Sunday, October 28, 2012

LEC 4.3 Reflection: Social & Professional Networks

Think about how the Internet has impacted your own personal learning, communication, and sense of community.
  • When does the Internet help your learning? When does it distract from good learning for you? 
The Internet has had a tremendous impact on my own personal learning. Over the past several years, I find that I frequently turn to the Internet for information and resources, not only from online searches, but also from colleagues, classmates, and friends. I have taken online courses, I participate in professional learning networks, I frequent informational forums, and I use social networks.

Just last year, I completed a graduate certificate in Administration and Supervision through a program that is a collaboration between Johns Hopkins University and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The program was conducted almost entirely online and members of my cohort were from all over the United States. The program required participants to communicate and collaborate frequently, and through the progression of courses we developed a PLN using the course LMS and other Web 2.0 tools. This experience pushed me to investigate more online communities and resources to expand my PLNs.

I also use social networks to connect (or re-connect) and communicate with friends and family. This has been important and helpful to me since I had moved 2000 miles away from most of my family and long-term friends. I do use Facebook regularly and I also use video-conferencing tools such as Skype and Facetime to communicate with family and friends.

I also found that with the proliferation of social and professional networks and online interfaces, I have had to become selective - there are so many online communities and tools that I cannot possibly have time to keep up with all of them, much less actively participate and contribute. It can take up too much time and can distract me from other responsibilities. Another issue is that although I do find gems of information posted in some communities and it is nice to see what is new with friends and family, there are also a lot of posts that are trivial or gratuitous, annoying, or irrelevant to my needs. I subscribe to the philosophy that "just because you can, does not mean that you should."

Here are screenshots of Facebook, the JHU Electronic Learning Community, Google +, and Blogger.
JHU - Electronic Learning Community

Google +

  • How might your answers to these questions be similar to or different from the answers your students might give?
  • How might you support your students in using the Internet as their own personal learning space?

For many of our students social media is an integral part of their lives and they use it on a daily basis. The downside to this and the challenge for teachers is that it is too easy for our students to get so caught up in and distracted by their virtual worlds and relationships that they neglect their other responsibilities. Students need guidance in managing their time and allocating time for both social networks and learning environments and tools. Teachers can help provide models and resources for students to build learning communities and can give students the structures and norms for effective online communication and collaboration.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

3.3 Reflection: Using Web 2.0 Tools

Reflect upon what an activity in your classroom might look like using one or more Web 2.0 tools. Think about:
  • what the experience looks like for students. 
  • types of outcomes students might have. 
  • how the outcome is tied to curriculum objectives. 
  • what Web 2.0 tools are aligned to the outcomes and lead to higher order thinking skills. 
  • kinds of directions or guidelines you will provide in order to ensure success. 
Briefly describes the activity you would create and how you might minimize possible challenges students and the teacher might have to address. Make sure that your activity is aligned to a learning objective and uses verbs from the top three levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.

To Drill or Not to Drill-
Cross-curricular project: ELA, Social Studies (current events), Science, and NETS

Energy consumption, energy independence, and the impact of fossil fuel production and use on the environment and on the economy are important issues in the news. They have also been topics in the campaigns of each candidate in the 2012 presidential election.

The CA Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas states
All forms of electricity generation and transportation fuels have associated economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits, both short and long term. Technological advances and regulatory decisions can change the balance of those costs and benefits.
Students will investigate the issue of expanding the drilling for oil in the United States and North America, specifically on the US east and west coasts and in the Arctic. They will collect and analyze information from multiple sources and then evaluate and weigh the pros and cons/costs and benefits of expanded drilling. They will also evaluate each presidential candidate’s stated position and proposed plan.

Overarching Goals:
Students will conduct research on a topic, analyze the arguments of others, assess and evaluate the credibility and accuracy of sources and develop the ability to make oral and written arguments.

Essential Questions:
  • How might expanded drilling for oil affect our economy? (gas prices and heating costs, jobs in various industries) 
  • How might it affect the environment?
  • How does drilling in a particular area (i.e., near-shore off of a coast, or deep-water) impact that local area? Think about and investigate the impact on local businesses, jobs, tourism, environment, health, and safety.
  • How might it affect other energy industries?
  • What are the short-term impacts and the long-term impacts?
  • What is the position of each presidential candidate? What is each candidate’s plan? Are each candidate’s statements factual?
ELA Standards for 7th or 8th grade:
RL.7.1; RI.7.1,8; W.7.1, 9; SL.7.1, 4; L.7.1-6
RL.8.1; RI.8.1,8; W.8.1, 9; SL.8.1; L8.1-6

Students will collaborate in teams to conduct their research, analyze information and evaluate credibility and accuracy of sources
Content and resources (links, documents, multimedia) for students can be housed in an online interface/tool such as Edmodo or other CMS or in Google Sites.
Students will use Google Docs for written collaboration (synchronous and asynchronous) and Chat, Skype, or Facetime for real-time communication and interaction

Student teams will create two products:
A voicethread presenting their evidence, analysis, and conclusions. Members of each team will review the Voicethreads and add their comments. Teams will take the comments into account and make revisions or additions as needed.

A final presentation using a Web 2.0 tool – Students can select Animoto for video, Prezi, Voicethread or another tool. These products can then be embedded in a Google Site or wiki.

Facilitating Success and Mitigating Challenges:
It would be important to provide students with some organizational structures and time management tools including graphic organizers/flow charts, checklists, and reminders.

Aside from possible technical issues, the challenges would be to keep students engaged, organized and on task, and working effectively within their teams and as individuals. I would incorporate links and embed multimedia such as video clips and I would do frequent progress monitoring.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

LEC- 2.2 Reflection: Methodologies of the Online Instructor

1. Reflecting on the information covered in this module so far, how might your instructional methodologies need to change in an online or blended learning environment?

2. What skills and strategies might you improve or expand upon in order to best support student learning in a blended or online environment?

I believe the areas in which methodologies, resources, and strategies need to be modified the most when going from a face-to-face environment to an online environment are 1) planning, 2) resource selection and mode of delivery, 3) communication, and 4) monitoring student progress.

In both f2f and online teaching, the planning and development of lesson objectives, content and materials are (or should be) planned and developed ahead of time. In a f2f class, experienced teachers often make daily adjustments to pacing, materials, modes of delivery, and grouping based upon how students are doing. It may be easier to note when students are struggling, disengaged, or conversely have already mastered the material and are ready to move on. Adjustments in content or delivery can be made on a continual or an on-the fly basis.  Although adaptive software that continually assesses and monitors student progress and then delivers individualized content has become more prevalent in blended learning (especially in intervention or credit recovery programs), it is not as common in fully online classes. In a wholly online environment, content is generally a little more structured and is developed and posted ahead of time. It can be more difficult to know when a student is "not getting it" since most of the work may be done asynchronously and teachers can't see facial expressions or read body language (unless video conferencing). Teachers must use frequent checks for understanding and should incorporate self-checks for students to help them monitor their own learning. Online teachers should provide supplemental resources for differentiation and to address different modalities and they can make themselves accessible to help students through discussion boards, email, chat and conferencing tools like Skype and Adobe Connect.

Making adjustments in the methods and modes of communication can be very important to support student learning, facilitate engagement, and monitor progress. Since synchronous verbal discourse is minimal or non-existent in fully online learning (except for the occasional video conference),students cannot get nuances of meaning through facial expressions, tone of voice, inflections, or gestures. Much of the communication will be in written format and can be supplemented with audio recordings and short videos. Teachers have to adjust to this and choose their written or recorded wording carefully to convey both meaning and tone. Students may also need to be taught how to communicate effectively and respectfully in an online format.

Multimedia and Web 2.0 tools should be utilized to stimulate engagement and increase communication. I am fortunate to have used a variety of these tools when I was in the John Hopkins-ISTE online Admin program. The area that I will need to work on the most will be to effectively design learning activities and incorporate these tools into engaging coursework for students.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Leading Edge Certification - Online and Blended Teaching Course - Module 1

Leading Edge Certification- Online and Blended Teaching Course

1st Reflection- Prompt:
Considering the online learning self-assessment you took this week, and thinking about your reasons for taking this course, what is your highest priority learning goal for this course? What are some specific skills, strategies or tools you are hoping to learn more about?

Online and Blended Learning models and offerings have proliferated exponentially over the past several years. The types of coursework (from mini tutorials to individualized learning plans, to virtual schools and entire degree programs) content, methods of delivery, audience, sheer number of offerings, and in fact, the very definitions of online and blended learning have been growing and evolving.

That is not to say that all online or blended learning content and design is of the highest quality or that all instructors or facilitators are proficient or well-suited to teaching or guiding learners in this environment and interface. I personally have taken courses, workshops, and online programs that varied widely in quality of content and in the degree of interactivity both between the learner and the coursework materials or online tools and between learners and the teacher/facilitator.

My highest priorities in taking this course are to

1) more thoroughly understand what goes into developing online and blended learning opportunities (coursework and models) that are engaging, interactive, rigorous, and effective;

2) recognize and hone strategies for effectively teaching in online and blended learning environments. What methodologies, media, and learning activities and are key to engaging students and increasing their acquisition of content and skills? How can UDL, differentiation, and assessment be incorporated and managed?

3) be able to implement and manage online and blended learning both as a teacher/facilitator and as an instructional technology specialist at the program/initiative level.

In addition, I need to keep abreast of current research on the different models for online and blended or hybrid learning and the efficacy of various tools and programs such as assessment and data systems, adaptive software, and online tools and resources.

Although I have a background in educational technology and have used a variety of Web 2.0 tools, it is difficult to keep up with all of the changes and new products and services. There are so many new online tools that pop up on almost a daily basis and old ones that cease to exist or change into more expensive subscription services. I would like to investigate more of the free and inexpensive Web 2.0 tools and compile a list of ones that are stable entities, particularly useful in K-12 online/blended learning, and work well within an LMS or CMS like Haiku, Moodle, etc.