I find it hard to believe the semester has come to an end! This has been a difficult journey for me, and I have certainly identified some of my limits and boundaries. Personally, I have an ounce of regret in taking two grad classes this term. My family has had to make a few unreasonable sacrifices, which I would never ask them to do again.
That being said, our time together in the next few months will not be taken for granted!
I have come a long way in my goals for this course, and I am pleased to share my summary of learning through an example of gamification (a concept I would have never given a second thought to in terms of a credible learning tool - embarrassing to admit to this group of forward-thinking educators)!
The tool I used to create this escape-style game is called Genial.ly, and I wish I had found it sooner. I was introduced to it through our local association professional development day, and was lucky to have a full afternoon of guided instruction, plus time to create using one of the many templates offered. I would probably compare Genial.ly to Canva, although I didn't get any direct instruction on Canva so I'm not nearly as comfortable with it. One downside of Genial.ly is that your content is automatically public and searchable across the platform, unless you opt for a paid premium account.
Thank you all for learning and creating alonside me this term! I wish you all the best in the future :)
No, not exactly. As we all know very well, the first version of a lesson, activity, assessment or unit we create is far from finished. These are all works-in-progress, and constant improvement will be inevitable in the future of this online course prototype. And I wouldn't have it any other way!
I am so proud to show you all the progress of my course, which has been built in Moodle with links to other educational web tools and platforms, facilitating multiple learning styles and needs. As a reminder, you can read my course profile here. This prototype includes the learning outcomes in the Patterns and Relations strand of Mathématiques 8 (fransaskois version). As you can see in the course walk through videos below, I can not show everything off in only 5 minutes!
During the creation of this course, I watched at least 20 how-to videos about different aspects of Moodle, from the basic adding of content, to creating badges and using adaptive release functions, to building a question bank from scratch and using the random quiz generation tools.
Since my rationale behind the course is to offer self-paced autonomous learning opportunities for students who needed to fill gaps, I had not given much thought to the communication aspect of an online course. During our discussions in class, readings, webinars, and in large part thanks to the variety of courses my colleagues presented, I came to realize the importance of incorporating some kind of dialogue into the learning process in my course. I added some "Three Act Math" activities inspired my Dan Meyer, and a requirement to post and respond to the discussion forum in order to complete each of the modules.
After watching the webinar with David Chandross, How to Design Learning Games Using Online Platforms, I was also inspired to add a bit of gamification/competition to the course by creating badges that students can earn only by successfully completing certain tasks. The logic behind this is that students will potentially be motivated to complete more of the activites more quickly to be the first of their friends to earn a badge.
If someone had told me a year ago that this winter I would record myself teaching a lesson to be posted (even privately) on the Internet, my reaction would have been:
But I ended up recording over 90 minutes of (only slightly awkward) lesson footage, and used most of it to create EdPuzzle interactive explanations of the Pattern and Relations topics in Math 8.
As I said, this course is far from perfect. As it stands, there are learning activities housed outside of Moodle, meaning the grade or results are not seamlessly integrated into the Moodle gradebook. For a teacher, this means either manually inputting scores from these activites, or not counting them towards a student's final course grade. Next, I would love to explore some of the more interactive quiz question styles that are available in Moodle, such as drag-and-drop matching, which could potentially lead to less of those external activity links for assessment.
Overall, I have come so far in my comfort with and appreciation for technology as a tool for learning, connecting, assessing and creating. I am proud of the course I have created in Moodle, and of all the activities on different websites (EdPuzzle, FlipGrid, GoFormative, Genial.ly) that I would never have had the courage to design and share without the supportive community of learners and educators in EC&I 834.
This past week being sick has thrown me a bit off-course, and I am slowly catching up on my tasks. Remember the junk drawer from my second post? This blog post is coming to you from that place!
The importance of communication and social learning can easily be lost in an online course, as I have most certainly noticed in my own prototype. Our discussions in class on March 9th reminded me that even in a self-paced, gap-filler style course, the need for students to talk through their thought processes, ask questions, confirm their ideas and interact with the lessons is crucial for learning. I think I had already set up some components to be interactive (EdPuzzle lessons) and given one opportunity to talk through logical reasoning (FlipGrid activity), but I admit these are one-sided and not dialogical in nature. I do have the Course Forum added and imagine that being a place where students can pose a question and the teacher or other students can answer and have some kind of asynchronous discussion.
The forum does have a bit of a phoney feel to it, as opposed to a breakout room so I tried to come up with some way that students might be able to have specific conversations at specific times. I wanted to replicate some of the “brain break” activities that I would use in class, but that could still be powerful asynchronously. I am going to experiment with Open Middle Math and Three-Act Math activities, and forum posts where a student must respond to the prompt before seeing other student responses. Then, they can comment on each others’ proposed answers.
Since the course is asynchronous and self-paced, it will require some coordination on the teacher side to ensure that a few students are ready for the interactive piece around the same time. It won’t be necessary to have students online at the same moments, but I think it would work to manually reveal the activities when the time is right, then hide them again for the next influx of students. This process could even be adapted quickly to a synchronous breakout room activity if the prototype evolves into a fully online course.
As far as assessment, the activities are all required to be completed in order to complete the module, so meaningful feedback must be provided. I have the text feedback option activated on each item, meaning I will be writing a comment for each activity completed. In the forum, it will also be important for me to monitor responses and give immediate feedback on those discussions.
**Discalimer: I must apologize to my fellow classmates for the tardiness of my post this week. I have been sick and sleeping for the better part of the past three days.**
Our task this week was to explore a particular aspect of online learning that interests us. After our discussion last Tuesday evening touching briefly on assessment, and with the next round of report cards coming up at my school, I have been obsessing about evaluating student learning, and how to ensure academic integrity when students are learning and completing tasks at home.
In my other grad class, we briefly discussed the online proctoring software ProctorTrack, which is being used in several courses at the University of Regina this academic year (The Carillon). Then on Saturday morning, I attended a webinar through Let’s Talk Science, which focused on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data collection/use. I spent Saturday afternoon reading and searching for more information about the use of AI to monitor behaviour during remote testing, and the dangers of participating blindly in Big Data collection… a rabbit hole of sorts.
Saturday evening, I was overcome with fatigue. Assuming I had just filled my brain with too much information, I put my notes aside and went to bed. Unfortunately, I barely got back out of bed until Tuesday morning, doing so only to make sub plans Sunday night and go for a Covid test Monday afternoon. Results still pending at publication of this post.**Update: result = negative!!**
The main questions I sought to answer this week were:
Online proctoring software has seen an increase in popularity, obviously due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, these types of services are not exactly new. Dimeo, 2017, wrote about higher learning institutions adopting these programs, and the potential concerns about privacy and AI capabilities. Now that most university students are learning remotely, “e-proctoring was deemed necessary to keep the integrity of our programs and degrees”, stated Associate Dean of Arts at the University of Regina, Joseph Piwowar (Tamelin, 2020).
Research shows that these programs do appear to deter cheating, similar to a live proctored setting (Dimeo, 2017, Langenfeld, 2020). The Artificial Intelligence technology used by this software uses the student's camera to monitor their behaviour during the test such as looking away from the screen, leaving the computer, taking a longer than normal period of time to answer a question, having another person in the room, and so on. The camera is also used to assure the identity of the student taking the test using a variety of metrics.
But what about students with special needs or situations, such as parents of young children or pet owners? If a student is interrupted, it could register by the proctoring software as potential cheating behaviour. And what about privacy issues?
Shae Sackman, a student at the University of Regina, was particularly concerned with what could be done with this information. “If you have test data for 100,000 students and you decide to say, racially profile those students and break them into what patterns are visible in different ethnicities you could very easily develop tests and exercises that would perhaps favour a certain kind of profile of person. Say Proctortrack partners with Pearson, who is a large, unethical educational institution testing company that issues standardized tests and assessments.… We’re literally paying to build a database of info on us to be used for unknown purposes later.” (Tamelin, 2020)
Being aware of what personal data is being collected, by whom, and for what purpose are central ideas to the adoption of any sort of technology for educational purposes, including assessment. For post-secondary students and institutions, this should be clearly explained to and understood by adult learners. To me, things get much more complicated in the K-12 system, where any data gathered would be the personal information of minors.
Advice about structuring online courses and assessment can perhaps address some of the concerns about academic integrity without the need to adopt an online proctoring service. Several main ideas were common throughout my reading this week, from an article in a peer-reviewed journal to online education blogs, ranging from K-12 to Post-secondary settings (Bendici, 2020, Klein, 2020, Theodosiou & Corbin, 2020):
During our synchronous class time this past week, we shared the shells of our online prototype courses, including one full module of content. I was blown away by the quality and variety of courses, platforms, lessons and assessments created by my classmates! I was in a group with Christina, Jocelyn, Leah and Darcy, who have all done such amazing work with their courses. I was grateful for the discussion we had, and comparisons we made about the way different platforms are laid out.
As discussed in a previous blog post, my course prototype, Mathématiques 8 is designed to offer gap-filling content for middle years math students in the Fransaskois system. For the first deadline, I had created lessons and activities for one learning outcome in the Patterns and Relations strand, 8RR.1. My course is housed in Moodle, hosted by my friend and colleague Daniel. This platform has far more features than I have utilized at this point, and I am continuing to research ways to improve the student and teacher experiences in this LMS. After sharing my progress this week, I will focus on the following aspects over the next month of development:
I have some reservations about working in Moodle, after seeing the Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams courses that my classmates have designed. I use Teams in my school, and I appreciate how the courses I saw are fully housed within the platform, including meetings, communication, lessons, activities, and assessment and gradebook. From a teacher standpoint, it is easier to have everything in one place, especially when it comes to reporting. Students in this age group and their parents are able to navigate it easily. I also prefer the colourful social media look of those platforms, easy customization with image, emoji and GIF options. I know that Moodle is customizable, but I do not have the coding knowledge and skill required to do so at this time.
Despite these minor qualms, I will continue to build my course in Moodle because I feel a great sense of ownership over this material. I have never created content like this before and I am proud of what I have learned and accomplished so far. I am motivated to increase the quality of my course content, and to learn more about the functions available in Moodle for assessment, record keeping and reporting.
This week has flown by in a flurry of exploration - signing up for a new account, clicking frantically around menus, creating some sort of content, and starting all over again with another tool, while navigating interfaces of varying degrees of user-friendliness. Like some others have mentioned, there were so many tools on the list that I had never heard of, and I felt (again) like I am in over my head.
Since one of my goals this term is to become more familiar with different tools available for online assessment, I chose to stay in the assessment category, among the plethora of tools suggested. I currently use Microsoft Forms, OneNote, and have been experimenting with Crowdmark, but I had never heard of Formative! Have I been living under a rock? Thanks to Jocelyn's excellent post, I found the courage to create one more new free teacher account.
Upon first inspection, Formative feels a bit like Microsoft Forms with a few additional features. The element that first drew me in was the option for "Show Your Work" questions. This is perfect for checking understanding in math, explaining reasoning, and gives a glimpse of students' thought processes, which allows for richer feedback.
Here is a quick run through of what I was able to accomplish during my trial and error session on Formative:
Jocelyn has an extensive list of pros and cons of Formative, which I would mostly agree with. Make sure to read her post on how she used it in a non-classroom setting - very versatile!
A huge pro that I found with this tool is the content library of assessments created by other users. These can be utilized directly or copied and tailored to your needs. Having options to use as models or even just as inspiration can be time-savers. They might also come in handy in an emergency sub-planning situation.
Another pro I found: In a math context, it is important that the notation in questions and answers is accurate and clear, as Curtis N mentioned in his blogpost reviewing Edpuzzle. Formative has a full mathematic notation keyboard available for question fields! Score! Downside - as far as I can see, it is not available in the answer fields.
From the student view, I think these assessments look and feel more engaging and interesting than quizzes I have made using Microsoft. The whiteboard-style "Show Your Work" questions are seamlessly integrated into the assessment and don't require any additional steps.
Like Jocelyn, I was also disappointed that the "Allow partial match" answer option for rapid feedback is only available in the premium version. For example, if a student misspells a word in their short answer, it is graded as incorrect. This could be discouraging for some students.
At this point, I am not sure I have made any true evaluation statement about this product. I have an idea of what it can do, I have created a few questions and played with options, but I'm still undecided about whether or not it would be the right fit for me. I truly appreciated Jennifer's post this week, which reminded me to establish criteria when evaluating and making a decision. These are my personal adaptated criteria to help me decide if Formative (or any other tool) is worth pursuing in my context:
I would like to test out the user-friendliness factor from my students' perspective, find out more about the scoring and grading options, and see what kind of data analysis can be done once students in a class have completed several assessments. For the short term, I do expect to seriously explore Formative more and perhaps use it to relpace some of my Microsoft quizzes in order to fully understand its uses and limitations.
In reflecting upon what would be the most useful type of course to design for my project, I have stayed quite focused on Mathematics. In my experience, there have always been students who struggle with particular concepts, such as multiplication models, proportional reasoning, and algebra, due to learning gaps caused by absences or transferring from another school system.
For years, I have referred my students to Khan Academy for extra lessons and practice, but I find it difficult to find precise content in line with Saskatchewan curricula. My current students often state that they would rather see and hear me explain the concepts, since I use examples and language aligned with our school’s choice of print resources, and they are used to my mannerisms and teaching methods.
In the big picture, I would like to design a toolbox for Francophone students in Saskatchewan to fill learning gaps and work towards mastery in certain mathematical content areas, either to complement their current in-class learning in the intermediate grades or to review/reinforce before new content in a high school math credit class. For the scope of this project, I will narrow in on one strand of grade 8 mathematics.
For this prototype, the course content will align with Saskatchewan Grade 8 Mathematics curricula in the Fransaskois program. I will develop an entire module for the strand of Régularités et relations for learning outcomes 8RR.1 and 8RR.2.
In the future, I would like to add and expand the content to build concepts in each strand from grades 6-9. I would like to approach and organize the content in terms of big ideas spanning grade levels, yet keep it aligned to curriculum outcome codes, making it easier for me (and teacher colleagues) to identify which modules students would access, depending on their needs.
Ideally, I would like my course to support both synchronous and asynchronous modalities, with content that students could access at any time, plus space for video conferencing and scheduled meetings, discussions and activities. My current classroom need is a asynchronous modality; a tool to support flipped lessons, short-term absences, reinforcement, and catch-up work, and thus will be my focus for the prototype development. However, I want to have the option to use the same space during any unforeseeable cases of temporary remote learning that may occur due to COVID-19.
I will keep my 43 grade 8 students at the centre of my design. They have a broad range of levels and competencies in mathematics. There is one student who has had very little formal schooling and requires a great deal of math intervention. There are two students with Individualized Learning Plans, with specific goals pertaining to math. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a handful of students who excel in the basic exercises and thoroughly enjoy the more challenging problems I can offer. For the majority (40 out of the 43), there is fairly reliable device and Internet access at home. They will utilize the online course content for exploration, instruction, practice, and formative assessments to complement what we do in class.
I will record myself teaching explicitly the concepts leading towards each outcome. These lessons will include a brief review of prior knowledge, key vocabulary, think-aloud strategy, step-by-step worked examples, graphing, and word problems. For some lessons I will use Desmos tools to demonstrate graphing techniques.
I will design a set of short quiz style exercises, using Google or Microsoft forms, with immediate feedback as formative assessment, to accompany each video lesson. There will be whiteboard activities using whiteboard.fi, and video responses using Flipgrid. Since my students will likely be in class for the entire module, these asynchronous activities will be complemented by discussions, group work and exit slips at school. As for as a summative assessment at the end of the module, I hope to utilize Crowdmark and perhaps explore alternative assessment formats.
After reading Beyond the LMS by Audrey Watters and other articles this week, I have an entirely new understanding of personal data and course content ownership. This encouraged me to seek another option for hosting my course, instead of building it in Microsoft Teams which is used by my school division. After a discussion with co-worker and classmate Daniel Dion, I am excited to join him in exploring and working with Moodle!
Looking forward to seeing everyone's progress in the upcoming weeks :)
After a rough entry, my experience in the SAMR pool has most definitely remained in the (S)h(A)llows!
(Thanks to Curtis N for sharing the metaphor in his blog this week)
I must admit that I feel far out of my league with the world of online learning and designing online or blended models. While reading the chapter from Bates’ Teaching in a Digital Age, I frantically jotted down my questions, worries and uncertainties, and I attempted to imagine the work I will need to complete in building a blended or online course. I read articles and listened to podcasts shared by colleagues on Twitter this week, (like this one shared by Catherine, and this one shared by Curtis B) and tried to consider how I can incorporate all the amazing tips and tricks on engaging students with course content through the digital space and create tailored assessment criteria (a good article about assessment was shared by Trevor), without neglecting the rest of my life’s responsibilities. I compared my sliver of experience with all the expert advice and felt inadequate.
Splash. I. Am. Overwhelmed.
Back up, Heidi. Tread water. You have done some of this already, it’s not all new territory. This is the work you experimented with in the spring. Breathe. Reflect. Swim. Grow.
As I reflect on my limited experience with blended and online learning, I am beginning to examine the differences between my positive and negative experiences as a teacher, collaborator and creator. I’m attempting to shift my perspective about online learning, from an extension of the school space I’m familiar with, to an environment that is completely unique. The way emergency remote teaching was cast upon schools and educators, made it difficult for me to imagine teaching online as anything but extending the classroom into the home via the Internet, which negatively impacted my understanding of my new role.
For me personally, in March 2020, all my careful compartmentalization of the various facets of my life (in priority sequence: work, immediate family, university, extended family, friends and self) came crashing together into one massive junk drawer. My coping strategy in order to manage the most important elements in the drawer, was to toss some into a metaphorical box to deal with later.
Work occupied the majority space in the drawer and included connecting synchronously on Microsoft Teams with both of our grade 8 classes, nearly replicating the timetable we had had at school: three 75-minute periods per day for Mathématiques and ELA. My colleague, the other grade 8 teacher, did the same with alternating groups for Français, Sciences humaines and Éducation physique. We had 43 students doing synchronous virtual classes for almost 4 hours each day! All the while, my daughter was supposed to be connecting to her own virtual learning environment but was incapable of doing so unassisted. I’m almost ashamed to admit that this element was removed from the drawer and she didn’t end up completing any supplemental learning (at least in a school-measured way). I also dropped the grad class I was supposed to take in the spring term.
In my own online teaching practice, I fell victim to what Bates describes as the “danger of just adding new technology to the classroom design… [by] increasing cost, both in terms of technology and the time of instructors, without changing outcomes” (2019). In terms of technology cost, I was lucky to get by with what I already had, plus a new headset. However in terms of time….. I spent hours in the evenings and on weekends reproducing pages from print resources, searching online for anything closely resembling assignments or activities I had planned to do in person, creating quizzes and assignments in Microsoft Forms, and answering questions from students and parents who were struggling with content, to connect to or navigate the new virtual space, and handling an instance of severe netiquette faux pas.
In May, I found some inspiration and set up a Literature Circle activity, creating private channels for small groups of students to discuss their choice novel together and create a presentation for the rest of the class. This was mostly a positive experience for me and the students. As there would be in class, there were some students who didn’t fully participate, or contribute to group work. I struggled to decide how to assess learning in this setting. By June, I added one-on-one meeting times with each student, once per week, for check-ins, individual instruction and mini assessments.
Imagine how grateful I felt to be returning to in-person teaching in September! With the threat of COVID-19 still lingering though, I do continue to maintain a Teams presence for each of my classes this year, which includes posting supplemental videos, lessons or assignments for students at home sick or self-isolating.
In designing a blended or online course, I feel like there are some technical aspects that may cause me some grief. However, I see my main challenge being prioritizing and synthesizing all the information flooding in, to determine what is actually manageable for me and can make a powerful impact on students’ learning. I need to keep my students and their needs at the centre of my plan, while attempting to maintain a balance with my home life, and sort out that junk drawer.
Bates, A.W. (2019). Teaching in a Digital Age – Second Edition. Vancouver, B.C.: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/teachinginadigitalagev2/
My first post here is basically my own personal crash-course evaluation on blogging techniques, how to build and edit content on Weebly, and how to properly link to and credit sources.
Is this working?
Over the past couple of days, I have examined my relationship with technology and digital media while subtly surveying my grade 8 students about which class might be interesting to develop using an online/blended model. I would definitely describe myself as a "user" of online tools rather than a member/contributor to any virtual community. This creates a gap between myself and the young people I work with, who are so deeply immersed in the connected world. My first (very personal) goal for this semester is to become more comfortable engaging in online community. This will include facing an ingrained fear of being publicly ridiculed! I am by nature an overthinker and share very little, until I have planned out exactly how to articulate my carefully organized thoughts. Consequently, any spontaneous comments to communicate my reactions to or feelings about news, stories, articles, jokes, images or videos I encounter on social media are very rare from me.
I hope to overcome this fear by becoming more active on Twitter this year. My handle is @MmeBouvier - please follow me!
In terms of the subject matter on which I would like to focus, I am partial to Mathematics, which seems like a challenging place to start in developing an online course. However, I do feel like there are several sources of inspiration out there, such as the free-of-charge khanacademy.org, and paid subscription services like IXL. I teach math in French, and there are fewer resources out there en français, let alone directed at a Fransaskois audience. My second goal for the semester is to work towards contributing to the niche of virtual mathematics education for French-speaking students in Saskatchewan.
My school division exclusively uses the Microsoft Teams platform for remote learning, in both the "virtual-only" and "temporarily-out-of-the-classroom" settings. I have been able to try some interesting things using the Microsoft suite of applications, but I'm still limited in my breadth of knowledge about other options that exist. I am looking forward to working towards my third goal of exploring and learning more about more the platforms and tools used to build online courses. More specifically, I am interested in researching new or unique online assessment and evaluation methods, and trying them out.
I look forward to discussing with my classmates/colleauges, learning from you and alongside you, and hopefully contributing to your learning in any way I can.
Drop a comment to let me know how you feel about math – love it or hate it?