Week 12. Tzveta’s reflection

I like the idea of Kelly using Glogster and wanted to try something similar, to experiment with something new. I found Smore and for this purpose was very easy and fun to use. I’ve created this flyer where I included basically pictures of the main things we have learnt in this course. I think they reflect the most important points of the distributed learning. I went through all the posts of the blog and this is what I came with.

There’s still one week for the course to finish, but I’m going to be busy with my practicum of Psychology, so I preferred to have it done before. However, I’m still reading all of your posts and I’ll be doing it as well until the end of the course. I hope you all enjoy your Christmas holidays.

Tzveta’s assignment 4

After reading Kelly’s post about assessment I discovered this site, RCampus, and I’ve used it for this assignment. In my personal theory of learning I included the learning communities; however I didn’t include them in my unit plan. Introducing this site to my unit I feel I’m sharing my experience with a learning community and I can learn from other users. I’ve created my rubric based on an existing one. I’ve updated the unit adding this rubric for the assessment. It’s very important for the students to have clear goals of what they have to develop because an explanation of the aims and values of each assessment task will further help students understand the nature and quality of their expected performance (Hricko & Howell, 2006). 

In order to promote the students’ engagement, I’ve tried to design the activities as real as possible. Authentic assessment tasks are particularly appropriate as a means of encouraging learners to engage with real-life issues and problems in their own worlds and workplaces (Hricko & Howell, 2006). In the whole unit plan I’ve used formative and summative assessment. The formative assessment is mainly for the student to see how they progressing in order to know the weak and strong points improve. It can be found in surveys, non-graded quizzes, discussion with the teacher or with students about the learning topics in order to clarify concepts, ideas, understanding, etc. The summative assessment is designed to measure their learning outcomes and it’s based on the whole learning process. Furthermore, it tries to evaluate the entire process and not just the final result. There are several activities because break down summative assessment into manageable chunks, encourage and motivate students, and provide invaluable insight for learners into their progress (Hricko & Howell, 2006). It’s better to have different assignments rather than just one. In this way you can have a better idea of their learning because there different strategies are used. It’s more realistic to evaluate different aspects and skills, moreover, students have different abilities. It would be unfair to assess only one skill, because there could be students that are weaker in this one and stronger in another one. It’s essential that students receive their feedback after completing their assignment so they can improve. For this reason, I have designed varied activities, such as a test, an online discussion, watching videos and analyzing them, conducting an experiment and doing a paper. Effective online assessments should include a wide variety of clearly explained assignments on a regular basis. Feedback is also a critical component on online assessment. It must be meaningful, timely, and should be supported by a well-designed rubric when possible. (Gaytan and McEwen, 2007)

The activities are structured to cover all the skills mentioned in the Bloom’s taxonomy. Starting with the test, where the lower skills are assessed. Then we have an online discussion where students have to understand and apply their knowledge in order to transmit it to other people. They also have to analyze what others had said to make questions or discuss their explanations. Every effort should be made to ensure a high level of interaction between students and faculty and among students. (Gaytan and McEwen, 2007). Next, they have an activity where they have to watch several videos and after that analyze them. Here they need to establish relationships between the theory and the practical aspects. They have to judge and support their ideas based on the knowledge they have been learning. And finally they have to conduct a research and write a paper based on this research. In this assignment all the levels from the Bloom’s taxonomy are required. The highest category, which is creating, is essential. They need to write and formulate their results and evaluate them based on the theories they have learned. For this assignment I’ve added a rubric which is more helpful so as to have a clearer idea of what is required for this paper. When I did the unit plan I always wrote the criteria for the assessment. However I think this rubric is more useful and specific than the criteria I used before. “Explicit values, aims, criteria, and standards”, is the second point in the Ten Key Qualities of Assessment Online (Hricko & Howell, 2006).

Resources:

  • Clark, D. (2013). Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. Retrieved November 22, 2013 from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html
  • Forehand, M. (2005). Bloom’s taxonomy: Original and revised.. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 22, 2013, from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Bloom%27s_Taxonomy
  • Gaytan and McEwen. (2007). Effective Online Instructional and Assessment Strategies. The American Journal of Distance Education. 21(3), 117–132
  • Hricko, M., & Howell, S. L. (2006). Online Assessments and Measurement : Foundations and Challenges. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.
  • Williams, D. D., Hricko, M., & Howell, S. L. (2006). Online Assessment, Measurement, and Evaluation : Emerging Practices. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.
  • Zhang, Zhidong. (2013). Assessing and Supporting Argumentation with Online Rubrics. International Education Studies Journal. Vol/Issue: 6 (7), Date: Jun 21, 2013

Tzveta’s activity from week 11

At the beginning of online education the tool was mostly used was an online quiz or test. It’s the easiest think to create, it’s self-evaluated and shows the students’ level. However, how can we be sure that the student is actually learning? Most of the times, there’s no reasoning, no critical thinking, analysis, or evaluation. This is just testing the understanding or memorization of concepts. Therefore, new ways of assessment have been created. Since it’s still something new and evolving, there are no perfects methods and if so, many teachers may not be familiar with them.

The new methods of online assessment focus on the development of the higher order cognition. In the Australian Centre for The Study of Higher Education’s research on “On-line Assessment“  (2002) there are several quotations from teachers and students about the perceptions about online assessment. There are opinions of both sides; some students or teachers may never be comfortable with online assessment and learning in general. However, the f2f learning is available for those who don’t like it. But for those students who choose to study online, the assessment has to be as real as possible and test all their skills.

Nevertheless, I think both methods of teaching are changing its way of assessment. Because f2f education also incorporates features of the online education. For example, they can use blogs, eportfolios, using web-based applications, rubrics, etc. All those are used for online education as well. This is because technology is present in f2f education. In my opinion, in the future the online assessment and f2f will share more aspects in common since nowadays more and more technological tools are used in the classroom.

Tzveta’s Technology Enhanced Unit Design

I’ve designed a course using Eliademy. It’s an online application which allows you to create an online course for free. If you click here, you can join the course because it’s private. In this post, I’m going to provide a description of my process designing the course.

I’ve tried to design this course according to my learning theory. Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger), students have to think about their personal experiences and try to relate to the new psychological theories they are learning. This makes them modify their current ideas. Social Development Theory (Vygotsky), despite being an online course, I’ve tried to create as much communication as possible. We are having a videoconference in order to clarify concepts and have an online discussion. And students are encouraged to communicate with each other in the forum. Constructivism Theory (Bruner), in general in all the tasks they have to relate their knowledge to their existing one. They don’t have to memorize facts, but they have to apply them and think critically. They have to build their own knowledge. From (Ally, 2008) Strategies used should allow learners to retrieve existing information from long-term memory to help make sense of the new information. Learners must construct a memory link between the new information and some related information already stored in longterm memory.

This is my personal theory of learning

and I think I’ve followed it. The student has to be actively involved in the learning process. We have the technological and tools that are essential for the online course. For this course I’ve used Eliademy which is a useful tool to designed courses. It’s easy and intuitive. You have the essential tools to manage a course. Perhaps you don’t have many choices, for example for the activities compared to Moodle. I’d already used Moodle and this time I wanted to try another one so I can compare and choose what’s better. But it has the important tools to manage a course: introduce new contents, manage activities and grade them including feedback, a forum for communication among the users of the course. There’s also an app for smartphones, so you can have access from everywhere. Blackboard Collaborate is appropriate for online discussions and videoconferences. It’s one way to deal with the distance problem and students can interact as in a classroom. Several websites and videos from YouTube are used to introduce new concepts and ideas to the students. I’ve also used the tool provided by Eliademy, a quiz in order to evaluate their learning process. Another tool used is Google Forms to get feedback from the students to assess the course and if they activities and contents are useful and meaningful for the students. I’ve used different tools, activities, ways of presenting the information so it’s more engaging for the students. The teacher is another point, I’ve already described the learning theories I’ve used above. And finally we have communication, which I’ve already mentioned it. In this course we have all kinds of communication described in my mind map. There’s synchronous communication for the videoconference and asynchronous when students interact with each other on the forum and when they interact with the teacher. In an online course is more difficult to have synchronous communication because of students’ schedule but it’s good to include when it’s possible some videoconferences. Even though students are not physically present it’s important to maintain the communication. We have that the social presence is “the ability of learners to project themselves socially and affectively into a community of inquiry” (Rourke, Anderson, Archer, & Garrison, 1999).

The assessment for the course tries to evaluate the student participation and their learning process. There are 5 parts which are being assessed along the course. There are 10 points we have to consider in online assessment (Hricko & Howell, 2006).

  1. A clear rationale and consistent pedagogical approach
  2. Explicit values, aims, criteria, and standards
  3. Relevant authentic and holistic tasks
  4. Awareness of students’ learning contexts and perceptions
  5. Sufficient and timely formative feedback
  6. A facilitative degree of structure
  7. Appropriate volume of assessment
  8. Valid and reliable
  9. Certifiable as students’ own work
  10. Subject to continuous improvement via evaluation and quality enhancement

In the assessment criteria I’ve tried to be clear and establish clear goals and it’s real and meaningful. They have to do tasks related to their personal experience which connects to the new knowledge. In general all the points above are covered by the course. There’s one formative feedback to measure the quality of the course. There’s also an activity for the student just to check their learning process with grading. And they have the support of the teacher to ask if they have troubles, however their peers can also help them and this increases cooperation and their self-esteem. There are 5 activities which are graded. There’s an online discussion where they have to interact and explain the concepts they have learnt and participate in the discussion to clarify their doubts. There’s a quiz to evaluate their learning. They do it online and get the result immediately. There’s another task where they have to comment several videos and relate this to the new learning of the course and their experience. Next, we have a real experiment they have to conduct and then do a paper based on these result. They have to comment those results and relate everything to what they have learnt in the course. And finally, the collaboration and participation is also assessed.

References

  • Ally, Mohamed. (2008). Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning. In, Anderson, Terry, (ed) The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed.)
  • Anderson, Terry. (2008). Social Software to Support Distance Education Learners. In, Anderson, Terry., (ed) The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed.)
  • Anderson, Terry. (2008). Toward a Theory of Online Learning. In Anderson, Terry, (ed) Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed.)
  • Culatta, Richard (2013). Learning Theories. Retrieved from: http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/index.html
  • Hricko, M., & Howell, S. L. (2006). Online Assessments and Measurement : Foundations and Challenges. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.

Tzveta’s activity 10.1. Authentic Assessment

After reading several websites I’d prefer the revised version for several reasons. First of all, the categories use verbs instead of names and this implies that the learner is more active. Second, I think the new order is better because evaluating comes before creating. I think before you can create something you have to be able to make an evaluation. A creation is something new that comes from inside each person and you need to put more effort and abilities.

Then, there are two things that I do not agree completely or maybe I don’t understand them properly and somebody could tell if I’m wrong. On the one hand, the first category, remembering, says it is to recall previous learned information. And then, the second category is understanding. From my point of view, remembering something without understanding is memorizing facts but without any meaning. I’d rather say identifying or recognizing something that you’ve seen before. Because, then we have the verb identify in the key words. On the other hand, again, it’s my opinion and I think that evaluating should come before analyzing. For me, the last one implies more mental processes. However it could be because for me it’s easier to evaluate, but actually it’s not like this.

This last paragraph is just my opinion and as I said before, maybe I don’t see the things clear. Because this taxonomy has been admitted for many years and nobody has seen this.

References:

Forehand, M. (2005). Bloom’s taxonomy: Original and revised.. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 22, 2013, from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Bloom%27s_Taxonomy

Clark, D. (2013). Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning DomainsRetrieved November 22, 2013 from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

Tzveta’s activities from week 9. Assessment and evaluation

Before this, I’ve never considered the differences between assessment and evaluation. Just reading the main differences, at first sight I can say that assessment seems to be more useful in a sense you are measuring the students’ progress and all their learning process.

After reading some websites I have a better idea of what assessment and evaluation mean. On the one hand, assessment focuses on the process during a period of time and its purpose is to improve the learning and the teaching processes. It’s an ongoing process and it’s based on the students’ performance over a period of time and sometimes compared to their starting point. It’s an interactive process between students and teachers who receive feedback from each other. Assessment is useful in order to improve the education in the future. It could be anonymous and normally it’s not graded. It uses the formative assessment because it helps students to improve their learning by providing them feedback during the whole process.

On the other hand, evaluation is a global process and its main purpose is grading students based on standarts, it measures the quality of education. It gives them a mark of the global achievement of their learning. The evaluation is summative because it gives them a final mark of their learning in order to measure their level of proficiency.

Activities for formative assessment:

  • Surveys or polls
  • Mind map for understanding a concept
  • Brief summary to identify the main topic of a videoconference
  • Selecting a topic for a research
  • Make an outline for a paper
  • Quizzes to practice
  • Paraphrase the learning material
  • Simulations
  • Case studies
  • Debates

Activities for summative evaluation:

  • A paper
  • Final project
  • Portfolio
  • Exam
  • Quizzes
  • Worksheets

Week 7 – Tzveta’s Theory of Learning

This is my map of learning theory for online learning. You have to click on the image to expand it in order to read the small print. The most important is the student because it’s the one who is learning, and they have to be active learners. There are four parts that are essential for the learning to take place. The teacher, techonological and online tools, content and resources and communication. The learner is related to all of them.

First of all, the teacher is the one who has to plan all the learning process and combine the contents effectively in a meaningful and constructive way. This means that the content has to be real, placed in a context, it has to be able to relate to the previous knowledge of the students and has to be structured logically. This also implies that the teacher has to know their students so they can adapt the contents to their abilities and interests. The communication and feedback between the teacher and students is essential, in order to achieve learning progress students need to know how they are doing. The organization of the contents and learning material are based on learning theories that the teacher uses. In particular, I identify myself with the cognitive, constructive and social learning theories.

Next, the teacher has to manage effectively all the technology available and online tools. They have to be designed with a purpose so that learning can take place. These tools have to promote engagement in learning and students will feel motivated to learn. Here we can include all online resources such as blogs, social networks, websites, learning and content management systems.

The next point is the communication that takes places among all the learning community. Interaction and collaboration is a very important point in online learning. Not having a physical classroom doesn’t mean we have to study alone without any interaction. We can interact with other students and the teacher in many different ways. We can distinguish between asynchronous and synchronous communication. I’d rather prefer synchronous communication because it’s more direct and effective, such as videoconference, online chats. However it’s not always possible. Sometimes the best way to communicate is using an asynchronous communication with tools such as forums, blogs, videos, email, discussions, etc.

In conclusion, I think the learning has to be as real as possible, students have to interact with each other, social communication is necessary. And in order to study online we need to use the technological resources effectively so they can motivate students.

Tzveta’s activities from week 6

What were the most interesting or important considerations for thinking about learning theory in distributed or online teaching environments?

One of the important things I found was there’s a lot of attention given to the social interaction and the community-centred aspect. Despite being online education interaction is still a very important point.  On the article of Sontag there a quotation that made me think, this is: Today’s students “do not just think about different things, they actually think differently” (Prensky 2001, 42). That means we have to adapt all the educational materials and methodology to these new students, therefore new learning theories are being developed nowadays.

Do you think certain learning theories are more relevant or appropriate for considering learning at a distance as compared to a face to face (f2f)  environment?

After reading the articles I found some teaching practices that are more relevant in online learning compared to face to face. First of all, when you have an online course, teachers can know their students, their personality, ideas, etc. Therefore they have to supplement this lack of information using questionnaires or online surveys. Related to this, when you are teaching in an online context, you have on internet a unique cultural context that it’s developed by the learning community of the course. So it’s the same as a classroom, each classroom in a school is different because of the characteristics of the students, their relationships, so online it’s the same, you develop a context.

Another aspect that is different for online learners is that they have a deeper knowledge of the resources. This is because online resources are unlimited whereas resources available in a school are limited. Thus, teachers have to manage efficiently those resources to provide them the most adequate. The role of the teachers it’s not only to provide content, but to create communication and interaction among students and learn from this content in a meaningful way.

The assessment in distance education has to be a tool for motivating students and giving them feedback so they can engage in learning. It doesn’t have a to be a summative evaluation, just giving marks; it has to be useful for the future learning.

The interaction among teachers is wider than in face to face education. Teachers can interact using learning communities and develop a larger social network. In general communication and interaction plays a very important role in online learning. Moreover, there’s another kind of interaction which is not present in face to face education, this is communication with strangers. It means that students and teachers can interact with people who are not necessarily related to the school, for example using Google Answers.

The social- and cognitive-connectedness schemata (SCCS) also focuses on the social aspect in education. It’s very important to create social interaction between students and the teachers. This theory also gives special attention to games as a tool for learning.

Are there different challenges in applying learning theory to teaching practice in a distributed learning context?

There are a few challenges you may encounter when you use distance learning. First of all, there’s the body language and paralinguistic clues. These aspects are missing in online education. If you are using a videoconference you can have them, however normally there are not present.

Related to an advantage I described in the previous question, it could be a problem as well. Since the resources are unlimited, this fact could be overwhelming for the students. That’s why it’s the teacher’s role to select the best and most appropiate resources for their learning.

Despite the attention given to interaction, there’s also a problem. Sometimes interaction and communication cannot be immediately. Some students may thing they would get an instant response from their teachers; however, this is not always possible. I could be frustrating for some students who need help at that time. Another problem related to communication is that synchronous interaction may lead to less participation and lack of attention. Neverthelss, this has changed over the years with the incorporation of the social networks.

Tzveta’s activities from week 5

The learning theories I identify most with are the Cognitive Dissonance from Festinger, Social Development Theory from Vygotsky and Constructivism Theory from Bruner. The three theories are related and the share common aspects. However they have their differences. They are in cognitive and constructive approach for learning. Since I’m not teaching, I’m going to identify myself with the teaching practices I’d like to use.

Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger)

This theory states that people need to have consistency among their beliefs, ideas, etc. If they don’t have them, they need to reduce this dissonance by different ways. First, reduce the importance of the dissonant beliefs. Second, add more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant beliefs. And third, change the dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent. The last one is the most important for learning. The first two don’t make sense for learning because if students don’t change their ideas, they are not learning. So the last way of reducing the dissonance is changing their ideas. That means if the learners have a conflict between the reality and their thought they have to adapt their thinking to the reality and therefore change their beliefs. This is a constant action when learning throughout our life. So in schools what we can do is identify wrong or incomplete ideas of our students and arouse situations where they can see it’s inconsistent with the reality. In this way, they work on meaningful activities to modify their ideas. For example, they they think that that water, ice and steam are different things, but we can use an activity where they manipulate these three elements and realize by themselves that they are the same.

Social Development Theory (Vygotsky)

The social interaction is one of the main aspects of Vygotsky’s theory. First if takes and external role and later is internal. The second aspect of his theory is the zone of proximal development (ZPD). That is people are in the point of “what I can do”, and the next step is “what I can do with help” and the last one is “what I can’t do”. The goal for learning is the middle stage. It will then become the first stage and it’s a circle. This stage can be reached with the help of adults and the social interaction is very important in order to achieve it. This theory totally encourages interaction among students and group working. So in the school it’s better to have the students working together rather than independently. They can help each other and go further in their learning. The teacher also helps them by giving hints and directions.

Constructivism Theory (Bruner)

The main of its theory is that the learning process is active and it is based on the current knowledge of the learners. They interact with the information and transform their knowledge, they are active learners. The role of the teacher is to encourage the students to actively discover new principles. The teacher has to provide the right information so they work on it. The education is designed as a spiral where when they reach new knowledge, what they learn next is built on this current knowledge. So the teacher has to identify the current knowledge of the students, and to provide activities that connect with this knowledge and they can learn something new as well. Student can do experiments in the classroom since they get directions from their teacher and then, they discover something new being an active learner.

Tzveta’s assignment 2 – Part B – Tools for DL

For this assignment I chose the topic of educational tools applied to e-learning and distributed learning. After making the research, I’ve selected the ones I’m more interested in and made a description of its features and examples of use in real schools. For each tool and based on the school’s experience, I’ve identified some disadvantages and proposed possible solutions for the problems. If I couldn’t find anything wrong, I added my suggestions to create new features of the tool.

The website of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT) you can find information about new learning trends, technologies and tools. There’s also a list of the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013. I’ve selected two of the tools: Socrative and Canvas.

Socrative

According to its website, “Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets”.This defition is very wide, so I’ll comment its main features. You can watch the presentation video of Socrative, it’s very good to understand the philosophy of this tool. Basically, the teacher has an account and students can connect to this classroom. Once they are in the classroom, the teacher can interact with them through different kinds of activites. Those are quick exercies which include: multiple choice, true or false and short answers. You can also create quizzes and the results are automatically sent to your email, the send the reports to the students. You can use it as an app for Android or IOS and in an internet browser.

Rob Zdrojewski is using Socrative at Canisius College, and he states Socrative is a free tool based on the student response system by just clicking. He likes it because is highly motivating and engaging and on top of that it’s free and it works on any device that has internet connection. Moreover is very easy to use, any student can using with basic instructions, just join the classroom and the rest is simple and intuitive. So there’s no special trainning need it and it adapts to all kind of students even students with learning difficulties. There’s also a feature that allows students to work in groups, is called the Space Race. This lets them collaborate with each other and come with the answer as a group. It’s like a kind of game, so in this aspect is more motivating at the same time they actually learning. Rob says that in his school there are more teacher that are starting to use Socrative and they even use it for the final exams. He points out that the fact that feedback is immediately is a benefit for the students; they don’t have to wait days or weeks until they get their results.

There’s another school that serves as an example, this is Wilmington Middle School and they have pretty much the same experience as Rob. I’m not going to repeat the same benefits, I’ll just state new information they give. They emphasize the fact that feedback is shown immediately, actually they says it’s the best and you get an excel file with all your students’ results. They remark it’s a very engaging way of learning.

After reading the experiences of these schools, my analysis of Socrative is that is very appropriate for DL because it’s flexible with the students, you can teach students at distance, and they can work in groups as well and collaborate with each other. Something important that this tool is accessible for everybody because you don’t need to pay and the technology is simple and intuitive. So there are no barriers for students who struggle with technology. In my opinion, this is a way of engaging students who may be “afraid” of using new technology. Since it’s so easy they can’t have any problems. Another point that is motivating for the students is that they get immmediate feedback, this is reinforcing. If you do an assignment, but then you have to wait weeks you can forget what it was about. In this way, students are more motivated because they are aware they are learning or what they need to improve. So far, these are just good things about the tool; however, I think there can be added new features such as audio, video and photos. Questions are just written, and students respond in the same way. Why not using a video instead of a written question? And the same for students, they could respond submitting a video. All smartphones have a video recorder, so it wouldn’t be a problem. In my opinion, they use different ways of communication and it also depends on the way of learner you are. There are visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners, if we take it into account, it adding this new feature would be better for the learners.

Canvas

Canvas, by Instructure, is a LMS and it has three different varieties. One for higher education, another one for K-12 and then Canvas Network which was launched for the MOOC’s. I’ll focus on the higher education version and I’ll go through the most important features. Canvas for higher education incorporates the newest technology and makes the students engage in their learning. The feature it incorporates are the “App Center”, you can integrate apps, such as youtube, slideshare, google charts and so on, to the courses. Then we have the “Graphic analytics reporting engine”. This tool is for both students and teacher and you can get analytics and feedback of learning outcomes. It’s very useful because students get immediate feedback and it’s more motivating. The feature of “Integrated media recorder” allows you to record a video and you can use it for comments, messages, assignments, etc. Instead of writing you can attach a video. The “outcomes” of the learning are easier to evaluate because it’s based on the students coursework. The “automated tasks” are easily available on the calendar so you can have an overview of the schedule. It is very “easy to use” for the students, the design is clear, intuitive and they don’t get frustrated when learning. Canvas is compatible with “IOS and Android”. It “supports RSS” so you can get updates of new activity in the course.  “Speedgrader” is a tool for giving feedback to students, you can easily submit audio, video, any kind of comments and rubrics are also integrated. You can watch a video explaining how it works.

Kevin Reeve is a teacher in Utah State University writes a blog sharing his experience using Canvas in online teaching. I’ll write here what he likes most about Canvas. He really likes the iPad SpeedGrader app because you can do it very fast using your rubric. There’s also a reminder that tells you that you have to grade an assignment. He says that it saves you a lot of time and you can do it at any time, you don’t need to be at school or dedicate a lot time, just when you spare time. Another point he likes it’s the rich text editor that appears everywhere you have to enter text. And the advantage of it is that you can add any link to any content page you have on the course, such as quizzes, assignments, etc. In this way all the contents are linked and it’s visually clearer. Kevin finds the feature of conversation through assignments very useful because you can give feedback and students can correct their assignment and answer you. One thing that he thinks needs to be improved is the discussions in Canvas, there are, but the workflow needs to be enhanced. He says that this is a common discussion among the users of Canvas.

The Innovation Center in Utah Valley University uses Canvas and gives us some feedback about their experience. Canvas is easy to ease, fast and intuitive. It allows you to communicate with the students and teachers in a very easy way. You get a notification when you have new messages or comments. You can select when and how you want to be informed of any kind activity. This is good because you stay updated without having to check the site. Moreover, you can the screen of recent activity so don’t miss anything important. The assignments that students can do are numerous, they can submit a file, media, quizzes, websites, this makes learning more entertaining. They like the feature that I commented in the introduction about the speedgrader. In the section of assignment it allows you to browse all kind of submissions. The assignments can be in different formats, texts, videos, websites, etc and they are all opened in Canvas, you can see the assignment and grade quickly. On the right side of the page you can introduce the grade manually or use the rubrics you’ve created. If you do so, then it’s very fast because you just have to select what you want and it’s sent to the student. Teacher like the fact you can add a comment or record a video giving your feedback for the assignment. And students can respond to it as well.

The analysis I make from this readings is that Canvas seems to be a very powerful tool for online learning and DL. From the users’ experiences it seems one of the best LMS that is available now. However this information can be biased since their users are going to say more positive things about it because they are using. Although, I’ve never used Canvas and from all the information I got it seems more complete than Moodle. It incorporates tools are new for me and I think are very appropriate for DL. One is the video option you can add in your comments, this way of communicating is similar to face to face and it gives the sense of a more personal treatment. The grading system again takes a very important role in the evaluation of its users. The variety of assignments makes the learning more productive and flexible for all kind of learners and this point is very important for DL. It wouldn’t make any sense just submitting writings. Here you have the opportunity to have text, videos, quizzes, websites, discussion, chats, etc. The learning is then engaging. What they say it should be improved is the discussion tool, I agree with that because communication is very important in learning and even if you are on an online course you need to communicate and get feedback. If it doesn’t work properly you can get frustrated because it’s not like real communication. It should be as real as face to face communication. This is an important issue in DL, the interaction among students, and teacher as well.

Conclusion

After evaluating the two tools and the experiences from different teachers, on the one hand I’ve realize they care a lot about the grading system. They like this to be easy and fast. However, I don’t know if this is going to be dangerous because teachers may not pay the attention they have to do to the assignment. I mean, if it’s so easy they can end up doing it automatically without giving the right feedback. These are just my thoughts after reading their experiences, although I haven’t tried the evaluations tools by myself since I don’t have any real course with assignment submitted from my students.

On the other hand, the easiness of the tools is another important point for the teachers. This is totally agreeable with the DL principles, so it has to be easy and accessible for the students. They don’t need to receive any special training or struggle with the tools; they have to be beneficial for their learning.

Resources