of a tool or plugin that would allow us to do so. I asked our instructional designer, and one of them has a daughter that was taking an online math class through Regina Catholic school board. The teacher in this class asked students to take a picture of a piece of paper that contains the answers with their phone and then submit this as an attachment in the assignment tool. Taking a picture of their work was a good idea for us.

The Instructional technologies team recommended a tool called Poodll-Audio, Video, Whiteboard submission and feedback tool. According to Poodll website “Students can record their voice or video or draw a picture, as part of a series of questions in a quiz. Later the submissions can be graded by the teacher, and reviewed by the student.” This exactly what we wanted.

Some challenges faced us, for example, writing out the equations on poodll whiteboard might be cumbersome and time-consuming, especially if students used the mouse and not a pen. However, we adapted this by providing pre-prepared pictures of multiple equations. The student would have to state in the answer which equation is the appropriate one.  Another example, Students have to draw some graphs. It seemed to work well enough.

However, we noticed that students will need to practice using it before a mid-term exam or a quiz time because it does take a bit of getting used to it.  We had to set up a practice quiz so students can practice using this new tool and to avoid any hiccups or significant problem during the exam.  Similar to the math questions, we did pre-set up the axes so that student wouldn’t have to draw them; they would only have to draw the curves and label the curves/axes.

The results came in.  Students feedback and grades were so promising. They liked the tool and found it easy to work with. The instructor noticed that students who took the practice quiz did better in the real exam than the ones who directly attempted the quiz. This could tell us that getting used to a new edtech tool is part of the student’s success afterwards.

Poodll was mainly designed for language learning courses. Teachers can create a complete language lab using it. Students can record themselves pronouncing letters or words, and teachers are hearing their students answer.

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Poodll is still under testing at the university, but I can see many great potentials from using it in the online courses. It can be integrated into URcourses in many ways; Introduce Yourself forums, HTML editor, assignment submission/ feedback or question type in quizzes.

To summarize,  Poodll is a new tool that can be integrated with URcourse. It can be used in the following ways:

1- Audio and video recorders that work for both teachers and students. Teachers can use it to give feedback, provide instructional video, or to highlight some fundamental concept. Students can introduce themselves or answer an audio question. Kyla M. stated many pros of using video or audio in the classroom and her goal of creating an interactive video that can be more engaging for her students. Which I agree with, Audio/video appeals to some types of learners; visual learners, learners with learning disabilities or shy and introvert learners like what Collete experienced in her class. Also, It provides the current generation with their preferred methods of learning by using the media.

2- Whiteboard that can be used by students to answer math questions, draw graphs or merely use it as a whiteboard to write their answers on. Teachers could use to explain contents like in the classroom.

 

Smart e-learning

Huge Thanks to Jana, Katie, Brooke, and Kyla O.! for the beautiful presentation about web 1.0 and web 2.0. I really enjoyed it! They used many tools to make all of us engaged.

Web 3.0 seems to have a lot of promising potential along with many fears and uncertainty. I enjoyed reading and searching on this topic. I tried to understand the meaning of Web 3.0 and how it can work to the benefit of teachers and students because Alec asked us to discuss Jackie Gerstein’s metaphor. She notes that “The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being, and people influence the development and content of the web. The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used as a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement from Education 1.0 toward that of Education 3.0. The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.”

The World Wide Web, starting from web 1.0 to web 2.0 and now towards web 3.0, has formed the shape of education, specifically e-learning. The classic web 1.0 is explained as a “Read-only” web with its static pages. It is characterized by a basic search for such information. The focus was on static content and we were just users to retrieve information. The huge advancement in technology allowed for Web 2.0 “Read and write.” Web 2.0 enabled students to collaborate and share information. We switched from being only users of technology to be contributors to knowledge. Web 2.0 allows us to share, communicate and contribute to our learning environment. ECI 833 is a great example; we use blogs, twitter and video conference to be able to communicate and collaborate to enhance our learning experience.

E-learning followed the same advancement steps of the web. For example, with web 1.0 students use Learning management systems “LMS” like Moodle as a local platform that only contains information and learning materials that are provided in a shape of pages or books. Students can access this information any time, anywhere with no interaction. With web 2.0, Learning Management System added a whole new dimension, which is collaboration and interaction. LMS has become a median to a bigger world and a place to integrate technology tools that can enhance our learning environment.

Then, Web 3.0 “Read, write, and collaborate” which believed to be the next evolution of the internet and technology tools, which will lead to a growth in E-learning as well. “The focus of Web 2.0 is on social interactivity, collaboration and information sharing, in its most literal form. Whereas before users could only view content, the emergence of new web-based tools, platforms and applications provided them with the ability to edit that content and to create and share new content of their own. This new generation of the internet thus saw an explosion of social networking and information sharing spaces, from Blogger, Wikipedia and Livejournal to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Up until the development of Web 2.0, the focus of computer systems had always been on managing data, information and explicit knowledge, but with Web 2.0 the focus shifted towards methods and tools for the development of more tacit knowledge, derived from social interaction and global participation.” E-Learning and Web Generations: Towards Web 3.0 and E-Learning 3.0

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When I was reading about web 3.0, immediately the group presentation that we do every week in ECI 833 came across my mind. We do a lot of research, read articles, write blogs, watch many video clips and tweet to discuss or ask questions with others. We take all of that and process it in our mind, draw charts or use mind maps to arrange our ideas and focus on essential things. This lengthy process will get more accessible and more efficient with the use of web 3.0– often described as the Semantic web. With the integration of intelligent machines along with a massive database of all sort of information, searching and browsing the internet will become more accessible and more advanced. It will become more of writing the right query, and we will get exactly what we need along with all resources and even ideas of how to proceed.

The critical question is what the impact of web 3.0 in education? Talking about education in general, the excellent infographic below by Jackie Gerstein of SAMR as a framework of education 3.0, says it all in my opinion. It is part of this article that is worth reading.

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E-learning 3.0  is expected to enable the personalization of learning. It is expected to have the main features of collaboration, artificial intelligence, social interaction, and accessibility from anywhere, anyhow by anyone.  Technology will be everywhere around us but will not be visible. Things around us will be connected sending data to each other to retrieve the most common information to specific learners. It is fair to call it the era of “smart e-learning.” In addition, considering the significant advancement in both mobile learning and virtual reality, students will be able to share information globally and use 3D virtual reality to meet anytime and anywhere. These features will enable students to have significant control over their learning experience as this will be able to create their own learning environment according to their interests.

Thinking of my high school son who is a visual learner and introvert. Smart e-learning will help him decide what is the best learning method for him by using a simple query in the semantic web. The intelligent machines with such technological features and large data sources will help him focus on the specific requirements of his topic. Somehow, the intelligence in everything he will be using will work as his brain with the consideration of his own needs.

All of this self-learning, self-directed and intelligent machines made me think about teacher control of things. Will the teacher be able to control this amount of information? Will they have any say of their students learning pathway? How about learners privacy and educators privacy? Finally, the accuracy of this open, collective, and shareable information that students will have access to, how can we grantee it? Lots of potentials with lots of concerns and uncertainty of how the shape of our schools and education system will be in the era of web 3.0, education 3.0 or Smart e-learning

Thank you!

 

Online learning

As an Assistant Instructional Designer at a University, I can see online/ blended learning is growing every year. Students love the flexibility that online courses provide. Which what my classmates Kyla and Scott appreciate and like in their blog posts. Blended learning offers new ways of engagements, and opens a new range of possibilities. It reaches a  wide variety of different learners characteristics like students with disabilities or introverts. From personal experience, online learning was a huge success for my high school son. He is an introvert and doesn’t like to take notes. He doesn’t remember anything that was mentioned in the class. He doesn’t want to ask questions or for help. We thought of online courses, and he took ELA over the summer. The ability to replay a video or go over the materials as many times as he wants was a game changer for him. He liked this so much that we are now thinking of switching him to homeschooling so he can take more free online classes over the next year.

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Integrating tools in online learning has many advantages in enhancing the learning experience and creating a good and personalized learning environment for students. The trick is how to use a suitable tool for our goal. We need to reach the needs of every learner through combining different learning strategies and different pedagogy strategies coupled with the use of technology. Another way of selecting a suitable mix for a learning environment is to look at the pedagogy goals and selecting the tools we would like to adapt accordingly. Also, we should ask ourselves why we choose to use a tool? What problem do we think it solves? Educational Technology is advertised as revolutionary and innovative just by nature. The tech itself isn’t revolutionizing education that takes people. The best thing we can do is to discuss the pedagogy. What pedagogical issues do we have? Then choose an e-learning tool based on that, which can be as simple as a smart board. In this case, the chosen eLearning tool will affect our learning experience   In the Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching by Jim Henry and Jeff Meadows; it is mentioned that “Technology is a vehicle, not a destination… Rather, aspects of technology – like all components of an effective course – should be chosen according to how they help meet the learning objectives.”

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EC&I 833 is the first online course I take.  I took many MOOC’s, workshops, and online training before.  Using the right tools with elearning brings the best of the classroom and online education. In my view, the most significant advantage of this mix which is that it retains the human connection between the student and the instructor. Zoom video conference tool can help us achieve that.

At the beginning of EC & I 833, I didn’t know how should I write or interact but I think I am doing better now. It is an excellent way to share our thoughts and opinions, we can leave comments to each other, and the best part that makes it different than a regular discussion forum in a learning management system like Moodle is adding resources like videos, infographics, hyperlinks, and photos. Adding these visual and auditorial resources helps us reach people by saying more with less. There is no limitation to the number of resources we can add to our blogs, which is Twitter can’t provide with the number of character limitation that forces you to be short but at the same time on the target. I have a Twitter account since 2009. I was a silent follower and observer until this class. I had a hard time in the beginning to interact and tweet, but it is getting more comfortable every day. I find Twitter has a huge amount of accessible information. Getting professional feedback in any subject matter is a big plus I see in Twitter.

Let me discuss two specific tools: Zoom and Blogging.

 

Zoom is a source of interaction and to humanize the experience for his students, which I like and appreciate. The national survey for student engagement reported that

Also, while presenting our group presentation, we aren’t just presenting and talking to a computer, we are actually presenting to real people that can stop us, ask questions or even run a discussion with built-in features like breakout rooms or the chat function. It can be used as a synchronous and asynchronous tool

I use Zoom a lot in my job. I create instructional videos for instructors or to meet with them. Most instructors like it and use it with their students in the online classes they teach. We don’t use blogging or Twitter as we are limited with what URcourse can provide us. I saw some instructors using WIKI and OneNote with big success in engaging their students.

 

Blogging is another tool we use in this course. In the Blended Learning Design Planner, V1.2 Resource PackIt by the University of  Birmingham “Blogs offer students, academics, staff, and others a high level of autonomy and freedom, while creating a new opportunity for interaction with peers. They provide a far-reaching forum for discussion that goes beyond coursework to include culture, politics, and other areas of personal exploration. Students often learn as much from each other as from tutors or textbooks, and blogs offer an effective medium for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and application.”

It is the first time for me to write blogs. Although it is my first class, I can feel the sense of the community support from my classmates. Words like a” great post” or “good thoughts” followed by a strong opinion and mutual interests discussion make me feel part of a supported community.


Online/ Blended learning like any other thing has its own positive and negative sides, but from my son and I, personal experiences advantages were way more. I know I may take some online classes that will not be as engaging and exciting like this class, but for the benefits of flexibility, being able to take the class while being close to my kids, and not have to drive in the Winter to attend my class. I will keep taking them and look for them everytime I register for a class.

Thank you

 

“Multi-switching not Multi-tasking”

It is funny to watch this video after I finished my group presentation. I did everything wrong mentioned in this video. I had 82 links in my bookmarks related to the presentation topic. I was Jumping from one website to another and each site will direct me to a different source of information.

Often, we so find ourselves doing that when we are focused on one goal. When we give our full attention to a big goal, we can perform many tasks related to that goal. We can do that easily when we researching a topic of interest or preparing for a presentation (like in my case).

My own work

I was able to read, analyze, categorized and even drawing a mind map to connect my ideas and organize them. It’s not about ‘how much’ one is doing, but rather how many goals you’re trying to achieve at the same time. I can say I was multitasking towards one task.

In my case, the Internet as a source of information helped me find what I needed for my presentation. I didn’t necessarily use or say everything I found, but I sure learned a lot along the process. However, I have to admit that I felt overwhelmed and lost from the amount of information I came across. Here, I have to train myself on how to be productive and select what is important or what I need.

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Michael in his blog recommended that “Focusing on one task (monotasking) should lead to the completion of one task before beginning another.  The true trouble then becomes prioritizing tasks and determining the sequential order. The bonus: there are apps in productivity suites to help manage this if one can find the time to monotask learning the application.” and I can’t agree more with him. This blog post was due last week, I wasn’t able to finish it before today because of my presentation. I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to finish both tasks simultaneously and although I tried I felt very distracted and all information was entangled in my mind. I started to be stressed and lost attention to details. Now, after researching and reading about multitasking I understand what I was experiencing. I was trying to achieve two different goals in two different topics that I am way far of mastering them. As  Gary Keller writes, “When we think we’re multi-tasking we’re actually multi-switching…we think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality, we’re simply giving ourselves extra work.“Multi-switching, not Multi-tasking.”

According to this article Psychology and Neuroscience Blow-Up the Myth of Effective Multitasking. Says Miller, “Switching from task to task, you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not.” The brain is forced to switch among multiple cognitive tasks as these tasks use the same part of the brain.”   for example, We can drink our coffee while writing our blog and stay focus because in this case, we use different parts of our brain. Another good example is driving while texting, we use the same part of our brain to do both tasks at the same time so we will not be able to focus on any one of them.

For me personally, I am a mom of four kids, wife, worker and a student. I typically answer phones while doing house chores, which I have been doing this for 18 years and kind of mastered every single one of them. However, if I make a minor change say to answer a phone call in English, not in my first language while cooking, washing dishes or even watching TV. I can not multi-task. I need to focus and pay attention to what I am saying so I have to stop doing anything else or this phone call won’t be productive. Please note English is not in my first language.

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Last week, presenters Amy B., Amy C., Kyle and Colette’s discussed productivity suites and presentation tools.  They took Microsoft office and Google suits as an example to talk about.  

Both tools are great and we have to use them especially with today’s advancement of technology. I wouldn’t be able to share my thoughts and work with my group on our presentation collaboratively without using a tool like Google slide. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be able to take online classes from the comfort of my coach or writing this blog and communicating with my classmates.

Also, Adam made a very good point at the end of his blog “We have always had distractions throughout our lives that have made us better at managing a couple different tasks at one time. Multi-tasking was here just in different forms, it just seems to be evolving within technology and creating a cholesterol for work efficiency in our current day and age.


Yes, kids have always had distractions. Record players. Radios. TV. Friends and the Internet. Somehow, society has managed to achieve amazing things.  
In today’s world, we can’t stay away from the internet, although I would agree that some aspects of the internet can distract people. However, the problem isn’t the tool itself, the problem is how we use that tool. There are lots of tools, apps or software that we can use to block notifications or track our time on the Social media. Apple just recently announced the new app called “Screen time” that has been added to its new IOS version. I have also been introduced to the relatively new methodology GTA ”Getting Things Done” that was created by David Allen. It is a complete methodology that’s worth checking, and he even has some recommendations for apps to use to apply his methodology. Google tasks, Reminders, Evernote and Todoist are just a few examples of many available tools and apps. How about you, what is your best productivity tool or app?

Thank you!

 

Education through Entertainment

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This week we learned about Audio-Visual Technologies in learning, and we had a great presentation  by Michael, Joe, Sam and Kyla M . Thank you! You did an awesome job!

I would like to share a personal experience about my eldest son who was a late reader. I had to find ways to teach him basic concepts in a fun and interactive way. His teacher and I tried different strategies until one day I came across two videos by the Leapfrog company called Letter Sounds Factory and Talking Words Factory. They were a huge success in teaching him letter sounds, and how to connect letters to make words.  Although the videos were a great resource, however, without the teacher’s continuous support and enthusiasm my son’s reading wouldn’t have significantly improved. She arranged book clubs for students and reading competitions to help them catch up, and to encourage him and his classmates to read. She built a completely interactive, rewarding, and motivating experience for the whole class that they will never forget.

Along the same lines,  I remember using many episodes of Sesame Street to teach my kids about meanings of friendship, or even manners such as “sharing what we have.” The episodes gave me a chance to highlight the messages that I wanted my kids to grasp. I found that Sesame Street was a tool like other tools we use in the classroom to keep students engaged and entertained while learning. I felt that their learning experience was colorful, exciting, engaging, and playful.  I have to say the high expectations that programs like Sesame street put in our student’s minds is a big challenge. Nevertheless, when my kids started school they would wake up every day with no complaints that it isn’t as fun as Sesame Street is.

In spite of the above, I sort of agree to some extent with Postman who wrote, “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if a school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents“.

The differences between the two environments can sometimes be big as mentioned by Postman;   

World of School is                                                        World of TV programming:

–Social interaction                                                           – Isolation                       

–Critical thinking                                                             – Unresponsive

–Language                                                                        – Images

–Legal requirement                                                        – An act of choice

–Fun as a means to an end                                            – Fun as an end in itself

Using multimedia in the classroom, without doubt, has a big advantage. It is a way to create a better experience and to reach out to different learners. It helps them to engage and focus. However, educational media will never replace teachers, school, or even family time and storytelling. In fact, they both complement each other. Teachers have to use whatever educational technology tools to challenge their student’s minds, keep them engaged, and to keep up with the speed of evolution in technology. We have to use the type of technology that our kids use in their everyday life.

According to this article:  Importance of AV in schools, “Learning via AV creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning, We live in an audio-visual age which means that having the skills to use AV equipment is integral to future employment prospects. Therefore exposure to AV technology in education is imperative.”  which is also what Brook found in her experience in the classroom as she mentioned in her blog,“ In my own practice, AV technology enhances learning by showing students content rather than simply having them read about it or listen to me teach about it. AV technology provides another lens and context through which students are able to make meaning of the world around them.”

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There are many teachers who are passionate and willing to find new ways to gain their student’s attention. They are in the contentious hunt to use today’s technology and techniques, and to incorporate them in their class. Within this context, educational multimedia, such as Sesame Street, can be a helpful means. Educational multimedia teaches our kids by stimulating their minds. It is a colorful and joyful experience, which can sometimes be replicated in the classroom.

However, using educational multimedia alone has its disadvantages. We may lose the student’s logical thinking, and it could also be a source of distraction for students.

Kyla also mentioned in her blog post this week “ Our current culture of smartphones has pushed educators to incorporate the technology – the seeming current language of today’s youth – into our classrooms and our schools. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and the integration of smartphones in classrooms does not just happen automatically without thought to acceptable use. “ which really resonated with me. It is important to integrate the use of this generation’s spoken language of  “Smartphones” and “Apps” into the classroom. Apps are a step ahead of “Sesame Street” as they are more interactive and enables teaching more problem-solving skills. However, “apps and smartphones” are still less than what a student can benefit from a teacher. Yes, speech recognition tools such as Siri can help with language development, but again not to the same level as a human interaction would.

LOGO: A Maker’s Coding Language

Alec asked us this week to play more with LOGO! In the beginning, I thought I’d try 2 or 3 exercises to get a sense of how it works as I wasn’t familiar with it. Time went by, and I found myself trying many exercises and tweaking some of them. It was so much fun and I found myself hooked to it.

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Seymour Papert, the pioneer of LOGO, supported the concept of story-telling in learning as it’s a much more effective communication tool than conveying theoretical definitions. LOGO’s history is rooted in computer-science research, especially in artificial intelligence, and in Jean Piaget’s research. It’s an effective tool for learning how to think; this takes LOGO from being just another programming language into being a philosophy of education.

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Papert’s ideas can have an impact on the way children learn. In my last blog post, I briefly discussed how we can use different theories of learning according to types/ needs of learners and the affordance of technology.  LOGO has its own affordances that caters to children’s needs, and consequently can have a great impact on a child’s learning. Coding in itself has teaches children many cognitive skills; but typical coding is difficult for children to grasp and understand.   The affordance of LOGO is that it provides a visual and maker-type of programming that is easy for children to tinker with.  Within an effective learning environment, this increases the skills learned.

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Kids today are curious and competent, and if presented with the opportunity they would take an active role in their own learning. This is an affordance provided by LOGO/ Scratch. Computer programming is a method that students use to make their ideas and design come to life using technology. It encourages and teaches problem solving skills. Papert sometimes called this skill “procedural thinking.”  Papert is quoted to have said, “I am convinced that the best learning takes place when the learner takes charge, as the young Piaget did.”  For example, a main tool of LOGO is the digital turtle which is  programmed by students. As learners manipulate the turtle in creative ways, they construct objects and worlds of their own. This is directly derived from the constructionism learning theory. This is learning-by-making.

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As a parent of four kids, I work hard to find the best learning experiences, resources, and activities for my kids. I have to say two of the major things they were interested in are the Montessori learning style and University of Regina EYES programming camp. Now that I know more about learning theories and different learning methods, I understand that they got hooked to these two learning styles because they evoke the idea of learning by making.  Asking them “why did you like it?” they say “it is fun”, “you get to use your own creativity and imagination”, “you can make your own games.”  They felt comfortable with the tool after a few hours of tinkering with it, that they were so happy they were able to make a Happy Mother’s Day card for me. It was an interactive card that included my favorite songs and family photos. They had the passion, worked harder and tried different coding skills. They learned how to turn an initial idea into a meaningful project that can be shared with me.

Learning theories in the eyes of an Instructional Designer

Although I have limited experience in teaching, one year almost 15 years ago, however, the readings helped me reflect on my own experience as an Assistant Instructional Designer for four years.

Teachers and IDs are both in a perpetual quest to create a successful learning experience for students, and to meet their learning needs. They both use different technologies to achieve their objectives, and they must have a clear understanding of learning theories as it would help them in selecting the best teaching strategies and techniques.

Learners and their demands have changed over time.  Here is a table that provides a quick comparison.

Criteria Boomers Generation X Millennials
Age range 42-60 years old 26-41 years old Up to 26 years old
Learning style Traditional, group effort, expert-driven, self-driven

“lead me to information”

Team driven, collaborative, peer-to-peer

“connect me to people”

Give context and meaning, make it fun, search and explore, entertain me

“connect me to everything”

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Beside each generation’s learning style, there are basic needs which I assume every student will like and appreciate. For example, increasing student motivation in learning and the material they are about to study, making abstract learning more interactive and concrete, and allowing students to become a part of the learning experience.

The table below also provides a quick, certainly not comprehensive, comparison of technology tools usage over the years.

pre-computers Tech affordance during the digital age Affordances with the internet
Papers Portable computers Wiki
Printing press Interactive whiteboard Ipads
Blackboard LMS Google classrooms
CreditCC BY-SA 3.0

Education technology has evolved over time to cope with changes in learning needs. The affordance of technologies captures this change, especially that using web 2 applications in the internet era made a significant progress and expanded the options in the concept of affordances.

We can think of many examples of the affordances of social software:

  1. Collaborative information and sharing, such as a group blog.
  2. Connectivity, like Facebook, Myspace or Instagram.
  3. Content creation: Like using Wiki

These affordances will help design and create suitable content that is genuine and encourage engagements.

In spite of technological advancements, the theories of learning remain constant;

Criteria Behaviorism Cognitivism Constructivism
knowledge The repertoire of behavioral responses to environmental stimuli Knowledge systems of cognitive structures are actively constructed be learners based on existing structures Human create meanings as opposed to acquiring it
Learning Passive absorption of a predefined body of knowledge be learner. Promoted be repetition and positive reinforcement Active assimilation accommodating of new information to existing cognitive structures. Discovery be learners. Integration of students into knowledge community. Collaborative assimilation and accommodation of new information.
Instruction Correct behavioral responses are transmitted by the teacher and absorbed by the students The teacher facilitates learning by providing an environment that promotes discovery and assimilation/accommodation Collaborative learning is facilitated and guided by the teacher. Group work.

Note Retrieved from: here

Behaviorism, generally results in a learning experience that is characterized by an effective presentation, tutorials, and structured assessment. Activities should include reading, writing, and assignment that is directly linked to the subject, learning objectives and outcomes, which has to be connected with immediate changes in behavior.

On the other hand, the constructivist learning experience is characterized by constructing a learning environment and trying to direct students to explore topics by designing their own experience. Students should be encouraged to collaborate. Activities should be in a form of presentations, group project or interaction among the learners.

From a bird’s eye, it’s easy to assume and make direct linkages between the type of learner’s and the different theoretical approaches; Behaviorism seems to be the prominent theory with the baby boomer’s generation because of their main characteristic feature of “Lead me to information”. We could also assume the same with Constructivism, with the chosen learner type as the millennia generation.

However, as mentioned in the Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective reading article, the critical question instructional designers must ask is not “which is the best theory?” but “which theory is the most effective in fostering mastery of specific tasks by specific learners?”. From my point of view, this is much true.

Knowledge and learning theories are to help instructional designers identify the most efficacious methods for any given situation. Instructional design methods are situational not universal, which means that one theory may work best for a specific group of learners considering their level of knowledge, the nature of learning tasks, and every other criteria, while a different theory may work best in another situation for a different group of learners.

A journey through Educational Technology

I am officially writing my first blog!! EC&I is my first grade class towards my journey to get a “Master certificate in Educational Technology”.  Dr. Couros asked us to write our definition of Educational Technology and what does it mean to us.

What is Educational Technology?


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Educational technologies often change how we access educational content– making it easier, cheaper, or faster to get our hands on information. But it can also change the procedure of learning, often enabling us to do things we couldn’t otherwise, or changing the way we practice and learn new skills. This very much gets along with Wikipedia definition of Educational technology is “ facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources“.

Historically, there are three stages that shaped  Educational Technology in my understanding.

Stage 1: before computers

What was the educational technology looks like before Computers? It was depending on “Paper”.


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Papers were one of the first education technologies. In fact, it really changed the way we teach and learn. It allowed people to group their ideas in books. Books were easily duplicated into a few copies which allowed ideas to spread.
In the 1700 ’s photocopying machines were invented. It was a huge educational technology advancement.  Before it came along, classes often involved one person reading a book aloud, and everyone else writing it down.  Educational Technology back then did not allow for much group collaboration in learning.


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Then Chalkboard was introduced and was a big hit that made teachers change their thinking from individualized instruction to group instruction.

Stage 2: Computer age


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When computers were introduced, educational and other programs such as MS Office made number crunching and educational writing  and other things easier. As we moved into the late  ’90s, processing power and graphics made more sophisticated games. During this time, there were also a lot of educational CD-ROMs.


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Then, in the mid 90s- 2000, smaller computers became more affordable. Wi-Fi started spreading, and everything got shaken up all over again. The idea of one laptop per child started to spread, with some school districts providing laptops to all their students.

Stage 3: Internet
CC0 Creative Commons

The Internet is one of the most used forms of educational technology used todays.  It provided access to very large amounts of educational content very easily. Being able to search such vast information was a game changer.

Bringing technology into education has always been a bit controversial because it does change the way we learn in two big ways. Content and procedure.

I grew up in Egypt.   In the 1980s a company produced an Arabic-language version of MSX computers and that was the first computer I ever used. First time I saw a real computer in my life was in 1990, very late I know. This is the time computer labs started to find its way to schools in Egypt. Computers were only intended to teach students a certain content area, they were an object of study nothing more. We didn’t see the full benefits of computers until the birth of the Internet.  In the 1990’s, Microsoft was kind enough to give free licenses to using their Office product for free all across Egypt schools. As soon as yesterday, the government has theoretically approved the introduction of iPads and tablets for high school education. However,  Believe it or not, blackboards are still the main educational technology being used in Egypt’s public school classroom today.   Books are relatively very expensive and not widespread; let along access to personal computers and a good-quality Internet Connection.