CTL 1799 Week 2 – Dog Paddling

We’ve done tons this week once again, including settling on a group project. My group will be creating a website project about Communities and Collaboration which I will later link here. We’ve decided to create a resource for teachers who might not be entirely too tech savvy as a way to enlighten them about how learners are using the web for learning, writing and sharing. I’m looking forward to my section on social networking.

For my independent project I’ll do something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite sometime now….create my own website! This is exciting….the first decision is whether to use iweb or freeewebs. I’ve been giving that incredible amount of time this week and I have to get moving on it soon! This resource will document some of the work I’ve being doing in my graduate studies here at OISE as well as provide a location for professional endeavors.

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Authentic Learning in a Virtual World – Article Review

Assignment OISE CTL 1799 – Article Review

Clark, D., and Anderson, P. Beyond the Keyboard: Facilitating Authentic Learning Experiences in a Virtual World.

http://www.ipfw.edu/as/tohe/2003/papers/ClarkAnderson.htm

I chose this article because of my interest in constructivist applications using computers and project-based learning, both of which involve creating authentic learning experiences.

With the widespread appeal of new technological tools the authors begin by reminding us that human connection “is essential for learning, not just nice-to-have”, and follows with a review of the theoretical principles behind how we learn and then how this relates to online learning and the formation of communities of learners.
Four main principles are addressed:

“Knowledge exists in Community and is situated in specific contexts”.
The article refers to the work of Lave and Wenger and to the earlier work of Vygotsky in relating that learning takes place in a social context and that knowledge must be shared with others or applied to real life situations in order to be meaningful. Knowledge does not exist in isolation, inside our own heads.

“Knowledge resides in a DISCIPLINE, therefore effective teaching introduces learners to ways of thinking within the discipline”.
There is a relationship between novice and expert that must be nurtured in the learning environment. A community of more expert learners introduces a novice to the ways of thinking that are unique to the discipline and the implication here is that the instructor can be a participant in the learning community but that students can also learn from each other.

“Learning is SITUATED, therefore effective teaching provides authentic experiences by engaging learners in real problems”.
Context is an important determinant in how a learner will solve a problem and in order to gain expertise a novice needs to be provided with real problems within a variety of contexts in order to encourage the transfer of knowledge to other situations.

“REFLECTION is vital to deep learning, therefore effective teaching embraces reflective practice”.
Novices will become more expert in their thinking when they involve metacognition and begin to reflect upon how they are solving real problems, what kinds of unique thinking the discipline promotes, and they begin to develop an understanding of the challenges faced by experts within the discipline.

“The situated learner is ENGAGED, therefore effective teaching inspires deep learning”.
When learners are given an opportunity to work socially there is more of an opportunity to learn from experts in the solving of an authentic task. This creates engagement, and the authors explain that the deeper the engagement, the deeper the learning.
In reflecting upon these theoretical principles, the authors outline how they applied these theories to the creation of their online graduate courses in the area of social ecology, providing these suggestions:

  • instructors model ways of knowing unique to the discipline
  • instructors allow students to learn from each other
  • instructors establish a sense of community by allowing students to get to know each other as individuals (introductions, informal chat areas, open-endedness, modeling of formal and informal responses)
  • instructors create authentic projects – “real dilemmas”
  • instructors give students choice about what issues they may choose to study or discuss
  • instructors establish avenues for reflection and self-assessment about achieving expertise

Our course has begun quickly to embrace most, if not all of these recommendations and I will look forward to learning more about the discipline of holistic education as our collaborative and individual project ‘dilemmas’ emerge!

CTL 1799 Article Review

Bliss, Anne and Heintzman, Anne, (2003). Problems and Solutions:Teaching with a Mobile Wireless Lab.
http://kolea.kcc.hawaii.edu/tcc/2003/conference/presentations/bliss_p.html

I chose to review this article because in my work with schools as a tech coach next year I will have access to wireless mobile labs that I can bring to classrooms for use in on-going literacy projects, and I’m interested in the problems and benefits of using them.

Bliss and Heintzman presented this conference paper based on studies of writing composition classes at the post-secondary level using wireless mobile labs (ranging from 1995 – 2002). Issues were presented in three areas: classroom, instructors and administration and I’d be interested to know whether any of you think that the benefits and challenges presented by Bliss and Heintzman are still relevant today.

Classroom:
Initially, both instructors and students perceive the time spent in the setup and putting away of the mobile lab to be the biggest concern in the classroom, seeming to take away from instructional time, however, this view generally changes after some experience with using the mobile lab. Instructors need to troubleshoot technical difficulties with the laptops, work through some internet connection issues, and teach students basic use (e.g. how to share files, submit their work, use the class website and make comments on the work of others) since students come with a variety of technical expertise with computers. It’s best if the instructor can get to class a bit early and start the setup with the lab, something that might be easier in K-12 classrooms than in post-secondary where time and travel between classes might be more of an issue. The authors found that setup and take down becomes easier and more automatic once students are trained in an organized and efficient way to handle the laptops, and as instructors become more experienced in finding a system that works well. During the time when students are booting up the computers and logging in, instructors can make good use of this time by making class announcements or asking about questions and concerns. Some students found this waiting time lengthy, while others liked that everything they needed was always right there; no forgotten books or papers.

Once instructors became experienced in teaching with the mobile lab, the authors found that the time spent dealing with laptops was not any longer than the time that instructors spend on the paper shuffle in the classroom. Far less time was needed to hand out, hand in, and organize paper; lost papers were eliminated, and absent students were easily informed of what they missed. Supporting students new to technology by covering the basic computer skills at the beginning of the course, using peer support to share skills, and making sure students understand the computer component of the course prior to registration is recommended.

Benefits of using mobile wireless labs in the classroom included

  • no lost papers
  • far less photocopying (papers are posted once on the class website)
  • no need to take attendance
  • a log of student participation is kept electronically
  • absent members can keep up with work
  • sharing and group work is more easily accomplished
  • no issues about illegible handwriting
  • student work and grading is visible to all therefore providing a transparency that benefits all

Instructors:
The prominent issue initially was trying to find the time for training on the new technologies to learn the new skills necessary to teach with the mobile lab. Once basic training of instructors occurred, there was a benefit in less time for future class preparation and enhanced teaching effectiveness. Once they learned how to set up a class electronically most instructors felt that it was an efficient way to keep students informed, make changes, and help absent students keep up, therefore less class time was used for announcements, it took less time to photocopy materials, and office hours were used more productively to help students. Adding technology to courses in small steps is recommended so that the learning curve for instructors is manageable over several semesters

Administration:

Bliss and Heintzman indicate that security and maintenance are the primary administrative issues concerning the use of mobile labs. Usually many instructors and many students are using the same machines daily, therefore clear communication about difficulties, user changes, and technical difficulties are critical. Service for the laptops is required regularly and needs to be organized so that it doesn’t disrupt instructional time. The authors recommend that administration seek instructors who volunteer to teach with this technology rather than randomly assign it, since this will provide a more motivated cohesive group to solve the problems that may arise when starting with this new technology.


CTL 1799 Holistic Ed and Tech – Treading Water in the First Week

Whew! I’ve barely survived this first week, and it hasn’t been easy. I haven’t taken an intercession course online from OISE before and I should have known what I was in for, as the mere 6-week course brings online time to a whole new dimension! Not to mention the added stress of a job interview (successful! yahoo!) and finally getting my classroom all moved and put away (for July at least).

It was an exhilarating week getting to know our class of about 24; about 5 or so folks I recognize from other courses and many new classmates. We are using 3 CMC environments in this course, which is pretty overwhelming at the onset. Knowledge Forum, BlackBoard and OISENet for IM chats and mail.

The first three readings discussed separate but very complementary topics to get us started with an understanding of what we can expect with online learning and holistic education (there are a few students new to technology and online learning).

Dale Lugenbehl’s article Personal Attachment to Beliefs suggested that we as teachers and learners we should question our attachment to beliefs and understand that this can have a negative impact on our ability to see other viewpoints and impact the time and energy we spend defending ideas. Lugenbehl suggests that non-attachment promotes a less competitive setting and a better inquiry model:

  • start with a question; a desire to know
  • collect and evaluate evidence on all sides
  • choose a belief based on the best possible information, understanding that upon reflection and new information this belief may change

Personally, after reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are this year, I found this article congruent with my beliefs about collaboration, exploration, and project-based inquiry, and very much related to Holistic Education, the topic of this course.

Mark Kassop’s Ten Ways Online Education Matches, or Surpasses, Face-to-Face Learning, was a great review of the bonuses of OLE’s and I’m in agreement 100 percent.

  • Student-centred learning
  • Writing Intensity
  • Highly interactive discussion
  • Geared to lifelong learning
  • Enriched course materials
  • On-demand interaction and support services
  • Immediate feedback
  • Flexibility
  • An intimate community of learners
  • Faculty development and rejuvenation

I can’t comment as an instructor, or as a teacher of secondary school students, but certainly as a graduate student I’m a believer….granted a very tired, overwhelmed and stressed believer!

CTL 1799 Holistic Ed and Tech – Treading Water in the First Week

Whew! I’ve barely survived this first week, and it hasn’t been easy. I haven’t taken an intercession course online from OISE before and I should have known what I was in for, as the mere 6-week course brings online time to a whole new dimension! Not to mention the added stress of a job interview (successful! yahoo!) and finally getting my classroom all moved and put away (for July at least).

It was an exhilarating week getting to know our class of about 24; about 5 or so folks I recognize from other courses and many new classmates. We are using 3 CMC environments in this course, which is pretty overwhelming at the onset. Knowledge Forum, BlackBoard and OISENet for IM chats and mail.

The first three readings discussed separate but very complementary topics to get us started with an understanding of what we can expect with online learning and holistic education (there are a few students new to technology and online learning).

Dale Lugenbehl’s article Personal Attachment to Beliefs suggested that we as teachers and learners we should question our attachment to beliefs and understand that this can have a negative impact on our ability to see other viewpoints and impact the time and energy we spend defending ideas. Lugenbehl suggests that non-attachment promotes a less competitive setting and a better inquiry model:

  • start with a question; a desire to know
  • collect and evaluate evidence on all sides
  • choose a belief based on the best possible information, understanding that upon reflection and new information this belief may change

Personally, after reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are this year, I found this article congruent with my beliefs about collaboration, exploration, and project-based inquiry, and very much related to Holistic Education, the topic of this course.

Mark Kassop’s Ten Ways Online Education Matches, or Surpasses, Face-to-Face Learning, was a great review of the bonuses of OLE’s and I’m in agreement 100 percent.

  • Student-centred learning
  • Writing Intensity
  • Highly interactive discussion
  • Geared to lifelong learning
  • Enriched course materials
  • On-demand interaction and support services
  • Immediate feedback
  • Flexibility
  • An intimate community of learners
  • Faculty development and rejuvenation

I can’t comment as an instructor, or as a teacher of secondary school students, but certainly as a graduate student I’m a believer….granted a very tired, overwhelmed and stressed believer!

Amazed at Atlanta!

I’ve just returned from the very friendly city of Atlanta attending the NECC 2007 Conference for my self-funded PD adventure. Air Canada was great as usual and the accommodations were not exactly posh, but it was the experience that was FABULOUS!

The highlights of the conference were:

I couldn’t believe it when I bumped into a friend of a friend here in Guelph, Maria Knee, from NH. Maria and a friend Tracy back home have been skyping with their kindergarten classes and I have been assisting this effort a wee bit by trying to get a webcam for Tracy’s class. We couldn’t believe our luck at running into each other at Resnick’s session! Birds of a Feather flock together! That’s Maria and I checking our Microworlds Jr at the LCSI booth.

Another highlight was the amazing Fondue dinner at Dante’s Down the Hatch in Buckhead. I’m not at liberty to add many details here since it is classified information, but suffice it to say that I DID, boldly and unashamedly, get a taste of that chocolate fondue (thanks to some primary teachers from Altlanta) and it would be definitely worth another trip to Atlanta. Dante is the charming guy in the middle in between the two intellectual types who remain unidentified.

ISTE Nets Refreshed – 21st Century Skills

ISTE has redone their National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) in keeping with the move away from technology as an information source to be learned through a graduated series of tasks and skills. This reflects the immense change in the last 10 or so years and the emergence of Web 2.0

As someone who has fought against the dreaded scope and sequence chart that administrators and superintendents are so fond of, I find this a refreshing change!

Here are the new areas of focus:

1. Creativity and Innovation
2. Communication and Collaboration
3. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
4. Digital Citizenship
5. Technology Operations and Concepts

You can download the pdf of the full documents here and check it out for yourself. http://cnets.iste.org/Students/s_stands.html

The Constructivist Consortium – Premiere Event in Atlanta

Lucky me! I was able to get out to Atlanta a couple of days early for the NECC conference and attend a wonderful premiere event from The Constructivist Consortium. This group of educators and software creators are interested in rekindling the constructivist spirit in education with meaningful uses of educational technology.

The gorgeous setting of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens was the perfect backdrop for an engaging and refreshing day of learning and exploring. The day began with a keynote from Gary Stager who is never afraid to publicize the truth about education, both the harsh realities of a system that doesn’t always keep the needs of students at the forefront, along with the inspiring hopefulness that keeps us teachers at it, and providing a lot of chuckles along the way.

Following Gary, Peter Reynolds urged us out of the box to put our DOT on the page and create during the day. We didn’t have to be designers…we could just be designer-ish, taking the plunge and becoming the risk-takers that we so often expect of our students. Not an easy task, but we were up for it!

Then, in the style of the kindergarten program (a place where some folks might say we finally get it right in education), we were provided the opportunity to explore, create, design, collaborate and share with software from these excellent sources:

 

What an awesome day! I’m so pleased to be involved with this grass-roots organization from the premiere event and hope that I can continue to be involved.