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January 16, 2018

EDDL 5141 – Introduction

Filed under: EDDL 5141,Introductions @ 5:19 am

My name is Brad, and I’m here as part of the Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning program. I teach in an applied technology program at a college on Vancouver Island. This is a second career for me, I spent 30 years in the automotive industry as a Controls and Automation specialist before starting to teach.

I recently completed my MEd through SFU, and being a bit of a masochist I had to dive right into something else. Technology has always fascinated me, and I thought it was time I learned more about this Online teaching thing. This is my fourth course in this program, and in the previous courses I created a basic template for a blended version of one of the courses in the program I teach now. Hopefully by the time we finish this course I can make some significant improvements to it.

I’m also taking EDDL 5131, and for that introduction I stretched my abilities to their limit and created a short video that I though I might as well include here.

Here we go again

Filed under: EDDL 5131,Introductions @ 5:04 am

My name is Brad, and I am an instructor at North Island College. I’m here as part of the Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning.

This is my third course of the certificate, and I’m really looking to improve my multi-media skills. While I’m interested in the freeware and online programs, my school has a license for the Adobe Creative Suite, so I’m hoping to do a lot of work with that.  I have created a short video which is so far the limit of my abilities. Hopefully by the time we finish this course I’ll be much better.

December 9, 2017

Exploring IT Resources – Wikispaces

Filed under: EDDL 5101,Technology @ 1:50 am

Exploring IT Resources – Wikispaces

 

Introduction

Wikipedia is one of the most successful examples of collaborative knowledge in recent history. In just a few years, it has supplanted encyclopedias as the “go to” source for information, and several studies have suggested it is as reliable and accurate as the encyclopedia’s it replaced. While most people are aware of its existence, many do not realize the collaborative nature of the knowledge gathering process. Wikipedia defines a wiki as “website on which users collaboratively modify content and structure directly from the web browser”. The key word to me is collaboratively, and that spirit is what I will try to harness with this resource.

The host for this resource is Wikispaces, http://www.wikispaces.com/, an established company founded in 2005. Originally offering free wikis for everyone for any use, it has recently transitioned to a pay for premium access model, but still offers free use to K-12 or post-secondary educators.

Ease of Use

The Wikispaces format is easy to use for both learners and educators. The interface is reasonably intuitive, with an easy to see menu bar running down the right hand side of the page for content and navigation. Free use comes with 5 gigs of storage space, plenty for text and pdf files but limiting the ability to store videos on the site.  It does allow linking to external sites from content pages to video storing services like Youtube.

Content is easily uploaded, and WebDAV servicing is available. Discussion pages can be enabled or disabled, and can be formatted either as a single topic per page, or all topics on a single page to emulate a threaded discussion board. A choice of themes and stylesheets are available, and both themes and stylesheets can be edited and customized. Changes are tracked by the site and can be viewed by the wiki organizers.

Three different formats ae available:

  1. Classic wiki format, with standard content and discussion placing and features.
  2. Basic website, which looks like a website but allows editing like a wiki
  3. Classroom mode, which allows news feeds and enhanced engagement tracking

Organizers can switch between formats without loss of content.

Custom domain names are permitted, allowing DNS redirects from a domain the organizer already has set up.

Confidentiality

There is a range of security options available. .  With the permissions set to public, non-members are allowed to post in the discussion area and can request to join. I don’t envision this level of security being used in an educational setting.  At the strictest level of settings, the wiki is only visible to members. Members must be invited by e-mail and are sent a code that they can use to join. This ensures no outside access to the discussion boards and content.

You can also choose whether to allow the wiki to be indexed by search engines, and have the option of forcing all communications, not just logins and passwords, into SSL.

While no platform can be considered 100% secure, the site appears to provide adequate security for both learners and instructors.

Transferability/Scrubbability

Content can be easily exported and backed up. Export formats include text, PDF and HTM, so offline access to material or transfer to another platform shouldn’t be an issue.

There is an option for individual discussions to be deleted, and the entire wiki can be deleted by the organizer.

Academic Use

I envision using this resource in the classroom in two different, but similar, ways. Initially I would set up a wiki that involves the entire class. Course content can be stored on the site eliminating the need for handouts or e-mailed content. The discussion topics would cover introductions and icebreakers, and as the course progresses new topics could be discussed. The security features ensure the safety of the learners, and the organizer control over the discussions should prevent any issues from getting out of hand. The immediate use of the discussions with the introductions and icebreakers will hopefully help with the development of the learning community.

As the course progresses I would have the students utilize small group wikis for a form of team based learning. Both the security level and the fact that there is no cost make this ideal for students. After breaking the class into groups, I would assign a “real world” problem scenario to the class. Each group will open a wiki that initially will be only for their team members and the instructor. The site would be used to gather resources and collaborate to come up with a solution to the problem. After a set time each group would invite the rest of the class to be members of their wiki, a type of simultaneous reveal. All the groups would see each others solution, the research they did, and the discussions that occurred as they worked collaboratively on the solution. They would be able to comment on the work and join in the discussion.

 

 

November 27, 2017

Establishing Social and Emotional Connections in an Online Environment

Filed under: EDDL 5111 @ 7:50 pm

Part B – Establishing Social and Emotional Connections in an Online Environment

Needs Analysis

Filed under: EDDL 5111 @ 3:59 am

Needs Analysis

As a small college in a rural area attracting students is challenging, even to quality programming. In addition the area is still recovering from the loss of the major area industry several years ago. For my program which is a cohort model that was initially established to serve the now closed industry, it is particularly evident. Enrollment is very cyclical, and can vary from 60% capacity to over subscribed in any given year. In a climate of limited funding it is necessary to find a way to supplement the cohort during low enrollment years with flexible courses that employ a blended or online model to attract and facilitate part-time learners. I will be implementing this model in the near future.

The Pilot Course

The course chosen as a pilot is an applied technical course on the hardware and software associated with industrial controls systems. The skills learned in this section are growing in demand locally. This module is the third course in the second year of the program, and the cohort students must pass all previous modules to access this one.

Target Demographic

The intent of the blended/online delivery is to facilitate entry into the program for local learners who may have obtained the prerequisite knowledge through other methods, (electricians or engineers). Typically they are employed, but looking to upgrade their skills. Being fully employed they are unable to access the course in its present form of a Monday to Friday in classroom format. There have been numerous calls from interested members of the community inquiring about taking this course as a standalone piece.

Format/Technologies

My preference would be to deliver this course using a blended delivery model. As in any subject there is a necessary theory component and this is the information I propose to deliver online. In the blended model the learner would still be required to physically attend the college to complete practical assignments, but this could be done at the convenience of the learner, allowing them to book lab time around their work schedule.

Simulation software does exist that would allow learners to access virtual models of the hardware and software. In an ideal scenario learners would be able to access both the simulation software remotely and the physical equipment in the lab, moving reasonably seamlessly between the two as their home and work life allows.

Support

The college is already delivering programs over a very wide geographical area and has a history of delivering programs utilizing various distributed learning methods (paper based, interactive television, and internet). The implementation would be done on the colleges existing distributed learning platform, Blackboard Learn. The IT infrastructure is already in place, and there is experience in supporting both faculty and new students in the technology.

The most significant investment will be in time. Existing resources will need to be migrated to online content. Additional technologies will need to be investigated to enhance the learning experience and hopefully mitigate the high dropout rate associated with typical online programming of this nature. Running this blended/online model in conjunction with the current cohort section will hopefully allow a combination of online contact through user forums and e-mails as well as in person interactions for both cohort and remote users.

September 26, 2017

Everything Old is New Again

Filed under: EDDL 5111 @ 3:16 am

 

So I really didn’t like the format of Freemind, and Bubblus looked a lot better and seemed fairly easy to use, but wanted me to sign up in order to save or link to my mind map. I will spend more time on various types of mind-mapping software but for now I went back to good old Power-Point (something I never thought I would hear myself say!).

For me the Ally article on the Impact of Education highlighted several things, one of which is that we really are coming full circle. Early Education was really Indigenous Ways of Knowing. It was truly constructivist as education was learner centred, it had to be for an individuals survival. It had personal meaning as it was contextualized by the learners worldview. Learning was by doing, and problem solving skills were developed in real world applications.

Technology changed the world as well as education. The industrial revolution required workers to be educated efficiently, one instructor to a class instead of an individual. The success of this type of behaviourist construction was evident as factory workers demonstrated their skills repetitively.

Computer technology allowed us to move into the cognitive realm. multi-media and web resources allowed us to expend more effort per learner with the same effort by the instructor.

While it may seem counter-intuitive future technology may make the indigenization of curriculum easier. Truly distributed learning with the use of intelligent agents will allow each learner to pursue their area of interest with a return to the one-on-one interaction, albeit through e-mail, chat, forums and skype, that characterized constructivist learning.

 

September 22, 2017

There is No 1-800-HELPME!

Filed under: EDDL 5101 @ 5:35 pm
Tags:

I’m going to create this post with the idea of it being a living document, a reminder to my self of issue that I have encountered and resources I have found.

My current issues in creating web based content focus mainly around becoming competent with our Learning Management software. I know what content and activities I would like to start with but I find myself constantly searching google for the right procedures. One of my colleagues is currently involved in the same process and we are learning together…..slowly. While he is definitely a valuable resource it feels like the blind leading the slightly less blind. Technical help with the hardware and the platform is readily available through our IT department, but support from the Teaching and Learning aspect is only available part time and at another campus. As I discover resources around Blackboard Learn I will post them here.

Once the logistical issues are solved I am anticipating some challenges in making the content interactive. I believe that in order to be successful I need to create content that goes beyond a straight information dump. I have started to explore an authoring software package called Articulate.

https://articulate.com/

As a bonus for signing up at their website I received access to several online books on best practices in creating online resources and I receive emails with tips and tricks.

 

Can I Teach Digital Literacy Without Being Digitally Literate?

Filed under: EDDL 5101 @ 5:21 pm
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I struggled with these articles and the difference between “critical digital literacy” and “digital literacy”. After several slow trips through the Pangrazio article I think I can deal in both areas, with skills that encompass either mastery and operational proficiency and/or evaluation and critique. For my program and students we will not have excess time to spend on critical digital literacy and my web skills are limited to creating basic sites with DreamWeaver several years ago, but I would at least like to touch on it.

I currently have my students create a LinkedIn profile for themselves as part of the course introduction. The students are encouraged to upload video of heir capstone project and link to it in their profiles. For this exercise I would expand that task based on the Mozilla Web Literacy guidelines with the goal of attracting and drawing interest from potential employers.

The exercise would involve creating a web presence as an envelope for a digital portfolio including samples of work and video. Students would need to solve the problem of finding a suitable space and creatively displaying their work to effectively communicate their skills and backgrounds in a professional and appropriate manner. By working in teams they would work collaboratively and have the opportunity to move into the critical digital literacy realm by evaluating and critiquing each other’s work.

September 21, 2017

Low Tech Leftovers in a High Tech World

Filed under: EDDL 5101 @ 9:31 pm

In the applied technology world of education new equipment, methods, and technologies appear literally every day. Even traditionally labour intensive disciplines are increasingly adopting high-tech components. It is imperative that instructors in this area stay knowledgeable and up to date even though it is commit the time and resources to stay knowledgeable and up to date. . This does a disservice to the new generation of workers who need to constantly learn and adapt and as noted by Bates it is this area that will likely see the biggest impact of the move to more knowledge based skills.(Bates, 2015) This leads to a bit of a paradox in that while the technology used in the discipline is constantly changing, the educational technologies and methods used change very slowly.

In my first teaching assignment not that long ago in a very prominent school of technology in the lower mainland of BC there were no smart boards, no computer linked visual devices, and very little online resources. Presentations were made the same way they had been for the last twenty-five years, on transparencies with an overhead projector. The institution itself was open to change. While there I ordered a networked projector and adopted a method of using a wireless tablet to give me the freedom to move about the class. I was given space on a networked drive and uploaded supplemental resources for students to access from outside of the school. These changes were welcomed by the students.

The issue is one of time. Instructors in these disciplines have a considerably higher student contact time requirement than “academic” programs. Until it is recognized that instructor time is as important as the technology supplied change in this area will continue to happen slowly.

 

References

Bates, A. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age. Vancouver: Tony Bates Associates LTD.

 

 

September 18, 2017

PLATO, Not Just Your Father’s Greek Philosopher

Filed under: EDDL 5101,Technology @ 12:47 am
Tags:

Many years ago, in a land far, far away, (ok it was back in Ontario, not that far away but it was a long time ago), before I even considered getting into teaching, I worked in a position where computers and system support was one of my responsibilities. This included consultation with our information systems supplier Electronics Data Systems, EDS. (Anybody remember Ross Perot?)

What does this have to do with the history of Ed-Tech? Well, one of the things EDS provided us was an online learning system called PLATO. While I admit there was some value in what PLATO provided us, I cringed every time I looked at the I.T. budget and saw what PLATO was costing. Along with the usual technical issues and questions I solved on a regular basis I remember spending considerable time interpreting content and questions and providing learners support with material. At the time I would never have called myself an educator, but in retrospect it was a large part of what I did.

Fast forward 30 years, and I hadn’t thought about PLATO for 29 of them. Then I read both Bates and Watters referencing PLATO in their histories of ED-Tech. Bates maintains that “PLATO was a highly successful system, lasting almost 40 years, and incorporating key online concepts” (Bates, 2015) I was already predisposed to question Bates beliefs after he called the current iterations of the History Channel and the Discovery Channel “general educational channels”. (Bates, 2015). As interesting as I find “Curse of Oak Island” it’s scripted reality programming, not educational. So I question his definition of successful. Did it make its owners a ton of money? Yes it did. But I question how well it served its learners. All the other departments I networked with had a person like me, someone who performed at least some of the functions PLATO was supposed to provide. And providing feedback to the supplier to correct their material. I have to question who, or what, was educating who?

Bates was correct in stating that key online concepts were used in the PLATO system. In many applied technology courses I see developed today the concepts embodied in PLATO are still being used. Watters also recognizes that many of the features of PLATO are still incorporated into Ed-Tech today. (Watter, 2014) Provide material for learner to study, test learner on material, provide immediate feedback and supplemental information where required, assume learner has learned necessary theory. As I look at resources I have created I have unconsciously fallen into much the same pattern.

As I reflect on both my experiences from 30 years ago with budding online educational technology and my experiences from yesterday as I was uploading new material to Blackboard Learn one thing is clear. “Building new technologies is easy (or easy-ish) changing behaviours and culture is much, much harder” (Watter, 2014). This statement really resonates with me, and as I move forward through this program I resolve to not get caught in old behaviours, to not fall back on the “same old same old”.

References

Bates, A. (2015). A Short History of Educational Technology. Teaching in a Digital Age.

Watter, A. (2014). The Hidden History of Ed-Tech. In A. Watters, The Monsters of Educational Technology (pp. 7-31).

 

 

 

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