Category Archives: EC&I 834

EC&I 833 Post #3 (Week 2, Post 2)

Prompt: Part 2: If you moved to partly or fully remote teaching this past school year, how did you bring/could you have brought these tools into your current context? How did the shift to online, blended, or remote learning affect your experience, and (how) were you able to use tools to support your teaching? OR If you did not move to a remote context this year, how would you feel about teaching with these tools in an online or distance education class, and how would your current context be impacted if you were to shift to an online/distance format vs. face to face? Be sure to make connections to tonight’s student presentation as well as the readings provided by the group.

microsoft-team-2019

I utilized all of the tools mentioned in my previous post during remote learning.  The nice thing about it for me and for students is that the routine was something they were used to.  Go to my website and see what’s up for the day.  That part didn’t change.  What did change is my method of delivery (Live via Microsoft Teams or screen recorded using a mixture of Teams, QuickTime, and Camtasia).  It went as well as it could have given the level of attendance of engagement that I was receiving from students.  In tonight’s activity revolving around distance learning, many noted the frustration with lack of attendance and overall student productivity.  Many teachers were working harder than ever before trying ton engage students, and many student simply weren’t pulling their weight.

One of the articles provided this week, written by Patricia Ananga, confirms this sentiment:

“In an interesting twist, e-learning is seen as an educational means that involves technology, communication, efficiency, and self-motivation (Bloomsburg University, 2006). This perspective goes further to indicate that due to the limited social interaction that exist between student-student and student-instructor, it is very necessary for the students to motivate themselves and have frequent communication to ensure that assigned tasks could be accomplished.” (312)

That intrinsic motivation that Ananga references, at least in the experience of many of the secondary teachers in this EC&I course, simply wasn’t present.  Between emails, phone calls, messages via Remind and Microsoft Teams, there was only so much I could do to motivate students to participate in remote learning.  I also got the sense from parents that they were unsure how to motivate their children, as well.

The Caruth article from this week, which outlines some of the historical context of remote learning, outlines seven aspects for assessing effective online learning:

achievability,
believability,
measurability,
desirability,
focusing,
motivation, and
commitment


In reflecting back on some of the work that I did during remote learning, I feel that I hit a lot of these areas with the assessments that I was doing.  For achievability, I often focused on tasks that students would be able to achieve within the span of the class time for that day.  Whereas in a f2f situation I might have something take multiple days of build up before any type of assessment, I found that having smaller assessments worked better for students.  I tried to keep assessments as practical as possible, thus hitting the believability aspect.  Assessments were measurable with examples, rubrics, and with explanations.  Through smaller tasks and assessments I feel as though that kept student focus and motivation more than the alternative.  I probably could have given students 2-3 weeks to work on their final portfolios during remote learning, but giving that much “free time” to students who had already had a less-than-productive hybrid learning experience was not going to be a good experience for anyone. 

I think that the biggest impact that remote learning had on me was on my mental health.  Though I had my wife at home with my during remote learning, I found the experience very isolating.  Occasionally I had live sessions with a tenth of the students that were on my attendance list.  I felt useless teaching to such a small number of students, and I received very few assignments in “on-time.” I missed socializing with my students, my friends, and my colleagues from work.  While I tried to keep as productive as possible planning for future remote and hybrid learning, as well as taking graduate courses, It was difficult for me to stay positive.  I realize that I was in a very privileged position to be able to work from home and receive my full salary, I just felt horrible in that despite some long work hours and additional communication required during remote learning, I did not feel as though I was really earning my wage– at least, certainly not to the extent that I feel I earn my wage during a more traditional teaching year. (Complete with all of the additional volunteer work that I do not get compensated for).

Ananga, P. (2020). Pedagogical Considerations of E-Learning in Education for Development in the Face of COVID-19, International Journal of Technology in Education and Science, 2020

Caruth, G. D., & Caruth, D. L. (2013). Distance education in the United States: From correspondence courses to the Internet. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 141-149.

EC&I 833 Post #2 (Week 2, Post 1)

Prompt: Part 1: Thinking of your own context, what tools for online and blended learning seem most useful/relevant and why? To what extent do the tools we use impact both the teacher’s and the students’ learning experiences?

WordpressMy context: Secondary Teacher in Regina.  Most students have access to the internet at home.

I have been using this WordPress space for probably nine of my twelve years teaching.  What started out as a place to give student occasional updates soon turned into a bit of an online “day planner” where students could see what was happening in class every day with links to resources, assignments, and due dates.  I’ve had it attached to the URL www.mikegwolf.com for maybe six years or so.  It impacts me by making my job a bit easier in some ways.  If a students missed a day, the initial onus is on them to check out the content before after me questions about it.  It also keeps me more organized and accountable in that sometimes I forget when we start a particular unit or when an assignment or presentation is due.  For students, it keeps them organized and particularly for students who away from school for an extended period of time, it gives them the broad strokes of what they had missed in class.  Though it does not make up for missing face-to-face experiences, I try to explain things on here in a way that students should be able to follow allow with even if that are not in class.

I use Kahoot sometimes to review concepts as a way to check for understanding.  It is fairly elementary, but students like the competitive nature of it and often in that scenario I have students surprise me with their knowledge.  From my perspective, this shows me which students are having struggles and with which concepts.  For them, it gives them a bit of a brain break because the questions usually require low-level thinking and some memory recall.

Students use website designers such as WIX to create portfolios to display their work over the course of the semester.  In Communication Media classes, I used to teach students some basic coding and how to design a website, but withportfolioexample editors like WIX that students can instead focus on making the final product look appealing instead of worrying about some of the intricacies and problem solving that come with web design.  Like my website that I use as a daily planner, this portfolio puts the onus on students.  In a Practical and Applied Arts classroom, where the goal is to produce content, an empty or lackluster portfolio at the end of the semester shows me and shows each student how much they have achieved (or not achieved) over the course of the semester.  I sometimes share these URLs with parents, as well, so that can see their child’s progress. 

During blended and Remote Learning, I utilized Microsoft Teams as that was a directive from our school division.  For fully remote learning, I would have live lessons every week day.  If attendance was good, I emphasized the communal aspect of the platform and did Jamboards and breakout room to encourage interactivity and engagement.  One Friday when I was particularly declassified with that week’s attendance, I send out a message to students saying that we would be playing some Jackbox games just for fun.  Attendance was great that day and we had a lot of fun.  The live aspect of Teams meetings was meant to foster a sense of community.  While this worked to an extent, most students preferred to have their cameras off and rarely used their microphones.

Other tools I use, but less frequently:

  1. FlipGrid
  2. Remind
  3. Canva
  4. Microsoft Office 365 Suite

What you’re go-to ed tech tool? How do you use it? What do you love about it? I would love to add some new ones to my arsenal.

 

EC&I Post #9 – Summary of Learning

It’s been a physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually draining semester, but I have very much appreciated the opportunity to be in this class and learn from all of you. This is my last of two courses that I have had with Dr. Couros, and I am very thankful for him and for this course as it has allowed me the time to critically think about what I am doing within blended learning environments and what I can do better.

Thank you.

Mike

EC&I 834 Post #8- Interactions

  • Blog prompt: What forms of student/student-instructor interactions have you implemented/do you plan to implement in your course prototype (e.g. LMS forums, chats rooms, Flipgrid, blog comments/pingbacks, hashtags, Google Classroom, etc.)? What justification can you provide for choosing these forms of student interaction? What guidelines or assessment practices will you adopt to ensure that interactions are meaningful, supportive, and relevant?

In what I have created so far for my prototype, I have utilized several forms of student/student interaction.  I have a forum component, which I am currently rethinking.  I also plan to use Jamboard for photo critiques and to generate in-class discussion.  I have student using Flipgrid as part of their photography ethics and copyright work where they’ll research and share some copyright violations and will be responding to a few notable copyright cases and voice their opinion as to whether or not they think the case is clearly a copyright violation.

I also plan on implementing a class Discord.  This is something that my colleague, Kevin Baron, has implemented in his computer science courses that has worked out well for students asking questions to each other and to the teacher.  I have not personally used Discord as an admin, and there are lots of tips out there, for example Ryan Cordell’s “Tips for Classroom Discord”

discord

The big thing for me is how do I facilitate meaningful interactions between students? I have had success in the past synchronously with Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms, but this level of engagement is not something that I have easily been able to replicate in asynchronous environments.  Even at the post-secondary level, students tend to just “post their stuff” and maybe have a token response to several other people in the class.  Students just checking boxes.  I’m not sure yet how you make some of this interaction more meaningful for students, but for now I will be sticking with Jamboard, Flipgrid, and Discord along with synchronous breakout rooms.

flipgrid

Even with very informal responses, I find that students tend not to leave many comments.  Do I have to quantify it? “You have to make x amount of comments.” or “You have to comment on student x, y, and x?”  I have not figured this out, but it is clear that the feedback and interaction that students have must be meaningful to their progress and their learning objectives.

How have you used Flipgrid successfully with students?  I find particularly with hybrid learning that many students are struggling to do much of any work during their day at home.  This makes asynchronous work like this tricky when you cannot necessarily rely on students to be done in a timely manner.

questioningimages

There is a lot of student interaction when we’re talking about photography ethics and questioning images.

dsc_0051

Is this photo edited too much? Students compare the “before” edit to the “after” edit and talk about how the photo may be misleading.

EC&I 834 Post #6- Open-ended

  • Take this week to read about/explore an aspect of online/blended learning that you are interested in, and then blog about it. This might include your thoughts/reactions to a particularly interesting article that you find, your own exploration of a mode/format/strategy for online/blended learning that we haven’t touched on, or your further research into a course topic that interests you.

This week I wanted to focus on the impact that online and blended learning is having on families.  I read this article and watched the video that went with it (see above)  This eight minute video covers a bit of it, but the article goes more in-depth regarding the sixteen families featured. It’s great to how involved these parents are.  Carolyn Bims-Payne does a check-in with her sons very Wednesday to see what’s working and what’s not working with their online learning.  From there, they can potentially make adjustments.  One boy in the video goes to school two days a week and then does the other three weekdays of learning at-home.  His teacher is amazed at how much more efficiently they can use time with just a fraction of students in-person in the classroom.  I have noticed this speeding up as well during my experience in hybrid learning. Carolyn Bims-Payne’s sons note that they are on Zoom for two hours a day, which about 2/3 of the time that we were told to provide direct instruction to students the week prior to and after the Christmas break.

I found it interesting how much inconsistency there was, even at the same school, with one mother noting how expectations regarding screen time seem to be very inconsistent between grade levels: “Dunn-Nasr says the result is an inconsistent schedule of live instruction among her three children enrolled at Martin Luther King Jr. School: Noah and William, her fifth- and sixth-grade children, are receiving one hour of live instruction via Zoom while her fourth-grader, Audrey, is getting three hours of live instruction each day.”

At what point does admin, the school division, or the teacher’s union step in and set some expectations regarding this? I know that even at the school I teach at things were quite inconsistent despite guidelines set.  We were told that 40 minutes maximum of direct instruction was to be provided every day for the two weeks of remote learning.  The method of delivery and whether it was live or asynchronous was left up to the discretion of the teacher.

Many of the family stories emphasize spiritual, physical, and mental health.  This learning can be challenging for parents, as well, who now themselves balancing the responsibilities of full-time work with making sure that their children are doing what it required of them in either a fully online or a hybrid situation.