MOOC’s and ONLINE LEARNING…

29 01 2017

The first time I heard about MOOC’s I was in EC&I833 and I only knew what the name meant and a basic understanding of what the letters in the abbreviation stood for. That being said, when it came up again in this course (EC&I 834), it became obvious that this indeed may be something that will become a more popular learning style in the very near future. It can be noted that these MOOC programs are already taking charge in the greater online community, and as such a vast amount of information is becoming available to people who may not have otherwise been able to afford formal educations. As primarily a free version of learning, students are able to find out things they may not have known, in a way that does not demand a large tuition fee. However, with MOOC’s it is important to note that courses of this nature do not typically provide a degree granting certificate needed for future employment.

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Photo Credit: Raul Marcel

There are websites like:

https://www.mooc-list.com/

Which would allow for the user to select and read reviews about courses that are available online. This would likely impact their overall decision in regards to determining if it is something that might fit a need or want for learning in that individual’s life.

I can see these courses being helpful in the everyday classroom dependent on what the teacher is trying to get across. It is vital to weigh the positives with the negatives to determine if there would be something that would overall benefit the students without taking a large amount of time. It is also interesting to think of content be presented, and if it is truly good for students of a certain age. I mention this because in many cases MOOC’s are aimed at older learners that would be able to potentially read more text heavy pages. Also as a government funded organization, the public school teacher would need to ensure that the MOOC’s are reaching an intended outcome that fits within the guidelines of the school.

http://www.wsj.com/video/moocs-101-how-do-they-work/08391347-D38E-46F7-8E2E-940C7F68C735.html

It is possible for students to learn about things that would be of benefit to their studies. For example, an English teacher who is doing a unit on Greek Mythology may want to access lessons on Greek Mythology that is being offered as a MOOC from a university professors point of view. This would be a great supplementary source that could be used to hit on some additional information required in the course.

I would like to see students learning about the history and evolution of Genius Hour. This is the project my group is taking on and creating a blended learning course for. There is a MOOC available online at:

http://www.geniushour.com/2015/01/21/free-course-complete-guide-genius-hour-20-time-classroom/

That outlines the importance and infrastructure of Genius Hour and how it can be used in the classroom. That being said, it may be a great resource including a couple free courses for the teacher, but is not specifically aimed at the students in learning environment. In this case I am planning to complete a MOOC or course on Genius Hour in preparation for both working on the project in my classroom, but also the beginning of the development of my course idea for the prototype assignment. I would encourage other educators to check out the link above, as it has some very interesting resources contained within the website that goes into great detail about the project.

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Prototype Project 2.0…

21 01 2017

The prototype assignment looks very interesting and I am interested to see where this will go in the development of all the different aspects related to the learnings that will occur over the next couple weeks. At this point in time I have joined a group (@kyledumont2, @GilroyBeck, @MissHuber6, @mrsmaley, @reindrp). We are currently looking into completing a project that would focus on Genius Hour. It has the ability to provide the opportunity for students to learn and/ or build something that showcases the skills they have built on. This could also be an adult project that could directly relate to a credited course learning. I have heard people compare Genius Hour to that of researching for a PHD at the University level. Although the children’s project is slated as a percentage of time, the PHD student would be making it their full time job while they explore and research the area they have chosen.

 

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Photo Credit: Flickr  mrsdkrebs

 

After meeting with the group it was determined that Genius Hour was the program that we would be touching on. Now that it is confirmed, we have looked at the modules that we will be taking on and how that might begin to look in a blended learning format. We had a great discussion on different age levels and how it could be incorporated in younger classrooms, middle years’ classrooms, and at a university level. Seeing how out group has a large variety of different teaching areas and expertise, we are working to make this a prototype that would be able to work at any grade or age level.

Google was the initial creator of the Genius Hour idea. By allowing their employees a maximum of 20% of their work time to develop and improve on different ideas, the company was able to create and integrate a number of new systems that it would use in its suit of Google products. Some of the applications that were developed using this idea included Gmail, Google Talk, and Google News. By allowing the employees to focus on a passion of their interest, Google was also able to increase the overall productivity of the company through engaging its employees. The idea is that students who are allowed to work on a project of their own passion, will produce engaged students who want to know as much as possible about their project.

This could also open the doors for students to create the solve to a problem that may be encountered around their community or the world as a whole. There is a really well done Ted Talk that explains how a student (Richard) in the Maasai community in Kenya was able to problem solve the lion issue. IT outlines how the lions in the community were attacking livestock in the community at night. Richard was able to try a number of different ideas in this community in order to try and scare off the lions from the livestock area. Although it took him a couple tries and the development of his idea, he successful in the end of his independent study. Have a look at this video as he explains how it was possible and the large impact it has made on his overall community because of the creation of a lion light.





Intro to EC&I 834

14 01 2017

My name is Adam Krammer and I am a teacher here in Regina. I work with Grade 7/8 students daily and it can indeed be a challenge. In this class, I am hoping to learn a number of new and interesting teaching resources that would supplement what I already use in the classroom. I am somewhat tech savvy, but look forward to finding out things that would be helpful in the blending of learning/ teaching. I am excited to see what the Online/Blended Course Prototype Development assignment will look like. When I read the description of this assignment I was intrigued to see what it would entail. It sounds like an opportunity to be creative and get involved in the technological aspect of lesson curation.

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As a technology leader in my school, I am looking forward to being able to bring back new ideas and ways of using technology to both the teaching staff and the students that I work with on a daily basis. The best way to transfer such great ideas is through direct contact and training with other people, ad by doing this the possibilities for use in classrooms can begin to become endless. The problem that underlies all new technologies and applications that come to fruition is the ability to keep up with what is happening. AS a teacher it is vital to incorporate new and exciting opportunities for the class, but finding these is somewhat of a challenge at times. Especially when not looking for them. A day in the life of an elementary teacher is already excessively busy and this can lead to peoples unwillingness to take on yet another search for educational technology. Twitter I still something that I am working toward proficiency in and hope to graduate the basics by the end of this class.

@krammead

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Photo Credit: mkhmarketing

In this class my aim will be to learn and become skilled in some blended learning opportunities that would be helpful in my classroom. I find that it is becoming more and more difficult to know what is happening in the technological realm. Students are very fast learners of technology and tend to be able to operate new systems with a great deal of ease. My task would be to become as confident and able to work with these programs as my students are. This helps me look more professional in the technological field, and builds the confidence of the students I teach. One of my pet peeves is seeing or hearing about staff that are trying to instruct or teach something that they may not have any idea about. Although they may be trying something new and reaching out of their comfort zone, it is still vital to have an idea of the inner operations of the program or application. It is true that each educator is responsible for their own teaching, but if at all possible, I would like the develop the ability to assist if asked. This will be possible through the development of my understanding through this class.





Summary of Learning

5 12 2016

Another semester flies by and we are at the end of the formal journey through EC&I 833. That being said, it is vital to note that the learning(s) that occurred for me in this course will continue to blossom as I continue to use Educational Technologies in my career as a teacher. All the support and ideas I have gathered through this course have enabled me to really become a much more connected educator. I am looking forward to taking other courses with technological attributes at the heart of the learning.

 

 

 





Virtual Reality… 3.0

23 11 2016

As with every technological advancement there a lot of things that a teacher could use in their classroom to provide an additional opportunity to students that may be different from the everyday classroom discussion and assignments. One of the VR technologies that stands out to me in that of the Google Cardboard. At first sight it seems very primitive, however, a person is able to see its true value as more information is obtained. This technology is clearly attempting to provide an affordable version of VR to the consumer and with that comes the opportunity to use and participate in a world that is not necessarily lived experiences. Google has a website that explains the value of using this in the classroom as an expedition. The website can be found by going to:

https://www.google.com/edu/expeditions/#explore

Although Google has attempted to keep the cost of this technology lower, if a teacher is interested in getting a classroom kit of thirty, it will cost them a very large sum of money. The current value of a full class sized kit is $9,999, meaning a Canadian teacher or school division would be spending $13,480.03 in current conversion. Although this is a phenomenal kit that would give the teacher the option to experience virtual field trips, it is unaffordable for most school divisions. As with most technologies, it is assumed that the cost of this new tools will come down in the next little while. I would not be opposed to buying a couple pairs of Google Cardboard glasses for the classroom, but the kits at this time are not attainable.

A tool that I feel would be beneficial in the classroom would include the Skyveiw Free App that is available both on IOS and Android. Students would be able to download the pp and use I in class to locate where certain planets and stars are, in the actual sky. This is a really neat idea and could include assignments that would occur at home at night where the student would be able to locate and view the stars in real time. There are a number of lesson plans and ideas for classroom teacher to use and explore this application. I would use this in the teaching of the constellations and planets in science class, because of its unique ability to provide yet another view for students to connect with.

It’s obvious that the use of VR technologies in the classrooms will become an extremely popular thing in the very near future. The diversity and portability it is able to provide will take the classroom by storm, allowing for field trips to occur in any part of the world that subscribes to the internet. I can see this idea continuing to transform in the classroom and move into the lived experience that the film maker is trying to get across. I do not think that interactive classrooms are out of the realm of possibility in the next few years. By interactive classrooms, I mean VR viewing with fans set up to replicate wind conditions and mist sprayers set up to replicate rainfall or water splash back. Although this may seem far fetched, we are already seeing it in some specialized movie theaters and as such it would not be impossible to implement into an educational setting.





Technologies…The Dyslexia Struggle…

20 11 2016

There is an enormous amount of possible assistive technologies available for the professional teacher. The issue is trying to incorporate these into the daily teaching. I find it difficult to use the technologies in a meaningful way for students that truly need them. As a teacher who is attempting to utilize a wide variety of technology into my classroom, sometimes I find myself struggling to support the assistive technologies. This is especially true now that divisions have had their funding cut even further, because support staff is not as readily available. This in turn is a stretch on the teacher even more then it was in the past.

I currently have a student in my class that is dyslectic and he uses an iPad to support his learning. This is done in order to support his taking of notes or limit his writing amounts required. This student had a plan in place when I moved to the school I am currently at. As such the support was already integrated, but seems to work for the student at hand. I am not sure what software it is, but this student is able to take a picture on his IPod and the application can convert the image into a word document that is easy to adjust and edit as needed. This is a really interesting way to get this student started in writing a report or essay. Taking a picture of the rubric and the started sentence allows him to dive into typing his report or essay. Once he is started, this student is easily able to see if there is a mistake or grammatical issue because of the word document capabilities. The use of Dragon software is also a great help to this student as needed.

Assistive technology has the great ability to allow students to learn in a way that works for them including the supports needed to achieve success in their daily learning. It becomes the job of the educator to enable this valuable learning to take place for the student that requires the assistance. Although this can be difficult at time depending on the funding available from the school division, there are options in speaking with the parent and determining what would be beneficial. In many cases the parent will purchase or support the assistive technology for their child, if they know it will help them in the long run.

As technologies change and morph into new and exciting things, it is vital for the educator, student and parent to be aware of the benefits, but also weigh the costs and value for that child. In many situations, when a new technology or app comes out, it is very expensive. This may be attributed to the functionality of the new product, and its inability to compete with other organizations, because it is the first of its kind. Considering that there will be a competing company in the next little while and that the price will likely come down is something to also flag in the back of the mind of the purchaser. However, sometimes it is vital to the students learning to adopt the technological achievement immediately.





Tools, Tools, Tools……

10 11 2016

Although there are so many different technologies that could be used in the classroom, deciding which ones to implement is the struggle for the educators. An educator must weigh the strengths and limitations regarding these technologies and begin to pick through which ones they feel would work in their unique classroom setting. As time progresses the use of technologies will again be transforming. It is assumed that the technology platform in schools is an ever-changing process, similar to that of human breathing. Starting by drawing in air and exhaling the unused gasses back into the atmosphere. Classroom teacher are bombarded with a huge amount of technologies and they will reject the ones they do not need or cannot use.

The technology that I have selected to start using is that of Explain Everything. This application offers so many ways of showcasing learning in the classroom. It can be used tell a digital story by narrating images that students either take or draw. It can also embed video and documents, again being narrated by voice or through the highlighting of certain parts of the text. The name Explain Everything really is a suiting name for this app, as its possibilities are endless in the presentation of work. This program is a collaborative tool that can be used as a means of assessment if the teacher wishes to use it as such.

In past years I have used this application with students, but have kind of forgotten about the power it truly holds. Last time I used this we were putting together digital stories, where students were responsible to create a book style assignment. They would draw or take pictures that worked with their pre written story about their own life. This assignment was a great assessment for me to mark as it was easy to follow and did not put the student on the spot speaking in front of their peers. Instead all we heard was the story and the illustrations as a pose to standing at the front and having all eyes on the student. Students found this a challenging task as they had to do a lot of speaking and not just reading off a PowerPoint, instead it took coordination of using the images and making them work with the narration that was occurring in the background.

This year in my classroom I plan to use this tool for the students to showcase their learning and understanding in the French program. As a non-French speaker myself, it can be difficult to teach and speak a language I never learned. By using explain everything, the students should be able to vocalize their words and show what they mean easily. It also allows me the chance to listen to the student work as many times as needed in order to draw a mark out of their speaking skills. One of the best parts to Explain Everything is its ability to be saved and used in the “cloud” environment. Meaning, students will be capable of working on this specialized program at home through their office 365 sign in account. This allows for even further diversification.

The most important piece of advice I would give to teachers looking at implementing this new application would be to know all the different features it has to offer. I did not know much about the application and it took me some time to really explore it. Had I explored it before it was brought into the classroom, I would have allowed me to show the tools and features included in the program to the students. Although I am not against the students learning and working with new technologies, sometimes the challenge of implementing something different is a good thing, if instigated by the teacher. It’s even useful in Math class.