My summary of learning for 509 addresses the two critical questions for the course:
1. How can you select emerging technologies which fit your developing philosophy of education?
2. How can you inspire, initiate and implement sustainable integration of emerging technologies in your own practice, and in the practice of others?
I chose to sketch out my own “mind-map” for the first critical question. After struggling with technology tools for mind-mapping, I could not come up with the vision I had in my head. If this was something I was going to refer to and pin on my office wall, I wanted it to visually represent my thinking. In this case, the use of a technology tool did not fit my goal (a good reminder not to use a tool just for the sake of including technology).
To answer the second critical question I created a poster using Glogster. This tool was a graphic way of presenting my ideas and it also enabled me to embed a video to further illustrate my points. Glogster is one of the presentation tools I will introduce to my students as tool to showcase their learning.
This course allowed me to explore emerging technologies that I might not have considered using in my teaching. I have a new appreciation for eBooks and have already used them as a teaching tool this term. Before OLTD 509, I honestly did not acknowledge the creative use of tablets for education. By exploring the limitations of the tablet during our seminar facilitation week, I found by the end of the week I had completely embraced all of the tablets’ strengths. I will be a proud owner of an iPad Air by next week!
By far, the greatest learning for me in this course was being able to re-evaluate my own teaching philosophy and create a mindset on how to include emerging technologies into my teaching practise.
My first reaction to being in an eBook seminar was to say the least, lukewarm. To begin with, I was old school and cherished books, real books that had pages to turn. My brother gave me his old Kindle last year and it still sits in the box. My romantic notion of books seemed to override what eBooks had to offer. I thought of switching seminars, if it was possible, into another seminar that was more intriguing like wearable technology or virtual worlds. But, after more thought, (and how could I put a wrench in my professors ‘artfully engineered seminar schedule?). I decided to leave things as they were and trust I would be enlightened and, not only learn how eBooks are impacting education, but also how eBooks might be an emerging technology that could become part of my teaching practise.
My pleasant surprise came half way through the eBook seminar week when I stopped defending books and began to experience a new version of reading. Interactive eBooks range from learning all about wildlife in WWF Together to a voice- activated cookbook called Mind Watering-Cook & Look. Imagine being able to get your hands messy mixing dough and never have to touch the recipe book with gooey fingers! Or how about Bridging Book , an “engage” book that has both digital and printed versions that synchronize together for a new reading experience? It is no wonder why Greenfield, author of If Kids Are Our Future, Our Future is eBooks, predicts that the eBook revolution’s next wave will be led by kids. According to Digital Book World, “When it comes to e-reading, children truly are the future.” Knowing kids are engaging with eBooks more and more each year as technology continues to enhance their reading experience, should signal to educators that eBooks are an emerging technology that needs to be explored.
My week of exploring eBooks ended with the task of publishing my own eBook. I still had access to an iPad so I naturally chose iPad apps for story creating. I tried out two iPad apps for creating eBooks, My Little Star Story Creator and Little Story Creator. Both of these apps were very easy to use and had a clean look to them. I added voice overs and could choose colourful backgrounds to match my images on each page. My choice for content for making an eBook was a natural one. I was introducing my Creativity Square project to my art 9-12 class. In keeping with my class theme of “We Are All Creative Thinkers”, my art students last semester were asked “What is Creativity?” The whole class brainstormed ideas and each student was then required to create a composition depicting what creativity meant to them. The project had such amazing results, I wanted to reintroduce it to my new art students. When I knew I had to create an eBook, I immediately thought, what better way to introduce the project than with an eBook ? I took photos of the creativity squares with the iPad and easily uploaded them into the eBook. Everything about creating the eBook was simple; the only tough part was choosing which images to add ! The major glitch arrived when I realized I had no way of exporting the eBooks off my iPad to be viewed online as they were created. The only way I could share them was play the book on my iPad(which I did individually for my art class) or email them to myself in a PDF form, which I have included in this post.
I decided to research other ways to create eBooks on my laptop. I found a great website by Richard Byrne which reviewed the two tools I chose next to experiment with: Youblisher and simplebooklet . Youblisher turns any PDF file into an online magazine that even adds page turning affects. This was perfect for my eBook that I had just emailed to myself in PDF form. I created a simple book, but I saw great potential for using Youblisher for English and History courses with the creation of online magazines. This would be an excellent tool for demonstrating student learning at the end of a unit. Simplebooklet allows you to make a variety of web booklets. I created a simple flipbook that was straightforward and easy to use. The only visible drawback was the free version only allowed ten booklets and advertising was embedded throughout the book. Certainly, I would choose to purchase the tool if I were to use it regularly in my class( only ten dollars a year for a teacher account) . Simplebooklet also allows the user to upload a PDF file and have it customized into a web booklet that could be used for flyers, brochures and newsletters. In no time at all, my eBook on “What is Creativity?” was easily created using the basic uploading of images and adding text. The finished eBook can be shared by email, social media sites, websites and blogs.
My “lukewarm” beginning to the EBook seminar ended with a very enthusiastic response to using this emerging technology in my classroom. EBooks promote engagement to student learning which fits perfectly with my teaching philosophy that education is interest. Students who are engaged are interested and motivated to learn. My work with Inquiry-based learning and self-directed learning is successful due to student choice and freedom to demonstrate their learning in various ways. EBooks present one more tool to add to my emerging technology use that will increase engagement and provide a creative way for students to demonstrate their learning.
Greenfield, J. Jan 2013. If Kids are Our Future, Our Future is Ebooks. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygreenfield/2013/01/31/if-kids-are-our-future-our-future-is-ebooks/
Greenfield, J. Jan 2013. More than Half of US Kids Reading Ebooks, New Report shows. Retrieved from http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/more-than-half-u-s-kids-reading-ebooks-new-report-shows/
Byrne, R. Create Your Own Ebooks. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/richardbyrnepdsite/ebooks-and-audiobooks/create-your-own-ebooks
My eBooks in simplebooklet and Youblisher
Game On! Gamification Gaining Interest in Education
My reasons for choosing gamification as an interest for one of my seminar weeks in OLTD 509 was due to the fact I really did not know much about it. I knew gaming was a huge industry and many of my students and my own children are engaged in online gaming. I knew of educational games as far back as the arrival of computer games such as SimCity and my children’s favourites, Math Blaster, and The Way Things Work by David Macaulay. But what exactly is “gamification”? Justin Marquis in his article, “The Trouble with Gamification, states “ At the most basic level, gamification is the integration of games into the curriculum.” Gamification sounds intriguing. Will gamification be the answer to engaging learners and increasing their 21st Century skills? As educators, are we doing all we can, as phrased by Marquis(2013), “to usher in a new era of interactive, engaging, and innovative education?”
My task for the Gamification seminar week was to immerse myself in learning through game play. I was fresh out of a tablet seminar and eager to explore another avenue of engagement using an iPad. My first gaming app I downloaded was called Quandary. In this game, players are starting a new colony on a distant planet and must deal with ethical issues and life challenges. Players develop the skills of decision making by being presented with a problem in the colony, like possible water contamination, and having to decipher what the facts, opinions and solutions are. Points are rewarded for identifying and understanding the difference among all three. The Colonial Council from Earth makes the final decision based on the players’ information given. Quandary has a science fiction theme with three episodes that take about 30 minutes each to play and has eight possible outcomes for every episode. It is geared for ages 8-14. The positives for the game are: works for individual, group or paired players, players make decisions that impact other’s lives, no right or wrong answers, opens up avenues for deeper discussion, encourages collaboration and critical thinking skills, creative aspect in that avatars can be designed by players . As I played the game, I realized the potential right away for group discussion and the power of working through ideas with others. I had to think through and listen to all viewpoints to make a decision on what solution might be best for the colony. This game could easily work as a model to obtain skills that will transfer over to real life issues.
Other games I explored that may be useful in my teaching of Planning and Health and Career are Spent and Mike and Vicky. Spent gives each player $1000.00 to live on for 30 days. Each day life problems arise and decisions have to be made on what to spend your limited budget on. This is an excellent example of using gamification to engage students by allowing them to experience life’s expenses coming at them and at the same time having to make some tough decisions while they watch the account dwindle away in front of their eyes. I managed to get through the month with $30.00 left over, but I have a great deal of life experience behind me to support my ability to make tough choices. I am eager to try this game out not only to see their end accounts, but to have discussions on their tough decisions they had to make. Mike and Vicky is an interactive storyline involving choices about alcohol, drugs and the consequences of those choices. Players choose an action and the game takes them through a scenario with more choices to be made as the evening continues on. Each choice has a separate series of events that occur, just as in real life, except in this game it allows you to go back and remake choices and in real life it does not work that way. While I was not attracted to the graphics of the game, I did like the interactive aspects and the range of choices available to players. The game also stops and makes a point to ask “what just happened here?” and “ How does it feel to be responsible?” Messages called Fast Facts outline for players exactly what being responsible looks and feels like. Both of these interactive games have the power to engage learners in new ways and can be a great start for educators to begin gamifying their courses.
David Hunter, a geography teacher in middle school, began gamifyng his course by introducing to his curriculum “Zombie-Based Learning: Geography Lessons Set in a Zombie Apocalypse”. Aidan Mullaney (2013) describes how David decided to integrate the entire concept of zombies into his own teaching. Hunter’s class is primarily project based functioning similar to the way a game works, including explicit tasks, consistent feedback, and a single theme: zombies. Not only is this an example of how to gamify a course, it also begins a trend to create innovative ways to engage students and change the way curriculum is being designed.
Justin Marquis in his blog, 5 Easy Steps to #Gamifying #HigherEd, expresses that adding gamificiation elements to your teaching can be fun. According to Sean Slade (Strauss,2010), “Fun implies that you are teaching the students to enjoy the subject you are teaching so that they will want to learn. Fun in this sense is not entertainment or silliness. It is enjoyment of the learning process.” I see gamificaion as a way to bring fun into teaching in new and innovative ways. We are just beginning to see the impact gamification is having on educational practises. Marquis(2013) encourages educators to take simple steps first. Get your “Game On” and just maybe as Marquis(2013) states, “You will find that your teaching gets a refreshing update that makes it more enjoyable for you and more effective for your students.”
Marquis, J. July, 2013. Five Easy Steps to #Gamifying#HigherEd . Retrieved from http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2013/07/5-easy-steps-to-gamifying-highereed/
Mullaney, A. June 2013. How to Teach and Engage Students with …Zombies. Retrieved from http://www.gamification.co/2013/06/28/how-to-teach-and-engage-students-with-zombies/
Strauss, V. June 2010 Why Fun is important in learning-Part 2. Retrieved from http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/why-fun-is-important-in-learni.html
My iPad Week: Triumphs and Tribulations
This week in our Online Learning and Technology program we presented a seminar on tablet computing. The challenge activity for the week was to leave your desktop or laptop alone and try to rely only on the tablet for your day to day work use. As I was not a tablet owner, I was lucky enough to borrow an iPad from a friend for the week’s seminar. I learned right away that the iPads do not have a “switch user” option; hence working on someone’s iPad like it was your own offered up a list of barriers to overcome. My week started out very ambitiously with full intentions of using the iPad for everything from posting to Google+ to writing my weekly blog. I encountered many triumphs and tribulations this week as I learned firsthand the creative possibilities and limitations of tablet computing.
First off, I was excited to just “play” with the iPad, which I did the all day Saturday. Getting used to the interface and finding out what was what. My first reaction was how much longer it took to do simple tasks involved with my coursework. Typing using the touch screen (I noticed increased misspellings and disappearing acts), accessing Google Drive to add comments and points to course checklist (apparently possible, but not worth my time find and install a solution), and figuring out how to compose comments and save before posting (I gave up and typed straight in Google+) were all time-consuming tasks. I finally switched to my laptop for all work I wanted saved. The most enjoyable time spent doing coursework on the iPad was when I was surfing the net for educational apps, reading Google+ posts with the ability to scroll through and individually read on the full iPad screen, and testing out newly downloaded apps of interest. My tribulations with the iPad were all issues with using it in place of my laptop. I now fully understand what Graham Brown-Martin meant in his article “Game Changer: Is it iPad?”, when explaining the “paradigm shift in mobile computing” (2010). Graham said it all when he stated “the clue is what our desktops and laptops are and were designed to do and what the iPad isn’t and hasn’t been designed to do” (2010). If I want the iPad to be a useful substitution for my laptop, I would have to go against what it was designed to do and enhance its workability by adding apps and accessories. Maybe a better route (and less expensive) might be to just embrace all the best of what an iPad was designed to do and rejoice in the triumphs I encountered with the iPad this week.
The first moment involving the iPad that felt like a triumph came about Saturday night. An evening out with friends turned into a memorable event thanks to the iPad and the use of Face Time. Friends who were here on a teacher exchange for a year had recently returned home to Australia. We invited them to dinner via iPads. We laughed and shared stories as if they were with us in the flesh. I am envisioning Face Time visits with guest artists, photographers and potters for future classes. Somehow the small tablet was large enough to feel like an intimate visit and small and portable enough to fit into any setting.
My best moments using the iPad this week were at my high school. The art students were preparing for their art gallery walk this week. With iPad in hand, I cruised the art room and took pictures and managed art conferences with each student. I now have a documented account and a record of their creative process as they assemble and build their mixed media art. One student asked about how a composition could work if they added more elements. I opened up then newly downloaded Paper app and was able to quickly draw in colour images to fit their artwork. The student in turn can draw and brainstorm with me. An email from a parent checking in on her daughter staying late after school was emailed a reply on the iPad and sent with a picture attached. An instant connection to parents was made informing them progress on their student’s work. Using the Photo editing Aviary app, I start to create a virtual art gallery show online and share in Google+ for those parents not able to attend a day event. I quickly create a mini art show to send a sneak peak to all staff to encourage attendance and highlight the art at the event. Later in the week, during the actual art gallery walk, I easily carry the iPad and photograph all the artwork at the show. The iPad also enabled me to quickly make notes and record the artwork with each student for evaluating their work at a later time. What could have been a series of time consuming tasks was effortlessly accomplished in the moment as I am teaching. The iPad is a portable and unobtrusive tool that allows me to multi-task documenting and recording student achievements.
I look back on my iPad week and marvel at the triumphs and tribulations I encountered with its personal and professional use. My iPad use was only a week long and I am completely convinced I need one. Would I put a whole lot of energy trying to transform my future iPad into working like a laptop? Probably not. What I am looking forward to is exploring all that an iPad was designed to do and investigate how that will best serve both my own and my students’ educational and creative needs.
Brown-Martin, Graham (May 2010). Game Changer: Is it iPad? Retrieved from http://www.handheldlearning.co.uk/content/view/64/1/
An Example of the virtual art show created in Photo Editor Aviary
Emerging Technologies: Tools for Creativity
Sir Ken Robinson, in a recent interview with Graham Brown-Martin, defines creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value”. Robinson speaks to educators about the importance to not only “teach creatively”, but also “teach for creativity” (2014). According to Robinson, to teach creatively is to peak one’s curiosity and lead that person down the road to self-discovery. To teach for creativity, on the other hand, puts the emphasis on encouraging people to develop their creative capacities and skills. The NACCCE report (1999, as cited in Jeffery and Craft 2004) made a distinction between teaching creatively and teaching for creativity. Teaching creatively was defined as ‘using imaginative approaches to make learning more interesting and effective’. Teaching for creativity was defined as forms of teaching that are intended to develop young people’s own creative thinking or behaviour. No matter which definition you choose, one thing for certain is that the two work hand in hand and are equally vital to a learning environment. As I contemplate how I would select emerging technologies to fit my developing philosophy of education, I immediately return to my classroom theme this year, which is “We are all Creative Thinkers”. Choosing emerging technologies must enhance the creative process, increase student engagement and improve conversations and responses to ideas to be valuable teaching tools.
My developing philosophy of education has centered on the importance of relationships and student engagement. I remember reading the phrase, “Education is interest” and immediately recognized the simple truth to that statement. If students show interest, they are motivated to learn. What I strive to achieve in my teaching is to create personal interest (i.e. through Inquiry, project-based learning) that engages students in their learning to the point they never ask about their mark. If I can create a learning atmosphere where students are engaged and taking ownership of their learning without concerning themselves with what grade they might be getting, I feel I am on the right track. If I am searching for ways to inspire and engage my students, I invariably turn toward emerging technology tools that help me to connect and challenge students to be “original thinkers”.
Sir Ken Robinson, in the Art of Teaching, offers ideas on how to teach for creativity by creating challenges, setting tasks and allowing time and freedom to speculate. Jeffery and Craft (2004) cite a framework for teaching creatively and teaching for creativity featuring relevance, ownership, control and innovation. Understanding and revisiting my developing philosophy of education has been valuable in that it has grounded my decision process on selecting emerging technologies in my teaching. Creative processes, student engagement, ownership of learning and an emphasis on sustaining relationships through conversations and responses to ideas will need to be supported when using technology tools. Next is to contemplate which emerging technologies will be the best fit and begin to implement them into my teaching practise.
Brown-Martin, Graham (January 2014). Sir Ken Robinson: The Art of Teaching. Retrieved from http://learning-reimagined.com/sir-ken-robinson-art-of-teaching/
Jeffrey, Bob and Craft, Anna (2004). Teaching creatively and teaching for creativity: distinctions and
relationships. Educational Studies, 30(1), pp. 77–87 retrieved from http://oro.open.ac.uk/425/2/CT-TFC-Final-Ed_Studies.pdf
My Story of Using an Emerging Technology for Student Engagement
“The ultimate engagement is to put the learner in charge of learning. Create a rich learning environment and a motivation to learn, and the students do all the hard work of learning, while the teacher merely facilitates. It sounds so easy.” writes Ben Johnson in his blog post (2012). My evolution of addressing student engagement began with Inquiry, travelled to a blended classroom and is now nearing a project-based learning approach. I certainly would not describe the journey towards teacher facilitation as an easy one! Along this journey, my use of web 2.0 tools has increased every year. My story of using an emerging technology in my teaching directly relates to my efforts to increase student engagement in my photography course. The introduction of ePortfolios using Weebly last year stretched the boundaries of my comfort zone using technology, but proved to be a key factor for motivating and engaging my students.
Three years ago I moved from a teacher-directed classroom to an inquiry-based student-directed classroom. While this proved to be a successful teaching practice and one I continue to incorporate, I still had to face how to tackle the enormous amount of frontloading of information needed in the beginning of a photography course without losing student motivation and engagement. How could I motivate students to learn the key concepts in photography without lecturing, viewing videos as a class or presenting class demonstrations which invariably students missed if absent from school? My answer came in the form of building an online photography course that students could access anytime and with the introduction of student websites (ePortfolios) to house all their learning throughout the course.
Introducing an emerging technology to a large number of high school students (two blocks of photography with 60 students) seemed like a daunting task to undertake. Even though I was familiar with using Weebly, I knew guiding two full classes through each step of building the website could take up a full week or more of class time. Also, logistically speaking, one instructor per 30 students was not the ideal ratio for learning new technology. The solution was to provide an outside environment with one-on-one instruction with student teachers at Vancouver Island University. Not only did this provide an excellent learning opportunity for all involved, it also created a much valued mentorship for my students that lasted all term. The student teachers validated the use and importance of ePortfolios in education by sharing that each and every one had created their own ePortfolio at the university level. My students were excited and motivated not only to create their own website, but to continue to improve their photography skills and showcase the best of their work online. Implementing the use of Weebly as a student website was successful due to: expert guidance and mentorship, individualized attention, real world applications, student autonomy for design and the ability to achieve “professional” quality results. The only barrier for success using Weebly was the issues students had with the time it took to upload images on the school’s server. This is more of a district bandwidth issue than with the actual web 2.0 tool itself.
Dunleavy and Milton (2009) give examples of what students stated they would imagine in their schools to be fully engaged in learning:
· Solve real problems.
· Engage with knowledge that matters.
· Make a difference in the world.
· Be respected.
· See how subjects are interconnected.
· Learn from and with each other and people in their community.
· Connect with experts and expertise.
· Have more opportunities for dialogue and conversation
Without the whole class setup of websites with individualized and personal attention from the student teachers, the introduction and implementation of Weebly for student ePortfolios would not have been as successful. My students were engaged with knowledge that mattered, they were shown respect and valued learning from the expertise of university students and they were given many opportunities for dialogue and conversation.
This year my journey to facilitate learning and increase student engagement will once again begin with implementing ePortfolios using Weebly. The Vancouver Island University student teachers will be mentoring my students and providing the much needed expert connections. Expanding on new ways to engage my students, a mentor teacher from Saskatoon will be guiding my students through her process of learning a skill online with an introduction to project-based learning. As stated in, “What Did you Learn in School Today? (2009), “goals for intellectual engagement” (2009) will contain instructional choices that:
· Promote students’ sense of ownership and responsibility for their own learning.
· Invite students to be co-designers of their learning in classrooms that support student voice and autonomy.
· Foster collaboration and community building for learning.
· Bridge students’ experience of learning in and outside of school by exposing them to digital technologies in knowledge-building environments.
· Engage students in becoming literate with technologies as social-networking, knowledge-building tools.
My goal as a teacher/facilitator is to provide my students with learning opportunities that will meet the goals for “intellectual engagement” (2009). Once again I am moving out of my comfort zone to experience project-based learning with my students and showcase that learning on both a community and global scale.
Johnson, Ben. ( 2012, March 1) How Do We Know When Students Are Engaged?. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-definition-ben-johnson
Dunleavy ,J.& Milton, P. (2009, May). What did you do in school today? Retrieved from http://www.cea-ace.ca/sites/cea-ace.ca/files/cea-2009-wdydist-concept.pdf