tech-ucation reformation

Goodbye overheads and chalkboards! Hello virtual "paperless" classrooms!

Sssshhhhhh – On The Air! May 6, 2015

My Technology-Based Learning Environments course mates and I are in the final weeks of class which means we are now finalizing our courses including the job aids, final peer reviews, and last reflections.  This is the last blog required for the course, but we will have to complete some reflections which will not be blogged.  I am certain I will post some of those thoughts to my personal blog, and I definitely plan to go back and read my previous blogs for this course to develop my final reflections.

As for what needs to be done with my course, I am still creating the videos for the course due to the delay in production – thank you spring allergies!  This year seems to be especially crazy; I have seen more wildflowers than ever.  The allergies are now under control with the help of several medications, but now kids, pets, and a spouse keep hindering getting the videos done in a timely manner.  I need to have a space dedicated to creating them without interruption, but I do not see that happening until I have a professional designer job, so I just need to chalk it up to a lesson learned.  This does give me something to think about if I intend to do any remote or freelance work.  Having my family around with constant interruptions is usually not a problem because I am adept at helping them with their needs quickly and getting back to the task at hand, but video-recording is a whole different game.  Now I understand why radio stations have those “on air” lights and special recording rooms!  I am not quite finished with the text pieces of the course either, but that will easily be done because I already have it all worked out in my head.  Plus I am waiting for peer reviews to come in; perhaps I can head off some work by taking their ideas into account before the final additions. Then again, I am prioritizing other projects right now which also demands my already limited time.

As for the possibility of implementation, I am sad that my course will not get to be, at least at this point.  Perhaps one day in the future, I will have the opportunity.  I am even considering selling parts of it.  But at this point I have no prospects to, and this, of course, will make evaluation impossible, but it will be alright.  I am really pleased with the topic and nature of the course.  Somebody in the future will like it too and want to use it, so then I can get valid client feedback.

 

Reflections on Method of Loci and First Project October 19, 2014

These past two weeks have been filled with implementing our instructional designs and exploring the potential of a mnemonic technique called Method of Loci or Memory Palaces.  My Instructional Design course mates and I have been asked to reflect on what worked and did not work using the method of loci to learn the process of Wilson’s (1995) Situated Instructional Design as well as how it could be incorporated into our designs.  We have also been asked to reflect upon the implementation and evaluation of our instructional designs including if we incorporated or ignored our client and peer feedback.

First, the method of loci or memory palace is a learning strategy which utilizes the visualization of locations to organize and recall information, especially large amounts of information.  This method typically involves using a familiar place such as one’s home for a sequence of location points with which to pair information to be recalled at another time.  Because the system relies on spatial awareness, some people like myself have a much better advantage over those whose talents lie elsewhere.  You see, I moved around a lot as a child.  My family moved to a new home, and I went to a new school almost every school year.  Sure, it may have been a coping mechanism at the time to be cognizant of the layout of my new schools and homes, but I later figured out that specific memories were also attached to those places.  My husband often compliments me for the quantity and detail of obscure memories I can recall from my childhood, but it makes sense because my memories are organized by places making them much easier to recall.  For example, I can remember that I read the book Helen Keller’s Teacher about Annie Sullivan in the second half of 3rd grade.  All the students had to create a diorama about a book of their choosing, and I can literally visualize all the projects arranged on the window ledges of my reading teacher’s classroom as well as what was in mine.  I actually attended two schools that year, so I also remember making Stone Soup during the first half of the year at the other school I attended.  After reading the book, each student was asked to bring a different ingredient to class one day to make soup.  Carrots were my contribution.  Seriously, this is what my mind is filled with . . . the fact that I brought carrots.  But ask me to remember either of those teachers’ names, and I am at a complete loss.  Funny how the mind works.

As for processing the four components of Wilson’s (1995) view on Situated Instructional Design, I considered and visualized where I usually am when I conduct each of these basic steps in my lesson planning.  As it turns out, the physical places where I think and work are fairly consistent, so it made sense to develop my visualization of the “path” based upon my physical locations.  I usually begin designing a lesson in the comfort of my bedroom relaxing and pondering how I will execute the goals of the lesson (desired outcomes), my own thoughts about what is essential to understanding the topic (values), and how either I or other teachers have taught the lesson before (acceptable conventions and practices).  The next step occurs ideally in the upstairs conference room of my school during a planning day as my department develop our activities together (plans for), brainstorming new ways to teach the same materials (engages in knowledge-generating activities).  The next phase of a lesson would take place in either my classroom or lab as the students conduct the activities we have prepared for them.  I facilitate the lesson (observe and monitor learning) and alter what I am doing when I see the students are not “getting it” or move along to the next activity if they show me they have already grasped it (make needed adjustments).  And then I return to the comfort of my bedroom to prepare for the next day reflecting upon how that day’s lesson went (reexamine goals and activities for improving learning).

So the real question is how this can be applied in the classroom?  I considered how I often I have my students visualize their own personal experiences when we discuss certain topics.  In fact, I pride myself in assigning homework which involves no paper or reading, only visualizing or observing.  So much of the physical sciences I have taught involve basic kitchen activities.  Inevitably, the students who spend time in their family kitchen watching pots of water boil, salt dissolve, and oil float in the water already understand the basics.  Much of our force, motion, and energy concepts are common playground experiences such as gravity pulling students down a slide, balls rolling faster on the wooden gym floor as compared to grass, or how a simple game of tug-of-war relies on unbalanced forces.  My students even get a kick out of taking a mental picture of their dinner plates as we begin our unit on food webs to initiate a discussion about where food comes from.  It makes perfect sense that the concepts with which they have the most difficulty are the ones they cannot truly visualize because they have no experience with them.  The fact that celestial bodies both rotate on an axis and revolve around another celestial body is difficult to “see” and requires a variety of diagrams, models, and observations.  They also struggle with picturing the slow changes of weathering and erosion needed to create canyons and river deltas because such processes take thousands of years and humans do not live for thousands of years.  Again, I support these lessons with photographs, models, and even time-lapsed photography.  It makes sense that as I ponder how to transform the entire 5th grade science scope and sequence into a video game, the location of where the concepts are observed must been considered.  We can begin our journey in a kitchen, then travel to the park, then to various locations on the planet (beach, forest, arctic circle), and eventually into outer space. But the situation is easy with science; reading and math will require more thought.

Now for some reflections on my instructional design.  First, because the implementation is still happening – my client and her students are only two weeks into it with four more to go – my evaluations are based only on what my client and I have observed thus far.  The copyright security and protection from child predators that a password-protected learning management system such as Edmodo offers are major advantages.  However, my client and I were bound by what the program can do.  My client would have preferred for the lessons to be more accessible to the students and organized by units or modules for easier access.  The students responded positively to the Facebook-style appearance.  They enjoyed being able to communicate with each other through their comments and having more control over their own learning, but my client and I both observed that some students are not as computer savvy as other and are struggling with the interface . . . something neither of us anticipated with today’s proliferation of technology in schools.  Based upon my client’s needs, I did change the deadlines in the system to meet some issues with student enrollment changes.  I would also prefer an easier way to grade/assess each assignment and monitor who has completed what.  My client is not as concerned about this issue as she was about giving written feedback to students through the comments.  If the system looks like Facebook, it should do a better job of notifying the students of notifications.  As for my peer suggestions, I broke up the physical arrangement of the activities in the job aid and adjusted the times designated for the activities per her suggestions, but I ignored the suggestion about giving more time to the introduction and ended up removing some information to reflect what would really be happening.

References:

Wilson, B. G. (1995). Situated Instructional Design: Blurring the Distinctions Between Theory and Practice, Design and Implementation, Curriculum and Instruction. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED383346.pdf.

 

Analysis & Design Working Together September 22, 2014

My Instructional Systems Design course mates and I have been conducting our analyses for our first projects these past two weeks.  We will use the information we gathered in the near future to create activities tied to the learning objectives we’ve created, but first we must reflect upon our findings.  Although not specifically tied to the project, what I learned most from my analysis is how industry and education differ in how they approach the learning process.  Education is ever evolving into more structured and standardized practices.  It must function in repeating cycles of school years, semesters, and reporting periods.  The state of Texas provides teachers with the expectations to be covered in each grade and subject, so a teacher’s yearly scope and sequence is divided accordingly from an ending point, such as a state assessment, back to the beginning of the year.  She wants to make sure every topic is covered, yet allows for some flexibility in pacing should her students struggle or excel at a particular topic.  So for a teacher, the whole creating objectives process simply does not happen because the objectives are already written.  Also, the idea of a creating a lesson in response to a problem or issue is missing because the objectives are expected of all students without consideration of what they already know.  In contrast, industry trains people according to the job to be performed or as a reaction to issues or problems.  A new employee may already be familiar with some aspects of a job and not need as much training as someone with less experience.  Or a new system or product will be introduced requiring training, yet it will likely only be taught once to current employees.  The learning objectives are developed according to the learner’s needs and could be different for each employee.  In either case, the verb stated in the objective limits possible activities.  For example, if the verb is “explain,” then there are just a few ways to do so – verbal form, written form, or perhaps even some alternative form of expression such as a skit, video, or song.  Regardless, the learner’s final product involves writing and/or speaking to explain.

As for my project, I considered both education and training paradigms in my analysis.  I will be developing a training module to help students prepare for an academic competition.  The competition will take place on a specified date, and the final expectation is the same for all student participants.  These parameters are similar to current education practices because the learning must be completed before the deadline, and what the student does during the competition (expected outcome) is already determined.  However, by thinking more like an industry trainer and analyzing past performance, I found a true problem for which a module can be developed in reaction to the need to increase performance.  After all, this is a competition, and the student who answers the most questions correctly will be the winner, and my trainer client wants more students to place in the event.  Therefore, the activities should include not only presentation of the material to be learned, but also repeated practice to increase performance.  Essentially, my student clients will study 40 paintings including the name of the work and the artist.  At the competition, 15 pieces will be chosen at random, and the students will be expected to both identify and correctly write down the title of the painting and the last name of the artist.  Most of the training module will focus on ways to increase time spent studying the paintings and faster identification of the paintings.  The trainer client plans to meet face-to-face with students to work on the actual writing down of the information, including spelling and punctuation.  In an effort to increase study time, students will be encouraged to communicate with each other about what they are learning in a social-media platform.

When asked about how analysis and design are related, I must admit I am struggling with the idea because most of education is not “problem-centered.”  ADDIE focuses on identifying a problem and creating a way to solve the problem.  In education, the curriculum is already in place, so the design takes place without an analysis.  Teachers have very little flexibility when it comes to designing lessons other than putting their own spin on what someone else told them they have to teach.  As lesson designers they have very few “problems” to work with until the students have been exposed to the material and either don’t get it or already knew it.  Then the real issue is usually the students are not prepared cognitively for what they were about to learn, they have a gap in prior learning, or they have become bored with the lesson.  For example, how can a student truly understand adding or subtracting fractions when they don’t understand fractions?  At this point, the teacher does not design a whole new lesson for the entire class; she pulls the student at another time and reteaches the lesson at a slower pace searching for the gap or clearing up the confusion.  As for the student who already knows the material, the teacher must find a way to keep him interested by extending above and beyond her plan.  This perpetual analysis and her response (redesign, if you will) to it happens so naturally, rarely are they seen as separate steps.

One thought comes to mind concerning the Information R/Evolution video and how analysis and design affect each other.  First, understanding how information can be categorized and filed helps us see how the Internet can take the classification of information to a whole new level.  Consider a comparison to the human brain.  Humans store information in different areas of the brain, and the various parts perform different functions.  So just as a human may store a memory but have trouble retrieving it because the neural pathways are not strong enough, filing information in drawers or on bookshelves only to be forgotten about because we didn’t create multiple ways to access it results in failure to quickly find it again.  Using hypertext, tags, searches, hotlinks, and all the various ways to manipulate text on the Internet links information together creating stronger paths just as my repeated access of information in my brain creates stronger and more efficient neural pathways.

 

Course Final Reflections August 8, 2014

I cannot believe my Multimedia in Technology Applications class is ending today.  This summer has flown by because of the intensity of the course.  As for what I have learned about designing instruction from a multimedia perspective, two major themes keep emerging.  First, as with design of any kind, less is more.  We are still talking about information being presented to send a message.  Designers strive for the most efficient and effective way to create the message so it will be understood.  However, users often have different needs so everything from learning preferences and disabilities to age and language abilities must be considered.  Designers’ final products must convey the message as simply as possible so as not to create confusion yet account for every possible population all while optimizing learning conditions and eliminating redundancy.

Second, the various forms of media all have their advantages and disadvantages, so the implications of using them separately or in any combination must be taken into consideration.  But more likely than not, the needs of the situation or context of the lesson will determine which forms to use and which will only create more confusion.  Thus far in my journey through graduate school, I have been a science teacher.  Hands-on experience is the best way to learn the science.  Sure, textual information explains the concepts, and visual aids support the text, but audio aids are rarely necessary.  I will be moving back into an ESL position next year which does not rely on laboratory investigations.  Focusing on language will become my primary form of instruction, so text will become more important, and audio aids will take on a larger role.  Visual aids will be just as important although they will be more difficult to relate to language concepts and vocabulary.  More abstract vocabulary like freedom and liberty will require carefully selected or created visuals.  As for designing instruction from a constructivist perspective, I felt as though my subject matter would have translated well to a lesson in which the student simply explores the materials and discovers how to make a circuit.  However, creating a multimedia lesson from this perspective could be tricky, so the digital material would need to be more open-ended and experimental, similar to what is happening with sandbox-style games.

 

Video Pros and Cons July 20, 2014

This week in my Multimedia in Technology Applications class, we are exploring designing instruction with video.  Because video is not something I typically work with, I have been reflecting on the experience from two perspectives:  as a teacher and as an instructional technologist. Each point of view offers differing pros and cons considering how each would interact with the form of media.

Teacher:  Creating a video is time-consuming; it could take a full-day to create a five-minute lesson.  Few teachers can afford to spend that much preparation time for just five minutes of class time.  Sure, anything a teacher makes could be used repeatedly, but standards change every few years, so some videos may no longer be applicable requiring the teacher to create something new.  Do not assume that I avoid video in my lessons.  In actuality, I rely on them heavily.  The Internet is a vast goldmine of information in video form, and between my school resources such as United Streaming, free resources such as YouTube, and teacher-created content such as what is found on Teachers Pay Teachers, I really have had no reason to create my own video content.  However, now that I feel more comfortable with the form of media, I am entertaining other ways video could be used in the classroom other than direct teacher instruction.  That means, how would my students use it?  I’ve been a science teacher for the past three years, and much of what my students do is observation of before and after or collections of examples.  In laboratory investigations, we draw before and after pictures, then write down an explanation for what happened.  Why not achieve the same thing with video?  The students could take a five-second before shot, then an after shot of the same length, then a 30 second explanation.  They have actually saved themselves valuable class time while achieving the same objective.  Because I am moving into an ESL position next year, I have been considering uses for video with this high-need population.  Rarely do students notice their own progress over time, so what about filming short question-and-answer sessions or oral-reading exercises at specified time intervals, such as once a six weeks.  With each filming, show them what they have done before so they can view their own progress.  My point, teachers have other options other than just showing one or making one to show.  But beware when having students create their own videos; not all video editing software is the same.  I would not ask a 5th grader to use Adobe’s Premiere Pro, while an experienced high school or college student may need more functionality than what Window’s Movie Maker offers.

Instructional Technologist:  Because I see myself in an instructional technologist position in the near future, I wanted to consider why a tech-savvy teacher such as myself never creates video and how I could encourage such a teacher to embrace the media form.  Teachers often complain that the videos they find are close to what they need but either have too much unnecessary information or the video is produced for an audience unlike the teacher’s classroom composition.  Of course, teachers could create their own videos, but as already discussed, time is an issue.  But what if teachers had an easy way to collect relevant short clips together.  The vast availability of video editing software could allow the teacher to create a “mashup” of only the clips they need, add important information to support special needs or adjust for the audience, and otherwise customize unoriginal content for state standards.  I would also advise any teachers to understand copyright implications.  Creating a “mashup” of clips to show students is one thing, but uploading that video to Teachers Pay Teachers and selling it creates the need for permission and citation.  Even creating an original video portraying purchased paper-based resources will require credit to the publisher.  I would also encourage teachers to get the cameras into the hands of the students.  In addition to the ideas above, teachers could take student-created clips and edit them together into one video, or have the students edit just their section to be added to a larger work.  Or how about each student taking their own collection and creating a video portfolio at the end of the year.

 

How Do You Pronounce This Word? June 26, 2014

I am quite skeptical of this week’s focus in my Multimedia in Technology Applications class.  We are focusing on reworking our instruction sets into audio-only instructions.  I just do not feel that audio without any text or visual scaffolding will be effective.  Too many issues and misunderstandings could come up; for example, as with accents and dialects.  Although I have lived in Texas for more than 15 years, the Deep South influence can still be heard in my speech.  And a recent trip to New York City proved I can pick up a New Jersey accent within a few days, much to the surprise of my students when I returned.  I’m talking here . . . forget about it!  I have a few videos I show my students with Australian and Eastern Indian narrators; they complain about not being able to understand the narrators even though English is being spoken.  The cognitive demand is just too high . . . the reason I bombed Calculus in college was because I didn’t have enough experience listening to a Pakistani speak English to understand what he was explaining.  Because I am switching back to an ESL position at my campus, I have been reflecting personally on all the second language acquisition concepts I will need to cover this next school year, and it seems there is just too much room for error in the English language for students to be presented with only audio instructions.  Just consider basic homophones and homographs; homonyms could be included but to a lesser extent since understanding the meaning relies more on context rather than seeing or hearing the word.  Regardless, these are just one example of how confusing English can be to even native speakers resulting in years of study even though college.  I mean seriously, my husband and I have been arguing over the correct pronunciation of the word bury for years . . . and we are both correct!  And let’s not even get into figurative language . . . that’s another blog post entirely!  Sure, my students get used to my voice and speech after a while, but what about the push to break down the classroom walls and share knowledge around the world.  I want students in India to access my website and learn about constructing circuits, but will they struggle with understanding my Southern draw?  I need them to see the text and the graphics too!  However, it works in reverse too.  I see the benefit of providing audio along with text as a way to support my future ESL students.  They NEED to hear how new and unfamiliar words are pronounced.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard my son mispronounce words he has read in books because he had never heard the words before.  Until someone corrects him, he will continue to pronounce the word incorrectly and may not even recognize the correct pronunciation if it were only presented audibly.

 

Combining Text and Graphics is Essential to Learning June 22, 2014

Filed under: 5110 — S. Michele Holmes @ 1:17 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

The focus this week in my Multimedia in Technology Applications class has been on combining both images and text for our instruction sets.  I am feeling so much more comfortable with the combination than without.  Having so much experience with younger students and the ESL population, I embrace the use of pictures and diagrams to support ideas and develop vocabulary, so I did not feel as though I was stepping too outside the crayon box.  I am also feeling as if I spent less time on creating a lesson which I may not use even use next year because I just accepted a change of assignment and more like I was focusing on how to use the program, which is one of the main objectives of the course.  What I did notice was how much more efficient the combination can be.  I could have deleted a great deal of the text from my original text-based instructions when paired with the graphics because the graphics represent the concept well, but I did not for the sake of the lesson design.  The vocabulary and explanatory nature of the text is an important part of the learning the concept.  Sure, I will assess the students on their ability to actually construct the circuits, but their state assessments will not do that.  The state assessments will provide them with a text-based prompt and perhaps a diagram.  I repeatedly tell my students that the science test is also a reading test; they must actually read the questions because just relying on any graphics or diagrams will not be enough.  The questions could lead to an unexpected answer, such as with my favorite style of questioning, “which of the following is NOT an example of . . .” which will only be understood by reading the text.  However, if the text is too long, some students will not even read it, or worse, not understand a thing the text said after they have read it.  I suppose the same could happen with graphic-only instructions.  Pictures can be confusing without any explanation whatsoever.  So in summary, learners benefit from seeing both text and graphics.

 

 
SEE JANE TRADE

Full Time Mom, Part Time Day trader.

JULES DAY TRADING JOURNEY

Transparency of a Female Day Trader

Eat Sleep Profit

For Traders By Traders

Trade The Day Away

Join Me on My Journey to Becoming a Day Trader

ThinkCreateShare

Educating with technology

Guila Muir and Associates

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

My about.me Experience

A lite journal of my experiences with about.me, its users and administrators

Dianna's LT 5210 blog

rapid instructional design

ltplusme

Welcome to a record of my thoughts as I venture through the world of learning technologies as a grad student in the field.

benedict5210

Reflections on Instructional Design

Through stories

Scott's blog about teaching, learning, games, film...

Jonathan Gratch

Doctoral Portfolio

Teaching with Technology!

Sharing my encounters with technology as a K-5 Technology Teacher

Melissa Pelletier

Writer, Editor

Jennifer L. Scheffer

Make IT Happen: Innovation & Technology in the Classroom

Making Connections

Teaching, Learning, Relationships, Leadership, Life, Ideas

Ms. Computer Teacher's Blog

Teach Tech Better. Learn Tech Better.