·Modality of learning (face-to-face, blended, distance)
I presently teach in a wilderness and nature education program for youth ages 12-16. The program under development is a Montessori style middle program operated as a farm/wilderness school. This program will run 4 days a week. The fourth day will be a home study day and it is during this day that I plan to incorporate distance education tools and technology. Recording devices (cameras, video) will be used on the other days.
75% of the teaching happens face to face and 25% is online.
·Nature of interactions (synchronous, asynchronous or both)
Online learning is all asynchronous as we meet for at least two days in person each week.
·Your role within the learning context (ie. Instructor, program coordinator, instructional support)
For the online learning portion of our programs, I am the program coordinator and instructor. With my teaching partner I am designing the online program. I am also one of the instructors for the face-to-face portion of the program.
·Hardware and software available and in use
Program Tools and Equipment:
We have a couple of cameras (canon rebel) for still and video shooting, an android camera phone; two laptops and one desktop computer. We use sumo paint, open office, and edit in soundforge and vegas 12. We use weebly to design our websites and blogs through edublogs. We use screenomatic for screen casts and have used skype group calls for conferencing.
Students Tools and Equipment:
Students have either ipads, and windows or mac computers. Some have cameras. We are thinking of recommending they all get ipads for the next program year.
·Online tools available
The blogging tools available with edublogs, such as uploading youtube videos and posting media. Weebly.com website design tools.
·Technical assistance available
As we are a small operation we have no technical assistance
·Pedagogical or instructional design assistance available
Instructional design through the American Montessori Association and Wilderness Awareness School and Tracker School.
·Tutorial assistance and technical assistance available for students
Online tutorials for technical issues relating to edublogs and youtube. Other tutorial assistance is myself and teaching partner
·Funding available for hardware, software and services
$2000 per year budget
·Professional development resources
Personally funded only
·Regulatory and/or policy requirements and/or limits that impact your technology classroom
1. We have limited the students to 4 hours online time per week due to the philosophy of Montessori and our wilderness skills training program philosophy.
2.Last program year (September 2014 – June 2015) was the first year we used online learning in our programs. We designed a 7 day introductory course that our students participated in. There was mixed success with the course as some students did not have emails or an understanding of how it worked and what was expected of them. This was mainly because we introduced the course after the start of the program year so the integral nature of the program was not apparent.
We also ended the program year working on blogs. This was really an experiment to see how it could work in preparation for September 2015, when we plan to fully introduce the integrated program.
For September we plan to offer the 4th day of the program week as an online program. There will also be online support for the third day of the program which is an entrepreneurial/apprenticeship day. This program will consist of 4 hours of online work where students will post on their blog site regarding specific questions about experiences from the previous days and also research questions for the following week. We will go over the requirements in person with the students every Tuesday so that they are clear with the expectations and can share with us any problems they are having. They will be expected to complete the online learning postings and research by Saturday, when we will offer online written feedback for each student for the work done. The research portion will be directed and will not be web surfing. We will give them videos and articles and stories to read. Online editing tutorials will be offered. The same will apply for photo editing. As we want to limit their computer time we will keep these tutorials short and the knowledge will accumulate over the program year. The emphasis will be on research and blogging.
3.In the long term we would like for all students to work with ipads so that we can all be using the same technology and use the same apps. One app that we would like to work with is called ‘cyber tracker’. This app is a nature tracking and inventory mapping tool, that is being used in wilderness schools across North America and South Africa. It originated as a tool for tracking in the Kalahari to monitor poaching and wildlife populations. The challenge with using the tool and having students with ipads or iphones in the field is the distraction to the experiential learning environment. At first we will try to provide two or three iphone/ipad combos, so that we have one for each team of 3 or 4 students. Each day one student in each group will be the tech person and scribe and media person. Recording on the cyber tracker app and taking photos and videos of activities .
One challenge with our program is that a lot of learning happens but not a lot gets logged or recorded. In using technology in this way in the field, we can log and assess the work we do in both tracking and skills, which can be used for blog sites and online project work on the home study day.
We will not connect devices to the web during in the field program days but will use technology only to record and report.
For the online portion of the program we want to fully integrate the Montessori curriculum and philosophy into the home study sessions. Using the self-assessment and self-logging tools, students can design their programming and know where they are on the learning journey. We don’t want to get too involved in too many programs in order to keep the technology simple but the content interesting and useful and informative and easy to navigate and use.