Unit 7: The Future of Learning

This course has been crucial to me in encouraging and allowing me to consider not only the future of learning but the way the learner themselves is changing.  Technology has created a whole new world and considerably changed the way both teachers and students operate.  Social learning, constructivism and connectivism are all theories in education that have greatly changed due to technology.  We can all reflect back on the qualities of a learner and the interaction with technology to see this.  I am now convinced that education does not merely take place in a classroom – there is a whole world out there to navigate, collaborate, communicate and create with.  Regardless of the digital tools I use I will take this deeper understanding with me from this course.

 

▪   What are the key things you learned during the course?

This PLN course/is has slowly changing the way I work.  I realize that I can learn something new every day – a teaching technique, a new digital tool to try, what’s happening outside my school in the area of education.  All this from the people I join with online.  I no longer feel that I need to wait for the one or two days of PD that may be offered by the school.  One of the key things I have learnt about PLN’s is that they have no borders – no limits. My PLN is not just a collection of ‘websites’ it is not merely information, it is a collection of colleagues and like minded, interesting, motivated people.  The people near and far who are involved in my PLN are what makes it worthwhile.

▪   Were there any highlights?

Highlights to me were the interaction with others through my blog – the comments posted by other PLN participants and the PLN team.  This has encouraged me to persevere and overcome my reluctance to contribute.  I have probably in the past been a follower and now I feel that I may have something worthwhile to contribute to the online conversations of a PLN.

▪   How did you feel during the course – did it change from trepidation to frustration to joy or vice versa? Or something else completely?

I have thoroughly enjoyed this course.  There have been moments of trepidation, frustration and joy.  Mainly when dealing with the technical aspects of using the internet and various digital tools within a school network – this surely has to be addressed by DEECD.  The support from the PLN team and participants has been outstanding and that has made it easy to have a go at some of the more daunting tasks. 

▪      How would you describe the course to somebody else? Would you encourage them to do it? Did anything slow or stop your progress?

I would describe the course as the one PD that you MUST DO, ASAP.  I would encourage others to do it and would like to encourage groups within the school to undertake the PLN at the same time in order to support together and to work with the same tools across all areas of the curriculum.  Certain tasks required a large time commitment and that can be an issue at times but I enjoyed all the work/tasks/blogging reflections and have been able to complete all the units within the required time frames.

LINKS

I completed a presentation on PADLET using Skitch and Evernote.  Here is the link.

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s152/sh/f9936a11-c938-43c1-aaa8-7b3a3fc435a0/bcf41573c4138d40698a06ac72b5c8c5

I completed a movie trailer using iMovie for My PLN Journey.  I think the analogy is interesting.  This PLN course has been a taster – the PLN team have given us glimpses of all that is exciting and left us wanting more.  It is now up to us to continue writing the story.

http://vimeo.com/66141225

Thanks to all the PLN Team and participants for making this one of the most worthwhile PD experiences I have had.

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Unit 6: Changing Practice in a Digital Environment

Consider your own attitudes to online citizenship. How do you manage your privacy and reputation? Why?

Citizenship, whether online or in the real world, requires a commitment to appropriate, responsible behavior.  The digital world, and the associated behaviours and legal issues, has and is evolving  so rapidly that I think online citizenship is a matter that needs to be addressed with young and old.  New developments mean that issues change rapidly and users need to learn how to use new technologies appropriately. Online citizenship requires an awareness of access issues, commerce and cultural issues, communication, etiquette, legalities and personal rights and responsibilities. I would like to think that I behave in the online world as I would in the real world.  But if this is true of me then it could be true of others and just as in the real world there are those who commit crimes, steal and deface or damage property then these people can exist in our digital communities. We protect ourselves in the real world with locks and security devices and we need to use what is available in the online world. I protect myself with passwords, various log-in codes and with limiting what personal information I post about myself.

Track down a person under the age of 18 (or a slightly older one if that thought scares you too much). Discuss their attitudes to privacy online: are they concerned about their online reputation and do they take steps to protect their privacy? What tools do they use to stay in touch? Do they have multiple personae? How would they feel about using the same tool for their personal lives and their learning?

I spoke to a Year 10 student about these questions.  He was not at all concerned about privacy online or his online reputation but said that he mainly communicates with his peer group – he does not have parents or family on facebook as friends.  He stated that once he had made the decision to ‘post’ he was happy enough for anybody to see it and for it to stay there for ever.  He uses email, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr to stay in touch. In the past he had used multiple personae and avatars but he no longer does this.  I think it was a case of couldn’t be bothered any longer. Whilst he claimed to have no concerns about privacy or online reputation he said he would not feel comfortable using the same tool for his personal life and his learning, which leads me to think that he perhaps has ‘posts’ that he would rather were not visible to teachers or other adults.  It’s a little worrying because if there are posts that he is not prepared to share with all these are the very things that could cause him some problems in the future.

What are the characteristics of an effective learner? Think about ways in which digital tools can be used to support those characteristics

Active : As well as doing the work the learner stops to notice what is being achieved, what is important and gain new insights and understandings.  Technology allows learners to be active in many online communities and settings.  Learners can publish work, express opinions, ask for information, comment and share sites to others through Diigo.  Digital tools require active participation – they are not static but ever changing and require some input from the learner.  Many students are more than happy to use their smart phones in order to ‘learn’ something and this is the sort of active, can-do attitude that technology can help to develop.

Collaborative: Is able to work in small and large groups, is able to work with others and understand the context within which they work.  Learning has always taken place in a social environment, although for too long the emphasis has been on the individual.  Social technology allows for connections, communities and social learning to occur. Technology and digital tools allow students to participate fully in these environments.  Connectivism claims that we can no longer experience all we need to in order to keep up – therefore learners need to be able to collaborate  and learn from others’ experiences.

Responsible: Is able to plan approaches to learning, monitor progress , review and make changes if necessary.  Digital tools allow the learner to be responsible for their own learning.  Take the Khan Academy – a learner can use the videos to review work covered at school or to extend their knowledge further.  Digital tools like Daymap allow students to monitor their progress, contact teachers, see assignment and homework tasks and make changes if necessary.  School blogs/facebook groups allow students to compare notes, discuss content and display work.  These tools encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning.

Mindful: Is able to reflect on their learning, what works and what doesn’t work, and understands how to get the best out of themselves.  This one I am not sure about.  Mindfulness is rather an abstract quality, it is a cognitive quality and I am not sure that it can be enhanced with technology. Any suggestions about how to would be greatly appreciated.

 

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Unit 5: Evaluating Online Resources

1. Search

▪   Choose a relatively popular term that students might be searching for at your school (such as Ancient Egypt) and compare the results offered by Google and some of the other search engines.

I chose to search for Captain Cook and used Google, Duckduckgo, Bing and Instagrok as search engines.

Google: 26,500,000 hits.  Google Knowledge Graph returned Captain Cook, with a number of links to Australia, Endeavour and a number of images. The first hit was the Wikipedia article.  Following on from this the results returned were mixed with a number of hits for Captain Cook Cruises, an ABC TV series called Captain Cook and also for Alistair Cook (captain of the English Cricket Team, I think) included in the top ten.

Duckduckgo: I attempted to access this search engine whilst at school and got the dreaded red page – Site Blocked and the reason give was Malicious.

Bing: 6,040,00 hits.  The first hit using this search engine was Captain Cook Cruises( actually there were 5 advertised sites at the top of this page and they were all Captain Cook Cruises).  The second site was the Wikipedia article on Captain Cook.

Instagrok: you need to log-in or register to use this search engine and I did not do this.

▪   How would you rate the effectiveness of these search engines?

 The two search engines I managed to access returned fairly similar results although Bing seemed to have more advertised sites listed.  I thought the Knowledge Graph was a fairly useful add on to the Google Site as it would easily allow students to widen their research.  Google has the added benefit of being able to limit your topic by using the – .  I searched both Bing and Google using Captain Cook –cruises and when using Google it eliminated all sites with the word Cruise and left only those sites related to Captain Cook.  Bing did not have this capability, or if it does I don’t know how to use it.  Both were fast returning results in seconds.  Google returned 4 times as many hits but as I rarely venture past the first few pages I am not sure how valuable these extra sites would be.

 2. Evaluating resources

▪   Find and post a trusted web resource

 Well, I am not sure about trusted but I decided to continue this evaluation using the Wikipedia site on Captain Cook.  I felt this would be a useful exercise as some students rely almost totally on Wikipedia for their research.

▪   How do you know it’s reliable?

Wikipedia relies on a consensus amongst editors – hence I can’t say with any certainty that all their sites are reliable.  Wikimedia has in place in administrative controls which means that certain articles are subject to review by their editors before publication.  They also have a pending publication option which allows other editors to correct/check changes before they are published.  It is interesting that being able to see the history of  editing allows you to see how writers have arrived at a particular point of view. Wikipedia do however, say on their website that ‘articles may contain inaccuracies, ideological biases or even ‘nonsense’’.  Research into the accuracy and reliability of Wikipedia articles has found that they contain no more inaccuracies than would normally be found in a set of Encyclopedia Britannica .

▪   Record your findings in your blog post, but also tell us about your thought process – how did you go about evaluating this resource?

 I chose to use the CARS model to evaluate this resource.

Credibility: Wikipedia is part of the Wikimedia Foundation.  There is no author listed for the article on Captain Cook but following the links to contributors you can glean some information about them from the minimal personal information available.  For example, one of the contributors I followed is currently studying History at a university in England.  With only this small amount of personal/professional information available it is impossible to say if the author is an authority on the subject, at least in the accepted use of the word authority.  Obviously all the contributors have an interest/expertise in their topics but they may not have the educational qualifications that we have traditionally associated with the notion of an authority/expert in the field.  There were no noticeable spelling/grammar errors in the article.  Wikipedia uses ‘bots’ to correct spelling/grammar errors and to create a standardized style for their articles.

Accuracy: The information on this site was correct and agreed with on a number of the other sources.  The site did not contradict itself.  The site had been edited as recently as 3rd May 2013.  In fact for some topics, more recent, Wikipedia could contain the latest information and therefore be more up to date than a set of print encyclopedias.

Reasonableness: There is no real bias evident in this article.  In fact having been created by a number of contributors and constantly being edited could limit this to some extent.  I think though that there is a difference in the level of language used through the article and this would have come from the editing process.  Contributors to Wikipedia articles would generally edit only small sections of the article not the complete article and this could result in a ‘hotch potch’ of language levels/writing styles.  Wikipedia’s motivation is to create a free on-line encyclopedia available to all.

Support: All the sources/references were listed at the end of this article and can be checked by following the links.  It was interesting to note that when I followed some of these links I was taken to Encyclopedia Britannica articles, advertising brochures for a New Zealand ski resort and other Wikipedia articles.  It is possible to contact Wikipedia directly and there is a link provided at the bottom of the page.

Perhaps I chose safely with Captain Cook but the information contained on the Wikipedia page was accurate and would be a useful starting point for a student.  I would encourage students to follow the links or to use the more traditional ‘scholarly’ research sites to further develop their understanding and knowledge

PS. I have used Tags on my first few blogs and had already created a Tag Cloud.  I am, however, going to go back and edit these posts as I now understand that there is no need to be miserly with tagging.  I had initially thought the fewer I used the better.

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Unit 4: Online Tools

What a week.  This unit was time consuming but well worth doing.  It has alerted me to the importance of actually reading (at least some of it) the Terms of Service of online learning tools – particularly before recommending/using in the classroom.

EDMODO

Choose an online service you are already using.

I chose to investigate Edmodo.  To sign up for Edmodo you are required to provide name, email address and create a password.  The Terms of Service pare and the Privace Policy page were easy to locate.

See if you can locate the Terms of Service page and the Privacy Policy for the service.  Read a random section of each page.  Is it written in clear language or is the language designed to confuse.  Do you see anything that surprises or concerns you about the service.  How long are the policies – could you read the whole thing or did you get bored.  Did you read it when you signed up.

The Terms of Service were written in Plain English and the document was not too long, as it was easy to read I read the whole document.   Edmodo did include a section at the end of the document to cover the legal side of things and this was written in legal language which is more difficult to read

Interesting points were

  1. The need to be 18 years old to read and agree to the Terms of Service
  2. If you are a teacher using this service you need to obtain advanced written consent from all parents or guardians whose children are under 13 years of age. To do this you must provide parents with a copy of the Privacy Policy before they sign.  Edmodo did provide links to the Privacy Policy and a sample permission form.  It was interesting that no mention is made of students between the age of 14-18.  Further reading lead me to believe that children of this age can sign up to online tools and use them with adult supervision.
  3. If you are a teacher you must have permission from your school to use Edmodo as part of your curriculum
  4. The Privacy Policy stated that Edmodo displays or collects information that covers your name, user name, email address, phone number, profile pic, school and location.  I am not sure where some of this would come from as I don’t recall entering phone numbers. For children this is limited to name and user name.
  5. Information is also collected automatically via cookes and this include the type of device, operating system and version.
  6. Edmodo data is stored on an Amazon server which I am told is good.

I did not read the TOS when I first signed up as Edmodo came highly recommended by people I work with so I trusted their judgement.  I think in future I will spend a little more time checking out the online tools that I use and may recommend to others.

Explore whether the service has a way to export or back up your data.  Is this an easy process?

I could not find this information on the Edmodo site,  so I don’t know whether this is possible or how easy it could be.

How easy is it to close down or delete this account?

It looks like it is fairly simple to delete your account if you are a teacher.  However, student account need to be deleted by Edmodo.  The teacher needs to email student details and request that the student account be deleted.  When you delete your Edmodo account Edmodo will cease displaying your user submissions but your content may still be displayed it it has been copied or stored by other users.

On reflection my feeling is that Edmodo is a virtual classroom and as such demands a teacher’s presence in order to operate safely.  It is up to the teacher to monitor student membership and comments. Just like in a physical classroom the teacher needs to be present and actively involved.  Edmodo did recommend creating a school domain – this would allow the teacher’s comments/instant messaging to be monitored by the Edmodo school administrator.  I would recommend Edmodo for use.  I have seen it in action from both points of view, student and teacher and feel it has a lot to offer.  I think it is a valuable learning tool and an online learning model that students enjoy and appreciate.

TOON DOO

Does the service require a login?  If so what information needs to be provided when signing up for an account?

To create an account on Toon Doo you need to create a username, supply your email address and create a password.  Further information can be provided to create a user profile but the application will work with those basic details.
Read through the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of the site.  Do you see an potential issues for student or staff use?

The TOS were not easy to read – lots and lots of legal language, warranties and indemnities.  Interesting that you are governed by the Laws of California.  I couldn’t see any potential issues but….

How could you use this tool in your professional learning? Can you see it being useful to someone else in your organisation? Why?

I think this could be used in professional learning – it would provide a much more interesting way of presenting information and allowing for comments and collaboration.  It could be used to outline policies and procedures, present a scenario for discussion etc.

Could this tool be used in an educational setting?  What tasks might students complete using this tool?  How could it change the tasks that students are already doing?  Where does it fit in the SAMR model of assessment?

We could certainly use this tool in the classroom/educational setting.  It could be used for character and event analysis in English and Humanities classes,  you could create posters showing the rules in the Science lab or use it for digital storytelling.  You can create your own Toon Doo space which would allow for peer assessment, review, comments and collaboration in a private space.  This tool could be use at all levels of the SAMR model, substitution to redefinition depending on the tasks.

I was able to create (very rough) a snapshot of a scene from an English novel.  It was a little tricky to begin with but I am sure that with further use/assistance from the students I would improve.  I published my Toon Doo online – in the Toon Doo gallery and have provided the page below for PLN’ers.

http://www.toondoo.com/privateView.toon?param=SnyYw8dtEuvRNutmdkM9mZQPKXzfi/PvjAjE/vxkGHgHTm7Q4eul1Q==

 

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Unit 3: Networking

What role do online professional learning communities play in education –  for you? 

Online learning communities can be an excellent tool in education, both in working with students and working with colleagues.  For me they allow me to maintain my knowledge of current theories, tools, resources, they provide me with access to the expertise and ideas of colleagues both near and far and they are a medium for sharing of resources.  Online learning communities are excellent in that they reach beyond the school gates and include a diverse range of people involved or interested in education.  They provide greater access to people all over the world than face to face events and print publications.  Online learning communities are not ‘static’ (like email) but dynamic groups that allow more interaction between members.  They provide opportunities to be either a reader, writer or creator.  Online learning groups are important to me because they will greatly increase the range of people that I am able to communicate with.  They provide me with opportunities to learn and develop my skills.  I think at this stage I would still prefer the more structured/organised approach of online learning rather than the adhoc approach taken when left to your own devices.  This PLN course is a great example of all the benefits of online learning in a structured manner.  The facilitators have made if particularly easy to become an active member of the group by stimulating discussion, organising activities and providing support. All that I have said so far has been about me, but of course it would apply to any number of educational environments.

Comment on Twitter and Facebook.  Does one or the other appeal to you?

I wouldn’t say I am an expert on any form of social media but having been a Facebook user for a number of years I am quite comfortable with that tool.  I have considered the ‘privacy’ issues that surround Facebook and take care with what I post and who can access this.  I like that it is free and available in many countries around the world.  This increases the value of it as a tool.  Personally I have really only used Facebook as a social networking site, although we have set up and I have joined many Facebook groups at school that are used for sharing of information and these have worked remarkably well for both students and teachers.  Twitter is really a new tool to me,  I have followed and made a few posts on our school twitter account during the last 12 months but have never followed anybody else.  Although it has come highly recommended by a number of people whose opinions I trust  I am still yet to be convinced of its value.  Currently my biggest concern with all these social media sites is the number of online groups that appear to have strong similarities and compete for time – Twitter, Facebookand Google+ which appears to be competing with them both.  I am finding this unit of the PLN is taking more of my time and energy than I had expected – not necessarily the actual tasks but the overflow of information that arrives when you decide to join a Facebook group or follow somebody on Twitter.

Do you have objections or are these sites blocked in your school?

Students these days are digital citizens, as we are, and it is important that they learn and use these online tools.  With the number of ‘smart’ phones being used by young people it would seem to me that blocking these sites would be pointless.  As a school we do not have the sites blocked, in fact they are actively promoted amongst the staff as useful tools.  They are accessible to the students and are currently being used by a number of classes, sports and music groups across the College.  We also have a number of Facebook groups run by the College that are used for information and publicity purposes.  As we are a secondary college almost all of our students are ‘legally’ old enough to have a Facebook account.  DEECD has a policy about the use of social media sites by staff and students and that has been included as part of the IT agreements that students and parents sign at the commencement of each year.

What scope can you see for tools like these in collaborating or communicating with colleagues?

As a college we, hence I, currently use both Facebook and Twitter for collaborating and communicating.  I am based at a multi campus secondary college where a number of staff cross campus and both are valuable tools for ensuring that people aren’t left out of the loop.  Information updates, breaking news etc is posted through our Twitter account and being able to access Twitter accounts from the other sites mean that staff are aware of what is happening across the whole college.  We have set up Facebook groups for staff in order to share IT resources and Ipad applications.  Again this has proved successful at our multi campus college.  That is only the professional learning side as these tools have allowed for increased socialisation between staff members who don’t see each other regularly.  My challenge is to now extend my use of these tools to people outside the school that I currently work in.

Twitter Name

v65oai7fxn47qv9nectx

@RADower

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Unit 2: Organise Information

What are your current techniques for keeping your work organised, keeping track of resources and sharing these resources with others? How do you imagine the tools covered in this unit will change your workflow?  That’s an interesting question because I know that at my present school there are a large number of teachers with a huge range of IT skills and interest level.  Some people with give any of the new Web 2.0 tools a go whilst others will say print off a hard copy for me and leave it on my desk.  So I guess my current techniques involve pen and paper lists, folders and printed materials as well as facebook pages, edmodo, twitter, google docs, scoop it etc. Currently I use a Macbook Air, 2 iPads and an itouch, these are all synced using icloud so documents and notes are accessible on all devices. I have a number of bookmark folders set up that are also synced across these devices. At school we have all been provided with google docs and moodle accounts for sharing resources with others, both teachers and students.  We have recently begun using Daymap and that is the system that is used to keep track of and share resources with students.  We also have a number of staff facebook pages that are useful for sharing resources, links and ideas.  Facebook pages and Edmodo have also been used with certain classes to share resources.  All staff are expected to tweet – sharing ideas, resources and other organisational matters this way.

Is teaching workflow and organisation techniques to students an important task? What have you noticed about the workflow and organisational strategies of students?  Sure is.  I think the ability to organise workflow and resources is crucial for students today, for success at school and in the workplace.  Once again we seem to be in the middle phase.   Whilst our students all have an iPad and therefore access to the organisational tools available on the device (calender, reminder, notes etc) the expectation is that all students also have a school organiser and it is into this organiser that the students are expected to record details of homework, assignments, school excursions etc.  I have noticed that the students preferred method or organising themselves is to use their phones/ipads and to set reminders, write notes, take photos – must be something to do with being a digital native.  The use of Facebook and Edmodo by teachers also leads to improved organisation, I guess because it is in a form that the students enjoy using and will actually open (unlike the school organiser) when they are out of school.  In fact the main reason that Facebook pages were introduced at school (against some opposition) was to assist/remind Outdoor Education students of activities and the associated materials that were required.  The pages have been extremely successful and have been adopted by a number of staff in other learning areas.

How have digital technologies and internet access changed the way we organise ourselves?  Digital technologies and the internet have dramatically changed the way we live and organise ourselves – and I believe that we have become a more egalitarian society due to the internet, but in some ways we have to work harder to stay organised as more and more information needs to be dealt with on a daily basis.  As long as you have access to the internet you have access to the same range of resources a person in another state or country.  Communication between people, teachers and students, principals and teachers has also changed dramatically and I think reflects this more egalitarian nature. The use of the internet is now a ‘mainstream’ activity.  Information can be collected and shared rapidly.  Users can now download and upload, and sites are more collaborative. The use of social media sites allows people people to share all aspects of their working and personal lives, organise events, be reminded about birthdays etc. With all this comes an increased personal responsibility both in organising yourself (paying bills, booking airline tickets, purchasing from ebay, phone numbers and contact details, storing information, music , books and photos, remembering passwords) and with sharing what is appropriate on the internet.

And finally here is the link to my evernote

I’m hoping that I am on the right track with answering these questions.  It has been an interesting week and has certainly made me think more deeply about how I use technology to organise myself and also about the best form of that technology and web based vs storing on a device only.   I have been using Macs for the past 2 1/2 years and have relied on them and the ‘cloud’ to keep multiple devices in sync so I had never ever considered web based bookmarking programs, but I do see the value in them and will over the course of the next few weeks move some of the bookmarks stored on the computer over to Diigo.  The other thing that I had never thought about was changing the web browser, as far as I was concerned there was no real difference, and as long as things worked I was happy to leave them be.  I use internet explorer at school on the laptops and safari on my laptop and ipads.  The idea of changing to google chrome was and something I am still not sure about, although I have downloaded it to my Mac and will give it a go.  I did initiate some conversations with students at school about google chrome and they were all for it, insisting that it should be the browser installed on the school computers.  They quickly  pointed out the superior speed, security and sandboxing features.  I have used evernote before but not often and had never used it to share documents, and I can see many ways I can use this feature at school now, between staff and between staff and students.

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About me

Many years ago I completed a an Arts Degree at the University of Sydney majoring in Psychology.  I have worked for the past 16 years as an Integration Aide in Secondary Schools, initially in Sydney and now in Melbourne.  I am currently based at the Sandringham 7-10 Campus and working with students across all year levels.  I have used some of the Web 2.0 tools.  I guess I would say that whilst I am enthusiastic about these applications I am always somewhat nervous when I first start and tend to stick with what I know rather than branching out.  I am hoping that by completing this course my confidence will improve and I will be better equipped to ‘have a go’ at more of these new technologies.  I do not belong to any professional organisations and rely on my colleagues (and my children) to assist.  At our college we have moved towards the use of I-pads in the classroom and so we are working through this together.  I have been lucky to work with some young teachers who are extremely competent and have shared their knowledge, ideas and expertise.  Regular staff training sessions have also been offered and I have taken advantage of them.

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