Archive for EDDL 5101

9.1 Wireframe

Webpage Wireframe.

Our district offers us hosting space, and perhaps a very little bit of help from I.T. if teachers want to run a class website.

I haven’t availed myself of the space yet, although I am considering it. I run a pretty tight Google Classroom ship as it is, and I wonder how much a dedicated webpage would add to what is already in place. It might serve as a nice way to integrate the various social media elements I use, but I’m not particularly prolific on S.M.

Having T.A.’ed some online courses in the past, as well as taking a good number of them, I’ve come to appreciate clean design and intuitive navigation. I’d much rather have a spartan look, with clear navigation, than something pretty and counterintuitive.  So if my limited skillset forces me to choose between beauty and function, beauty is out the window.

That said, the wireframe!

I’ve color-coded it!

Tan – Course title / Division / Homeroom / Course Number ETC. (Making sure you are in the right place.)

Orange – Picture of me (apologies!) As well as a link to my Bio if in a university setting. Basic contact info, building, room, phone. All the non-email ways to get in touch.

Oxblood – Email me. A direct link to the preferred course email to contact me. Just click, and contact.

Blue – Navigation links. Here is where I put all the links you’ll need.
(Assignments, submission page, outlines, forums, even calendar for redundancy. I want the student to be able to get anywhere in the course from just this box.)

Purple – Institutional Header / Logo (Again, so you are in the right place. I would have it link back the institutional main page.)

Neon Green – Welcome message.

Pink – Course messages / recent announcements. (The 3 – 5 most important things you need to know presently. Reminders, updates, etc.)

Mint Green – Course Calendar. (Fully linked calendar with links to all assignment instructions, submissions, forums and the like. Subscribable)

O.D. Green – RSS Feed. (News and blogs that I think are relevant for the discipline, and particularly the course.)





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HTML post.

HTML post

This is my post trying out some HTML functions in WordPress.

I will be trying to add the following elements;

  1. At least one header.
  2. A list.
  3. A link.
  4. An image.
  5. A table.

Looks like I have my list out of the way.

     Here’s an image of the HoloLens.

This is the Microsoft HoloLens. Check out the Microsoft website for
HoloLens here.

I’m quite excited about the educational possibilities this device will

and now…

Here is a completely unrelated table.

I’ve listed some golf scores.

Player Round #1 Round #2 Round #3
Jim 93 95 94
Bill 91 96 93


Way to go Bill!



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7.1 Emerging Technologies.

After reading the 2013 Horizon Report for K12 and “Emerging Technologies in E-learning,” think about your own practice and some of the tools and trends discussed.  Create a post discussing a way you see the Web used in your class to “bring something new to the table.” By this, I mean: “What can the Web do for you and your students that would otherwise not be possible?”.


Two things, in particular, stuck with me after this week’s readings.

The Web frees us to radically redefine what a “classroom” looks like.

The role of teachers is being redefined by the integration of new technologies.

Looking at the first idea, the most obvious example of this is expressed in distance learning. The Web supports a much broader toolset for communication than ever before. What’s more, there is for all intents and purposes,  synchronicity in many of the tools that are being used in education. The idea of a classroom as a physical space in which we congregate is no longer the only model. Collaboration is faster, and increasingly more unfettered by physical distance, culture, language, and national borders. I can take my students on virtual field trips, where they interact in real time, with researches in the field, thousands of miles away. I have access to various educational media I can stream into my classroom without waiting for film strips or videos.

For the second idea, we are moving/have moved away from the teacher as a lecturer, or provider of information. We move into the role of a coach and a curator. A guide to help navigate the almost limitless information available.  We move from expert to life-long learner. In a sense, there is a breakdown of hierarchy and a move toward collegiality.

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7.2 Student Assignment w/ embedding.

Student Discussion  Assignment.

Using the M.I.T. feed located below as a starting point, find an interesting piece of news related to emerging technology and be prepared to lead a classroom discussion about the potential applications and impact the technology might have.

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Assignment #1 Google Classroom

For my presentation, I chose a tool I’ve used for a few years now, Google Classroom.

At our school, all students are issued a school-specific Gmail account upon enrollment, so they have the same account from grades six through eight.

Ease of Use

Quite easy to use for both teachers and students. If one is already familiar with Google’s suite of tools; Docs, Slides, Drive, etc. then there is a very minimal learning curve. Very simple layout, and pretty intuitive interface. Google education/classroom is free.

An interesting element is a reticence for our district to install Docs on our shared school/district-owned devices. There were/are some concerns regarding Google servers being off Canadian soil, and elements of US data legislation coming to bear on things that might be stored in the cloud. Right now, the vast majority of our devices do not have Docs installed, although, every student has district issued Office 365 account as well, so they all have access to Word so they can attach word documents to their Google Classroom account. Admittedly, a little circuitous. Google now has a Montreal data center, so I’m waiting to see how/if this plays out in cross-border data issues.

I would say that about half my students prefer to type and attach formal assignments, the others handwrite neatly, and then attach their written work as photos.


Confidentiality of content/discussion

Outside of the aforementioned cross-border issues, the confidentially is quite good.  Each student has their individual account, so personal work is visible only to the teacher as a default. Discussions/assignments can be set up for small groups, whole class, or individual students. Commenting permissions can be set depending on teachers preference. Students can share their work through the various Google apps so they can comment on each other’s work or collaborate on assignments.

Because we have our own domain and administrative access to it, I can scrub things pretty well, with the aforementioned cross-border concerns as a caveat. Essentially, without an invitation or a shared “classroom code” the public has no access to one’s Google Classroom. All work remains in the teacher’s Google Drive, and for each student, their own drive, should they wish to save or transfer it.

Appropriateness for academic use

Designed from the ground up to bring together the Google suite of tools for education, Classroom is a very appropriate tool for academic use. It allows for elements of differentiated instruction and individual adaptations,  (written instructions, different dates, typed or audio recorded work for written output, etc.) with the ability to tailor various elements of assignments based on the individual student. The structural components are quite suitable for any level of education from middle school ages and up. I find the integration with the Google Calendar app particularly useful as a teaching point for younger students on how to utilize a digital calendar system to learn time management.

Discussion Questions

Much has been made of student privacy and the danger of data traveling across national borders. Is this really a valid concern, particularly with K – 12 students?

I receive probably 90% of all assignments digitally. I give the vast majority of comments, feedback, and grade digitally; usually typed. Do we lose something in the “assessment relationship” when we move away from physical media, handwritten comments and the like?

Further to this, does the integration of a digital classroom element in brick and mortar schools offer present and future opportunities to make assessment and feedback more meaningful, with feedback given in audio/visual form, gamification (see link) and perhaps soon, augmented reality?

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I teach grade eight. So my cybersecurity positioning is largely focused on that age group.

In previous years, we’ve had school-wide presentations by a “white-hatter” organization that was actually very well done. I believe the key element is focusing on relevant technologies. For Grade eight students, that is largely mobile device security and social media. Things as simple as walking students through phone settings, and what they do. Location services are a particular concern of mine. Even just making students aware of precisely was information is being stored, tracked and shared can make them mindful of their “cybersafety,” which is a great starting point.

Our district has a well thought out and relatively concise AUP. There are notifications about possible cross-border storage when using certain cloud services, and transmitting data. We have rolled out Office 365 across the district, and use servers on Canadian soil. I have no major concerns with district policies and procedures.

The off-campus piece is much more concerning. Parents often don’t know what apps are on their children’s devices. Snapchat posts often go out without much introspection. Personal information is shared unintentionally through lax account settings. Parental oversight is key, and I’ve had conversations with Parents regarding their children’s use of various apps. Unfortunately, often these conversations are in the context of something “having gone wrong.” So for me, proactive measures are the best defense.

Getting the Genie back in the bottle is tough.

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Activity Evaluation (part 2.)

For this activity, the students have already had a chance to work with and gain some familiarity with the program / game Besiege.

Essentially they need to design a vehicle/contraption that can successfully accomplish the “Zone 30” task. (Lift a giant sword out of the ground, take to a designated spot)

Once the primary goal is accomplished, we would compare and contrast our designs as a class, and work on streamlining and revising the prototype.

(e.g. Can we do it faster? Better? With fewer components? Without using wheels?)

Many different machine types could accomplish this task (e.g. forklifts, flyers, etc.)

(Example #1   #2   #3)


I used SAMR to evaluate it.

It seems to fit in the last category of Redefinition.

Outside of a fully funded engineering lab, I can’t imagine this sort of prototyping and simulation could be run without existing computer technologies.


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Activity Evaluation (part 1.)

For evaluating a previous activity, I chose a “Disease Spread” Gizmo we did in class. I thought it was a very worthwhile activity overall, and it was wonderfully interdisciplinary. Science – Pathogens, Math – Rates, and a great jumping off a point for Social Studies and the Black Death.

S tudent – The Gizmo’s are organized by subject area and grade level. Student explorations sheets are available in different file formats and can be modified by the teacher.

E ase – Each student creates their own account, and joins a class with a code. Tools are straightforward, touchscreen optimized, with clear instructions.

C ost – Can be pricey. Around $150 for a “home licence” or $500 for a class licence; 12-month subscription. Department and school licences available.

T eacher functions – Quite good. Online training courses offered. Full answer keys, guides and lessons. Multiple classes, assessment components, quite customizable.

I nteraction – Limited. Ability to screenshot and share. I often use the gizmos as partner / small group assignments. Good class discussion questions are often provided.

O rganizational – Quite good.  Relevant district pro-D / specialist teachers. Online training included with the licence.

N etworking – Primarily closed by design. I do use it in combination with Google Classroom for some added discussion pieces.

S ecurity – Independent classes, individual login / password for students. Teacher-managed accounts.

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Networked Learning Discussion

Very few would argue that “connection” is unimportant in an educational context.

However, one can value the connectedness present in most educational models, without perhaps accepting “connectivism” as the best model to move education forward in current and future technological climates. There are legitimate questions that need to be explored within the assumptions inherent in connectivist pedagogy. However, I feel that Brennan is often tilting at straw men in his critique. One such observation stood out for me:

“In Connectivism, the distributed platforms, the networked nature of learning, the requirements for metacognition, digital literacy, the new tools, and techniques add significantly to the novice’s cognitive load. Connectivist theory does not differentiate between novices and experts. And that can be to the disservice of both.”

Of course, there is the capacity for differentiation in praxis; why should we examine the theoretical divorced from how an educator implements it? Downes’ rebuttal discusses examples from video games, which often have tutorial or advisory elements. However, these elements could themselves be counterproductive in that they may lead to the student feeling led around through a series of simple tasks, leaving them unengaged, due to boredom and frustration. Downes suggests a different approach, stating “…it’s better to present the learner with a range of resources around a topic, and have them pick the ones most suited to them, rather than to try to pick the best resource (or to arrange the subject matter into tiers, or any of the usual forms of structured instruction provided in traditional learning).”

I would tend to agree more with Downes. Technology allows us tools of self-differentiation, and while the tools themselves may at times increase the “cognitive load” they can also serve to lighten the burden.

Also, I would suggest that any pedagogical approach has potential hurdles to be overcome, that may add to “cognitive load.” You can see it in the eyes of grade six students entering their first middle school experience. The social/emotional elements can prove just as heavy a burden to bear. Stress and obstacles to overcome aren’t restricted to connectivist pedagogies.

As society moves forward with the integration of technology into every aspect of life, I believe there will be a higher base-level of digital literacy as it pertains to educational ends. Increasingly, I see kindergarten students helping their teacher navigate new educational apps.  As ubiquity increases, so does familiarity. Moving forward, I think many of the concerns in regards to cognitive load will fall to the wayside.


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Fitting my Teaching Philosophy within an Online Context

Ideologically, I’m a classic liberal educator. I’m a fan of great books, struggling students, and perhaps a sprinkling of professorial pontification.

Alas, this noble educational enterprise went out of vogue centuries ago. So to keep the wolves from the door, I’ve locked away idealism in my cold black heart and moved on to more pragmatic pastures. Briefly put, I’d most closely align my practical philosophy (certainly in K-12, anyway) as Techo-determinist / behaviorist.

What is the end of public school education? Simply put, to keep the wheel turning. (Modern western / Canadian) society has its problems to be sure. In the balance, however, I am generally happy with the way we are progressing. It is in my interests, and arguably the interests of the majority, to keep us roughly on our current path.

I value the current social machinery, ergo I train my students so that they can integrate into said structure. The fascinating element is watching the technology change, which then modifies the system, which then revises the technological elements… ad infinitum. We need a sound economy/tax base to fund public education, so we train the next generation to provide it, so we can educate succeeding generations to provide it.

Until the singularity, of course.

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