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!

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A medium for me, a medium for you.

I’ve finally managed to pull myself away from reading all the awesome blogs posted this week. I found it so interested to read the varying opinions on different media and preferred media when it comes to learning and teaching. I found that I was able to connect with a lot of classmates on some or many different ideas.

Photo Credit: Dane Vandeputte Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dane Vandeputte Flickr via Compfight cc

Just like Liz and Kelsie I have to admit that I lean more towards text as a medium in which I prefer to learn from. Bates provides strong evidence as to why text has proven to stand the test of time. I liked that Bates commented on text as as essential medium for academic knowledge.  He mentions that text can provide us with more detail and I immediately thought about how we compare the book to the movie. I have yet to see a movie that is better than the book and I would bet that many of you feel the same way. This is because the book can express details relating to emotions, settings or experiences better than a video can.

One reason I like to learn from text is because I have the ability to go at my own pace and read it over as much as I need in order to understand. I prefer to have paper text to read from so that I can highlight, make notes and write questions in the margins as I read. I find that this helps me remember and understand what I am reading more. I must admit that although I prefer text I do not consider myself a reader. I don’t think I have finished a novel for my own reading pleasure since 2012 – I know…that’s insane (and a tad embarrassing). But I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise after saying I’m not a reader.

Photo Credit: matsuyuki Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: matsuyuki Flickr via Compfight cc

In terms of audio I can see the plus to creating it and using it, especially for students who may have difficulty reading text. Like Jess mentioned in her blog, I can see how it could be useful in learning a language so that you can understand the proper pronunciation of the text, however this would have to be combined with text which might make it difficult for some to manage. I like that you can pause and rewind audio and the fact that it can be taken along with you to listen to with your phone or in your car. I personally can’t seem to jump on board with the podcast learning/listening. I find that it is too difficult for me to focus on audio only which brings me to my next topic, video.

I believe that videos are a great tool for learning, especially when learning certain skills. For example, if you wanted to learn how to work a power tool, a video might prove to be a lot more helpful than a manual. In terms of creating videos it does take time and you need to have the right tools in order to create a quality video that will get the content delivered in an appropriate way. I use a flip class model for my math class and provide video lessons for the students to watch as homework. I like that students can pause and rewind as well as watch the video as many times as they want. I feel like this is beneficial to them especially when it comes time for a final exam and they are expected to recall information from the first chapter. With a video lesson they are able to go back and watch the video to help refresh their memory.

As with everything else the medium we choose will vary depending on the content we are trying to deliver. If the content is more skill based, perhaps a video showing the skill can be used. For language courses maybe audio is the best. Regardless of the medium used, I know that for me I have to be in the right frame of mind in order to learn. I would imagine that this is the same for our students. I don’t know if the medium will make a different if students have other barriers such as lack of sleep, hunger or emotional factors getting in the way. We need to be cognizant of all of these barriers when choosing the appropriate medium and be willing to adapt and be flexible for our students. The better we understand our students and how they learn, the better we are able to choose a medium that is best suited for their learning needs.

Perhaps the best thing for the classroom is to have multiple media available in order to give students a choice. I don’t often provide a lot of choice but when I do it’s usually text and video. Do you offer media choices? How do you do it?

Assistive Technology Doesn’t Just Involve Technology

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks Flickr via Compfight cc

I was a little apprehensive about having to write this post discussing the topic of assistive technology. I wasn’t sure that I would have a lot to say because I didn’t think I had a lot of experience with using assistive technology but after reading a few of my classmates blogs this week I was able to think about assistive technology from a new perspective. I teach at the same school as Andrew so my experience is much the same in the fact that I don’t have the variety of students that many other teachers have. I have had very few students with disabilities that need adaptations however there have been instances in which I have had to make adaptations. In my internship I had a student who was unable to read from anything printed on white paper so I had to print everything for them on yellow or green paper.  Another way that I have accommodated a student with a disability is by chunking their work. This involves breaking a big assignment down into manageable pieces for them so they don’t get overwhelmed and fail to finish the assignment.

I didn’t think that any of these adaptations could fall under assistive technology until I read Amy and Heidi’s blogs this week. Each blog discusses ways that we adapt that might not involve technology. If you check out the Understood website there is a large list of assistive technologies that don’t actually involve technology. After reading through some of the items in the list I realize that I do a lot more adapting than I had originally thought. In my math classes, students use calculators, graph paper, rulers, protractors and manipulatives. These are all assistive technologies. Other examples include chair cushions, fidgets, spell-check, timers and graphic organizers.

Dave Eayburn describes assistive technology as: “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability”. I feel like it’s a pretty good definition of assistive technology but I do think it assistive technology can help everyone, not just those with disabilities.

Assistive technologies (or ATs) are specialized technology (software and/or hardware) that are used by people with and without disabilities to adapt how specific tasks can be performed.

Photo Credit: DiegoMolano Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: DiegoMolano Flickr via Compfight cc

I think that assistive technologies go beyond hardware and software and include any object or device that allows us to be more efficient or productive. We all use assistive technology everyday; computers, phones, word processors, Siri, microwaves and cars are just some examples of the daily items we use that assist us. Obviously there are some devices (hearing aids, braile, sensory objects to name a few) that are more helpful to those who have disabilities and which impact these individuals more in their daily life than my everyday life. For example, could I get by without a computer? Sure I could, but my work life would be a lot less productive. I appreciate having the technology to use but if the computer was never invented I wouldn’t know any different and I would be able to carry out my job no problem. However, someone who is blind and never learns to read braile will have significant issues reading and learning.

Google Read and Write was discussed a lot this past week and it was interesting to read teachers discuss their experience using it in their classrooms. Roxanne is able to integrate it into her daily language lessons and I think that it is a great tool to adapt for those who struggle, but is also a great tool for students who may not necessarily need the tool. There are a variety of features and two of them that I thought were really great were the vocabulary list and the word predictor. The word predictor is great for students who may be learning English or who struggle with reading.

I haven’t had any experience with the add on, but after watching this video there are a few suggestions that I have. The first is that when the picture dictionary is used it would be nice to have real, lifelike pictures to choose from as opposed to simple cartoons/clip art. My second suggestion isn’t just for Google Read and Write, but for all Text-To-Speech (TTS) software. It would be nice if the audio didn’t sound so robotic. Is it too much to ask to have it sound more like an audiobook that is read by a real person? Now I know that it isn’t as easy to develop software that can do that but my hope is that sometime in the future we get there. I can’t imagine having to use TTS often and having to listen to Mr. Roboto talk to me. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is a sample from the article we were asked to read this week. It had a listen option so I decided to click it to see how it sounds. Let’s just say I didn’t listen to the whole file and can’t imagine having no option but to listen to it.

One final thought is based on a recommendation from the article Rethinking Assistive TechnologyThe article has seven recommendations for rethinking assistive technology and the one that stood out to me the most was that we should consider using “technology enhanced performance” as a replacement for the term “assistive technology”. The reason I like this so much is because it breaks down the barriers and stigmas that might be associated with students who use the assistive technology. The adaptations shouldn’t be something that makes users feel singled out or different and changing the name of it might help break down those barriers a bit.

What are your thoughts? How do you adapt for your students? Do your adaptations always involve technology or are some of the adaptations less sophisticated? Have you had any experience with TTS software and did it involve a Mr.Roboto? Do you think TTS software will ever sound ‘human’?

Throw away that curriculum…web 3.0 is coming!

If only the web and education were as easy as 1, 2, 3. I have read through a lot of blogs and articles this week trying to fully understand where we are headed with education and web 3.0. I’m glad that some of my classmates are still struggling to fully comprehend web 3.0 because I feel the same way. I don’t think you can blame us though, it seems that there really is no clear understanding of it and even Wikipedia struggles to understand it (thanks to Andrew for pointing this out). But we do know some things. Here’s what I know based on my readings, discussions and reflections from this past week.

Jackie Gerstein provides a thorough explanation of web 1.0 through 3.0 and also discusses the transformation of education from education 1.o – 3.0. Jackie summarizes each of these ideas with explanations and also considers the learning theories that are involved. I have summarized what I took away from her article in the table below.

Screenshot of a table I created in MS Word

Screenshot of a table I created in MS Word

Photo Credit: bethannigrams Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: bethannigrams Flickr via Compfight cc

Many of my classmates were able to summarize and explain the differences between web 1.0, web 2.0 and web 3.0. Erin did a great job summarizing the key points and discussing what a “good student” looks like for each of these. I feel as though we are all familiar with a web 1.0 student at this point in time. A web 1.0 student can “look up” anything and find information online in order to memorize or write down information. It is a one way learning situation. The student is a passive learning going with the flow of what they come across on the internet. I feel as though a lot of teachers use this method of teaching when they use the internet. Sadly, I feel as though many teachers don’t move beyond web 1.0 when using the web.

The web 2.0 student is just as easy to spot although there aren’t as many of these students as there are web 1.0 students. The web 2.0 students are able to collaborate, connect and create by using online spaces to their advantage. They have an online presence and personal learning networks established through blogs or social media. Students are no longer passive learners who simply receive information. They produce, discover and generate ideas by working with others to develop and learn. They work with others to build on information and construct understanding of the material.

Photo Credit: marktmcn Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: marktmcn Flickr via Compfight cc

Web 3.0 is a little harder to define as we haven’t really jumped into that part of the pool yet. We are just dipping our toes in at this point. Web 3.0 is going to take us away from traditional learning styles and more importantly teaching styles. When I think about web 3.0 I think of learning that has no boundaries, is extremely flexible and is completely personalized. As teachers, we would move away from actually teaching material to becoming facilitators who help our students along the way. We would work as collaborators and help students locate information they are seeking. Curriculums will no longer be necessary as each student is learning what they want and each student will be learning something entirely different from the student sitting next to them. Outcomes will be done away with and student success will be determined by themselves. Student success may end up being based on whether they have learned what they need to learn in order to land them a position in the career field they are interested in. Some students will find success earlier than others while others will struggle to be self-determined learners. It is the teachers role to encourage students to become self-determined and motivate them to discover what interests them. This is my somewhat EXTREME version of what web 3.0 will look like…am I too far off??

Regardless of where we are at, we must continue to move forward. We may feel as though web 3.0 is a long ways away but technology is changing at an incredible rate so we must start preparing now. As I mentioned earlier, many of us as well as our students are still stuck in web 1.0 when we have been living in a world of web 2.0 for a number of years now. It’s time for us to move forward from education 1.0 to education 3.0. As teachers we need to be advocates for our students and part of this is ensuring we are moving forward ourselves.

What do you see as your biggest barrier in moving away from web 1.0 teaching methods? Would you consider yourself a web 2.0 teacher or do you find yourself being caught in the web 1.0 trap? I’d also love to hear your comments on my web 3.0 thoughts in terms of how I think it could change education.

 

 

The new tools of our trade?

I want to start by saying hats off to my peers, Amy, Krista, Luke, Elizabeth and Rochelle who presented on the topic of educational software and media. I have to admit that although I am familiar with a lot of different great software and media tools I don’t often integrate them into my classes (insert red embarrassed face here). I can’t say for sure why I haven’t integrated the tools in my classes yet, but a big part of it is the fact that I was out the classroom on mat leave all of last year, so having just been back to work for a month and a half I still feel as thought I’m adjusting to the new routine. When I’m talking about not using the tools, I guess I’m talking about tools like Kahoot, Socrative, Quizlet or Explain Everything. I do use other media in the classroom so I will talk about the tools I do use as well as touch on some of the tools I have spent some time exploring in hopes to integrate the into my classes in the future.

One of the tools I use is Edmodo. I enjoy using Edmodo for a variety of reasons. The first is because the interface is similar to Facebook and students so it’s easy to navigate and students feel the same way. One of the biggest benefits is the increased level of communication between students, parents and the teacher. I’ve made a screen cast of my Edmodo page that takes you through some of the features as well as discusses some of the pros and cons of using Edmodo.

I have some EAL students in my class and they spend time working with a language app called Duolingo. I was introduced to this last year when I used it to try and learn some Italian. It has a gaming feel to it and makes learning fun, but the quality of the learning isn’t the best. I used it a lot, but I wasn’t able to actually remember or recall much of the language when I wasn’t using the app or website. To get a feel for how the program works check out my screencast from when I did my post-assessment. During the video you will hear the chime when I respond correctly and a green banner appears. Duolingo is very stimulus-response based lending itself nicely to the behaviourism theory. When I played it was really motivating and the game like features kept making you come back. You can earn badges, points and your progress is tracked making it rewarding to play and learn. The downside to the app is that although there is a lot of repetition it doesn’t allow for deeper connections and learning. To truly learn a language I believe you must converse with people using the language and Duolingo doesn’t provide these types of interactions. Users may chat with others on a forum, but there is no opportunity to speak with others and practice.

Duolingo is a great tool for EAL learners to get additional practice as it is engaging and fun. In order for students to practice outside of the classroom, students need to have access to the website or app. This makes it difficult for students who don’t have access to technology to practice when they are not at school. As a mentioned above, the app itself is not enough for students to master a language, but it is helpful. Language Surfer provides a great list of ways to get the most out of Duolingo and most of them go beyond just playing “the game”. Students who use this need to go beyond the app by writing down new word they learn on paper, writing sentences that they struggle with, reading the hints given by the program and working with others to practice speaking the language they are learning.

Other tools that I have explored for past classes with Alec are Socrative and Explain Everything. Socrative allows you to create quizzes and use exit slips to assess student understanding. I don’t think I would use this tool for summative assessment purposes but I see it as a great tool to get some feedback of learning throughout the unit. Students need to have access to computers, tablets or phones in order to participate so it is difficult to use in a classroom like mine where some students don’t have a phone. I feel like getting computers for everyone would be a lot of hassle to complete a short exit slip or a quiz that will give me some feedback. It is much easier to do a paper exit slip and have students complete it…however not as fun. Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard app and I have thought about using it in my math classes. I see students using it to walk me through a question while they explain the steps they are using to solve the problem. I see it as an excellent tool to evaluate deeper understanding however it takes time for students to learn how to use the tool so that is something that would need to be considered before it is used in the classroom. You can check out my youtube channel to find the video tutorials I have created for both Socrative and Explain Everything. The videos will give you a better idea of how they work if you are wanting to learn more about them. A few classmates have included great reviews of Plickers and Seesaw; both tools seem beneficial in their own ways. Be sure to check out Plickers as reviewed by Liz and Seesaw as reviewed by Erin (great job guys!).

As I stated earlier, I tend to stay away from many of these question-response type tools because I don’t see a whole lot of value in them for the amount of time it takes to implement them. I do see it as a fun way to review and see the value in using these tools to differentiate the teaching methods. How often do you use these tools? Can you sell me on the value of these tools? I’m not saying I will never use them, but I don’t see myself using them on a regular basis…but maybe I should? Are these the new tools of our educational trade?

Entertaining Education

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week reflecting on Postman’s quote regarding Sesame Street and education. Like Andrew it was a little hard for me to think of because I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with educational tv growing up (at least not that I can remember). This is something that made me think more about my own children and their exposure to educational television. I decided to look into Neil Postman’s quote and found that he provides several reasons why parents embraced Sesame Street. He begins with a very important point and it’s something that I can relate to as a parent.

“Sesame Street” appeared to justify allowing a four- or five-year-old to sit transfixed in front of a television screen for unnatural periods of time. 

After reading Naomi’s post and some of the comments that follow, it is easy to see that I’m not the only parent who may be able to relate to this. I too have allowed my children to watch Baby Einstein and it started at a very young age. I remember putting my son into his exersaucer and turning on Baby Einstein so that I could blow-dry my hair, or change a load of laundry. It’s difficult when you are the only parent home and trying to run a household with a little one who doesn’t nap when you need them to. I’m sure we’ve all been there. I don’t think that it’s a terrible thing if we let our kids watch tv, or shall I say use the tv as babysitter as long as we aren’t going overboard.

How do we know how much is overboard though? I was surprised when I read some of the stats on how long children watch tv in a week as provided in the first chapter of “Children’s Learning From Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond.” It was interesting to read about some of the negatives such as behaviour issues that may arise due to increased tv time. In response to some of the negatives that may arise due to increased tv time, the American Academy of Paediatrics suggested that total tv time should be limited to 1-2 hours per day and eliminated completely for children under the age of 2. I sure hope no one from the American Academy of Paediatrics comes over to my house while I’m trying to get supper ready, or finish my work, or do anything that needs to be done while the kids are awake. That being said, is that ALL my kids do? Of course not! My kids are great at make believe play and entertaining themselves, but I do allow them to watch tv daily with limits.

A big hit in our house is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Jr. When I first saw the show I was quite impressed with the educational value of it. Commonsense Media gave one episode that we have on DVD a 3/5 stars for educational value. I was a little surprised to see it didn’t rate higher. One thing I really like about each episode is the use of “Toodles” and the “Mousketools”. The mousketools are a set of tools that will be used to solve a problem throughout the show. The kids are asked to problem solve and think critically about the tool that will need to be used to solve the problem. Check out the clip below to see how Toodle works. In addition to Toodle it does teach counting, colours, shapes and social skills.

Postman also suggested that parents felt Sesame Street took care of the education side of things in the household. This is something that I can see in tv shows as well as apps and computer games. Although educational tv does teach some skills, it cannot be the only way that our children are learning at a young age. We need to work with our children to develop reading, writing, critical thinking and math skills.

“Sesame Street” relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their pre-school children how to read.

We cannot expect our children to learn everything they need to learn from an app or tv show. We need to read to our children, talk to them about money, count things, look for patterns, discuss rules of the road…I could go on and on about the little things that we can do that will make a big difference in our children’s educational lives.

Postman finishes by stating that

We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street”. Which is to say…[it] undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.

I can agree with this point to a certain extent. I believe that educational tv, apps and games contribute to the lack of attention that some children seem to have. From a very young age our children are stimulated by these tv shows and games. They find them fun, entertaining and enjoyable. I do think it may develop expectations in these young children about what learning looks like. As Benita mentions, it’s hard to compete with stimulating games and tv shows when students come into our classroom and it’s exhausting to think about Teaching Like a Pirate. I think we all struggle with making ALL learning fun and to be honest I don’t know if that is realistic. However, realistic or not I think it is something that we need to strive for. Do we need to tell jokes, dance, juggle and put on a show? Of course not! But we do need to engage our students and be excited about what we are teaching. If we are excited about what we are teaching, our students will be excited to learn the material.

Am I being too harsh? Is it realistic to think that everything we teach (or learn) can be fun? What happens as we move through our schooling into post-secondary education or onto meetings in our careers? Is there a point that is reached in which learning is no longer fun?

Learning. It’s complicated.

I loved Amy’s intro in her blog this week and I think that we can all relate to the feeling when we start thinking about learning theories. I think that when it comes to learning theories and perspectives things can seem a little overwhelming. But like Amy said, it really isn’t that difficult to understand. If we want to talk learning theories I think they can easily be described in ways that everyone can understand and relate to. I think what makes learning theories difficult is to understand how and when we should be using each theory. Before I go on to try and answer that I think a brief description of each theory will be helpful.

Simply put, behaviourism can be described as learning a response from a given stimulus. Most of us are probably familiar with Pavlov’s Dog and use this experiment to recall how behaviourism works. I am sure that we can all think of a time in our classroom or our own learning experience when learning happened through the behaviourist perspective. If a you were bitten by a dog as a small child, you may be scared of dogs even as an adult. The dog bite was the stimulus and the pain/fear was the response. You were trained to think that way. In school, we were taught to line up after the recess bell goes. The bell was the stimulus, lining up was the response. We were taught to do that. We might use stickers, charts or apps like class dojo to encourage good behaviour in our classrooms.

What behaviourism forgot to take into consideration was the process of learning. This is where cognitivism comes in. Cognitivists are concerned with the way we learn. How do we process and synthesize things? Learning is viewed not as what you can do, but what you know and how you acquired it. Things like graphic organizers, reflection questions and examining the learning are a few examples of cognitivist theory in practice in a classroom. Constructivism was developed next and takes learning from being purely external to more internal. It is concerned with the way students make connections with their experiences in order to relate to what they are learning. With the introduction of technology came connectivism which attempts to look at how learning happens in a social setting through connections. For more on my perspective and thoughts on connectivism check out my post from a previous class with Alec.

Like Roxanne I can think back to my experience as a learning and through my experience so far as a teacher and I can define moments in which each of these perspectives has been used with the exception of connectivism. In my learning experience, I can’t say that there was one learning theory that was used more often or one that I think I learned best from. As a teacher, I don’t focus on any perspective more than the other but I use them all throughout my classes in different instances.

Photo Credit: Yoshi Shih-Chieh Huang Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Yoshi Shih-Chieh Huang Flickr via Compfight cc

As teachers I think that it’s important that we avoid getting caught up in which theory is the BEST theory to use. As Peggy and Timothy mention all the theories are valuable. It is important to think about the learner and what they are learning about. Smaller children learning rules may be better suited towards behaviourist learning while older students might be better suited for a constructivist approach by completing an inquiry activity.

It is important to understand that technology has changed the way we do things. I really liked that Peggy and Timothy went back after 20 years to re-evaluate their article because a lot has changed in 20 years. Although a lot has changed the underlying concepts of the theories has stayed the same.  What matters most is that we are willing to adapt and try to make learning as student-centered as possible. This is the only way we can reach out to students and ensure their learning needs are being met. We need to understand the learner and learning outcome in order to find a learning theory that is best suited for the job. I feel this is something that we all do on a daily basis even if it is done subconsciously. I do know that learning is far to complex to give the award to one learning theory.