Screencasting

This week we are asked to provide an overview of a selected tool. I was planning to pick a tool that can do mind mapping like Coggle, but I decided to review Screencastify instead because Kalyn and I are planning to create instructional videos for our project that would allow instructors to access the videos whenever, wherever, and as much as they need to.

In addition to the many other benefits as stated by Tony Bates in chapter 7 of his book, “Video is a much richer medium than either text or audio, as in addition to its ability to offer text and sound, it can also offer dynamic or moving pictures. Thus while it can offer all the affordances of audio, and some of text, it also has unique pedagogical characteristics of its own. Once again, there has been considerable research on the use of video in education, and again I will be drawing on research from the Open University (Bates, 1985; 2005; Koumi, 2006) as well as from Mayer (2009).”

Like Amy, I was first introduced to Screencastify by Alec in my previous class ECI 833. He recommended it among many other recommended add-ons or extensions for Chrome. I immediately downloaded and added it to my Chrome; however, I didn’t get a chance to try it ever since.

For this blog, I started with some research to understand what Screencastify is and how it works. As per Google Screencastify is, “a lightweight Chrome extension that lives in your browser. There’s no need to download any cumbersome, complicated software. Professional quality videos. Don’t let the simplicity fool you. Record smooth, HD screen and webcam videos.”

I agree that Screencastify is super easy to install. All I had to do is download the extension and sign in with my Gmail account. I opened it up, and it prompts me to set up my microphone and webcam, which was quick and very straightforward. I started recording to test it, and my first impression was that it is very easy and convenient to use. The annotation toolbar was also useful, and I especially liked the Focus mouse feature which could be very helpful for showing Instructors a step by step guide on how to use certain features in URcourses. It is also easy to integrate with YouTube and Google drive.

A big disadvantage for me, however, was that the recording only saves to a specific file type in Google Drive. This will be a problem if I want to upload this file to Kaltura in URcourse. I found that if I open the file from my google drive, it gives me an option to open it with an online video converter which allowed me to convert the video to mp4 easily.

Now the real test is that I wanted to see if I would be able to edit the video after recording or not. Unfortunately, under the free version, I have no access to any editing tools, and I only have a recording time limit of 10 minutes. Another thing I discovered after I finished recording under the free version is that I ca n’t delete the watermark. However, if I chose to upgrade to the premium package, I would be able to solve the editing, watermark, and time limit problems.  The premium account costs $24 per year which is pretty cheap. However, I am not certain if I should pay the money only to get the editing feature that I miss in Zoom; the current video recording tool that I use.

I can see Screencastify as an excellent formative assessment tool, besides creating instructional videos or tutorials. For example, students can demonstrate the process and steps they use to solve a math problem, then send it to the teachers.

From the students’ side of things, screencasting gives them the ability to pause or review content, which helps them to move at their own pace.  Instructors can also use it in their online courses for the purpose of peer review; where students would be able to review each other’s journals or writings.

Many articles speak about the benefits of screencasting feedback on student works. Screencasting is a useful tool for describing a step-by-step process or virtual commenting on students’ work. It helps humanize the learning experience for students and increase their learning engagement.

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Design of online courses using UR courses (Moodle)

By Elisa.garcia.1994 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Kalyn and I decided on choosing a course that can be beneficial for our department and us. The main purpose of the course is to prepare Sessional and Faculty instructors to effectively plan and manage their class in UR courses (Moodle). We will create instructional documents and videos on how to use various technology tools that may be used In a fully online and blended course. 

We would like this course to be a valuable resource for instructors when developing their online courses. It is a self-paced course that instructors can take once they know they will teach an online course.

Problem/Concern to be addressed by this course

There are many tools and activities in Moodle.  Most instructors either don’t know what is available or how to best use them to create their course.  Also, almost every year there is a new version of the LMS along with a lot of new features and tools. First time online Instructors and sessional need to be updated and learn about the new version and this doesn’t always happen. Technological advancements are very fast and hard to keep up with.

Target Audience:

Sessional and Faculty instructors who plan to or are currently teaching online and blended courses.

Course Objectives:

  • Familiarize audience with LMS functionality and interface
  • Develop self-paced tutorials and instructional videos
  • Create videos for ‘just in time’ learning
  • Provide professional development and support to the sessional and Faculty instructors.
  • Helps faculty develop quality online courses; article, Seven Things to Consider Before Developing Your Online Course, is a good resource for instructors.
  • Become comfortable with LMS at the U of R.
  • Cover best practices in course navigation and design, online communication and collaboration, online assessments, pedagogy, andragogy, accessibility, and LMS skills training.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Using a range of learning technologies and platforms, for: content presentation, creation and sharing; interaction and communication;
  • Build an understanding of different LMS features and how they correspond to different learning theories
  • Prepare Sessional and Faculty instructors to plan and manage the effective use of technology and moodle
  • Copyright Clearance for the course site

Course formats, platform and toolset:

  • Peer Support forum – where instructors can post questions they have and other instructors can share their experience.  Should be supported by an instructional designer.
  • Best Practices forum or wiki
  • Create books which contain pedagogical and ‘how to’ information
  • instructional videos using Zoom to answer frequently asked questions
  • Use H5P interactive tools, to engage and test knowledge
  • Instructor manual for LMS.

Course Material

  • Moodle docs
  • Bates, A. W. & Sangrà, A. (2011). Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching & Learning. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Assessment

  • Do not plan to assess instructors, this course is for their knowledge, so they become better at UR Courses. Our aim is to direct faculty to sources of information and to different aspects of online learning. It will be up to the faculty to decide what to use and what is most relevant to their learning strategies or course objectives.

My experience with blended learning

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.

I believe that online/ blended learning is expanding every year. Blended learning offers new ways of engagement, and students love the flexibility that online courses provide. It reaches a wide variety of audiences with different learner characteristics, such as distant learners and full-time workers. It also opens a new range of possibilities for learners.

Integrating technology tools in online learning in higher education has many advantages in enhancing the learning experience and creating a good and personalized learning environment for students. The trick is to understand how to use a suitable tool that matches the learning objectives or goals. 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 to reach the needs of every learner is to look at the pedagogy goals and selecting the tools we would like to adapt accordingly.

One of the most important advantages and benefits of e-learning/blended learning is that it makes the learning process easy and fast and keeps pace with the development of the generation. Kyla Ortman stated some of its benefits:

  • #1 Students learn more than they do in traditional courses.
  • #2 Retention rates are higher with online learning.
  • #3 Online learning requires less of a time investment.
  • #4 More frequent assessments can reduce distractions.
  • #5 eLearning is the greener option.

Although these are all good points and benefits to blended learning, however, they can be challenged in some cases.

Emperorsnewgroove Bring GIF - Emperorsnewgroove Bring It GIFs

I found the following graph that summarizes some of the challenges:

Some University students find that blended learning is a very effective way for communication between them and their instructor and with each other using chat or the discussion forums. On the other hand some learners through e-learning face difficulty in expressing their opinions and ideas in writing. Many learners prefer to express their ideas orally, the same way they have been used to for many years through their academic studies, while e-learning users need to possess good writing skills and be able to present their ideas and opinions in writing.

Despite the technological advances in online learning, it’s helpful for both instructors and instructional designers to recognize the potential learning challenges that are associated with this delivery mode. According to studies by online educators as well as student feedback (Challenges and solutions and Improving Online Learning) the main factors impacting the success of online students are related to organization, motivation, and collaboration.

Faculty members are recommended to attend one-on-one or group workshops using the learning management system before teaching online courses for the first time. The challenge is that technological advancements are very fast and hard to keep up with. Almost every year there will be a new version of the LMS along with a lot of new features and tools. Instructors need to be updated and learn about the new version and this doesn’t always happen. For example, in the first semester a standard learning management system course layout was used. In the second semester, faculty members were encouraged to use a collapsed-topics format to reduce the page scroll on the front page of their courses. This transition is a very simple example of the innovations in technology being added to the professional development support continuum for faculty members as they continue to develop their confidence and skills.

Technical problems are also a major challenge in e-learning. A successful and enjoyable LMS and e-learning experience should be accompanied by strategies to improve the access to the internet, computer, and improve the broadband width.

Another big challenge is that insufficient time spent on course development and design can be a huge contributing factor to poorly developed online learning experiences, and a major challenge for e-learning instructors. It is very important to spend time and effort in creating an online course because instructors will have to deal with new content, new ways of engaging students, new assessment tools, and new technologies.  

To summarize, I believe that blended/online learning is going to continue to expand due to many factors such as different generation characteristics, technological advancements, the possibility of receiving different methods of education suited to the learners or even access to the teacher at any time and anywhere.

Another great course!


flickr photo by planeta shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Hi my EC&I 834 classmates, My name is Nataly Moussa. A wife, mom of four amazing kids and an Assistant instructional designer at the University of Regina. EC&I 834 is my second class with Alec, and also my second class overall towards my Educational Technology certificate.

Last semester was my first one in the program and my learning journey since I completed my Bachelor’s in computer science back in 2000. It was a wonderful learning experience. I was really enjoying it, and I learned a lot. However, I have to admit it can be stressful sometimes, but I am sure things will smooth out for me as I go on.

Writing a blog each week in my previous course “EC&I 833” with Alec, helped me shape my understanding for each topic significantly. I was very interested in every single topic we discussed in the class which made me spend most of my evening time everyday searching, reading and writing about it.

I am very excited to be working on developing a blended/online learning course this time. This is very much tied to my job. I help instructors at the university design and build their online courses. My job requires me to be up to date with the latest technology tools, best pedagogical practice, and learning theories. I think of instructional designers as lifelong learners, who are a curious and good listener. Teachers and IDs are both in a perpetual quest to create a successful learning experience for students and to meet their learning needs.

I can see online/ blended learning is growing every year. Students love the flexibility that online courses provide. 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.

  • I want to learn different technologies to achieve my objectives, and to have a clear understanding of learning theories as it would help me in selecting the best teaching strategies and techniques.
  • I want to learn how to select a suitable mix for a learning environment like blended? How to look at the pedagogy goals and choosing the tools I would like to adapt accordingly?
  • I would like to see myself adding more comments under blog posts and be more involved in an interactive discussion.
  • Learning more about the UDL (Universal Design Learning) and how to cooperate it with the blended learning approach

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.