Lists of technologies are limitless so drawing on the experiences of other educators (locally or otherwise) can be helpful.

This is module four of a Learning To Teach Online MOOC with Coursera, (all content featured has been curated by the University of South Wales for Coursera) you can read about module 1 here and about module 2 here, and about module 3 here.

Module Learning Outcomes

By engaging with the content, and completing the activities and related discussion in this module, you should be able to:

  1. Identify how different technologies relate to different types of learning activities
  2. Assess a range of online technologies for their suitability for your own teaching context

Overview Video

This module gives a chance for us to learn from the successes and potential pitfalls of online technologies from our peers. It will provide opportunities to reflect on activities we might also use as well as consider activities that we could begin to incorporate in our courses.

Setting a Learning Goal

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For this module (chosen from a list):

Gain confidence with tools and methods that I can use in my practice

For the whole MOOC (chosen from a list):

I want to gain knowledge about blended/online learning and use this to re-design my course.

Key Concepts Videos

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Online Learning Activities (Video 1)

When designing activities, there are such an overwhelming selection of open and closed technologies available to us.

Some advice:

STEP 1: Return to your intended learning outcomes and assessments on the course- select the one or two which will inform your choice of an online learning activity.

STEP 2: Determine the type of activity that will best help your learners to address the learning outcomes. There are sourcing, synthesising and analysing information type activities, discussion and sharing of ideas, or self-assessment activities.

STEP 3: Select the appropriate technology to help facilitate the activity.

The video references this useful wheel, developed by the University of Alaska, that can begin the thinking process behind technologies to be used:

tech-compass

More information on this is available here.

Lists of technologies are limitless so drawing on the experiences of other educators (locally or otherwise) can be helpful.

Considerations for using technology for teaching (Video 2)

The introduction of technology must be contextually appropriate and relevant to the learners’ needs.

Staff must develop a capacity to make an informed decision about the use of technology- using the latest technology is a facade-  learners value technology when it adds to their learning and isn’t just a gadget or a bolt-on.

Technology won’t solve the issues people have when it comes to teaching & learning. It needs to add to/enhance their learning.

Let the course content drive the tool you use and not the other way around.

You need teaching strategies to support the technology chosen.

What do we want learners to achieve and what skills do we want them to learn? Therefore- can technology enhance this and what tool will we use?

Begin with technology with a small number of tools that you and your learners can get confident with and then move to building blocks- you can add on from there. A simple system is often far more effective than all the bells and whistles. Too many tools in one subject can be an overwhelming experience for learners, that can also be a distraction.

When learners use the online environment for play is a very different mindset to when they use it for learning and we therefore need to teach them. Why is it important to use this tool? What will be the benefit and how will it support their learning?

Ask learners to share what technologies they’re considering using for their assignments- this can be powerful too.

Ensure learners understand how technologies are being used in the workplace- that what they do at school/college/university isn’t so separate from the world of work.

Supporting information is available from here

Twitter, Wikis and Blogs (Video 3)

Web 2.0 technologies are enabling users to communicate, collaborate and generate dynamic content in social networks.

This teacher, from the University of Canberra, uses Twitter, wikis and blogs to encourage social interaction and collaboration. Students also speak in the video.

Learners blogged, commented and interacted with one another.

Tweets made using the  class hashtag are archived on the class blog so that learners can look at the tweets made about a specific subject at a certain time.

There is a wiki for each lecture/tutorial and learners can edit and contribute to the notes for each lecture so that there exists a class set of notes that everyone can use with references to further reading and research too.

Twitter works because it’s an SMS style communication that makes it easy for learners to share ideas and communicate with one another.

A student says that it’s an open discussion, everyone has a right to share their own thoughts and it is up to us to take what we can from that discussion. No-one loses- all of us gain in some way or another and it’s up to us.

The teacher has seen learners more engaged in the course as they have been able to engage with their learning anytime out of class- communicating with the teacher and their peers.

There are sets of pedagogy principles associated with web 2.0 tools that we should ensure we are aware of.

Read Google Scholar Articles here.

Set some ground rules so that there aren’t expectations of immediate feedback. They may get immediate responses but it’s important to state that it isn’t a 24/7 expectation.

Appreciate that some learners will find technology tools challenging- assistance and support should be planned- how to documents, videos and sessions.

Using online lectures to support active learning (Video 4)

Two Professors from Curtin University

Active lectures were borne out of a student dissatisfaction with the then current didactic approach. Not to make learning easy for them but to make it better.

Clicker questions are used in the lecture to engage learners and after answering multiple choice questions, they can then discuss their responses with their peers and problem solve before answering a second time- the learners spoke of their appreciation of being able to discuss responses with their peers.

Mini lectures online are given in addition to lectures to support lesson content and screencasting software is used for this. Learners spoke about how these were helpful in reinforcing their learning.

Other videos in brief

iLabs (video 5)– online access to laboratories- for experiments, they set up webcams in their labs to live stream experiments, that were also accompanied by a written outline of what the experiment is about.

Flickr (video 6)– assignment tasks were set on Flickr and her learners, set up as users, could post their photographs to that assignment and then comments can be posted. Flickr mail can also be used to message each other. Learners can upload images to their own accounts at any time and all the data attached to the image is displayed too in terms of technical aspects as well as when the photo was taken as well as uploaded.

Blogs for peer feedback and discussion (video 7)– learners posted their creative projects in their media class and the lecturer observed that posts increased throughout the year as learners began to comment as it boosted their confidence and feedback helped them to improve their work.

Scenario based learning using second life (video 8)– lecturer at University of Leicester. Virtual environments are created (as going to real oil rigs etc. would be out of reach) and learners are required to navigate the environment. They had to effectively navigate health and safety hazards and the teacher can have a headset on so comments can be made as learners move around.

Online communities to foster collaboration in visual arts (video 9)– the lecturer uses Edmodo for assignment submissions, they can also post in the community on here as well as store files etc in their ‘backpack’.

Video conferencing in museum education (video 10)– follow-up activities afterwards were important, as well as activities beforehand to prepare them. If the Q and A is open during the conference then it allows the staff at the museum to move around the space; changing angles etc. according to what their learners would like to see.

Activities

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Activity 4.1 gives you an opportunity to self-assess your confidence in designing online learning activities and choosing the most appropriate technology to suit your course and students’ learning needs. Based on your responses, you will be suggested resources, modules and forums to extend your understanding of how to design effective learning strategies and how to embed technology into your lessons to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Which of the following aspects of the process are you most unsure about? (tick all that apply)

  • Designing an effective activity
  • Aligning the activity to the learning outcomes for the class

A teacher is unsuccessful in getting students to achieve the desired learning outcome of ‘identifying factors contributing towards environmental pollution’. Despite using some technologies, demonstrating to the students how to use them, and having well-designed learning activities that allowed students to collaborate with each other, the learning outcome was not achieved by most students. Which particular reasons do you think may have hindered the students from achieving the learning outcome? (tick all that apply)

  • The lack of alignment between content, learning activities, technology and assessment with the learning outcomes

What learning activities might a blog be best suited for? (tick all that apply)

  • Collating visual work
  • Enabling students to participate in peer feedback
  • Keeping a reflective journal
  • Sharing ideas

These were the resources recommended to me after I answered a question related to what I’m interested in learning more about:

10 Tips for Learning a New Technology
Ten ways to use blogs in teaching
eLearning technology compass. University of Alaska Fairbanks (Q8 3.2)
Engaging online students
TEDI Flipped Classroom – What is the flipped classroom?
TedEd- Lessons worth sharing
Considerations for choosing technology for teaching
Considerations for choosing technology for teaching – video
The Teacher as Designer: pedagogy in the new media age
11 advantages of using blogs in teaching

Activity 2- Knowledge

This activity assesses your knowledge of online activities in terms of planning, their relevancy or alignment to learning outcomes and students’ needs. Based on the information we obtain from your responses, you will be recommended relevant resources.

Scenario: There is an upcoming election and a teacher wishes to take the opportunity to engage her students with the current events, and help them learn about different political ideologies. She wants her students to complete an activity related to the election and also help them achieve at least three of the learning outcomes of the class. The teacher is also interested in using technology to enhance the learning experience. She has asked your advice about the type of activities to design and the technology to use.

You may wish to consult these useful resources about choosing relevant technologies related to activities and learning outcomes to help you complete this question:

Tools

Learning outcomes x technology tools matrix (UNSW Australia)

eLearning technology compass (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Online activity examples

TEDI Flipped Classroom. Case Studies for flipped classroom (The University of Queensland)

Learning to Teach Online Case Studies (UNSW Australia)

Learning Outcome #1: Students will be able to critically analyse different political ideologies.

I have chosen collaborative writing as the option here- students would be able to write their critical analysis, build upon the analysis of their peers and develop their own analysis further through collaborative writing on something like a Wiki. 

Learning Outcome #2: Students will be able to work collaboratively to formulate an argument for voting for a particular party.

I have chosen story writing from the list of options here as in groups, they could formulate a voting video/advert for the rest of the class that incorporates all of their learning. I have chosen YouTube as the tool as they can share their adverts there for the rest of the class to comment on. 

Learning Outcome #3: Students will be able to communicate ideas effectively in a variety of forms

Here, I have chosen, presentation of political advertisement as this could potentially be presented in a variety of forms therefore, if learners generally prefer to write then I would challenge them to create a flyer or a video instead. I have chosen Google Drive as the tool and then they can share their task in whichever form they wish. 

I got feedback that my choices weren’t all perfect for the scenarios given but then it didn’t tell me which ones to review and why so I struggled to go back and reconsider my choices. If anyone can spot why, I’d be grateful for the comments/feedback!

What does the term ‘flipped classroom’ mean?

Students engaging with allocated knowledge-based content before class so that they can spend more time in class actively engaging in higher level analysis and evaluation of concepts

A teacher in an online classroom decides to use a discussion topic for students to analyse and present their arguments. Which particular steps do you think the teacher should take to conduct this discussion effectively?(tick all that apply)

  • The teacher needs to select a debatable topic related to the learning outcomes that could engage students as much as possible
  • The teacher needs to make sure the students are familiar with the selected technology (e.g. open discussion forums or her institution’s LMS) or should provide an opportunity for them to become familiar with it

Some general recommendations for me to explore:

YouTube Creator Academy Strengthen your YouTube skills with free online lessons
Use of media-rich real-time collaboration tools for learning and teaching in Australian and New Zealand universities
Selecting Technologies Case Study 1
Selecting Technologies Case Study 2
How Web 2.0 has changed the face of education
Integrating Web 2.0 Tools into the Classroom: Changing the Culture of Learning

Activity 3- Strategy

Q. How would you relate the ideas you covered in this module to your own teaching circumstances within the particular sector [e.g. K-12, ESL, Higher Education or other] you are teaching in? To what extent do you agree or disagree with these ideas?

A. I think that I am prone to be enticed by ‘shiny things.’ This module has raised my awareness, even further, that I need to be selecting the right tool for the activity and learning outcome. I think this is useful learning for my classroom space as well as my online learning space. There were useful links shared that some of my colleagues may also benefit from in terms of selecting technologies carefully and steps that can be taken to achieve that.

Q. What particular types of online activities do you think might be relevant to your teaching practice and content, and your students needs?

A. I think I can make more use of collaborative writing with my learners in order to develop their critical analysis skills; harnessing the interpretations of their peers. I will continue with blogging and peer assessment for developing their reflection and evaluation skills.

Q. Can you identify any possible issues or problems that might arise when developing or implementing such an activity in your own context?

A. With collaborative writing, I would be concerned perhaps that it will be difficult for me to tell who has contributed where and how much but I am certain I can solve that/. Once I have worked out whether to use a Wiki or a Google Doc for this then I would be concerned that the collaborative aspects may engage some learners, whilst disengaging others and I’d like to learn from other colleagues how they have structured such activities to encourage equal contributions from all learners.

Discussion Forums

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These websites were recommended to keep up-to-date with the latest technology tools:

http://www.freetech4teachers.com/

http://newtech.coe.uh.edu/ (I love the look of this- especially that the tools are arranged into different types of activity)

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/

In another discussion on the forum, someone had shared an approach to problem solving which technologies to use that she had learned on another MOOC:

STEP 1: Which problem are you trying to solve? communication, creativity or collaboration.

STEP 2: What is the nature of this problem? Communication (one-way, one-one, all-all), Creativity (words, words and pictures, words/pictures/videos), or Collaboration (project management, co-creation, and resource management).

STEP 3: Select your tool based on this.

There was one discussion about the fact that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ therefore planning for an educator who has good knowledge of what technologies are available is easier than it is for someone who doesn’t. This is true and the answer is straightforward- it is an educator’s responsibility to remain aware and up-to-date with such things so expand your PLN, read blogs, watch videos, attend TeachMeets and your planning will become easier, quicker and better!

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