Emily’s Blog

Please click here to find my facilitation plan table.

The facilitation plan that I designed is one week of an overall course that our group envisioned called Designing your Personal Learning Environment. This could be offered as professional development for teachers of K-12 level students. When I was teaching, I enjoyed professional development most when a new skill, or something practical to be used in my teaching practice, was introduced, and I would have loved to have had a way to aggregate all of the tools and data and people that I was interacting with! That’s where a personal learning environment (PLE) comes into play. According to the paper by Educause Learning Initiative (2009), a personal learning environment “describes the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms that learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals”. The course would begin with a week of setting up a googlesite to integrate the tools and communities into one platform, and then the proceeding weeks would include the possible tools and communities that teachers may want to include in their PLE. One technology that teachers could have as part of their PLE  is Twitter. Twitter is a social media tool that can be used as a way to connect with others, and is increasingly being used in the education field to connect teachers, students, experts and all learners and people.

The facilitation model that I based this plan on was the “four pairs of shoes model” by Ed Hootstein (2002).  The class will be delivered through googlesites or wordpress and synchronous activities will occur via googlehangout. I chose these technologies because they are easy to use, most people would have access to them for free, and I know how to use them. My familiarity and comfort with them helps to fulfill the role of the “technical assistant” as I understand how to use these technologies and can help the students. The focus of the course will also nicely tie into the technologies being presented, as students will be developing a page on their own googlesites (serving as their PLE) to house their twitter interaction. In this way, the course is also based on a constructivist school of learning because the learning is contextualized (Ally, 2004). It was also my goal that the learner be able to “develop personal knowledge and construct personal meaning” from the what he/she developed over the course of the facilitation plan (2004).

When wearing the “instructor pair of shoes”, I have provided the information, resources and the tools for the students. I will also help them connect the content with their prior knowledge, especially on Days 3-6 of this facilitation plan as the students begin to connect Twitter to their teaching practice. The learning is mostly discovery-based learning and learner-centered as much of the time the students must learn the technologies and then construct meaning from the uses of the technology in meaningful ways.

As the “moderator of learning”, I have outlined the course syllabus and expectations for the students. I will also guide the learners in proper “twittequite” and through any confusion created from or reflected in their blog reflections. I will encourage participation through positive interactions and positive feedback. An online learning platform that is designed with a progressive philosophical orientation in mind maintains a democratic learning environment with the learner at the core (Kanuka, 2004).

One thing that I wanted to explore in my KWL chart was the balance between individual and group work. I tried to achieve this balance by offering learning and activities that happened individually, but also activities that needed groups to function. I think there is a good balance because the course allows the students to learn about Twitter individually and then together put it into practice, self-evaluate, and reflect.

I also tackled another of my KWL goals in that I wanted to foster a high-level of communication in the course so that students could have a more interactive experience- one that might more closely simulate an in-person classroom. I think that Twitter incorporated another level of this to the experience, and I tried to incorporate many pauses for reflections and options to respond to each other.

Ideally, I would have likely to have delivered the class two big changes: more synchronous options and an opportunity for group work.  I had a difficult time thinking of meaningful synchronous opportunities in this context. Perhaps the presentation of the students’ lesson plans could have been extended so that the students could try the plans and give each other feedback.  Regarding group work, I thought that what was developed fit the course better than forcing a group or pairs project into the course.

Ultimately, I think that Twitter provides a unique platform in which learning is shared and anyone can contribute. I see Twitter aligning closely with what Downes said, in that because we are all participating in the sharing of knowledge, the  learning and teaching will be stronger, and our network and participation authenticates our knowledge (2005). Connecting teachers to other professionals and to their learners, I think, is a valuable and neat way for knowledge to be shared. To include Twitter as part of a PLE and as one of the connections to other learners, I think, will allow teachers to make new connections and be exposed to new ideas, and ultimately, improving their teaching practice.

 

References:

 

Ally, Mohamed. (2004). Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning. In The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed., chap. 1). Retrieved March 15, 2010 from http://cde.athabascau.ca/online_book/ch1.html

Downes, S. (2005),  Are the Basics of Instructional Design Changing?  Retrieved from http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=6

Educause Learning Initiative (May 12, 2009) 7 things you should know about Personal Learning Environments. Retrieved March 9, 2014 from  https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7049.pdf

Hootstein, Ed (June 1, 2002).  Wearing four pairs of shoes: The roles of e-learning facilitators.  Learning Circuits.   Accessed March 9, 2014 at http://www.astd.org/Publications/Newsletters/Learning-Circuits/Learning-Circuits-Archives/2002/Wearing-Four-Pairs-of-Shoes.

Kanuka, Heather (2004).  The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Chapter 4.  Athabasca University.  Retrieved January 25, 2014 from http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/04_Anderson_2008-Theory_and_Practice_of_Online_Learning.pdf.

Moisey, S. D.,  & Hughes, J. A. (2008). Supporting the online learner. In The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed., chap. 17). Retrieved March 15, 2010 from http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/17_Anderson_2008-Theory_and_Practice_of_Online_Learning.pdf

Siemens, G. (2010, February 16). Teaching in social and technological networks. Message posted to http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=220

White, N. (2009, December 29). Designing and facilitating online events. Message posted to http://www.fullcirc.com/resources/facilitation-resources/designing-and-facilitating-online-events/