There is Light !

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Photo Credit: Noah Bolton Flickr via Compfight cc

Light is beginning to shine on our project that was previously in the dark.  Where there were once questions about what it would look like, they have now been satisfied with concrete evidence.  There were some curves along the way, but one thing remained constant – the steadfast, helpful, collaborative nature of both Ellen and Sam in this project of ours.

Only a few weeks ago we decided together that Google Classroom was not the platform we ultimately wanted to use.  We started to populate our prototype on Google Classroom and it just didn’t shape up the way we wanted it to look.  We all agreed that although it was late to be changing our platform –  we really wanted it to be more appealing, more colorful and  interesting to grade three students. As well, we wanted it to be very easy for them to navigate.  Once we decided to make a platform switch, our unanimous decision was to go with what we know – WordPress.  This platform has all the features we were looking for : easy to use, straightforward, colorful, simple to navigate etc.

Once we made the move over to WordPress, everything just started to unfold beautifully.  I am most happy with the visual appearance.  I am a visual person myself, and am drawn in by color and beauty.  I think many students are visual learners as well and will be enticed by the interesting colorful pictures on the site we have created.

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Photo Credit: pburka Flickr via Compfight cc

A personal benefit from the move to WordPress has been the comfort and familiarity with the logistics of how to import and source videos and pictures. I have noticed how quickly many of my colleagues can click and move things around on a computer. I have come a long way but still consider myself to be more towards the early part of this learning continuum.  I am happy with how our prototype looks and am grateful to my partners in this project.

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Via Gify

I have to agree with Elizabeth this week.  In her blog she talks about how difficult it is to put all the pieces together even though you have already chosen those pieces.  Then there is the need to double check that what has been chosen is a match to the assignment criteria.  Of course, all the while remembering to make sure the format works for the intended audience. There are so many variables to consider when putting together the pieces of this ‘prototype’ puzzle.

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Photo Credit: Nicola since 1972 Flickr via Compfight cc

I have checked and double checked to make sure that my links work.  That said, we all know computers – sometimes there are little glitches for no apparent reason. I needed to rework my ‘voice’ in the lessons because I discovered I needed to establish consistency.  Initially I had vacillated between talking directly to gr. 3 children and adding in comments for teachers who might want to use the module.

Then there’s the element of group dynamics – when to get together (and how). Our online meetings have all worked out well, but for me it has taken some getting used to. Each person comes to a group project wanting to explore their own ideas while honoring the thoughts/idea/wishes of others. Group work develops certain relationship skills. After all – isn’t that why we encourage our own students to participate in group work.

I know this is an online course and we have very easy tools to facilitate online meetings. I have to admit that I have become more comfortable with getting together with my group online – but out of curiosity… I am wondering if you got together for ‘online’ or face to face group meetings?  And… which do you prefer if you have a choice?


And so it went.

This semester has flown by unbelievably fast. I can’t believe it’s almost April, though where I am, spring seems to have forgotten us.

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I’ve completed my course prototype and I think it was absolutely worth it. When Katia and Alec first described what the course prototype would be, I was excited for the final project.

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via Giphy

Finally, something that I could use beyond the class ending.  This was infinitely a better final assignment than a long-winded essay on something I wouldn’t care about two days from the class ending.

Figuring out what I wanted to do and how took much less time than I feared. Because I have access to GAFE, I knew I wanted to use Google Classroom. I felt this would have the greatest impact on my future teaching because I would actually be building something I could use and reuse.

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via UConn

Once I had established how, I needed to focus on the what. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work on perfecting a class I’ve taught a million times (I’m looking at you, ELA 9) or work on a class I’ve only taught a handful of times (ELA B30 and ELA 20).

I decided that while I have time and patience (well, some of each), that I should work on a course that I don’t have as many resources for. So, my unit introduction on Hamlet began.

I used elements of the unit I’ve taught previously, but wanted to challenge myself to make it more accessible and less dependent on being in class, so I experimented with iMovie.

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via Dribble

I have zero — and I mean ZERO — experience video making or editing beyond my Summary of Learning for EC&I 830. I’ve always thought video editing was too picky and time-consuming for my taste.

I started by experimenting with the trailer function of iMovie and found it ridiculously easy to use. So, I started putting together my video for the Hamlet introduction by creating a presentation with all of the information, screenshot (screenshotted?) all the slides and put my video together.

I really learned a lot about the editing power of iMovie as I had to make sure my voiceover matched the length I had chosen for my pictures and how to make them equal.

I think I’ve found a new love in iMovie.

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via Giphy

This process has really made me think about how I’m presenting content in my class: how easily is what I’ve asked my students to do translatable to other mediums? Can a word doc become something more? Can a lecture become something else? How hands on is my content? Are there opportunities for revision?

All in all, I’ve enjoyed this final project more than any other one I’ve encountered in my grad studies because I’m able to use it right away and it is something I created for myself for my practice rather than for a professor and their practice (sorry, Alec and Katia). A highly selfish project, but also the best project.


Openness and Me

Ainsley Marylinn
First let me start off by apologizing and sharing my reason (OK it's an excuse for not having done my blog on time, but I think its a good one!). Last Tuesday we had our second little girl. We named her Ainsley Marilynn and I spent most of my week helping my wife and trying to keep everything running in our lives smoothly. With all that I ran out of time/energy to make sure this blog was done before then next class. Thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations.


When I think about my experiences with open online spaces in the realm of education I have to admit that the only times I have been involved in an open setting would be within the courses designed by Alec and Katia throughout my graduate degree program. I have been involved and I teach in a closed environment for the most part. Occasionally I have ventured out and used my twitter account to ask for advice, or participated in a group designed multi-school activity #eggdrop. But I really haven't ventured out of my safe (closed) settings of Google classroom or URCourses very often.

Through my limited experience of the Ed Tech classes I have found that there is a huge opportunity to learn through an open space. For my personal learning I feel that Working in Open Spaces has broadened my horizons and given me opportunities and connections I would never have had prior to these classes. I also feel that you get what you put in. I have not utilized twitter as much as I have in previous classes and I am noticing my depth of understanding of the concepts we are moving throughout this semester is lacking, I would say that this is because of my inability to spend the time in the open space and interact with my PLN through blogging and twitter that I have worked to set up. I believe that the authenticity of learning is upon the learner at all times, but it is more prevalent within an open course concept. I am a big believer in "you get what you put in" ideology. Within the open learning space, the learner is in control of what they take in, therefore to answer the question of "Is authenticity guaranteed if we open the conversation to the world?" My answer would be yes, depending on you ability to discern between appropriate and authentic information. What I mean by that is, if the information you are receiving from your PLN is substantiated and you trust the information to be true, then yes, your learning is authentic and meaningful.

Within my teaching I look at what is appropriate for students in the middle years (grades 7/8). This is an age where many of the students want to be treated like adults, but are still immature and need to be treated with caution. Currently, I have not opened my classroom up to an open space, yet. I would like to branch out and begin interacting online to help my students learn our science concepts at a deeper level, along with aiding in the extending of the learning for my high achieving students. My number one concern is the safety of my students. Not necessarily the physical safety, but more the mental and digital safety of my students. I feel that I will be able to begin diving into the open learning spaces with my students through the science curriculum because I feel that it will give us the opportunity to connect with experts in the field easily, but also safely. Science is a subject that is generally clear cut at the middle years level and the answers can be found with little opportunity for any prejudice, or negative interaction occurring. I would like to eventually feel confident enough in my ability as a leader in technology within my own classroom that we can begin to branch out and blog/tweet about more social justice issues and become more involved with the more sensitive topics.

Photo Credit: Open Learning
I am fortunate to work in a community where there is a high access to technology and the possibility for interaction within an open course environment is very much available in terms of the hardware/infrastructure side of things. My concerns will come from my administration and the parents of my students. From my administration, they will want to make sure I have thought about the safety of my students and I have thought of how to problem solve a variety of scenarios before I even begin so that when the conversation begins with the parents I am ready to explain the need, purpose and how I am going to ensure the safety of my students. I feel most of my parents will be supportive, but their number one concern will be the safety of their child, and their second concern will be, how I will monitor the online activity to ensure there is learning occurring and it is not a waste of time. There will also be some educating of the parents around why open education is important and will be beneficial for their child.

In terms of how I am going to ensure safety of my students I will teach about digital citizenship with a major focus on the negatives and the dangers around being online, and creating an online identity. Utilizing sources that share information around Teachers Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online with both the students and parents will be a crucial portion of the pre-learning.  I will most likely even host an evening around digital citizenship to share and teach the parents about monitoring their children's online activity and how to openly talk to them about what they are doing online.  

Openness and Me

Ainsley Marylinn
First let me start off by apologizing and sharing my reason (OK it's an excuse for not having done my blog on time, but I think its a good one!). Last Tuesday we had our second little girl. We named her Ainsley Marilynn and I spent most of my week helping my wife and trying to keep everything running in our lives smoothly. With all that I ran out of time/energy to make sure this blog was done before then next class. Thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations.


When I think about my experiences with open online spaces in the realm of education I have to admit that the only times I have been involved in an open setting would be within the courses designed by Alec and Katia throughout my graduate degree program. I have been involved and I teach in a closed environment for the most part. Occasionally I have ventured out and used my twitter account to ask for advice, or participated in a group designed multi-school activity #eggdrop. But I really haven't ventured out of my safe (closed) settings of Google classroom or URCourses very often.

Through my limited experience of the Ed Tech classes I have found that there is a huge opportunity to learn through an open space. For my personal learning I feel that Working in Open Spaces has broadened my horizons and given me opportunities and connections I would never have had prior to these classes. I also feel that you get what you put in. I have not utilized twitter as much as I have in previous classes and I am noticing my depth of understanding of the concepts we are moving throughout this semester is lacking, I would say that this is because of my inability to spend the time in the open space and interact with my PLN through blogging and twitter that I have worked to set up. I believe that the authenticity of learning is upon the learner at all times, but it is more prevalent within an open course concept. I am a big believer in "you get what you put in" ideology. Within the open learning space, the learner is in control of what they take in, therefore to answer the question of "Is authenticity guaranteed if we open the conversation to the world?" My answer would be yes, depending on you ability to discern between appropriate and authentic information. What I mean by that is, if the information you are receiving from your PLN is substantiated and you trust the information to be true, then yes, your learning is authentic and meaningful.

Within my teaching I look at what is appropriate for students in the middle years (grades 7/8). This is an age where many of the students want to be treated like adults, but are still immature and need to be treated with caution. Currently, I have not opened my classroom up to an open space, yet. I would like to branch out and begin interacting online to help my students learn our science concepts at a deeper level, along with aiding in the extending of the learning for my high achieving students. My number one concern is the safety of my students. Not necessarily the physical safety, but more the mental and digital safety of my students. I feel that I will be able to begin diving into the open learning spaces with my students through the science curriculum because I feel that it will give us the opportunity to connect with experts in the field easily, but also safely. Science is a subject that is generally clear cut at the middle years level and the answers can be found with little opportunity for any prejudice, or negative interaction occurring. I would like to eventually feel confident enough in my ability as a leader in technology within my own classroom that we can begin to branch out and blog/tweet about more social justice issues and become more involved with the more sensitive topics.

Photo Credit: Open Learning
I am fortunate to work in a community where there is a high access to technology and the possibility for interaction within an open course environment is very much available in terms of the hardware/infrastructure side of things. My concerns will come from my administration and the parents of my students. From my administration, they will want to make sure I have thought about the safety of my students and I have thought of how to problem solve a variety of scenarios before I even begin so that when the conversation begins with the parents I am ready to explain the need, purpose and how I am going to ensure the safety of my students. I feel most of my parents will be supportive, but their number one concern will be the safety of their child, and their second concern will be, how I will monitor the online activity to ensure there is learning occurring and it is not a waste of time. There will also be some educating of the parents around why open education is important and will be beneficial for their child.

In terms of how I am going to ensure safety of my students I will teach about digital citizenship with a major focus on the negatives and the dangers around being online, and creating an online identity. Utilizing sources that share information around Teachers Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online with both the students and parents will be a crucial portion of the pre-learning.  I will most likely even host an evening around digital citizenship to share and teach the parents about monitoring their children's online activity and how to openly talk to them about what they are doing online.  

Online Open Education in Grade 4/5? Hmmm…

Like Jayme-Lee shared, I also do not have experiences with open online courses. So I will focus on how my grade level affects the choices that we (my team teaching partner Lisa and I) make as educators when considering the possibilities for open course environments. It is clear that there are many benefits, as well as challenges to open online forms. For myself, the unknown is hard to imagine in a grade 4/5 classroom.

Throughout discussions and chats read in class, I found it difficult to connect with a lot of open online forms because they are unfamiliar to me. Throughout my own education, I have experienced face to face classes at the University of Regina for every one of my undergrad classes AND 5 grad classes. Due to my lack of experience,  I feel a bit out of the loop after reading the chat messages and hearing about all of the widespread experiences of everyone in ECI834. There seems to be many class members who have participated in an open online course and/or discussion board.

I enjoyed reading Andres’ post about his experiences and suggestions for open communication boards. He shares a personal story and includes the benefits of this form, as well as the challenges of having it in a classroom. One challenge being that a moderator/facilitator would have to be reading the comments regularly. How would that be managed?

I often don’t even comment on open online social media sites when a topic is controversial because I’m not comfortable with the unknown of who might be out there. The few times I have commented, I end up thinking, “Why did I even bother?” The comments that some people write and feel are acceptable as well as the trolling occurring online is scary, to say the least. Do I want to put myself out there? According to one of Alec’s tweets, “How Complacent Are You?” I am complacent! Apparently, I need to step up my game!

Photo Credit: Gatto Mimmo Flickr via Compfight cc

As far as in my classroom, Lisa and I have been building a blended learning environment as we feel comfortable tackling new tools, always keeping in mind the size of our our classroom and the number of devices available.  Of course, this is a challenge because we have limited access to computers and 47 students. So far, we are managing it as best as we can!

In addition to blogging, online reading sites and educational apps, we introduced Google Apps this year. It was a learning curve for sure, but I really think it has been valuable for the students. They love being in control of their own learning and race to the computer cart (figuratively, of course). They walk quietly to the computer cart and get started right away. Ha Ha!

The students are now learning how to navigate in google docs, google classroom, gmail, and google slides. Those who learn quicker or have experience, are happy to help out other classmates so they don’t fall behind. Parents have the opportunity to see their child’s progress at home (if there is a device and/or internet). Considering that nearly all grade 4’s are new to Google Apps at Dr. Hanna School they are doing very well!

I don’t really use online open forms because of my grade level but I’m always willing to have an open mind. I found an edutopia article about Online Educational Resources with numerous ideas and options for students. Something I will now have an open mind about for next year and the remainder of this school year. Here is “Why Open Education Matters.”

One change I would like to make next year at our first parent/teacher/student conference is to take a few minutes to share each child’s blog address information right away. Seeing their child’s blog and progress first hand will help to ‘bring them on board’ to online learning even more. This year, parents were sent home a note as well as, inviting them to Class Dojo. Most parents are loving class dojo because communication is so much easier. They also can see work posted directly to their child’s portfolio page, similar to Seesaw. But with blogging, I have some changes I would like to make to encourage participation by family members as well as students in the classroom. Most students really enjoy writing in their blogs and love to receive comments from their peers, family members and teachers.

I’m willing to continue learning more about open online learning opportunities. For now, I will keep building our Grade 4/5 blended learning environment and look forward to trying more and more new tools along the way.

Would you have your grade 4 or 5 students share their blogs on an open online platform?

Please feel free to comment by clicking on the title!


Challenge Accepted!!

This week’s blog is an interesting topic with much debate.  Some people would say that a closed forum is more beneficial than an open forum and to be honest I don’t know which side of the fence I would be on.  I have thought about different pro’s and con’s that come with both types of forums, however, I think it all depends on the type of students you have, the material being taught, the kinds of resources etc. that you are using.  Have you done pre-teaching in terms of being good digital citizens prior to introducing them to the world of forums?? So many things to think about when it comes to the online world!!

Chalyn discussed in her blog this week about her experiences with different types of forums.  To be honest I am in a similar position as her and in my own learning the only forums that I have been introduced to have been the ones through the online classes I have taken.  I do agree with Chalyn that the google plus community is very informational, supportive and could have been an asset is all grad courses not necessarily just the online classes.

Photo Credit: webtrakya Flickr via Compfight cc

Google plus also allows everyone to take responsibility for their own learning, you are able to post, view, read other posts etc. which can expand your knowledge and introduce you to new areas of learning.  Chalyn and Ashley both talked about the age of your students being a deciding factor on whether you have an open or closed forum.  I do agree with this statement and I also feel that it is dependent on the personalities of your students as well.  Many teachers wouldn’t introduce a forum on the first day of class generally because you haven’t had an opportunity to get to know your students and perhaps do some pre-teaching in regards to appropriateness, online etiquette etc. in those types of spaces.  As an educator it is our job to determine what type of space best suits the needs of our students and we need to incorporate these spaces appropriately and for a purpose rather than simply incorporating to say we did.

Aimee also brought up some valid points this week that are worth touching base on.  One main, very important point she discussed was the safety of our students.

Photo Credit: KiranParmar Flickr via Compfight cc

When working with open and closed forums we need to keep in mind their safety, what types of things are others going to know about them, what information are we showing to others, their name, location etc.  If this type of information is visible for others to see are we doing our due diligence and keeping our students safe?? We are trying to help our students in creating their digital footprint, however we need to ensure that they are safe and that they are creating and leaving positive footprints online.

I was really able to relate to Aimee when she was discussing being an itinerant teacher and the challenges that may be faced with incorporating forums into our classrooms.  Once challenge that is faced is we teach many or almost all students in the school and without the support of our colleagues and administration it would be nearly impossible to even attempt to incorporate forums with all classes into our classroom.  Media release forms is another challenge, it would take a lot of effort on the part of the classroom teacher and myself to figure out who all had media release forms and had permission to participate in the forums etc.

Photo Credit: doodleslice Flickr via Compfight cc

One way I see forums working in our position is if the classroom teachers already had some type of forum created for their own classroom and added us on as admin so we could add/edit/change things that are relevant to the material we are teaching.  I think collaboration between colleagues is essential if any itinerant teachers would be interested in incorporating forums into their classrooms.

Natalie brought up a really good point that is worth touching upon.  She mentioned how audience can play a key part in the learning of our students.  Often times if students know that there is a larger audience, ex. That their work may be displayed on YouTube they are more likely to put in a better effort and the end result may be greater than if they knew their audience was simply going to be their classmates and the teacher.  The novelty of others viewing and being able to comment on your work is pretty amazing…. so we need to make sure our work is amazing too!

Lastly, Jessica talked about the different roles that she takes on (mother, teacher, student) and how a closed space seems more safe, comfortable and authentic.  As a mother, teacher, and student myself I would have to agree, I feel that a closed space is more fitting for my learning style and my comfort level.

Photo Credit: I AM THE VIDEOGRAPHER Flickr via Compfight cc

I do see the benefits of an open space and how many people would enjoy and appreciate those spaces, however for my own learning purpose and my personality I do feel that the closed space allows me to feel more comfortable and confident.

Many thoughts and ideas were running through my head as we have been discussing this in class.  One thought was how do I even incorporate any type of forum into a physical education classroom setting?? In our group discussion last week seesaw was mentioned.  I have never used seesaw, however as they began to describe the program and gave me ideas of how I could incorporate a forum using seesaw into my phys ed classrooms the idea really grew on me.  A goal of mine upon returning back to work from mat leave will be to touch base with my teachers and see what types of forums they are using in their classes and if there is a possibility that I could be involved as well!! I am excited to try new things in my teaching and I think my students will be just as excited!:)

Photo Credit: I AM THE VIDEOGRAPHER Flickr via Compfight cc

Do you sleep with the door open or door closed?

What a title hey? I started thinking about how this course allows for us to have open communication versus having a closed forum, then I though about the door for learning being opened or closed.  I like to sleep with my bedroom door open but my husband prefers it closed.  I guess that having communication forums closed could be a preference for some people but just like my bedroom door, I like it open.

As a learner I have not had much experience outside of this course in terms of open online space.  I appreciate the Google+ Community for so many different reasons.  I love being able to post a quick question or even a fabulous article or medium that I feel reliant to our course.  Our Google+ Community is so supportive and helpful of one another, I find that just by reading different posts it saves me from running into common pitfalls. So far I have taken eight Grad Courses and feel that a Google+ Community would have been an asset to all courses, it allows us to pose different questions, share insights or ask each other for help as needed. University students are often given information in UR Courses but I think the experience would be so much different if there were a way to allow students to communicate in an open space.  I think that our course has really come alive with the use of the Google+ Community. The community can offer us so much more than what is being taught in the course.  Allowing students to become each others’ co-teacher.  Our blogs have also allowed us to learn from others, Amy mentions that “we learn from others’ perspectives while considering our own”.

I agree with Ashley that we must consider the age of the students when we decide to use an open or closed forum. I definitely think that younger students should have closed forums in order to protect them.  Although, I think that allowing parents, caregivers, or even classmates the opportunity to comment or share would allow for meaningful learning.  Amiee also mentions that student safety is a valid concern for educators. Shes also points out that students may have already become immersed into social media, but we should still consider that we are putting them into a wide open public space where we may not always be able to protect them in  an open forum.

Although, educators such as myself have to realize that students are developing their own digital footprint, this is where we have the teaching moments! I think that teachers can help students understand that there is no going back once pictures or even text hits the net.

Like Ashley, I too have enjoyed the break from blogging and being able to focus on my content creation has been wonderful.  My group even had time to meet up last week and go over some of the fine tuning of our course prototype. I feel that my group has made some great strides in getting our course up and running.  I know that with just a little more tweeking my module will be up and running.

Have you ever experienced any negativity in using an open forum?


Classrooms as an Open Book

Photo Credit: <https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/RFxiNVN7gAWgF8vxDBMK3Usb7t41236pLSvSHr2lG0hLIg68qGEy50sxUTcU=w800-h600&gt;

Greetings all,

Today’s blog post focuses on the use of discussion forms in the classroom and how “open” our classrooms are for our students.  I feel confident in admitting that the classes that I teach in high school are not as open as they could be.

Therefore my blog will focus on where my classroom is now, and the available options I could take to move my class to where I want it to be.

Before starting EC&I 834, I never truly considered the openness of my class and how easy it was for students to give answers in a traditional classroom setting.  When I taught, I would ask questions for feedback or opinions on the subject matter but I tended to talk to only a select few students all of the time.  One way to improve that is explained very well in the following article, which highlights the need to clarify your expectations for participation and to model meaningful expectations yourself.

One possible solution to improving classroom discussions is through the use of discussion boards.

As we move towards a more technological society, students may feel more comfortable commenting in a written forum, rather than speaking in class.

While there is certainly still a need to develop oral language skills, a discussion board allows students in your class to engage in meaningful debate, rather than remaining silent.

Certainly the subject area we teach has a great deal of influence on the amount of openness and discussion forums that we have in class.  I am lucky in that I teach both English and Math, so I am able to see both ends of the spectrum.

 

Photo Credit: https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/0*Pl32_v2hL2HF1Ed4.jpg

 

However, despite the perceived lack of discussion in a math class, I need to work on creating an environment where discussion is more prevalent.  As I researched the subject, I came across this article, which gave a number of interesting solutions to adding discussion to math classes.

A final point to mention is the importance of safety in your online forum.  Nicole does a great job of highlighting this effort parent/student permission forums.

Ciao,


How my experiences in punk music forums shaped my ideas about online communities

For my blog entry this week, I thought I’d start with a story. My story will hopefully paint a better picture of some of the things that can go on in an open online message board/forum.

So I realize that not everyone knows first-hand about what it’s like to participate in an online community typically found in a forum or message board; so I figured I’d give you a glimpse of what that world is like from some of my own experiences.

For years, I was an active member of Regina’s local hardcore and punk music message boards. The boards underwent numerous moderators and name changes throughout the years, but the general idea always stayed the same. Whether it was “Punk for the People”, “Queen City Punk”, “Queen City Hardcore”, or whatever else it was called; it all served the same purpose: staying in the loop about what’s going on with our favorite music genres!

What were these boards used for?

– First and foremost, the board was meant for fun entertainment and community building. It wasn’t THAT serious.

– See what bands were coming through town

– Find out local and surrounding area shows

– Find out about all the hottest and most underground bands (the more obscure, the better)

– Get in touch with out of town venues and promoters

– Booking shows in town

– Sell your merch or music

– Learn about the community and exchange ideas.

The message board was always interesting to me because it always felt like a “digital extension” (so to speak) of the actual Regina music scene. The people posting on the message board weren’t face-less, anonymous pranksters; they were my friends, they were my bandmates, they were everyone that you would typically see at a local event.

I got to know so many new people, learned a lot about Saskatchewan’s interesting live music past (have you read anything about how crazy Regina’s music scene was back in the 80’s?), and most importantly, I got to talk about music (and everything that goes along with it). In a matter of fact, my band Failed States, which were going on to our tenth year as a band, STARTED on Queen City Punk. I remember one night someone starting a new discussion thread titled “Who wants to start a hardcore band?”. I immediately replied and next thing I knew, I was in a basement with four other dudes about to start a band that we’re still in today. This was a huge shifting moment in my life. These people I didn’t even know eventually went on to become some of my best friends. We’ve played almost 100 shows in the past ten years all throughout western Canada. I even ended up starting two bands after that! And all this… from a silly message board? Wow. I mean…it that’s not community building, I don’t know what is.

The main purpose of the board was a place for all of us to talk. With the political and social nature of this type of music, conversations often dipped into social justice discussions and political critiques and debates. As much as people liked to joke around on the message board, conversations were often fruitful and interesting to follow (and obviously participate in).

I found that being part of this type of online community did require some effort to maintain a functioning structure. For one, you need people moderating the board. Moderators keep order, they enforce rules, and they oversee everything that’s going on (at least that’s what they should be doing). So who are these moderators? Well…Moderators can be literally anyone, just as long as they are willing to take on the huge list of tasks they must do to keep things working smoothly.

In my time on QCP (Queen City Punk), I unfortunately did see a lot of harassment and bullying go down. Since the board is basically open for anyone to use, anyone is technically able to join. That means “anything” can happen. This can obviously be a good thing, but it’s more often than not, a more negative thing to worry about. Many times, people would come in and “troll” other posters or sabotage a discussion thread. I want you all to keep this in mind as we move onto this week’s prompt.

Alec and Katia asked us to talk a little about how authenticity is affected by the degree of openness in a forum? They also asked if it’s possible to support “authentic” learning in a closed forum or discussion space and if authenticity is guaranteed if we open the conversations to the online world?

Now, I want to use my story to tie some of these ideas into these questions.

In relation to “authenticity” and the degree of “openness” in discussions that take place in a forum, I’d like to use my experiences to draw some sort of parallels. I know that my experiences are going to be super different from what I would do in a classroom, but I think my experiences taught me to be vigilant and aware of certain things.

First of all, I think there is a lot to learn from an opening up a private group to the public (or allowing outsiders to come in). I certainly believe there can be authentic learning experiences and discussions in open forums (because I see them all the time), partly because we’re allowing outside input from individuals who may bring unbiased or different ideas or opinions to the table. For instance, if we were to be using a private message board in a classroom, and open it up to allow the outside world to contribute to the community, it could allow students to explore a topic in greater detail. Inviting guest “speakers”, in a sort of “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) type of format usually seen on Reddit, students would have the opportunity to interact with an expert in their field. Having that level of intimate interaction with potential learning material is amazing and completely game-changing. That’s why I like AMA’s, I mean, you can literally ask the person ANYTHING.

Okay, so yes, you may run into some big problems. Learning experiences won’t always be authentic either, as we don’t always know what is coming into the discussion when we’re opening the discussion to the world. I’m assuming if you are inviting someone to come speak to your class in your message board, you must know this person, you can probably vouch for their legitimacy; but if that connection is missing, we definitely run the risk of potential fraudulence.

When I think of “openness” however, I immediately think of all the things that can go wrong. When you’re part of an online community, I feel like the whole “Anything goes” mantra can work, but when we’re talking about a classroom environment, this sort of scares me. We don’t know what people are going to say. We have no real way of knowing if people are “legit” or not. I mean, we don’t even know if this type of exchange would even bring forth any authentic learning experiences to the students. Is it possible? YES… but absolutely NOT GUARANTEED, which is something important to consider.

To me, there’s too many “What ifs” to fully commit to this type of learning environment. I say this because I’ve seen how message boards work, regardless if there’s a moderator controlling everything that is going on. Furthermore, if you were to do this for your own class, you would most definitely have to take on the moderator role, which is something I think lots of people don’t know what exactly it entails.

The potential for community building is something I definitely can’t ignore however. Given the right instruction, guidance, moderation and interest, a forum can develop an incredible online community. Of course, this goes back to the work we put into making it something your students will want to use and engage in. I don’t know how well it would work under the context of educational content, but when people participate in online communities that relate to their personal interests, the community is going to grow regardless. I mean, people are engaged, they WANT to participate. But can the same be said if we were to do this in a classroom? Depending on the topics, perhaps… but you would definitely have to push and encourage things to get going. I find that as long as there’s legitimate interest, engagement and commitment to the topic, learning becomes authentic.

Before I start writing more than what I should, I just want to end this by saying that moderators are the key to making these online communities stay on track. Without any rules or protocol, your community won’t sustain and it will inevitably fall apart. This will lead to poor engagement and definitely no true form of authentic learning. If you want it to be as real as possible, you need to make it that way, and make sure to do everything that’s necessary to assure that all interactions are purposeful and authentic.

Please ask me questions in the comments, I feel like I left a lot of open ends in my thoughts and I welcome any form of discussion on what I wrote.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, I look forward to hearing from all of you!

Dre


Full Tilt

NOTE: my gif isn’t showing up, and I think it’s because I’m on mobile. When I get to a laptop, I’ll fix it.

It’s most definitely nearing the end of the semester.My blood pressure is always an accurate measure.

//giphy.com/embed/3o7TKRwpns23QMNNiEvia GIPHYWorking on blog posts, summary of learning, and the module is definitely keeping me hopping.

Last week in class, we had the breakout sessions to discuss potential criteria for our final project. One of the comments from Bill Cook really got me thinking.

How is authenticity affected by the degree of openness? Is it possible to support “authentic” learning in a closed forum or discussion space? Is authenticity guaranteed if we open the conversations to the online world?

Bill wondered about identity and how we, as educators, can guarantee that who we’re teaching is who we’re supposed to teach, specifically related to assessment.

How do we know that what we’re getting is actually from the student whose name is on it? In a strictly face-to-face class we can assign in-class assessments that we can monitor. With online classes, there’s a greater degree of trust on the part of the educator. Teachers, notorious control-freaks, must relinquish power and control.

However, it is concerning  just how can we tell if what a student has done is actually their and  not a sibling or a former student? This is an honest question. I don’t know. Maybe that’s an argument for blended learning rather than strictly online?

This is a puzzle that I hadn’t considered but I’d like to hear what others think. I don’t know why this hasn’t occurred to me previously.

I think this is going to change how I proceed with assessment in my final project as well.

What do you think? How can assessment in a strictly online class be monitored for authenticity?