tech-ucation reformation

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

When I Grow Up, I Want . . . July 11, 2015

Well, it is that time again – another graduate course has begun – but this time it is different because it is the last course for this master’s degree.  The purpose for my latest course, Readings Seminar in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems, is to reflect upon my entire graduate program and develop a portfolio of representative works which have been polished and peer-reviewed.  For the first blog post and discussion, my course mates and I have been asked to revisit our application essays for the program and specifically reflect upon our career goals.  Have our plans changed during the course of the program and why or why not?  Have the plans been further defined and/or refined?

As for how I originally planned to use the degree, I envisioned several career possibilities.  The first was as an instructional technologist for a school district.  This plan really has not changed but has expanded to include university-level position and possibly even the private sector.  Because this is my main career focus, I have applied for multiple positions in this field, although some may be called by another name.  For example, I have applied for a position with a university to be a media specialist and am about to apply for another as a BYOD program transition specialist.  I had also considered conducting educational research involving technology and the effectiveness of its use in the classroom.  This is still a serious consideration, although it will likely involve continuing my education into another degree.  Working for a company that designs educational hardware and software including product development, training, and support also sounded hugely appealing at the time of my application.  While this is still an area I would consider pursuing, it is the one I will look into more once the other options have been flushed out.

Something I did not expect as a career choice was website development, but earning this degree has opened up a whole new level of opportunity.  I remember thinking at the beginning of the program how one aspect I enjoy about teaching is taking educational materials and reworking them to present them to my students in an effort to make the learning process more efficient and effective.  Website development is simply a new and exciting means to do just that.  I appreciate the flexibility and versatility that website development offers to this process.  Striving to take already created content and reorganize it was so easy using Dreamweaver and Muse.  So while I am considering other types of positions, website development has now been added to the list as well as my skill set.  Even if it does not become my main function, it does not mean that I will not know how to.

 

Considering What is Left March 30, 2015

Filed under: 5510 — S. Michele Holmes @ 4:17 am
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My Technology-Based Learning Environments class is at the halfway mark of our course development. My course mates and I are continuing to add information to our courses as well as presenting what we have done with the rest of the class via online presentations. We have been asked to consider what is left to be done, what challenges we have dealt with, and if we will meet our completion timeline.

I feel as though I am quickly catching up to where I want to be with my online course development. Although it appears as if I have not done nearly what I need to complete, so much of what I have left will go quickly because I have a consistent method for how I am developing the course. As for what is left to complete, the punch list is long. Under each module exists a page for each day of the week; I still need to update about half of those. Luckily, I spent a great deal of time updating my design document, so part of process is already completed – the list of activities. I just need to elaborate on what specifically will need to be completed each day. I also need to complete most of my instructional pages. I have been saving those for last because I want them to be more visually stimulating. I know what I want to go in them, I am just still exploring how to make them more than just reading material. Speaking of more than reading material, my plan is to incorporate multiple short videos throughout the course to explain how to complete various projects, conduct peer reviews, and use the programs. I anticipate this to be my biggest challenge and plan to complete most of them in the next few weeks. I do feel I have taken on quite a large undertaking and worry I may not be able to meet my timelines perfectly, but the course will be finished before the due date even if adjustments to the course must be made to meet the final deadline. The creation of original materials is what will challenge me to meet the deadlines. Teachers usually just use the materials they have been given and rarely make their own. I consider myself to have a knack for pulling together the best of the materials which already exist; I mean, why reinvent the wheel? But because Canvas has made it so easy to create and edit material, especially if the material will be reused again and again, the recreation of the materials I am pulling together should go smoothly.

I am unclear about my ability to implement this course because it is not being built specifically for a client or even me to implement immediately. I plan to keep it in tact until I need to implement it. My plan was to create the course in such a way that certain aspects of it can be modified for other needs. Perhaps a client wants to implement it over a semester. Other than changing due dates and the name of the daily pages, it should be fairly easy to modify for a variety of needs. I have been working more and more with the rubrics to evaluate the projects. Canvas makes it so easy to create, copy, modify, and save rubrics. So yes, I have a long way to go, but my plan is well-established. I am, however, really excited to switch up peer reviewers for the rest of the course to obtain some different feedback on the development so far.

 

Canvas Development Peer Reviews March 17, 2015

Filed under: 5510 — S. Michele Holmes @ 11:01 pm
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My Technology-Based Learning Environments course mates and I have taken the opportunity to peer-review the first quarter of our Canvas course development.  We have been asked to reflect on the feedback from our peers as well as compare expected timelines in the professional world to what we are doing as students.

First, let me say that my peer-reviewer is AMAZING!  She has provided me with such positive feedback on what I have done well that I know I am on the right track with the next developmental phases.  I have reciprocated the feedback because she too is doing a fantastic job.  I have to admit that I am utilizing some of her ideas in my development.  I know this is not direct feedback from her, but in a way, it is still feedback.  For example, we have both developed a front page in which we welcome our students, but she added a nice graphic and links to some of the videos Canvas offers to help new users learn how to use the various aspects of Canvas such as setting up a profile and communicating with other course participants.  I also decided to add a graphic appropriate to my course and plan to add a Canvas orientation page later in my development.  In my course, I provided links to information specific to the course which is important but not necessary to completing the course – a background information page, a goals and objectives page, and a direct link to the modules.  As a result, my peer added these to her course as well.  Although not meant to be feedback, the replication is just as positive and constructive, letting me know I am making good design decisions.  My peer also reminded me to make sure I consistently address the same audience; I had neglected to revise a couple of sections which I had copied and pasted from the design document to the course.  My design document was directed toward stakeholders and supervisors while the same information in Canvas is directed to the student.  This valuable feedback reminds me to continue to review how I am wording directions in future development.  If we as the instructor are speaking to our students, then we need to write the information in a similar fashion.  But perhaps the best feedback is the professional behavior of my peer-reviewer.  Even her criticism is constructive and positive which makes me want to continue to impress her.

Now allow me to present my thoughts on the difference in timelines between developing instruction in the professional world and as a student.  Because the course is spread over 16 weeks over which we will develop one course, this is not nearly as authentic as the typical 3-week timeline we would experience as professionals.  However, there are other major differences involved here.  For example, my peers and I are developing the course for a 3-hour graduate class.  It is assumed that we all have full-time jobs and are taking graduate courses on the side, or that we are going to school full-time and taking multiple graduate courses.  It is difficult to understand how many projects a professional instructional designer is handling at once, but if we are performing the job full-time, certainly we would be spending much more time in course-development than we would in a class.  Another major difference is the number of people involved in professional course-development.  At this point, my course only has three people involved:  my professor, my peer-reviewer, and myself.  In the professional world, the instructional designer would have clients, supervisors, subject-area experts, technical experts, and possibly even other instructional designers working on the same course.  I believe the involvement of more people could both help and hinder timelines.  Consider that each time the client or supervisor suggests or requires a change, the designer will need time to revise work which has already been developed.  Having experts and other designers working on the same project would, in contrast, speed up the process.

 

Canvas Course Updates

Filed under: 5510 — S. Michele Holmes @ 1:46 am
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My Technology-Based Learning Environments course mates and I have been busy loading our course information into the Canvas learning management system this for the past week or so.  In my last blog I reported that I am about a week behind due to taking a road trip halfway across the country to see my father who is fighting cancer.  As it turns out, I also ran into a bit of a side trip with my course.  Because we have been asked to reflect on what we needed to revise about our courses based upon the structure of the LMS, this is a perfect time to bring it up.

For the first-quarter course submission, we had to input information which had already been thoroughly developed and peer-reviewed.  The easy part was simply copying and pasting text from the design document into the LMS.  Sure, some editing was necessary, but the content was the essentially same.  This allowed my course mates and I to focus on the structure of the LMS thinking about the most appropriate placement of the information.  For the second-quarter course submission, we are now working on adding our instruction, activities, and assessments.  Because this content was not developed prior to input, we must also develop as we input.  Once I started working with the various aspects of Canvas, specifically the Modules and Assignments, I saw that I needed to give more thought to the structure of my own course, specifically the sequence of activities and how that might be interpreted in Canvas.  I actually returned to the design document for a major overhaul.  After all, the information will be put into multiple places in Canvas, so I wanted it to be correct before input saving editing time in the future.  Now that the paper overhaul is in a good place, I have begun to input it into Canvas.  I cannot stress how easy it has been to get the info into Canvas after the overhaul.  It is not only going so smoothly, it is actually guiding me on the development of instruction.  The ideas were there, but writing them out has become such a cinch!  I have a much better idea about both how long the rest of this stage of the development will take me bringing me back on track with my course mates and what my next stage will require time-wise and content-wise.

As for how the design model is working for me, I feel as though I have overcome a major hurdle and can now move forward with greater speed and efficiency.  To those of you who develop online courses but are not using Canvas, it may be time to rethink that plan. I have used Moodle, Blackboard, Edmodo, and Schoology; Canvas is now my new favorite.  I was concerned about how my population of younger students may receive Canvas as compared to Edmodo or Schoology, but Canvas actually allows you to develop your content more like a Word document or a website, so you can make content appear exactly the way you want.  Schoology is geared more towards younger students, but it experienced a major hacker attack several months ago, and I have been cautious about using it ever since. Canvas is a great alternative.

 

Review of Instructional Design Research January 26, 2015

Well, I am right back to it with a bang! This semester I have begun my Technology-Based Learning Environments course by reviewing some research on instructional design. My classmates and I are charged with reflecting upon three articles: (1) an article discussing project-based learning utilizing a constructivist framework, (2) another addressing instructional design in our own interest areas, and (3) the last an article that one of my course mates reviewed. At the same time, we are considering project ideas which could drive our work for the rest of the semester.

The first article began with defining and identifying three characteristics of constructivism. “Constructivism is a philosophical view on how we come to understand or know” (Savery & Duffy, 2001, p. 3). Gaining understanding through our interactions with the environment is central to the learning theory, suggesting that learning is the construction of understanding given the learning prompts. Setting a purpose for learning and incorporating opportunities for social negotiation are also central to the theory. The authors also suggest creating authentic tasks, helping students with project ownership, and providing opportunities for reflection should also be incorporated into a constructivist lesson. The article then asserts that project-based learning utilizes the constructivist theory and explains why. I want to create a course which asks students to use new technologies to present newly-learned content, thus combining the learning of skills through interacting with software and the learning of information that interests them, which addresses multiple constructivist ideas.

I have been pondering some project ideas, and the idea of designing an online course for gifted students is at the top of the drawing board. When I read Thomson’s (2010) article on this very topic, I found that the guidelines found in the research and suggested as best practices were the very same elements I am experiencing in my own online classes. Perhaps the perfect way to show what I have learned these past two years is by reflecting back my own interpretation of an online technology course is with the same idea but with a population I have more experience with. What an opportunity to explore my passions for technology, online learning, and gifted education. I plan to incorporate the instructional design suggestions from the article to the best of my ability: a well-organized course, frequent and prompt feedback, high-quality and appropriate learning materials, a mentor relationship with each student, and individualized and differentiated content.

Much interest in the emotions of gifted students has already produced considerable research. Gifted students often display emotional intelligence well beyond their years, yet many experience misunderstandings because their emotional maturity was over-estimated. I was surprised to find one of my course mates reviewed an article on instructional design considering emotions. In this article Astleitner & Leutner (2000) provide suggestions to address the five emotions in the FEASP instructional design approach: fear, envy, anger, sympathy, and pleasure. The suggestions for sympathy and pleasure were especially engaging and support two elements, cooperative learning and gamification, I would like to incorporate into my project.

Reference

Astleitner, H., & Leutner, D. (2000). Designing instructional technology from an emotional perspective. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32(4), 497-510.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (2001). Problem based learning: an instructional model and its constructivist framework. CRLT Technical Report No. 16-01, 1-17.

Thomson, D. L. (2010). Beyond the Classroom Walls: Teachers’ and Students’ Perspectives on How Online Learning Can Meet the Needs of Gifted Students. Journal of Advanced Academics 21(4), 662-712.

 

 

 
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