Content Creation Tools: Voicethread

February 3, 2019

I decided to review Voice Thread for this week’s blog prompt.

Image result for voice thread image source

My first decision to pick this particular tool was to use it as a tool for my final project. At first, from the title’s description, I was expecting it to be a video creator that I could learn to edit for videos that I would be making. Upon reviewing the first demo, I thought that I would not be able to use this tool because it appeared to me to be useful for videos that already existed. Then, upon further investigation, I realized that I could upload my own videos and make comments on them in addition to ones that already exist. I will examine some strengths and weaknesses that I found with this tool before finalizing my decision upon its usefulness in my own project for this course.

When I first looked at this editing tool, I could see how it would benefit an adult online learning or blended classroom with the opportunities for the learner to view the content at one’s own pace and to add commentary when applicable. I feel that if I was teaching an adult course, I could use this tool for formative and summative assessments that would allow for a deeper understanding of what the student understands about the course material.

This tool would also be useful for teaching a course, like the one I have planned, which is less formal and more of a group learning course. I like how comments can be made to videos, and how the course instructor can choose to show which comments get displayed to the public (or class) and in what order. It can also be used as an assessment, both formative and summative, because the instructor can keep comments hidden from others (for example, if the comments were the assessment) and do not need to share them with the other members.

Some of the students I teach are not strong in writing and would benefit from this program because they would be able to tell me what they are learning and use the videos to aide them. I think that it would also add to the students’ confidence levels because they would not need to worry about their writing abilities, but could focus on showing what they know about the material being covered. Also, as discussed in Chapter 7 of Tony Bate’s “Teaching in a Digital Age”this tool would allow for more abstract ideas being able to be shared, especially by these students, who are not strong writers. The opportunity is provided to them to be able to explain things verbally instead of pictorially or in writing.

A negative to using this tool would be if your students are EAL and are expected to comment on certain videos for grades or class presentations, and they have more difficulties in speaking clearly for others to understand. I viewed a nutrition example in the Health section for the K-12 and found a woman commenting on a nutrition video. I found it very difficult to understand what she was saying. This could also be an issue with the audio/video of either my own or her personal device, but have found that this may be an issue when using it for online and blended learning courses. This made me think about my own students, none of whom are EAL, but do have issues with speech. One student in particular, has a speech impediment, that makes it difficult to comprehend some of the things that she is saying. In this case, this tool would not be beneficial for my use in order to accurately assess her content knowledge Although, comments can be made in written form too, if chosen.

There would be a difficulty for students who do not have access to microphones or ones with poor quality microphones. If students do no have access to technology devices at home than there would need to be opportunities for the students to complete the recordings at school in a setting in which they could be heard clearly.

Overall, I think this tool would be good to use as one option of content delivery, classroom discussion, and even as an assessment tool. I believe that this tool would be useful for all students with a variety of needs. I believe that it could highly benefit students who are not strong in presenting their ideas in written form. It would take a lot of modelling and practice with this tool before students would be able to manage it on their own, in my case with grades five and six, but I think that it would become a useful tool for an educator.

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A Stitch in Time, Means Getting Your Course Profile Posted!

January 27, 2019

When thinking about on what I wanted to base my course profile I thought about all the classes that I am currently teaching in my grade 5/6 classroom. But none got me as excited as the idea of teaching beginning crochet. I know. I’m a bit of a nerd. But, who isn’t. (That’s a discussion for a different post!)

Crazy Crochet Lady_image

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I read so many goo ideas on other classmates’ posts, such as the one on a bullying unit for grades 7 and 8 in Amy‘s, Kyla O.’s and Collette’s blogs, or the Human Body System (which I had originally planned to do) in Wendy‘s blog. So I decided to stick with what I really enjoyed doing and have always wanted to teach.

So, without further ado, here is the course profile.

CLICK HERE

 

 

Teaching Blended and Online Learning: Is it for Me?

My experience with technology began at an older age than most people who are currently in their thirties. I always felt myself to be a bit of a technological “late bloomer”. I learned how to use the family computer in my middle years, amidst taking typing tutor classes and playing Oregon Trail at school. I didn’t have much time because, like everyone at that time, my computer was hooked up to the phone line and we had to dial up to use the internet (and only if someone wasn’t on the phone or was expecting to use the phone in the near future). It also took a long time to turn the computer on! I could usually flick the on switch and then go make myself a sandwich while I waited for it and Window 95 to finally load up.

 

I was never one who really got into social media (I didn’t join MSN messenger until high school and joined Facebook a few years after my friends.) (I just joined Twitter last year!)

Fast forward to university when I actually got my first cellphone (because I had to pay for my own and could not afford it till then). I used the computer mostly for typing up university assignments or for checking the university library to see what books were available for me to use for my essays. I still went to the stacks at the U of S, to get a good old hard copy of a book for research more often than using anything online. I wasn’t comfortable with the internet, nor was it as accessible as it is today to get information. I also didn’t have the “know how” to navigate what was a good source and what really wasn’t.

As I entered into my first internship in a grade one classroom, I had my first experience with a SMART Board.  My co-op teacher used it sparingly as she was not very comfortable with it.

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So, I got some experience with it, but did not use it to the potential that I could have until I got hired at that school (about a year later) as a part time grade 4 teacher. The teacher, with whom I was sharing a position, was the school’s tech guru. I ended up using the SMART Board for most lessons and loved the interactivity I had with my students.

When I moved to Regina and got hired to teach in Moose Jaw, I was introduced to a new educational technology device, the Promethean. It was supposed to be a similar device, but I was never found technology easy to work with (still don’t), and I had a difficult time. I could not convert the SMART Board lessons (which I had spent many hours creating) that I had to work with the Promethean. It always seemed to stop working mid lesson every couple of days or so, and getting the problem fixed took a lifetime. So I ended up using it as a glorified (and very expensive) overhead projector, or not at all. The document camera was old and had a yellow tinge, so I couldn’t use that either to the extent that I wanted. I was giving up on technology in my classroom because it was causing more trouble then it was worth.

We did have classroom Ipads in the classroom (or to share with 3 other classrooms) that we could use in efforts to supplement our teaching methods and student learning. But, sadly, most of the time, we had to sign up in advance when we were going to use them, the programs always had to be updated or students were forgetting how to log into them (or plug them in), they wouldn’t work or were broken somehow and again I was fighting with a tool I had previously thought would be useful.

Fast forward a few years, and a few graduate classes later and I began to get back into the technology that was available at our school. I feel that just recently since I have come back from my second maternity leave, that our school has had an increase in the amount of working technology that continues to be updated and maintained. I also feel more confident in my own skills with educational technology, (especially since taking EC&I 833 with Alec Couros), that I have been incorporating technology more often into my lessons. I am experimenting with Google Classroom with my students (since we now have classroom laptops) and I have a new document camera that works (almost all the time) and a AV system that doesn’t crackle every time I move.

As for blended learning, I think it is a work in progress in my classroom. After reading the chapters by Tony Bates Chapter I believe that fully online learning would not work in my classroom of grade five and six students. I agree that with him on the fact that it is more likely to be used by adult learners and not middle years students. I do not feel that they would have the discipline to learn on their own. They are still at the age where most of them complain about “hating school” or “being bored” because they cannot see past their own issues and life changes. Most of them are not mature enough, nor have the self discipline to learn on their own. I believe that I would be able to begin (I think I have started already) a blended learning class, but it would still be mostly face to face because of the needs of the current students in my classroom.

If I were to create online course, it would be directed to adult learners. There would first need to be a huge learning curve for myself in order to get myself more comfortable with the technology. And as for the content, I am not sure what I would teach. I do not feel that that is the way my educational career will move towards, nor to I want to teach adult learners. I think I will always prefer the face to face experiences as an educator and do not believe that it will change much in my lifetime. But, I do want to continue to  learn about the educational technologies that I can use to better educate the students that I am currently teaching and to further my own personal goal of my life-long learning.

 

First Post, Last Class!

January 12, 2019

Well, this is an exciting way to start my first post for EC&I 834. This is my 10th course out of 10! The , victory lap!

victory celebrate GIF by Awkwafina

I previously took a course with Alec Couros, EC&I 833, last term. I was finishing up my second maternity leave and another grad course as well. I learned how to blog, tweet (I had not previously had a Twitter account ), and I learned a lot about the different educational technology that I can use in my classroom. 

My reasons for choosing this course (834) was to:

1. Continuing my own life-long learning through my education about educational technology and my digital pedagogy and now to learn about blended and online learning with the intention to…

2.  Increase my own technology in the classroom according to the SAMR model from Substitution to Augmentation (as a start), and to…

The SAMR Model.jpg

Image Source

3. Keep up with the changing classroom and adapt my teaching style and comfort levels so that I can teach my students in ways that they are able to connect to, understand, and experience in the future. Who knows? Maybe my classroom will become a blended or online course in the future.

I am very excited to learn with everyone in my EC&I 834 class and have bittersweet feelings towards this being the last time, but am looking forward to what the future will bring. 

“From every ending comes another beginning” – Lurlene McDaniel

Assistive Technology: Allowing for Equal Opportunities for All to Learn

November 18, 2018

Assistive Technologies allow for every student to learn in the ways that best suit their needs. As I have learned from the presentation from this week I learned that there are a vast variety that range from no tech, such as the pencil grip to low tech, like the FM system, to high tech which includes touch screen devices or read and write tech.

So, what is Assistive Tech? Here is a video to give some more information.

 

I have always had issues with technologies. They always tend to malfunction when I need them the most, or I always feel like I do things the hard way or get the broken devices. Whether it be working with ELMO that projects everything with a yellow tint, or the Promethean (similar to the SMART board) that sits broken for more than a year, or the outdated desktop computer that keeps the teacher stuck to the desk for many lessons because it isn’t portable. Any assistive technologies in my classroom, tend to be like these other devices, old and not updated or cared for. I feel that assistive technologies that I have seen or have used within the classroom tend to work if there is a specific student who currently needs it, but then that student ends up being identified and having a disability and the entire class knows about it. The costs tend to be acceptable because the specific student has the need, but I think about all other student who also could have benefited from these devices but may not have had such visible or high needs to make it a priority to the school.

Similar to Amy, I too have chosen to write about the FM system as the assistive tool that I have had the experience using. Ah yes, the lovely FM system

Image result for fm system in classroom

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that I first started using in my classroom would cut in and out, fail to charge, always need new batteries or some other malfunction. It was never a priority to have it fixed, even though I had made it known that it did not work up to standard.

H….H…ell….o. Testing…. 1…2…3…

But, like Amy, I too felt/students said I looked like a singer about to perform on stage. “Finally the cool teacher!” Ha ha. It wasn’t until I specifically had a student in my classroom that needed this system in order to hear me. This student had aids to assist with her hearing and the FM system allowed for her to hear me more clearly. I had never thought that my students would have trouble hearing me because I have always had a loud voice and projected when I spoke.

What I did not realize was that when I would face the board, or was not facing this student directly, she would hear half or nothing of what I was saying and thus needed the FM system as well as a device that I wore around my neck that would amplify the sound and direct it into her hearing aids.

excuse me what GIF

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When I think about the video that was played in the presentation, about how the teacher introduces different assistive technology to the entire class, instead of the student to which it is directed, it allows for that student to keep his or her needs to himself or herself instead of having it publicly announced to the class. As I reflected upon this, I think that this would be the best way for me to introduce any assistive technologies to the classroom (if I can) so that I do my best to avoid having the one student stand out. I had never really thought that by introducing them in this way, I may also be reaching students who did not realize that they needed these technologies to make their learning more accessible.

In the case of this FM system, every student in the class had already know about this student’s hearing needs and they were all quite comfortable with it and they all did their best to assist her whenever possible in such friendly and helpful ways. Once it was well known that this student needed the FM system to hear, all the FM systems in the school got fixed or replaced. Whether this was to avoid singling out a specific student with hearing needs or if it created awareness to the benefits of the FM systems, it was a positive outcome in my school. I was happy to see that this would benefit the students that were unidentified with hearing needs. It took a while for my classroom to get a working FM system and probably could have assisted more students had it been updated on a regular basis.

Overall, I think that assistive technologies can help educators individualized student learning programs and that they should be available and maintained within all schools for all students who may need them to assist in their learning needs. It should be the priority of the school to maintain the devices they do have so that when there are students with these needs, they have immediate access to them in order to be able to continue learning in an not be hindered by lack of accessibility.

Assessment Technology in the Classroom: Which One(s) Should I Choose?

 

November 7, 2018

If I were to choose an educational technology tool for assessment (to begin with), my first choice would probably flip grid.

Image result for flipgrid

We were introduced to Flipgrid as the first assignment in our EdTech class in order to introduce ourselves and explain our reason for joining the class. I was nervous at first sending in a video of myself, (because I hate being on camera) but after seeing that I could keep re-recording till I found a video that I felt comfortable with made me feel more at ease with this tool.

I would use it to have my students introduce themselves to me. As I am coming back to the classroom, mid-way through the year after my second maternity leave, I feel that this would be beneficial to me to get to know the students that I will be teaching. Since, they will have to re-introduce themselves all over (as if it is September again), I like how Flipgrid would allow for them to record an introduction that they felt comfortable sharing.

Most, if not all, the students already know me, since I am returning to the same school with some of the kids I had just before my leave, it will not be too new for me in regards to meeting them, but I will give me a better opportunity to introduce more technology into my classroom. I feel that by starting with Flipgrid I can incorporate more formative assessments as well as allowing for those who are not comfortable speaking up in class, or those who need more time to prepare an answer, to do so with this technology tool.

I plan to use the tool to answer questions possibly at the beginning, mid-way through and end of unit to see the growth of their answers. I could use it as an assessment for my teaching to ask the students how they feel about the material they are learning and what they like or would like to see change. I think I could even extend it to get to know parents and to have them voice their ideas about what their child is learning or any concerns they may have and use it as a way to connect with parents in between report card times as an addition to the ways I am connecting with them already.

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Pros:

  • Quick response time
  • Allows for student to think about questions and find answers that they are comfortable with before submitting it to the teacher
  • It would allow for parents who cannot come in person or call during hours that I am at school to voice their concerns, make comments
  • Short videos would push students to be concise and speak thoughtfully
  • It will notify the teacher when responses come in
  • Has a free version
  • Would teach a culture of respect for others ideas and opinions
  • Empowers student voice
  • Would be beneficial for the music class to have students perform for the camera in a more comfortable setting, instead of always in person
  • Could work well for listening to students read aloud (Daily 5 activity?)

 

Cons:

  • Class may not be mature enough to use it wisely
  • Accessibility to internet, camera and microphone is needed to access this tool
  • If I opened it to parents, it could turn into a place where parents complain or address too many minor issues that they wouldn’t have necessarily done so over the phone or in person
  • Students with any verbal disabilities may have troubles with expressing their thoughts
  • The extended version costs money and would depend on school/division to cover costs of this tool or the teacher themselves
  • It is directed towards high school and higher-level students and I teach middle years

Overall, I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of this technology tool and feel that it would serve as a great formative tool, especially for someone who is attempting to integrate more technology into their own teaching repertoire.

Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Now the Amazing (But Still Kind of The Same)Web 3.0!

November 3, 2018

My first memories of the internet do not exist within the domains of the school, but in my family home. I think the first I remember is Windows 95

when I was in middle years. Oh yes, and good old dial-up. I will never forget that connection sound,

sitting patiently until the mating call of the phone line connecting with the computer as it called back. The phone was then off limits. No calls in, no calls out. I used to worry that my friends (who rarely called) would not be able to get a hold of me because someone was online. We would only be on the computer for an hour (or usually less) a day and only if there was an assignment to research and we couldn’t find the information in our family’s collection of Encyclopedia Britannica.

Image result for encyclopedia britannicaimage source

If I wasn’t researching I might only use the computer for games like “Chip’s Challenge”

 

or “Solitaire” or “Ski Free”

 

where you had to try to avoid being eaten by the abominable snow yeti at the bottom of the hill, but it never worked.

Fast forward to the early-mid 2000s when Web 2.0 came around. The article “What Does ‘Web 2.0’ Even Mean? How Web 2.0 Completely Changed Society” discusses that the web is no longer a “static web” but “interactive”. We could connect with others on the internet, no longer needing to wait for the home phone to be available.  My first introduction to this was MSN messenger. I didn’t start using it till a few years after the majority of my peers had been, but once I did, I was quite intrigued that I could talk to my friends and even connect with friends that had moved away and I didn’t have their phone numbers. Now we move into an era where anybody can put anything on the web; videos, Wikipedia, blogs and more. You had to be careful about what to trust for research and also what images you put up or what comments you made on social media. There became a time where I almost feared what social media could do to my reputation as an educator that I was almost prepared to delete (believing, at the time, I could delete it completely) my social media accounts. As I educated myself on digital citizenship, I realized that it wasn’t so scary to include personal information, but I had to be cognizant of what I would share and what I would not.

As from what I understand Web 3.0, from the presentation of my fellow classmates and the articles they provided, to be is that now we have the ability to have most of our technology to be connected to the web and that these technological devices can share information with one another, data they have collected from us, and allow for us to improve and make easier the things that we need to do. All this data is gathered about myself and other users in order to make technology more efficient and more user friendly. I was quite surprised when my Iphone, on its own, marked the location of my parked car and later when I needed to walk back to it, I received a notification on my car’s location. I was at first a bit concerned about lack of privacy, but having history of always losing my car in a parking lot, I was happy that I no longer needed to use my key fob to sound the alarm or horn on my car so that I could find it again in the parking lot. The more I relied on apps such as my maps, the more it adapted to my behaviors, keeping track of the places I went and other such data, that it can sometimes predict where I need to be. I also like how it connects with my calendar and suggests when I should leave my house, while giving me traffic updates, in order to allow me to get to my destinations on time.

Image result for maps on iphone telling me when to leave

Since the move to Web 3.0 has affected our learners, their environments and connections with others I think of Jackie Gerstein)’s quote, “The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.” I think about how Web 3.0 is changing education. It began with Web 2.0 “technologies such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, and virtual worlds have become popular and are gradually making their way into the classroom” (Constructivism and Web 2.0 in the Emerging Learning Era: A Global Perspective, p 18). We have given rise to the constructivist learner and acknowledge that the educator is no longer the main source of information. We can no longer, as educators, use the excuse that we do not know how to use technology as a way from keeping it out of our classrooms. It would not be beneficial to our learners because of the ever-present way that it exists within their every day lives. It would be ignorant for educators to not adapt to the changes of society. As the internet allows for greater connection to social media, to other types of education technologies and more, educators need to be able to provide the opportunities for their students to be able to learn about these devices and technologies so that they can not only educated them on how to use them in their own education and lives, but how to be safe while using them.

Of course, this means that there will be those who are more advantaged to the opportunities to learn with technology and to be able to connect with others in this manner, and those that will be disadvantaged. Technology costs money. Those schools that have the access will be able to provide these opportunities for their students, not only through the purchasing of the technology itself, but through the education of the educators who will be using it to teach their students. The second advantage would be to the students who could afford their own devices for their uses outside of school. Those who cannot will, thus, be disadvantaged. Similarly, if educators cannot afford these devices, they too will be disadvantage and most likely creating similar disadvantage to their own students because they will not have the opportunity to use it outside of the classroom. Other disadvantage that have been mentioned in the article “Constructivism and Web 2.0 in the Emerging Learning Era: A Global Perspective” include privacy issues and plagiarism. It is much easier to plagiarize since the access of information is so prevalent and easy to access. The article also mentioned that that privacy would be a disadvantage because of the openness to access that allows for anyone to read materials placed on the web. Also, teens nowadays, as Amy B has mentioned in her post, are always connected to the web with their own devices. They do not no how to disengage or possibly give themselves boundaries to how much they are on the web or use their technology. As, Dr. Alec Couros mentioned in a CTV interview discussing the videogame “Fortnite” and as Amy B. also mentions about device usage, that there need to be boundaries set and healthy limits for internet access and social media interaction not only with children, but apparently adults as well. If we as adults, parents, and educators do not show ourselves setting limits, then how should we expect our children and students to do the same? But as my fellow classmates, Adam and Kelly mention in their blog posts, it is important for educators to take risks with the technologies they use in order to find out what works best for our students and for us as educators. It is part of our responsibility as educators to discover what works best for the education of our students and we can do so through the use of the internet, Web 3.0.

The Evolution of Web 1.0, to 2.0 and 3.0.