6 Principles for eLearning

Online and blended learning can be tailored for students from primary through to higher education. Whether creating a shell for primary students, college students, or colleagues, the main principles remain the same, however different features need to be focused on depending upon the age group.

When using a Learning Management system for grade 3 for instance, it is most helpful if it is visually based with lots of icons. I have also found that just using the main ‘Announcements’ page to showcase student work has helped until students learn new features – which could take most of a school year depending on how often you have access to devices. Often, it is very difficult for primary students to navigate and understand. It requires abstract thought. However, it is also beneficial and the D2L has made great strides in the last year or so with ‘Carousel’ and visual icons from OSAPAC for students to use.

On the other hand, online courses for higher education tend to be more textual based. We assume that this works best for adults, but the truth is that we still need to differentiate for our fellow colleagues just as much as we need to with our students! I have worked with Learning Management systems for years, and am still learning. I have a long way to go still to understanding the best pedagogical elements that need to be implemented to for different needs. However, I have picked up some great learning along the way, and I also know now that makes you a good instructor in the classroom – does not necessarily translate to good pedagogy in an online learning environment.

With that in mind, I have outlined 6 key principles that I have found to be important in creating an effective elearning environment:

1. Curation and addition of my own resources. I spend a lot of time reading, researching, and getting involved with other educators in online Professional Learning Networks. I pair this with my own experiences in my educational environments and curate and write information to support the curriculum that I am instructing.

For instance, embedding a twitter account tailored to the courses I teach, whether AQ, OntarioLearn or elementary students. Other resources include tailor made platforms that support learning specifically to what I am involved with in an eLearning course:

Twitter:

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LiveBinders:

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Scoop.It:

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FlipBoard:

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GoogleDocs:

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Wiki:

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Voki:

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Just to name a few!

2. Supplementing text-heavy environments with other types of resources. I am still getting there, but I have used Tellagami, Voki, audio and YouTube within courses, and in my own resources as well. I do not yet use them regularly enough, but I will continue to use them and embed them at more regular junction points. Further, other multimedia including live chats can help move beyond the structured discussion threads to real-time dialogue and sharing. It also promotes innovative ideas and the integration of past experiences and knowledge.

3. Encouragement of participation. I use this with a blend of strategies including starting the course with modelling, clear information posted in different sections, ongoing formative feedback through discussion posts, emails, summative feedback. I have a wiki that explains this in further detail that helps to set the stage at the beginning of the courses. Better questions, and additional resources and addition of new ideas help candidates add critical thinking skills to their posts beyond the basics.

4. Gradual Release Model of Responsibility. The course begins with me modelling and connecting with all candidates on a regular basis. As the course continues the hope is that participants have created a culture within the individual class that supports higher order thinking and a supportive environment amongst each other with relationships that continue to support participation and deeper learning within the course.

5. Summaries of key learning strategies shared. I believe it is important for participants to see their key strategies and ideas shared and have them reinforced. This promotes deeper learning.

6. Assessment: I keep a running google doc of each participant where I record important information that I need to effectively assess the learning that is going on.

Blended learning and online learning is an evolving craft that requires sound pedagogy. I am also on a journey of discovery and learning to find the best pedagogical practices for the groups that I work closely with. Differentiation is always key, and being respectful of the different cultures, experiences, and ideas that each person brings to the class.

 What strategies work well for you in your eLearning courses?

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Top 10 Criteria for Choosing Edtech

 

Jo Fothergill

Jo Fothergill

There are important considerations that need to be at the forefront of our decision making when it comes to choosing edtech. When we metaphorically ‘grab’ onto the technology and use it without thought as to how it affects our pedagogy, we may be putting our learners at a a disadvantage. Therefore, there are several things we need to consider including creating a balance of using technologies against ‘tried and true’ evidence based, research-based, community-based, and culturally appropriate strategies for learning. Ed-tech in and of itself does not provide easy answers.

The following is a list of my top 10 criteria for integrating edtech:

1.Classroom Ecology: Critically think about your classroom community, the needs, the best ways to promote student voice. Don’t just strive to foster the ecology, also have flexibility and openness to understanding the natural ecology and how you can harness that for success. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

2. Participation vs Consumption. Consider how the students and learners are going to participate with the digital tool and the technology within each unique learning environment. Are we promoting Participation with the tool…or merely consumption? What is the difference, and what are the implications? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

3. Pedagogy. What are your goals? Will you suffer if you ‘step away’ from your pedagogy to ‘try out’ new edtech? If so, it is time to consider what PD you might be interested in. How can teachers be supported in ways that promote learning about the ‘art and science’ of integrating the digital tools into professional pack practice. This is <a href=”http://bigideasinedu.edublogs.org/2013/08/22/technology-should-not-offset-good-pedagogy/”>pedagogy</a&gt;. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time?

4. Leadership. Make messages crystal-clear with regards to the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ of implementing new platforms. It is important to avoid sending mixed messages to all stakeholders involved in education. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

5. Balancing enthusiasm with research and knowledge. Having a real understanding about what text tools can actually do and what they cannot actually do is important. Avoid holding any delusions were glorified ideas about how they’re helping our students. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

6. Minimize distraction. One that cannot be ignored is that many technology tools are linked with other tools social media tools another digital learning tools. How can we minimize distraction for students, when we cannot monitor them all the time, to help them get the most of their learning experiences? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

7. Adaptive Technology.. Adapting technology tools to warrant appropriate learning needs and appropriate learning goals. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

8. Promoting Collaboration. In what ways can we use the technology to learn together, to collaborate, to share, and to build new knowledges. How can we tailor each situation to our own specific needs? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

9. Ethics. How do we carefully consider the ethics involved? Part of being ethical, is working within our boundaries of competence to be able to provide the best learning outcomes for our students. Further, It is important to Carefully outline the needs of all stakeholders, the ethical considerations that need to be understood. Psychologists have to take graduate-level courses in ethics and decision-making, how are educators trained to make important ethical decisions in education, let alone decisions that involve the ever evolving dimensions of Ed-tech? Further, What are educators responsibilities to learners? Should we be developing content and software and hardware unique to our local school boards and businesses? For instance based on present and future privacy and data mining concerns etc., should we consider local platforms or local clouds that will promise to always keep student information safe? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

10. Equity and Accessibility. How are we ensuring that technology is being used to promote equity and accessibility to information and knowledge? Equity is also about ensuring that our most disenfranchised students are not missing out on key opportunities to learn basic methods from tried and true pedagogies, in exchange for more time spent navigating edtech. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

Ed-tech provides many wonderful opportunities for educators and learners. But we do need to be mindful of these important considerations for the greater good of all students. I really think that educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? What will this look like for an entire school? Community? City? Province? Country? Will too much enthusiasm spent with edtech result in more students not having the basic skills that we already know are important? At what cost are we promoting edtech? Let’s face it, the research is thin. I certainly promote edtech and use it, but I also believe in not losing what we have already gained!

What criteria do you use to find your edtech tools?

D.McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Top 10 Benefits of Using iPads: Supporting Instructional and Assessment Strategies

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The role of the Teacher is a large one, and includes obtaining accurate information about what their students already know, previous learning experiences, cultural backgrounds, & special learning needs etc. It is this information that enables teachers to be able to effectively design Instructional strategies and Assessments that appropriate for each student.

The younger students are, the more mindful Educators need to be about the unique stages of physical, emotional, & social development. This information enables Educators to Differentiate Instruction with appropriate tools and strategies that support the range of Learning needs across student populations.

Success criteria, Learning Goals, and Curriculum Expectations are the foundational elements that support the cyclical nature of Instruction and Assessment. They continually inform one another throughout the learning process. Further, Teacher Observations, Guiding Questions, and Discussions are specific examples of Assessment strategies that also are used to inform future Instructional Practice.

Role of Technology in Education

Educators are also responsible for providing authentic learning experiences for all students. In this day in age, Technology needs to play a large role in the authentic learning process, and in facilitating the process of turning student thinking into final products that provide evidence of learning.

iPads can help Educators with Instructional Design and Assessment Strategies. In addition to providing opportunities for Differentiation, and the ability to meet Special Learning Needs within the classroom, iPads also provide experience with new Technologies that can help promote equality within our Communities.

The following list briefly describes some of the benefits to using iPads in Education that can support Instructional Practice and Assessment Strategies.

iPads can provide benefits including:

  1. One-on-one learning opportunities.
  2. Purposeful activities for students to engage in based on specific learning goals and learning needs.
  3. Opportunities to give students timely and descriptive feedback.
  4. Immediate reinforcement to strengthen motivation and learning at the same time.
  5. Intuitive Apps that are able to self-adjust based on student work and responses.
  6. Take up less space than laptops or desktops, and work well with a BYOD program within your School Board.
  7. Ease of use for tiny hands, and students with fine motor difficulties, with few steps to turn on and load up programs.
  8. Opportunities to enable optimal Processing advantages for learning. Students who may struggle with deficits in Working Memory may find it difficult to process the Technology, text, images, and sounds, let alone the content or skills that need practice. iPad technologies exist that can help minimize ‘distractions’ and optimize the learning process.
  9. When used within a Learning Management System, students can all have their safety ensured with personal usernames and passwords, that is also effective in keeping track of work completed, tracking student learning, maintaining evidence of student learning with evidence of learning placed in ePortfolios, and a safe way to communicate student learning with parents.
  10. Equitable access for all students to have experience and learning opportunities with technology, which is exponentially growing within society at rapid rates.

Use of Technology, particularly iPads in the Primary years, can be used to reinforce learning across all subjects and curriculum, and can effectively support key Instructional and Assessment Strategies.

Please check out my Pinterest Board for specific ideas I have curated for using iPads to support Instructional Design and Assessment Strategies:

http://pinterest.com/bigideasinedu/big-ideas-in-education/

Have you used iPads to support they way you teach and assess students in your practice? If so, what Instructional and Assessment Strategies have worked for you?

Deborah McCallum

COPYRIGHT

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reasons to include eLearning in your Planning and Assessment

Incorporating eLearning into our curriculum is the way of the future, and can be included in our present planning and assessment of our students.

eLearning is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • it allows for collaboration using technology
  • it helps students develop 21st century thinking skills
  • it deepens understanding of content
  • prepares students for the global world
  • integrates online collaborative tools to enhance learning experience

We as educators need to learn how to:

  • develop and understand frameworks to create and evaluate collaborative learning
  • integrate online tools and strategies into programming
  • teach students, teachers, parents, & community how to be safe online, and digital citizenship
  • Understand our students the best ways we can.
  • Be Culturally aware & use Digital technologies appropriately.

What educators need to do first, is develop an action plan. Know what it is you are going to teach, when, and how. Create your long range plan, keeping in mind that you can change things as you go.

Glossary, success criteria, journals, blogs, tweeting, wikis, websites with educational games and videos