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Archive for EDDL 5101

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.

 

 

September 22, 2017

There is No 1-800-HELPME!

Filed under: EDDL 5101 @ 5:35 pm
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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
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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).

 

 

 

September 15, 2017

RSS Readers or “OK now my brain is bleeding”

Filed under: EDDL 5101,Technology @ 10:24 pm
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While I’ve seen the RSS Feed icons on websites and on some level understood the concept of RSS Readers I quickly learned actually using them was a different story. My go to source Google apparently discontinued their reader.  So I chose the recommended multi-platform replacement Feedly. My first attempt at subscribing left me subscribed through Internet Explorer not Feedly. Solved that problem and moved on to which feeds to subscribe to.

The first feed I subscribed to was the Conference Board of Canada’s Education and Innovation blog. This was not only for the innovation but also because several articles referenced skills and employment. As an applied technology program we live and die by the opportunities our students have after graduating. Hopefully this will help on both accounts.

 

** In the interests of becoming more familiar with WordPress I’m going to publish this now and update by edits or comments as I search for more feeds.

 

First attempted edit.

After reading chapter 1 of Tony Bates book I decided to check out his website. Lo and behold I see the RSS feed symbol!  Again a minor glitch trying to sign up directly from the browser, followed by an attempt to search from Feedly that wanted me to sign up for their pay “power search” feature, I finally managed to sigh up.

Good Morning TRU!

Filed under: EDDL 5101,Introductions @ 8:45 pm
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I currently teach an applied technology course at a small community college on Vancouver Island. This is my second career, my first was working in the automotive industry in Ontario on high tech control systems for manufacturing equipment. I enjoyed what I was doing but felt the need for a change. I moved to BC in 2009 and lived in North Vancouver for three years while teaching at BCIT before moving to the island. Since joining the post-secondary ranks I’ve completed the PIDP program and an Adult Education diploma through VCC and a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction through SFU.

I currently teach in the 2nd year of a 2 year program. The courses I teach all involve technology and its application. They are complex, intensive subjects that typically cause a lot of student stress. Our Learning Management System here is Blackboard, and our distributed Learning department consists of 1 part time faculty member and a technician. Our hardware is top notch, but we do a lot of peer to peer support.

Over the past 5 years I’ve been trying to incorporate online resources into the program. For the most part I’ve created passive systems. I’ve digitized course content and incorporated some online submissions but communication is strictly one way at a time.

I am looking to take my current 100% face to face program and transition it to a blended delivery model. Our focus is on practical skills but my hope is that theory can be delivered online using a variation of Bloom’s Learning for Mastery. While I am technical proficient in computer hardware and software systems my online presence and social media skills are practically non-existent, I don’t even have a Facebook account.

My goal here is to explore and become familiar with some of the online and distributed learning technologies that I know exist out there in the ether somewhere. Along the way I hope to learn some best practices and pick up some ideas from others in the course with me.

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