Reflections

I found that overall, this course helped me to realize that there are models of teaching and learning out there that are compatible with my own philosophy, and it helped me to formulate my philosophy in a more concrete way. I also found that the facilitation model used in this course- the attitude of teacher as facilitator- helped me to see how that model works in practice: maintaining a relaxed and creative atmosphere as well as a high standard, while keeping to a specific rubric and time frame.

I didn’t find many difficulties providing constructive feedback. The blog posting system was very straightforward except for the technical problems (at the very beginning, all of my responses were going to ‘junk mail’, and later on Susan had trouble with her entire blog site). I found everyone to be highly professional in their attitude and interactions with each other. I enjoyed participating in the several final projects as they increased and expounded upon the overall theme of online learning- beginning with Arlene’s discussion about online learning in general, followed by other aspects such as possible problems encountered (Jen’s project on cyberbullying), technical processes (Fabian’s project on techniques) and the topic of methodology (Susan’s project on online games), and of course, my own question about researching online sites.

Probably the most salient take-away for me was the exposure to the synchronous sessions; both experiencing the possible problems (timing, technical difficulties) as well as the procedure for participating (turn taking, speaking and reading text at the same time) as well as, most importantly- the benefits (connecting in a real way with the larger group).

In terms of adjustments to my final project and facilitation techniques, although I didn’t get any direct feedback about the weeklong program I put up as my final project, I did get feedback from my students. They all followed the instructions and did the assignments, including posting their results without difficulty. I especially enjoyed the aspect of this course that was in real time and allowed me to create material that was meaningful to me.

I definitely need more practice in facilitating the technical aspects of the synchronous sessions but what I learned from participating in several during this course is that an attitude of flexibility when things don’t go exactly as planned is probably one of the best skills to have.

response to Susan’s lesson

Adult learning is a whole topic in itself, and the addition of the online component makes it even more interesting. I have been working with children and teens for the past 15 yrs, but previous to that, my first teacher training was ESL training for adults. Adult learning is very specific, there is different criteria, different motivations. I found a paper (cited below) that actually summarizes the various adult learning theories very succinctly as well as integrating them with online learning strategies.

I think there is a place for games in adult learning as long as they are specific enough to meet desired learning objectives. I found the games presented in this lesson worked in that the desire for the information was the motivating factor. In that way, I don’t think a prize was even necessary. The motivation was clearly the gaining of knowledge.

I don’t have a link for it but it can be found in google. Its worth looking up and easy to read.

Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for
online learning design, AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.

Cyber bullying- Jen’s project

I found the second video really interesting and inspiring. I don’t have much experience with online bullying but in dealing with face-to-face bullying, it is not always as straight forward as it seems. Perpetrators can be slippery, victims don’t always seek help and when they do, are not always believed or are told that it is not a big deal, especially if it is psychological rather than physical bullying.

Learning defensive techniques seems to me the way to go. Its not equivalent to blaming the victim (is that why the video was considered controversial?). Its just common sense. I learned defensive techniques growing up as a woman. We teach our children common sense defensive techniques about all kinds of things. In my programs teaching about the natural world, we always teach the hazards first so that everyone will stay safe. Hazards can be different in different environments and under different conditions.

I think that the presenter in that second video was on the right track. There must be patterns, ways to detect, avoid, respond. Types that perpetrators look for. Cyber bullying is an old phenomena in a new package. We need new tools to deal with it.

EDDL 5141 week 6 – online facilitation models

Week 6- On-line facilitation models

The article that spoke to me the most out of all of the readings was Teaching Crowds by Dron Anderson. The model I will be working with through my online programs will be a combination of face-to-face learning and home study learning. The online component therefore will not be used as a replacement for face-to-face learning but instead as an enhancement tool for social networking as well as a home study program. The main objective of my online approach is to connect kids with similar interests from different regions throughout BC.

Here are a few direct quotes that I enjoyed around the concepts of ‘building community’, ‘student engagement’ and ‘active learning’:

“Community is the vehicle through which online courses are most effectively delivered regardless of content” (Palloff & Pratt, 2005, p.1 from Anderson, p.16)

“[An] educator’s responsibility is to make it possible for students to engage in experiences they would never otherwise have had” (Kearsley and Schneiderman, 2002, p.38 from Anderson, p.17).

“Knowledge is built from active engagement with conflicting and confounding ideas that challenge older, pre-existing knowledge” (Piaget, 1952, from Anderson, p.22).

The concept of a home-study program fits well with Marsick and Watkins’ concept of formal vs informal learning (2001, p. 28). The idea of integrating learning with daily routines is something that I have been attempting with my face-to-face teaching with mixed success. The idea that an online component to my programs would actually facilitate this kind of activity is quite exciting to me.

We have what we call ‘core routines’ that are an integral part of these programs that include daily practices. Marsick and Watkins first principal speaks directly to this. They describe ‘informal’ learning as being integrated with daily routines- “in contrast to formal education, which takes place at times and places defined by the educational institution”. It is also “triggered by an internal or external jolt- not by the teacher,..not highly conscious,… haphazard and influenced by chance…” and ultimately as “an inductive process of reflection and action” (Anderson, p.19). This is exactly the type of atmosphere I am aiming for; within an atmosphere of collaborative and supportive learning.

In terms of my role as facilitator, Ed Hootstein’s image of the ‘four pairs of shoes’ I think is a very clear and useful framework to work with. It helps me to see ‘what I know’ and what ‘I need to know’ to be an on-line teacher. I have used his concepts below for my KWL Chart.

kwl chart

 

 

week 3 posting- EDDL 5141

My own experiences taking on-line courses has definitely helped me to appreciate the difficulties experienced in setting up on-line programs. The overall goal, in my opinion, especially working with young teens- which is my first project- is having them feel a part of something that is sufficiently dynamic but with just the right balance of ease and challenge so that their confidence and motivation can work together to ensure the best possibility of sucess (as in the Vygotsky model of ‘scaffolding’).

Drawing from my experiences as a outdoor program facilitator for school aged children (7-16), I find that initial observation of the students is critical in order to assess their learning styles and passions before I formally decide on my final lesson planning for the semester. I think, therefore, without that initial contact, that it must simply be a given, for an on-line learning model, to assume that I have multiple intelligences (based on Howard Gardner’s model of the 7 intelligences) and multiple learning styles among my students; including introverts and extroverts, right and left-brain learners.

One of the most interesting teaching experiences I ever had was teaching ESL in a kindergarten in China (1 and 2 yr olds who were just beginning to learn language in their mother tongue!). The school principal, who was British, worked with the 7 intelligences model and had worked out a curriculum whereby every lesson (which was repeated for 3 weeks for the baby class, 2 weeks for the 3 and 4 yr olds, and weekly for the 5 and 6 yr olds) included words, visuals, kinetic activities, music and songs, working in groups and one-on-one. It was because this experience showed such visible results that I am able to see those learning styles in students now, even when they have been subverted by spending years in a classroom.

Critical to success, then, seems to be the inclusion of aspects of all the styles of learning; through visuals, music, video, social networking, physical activities and challenges. Keeping in mind also that some like to work at their own pace, and some enjoy a little peer competition, a balance of social networking in a variety of creative ways, including breaking up into smaller groups according to passion-based topics that they can co-create may satisfy the higher end learners who don’t like to be organized (I deal with a lot of ADHD, Asbergers, and other learning disorders, including dyslexia; students who like to think and do outside the box).

A significant difference for me as an on-line teacher will also be the fact that I cannot monitor the body language of my students in order to direct my facilitation- but will have to wait for them to initiate feedback. Therefore, a forum for feedback needs to be another one of the critical factors, as well as a forum for everyone to have a voice- especially at the beginning of a course- in the initial start-up process so that everyone feels welcome and included.

It can seem at first, especially to those non-abstract learners, and especially those new to on-line learning, that because they are ‘invisible’ their participation is in fact, less personal. It seems to me that setting up the perception of community and ‘visibility’ in the beginning should be the first goal. Some students require more interaction that others and will benefit from the invite, whereas, others can choose to remain less visible overall and still benefit from the communal environment. Ironically, posting on-line can actually, from my own experience, be a beneficial medium for introverts- those who, in the conventional classroom, don’t often have the same ‘opportunity’ to get involved in active discussion.

In terms of synchronous vs asynchronous communication, I would say that the point where synchronous communication is useful is when a group of participants are working together on a project and need to speed up and brainstorm amongst themselves. I would say that in terms of on-going topics, asynchronous learning is more useful, as it gives participants a chance to think about their responses as well as to work around their own learning schedules.

In terms of the programs I am planning, the synchronous component will happen in various ways. Initially upon sign-up, and at the end, as a celebration. The intention is to get together as a group in a weekend camp situation where the students can make real-life connections and share experiences together. The on-line learning would then have a pool of experiences to draw from. The program also, will consist of interacting with the real world and real experiences as part of the research components (nature-mapping, collecting data, observations, photographs, nature drawings, etc). The students will then post on-line and compare ecoregions as a way of sharing their three-dimensional learning experience with each other. An on-line weekly synchronous activity or chat room could also be fun for those who need more peer interaction.

EDDL 5141 Week 2 – personal philosophy

It’s interesting that I am interested in online learning as a part of my experiential wilderness and nature skills programs. Most students that join my programs do so because their parents want to get them outdoors and away from computers!

Online learning, though, offers a great contribution to the educational experience that I am trying to provide. The teachings begin with the inspiration of the natural world and the skills and activities that the student’s experience at camps in wilderness settings.

What I find is that after the camps are over and the students return home they lose the connection between their life at camp with all the great experiences they had and connections they made, and their home life. Nature is everywhere and the learning can continue at home – even in downtown NY we have students studying nature in the park or in their yards.

What an online learning course can provide is the structure and connection to other students in different geographical locations, and to a continuing relationship with Mentors. Research in field guides and journaling can take up precious time at camp; time that is best used to absorb and be in a timeless state. Experiencing the oral tradition of storytelling with the scents and sounds of the campfire and nature all around. There is so much to learn from experts and books and videos to augment the experiential learning and this is learning that is well suited to an online learning experience.

Response to the readings
I related most to the progressive style of education whereby the student is at the center of his or her learning (including the organization of curriculum around problems and situations which relate to the experiences of the students) with a focus on experimental, problem-solving and situational approaches with the role of the educator as facilitator.

It was interesting seeing that the technological drawbacks or arguments against this style were less daunting than with several other philosophical paradigms.

It was also interesting for me to read about the various other philosophies and recognizing in them the many home-schooler parents I have been dealing with over the past decade; specifically the radicals.

introduction

IMG_1437My name is Tashmyra. I have been teaching for the past 12 years. At present I am living in Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island, teaching a one day a week outdoor program for homeschoolers from ages 7-11 and a 3 day a week program for teens. I have been running these programs for the past 10 yrs and am now looking to put together a BC certified equivalency program for high-school graduation. The programs I run close for a few months in the winter and I often head south to Mexico, Belize or Ecuador where I have been arranging exchange programs for teen and family groups, so putting together an on-line curriculum for my students over the break would be a perfect addition.
Previous to the programs I run now, I taught ESL; in China at a kindergarten, working with the 7 intelligences model, and a couple of years teaching middle school in Thailand in an English Immersion program, teaching science, socials, and health science through ESL. I also spent several years arranging exchange programs for Thai and Canadian school groups.