Week 3 – Materials & Platforms for Learning Technology

Thank goodness it’s reading week, is all I can say! I have to admit that the badges are motivating me to get going today: I MUST collect all the badges! I

initially felt rather skeptical about badges- as they seemed to be the incentive that has kept me going on ocTEL so far. However, they are making me engage with the material and activities; learning and reflection is taking place…and that can only be a good thing!

If you only do one thing…Take the perspective of a learner and spend some time using:

One resource from Khan Academy’s YouTube videos

I headed almost instantly for Khan Academy’s Cosmology and Astronomy playlist… I LOVE space!

What elements of these do you think are appealing to different learners?

This particular video has a range of elements designed to suit learners’ needs:

  • It writes some key mathematical details down in different colours (very visual still as the handwriting can be watched).
  • The video has subtitles in addition for students who might have hearing difficulties
  • Some key details are repeated by the teacher and rhetorical questions are used to engage
  • All of the numbers are connected to real-life examples of other things so that students can relate to the numbers and distances
  • A range of visuals are used to engage learners (I especially love the scientific calculator!)
  • There are numerous ways given to visualise or engage with the material.

What learners, if any, would they be appropriate for and why?

I think I’ve established that a whole range of learners are catered for here. Younger students would be engaged by the visuals and the comparisons, whilst older learners are also engaged by the same things. Learners with hearing difficulties are still catered for with the use of subtitles and range of visuals. The use of the calculator embeds maths, useful for any student with difficulties in this area as the calculations are carried out in a visual way.

How do each of these resources differ from that of the resources we’re using in ocTEL? Do they promote social learning, re-use of their materials, or open access?

This video was far more visually engaging that anything I’ve encountered so far on ocTEL. I don’t think they promote social learning but this video in particular makes it possible to learn from home in a very similar way to how you might learn in class. Obviously the comments space on YouTube could be used for any questions the learner(s) may have. I think it’s important to use technology in ways that can replicate valuable learning experiences that are had face-to-face but also to surpass/further those same experiences. Otherwise, we’re just trying to learn from home… without the right kind of stimulus, motivation and engagement.

What ways can you see to improve the effectiveness or potential reach of these resources?

I think the use of video allows students to work at their own pace. Perhaps to turn this into more of a learning activity- time could be given for the learner to try out some calculations of their own; before watching how it should be done (if maths were an aim). Perhaps also suggesting ways in which they could engage with the video- asking questions/ completing a quiz afterwards… to ensure the learning is maintained.

One resource from Elearning Examples e-learning games

Here, I chose to use an interactive Shakespeare game: http://elearningexamples.com/shakespeare-interactive-game/

What elements of these do you think are appealing to different learners?

  • There were good visuals here that were relatively interactive
  • The images of characters from films and recent Shakespeare productions made it more current for younger learners
  • The use of ‘fanciability’ as a category may have worked to appeal to younger learners
  • The wide range of characters and plays covered would have exposed learners to lots of potential learning

How do each of these resources differ from that of the resources we’re using in ocTEL? Do they promote social learning, re-use of their materials, or open access?

I’ve not so far engaged on anything similar as part of ocTEL. They provide a ‘fun’ element to learning that I believe is being missed on ocTEL thus far. Having said that…

What ways can you see to improve the effectiveness or potential reach of these resources?

These cards seemed to be all fun and barely any substance. On the whole, I think that learners would pay attention to whether they won or not, rather that focusing on the characters and plays they were being introduced to/reminded of.

Ways in which these cards could be made more effective would be:

  • The use of video clips of characters so if the character was not know, the students could conduct a quick analysis of their given character before pitching it against the bard.
  • Hovering over the categories could provide learners with more information about the characters- written and audio
  • Learners could select what plays to use at the start of the game- this way, it would be based on their knowledge rather than new learning.
  • If the bard wins a round, he doesn’t continue to win as this meant little to no engagement from my side…

The iEthiCS simulation- http://labyrinth.sgul.ac.uk/openlabyrinth/mnode.asp?id=qwnw2gcwnw2gcu3lpfvf4jesnf4jesn

What elements of these do you think are appealing to different learners?

I think the step-by step process is clearly defined by the different videos presented to the learner.

What learners, if any, would they be appropriate for and why?

They would obviously be appropriate for learners studying medical courses. They would suit learners who might prefer a slower pace as videos can be paused and each of the stages is clearly broken down.

How do each of these resources differ from that of the resources we’re using in ocTEL? Do they promote social learning, re-use of their materials, or open access?

I think this resource offers very low levels of engagement with learning unlike many of the avenues we are offered on ocTEL.

What ways can you see to improve the effectiveness or potential reach of these resources?

  • Learners should be given options/choices at each of the stages- what should be done next?
  • Some kind of forum could be used to engage the learners with conversations about the case at each stage- what should be done and why? Did the do the right thing- why?/why not?
  • Some kind of quiz/review could have been used at the end- to check learners understood the process that was required.

Having explored all three of these resources, it has highlighted that online learning should be just as (if not more) effective than the learning experience in the classroom.

  • Checking of learning is essential
  • Resources should cater for learners in a variety of different ways (involving all of the senses)
  • There must be some level of engagement with the resource and with other participants

Webinar with presenter: Cable Green Director of Global Learning, Creative Commons

I was pleased to hear that Cable wouldn’t be talking at us with lots of slides etc. His title seemed to be at odds with the aims of this week in terms of looking at technology resources etc. However, I kept an open mind and continued to listen.

I learnt a great deal about creative commons licenses and I think some of it went in. There’s a lot to it and I might consider using it on my blog and the many online materials I produce… I don’t think I’d mind if someone else used my materials without referencing me but I suppose it might make a different if they were passing them off as their own. There’s a great deal to consider here and until the vocabulary involved in the process becomes common knowledge then it will continue to be complicated- what can I use freely and how? questions will continue to arise.

Activity 3.1: Creating your own materials (30-60 mins)

I have used Screencast-o-matic before… in fact, I use it all the time!

It’s great for doing walkthroughs for staff (and students) of how to use technology resources. I’ve also used it for filming me talking through sample work and essays- stating why students should do it in a particular way and why (as well as key things to avoid). I have found that Educreations (for iPad) is particular useful for doing this too- especially as the screen can be drawn on as well! I find it incredibly quick and easy to use and obviously it’s free too!

I looked at Xerte and was put-off immediately. I’d like to pretend that I’ll look at it later, but that would be lying! I need to download something to be able to use it and that would take me too long. I am automatically put under the impression that it will be complicated to use/work once I’m in so that tool is being scrubbed off my list. Unless someone can show me its capabilities (another failing of this site…)

Glomaker– UGH! I’m so sorry that I’m so closed minded but the graphics look dull and boring to me- I can’t imagine they’ll engage my learners much either!

I have used Popplet (iPad/iOS) since I can remember and it’s the best mind-mapping tool. It’s colourful, easy to use, quick to create and can also be used in collaborative projects. I need look no further in terms of mind-mapping and the other two offered did not even come close in appearance or use!

Touchcast (iPad/iOS) seems incredibly powerful. I loved the video that launched the website- this showcased what the technology could do and some other websites could learn from this approach!

I have now downloaded it and had a go. I LOVE IT!!!!!

I will be using this for all sorts of things- primarily, tours of our new internal CPD sites for staff. I will also use it for student explanations and tutorials- as links to documents and other related videos could be embedded.

I think I’ll also use it for a poetry resource that I’m going to make as part of the AS to A2 transition weeks- students can watch me talking through a document and then afterwards, the document is open for them to comment on (as it’s a Google doc). I really LOVE this resource! Thank you ocTEL!

Activity 3.2: Technology selection

We were asked to read this document: http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/18665/html (Hill et al (2012)). As usual, we were asked to reflect on what we’d read.

I don’t know what I’d missed but what we were asked, didn’t seem to correlate with what I’d read. Perhaps I didn’t click on everything I should have?

In any case, what I’d read got me thinking about VLE platforms. I recently made the move away from Moodle as its format was highly restrictive. I moved to WordPress and I’m now using a Google site that I created myself. The journey through technology for me has been one of realising that the template I’d been given didn’t fit what I wanted to do. Perhaps that was only my approach though. I wonder whether other teachers might make course content that would fit with the VLE they’d been given. Does it really foster creativity? Does that matter? Perhaps it does help confidence in those less certain of online learning- is that more important? Some questions to consider…

Activity 3.3: What does open mean to you?

Open in terms of learning means ‘accessible’ to me. It is learning that has removed the barriers.

  • It means that they do not require a certain level of knowledge as the learning can be entered from a variety of different points.
  • It means they are free and probably online (as well as face-to-face) so that they can be accessed any time any where…
  • It is learning that caters for students with a variety of needs

These were possibly the most useful resources that I explored in relation to open educational resources:

https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/24836860/What%20are%20Open%20Educational%20Resources

These courses look interesting (summer sorted?!):

http://www.saylor.org/

https://www.coursera.org/courses?orderby=upcoming

Do they force a certain pedagogical approach? If so, what are the benefits or drawbacks of that?

Yes, of course they do! Learning online forces engagement with learning in a different style. Of course it can replicate some of the experiences we would have face-to-face and many similar skills can be developed but it must be done in different ways- due to the nature of learning online.

How does it differ from past initiatives for open content such as iTunesU or Khan Academy?

I signed up to one of the courses on Coursera to explore what the content was like. I appreciated the declaration I had to tick at the start that was heavily weighted on the fact that all work submitted would be my own. This is not something (stupidly) that I had considered. When engaging with students online- how do we know their responses and presence on a course is their own?

The course is made up of both reading, video and other visual content with a range of activities to be tried. An e-portfolio is recommended so that learning can be recorded somewhere. I’m not struck by a great deal of dynamic content but what is shared seems rigorous and wide-ranging (at first glance). I think that is possibly the biggest difference. As well as a sense of community being established and a schedule that runs over a number of weeks- the content isn’t completely accessible (perhaps more like Khan Academy and iTunesU) and open in that a schedule has been imposed.

Explorer Activity 3.5: Evaluating a resource in your area

Look for a resource in an area which is important in your teaching in one of the following resource banks (ideally, choose one you have not used before):

Jorum

Initially, I was really excited by this site. I searched for ‘poetry’ as I am introducing it to my students for the first time in just over one week’s time. It came back with a number of resources that looked great- analysis, how to write it, how to interpret it… and then almost every link I clicked on didn’t exist or I didn’t have permissions to view. A really disappointing experience. 😦

Merlot

Through this site, I found less useful looking results… but fairly importantly- they worked! The interface wasn’t particularly engaging or friendly but there are two which I can think I will make use of in the coming weeks:

http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/materials-teachers

http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/virtualit/poetry/select.html

LearnHigher

There were some more general study skills materials on this site that may definitely be worthwhile investigating at some point but none for poetry.

HigherEducation Academy – Resources Centre

Again, this site isn’t particularly visual but this page is certainly one that may raise my awareness of some of the issues around teaching poetry.

Open University – OpenLearn

This is a site that I knew existed but that I had never really explored before. I got lost in here for a while and my list of summer studying is growing by the minute! This is most definitely a resource that I’ll be able to share with my students and make use of: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/literature-and-creative-writing/literature/what-poetry/content-section-0

Re:Source (Further Education orientated)

This is a site that has a lovely appearance! The content is currently being updated so I’ll be sure to check back at a later date.

Institutional repositories such as University of Nottingham’s Open Nottingham.

I couldn’t find anything on poetry here but is a site that I’d be willing to explore for other content in the future.

Search for openly-licensed resources that use the Creative Commons license.

This is a great route for searching for content that has Creative Commons License on it- one to bookmark for later!

Now search for the same topic area in one of the following

YouTube

I entered the world of YouTube… the endless turmoil filled with ‘I must watch this now’ videos. I was lost for endless time… and didn’t really find what I was looking for. I did watch this, which I loved: 

You MUST watch this- now! (with tissues at hand)

And I re-found this from the dead poet’s society: 

Really specific search terms are necessary on YouTube due to the sheer amount of content but I did enjoy my time there today!

TED

This, from Billy Collins (one of the authors on our list) will most definitely be shared: 

This is such a fab video for indicating how honest poetry can allow someone to be:

With any resource found, I’d probably share the link on our Google+ community- for them to use at will. I’d use it in lesson or I’d include it on the website as an activity to sue from home.

In every case, the student would be accessing the resource directly from the original source so I don’t believe there’d be any distribution issues… correct me if I’m wrong.

It was easier to find resources on some sites than others and on the whole I think that the bigger the organisation, the easier it is to find resources as they can pay for their site, content and search facilities to be better.

When I find a resource that I’d like to use, I consider whether it is in student-friendly language. I consider whether it has in-built assessment for learning and if not, what I might need to add. I also consider how visually appealing it is as I’m certain this would affect the engagement of my students (this might be something worth researching).

These are some resources that I plan to explore later:

Universal Design for Learning http://www.cast.org/udl/ and http://www.udlcenter.org/sites/udlcenter.org/files/updateguidelines2_0.pdf and http://www.udlcenter.org/

Inclusion Technology Advice: http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/techdis/home

Other technology related things: http://ditchthattextbook.com/2013/08/22/8-great-edu-podcasts-worth-checking-out/%5B/embed%20and %5Bembed%5Dhttp://learningrevolution.com/page/2014-conference-recordings and this for Google: http://www.ninjaprogram.com/

Oh, and when I was searching for poetry resources on TED, I found this for the second time- enjoy!

http://www.ted.com/talks/taylor_mali_what_teachers_make

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