The Mikado again

And, they're off!

ALL-INCLUSIVE: Addressing the needs of all in remote teaching

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

To be inclusive can be described using multiple metrics. Generally speaking, in education that means all students with diverse needs have access to education. According to the government of B.C.’s section title, Inclusive Education Information for Parents, “Learning supports are resources, strategies and practices used so that all students have an equal opportunity for success at school. Every student deserves equitable access to learning, opportunities for achievement and the pursuit of excellence in their education (my emphasis). To make sure this is available to all B.C. students, services and resources are provided to students with various challenges, disabilities, talents or gifts.” (Education, n.d.)

Inclusion may also be interpreted separately from the educational terminology and thus be tied less to funding models and Individual Education Plans. That is, according to inclusionbc.org, that “Inclusive education is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, programs and activities so that all students learn and participate together.” (What Is Inclusive Education?, n.d.) This use of the word is how we are interpreting it, especially as it pertains to remote teaching and learning. For the two learning outcomes listed below, what follows are the explanations of how those outcomes relate to inclusivity, and the curated resources connected to the outcomes.

 

Learning Outcome: Support oral language practice synchronously while remote learning to address varying levels of Technology access, internet bandwidth, and time zones.

Photo by Dale Sakiyama

As much as remote teaching and learning has made teachers and students reimagine education, many of the difficulties identified by the switch to remote learning have roots in the same difficulties in face-to-face learning. When addressing an issue such as inclusion, there are comparable equivalents between remote and face-to-face learning. For example, where technology – or the lack of it – may exclude some students in the remote learning environment, the same may be said for face-to-face learning. That is, if a teacher asks students to use their phones to go out to take pictures of the school, some will not be able to do the activity because they don’t own a cell phone. The school may not have extra cameras to lend, and thus the student is excluded. In the same way, a student learning remotely may not have access to a camera to meet in a synchronous video meeting. How can this be addressed? Many school districts, such as Greater Victoria School District #61, implemented programs to loan technology to those students who requested. During the first month of remote learning in B.C., school districts scrambled to put these loan programs in place, using existing supplies of Chromebooks that school used for in-class instruction. The next challenge will be if or when a blended learning scenario happens. Can schools operate their in-class lessons with depleted supplies of Chromebooks that have been lent out? A finite number of laptops will see disparities in one place or another. The solution? Buy more laptops, which increases school budgets, which creates budget overruns.

Photo by Dale Sakiyama

An additional source of exclusion during remote learning is unreliable internet capabilities. Some students do not have reliable internet access, and thus may not be able to download certain assignments like videos, or to stream content, or to connect to synchronous video meetings. The solution to this is not quite as simple as the school district loaning the hardware. When an in-class assignment would typically rely on live, instant assessment and evaluation, a teacher in the classroom has no barriers. In remote learning, students who do not have reliable internet access may not be able to do any of the activities that their peers can do. So how does a teacher make the activity more inclusive? It is not possible for a publicly funded school to ask families to make sure their privately paid Internet Service Provider is functioning at a high level. Since requiring students to regularly access the internet may exclude some, a teacher may need to ask those students to connect less frequently, such as once or twice a week. This may ease the notion of “missing out” of instruction or learning opportunities.

Photo by Luis Cortes on Unsplash

In extraordinary circumstances, international students may have returned to their home country, only to be not allowed to return. In such cases, synchronous video meetings may be difficult if, for example, a 10am meeting in BC is 2am in Japan or South Korea. To expect those students to be logging in to a meeting would be unreasonable. Yet how does a teacher account for time zone differences in a synchronous environment? There may need to be alternating meeting times, such as 10am and 6pm. This means that the teacher’s day does not end as it normally would, so compensating by shortening the length of the classes may ease the teacher’s load. Perhaps allowing those students out of the country to submit verbal responses via recorded video would be an alternative. While this does not allow for live, instant assessment, for the purposes of using the target language, it may be adequate.

Increasing Participation/ Inclusion for All

Once those factors have been dealt with, the second use of the word inclusion may be a barrier. The students at this stage are now in the synchronous meeting, but are not participating or engaged. How might a teacher include options for non-participants while adhering to learning outcomes? How might a student fulfill a learning outcome that includes oral participation? For simple oral participation in a lesson, one might argue that video is not necessary; that audio is all that is needed. This is true, as humans have for over a century gotten used to telephone conversations instead of needing to be face-to-face. At the same time, as teachers are also trying to build community in the class, finding ways to encourage audio and video participation in synchronous settings would help towards this goal.

Distracted Zooming

Distracted Zooming. Photo credit: Dale Sakiyama

Resources to support synchronous video and oral language practice:

Synchronous Online Classes: 10 Tips for Engaging Students

Marie Norman, who wrote this article, is an associate professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. While the article is aimed towards post-secondary instructors and students, many tips can apply to K-12. At the end of the article, Dr. Norman summarizes what is inherent in many of these kinds of teaching strategies articles (the citation is from her co-authored book):

“The tips offered here won’t miraculously eliminate the initial awkwardness of virtual class sessions, but they’ll help. And over time, the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of virtual meetings will become normal, even comfortable. What’s more, you’ll find that most of the tips provided here work equally well in a traditional classroom setting. They are simply methods for increasing mental engagement, participation, and accountability. Because, at the end of the day, teaching with technology is just teaching – if “just” can be applied to something as complex and nuanced as teaching. And while the contexts and specifics differ, the same learning principles and general strategies always apply (Ambrose et al, 2010).”

7 Strategies Designed to Increase Student Engagement in Synchronous Online Discussions Using Video Conferencing

Preparing for Fall 2020: Blended and Online Learning

Catlin Tucker is a speaker on education who has had classroom experience at the secondary level, but who now writes and speaks about blended learning. Dr. Tucker’s writing addresses the current coronavirus switch from in-class to online and blended learning, so there is acknowledgement of the added stressors of teaching in the typically uncharted territory for most teachers. In her article, “7 Strategies Designed to Increase Student Engagement…” her suggestions include ones similar to Marie Norman’s tips. As an example, Catlin Tucker’s strategy number two is, “Communicate your expectations for participation and behavior online.” Marie Norman’s tip number two is, “Tell students what to expect.”

As Dr. Tucker is a professional speaker and writer, she is also selling her knowledge. The second article, “Preparing for Fall 2020,” is an online course that people must pay to enroll in, in order to get detailed information from her posted outline.

Learning remotely when schools close: Insights from PISA

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provides many documents addressing education in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. In the article, “…Insights from PISA,” (Programme for International Student Assessment) statistics are presented for comparisons across countries around the world on information such as students’ access to the digital world and preparedness of teachers and schools.  This article does not give advice or tips, but provides data and concludes:

“This is not only a matter of providing access to technology and open learning resources, but will also require maintaining effective social relationships between families, teachers and students, particularly for those students who lack the resilience, learning strategies or engagement to learn on their own. Technology can amplify the work of great teachers, but it will not replace them.” (Learning Remotely When Schools Close: Insights from PISA, n.d.)

How can teachers and school systems respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? Some lessons from TALIS

In the article, “…Some Lessons from TALIS,” (Teaching and Learning International Survey) Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at the OECD, acknowledges the inequities of the educational systems, but also looks towards the changes that may push the systems forward and not go back.

“This crisis exposes the many inequities in our education systems – from the broadband and computers needed for online education, through to the supportive environments needed to focus on learning, and up to our failure to attract talented teachers to the most challenging classrooms.

But as these inequities are amplified in this time of crisis, this moment also holds the possibility that we won’t return to the inequitable status quo when things return to “normal”. We have agency, and it is the nature of our collective and systemic responses to the disruptions that will determine how we are affected by them. Our behaviour changes the system, and only mindful behaviour can avoid a breakdown of our education systems.” (Network, 2020)

References

Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M. Lovett, M.C., Norman, M.K. (2010). How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Education, M. of. (n.d.). Inclusive Education Information for Parents—Province of British Columbia. Province of British Columbia. Retrieved July 19, 2020, from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/diverse-student-needs/inclusive-education

Learning remotely when schools close: Insights from PISA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/view/?ref=127_127063-iiwm328658&title=Learning-remotely-when-schools-close

Network, T. O. F. (2020, March 23). How can teachers and school systems respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? Some lessons from TALIS. The OECD Forum Network. https://oecdedutoday.com/how-teachers-school-systems-respond-coronavirus-talis/

What is Inclusive Education? | Inclusive Education. (n.d.). Inclusion BC. Retrieved July 19, 2020, from https://inclusionbc.org/our-resources/what-is-inclusive-education/

 

 

EDCI 565 Assignment #3 – Review

Addressing accessibility and inclusion in remote learning requires many of the same tools required and used when in the classroom setting. Understanding these similarities means that educators who have adapted and adopted strategies to address accessibility and inclusion in the classroom will not necessarily be needing to “reinvent the wheel.” in a move to remote teaching. At the same time, there are some unique challenges to remote teaching that classroom teaching strategies cannot address. These unique challenges must have separate strategies.

RESEARCH

Research on student engagement is plentiful, and indeed, includes mechanisms such as the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). While the NSSE is a survey of colleges and universities in Canada and the United States, it may still provide insight into K-12. In particular, student engagement in an online environment differs in some aspects from student engagement in the classroom, so a book such as Student Engagement and Participation: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications includes more current research directly addressing the remote learning environment, as well as issues with synchronous versus asynchronous lessons. While there are articles that address student engagement both in classroom and online settings, there is also mention of research into disengagement. Gary Natriello (1984) found students tended to be behaviorally disengaged when they perceived lack of fairness in enforcing rules and policies. In Raymond Francis’s article, he relays the well-established research on engagement:

“As current literature indicates, student engagement is impacted by several factors. Among those factors are the student’s self-intrinsic motivation, connection with the course content, and the student’s perception of the faculty member’s attitude and engagement (Gasiewski, Eagan, Garcia, Hurtado, & Chang, 2012). This section discusses the importance of setting up students for success in their learning through the use of engaging instruction and the use of technology.(my emphasis)” (Francis, Davis and Humiston, 2018)

In the current educational world that has pivoted abruptly to remote teaching and learning, engagement for students in higher education looks different than in K-12 settings. Sang Chan (2018) looked at the cognitive, social and emotional engagement at the higher education level. Chan writes that since “In high school settings, adolescent online learners rated student-instructor and student-content interactions higher in educational value than student-student interaction (Borup, Graham, & Davies, 2013),” Chan (2018) this shows that attention should focus more on the student-instructor interactions to increase engagement.

In a publication that directly addressed the pivot to synchronous remote learning, Dwi Rahayu explored Indonesian university students’ responses to the use of Zoom for synchronous classes. (Rahayu 2020) Among the findings, Rahayu states that,

“The students agreed that they could communicate at ease before the lesson starts, question and answer during the study process, and could work collaboratively through the breakout rooms. Through the whiteboard/shared screen feature in zoom conference, students described that they were able to give feedback to each other. Moreover, they mostly agreed that materials to the lesson could be accessed and understood in e-learning.” (Rahayu, 2020)

This is encouraging for teachers making the pivot to remote teaching, however the Indonesian students also agreed that, “the traditional face-to-face still gives easier and better access from the factors of communication and materials compared to the e-learning.” (Rahayu, 2020)

What has not yet been studied is whether synchronous meeting platforms such as Zoom and video applications such as Snap Camera can be used in ways to add dimensions to synchronous meetings that face-to-face cannot, and have a positive effect on engagement and inclusion. This would be an interesting Master’s project idea.

 

 

References

Borup, J., Graham, C., & Davies, R. (2013). The nature of adolescent learner interaction in a virtual high school setting. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(2), 153–167. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00479.x

Chan, S., & Bose, D. (2018). Engage Online Learners: Design Considerations for Promoting Student Interactions. In Management Association, I. (Ed.), Student Engagement and Participation: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 96-118). IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2584-4.ch005

Francis, R. W., Davis, M. J., & Humiston, J. (2018). Engaging Students in Large Classes Through the Use of Blended Learning Instructional Strategies (BLIS). In Management Association, I. (Ed.), Student Engagement and Participation: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 306-318). IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2584-4.ch015

Gasiewski J. A. Eagan M. K. Garcia G. A. Hurtado S. Chang M. J. (2012). From gatekeeping to engagement: A multicontextual, mixed method study of student academic engagement in introductory STEM courses.Research in Higher Education, 53(2), 229–261. 10.1007/s11162-011-9247-y23503751

Management Association, I. (Ed.). (2018). Student Engagement and Participation: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2584-4

Natriello, G. (1984). Problems in the evaluation of students and student disengagement from secondary schools. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 17(4), 14–24.

Sotillo, Susana M. (2000). Discourse functions and syntactic complexity in synchronous and asynchronous communication. Language Learning & Technology, 4(1), 77–110. http://dx.doi.org/10125/25088

EDCI 532 Assignment #3 Sean and Dale

The projects that we have created over the past weeks covered inclusiveness and digital literacy. The intention was to create a cache of resources to build digital literacy in teachers and have resources available to distribute to parents if needed.

 Added to the aspect of building digital literacy in teachers is the inclusion inherent in teaching to all students. The resources suggested address some issues teachers face in attempting to address accessibility, but also inclusion and by association, participation and engagement.

 Outcome # 1: Teachers will be able to use and navigate a variety of websites and platforms to facilitate learning and be able to share resources with parents and students.

 Outcome #2: Support oral language practice synchronously while remote learning to address varying levels of Technology access, internet bandwidth, and time zones.

OUTCOME #1

 Concerning outcome #1, the resources are multiple posts providing how-to videos and documents to assist teachers to find specific solutions for Google Classroom and FreshGrade. It also provides opportunities for professional development to allow teachers to use the tools more effectively during remote learning. These resources will ensure easier navigation for educators to use Google Classroom and FreshGrade in their classroom as well as providing a collection of resources to distribute to parents and students in order to facilitate their learning and grow their digital literacy. These two platforms are heavily used in the Greater Victoria School District and it seemed practical to use something that many teachers deal with on a daily basis in school.

 As defined by the British Columbia Digital Framework, “Digital Literacy is the interest, attitude and ability of individuals to use digital technology and communication tools appropriately to access, manage, integrate, analyze and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, and create and communicate with others.” (Education, n.d.). 

 As the B.C. digital framework is an important facet of the curriculum it is essential that educators embrace and work towards integrating the values of the framework into their teaching practice. Nevertheless, in my own personal experience, there is very little professional development that the districts put forward to train teachers to effectively use platforms such as Google Classroom and FreshGrade. This became abundantly clear during the Covid-19 shutdown. If B.C.’s digital framework is part of the curriculum then it is important to treat it like a traditional subject. Teachers should take it slow and teach the entirety of basic computer literacy, which would hopefully allow students to build transferable skills that can be used throughout their academic career and continue to build the teachers’ digital literacy at the same time. Just as if you are teaching mathematics, first you have to teach students number sense and continue to scaffold new concepts on top of existing knowledge to progress. In order for this same approach to become commonplace when teaching digital literacy there needs to be significant improvement in supporting teachers to achieve best practices in this area. 

 There are a plethora of articles outlining the benefits of teachers receiving more training in digital literacy. However, there is little empirical data of professional development and pre-service training in digital literacy (Redmond, 2018).  Although Redmond’s context is from an American lens, I propose that a similar problem exists in Canada. 

 From my personal experience, professional development for digital literacy is treated as a one-off workshop instead of being integrated into the mainstream teaching practices. This is because many teachers are uncomfortable with using the digital infrastructure in the first place. The literature supports that digital literacy education for teachers would be highly beneficial to students, but there is limited evidence of proper infrastructure to support Canadian teachers to grow their own digital literacy (McLean & Rowsell, 2019). In addition, with the demand for students to use more digital tools in school,  parents expect teachers and schools to be digitally literate authority figures and be able to provide information and advice on digital tools and applications (Ciboci & Labaš, 2019).

 Covid-19 exposed the shortcomings of the abilities of many teachers to effectively facilitate learning through an online platform. It put a spotlight on the deficit of professional development in digital literacy and the need for more accessible resources available for teachers to utilize.  

 

 OUTCOME #2

EVIDENCE

Achieving the goal of supporting oral language practice synchronously while remote learning requires educators to examine both accessibility and inclusion. That is, students engaged in a language class would have a learning outcome that includes listening, speaking and interacting. (Japanese | Building Student Success – BC’s New Curriculum, n.d.) From a pragmatic point of view, measuring the three aspects of listening, speaking, and interacting would be simple to track from an educator’s position. In a synchronous setting, an educator may set up activities such as information exchange, or dictation, or model dialogues and track student involvement.

The complicating factors involved in synchronous remote teaching are aspects such as students having appropriate technology hardware to interact, as well as reliable internet signal at home, and being in a time zone that facilitates synchronous meeting. An educator may have control over the time and number of times a synchronous meeting may occur, but cannot control for a student’s access to technology or reliable internet access. Adjustments may be made at the school or district level to eliminate the need for technology hardware, but reliable internet access may be a hurdle that cannot be addressed by the educator or the school.

Once those factors are addressed, it is the educator who must measure success of achieving the goal by student participation and engagement. To measure increased participation and engagement, educators may measure achievement of their goal by looking at number of times students verbally contributed, or added to the chat screen.

SUMMARY

The resource activity seeks to give educators suggestions on ways to increase participation and engagement in the synchronous remote teaching meetings. The first three activities are applicable to both the remote teaching scenario, as well as the classroom setting. The second two activities are focused solely on the synchronous online meeting scenario.

The first three activities are: Beginning the meeting with casual chatting; Using Breakout Rooms; and having both instructor and students using Screen Share. Of the two suggestions specific to synchronous online meetings, the use of Virtual Backgrounds and Using Filter apps may aid in increasing participation.

 CURRICULAR DISCOURSE, DEVELOPMENT, DOCUMENT IMPACT OF DESIGN

As David Blades discusses curriculum and its “enframing,” (Blades, 1995) we look backward at the Japanese curriculum guide to check whom it serves. Does it serve students or the creators of it? We assume that the committee of people assembled to produce the curriculum document did so to address the best research available in curriculum studies. Once that document lands in the hands of teachers and by proxy, students, what direction does it take? Ted Aoki would take the curriculum document as only part of the equation. The resource suggestions I put forth are rooted in Aoki’s term of “curriculum-as-plan” (Aoki 1986), but are also limited by my research searches. I have drawn from generally Eurocentric articles and studies. Indeed, my own experiential suggestions of virtual background and filter use is from within a Canadian and more specifically, Victoria setting. The students I address attend Victoria High School, and I expect that these students, at this time, would respond to the suggestions in a predictable way. Indeed, as Aoki describes the “indwelling” (Aoki, 1986) where the teacher resides between the curriculum-as-plan, and the curriculum-as-lived, I can only speak to my own biases in using these suggestions. The success or failure of the suggestions may not lie in the suggestions themselves – although they might – but what most teachers intrinsically know, is that sometimes it is the particular group of students in that class, at that time. Yet it may also be the particular teacher and the background that inhabits that teacher.

 

OUTCOME #1 REFERENCES 

Ciboci, L., & Labaš, D. (2019). Digital Media Literacy, School and Contemporary Parenting. Medijske Studije, 10(19), 83–101. https://doi.org/10.20901/ms.10.19.5

McLean, C., & Rowsell, J. (2019). Digital Literacies in Canada. In J. Lacina & R. Griffith (Eds.), Preparing Globally Minded Literacy Teachers (1st ed., pp. 177–198). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429397790-11

Redmond, T. (2018). Learning to Teach the Media: Pre-Service Teachers Articulate the Value of Media Literacy Education. In Pre-Service and In-Service Teacher Education: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (Vol. 1–Book, Section, pp. 1275–1297). IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-7305-0.ch059

OUTCOME #2 REFERENCES

Aoki, Ted T. (1986). Teaching as indwelling between two curriculum worlds.In The B.C. Teacher, April/May (Vancouver: British Columbia Teachers’Association)

Blades, D. (1995) Procedures of Power in a Curriculum Discourse Conversations from Home. JCT, 11(4), 125-155.

Japanese | Building Student Success—BC’s New Curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/second-languages/japanese/introduction

 

EDCI 565 Assignment #2

Increasing participation and engagement in synchronous online meetings

As teachers increasingly adapt to the reality of remote learning and teaching, and adopt the technology and programs to allow for it, issues of accessibility, attendance and inclusion start to dominate discussion, even before curriculum is considered.

ACCESSIBILITY

Before a class meets in a synchronous online setting, there are issues of accessibility and inclusion. There are inherent inequities with internet access and strength, use of technology hardware, privacy concerns over a student’s home life being seen by the teacher and classmates, and access to synchronous meetings across different time zones. For the four issues, students at school will have access to the school’s internet and wifi network; they will have access to the school’s hardware such as laptops; they are separated from their home environment; and they will be in the class together. Once students are doing remote learning, generally from home, they may not have reliable internet, nor have appropriate hardware, nor have a quiet, private space to speak and listen, nor be in the same time zone (if international students have returned to their home country). Those issues must be addressed before considering how to increase engagement. But let us magically make those issues disappear. Each student has high-speed wifi, a fully functional device, has a quiet, private area to speak and listen, and can meet across time zones.

ATTENDANCE

Once the technical side of remote teaching is addressed, the students must then “attend” or log in to the synchronous meeting. Within the four walls of the classroom, a teacher already has the students present and hopefully, awake. By showing up at the door of the classroom, students, especially at high school, have either just arrived at school, or have transitioned from the previous class to the next class. When a class is conducted synchronously online, student attendance is not a given; a teacher sets the meeting time, logs in, and waits. While this is comparable to a teacher arriving at school, opening the classroom, and waiting, in-school attendance is monitored by school and district administration. Of course, nothing stops students from skipping class, but generally, the majority go to class. In the remote teaching environment that K-12 education operated in the Spring of 2020, attendance was not tracked nor reported. This is significant, as students connecting to synchronous meetings without accountability means that attendance, compared to in-school attendance, was lower. As of July 2020, attendance at in-school classes in British Columbia will be voluntary. Again, let us wave our magic wand and make attendance issues in synchronous meetings disappear. We may now address the issues of participation and engagement.

PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT

At the heart of participation and engagement in synchronous online meetings is the same premise that applies for in-class participation and engagement. Many strategies that a teacher uses to increase participation will work in both environments. There are of course, unique challenges to synchronous meetings, and those will also be addressed. In that light, the following strategies fall under two main categories: the first addresses strategies that would normally be used in the classroom and can be adapted to the synchronous online environment; the second are strategies unique to the synchronous online environment.

CLASSROOM STRATEGIES TO USE IN SYNCHRONOUS MEETINGS

  1. SOFT START – CHATTING BEFORE STARTING CLASS

In the classroom, students often enter, sit down, and chat with their neighbour before class begins. This creates a healthy conversation background buzz. In synchronous meetings, because only one person can talk at a time (the microphone cancels the use of other microphones), as soon as one person starts talking, everyone hones in on that person. This can discourage conversation when a student becomes the focus of attention. It also changes what the student says, excluding anything private like, “Hey Ralph, are you going to ask Betsy to the sock hop?” to become more general, “Hey Janie, I like your new bouffant hair style.”

 

Suggestion: Lead some of the conversation by connecting to individual students by asking some WH-questions. You may build in a routine such as pre-loading a slide that features a current event, cartoon, or trivia question to spark conversation in the minutes before class begins.

 

  1. GROUP OR PAIR WORK – BREAKOUT ROOMS

When teaching in class, a teacher may ask the class a general question and receive silence in response. The same happens in the synchronous online meeting. As most teachers know, there is safety in large groups; students can blend into the background by not saying anything. Just as in the previous scenario, a difficulty in class and in synchronous meetings is that once one person speaks, everyone’s focus goes to that person. Many students do not want to stick out like that.

Suggestion: To help encourage participation, a teacher in the classroom might split the students into small groups or with partners. The same may be done in the synchronous environment. That is, a teacher may use “breakout rooms” to manually or automatically split the class into groups or partners and have them virtually go into separate “rooms” to complete an assignment or have discussion. The teacher then has the ability to “check in” to each breakout room to see how the discussion is going, just as a teacher might wander from group to group in the classroom. You must know whether the application can support breakout rooms, as Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow for it, but Google Meet does not (at the moment).

 

  1. STUDENTS COMING TO THE BOARD – SCREEN SHARE

Demonstration of Screen Share in Zoom

In the classroom, teachers may have students participate by having multiple students write on the board to share ideas. The same can be done using the screen share option synchronously. Again, Zoom and Teams allow screen share, but Meet does not. Just as a teacher in the classroom must monitor what is written on the classroom board, in screen share, teachers must monitor and lay down ground rules before giving students the opportunity to share. The teacher must have oversight and control to delete or block student misuse of the app or platform if it arises. If that has been set, then students may use the screen share options to show others what they have done, and this gives students more control over the meeting.

 

STRATEGIES UNIQUE TO SYNCHRONOUS MEETINGS

  1. BACKGROUNDS
Screenshot of Zoom virtual background - Earth from space

Screenshot by Dale Sakiyama

In the classroom, students arrive “as is,” or already dressed for the day. In a synchronous meeting, they may not want to show their face or background. To encourage use of video, students may be more willing to enable their video if they may employ some anonymity through different virtual backgrounds or filters to alter their appearance. In Zoom, for virtual backgrounds users may upload an image from an online source, or from their own collection of images. Of course, teacher oversight of appropriate background images must be in place.

 

  1. FILTERS
screenshot of Zoom virtual background and Snap Camera filter

Screenshot of Dale Sakiyama

For teachers who have not seen filters in use, for the past few years, Snapchat has offered users filters, which are typically animated additions to a user’s face in camera mode. As an example, a Viking helmet may be added on top of a user’s head. As the user’s head moves, so does the helmet. There are many options of filters a user might choose, so in a synchronous class setting, the teacher must set some parameters around what is acceptable. For use in Zoom, students may download the app from the Snap Camera web page, and then open the app to choose some favourite filters. Once chosen, the app must remain open for Zoom to connect to it. Once a Zoom meeting has been started, the student may change the video setting from the default webcam to the Snap Camera. Then the student should see the chosen filter applied, as will the rest of the students in the class.

These options are not guaranteed to get students to participate, but they may make it easier to engage in the synchronous setting. As with all strategies to try to increase participation and engagement, it is not a one-size-fits-all, and would require a teacher’s judicious use.

Critical Evaluation Framework

Using the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose) Test, these suggestions meet the requirement for evaluating sources. First, the currency of sources is connected to research on engagement and online learning. The relevance is addressed in that it speaks to teachers during the pivot to remote teaching and learning. While part of the authority rests with the research articles referenced, authority also falls to me as a high school teacher experiencing the pivot to remote teaching in the present. Accuracy is only partially addressed by evidence and research, partly because some of the issues are so current that research has yet to be conducted. The purpose of the suggestions is to give teaachers some tools in the new remote teaching environment that may be with us for the foreseeable future. Even as medical changes occur to change the trajectory of remote teaching, there will be lingering shifts that will not return to education as it had been.

References

Hampel, R., & Stickler, U. (2012). The use of videoconferencing to support multimodal interaction in an online language classroom. ReCALL (Cambridge, England), 24(2), 116-137. doi:10.1017/S095834401200002X

Management Association, Information Resources. (Ed.). (2018). Student Engagement and Participation: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2584-4

Sedivy-Benton, A. L., Fetterly, J. M., Wood, B. K., & MacFarlane, B. D. (2018). Using Creativity to Facilitate an Engaged Classroom. In Management Association, I. (Ed.), Student Engagement and Participation: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 754-777). IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2584-4.ch038

 

 

ALL-INCLUSIVE – Rationale

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Given that our jurisdiction lies in British Columbia, all matters education lead back to BC’s Ministry of Education. If we are to talk about inclusion, and we are dealing with the K-12 system, then government guidelines should be considered first. While the statement, “Every student deserves equitable access to learning, opportunities for achievement and the pursuit of excellence in their education,” (Education, n.d.) is used for the Inclusive Education Department, it can also apply to all students.

Establishing the use of the word, “inclusion” in the context of the Ministry of Education allows us to examine resources that address students’ needs as well as teachers’ goals The ministry mandate is to aid students with Individual Education Plans to overcome barriers to their success. In the classroom setting that may look like the use of a scribe to take notes, or Google Read and Write to listen to text read aloud. In the remote learning context, students would need the appropriate technology at home to accomplish the same tasks. As many school districts, including School District #61, have licencing agreements to use the Google Suite of applications, students with a school district account have access from home, if they have the hardware to use.  School District #61’s agreement with Google gives many students tools to make their access to education more inclusive.

The article, “Synchronous Online Classes: 10 Tips for Engaging Students” is specifically aimed at the type of educational environment that we experienced during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the Spring of 2020. While the article was written in 2017, it has maintained a topical application to current times. Most of the tips can be applied in the K-12 setting, even though they are geared towards the post-secondary educational classroom.

In the same way, Catlin Tucker’s article, “7 Strategies Designed to Increase Student Engagement in Synchronous Online Discussions Using Video Conferencing” addresses the remote teaching environment that teachers faced in the Spring. The article was posted on May 4, 2020, in the middle of the transition most schools were making to remote teaching. Of course, any list of tips and strategies must include a corollary that address the different approaches an elementary, versus middle, versus high school teacher would take based on the level of the given group of students’ attention span.

The OECD articles, “Learning remotely when schools close: Insights from PISA” and, “How can teachers and school systems respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? Some lessons from TALIS” while not espousing advice, address the difficulties around the world for educational bodies to make remote teaching inclusive and accessible. Insight can be drawn from the data, especially as comparisons can be made across countries around the world. As is indicated in the latter article, by examining China’s response to give education a high priority, “it was not just the government which mobilised resources: a wide range of contributors were stepping forward to provide everything from free Wi-Fi and devices for students through innovative instructional systems to social support for teachers and schools.” (Network, 2020) These are lessons that we can learn in order to make inclusion and accessibility better for our students.

EDCI 532 Curriculum is (wearing) hats

Photo credits: Cheryl Tradewell

Now that would be a tough metaphor to work out. But maybe that is reason enough to do it. I initially thought that that would be my clickbait, but now I think I will give it a go. The real challenge will be to somehow tie in Egan and Blades, but I will make it happen!

To begin, I will relay a connection I make in my English 11 class when we study Lord of the Flies. Full disclosure: I LOVE Lord of the Flies. Not the killing and all that, but the writing, the insight, the themes. So in chapter four, “Painted Faces and Long Hair,” Jack, one of the two boys who assumes a leadership role, paints his face as a symbol of his transition to a warrior. It is a “mask” he puts on to become something other than “Jack.” I show the students a clip from Looney Tunes featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd called, “Bugs Bonnets,” in which a truck carrying hats opens and Bugs and Elmer have hats land on their heads. Each time a different hat lands, their personalities transform to take on the stereotype associated with that hat. It is the “mask” that they wear. Of course, some of the stereotypes are very dated, but we also use that as a point of discussion.

First, let’s work the metaphor. If we assume that curriculum is the “what,” (Egan, 1978) and that in my case, the curriculum applies to high school English or Japanese, then how do hats compare? Let us assume that each student must wear a hat, at least until grade 10. What kind of hat? Let’s get into that later. Right now, we must make sure the hat fits. We measure the head, and account for hairstyle. Will there need to be some accommodations for a particular student’s head? This is information for the milliner. Now for the “choice” of hat (remember, it is mandatory to wear it). In English, with it being the only foundational subject that must be taken right to grade 12, this would be something both stylish and functional; something colourful, yet plain; light, yet durable. These hats are with the students for up to 12 years, so variety and durability may be key. Students will have some choice what hat to wear for that day, but it is not always up to them. For some decisions, the teacher may tell all students to wear the same hat that day, and for others, the teacher may suggest a hat to wear based on experience, but in the end, the students could decide on their own. The teacher must also wear a hat, but that may change day to day, and it would be chosen from a hat rack (Blades, 1995) that was partially predetermined. Of course there are some hats that are not allowed, as it is not completely unchecked. Within the classroom, a teacher will pick the most appropriate hat to wear that day, and among students, they can decide on colour, or material, or whether to wear the hat backwards, sideways, upside down or askew, if they wish. As long as they are meeting the requirements of wearing a hat, and that we have defined what we mean by “hat,” then there is freedom to decide how to wear the hat, and what embellishments to add to the hat, both for teacher and student.

By the way, my original metaphor was, “Curriculum is a restaurant menu.” Probably would have been easier.

 

References

Blades, D. (1997) Procedures of Power in a Curriculum Discourse: Conversations from Home. JCT, 11(4), 125-155.

Egan, K. (2003) What is Curriculum? JCACS, 1(1), 9-16.

Warner Brothers (1956) ‘Bugs Bonnets’ [Cartoon]. Looney Tunes.

 

EDCI 572 Reflective Blogpost

On the one hand, one might ponder that the time period of February 27-April 27, 2020 has been the most disrupted eight weeks any educator, or person, has experienced in peacetime over the last hundred years. While that statement seems grand and overreaching, history will show how millions, if not billions, of people around the world stopped working, stopped going to school and stopped going out period, in reacting to the global pandemic of COVID-19. Having said that, on the other hand one might look back – at least in our small bubble of a single Master’s course in a single university – and see how this time period allowed for/ forced the agenda of a course called, “Development and Implementation of the Curriculum in Digital Learning Contexts” to “put our money where our mouth is.” Yes, we had assignments, but we also had to live our new reality of doing exactly as the course title suggested – in our jobs.

At the start of this course at the end of February, we had warnings of what was to come, but we were still teaching in classrooms, taking attendance, assigning homework, chatting with colleagues at the photocopier, and taking our classes to large assemblies. Eight weeks later, our education system is running under a new reality. We have set up virtual classrooms, recorded mini video lessons, marked photos of assignments, and conducted synchronous video meetings; that is, doing the exact contents of what our Master’s course was about. In a tragically ironic way, it could not have been timed any better. Make no mistake though, it is not something we wish to repeat. We are lucky to have all in our cohort to be healthy and virus-free. While the transition has been difficult, we are not in hospitals needing treatment. We can safely complete the Master’s course and teach our students from our own homes.

Photo by Natalia Y on Unsplash

So how does one summarize all of the learning over the past two months? Gather ’round children, and let me start from the beginning! Once upon a time…

IN THE BEGINNING…

This story does have a clear beginning, middle and, as one learns in English class, an Indeterminate Ending. We began, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to tell our digital stories. Each person in the cohort had varying degrees of familiarity and use of the myriad of digital tools to incorporate in education. For many of us, the digital tools were extras; add-ons that we used to address new ways to teach and to learn. For example, when we were asked to list the digital storytelling tools in a shared document, I listed Pixton, a website that allows students to create their own comics. Before starting, I give my students  a handout that explains the guidelines around appropriate and inappropriate content, and how private or public the content may be. Once that is reviewed, I have them create a three-panel comic that describes three “bucket list” things they would like to do. That allows them to play with the features in the program before doing the main assignment, by altering clothing, hairstyle, body shape, and other features to create their “characters.” Of course, as with many projects, I show them my own examples to give them an idea what it might look like (without copying mine).

This digital storytelling tool addresses many aspects of BC’s Digital Literacy Framework, including: Creativity and Innovation – specifically, using a variety of digital media to express him/herself creatively; as well as Privacy and Security – in particular, in the Digital Footprint and Reputation section regarding information that can be searched, copied and passed on. Once this assignment is complete, students can choose to publish the comic, which can be seen by others in the Pixton community, share on social media, as well as send a link to the comic, which is done to submit to me as the teacher. Even though there is no picture of the student being seen, there are still issues of privacy with students’ names attached.

The original shared document of digital tools was helpful to expand my exposure to tools that others used, and this was more relevant because they typically were tried and true; that is used successfully in the classroom and worked well enough for colleagues to recommend.

I tried Powtoon, thinking that it might be similar to Pixton, which would give me another option to use for this style of assignment. In the end, the main difference between the two applications was embedded in the names Pixton and Powtoon: Pixton is based on static comic panels, and Powtoon is more focused on dynamic cartoon (although not exclusively cartoon) videos. As with all new resources, and especially digital tools, we try them out to gauge their effectiveness. The short example above was from a template that allowed me to change the character and text, although I stayed with the general storyline for the purposes of simplicity. The original template is below. Each has a limited option, free version, as well as upgrades to paid versions with more creative options. In the end, like most teachers, because I like to have as many arrows in my quiver, I put Powtoon into my folder of curated applications for possible future use.

By week three of this Master’s course, even though the world was changing around us, it looked as though we may not have been affected as much as the other post-secondary courses that were not already online. As we had been conducting 100% synchronous class meetings since September 2019, all indications pointed towards “business-as-usual.” In theory, yes. Our Master’s course would not look at all different in the way it had been conducted. In practice, outside of the course, everything else had changed drastically. We possibly naively thought that we would make the necessary adjustments in our day, and just continue on. As new decisions to close down our day-to-day living came out in rapid succession, suddenly life became very complicated. Without fully understanding at first, this strongly impacted time to devote to the Master’s course, no matter how easy it was to make a “transition” to online learning. Beyond the shift that had to be made at home, which was significant in itself, in schools very few teachers had an online version of their classes ready to seamlessly transition to in case of an emergency such as this.

THE MIDDLE…

When BC’s Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, that all schools would close to staff and student attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic, it thrust all educational partners and students into uncharted waters. No one, up to the highest level in the educational chain, had experience in navigating through a pandemic. Fortunately or not, the decision was made just days after most schools had had their last classes before Spring Break, on Friday, March 13. To give a sense of how quickly things evolved, we as a staff at my high school were called to an emergency staff meeting at lunch on that last day. We were given instruction to clean our classrooms, especially of desktops, but also other surfaces such as shelves, before leaving for Spring Break so the custodians could sanitize as much as possible over the break. For most staff, including me, this resulted in a very quick, hasty process of loading most things just into boxes, to be sorted at another time. The indication four days later, on March 17 was that the shutdown of schools was “indefinite.” In hindsight, my booking a dentist’s visit at the end of the school day on that Friday was terrible. I had no time after school to properly leave things either for myself or the custodians. When were we coming back? No one knew. What were we coming back to? No idea. How do we set up the new learning landscape? Do your best. How do we connect with students? Not sure. With many questions and no answers, this does not put anyone at ease. When your job becomes throwing darts, and your home life follows, it is no surprise that adjustments were necessary in every aspect of our lives. The Master’s course was no exception.

“Going paperless” by quinn.anya is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The saving grace for me in considering the transition to online learning was that over the past few years I have been archiving all of my material into digital format. I have probably scanned over 3000 documents so I could then recycle the paper. This meant that in order to “pack up” on that last day, I just needed my thumb drive with the bulk of my teaching resources, rather than a number of binders labelled for each class. Of course anything created in the last ten years has been digital, so that was not a problem.

As we proceeded through the following weeks, each weekly topic became more connected to our lived experiences. Going through BC’s Digital Literacy Framework seemed like a road map for our setting up virtual classrooms, working out privacy issues around synchronous video meetings with minors, and looking at ways to engage students to address creative “learning opportunities,” as directed by the school district and Education ministry. At the same time, plans for our Master’s group project shifted. Our group of four, who are all local Victorians, was able to physically meet on Monday, March 16, the day before the entire shutdown of schools occurred. At that planning and recording session, we still held out hope to meet again to record our final sections.  Not only did we discuss our individual focuses, but we used two different applications in Prezi and Flipgrid to describe our project. More arrows!

 The major adjustment to make in our shift was that we had planned to use the film studio set-up at Spectrum Community School. We divided our responsibilities based on that configuration. To make the change to a video without face-to-face interaction required, again from BC’s Digital Literacy Framework, much creativity and innovation. Like everyone in the bigger world around us, we had to go with plan “B,” even though we had no plan “B.”

My part of the final project was to highlight the use of iMovie. I drew from a class project from last year that I was going to do again this year with new classes, but because of the school shutdown, could not proceed as planned. We are still doing the project, but with a finished project already, it allowed me to reflect back at the process, which was just as valuable. Our product was a “movie trailer” video with the help of an iMovie template. While we had two parts to our video, the second part – the movie trailer – included no views of students, which has made it easy to share without privacy concerns.

THE END?…

As for our indeterminate ending, while it does not apply to the Master’s course, because it is definitely ending, our educational foray into full-time work with BC’s Digital Literacy Framework, as well as use of all of the digital storytelling tools acquired during the course, continues. It has become clear over the past eight weeks that no matter how much or little our educational landscape will be permanently changed in the future because of COVID-19, the skills and tools that we have acquired – some by necessity, some by choice – will be used again. As well, the Personal Learning Networks established now will continue to guide and inform us in the future. A well-used rallying cry in the past month has been, “We’re in this together!” The same can apply both to our cohort as we support each other through the Master’s program, but also to educational colleagues moving forward in our new digital learning contexts.

 

EDCI 569 Blog Post 2

E-Learning and Blended Classrooms

During one of the synchronous meetings I posed the question to the teachers at Langley’s U-Connect school: How is it going? As a cohort we have been reading the research and debating hypotheticals, whereas they have been living it. I was curious to find out their feedback since this is their daily reality. Generally speaking, their experiences were not a surprise. That is, the blended learning they taught was somewhat successful, but that there were some predictable difficulties. One advantage of the blended classroom was the opportunity to see students face-to-face, because much of their interactions were online and without video. While it would need ethics approval, it would be interesting for those teachers to actively poll their students to find out their feedback about the U-Connect experience, and report it out to the cohort.

Sir Isaac Pitman retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Pitman

Historically, distance education has been around since the 1840s, when Sir Isaac Pitman used the mail system to grade student submissions for learning shorthand. The transition to computers progressed until e-learning replaced the postal system. However, the advent of e-learning and blended learning largely was used in the business world. The next step has been to be used in higher education, and in more recent times in K-12. As a result, the data and effectiveness of blended learning at K-12 level is still formative.

In the last year, the province of Ontario has brought in a change to the graduation requirements to include  two online courses for all high school graduates. This has been criticized and written about, notably from Beyhan Farhadi (2019)  in which she claims to “show how online learning, as an emerging method of course delivery at the secondary level, is producing new geographies of inequality.” In response to this criticism, Michael K. Barbour has appeared in K-12 State of the Nation, as well as reposted in CANeLearn to argue that, “If teachers, schools, school boards, and the Ministry of Education were to focus the design, delivery, and support of e-learning in Ontario to the specific needs of different populations of students, then all students could have success.”

At the same time, Barbour (2019) indicates that, “In order to implement a four-course e-learning requirement, the [Ontario] Government would have to scale the existing system by more than 10 times.” Also, that “In order to scale the existing system to this level, the Government of Ontario would need to invest in significant, additional resources and professional development.” In the article, Barbour cites Ferdig (2009), who reports results that 27 out of 27 at-risk students completed one online course. As of this writing, I could not find the article to cross-reference. While this statistic seems impressive, and it is cited repeatedly by Barbour, its small sample size and claims of universal validity are unverifiable.

Still, it is not a stretch to say that online or blended classrooms can have success. There is need for alternatives to traditional classroom instruction, however, they will address certain demographics just as classroom instruction addresses certain demographics. Just as the province of Ontario has undertaken other initiatives, such as a province-wide ban in cell phones in the classroom, this mandatory two-course online requirement for graduation can only be evaluated as it is rolled out. Citing other jurisdictions, such as Michigan or New Mexico in the United States is limited in its argumentative effectiveness, since all of the six states in the U.S. that have online requirements have only one course as required for graduation.

A report from Global News looked at an annual report put out by the state of Michigan about its monitoring of the e-learning success rates.

Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/video/6444145/concern-continues-over-e-learning-in-ontario

Also highlighted in the Global News article was the report from the state of Michigan, whose schools have a one-course mandatory requirement for graduation, and whose grade 9s and 10s had below 50% pass rates of online courses.

Table B1.    2017-18 Count and Pass Rate of K-12 Virtual Enrollments by Grade Level

Grade Level # of Enrolls % of Enrolls % Change Pass Rate % Change from 16-17
9 89,944 15% 12% 41% +2%
10 102,163 18% 12% 46% -2%

Having colleagues in the cohort doing blended learning right now is valuable, as their feedback becomes relevant. Jerry’s critique with synchronous meetings being very difficult to arrange, as well as the suggestion that more video lessons would be better, whereas his experience has not seen it as working practically. These comments, while anecdotal, are still important to the overall discussion and debate of policy such as the Ontario government is rolling out.

In the end, as reported in the CBC, “According to Ken Montgomery, dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor, e-learning is only effective when there is adequate technology to support it—technology that costs money. Montgomery thinks e-learning has room to enhance digital literacy, but said he’s ‘a bit skeptical as to whether or not that’s the rationale behind this potential move, or if it’s simply about saving some dollars.'”

Ken Montgomery (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Whether the Ontario Ministry of Education is advancing this roll-out for purely educational purposes or fiscal purposes is unknown, but it will be worth tracking whether it results in net job losses of teachers.

References

Barbour, M. (n.d.). Ontario: E-Learning Graduation Requirement – Student Success – State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada. Retrieved February 21, 2020, from https://k12sotn.ca/blog/ontario-e-learning-graduation-requirement-student-success/
Barbour, M. (n.d.). [REPOST] Ontario: E-Learning Graduation Requirement – Student Success. Canadian ELearning Network. Retrieved February 21, 2020, from https://canelearn.net/repost-ontario-e-learning-graduation-requirement-student-success/
Barbour, M. K., & LaBonte, R. (2019). Sense of Irony or Perfect Timing: Examining the Research Supporting Proposed e-Learning Changes in Ontario. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education / Revue Internationale Du e-Learning et La Formation à Distance, 34(2). http://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/1137
Farhadi, B. (2019). “The Sky’s the Limit”: On the Impossible Promise of E-learning in the Toronto District School Board [Thesis]. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/97442
Mar 18, C. N. · P., March 18, 2019 7:42 PM ET | Last Updated:, & 2019. (2019, March 18). “It’s just not possible”: Education officials concerned about
changes announced | CBC News. CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/education-changes-windsor-reaction-1.5061208
Michigan’s K-12 Virtual Learning Effectiveness Report, 2017-18. (n.d.). Michigan Virtual. Retrieved February 18, 2020, from https://michiganvirtual.org/research/publications/michigans-k-12-virtual-learning-effectiveness-report-2017-18/

EDCI 569 Blog Post 1

History of Open Education and Learning

As has been noted in our discussions, most of the studies and articles on Open Education, including the articles by Peter and Deimann (2013), and Weller and Martin (2018), refer to open education as it applies to higher education. In the Zawacki-Richter and Naidu article however, the focus is distance education, which did and does apply to K-12. The distinction is important, as K-12 has different parameters than higher education. The simplest way to distinguish the difference is to focus on the aspect of voluntary versus compulsory schooling. Education that is voluntary (i.e. higher education) means that students choose to enroll, and thus pay, for the education. In K-12 (or K-10, which is usually when students are 16 years old and is the end of compulsory education in BC),  there is no “paying” for education (besides parental property taxes and other income tax), so “open” as it applies to free financial access, is already achieved.

In both the Peter and Diemann (2013) article, as well as the Weller, M. (2018, August) article, it is relevant to reflect on the past to see whether there are emerging patterns, as well as cycles of repetition. Too often, what is touted as a “new” insight is a recycled idea. In our current digital world, one may argue that while the medium is different, there are still familiar themes of discussion. Moving forward, the issues that we may encounter in using OER and OEP will likely have roots in previous iterations of open education and resources.

Biases worth noting are the focus on both “Western” historical information, and males vs females.  While coffee houses and cathedral schools were places for European open educational opportunities, this does not include the Asian continent at all.  As well, the presumption would be that women were not included in the historical “open” education; it would have been reserved for men only, which was not very “open.”

How does the history of open education affect my classroom?

As a source of comparison, it is noteworthy that some of the open principles of coffee houses are in place in the K-12 classroom. Certainly there are restrictions based on topics within the charter of rights and freedoms, but encouragement of thought and opinion are in place, and emphasis on honing argument and debate is practiced. In my English classes we usually have in-class debates in which pairs of students research a debate topic and present against another pair in class. Afterwards we include class reaction and response, which depending on the class, can be very lively. This is also replicable in a digital world if a synchronous video or audio session is used, especially if it is a group chat. This may also be replicated using text.

 

It has become apparent that I must distinguish between Open Educational Resources, Open Educational Practices, and Massive Open Online Courses, because I have mixed one with the others. As well, the other important distinction is how they apply to K-12 education instead of post-secondary.

Open Educational Resources

Before proceeding, it is important to clarify what “open” means in this context. According to the Hewlett Foundation, “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

Open Educational Resources for K-12 is not seen as big of an issue as it is in post-secondary education. Course materials are sometimes guarded by individual teachers, but many openly share with others. There are websites like Teachers Pay Teachers that allows teachers to upload their material for others to buy, but since much material can already be found for “free” online, the website has limited draw. As for the K-12 classroom, certainly there are budget constraints that limit the kinds of resources that a given teacher may offer students, but generally speaking, whatever educational resources a teacher uses in the classroom comes at no cost to the student. Even subscriptions to particular websites are factored into department, or school, or district budgets. This is part of the mandate of public education, and is what comes under scrutiny by the public when schools charge “fees” for educational purposes. Any monetary charges must be voluntary if it is for classroom use, and either other alternatives for learning must be provided, or the school or other agencies may cover the cost of those whose financial situations cannot incur the cost. Under these regulations, Open Educational Resources are a non-issue. As for the department or school’s perspective, Open Educational Resources would allow for more diverse offerings to the students if budget constraints prevent a teacher from buying particular resources. In a market-based economy, that would mean that the structure of monetary compensation for authors of texts and materials would need to change, as publishers would not profit from sales of books, and thus would not offer authors contracts to publish their books. Offering texts free of charge would either be very altruistic of an author because the time spent writing would not be monetarily reimbursed, or an author would have to be sponsored monetarily by a benefactor who receives money through advertisement.

Having said all of that, “true” Open Educational Resources (that would be provided free of charge for educational purposes only), would greatly expand the opportunities in the K-12 classroom. I say “true” in quotes because “free” and “open” are very closely tied, but depending on the context, are used differently. In terms of OER, “open” essentially means, “free.” What about “resources”? In K-12 that would include many more things besides course materials. The above definition also includes, “any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” In my English classes, OER would especially positively affect the English text resources. That is, Open Educational Resources for written texts such as novels or anthologies of poems or short stories would open up the possibilities for student access. At the same time, non-text resources such as taking students to see a stage play, going to a museum or art gallery without working it into a budget would liberate more classes. In the Japanese class, much more could be done to enhance the cultural aspect of learning the language. Going to eat Japanese food, or realia such as abacuses and calligraphy brushes and ink without needing to deplete our department’s meagre budget would mean much better overall learning. But who pays? Ostensibly it would have to fall on the province to pick up the tabs, because it would not be good business practice for the companies to offer their products or services free for educational purposes.

Open Educational Practices

As defined in the BCcampus OpenEd webpage, OEP is, “Open pedagogy, also known as open educational practices (OEP), is the use of open educational resources (OER) to support learning, or the open sharing of teaching practices with a goal of improving education and training at the institutional, professional, and individual level.”

As such, in the high school classroom this is often organic. That is, students often participate in creating resources without their explicit knowledge. Students provide feedback either directly through comments, or indirectly by their enthusiasm (or lack thereof) in any given assignment, which determines the direction the assignment or course in general, will proceed. Sometimes the student participation is explicit when doing something like a inquiry project. It is a little bit like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books of the 1980s – students are guided based on their responses. Of course not all assignments or courses are run that way, but that feedback is vital to keeping a course lively and active. At our school, the new BC English 10 curriculum is rolled out in that way. The way our English department has set it up, students are introduced to the five components of English 10: Literature, Spoken, Creative Writing, New Media, and Composition. Halfway through the course, they are to choose an area and work on an inquiry project for the remainder of the course, with a presentation of their project at the end. At the same time, as much as inquiry projects are touted as student-led, it is still a top-down approach by a teacher dictating that the class will be doing inquiry projects.

Massive Open Online Courses

For higher education, MOOCs can be an efficient way to learn. The overall usefulness of MOOCs seems to come down to intent. With a certificate completion rate between 5-15% (according to Fiona Hollands & Aasiya Kazi, CBCSE, Teachers College, Columbia University) the vast majority do not take the courses primarily to complete them. That is, the content is used as professional development or for more casual learning. For those who complete the certificates, MOOCs tend to be stepping stones to further, more structured, accredited programs.

How does this affect the K-12 classroom? Large MOOCs such as Coursera and EdX are geared towards higher education and not K-12. MOOCs would be the same as any district-run online learning option that is already in place, which some students use not because of mobility or distance issues, but to speed up the time to graduate, or to avoid taking a particular subject in the classroom. Of course, some students take online courses because of social anxiety or other health-related issues, and for these students online courses allow them to attain educational success from home. In the past I have had students who were interested in learning Japanese, but could not fit it into their timetables. They asked whether they could take it from me outside of the timetable, which would amount to a MOOC style class. The extra work this would have meant for me (without compensation) made me decline their request. If however, the school district paid me per student I was “teaching,” I might consider making a MOOC style course. This begins to creep into a for-profit system though, and goes against the main tenets of public education.

The topics of OER and OEP are important in the new digital age, and their effects on K-12 are yet to be clearly felt. As the cohort in Langley can attest, these models are a work in progress, and time is the only judge of its success.

 

 

 

 

EDCI 571 Week 6

Review of cohort videos:

Cheryl, Heather and Ben

Really liked the round-table format. Using the live-streaming synchronous method of interacting allowed for the “discussion” style of relaying information. I had lots of pausing to write all of my notes for the video. While I understood the topic of using info tech for assessments, I wasn’t clear about what Cheryl meant by the statement of “so much data and no one know what to do with it.” Was that about having raw test scores and assignment marks to analyze? Or having assessment tools and trying to see which ones are most effective in evaluating student understanding?

I agree that there is huge potential in game-play learning and that being a teacher who designs or informs a game-designer would be great for a career, but as you know, there’s a lot of “educational software” out there – some good, some not-so-good – and it is a tricky business. The most difficult part with game design is how to reach its audience: adolescents. Games have such a short shelf-life that literally it is a “here today, gone tomorrow” world of use.  In the world of gaming, even the best, most popular game will be tossed aside in a year, so to have adolescents use a game after its popularity has run its course is very difficult. Typically, what an adult views as excellent does not translate well to children. As parents, we all have tried to steer our children towards very engaging, educationally sound games, only to have them play for ten minutes and never touch again. It may be that we have to stop chasing the elusive “entertaining and educational” activity, as it will always be just out of reach.

Stellar video and topic!

Faune, Leanne and Rochelle

Really enjoyed the playful aspect of the video. You clearly had a vision of what you were producing, and to involve so many colleagues! Very impressive. The extra touch of text at the bottom of the screen helped a lot – I think in hindsight, our group should have made use of that (or subtitles). The topic of tackling technology truly touched on teachers’ trepidation to tie together technology and ‘tudents. Too tough!

This does bring up the Clark-Kozma debate of whether media can influence learning. Certainly when handled properly, every teacher will tell you that media can influence learning. However we live in a world that is imperfect, and having all of the tools and resources we need to make the media effective is not always the reality.

Loved the use of props, both real and imagined!

Trevor and Emily

Very well explained, and with great examples to highlight your points! Wholeheartedly agree with Emily’s point about a leader’s role in fostering a teacher’s learning environments for technology integration, and the what, how and why it is being brought in. Talking about the respect that the leader must convey to the staff is key to buy-in. As Emily states, in any school there will be teachers with a wide range of experience with technology, from skilled to neophyte. A good leader must be able to navigate the interpersonal side of guiding the uninitiated without overwhelming them, and understanding that some teachers know a lot about the use of the technology. The right approach can make or break the influence of the leader.

Appreciative Inquiry – certainly Trevor is right about being positive as the core principle in adopting something new. This is not limited to technology, but to life in general, although with teachers and technology in the classroom, this is very important. Trevor does touch on the idea of the positive outlook to life in general being the most predictable part of the reading.

Tracey and Mackenzie

As I mentioned in Faune, et al’s section, I appreciated the text on the screen – I wish we had thought to do that more on ours. Really liked the visuals!

I think that Schrier’s 7 guiding questions are at the heart of any use of technology in the classroom. These are excellent questions for all activities that a teacher does, but become very important when it comes to games and technology in the classroom.

As for the Chen-Chung article, although I agree that creator-based learning gets students engaged, I fall back on Clark-Kozma: could it be done without the media? In my English 11 class, I have students make their own games with the theme of William Golding’s, Lord of the Flies as the background. Students must design the games under certain guiding criteria, and while most fall back on an existing game and altering it, some come up with a new twist that is entirely unique. This is primarily done without computers, although they can use computers as well to create the game. So yes, Minecraft is a great game to learn certain concepts, but is it just a computer-based version of using Lego?

Deirdre, Gary and Andrew

Very humbling to be given a shout-out in another group’s video! I applaud your costuming efforts! A question regarding Gary’s costume: on the one hand it looked like a suit bag fitted like a garbage bag rain jacket, but then it was so short that it couldn’t have been a suit bag. So what was it? Of course with Andrew doing the media class, I thought it might be a covering from a lighting softbox. Regardless, an elegant touch combined with the cinnamon buns.

Guided Discovery Principle sounds like Trevor Mackenzie read that article. I think of learning to ride a bike as the “not too much, not too little” aspect of guidance. Learner Control seems like online learning or the old correspondence course method. Collaboration Principle is a bit like what this Master’s cohort is doing right now for the videos – cognitively demanding, and effectively shared.

Sean, Jeremy and Clay

You all looked very cold! Clay was visibly shaking, although Jeremy had no coat on and seemed okay. I loved Jeremy’s vocal pace – I was able to type and keep up with most of what he was saying.

Split attention principle seems intuitive, except there was a contradictory part to it in that the next principle promoted the exact opposite method. The modality principle espoused a mixed mode presentation over a single mode, and split attention says to limit it to one mode.

As Clay states, cueing and split attention and modality all have occurred in education for centuries; we only just are identifying them as different ways to present multimedia.

Jerry and Rhyanon

Like the velociraptor in Deirdre, Gary and Andrew’s video, I was left wondering about Rhyanon on a yardstick and what looks like a Van De Graaff generator and Jerry eating some sort of cake: an in-joke or a random, “Why not put it in the video?”

Of course your topic was about a topical as you can get: this is your life. Flexible learning for both teachers and students is a very different way to teach and learn. At the end of the day, it can only work for certain types of students (and parents) who can make it work. The blended part also works with a certain type of student. As we are currently doing this master’s course in a type of blended environment (at least for the ones in Victoria) we can examine ourselves as a case study. To your point, this is post-secondary, and there are huge differences and implications when there are adults versus children studying and learning.

Joanna Nicole and Hayley

I really enjoyed the format of debate – it allowed for a clear separation of approaches which highlighted the validity of each. Of course you were very civil with each other though. I don’t know how Joanna decided who won each point; seemed like it was on a whim. 🙂

Digital equity is huge when we look at the public school system. On the one hand, as Hayley said, it levels the playing field more by allowing many people access to information. But at the same time, like the pigs say in Animal Farm, “some are more equal than others.” It doesn’t tkae much to see the disparity between students not only in types of phones they have, but in some cases, having one at all. This is a pretty basic indicator of socio-economic status, as Nicole pointed out. Technically, school is supposed to give all equal access and take away the disparities. Technically.

 

Concluding words

These were such excellent and informative videos. Heidi, Lawrence, Rene and I did not have the intellectual rigor that all of the other groups put in, but all of our discussion happened before we did our recording. When we sat down to talk about our articles, we made the case for each category, and then chose one, instead of each of us highlighting our four articles on camera. Obviously we were hoping to make up for it with the visual entertainment.

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