That’s it. That’s all. My summary of learning for EC&I 834.

For my summary of learning I decided to test out some tools that I have said I wanted to test out for a while now; Powtoon, Piktochart and My Simpleshow. I divided my summary into three different parts covering three different ideas using the tools I mentioned above.

I was introduced to Powtoon in the fall semester of 2016 and never tried it out for myself. I had attempted to use it a few times but thought it seemed to overwhelming. I was happy that I tried it again and was able to make a finished product. It took some time to figure out how to make it work and how to edit things, but after some trial and error I was able to figure out and it was pretty easy to use.  Enjoy part one of my summary where I talk about the advantages and disadvantages of face to face, blended and online learning.

Simply stated, I love Piktochart! It is as user-friendly as it gets and the end product looks so professional. This would be an awesome tool to use with students as a way to present information to them as well as a way for them to create information. It is text based only and allows images to be used too, but there is no audio or video involved. Even though there is only text involved it is a great tool and I will be making use of it in the future.

Made with Piktochart.com

I decided to use My Simpleshow as it was highly recommended by Nancy. The only unfortunate part is that the free trial no longer allows you to record a voice over the video. I was going to make an audio recording over the video as it played using Screencastomatic, but I thought I would leave it with the “Mr.Roboto” voice over because if we use it with our students, that’s most likely the way they would have to do it so I wanted to show you what it actually sounds like. These are my final thoughts from this semester.

Thanks to Alec and Katia for another great semester. Another thanks to all of my classmates and colleagues who have made the semester so meaningful. The collaboration and sharing is greatly appreciated! I hope to continue connecting and sharing through Twitter as the years go on. I’m happy to say that upon completing this course that I am done my masters degree! Woooo hooooo!

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – and these tools are it!

Deciding which tools to use for interactive purposes in our blended prototype felt a bit like a game of eeny meeny miny moe. With so many tools to choose from how can one possibly decide which tools are the best for what you are trying to accomplish. Fortunately my team and I were able to decide which tools we want to use without much debate. We are going to be using Canvas as our LMS so we will be using some features of that site as well as twitter and blogs. I will go into more detail as to why we selected these methods but I want to start with the quote from Shaping the Metaphor of Community in Online Learning Environments: 

For a community to emerge, a learning environment must allow learners to engage each other intentionally and collectively in the transaction or transformation of knowledge.

This quote really stood out to me and validated the tools we have selected as our community building tools. Nancy, Andrew and I have had a lot of discussions around Twitter and how much we have grown to love it over the past few semesters. I have said this before and I’ll said it again for anyone who hasn’t heard me say it before – I used to think Twitter was pointless and really served little purpose. I didn’t fully understand the value in it. Looking back I now realize that I felt that way because I wasn’t using it to it’s full potential. I didn’t follow a lot of meaningful people, I didn’t understand how to use hashtags to my advantage and didn’t feel it was possible to share something meaningful in 140 characters. Twitter has become one of the most beneficial tool for me as a teacher. It has provided me with great resources, professional development and connections with other amazing teachers – all for free! I have really developed my PLN (personal learning network) and I can’t imagine my teaching career without twitter. I the teacher in this video has done an excellent job of discussing PLN’s and the role twitter plays in developing your PLN.

It is possible for students to build a PLN and we plan to encourage our students to build their PLN through using a course hashtag (which is yet to be decided) as well as hootsuite or tweetdeck. Students will be asked to interact on twitter by sharing articles, retweeting and quoting tweets from classmates within the class as well as people from outside of the class. By using hashtags students will be able to reach out and connect with others far beyond the four walls of our classrooms which will in turn help them improve the community within our classroom by sharing resources and information.

Another way we feel that an online learning community can be established is through blogs. George Couros shares 5 reasons why students should be blogging including developing a positive digital footprint, giving students a voice and allowing for student reflection. It is a great way for students to document their learning and share what they have been doing in class. Through comments on each others blogs the online community can further be established. Like Liz pointed out, it is important to consider digital citizenship and be sure that students are commenting respectfully and mindfully. Being that we are doing a digital citizenship course prototype we will be focusing on this early on in the semester. Students will be expected to follow classmates blogs through an RSS platform such as Feedly. Feedly is a user friendly way to follow blogs without having to go back to the individual blog and check to see if a new post has been written. We felt that this would be easier to use than creating a blog hub.

The last way that we thought we can try to establish a community is through the discussion feature on Canvas. An edutopia article lists many benefits to using a discussion board in an online course including critical thinking, improved reading & writing skills and reflection. The article also suggests having students come up with the guidelines for using the discussion board and just like Sarah I feel like this would be a really great idea. The chart discussing Bloom’s Taxonomy in relation to activities for discussion boards really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities for activities through a discussion board. Although I see the discussion board being used primary for students to connect with one another to ask questions or get help with information related to the course I can see it be useful to have an activity thrown in there every once in a while too.

I feel like there are so many other tools we could have selected but I feel like these are the tools that will help our students build a community online, much like I have experienced in all of my EC&I classes with Alec and Katia.

Are there any other great tools we have overlooked for our course prototype in terms of building community online?