All About That Video

“Ever since the invention of the Gutenberg press, print has been a dominant teaching technology, arguably at least as influential as the spoken word of the teacher.” – Tony Bates – Teaching in a Digital Age

I feel like I am breaking some sort of teacher code by saying what I am about to say but nevertheless here it goes.. I am not a reader and I really don’t enjoy it either!

Sorry Liz , Kelsie and all the other text fans from class!

Over the past year or so I have made a point to try to remember to put my phone away and read a book of my choosing that’s easy to read and follow for about a half hour before going to bed. In making an effort to do this I am finding that I am slowly beginning to enjoy reading more. Give me an easy to read book about romance, crime or animals and I am a happy camper. Suggestions anyone? However, tell me I have to read and something in my brain goes into shut down mode!

I don’t remember reading being a struggle as a child and have actually made a point to ask my parents about myself as a reader when I was younger. In having those conversations, nothing really seemed too out of the ordinary. I don’t ever remember feeling that dread of getting my 15 minutes of reading in each night or that reading was something that was hard to do. I think my parents did a great job of creating balance for us as kids! So, I really have no idea where my dislike for reading has come from!

One thing I do know for sure is that my love for music and videos is definitely something that has come from and was fostered by my parents! Music was always around when I was growing up. Whether it was in the car, my grandmother sing songs, learning to play the piano, being in band or just spending time around the house music was always there.

If we are to watch a video today1, it’s pretty rare to find one that doesn’t have some form of music incorporated.  I think this is where my preferred method of learning comes from. Give me the option to read how to do something or watch a video, I am going to pick the video option 100% of the time. Anyone else ever lost an hour to watching Tasty videos on Youtube?

To be fully transparent I feel it’s important to note that I don’t always shy away from text. I may always veer towards learning from a video but often I will take notes about a video, especially when it comes to needing or wanting to reference it later. I may be able to remember the visuals but I often need my notebook to refer back to in order to remember why I felt a connection to that video.

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Photo Credit: elle Q1 Flickr via Compfight cc

As Ashley points out in her post this week, Bates shares that text truly has stood the test of time. I certainly wouldn’t disagree as I think that we know what we know about learning today because of the interest and power of stories and communicating thoughts over time. For as long as we have been on this earth, we have communicated stories and knowledge through symbols and letters. Without symbols and stories, would we even have video as an option? As many have suggested in their posts this week, balance just might be the key to learning success!

Although last week I wrote about disagreeing with some of the points made by Bates, I have since taken the time to think about each point individually. Thanks Kirstin for the check in, reflective practice is key right? As a learner it is important that we understand how we learn best, there’s no denying that. As an educator it is important that we understand the variety of ways that our students can learn and Bates has provided us with the opportunity to understand the process behind being someone who learns best through text, audio, video or a combination or all three.

In the text section of chapter 7 Bates writes about some of the characteristics unique to text. I wonder if we were to go through this list if we would perhaps be able to connect come of these characteristics to audio and video as well?

 

Some of the unique presentational characteristics of text are as follows:

  • text is particularly good at handling abstraction and generalisation, mainly through written language;
  • text enables the linear sequencing of information in a structured format;
  • text can present and separate empirical evidence or data from the abstractions, conclusions or generalisations derived from the empirical evidence;
  • text’s linear structure enables the development of coherent, sequential argument or discussion;
  • at the same time text can relate evidence to argument and vice versa;
  • text’s recorded and permanent nature enables independent analysis and critique of its content;
  • still graphics such as graphs or diagrams enable knowledge to be presented differently from written language, either providing concrete examples of abstractions or offering a different way of representing the same knowledge
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Setting a Purpose with #BookCreator

“…the aim here is not to provide a cast-iron categorization of educational media, but to provide a framework for teachers in deciding which tools and media are most likely to suit a particular teaching approach.” – Tony Bates 

At times during the readings this week I found myself feeling like I didn’t completely agree with what Bates was suggesting. As I read further I appreciated that he highlighted that this reading was intended to provide a framework for pedagogy. Although, I still had some questions.

I often feel that in education we can get caught up in the specifics. In reality though, teaching and learning is not black and white. One educator may view one resource or tool one way and another may view it completely different. Without understanding each persons rationale behind their choices, I don’t believe we can make a judgement on whether they are using that tool in the ‘right way’. I think this is where my questions around the points Bates made came from.

Is there really a right way?

I definitely think that we can get too caught up in the hype of teaching in a digital age and this at time can lead to some perhaps misguided decisions around how technology is integrated into our classrooms. If our students are not hands on and learning is not the main focus of the integration then I think we have a problem. When we have a problem whether it be at work or in our personal lives we strive to find solutions. In terms of education and technology integration I think one of the best things we can to avoid such problems is to set a purpose and be intentional before we integrate technology into our classrooms.

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Photo Credit: mariagraziaarevalo Flickr via Compfight cc

While doing some further reading and trying to understand why I was maybe disagreeing with some of the points Bates made in our reading this week I came across the article 7 Characteristics Of Teachers Who Effectively Use Technology. I felt the infographic in this article would provide any educator an opportunity to set their purpose and be intentional when integrating technology into their practice. However, as I tweeted the article out I did feel that there was one critical piece missing so I added a #8 to the list!

Although I found myself having questions about the readings, I also felt that it was perfect for this week. We have been asked to look at a list of creation tools and discuss the specific strengths and weaknesses of one of our own choosing. This is perfect timing not only for our project as we begin to create our modules but also for an app I have on my classroom iPads that I have been wanting to check out more in-depth.

A colleague had told be about the Book Creator app but prior to this week I had only made it as far as downloading the app! I had intentions of creating a screencast to highlight the app but as I began researching it I realized there were multiple videos already doing the same thing. After watching several how to and getting started videos I’ve created a list of the highlights:

  • Students can create their own stories in many different formats
  • Stories can be created using a combination of pictures, words and voice overs
  • Sound and video can be embedded
  • Students can take their own pictures to use in their stories
  • Published books can be added to the iBooks app and students can read classmates books once they have been published
  • It appears to be very user-friendly
  • The website for the app provides a section for teacher training
  • They have a #BookCreator chat where you can join in for ideas, tips and tricks
  • Provides students with a voice
  • Books can be downloaded as a PDF and then shared onto Seesaw for parents to see
  • Students can export a comic book from the app to create an animated video in Explain Everything (how to video)
  • Students can collaborate on a story

I have yet to find one downside to this app! I presently have my grade 2 class working on a fiction story and will be having them use this tool to share their stories. I am really looking forward to seeing what they create and learning along side them as we discover this app. I plan to share a blog post about the experience in a couple of weeks once they have finished up their stories. If you’re curious about the app, check out this video as a beginner’s guide to getting started!

We Pick Weebly!

“…oral communication remains as strong today in education as ever, but has been incorporated into or accommodated by new technologies.” Teaching in a Digital Age – Chapter 6 by Tony Bates 

When Amy and I began brainstorming our ideas for the course that we would develop this semester we first began with trying to decipher which LMS (learning management system) would best fit the requirements of the project but also the needs of the students who could potentially use this course in the future. I was lucky that Amy was on board with jumping into developing a course for primary students!

One of the pieces that Amy and I want to ensure we do with our project is to make the learning is not just engaging but something that the students are going to want to be involved in. As well as something that has them up and using their hands for learning. Since we are taking on a Science unit, I don’t think this will be too difficult a challenge. I was reminded of this thought when I read the Audrey Watters post Beyond the LMS. In this post Watters discusses the large dislike for the well know LMS , Blackboard and how many companies have taken something that Blackboard has already created and essentially just make it ‘pretty’ so to speak. As she states:

“..the solution then … is to build the same thing, just with a nicer, more modern user interface. “It’s like Blackboard,” I hear them say, but with the blue colors we now associate with Facebook. “It’s like Blackboard…” but with a news feed. “It’s like Blackboard…” but with responsive design or with a mobile app. “It’s like Blackboard…” but you don’t have to have permission from your IT department. “It’s like Blackboard…” but it’s free.”

We don’t simply want to create something that students  that is the same as they would have always done. We want to create a new and varied learning experience that involves the learner throughout the whole process.

When considering a LMS for primary students there are potentially some factors at play that may not be as prevalent as  you move into the older grades. So what might those factors be? Although we are still working out some logistical details, we have discussed and considered a few of the following:

  • Ease of use
  • Student access to technology
  • The need for incorporating time for teachers to have to explicitly teach certain tech features to students as they may be experiencing some pieces or tech in general for the first time
  • Read ability – many primary students are still learning to read

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Photo Credit: gianghoàng2 Flickr via Compfight cc

When you look at this list, can you think of any other factors we should be considering?
Please feel free to share and tips or suggestion you might have in the comment section!

After some careful consideration around the needs of primary students, looking at a few LMS options and about 5 too many promotional emails from Edmodo we have settled on Weebly as a space for our course, that will be supplemented by Seesaw. Along with other possible suggestions/options for teachers who do not have access to Seesaw. There are definitely a few kinks and specifics to work out but we are making progress! Have I mentioned yet just how great it is to have such an awesome partner to work with? We are completely on the same page and even better, she totally gets my love for Snapchat!

So we’ve picked Weebly, now what? Amy and I have set up our space and are working on the development and details of the course along with the aesthetic and logistical pieces. I’ve put together a short screen cast to show you a little bit about the sign up process, how Weebly is set up and where we are at! Any feedback, guidance or suggestions are always welcome!

Blended Learning in a Primary Classroom – Is it possible?

“…blended learning provides an opportunity for the gradual development of independent learning skills, as long as this is an intentional teaching strategy.” Tony Bates in Teaching in a Digital Age

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 Photo Credit: uneitzel Flickr via Compfight cc

I think it is fair to say that we all know and understand that learning is a process. When we are learning about something new, we are starting with very little knowledge. However, I think starting at the beginning and working through the process is the most important part. Although I feel like using the staircase analogy is a little cliché I think it works perfectly to explain the process of learning. Sure we might all be able to skip a stair here or there because we have some background knowledge but I don’t know many people who are able to start at the bottom of a staircase or learning journey and jump right from the bottom to the top. We all have a process and it all takes time.

One of the best things about learning is that we can achieve the same understanding as someone else but we don’t have to get there in the same way, nor do we need to understand or show that understanding in the same way. I do not think that learning is an if this, then that process. It looks different for everyone and Stephen Downes highlights this perfectly in his post!

Our learning begins the day we are born and never stops. As we grow, we begin to figure out what we need as a learner to help us progress forward. I believe that this conversation needs to start as early as possible and needs to involve the learners themselves. When our students understand how they learn best and we allow them opportunities to learn in different ways, we are setting them up for great success! However, we have to guide that process with younger learners in order for them to become independent learners and if we just allow ourselves to be open to that process the possibilities are endless!

The same goes for how we use different tools and systems to support our learning. I feel like The Myth about No Significant Difference should be a must read for all teachers today!

The Web doesn’t just “bring the world to the desktop.” The Web is a medium for participation. Users receive information, but they also comment, collaborate, and create their own content. Anyone can create and publish content on the Web.1 Perhaps we don’t find a significant difference when using technology in student learning because we aren’t looking in the right places or using the correct definition. – The Myth about No Significant Difference.

Why all this talk about learning and the process of learning you might ask?

Well, the course that we are taking right now is challenging us to think about how learning can look when we allow learning to happen in spaces beyond our classroom and allow students to take ownership of the process. As part of this course we have been asked to create a prototype of an Online/Blended Course. At first I felt that this process might be a little daunting as I thought, what do I know about creating an online course? Then I reminded myself that I am in one and have been in two others! I think one of the best places to start is with our own understanding of how learning happens, thus the thoughts on learning above!

Luckily, this class is filled with great educators and I snagged a great partner in Amy Singh! I also can’t wait to see the courses the everyone else creates and love that this is a project teachers will be able to take and use!  Amy and I have set out a frame-work for our course and are working on finding LMS (Learning Management System) to work through the process of what it looks like to design such a course. We have taken on the challenge of a blended learning course in a primary classroom. As Amy highlights in her post What’s in a Learning Management System we will be taking on the Liquids and Solids Unit from Saskatchewan Grade 2 Science Curriculum .Presently we have a google doc up and running to generate and share ideas and are working on figuring out the best platform to deliver our course.

We have many things to consider as we move forward but I feel we are on the right track to ensuring that the student remains the focus. In my search for teachers who are presently using blended learning in their primary classroom I cam across a post, 5 tips for embracing blended learning in elementary classrooms about a teacher named Paula Barr from Lawrence, Kansas who is using blended learning. I am now following her on twitter and hope to use some of her knowledge to help Amy and I build our course. The post shares a video of what that blended learning environment looks like, I really like that it shares both the parent and teacher perspective!

 

After reading Personal and Personalized Learning as mentioned earlier, I did find it interesting that the title of this video included the term personalized learning. I am curious as to how much these students are owning their own learning and am looking forward to learning more about this particular environment as possible a guide for our project.

A New Learning Journey

I thought I would start the first post of the semester by continuing on with the activity from our first class! Is it bad that I had a hard time coming up with hashtags to describe myself? Anyway, my name is Nicole Reeve and I currently teach grade 2 at MacNeill School in Regina and this is my third year with Regina Public Schools. Prior to teaching here in Regina I taught at Pleasantdale School in Estevan, Saskatchwean for four years where I taught grade 4, grade 2, grade 7 and team taught some grade 8 math. The student life is something I came back to last winter and this course will be my third in my journey to getting my Masters. It’s also my third ed tech course, I hear I am going to have to stray from these Ed tech courses eventually and I am not sure I am ready! If you’re new to the #courobrandt classes, you’ve made a great choice and the learning is fantastic!

When I am not at work or working on my classes I like to attempt to do little DIY projects, attempt being the key word there but I like to try things out. As you can see above I have a puppy and she keeps  me busy as she’s still in the puppy phase at times. I feel you Elizabeth with the puppy phase but it does get better! As I am writing this she is beside me stealing socks from the laundry basket! I like to try my hand at cooking from time to time. Sometimes it works great and sometimes it’s a full on #pinterestfail but hey, that’s how we learn right?

Speaking of learning, I best get into my goals for the semester!

1) I want to engage and collaborate more with all of you. Last semester I found that I didn’t do as much connecting with classmates as I would have liked and I plan to carve out time each week to read and comment on the blog posts from the hub.

2) I want to challenge what I know about learning as many of us know it today. Often when we speak of teaching and learning it involves a classroom and desks and being physically present. Last semester we had the opportunity to learn about the Sun West Distance Learning Center and I was intrigued to say the least. I want to learn more about what distance learning looks like at all learning levels. From Kindergarten through to secondary education.

3) Like many others have mentioned, I also want to gain a better understanding of what the development of online and  blended learning environments looks like. Where does one begin? What does the process look like? Is online learning more or less flexible than physically being in a classroom? Does that matter?

I am sure as the course progresses each of these goals will stem into new goals and I can’t wait to see where the semester takes us!

 

That’s a Wrap on 833

It’s seems as though we just started this class! I am well aware that we haven’t and I am also more aware of just how much knowledge and information has been shared throughout the semester. The opportunity to listen to each of my classmates share about different topics pertaining to educational technology has provided me with a greater understanding of how technology impacts education.

This semester has provided me with many opportunities to question what I thought I already knew and to grow as an educator.

It is my hope that this summary shares with you what I feel have been the most important pieces of knowledge I have gained from the semester!

Enjoy!

My summary of learning for eci833:

Credit for images used in Powtoon video:

Jungle – https://www.flickr.com/photos/58932090@N00/5245045033

Galaxy – https://www.flickr.com/photos/50679904@N05/4919220217

Body – https://www.flickr.com/photos/38273190@N00/7914788472

Are Our Kids Ready for a Virtual World When They Have Yet to Experience the Real World?

“Most people who interact with AR for the first time have a mind-blowing experience…” – Augmented Reality Brings New Dimensions to Learning

Much like Erin and Jayme explained in their posts this week , if I was asked to explain augmented reality  (AR)to someone I would have related it to what I know about video games and those “cool things” people wear on their faces. I have a pretty limited understanding and to be quite honest, very little interest in video games. So, much like Erin I completely skipped over the augmented and virtual reality (VR) section at the beginning of class. I should have known better!

Many of my #eci833 classmates this week have shared fabulous examples of the opportunities that AR & VR can provide not just gamers but the students who are walking into our classrooms every day.  We have the opportunity to share experiences from around the world with our students just by downloading an app! With the download of an app we can connect our students to places, different languages, real world events and so much more! It also doesn’t take much more than typing a few words into google to learn about how to go about implementing AR into your classroom. I always enjoy checking out what @TeachThought is sharing about what’s happening in education today. I found it interesting that in their post 32 Augmented Reality Apps For The Classroom From Edshelf  a couple of the apps that were discussed in class this week are found on the list from this past summer. As educators we would be remiss if we were to deny the potential for learning that AR and VR provide.

However, I do have one question….

Are our students experiencing enough life in the real world to be ready for a virtual one?

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Photo Credit: Zaidon Resident Flickr via Compfight cc

I am certain of one thing, I do not have the answer to my own question but I do think it is a question we need to consider. I tend to approach most topics from a very primary perspective and try to remind myself that I need to think beyond the K-2 classrooms that I know and understand, as often as I can. That being said I do believe it is important that we consider some of the possibly negative impacts of AR & VR that are possible when talking about education.

Prior to doing some exploration around AR and VR I didn’t realize that there is an age limit placed on some of the devices that allow one to experience AR and VR. I wonder if this is being considered in the conversations around implementing AR and VR into classrooms.

Curious to know more yourself? Check out a few articles that I came across in my search to trying to answer the question above:

Much like I mentioned earlier, I don’t deny the positive implications that AR & VR can provide our students but I do also think we need to look at whether or not our students are ready for a virtual world when they have yet to experience so many things in the real world.

I am curious to know if any of my other classmates or colleagues have found themselves considering the concerns I have mentioned today.