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My Final Summary

I am not going to change the world with my use of technology. I feel like I could be exploring new applications solidly for the next 2 years and still have not covered a fraction of the applications and tools available for me.

So far I have just planted some seeds. Hopefully in the future they will grow into something much bigger. The future is exciting, and for once I am looking forward to updating my Moodle pages in the summer.

Our move into brand new premises will be combined with a new, fresh approach to my learners. If I can enhance their learning with extra tools as well as the new classroom environments from the next academic year, then I am hopeful that I can elevate the learner experience of my students significantly. If I can notice my own progression and development, then hopefully the students will too.

 

Right…..lets get on with this marking of assignments. My life is filled with deadlines!

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Critical Review Resource Number 3: Edmodo

I am using Edmodo as a social network and my intention is not to try to run it as part of the Moodle platform, but to run both tools separately. This was mainly due to my belief that the social network aspect of Moodle was not engaging the students. Some of my comments and reviews will deal with Edmodo specifically, while other sections will deal with social networking more generically.

Self-Review Lens: Please also refer to previous blog post MyFace, my search for the perfect social Network. What I suggested in that post is still true in my opinion, I have yet to find the perfect social network for my needs. Edmodo is currently my choice almost by way of default, due to the shortcomings of its competitors. Being in adult education I can see that it is generally pitched at a lower age group. I have noted that I am automatically defaulted to the title of Mr Dunning on the Edmodo site. This is a little too formal for my liking, but I understand the necessity to differentiate myself from the rest of the group. On the plus side, it does look a little bit like Facebook, which the vast majority of my students are familiar with and this familiarity hopefully is likely to lead to good levels of interaction in the future. The reason why I am saying the future and not now, is revealed below.

Student Review Lens: I am currently trialling the Edmodo social Network with one of my classes which has just 9 Students. Currently, after a few weeks of requests, I have 3 members and 1 who (for reasons unknown) is unable to join due to technological issues. Of those 3 students, 1 is unable to view the embedded content, and I have had to send the link to the content via email (exactly not what a social network is for). However, the 2 students who have been able to join the group and access the content have already commented that they feel that this is an excellent resource, and something that they can access from anywhere and communicate with each other as well as with myself. They feel as if they will make use of the posting and forum sections, especially when they finish their studies for the summer but need to prepare for external examinations. So, from a student perspective, a mixed level of comments. I have not been a member of Edmodo as a student. However, I am a member of Yammer as a student and certainly see the potential of a social network for students, especially in the forums. I have also seen the use another group of my students have made of Facebook (although I have seen this only by being shown the group on a students computer – I have not been invited to join this private group) – this, perhaps, creates another debate for another time.

Peer Review Lens: Some of my colleagues are very sceptical indeed about the use of social networks as part of the learning process. I have one colleague who searches the students Facebook accounts to use as an issue in data protection (it is part of one of the modules in the course as we deal with patient data within an ophthalmic practice). However, in our department we are all part of the Yammer group. Graphite (2013) Compliments its ease of use although stating that it has a lack of features compared to other learning environments.

Theoretical Review Lens: Social networks in education are often discussed in terms of both usability and sociability. Dumas and Reddish (1999, p4) defined usability as ‘people who use the product can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their tasks). Whereas Sociability is defined as ‘how members of a community interact with each other across the…interface’ (Preece, 2001 p5). The usability of Edmodo is something that has been measured by several reviewers of the system on blogs and wiki’s, but the sociability issue is harder to judge, and relates to each individual group of students who use it, depending on the context of the group. Preece (2001) had suggested that social support groups are far less likely to tolerate argumentation than academic groups. However, it could be considered that some academic groups have a duty of social support. I certainly would consider this to be the case with my own groups. Therefore a balance needs to be sought.

The same is also true in terms of safety within a social network. The graphite (2013) review pointed out that Edmodo has safety in mind. Any discussion on the use of social networks in education is almost certainly going to be centred on safety and the potential problems of misuse. Cunningham (2011, Online) pointed out that her establishment be removed from Edmodo due to student issues, even though she felt that the issue was to do with moderation rather than the platform itself. Her comments then go on to reflect her feelings on the subject of students and social networking.

‘Are the students ready?  Yes.  Are they going to mess up?  Yes.  Will we have discipline issues? Yes.  Should we just deal with those like we do the equivalent action face to face?  Yes.  Are we going to stop them from using social media? No…  It’s not like turning off Edmodo is stopping them from interacting.’

Simon Haughton (2011, Online) has made sure steps are in place before the implementation of Edmodo in his school – stating to the students that there were a ‘range of possible sanctions in place which could be implemented if they misused/abused this privilege of being allowed to post instant messages’. This, I suggest, would be something which may deter many students from wanting to get involved with a social platform. Perhaps a finer balance needs to be struck. I am involved in adult learning, and feel that it is important to allow my students to be adult.

Overall, I think it takes quite a long time to establish a successful online community. I certainly haven’t had that time up to the time of writing. It is something I intend to continue with, and hope to report back with my evaluation in the future.

 Image

References:

Cunningham, J. (2011) Unplugging Edmodo [Online.] Available: http://julieacunningham.com/2011/01/31/unplugging-edmodo/ [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Dumas, J. s. and Reddish, J. C. (1999) A practical guide to Usability Testing (Revised Edition). Exeter: Intellect

Graphite. (2013) Great, easy to use, free social networking site for education [Online}. Available: http://www.graphite.org/website/edmodo-teacher-review/3887131 [Accessed: 18/05/14]

Haughton, S. (2011) Introducing Edmodo – My First Experiences. Available: http://simonhaughton.typepad.com/ict/2011/03/introducing-edmodo-my-first-experiences.html [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Preece, J. (2001) Sociability and Usability: Twenty years of chatting Online Behaviour and Information Technology Journal 20:5 pp347-356

Critical Review Resource Number 2: Padlet

An addition to my previous podcast on the benefits of Padlet, I will apply the Brookfields 4 critical lenses model to the application.

Self-Review Lens:  Because we are getting towards the end of the academic year on my course,

The strength of Padlet is predominantly in its ease of use. There is no need to register to write on a wall and as long as the students have the web address then it is incredibly easy to access. Minimal detail is required to write on the wall, and it is informal enough to allow the student to feel free to make their thoughts heard. Of course, it can only form a very small part of the range of tools to be used in the learning environment – but as a sounding board for student opinion, I think it could be great.

I have started to use Padlet as a forum for the students to discuss which topics they feel like they need the most help with before their examinations. I always ask the students to lead the discussions in terms of revision topics, but in a classroom environment it can occasionally lead to the loudest voices getting their opinions heard over the others. Therefore I hoped that Padlet will give everybody an equal voice.

However, one aspect which has become a recurring theme throughout my attempts to introduce new technologies into the classroom is student apathy. Very few students contributed to the Padlet wall. The apathy is likely to contain some fault on my part as to how and when I requested their input into the wall at this stage of their studies.

My main concern I believe to be the timing. Because we are at the end of the year, any introduction of new formats is perhaps being met with scepticism. I feel that such tools would be more successful if introduced at the beginning of the module, therefore the students are familiar with its use and will be more likely to contribute. Therefore my enthusiasm has not been dampened, and I will be introducing the use of an online wall in my classes next year, along with other technologies

Student Review Lens: We can partly see the student response in the above section – one of general apathy. I, as a student myself, have posted on the Padlet walls on this module, but as much as a sense of duty as expecting to gain any learning from it. Its downside was, perhaps, well explained by one of my students, who suggested that it would have been quicker to reply to my question in person – but I think this was due more to the question posted on the wall than to the limitations of the online ‘wall’ itself.

I also noticed that one of my students created a pseudonym so that they would not be identified – I think that to some extent, this could be seen as both a strength and a weakness of the tool. The anonymity allows the student to express their thoughts honestly without fear of a reprisal. However, it can also promote the somewhat less relevant posts (although there is options for approval of a post before it appears on the wall)

Peer Review Lens: This is a tool that quite a lot of my colleagues are using and have been happy with. Looking at the teacher led reviews online, I can see that again, it is a very well received product. EdTechReview (2013) commented on its ease of use and its best aspect being able to create as many walls as required). Takenouchi (2013), suggested its main benefit was the ability to collaborate with others, giving the students the opportunity to have the same usability as the teacher. This can lead to true collaboration between the students, and could lead to much deeper learning. This, like in the previous post on Thinglink, depends on the imaginations of the teacher or the learners.

Theoretical Review Lens: Thinking such as hybrid pedagogy, where the boundaries of a classroom are less defined, lends itself very well to the use of online walls such as Padlet. The hybrid classroom would not let the design of a classroom (i.e. the walls and desks) to influence its pedagogy (Hybrid Pedagogy, 2014, Online). By effectively using a virtual, online wall, this can break down the restrictions that the classroom brings. Morris (2014), when discussing digital Pedagogy, suggests that many of the decisions we base around our teaching a dictated by our classroom environment (where we stand, etc..). Again, the use of an online blackboard is another tool that can be used to evolve pedagogy into a digital era.

On a different note Jisc ((Online, No date) discussed Padlet as ‘an easy way for tutors and learners to have an online presence without needing to be part of a corporate system’. It was also commented that no other virtual learning environment was required to run a Padlet wall, so this offered excellent opportunities to teachers in different settings.

Overall, I see Padlet as a tool which I will undoubtedly use occasionally rather than extensively. Hopefully if I can improve on my timing next year I can get a better level of success

Yet again, without a relevant plugin (which I cannot access), I am unable to embed Padlet into my WordPress blog – yet again you will have to make do with a link and a screenshot. I think this is saying more about WordPress than Thinglink or Padlet, though

http://padlet.com/d_dunning/visopsrevisionImage

References:

EdTechReview. (2103) Padlet – Paper for the web [Online.] Available: http://edtechreview.in/reviews/243-padlet-paper-for-the-web [Accessed 17/05/2014]

Hybrid Pedagogy. (2014) How to Build an Ethical Online Course [Online.] Available: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/how-to-build-an-ethical-online-course/ [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Jisc. (ND) Pedagogy [Online.] Available: http://jisctechdis.ac.uk/discover_jisc/research-pedagogy [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Morris, S. (2014) What is Digital Pedagogy? [Online.} Available: http://learning.instructure.com/2014/03/what-is-digital-pedagogy/ [ Accessed 18/05/2014]

Takenouchi, S. (2013) Padlet: A Blank Slate on the Web to Collaborate With Others [Online.] Available: http://web.appstorm.net/reviews/media-reviews/padlet-a-blank-slate-on-the-web-to-collaborate-with-others/  [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Critical Review Resource Number 1: Thinglink

Thinglink is a tool to create interactive pictures. Photographs or pictures will have hotspots which can be clicked to access information, further pictures, videos or links to external websites.

Self-Review Lens: The beauty of this tool is that the resources can be created quickly and easily, and can be embedded into blogs, or virtual learning environments such as Moodle.

My initial thought was to use Thinglink pictures as an overview of a topic, perhaps to be used in a flipped learning format, so that the students view the picture and its content before the lesson, in order to have a good level of understanding of the topic. However, after using the tool for a while I have realised that it could be used to a much greater extent. My long-term aim will be to create short, interactive books, with one Thinglink picture linking to a further one, and so on, with extra content available with each picture. Of course, this takes much longer to create, but can lead to a much more interactive viewing experience.

There is also the matter of copyright to think about – rather than trawl the internet for copyright-free pictures I decided to use my new iPhone and start snapping. I suppose that with a little time and effort it will be possible to create totally self-created interactive pictures.

I have encountered one or two small issues. While it is a straightforward process to embed the Thinglink picture into Moodle, once the link is clicked to view another picture, then this opens in a new browser window and slightly disrupts the experience. However, it is not a major issue, as all of the content is still available.

My other issue is how to link to all of the other pages without over cluttering the amount of links in the picture. I have included ‘back to the front page’ links on each picture, but felt that links to several different pages at once made the interaction more confusing. Perhaps by minimising the links helps to focus the student down the path you want them to take, whilst allowing them the freedom to choose which information to access is the best way to proceed.

Student Review Lens: Through individual and group discussions, Thinglink has been very well received by the students. The opportunity to explore topics further, as each link can give rise to further research allows the students the flexibility to delve more deeply into a topic or not depending on their current level of understanding. The embedding of the Thinglink on to the virtual learning environment was also well received – the initial ‘home’ picture has a good level of impact and was very inviting to explore further. However, the embedding on to the social network was far less successful – some students were unable to access the information and the picture itself was not embedded, just a link which opened up the Thinglink picture on to the Edmodo platform.

Peer Review Lens: This student impact has been equally well received in other institutions. The Edutech blog (2012) commented on the use of Thinglink very positively, ‘Students not only love being engaged, but they also appreciate having the opportunity to discover new content’. I originally went to a training course on the use of Thinglink with other relative novices to the tool. I noticed from my colleague some apathy as she felt it would be difficult (with relatively little computer knowledge), to create pictures. I’m not sure I agree with this, as I found the process quite straightforward.

What the same colleague was impressed with was the impact of the picture once embedded into the Moodle learning environment. Being an anatomy teacher, she was more concerned with the ability to find copyright free pictures which could be used effectively, as it was not necessarily a topic which could be easily photographed.

Other teacher review sites have suggested the opportunities to use Thinglink as Student-centered learning to create their own ThingLinks. ‘Beginning with the selection of “just the right” picture or graphic to use sparks students’ creativity and critical thinking skills.’ (Web2teachingtools, 2009, Online)

 

Theoretical Review Lens: The use of pictures in education is certainly not a new concept. However, its benefits are well reported for many learners. Cavanaugh (no date. Online) stated that spatial learners create and use mental images and often remember in pictures. In order to help these learners, then spatial activities should be used. The idea of using visuals is also supported by Stokes (2001), who stated that using visuals in teaching results in a greater degree of learning‘. If the goal of lifelong learning is, indeed, the lifelong aspect, then the use of pictures is thought to work within the long term memory, although the pictures used must be memorable (Jisc, 2014)

The learning review site Graphite (2014) has stated some of the downfalls of Thinglink, suggesting it gives little opportunities to deeper learning, and that the learning is dependent on the imaginations of the teachers and learners rather than the tool itself.

Overall, it is a tool which I will certainly continue to use. Hopefully my imagination can help to bring the best out of a simple but effective tool which undoubtedly can have a positive impact on the learning of the students.

To end on a bad note. I am unable to embed my Thinglinks into this blog, as WordPress does not allow it. SO, you will have to make-do with the link to one of my Thinglinks and a screenshot

 

http://www.thinglink.com/scene/507571604377567234

thing

References:

Cavanaugh, T. (ND), Images in Education [Online.] Available: http://www.drscavanaugh.org/digitalcamera/images-in-education.htm [Accessed: 18/05/2014]

Edutech. (2012) Interesting Ways to Use Thinglink in the Classroom [Online.] Available: http://edutech4teachers.edublogs.org/2012/11/24/thinglink-4/ [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Graphite. (2014) ThingLink: Multimedia storytelling sparks imagination; can help visual learners [Online.] Available: https://www.graphite.org/website/thinglink [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Jisc. (2014) Using images to reinforce learning [Online.] Available: http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/guide/using-images-to-reinforce-learning [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Stokes, S. (2001) Visual Literacy in Teaching and Learning: A Literature Perspective. The Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education. Volume 1:1

Web2teachingtools. (2009) ThingLink: Linking Learning and Creativity [Online.] Available: http://www.web2teachingtools.com/thinglink.html [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Model of Reflection: A predictable choice

For my critical review of 3 learning tools I will be using Brookfield’s’ 4 critical lenses model of reflection (as an optician it would be criminal of me to use any other model of reflection). The reason why I have chosen this model (other than a love for lenses), is that I am currently in a position of being both teacher and student, and have been amazed how this has changed my perspective on how I view many aspects of my work. Brookfield concluded that our experiences as learners shape our motivations as teachers (1995, P.32). The model includes a student lens, so arguably the most important part of the process – the receiver of the information – is given a voice. Brookfield considers this equally as important.

‘whether or not good teaching is happening is the extent to which teachers deliberately and systematically try to get inside students’ heads and see classrooms and learning from their point of view’ (Brookfield, 2005, p.35)

It also allows the ability to apply theoretical knowledge, as well as the opportunity to gauge the opinion of our peers. This can help us to gain a wider picture of our perceived successes or failings, rather than simply a personal account.

References:

Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.  San Francisco: Jossey Bass

A Critical Review on the use of ICT and e-learning in my curriculum – Part 1: Current evaluation

For the purposes of simplicity, the following review will involve the Contact Lens Certificate course only.

Moodle, like all other courses I have been involved in since starting work with my current learning institution, is the primary source of ICT. The institution does not actively encourage other forms of social networking (KIllock et al, 2012). Moodle currently stands as the primary conduit for the students to access other learning technologies or information from the course itself. Other learning technologies which have been stored and maintained within the Moodle framework include YouTube (video), PowerPoint and Prezi presentations and the inclusion of eBooks and journal articles, as well as some of the multiple choice quizzes.. While I have always been quite happy with the provision to the students through this virtual learning environment for this particular course, further study has led me to realise that there is a lot more that can be done.

Firstly, the appearance of the site can have a large bearing as to its impact with the students. I have recently started to try and change some of the appearance settings to have a better impact, but feel limited. It is clear that Moodle is, in itself, capable of much more. Looking at a neighbouring colleges Moodle provision (Leeds City College, 2014, Online), shows what can be done to make Moodle itself more attractive. The current provision controlled by myself reflects my lack of knowledge both in Moodle and in aesthetics.

Also, I am using Moodle almost like a Dropbox site, by making it a storage space for the resources alone – rarely making use of the other features that Moodle has to offer (features which I currently still do not know about). Reading a blog by Carr (2012) has shown how students individual timetables and attendance records can be placed into Moodle, as well as nice ideas such as the awarding of badges for students (and staff) to earn by completing tasks, much in the same way ‘if you were in scouts or guides’ (Carr, 2014, Online). A further look into the extra applications and tools available for use show over 800 currently available plug-ins for Moodle (2014, Online). While many of these tools are likely not to be applicable to my use of the Moodle site, it is clear that the surface is only just being scratched.

Summative assessment on this course is conducted externally by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), so any assessment taking place within the college or using the college technologies is formative. I believe that this area is underused in the current curriculum in terms of using technology. The summative (external) assessments are quite far removed from some of the more innovative methods of assessment used in eLearning. The assessments are still in the form of unseen written examinations held under examination conditions. While this is not necessarily the most popular method of assessment with students, it is well established. I try to make as much of my formative assessment in a similar format to try to prepare the students fully for what lies ahead in their summative examinations, but clearly I could do more. I was once given feedback for an assignment via a screencast, and this had a big impact in how I used the feedback. Jordan (2004, Online) agrees that audio feedback has impact.

‘motivation stems from the personal nature of the voice comments and the novelty of the method, which encourages them to give serious consideration to the feedback’

I see a requirement to vary the types of formative assessment (as I have no control over the summative assessment). Using technology can help to elevate the course and differentiate it from other providers of the same courses.

Of course, it is all too easy to be overly critical of your own work when viewing largely different examples of Moodle at use. I feel that one thing that is very successful about the use of Moodle in our educational establishment is in the community of practice – we, as teachers and students, are keen on the sharing of new information and resources. Other teachers often add content on to the site – this is clearly one of the primary goals of a learning environment such as Moodle. Julian Ridden in a Moodle Mayhem podcast (2010, Online), stated that community of practice was at the heart of Moodle using ‘Social construction as pedagogy’. While improvements can be made to current use, I feel that the current use of Moodle does succeed in bringing a community of practice together to share information.

I still endorse the use of a single platform to present the information to the students. If the students have one (or two) different accounts for fewer sites, then they are likely to be more willing to access those areas on a regular basis. However, if I am able to embed external content onto the current Moodle platform, then I may be able to maintain and improve the community of practice and content sharing capabilities of the current course.

In summary – areas which need further investigation and improvement lie in being able to utilise the additional features of Moodle, as well as use the ability of Moodle to embed many external tools and programs. This can lift the quality and impact of my curriculum to ways in which compete with our local, national and international competitors. Some of the learning technologies in my following posts will be looking at tools that can be embedded into the Moodle platform.

 

References

Carr, L. (2014). Moodle: Shortcut to OpenBadges [Online.] Available: http://lewiscarr.co.uk/2014/02/ [Accessed 17/05/2014]

Carr, L. (2012). My Timetable (MIS Integration) from MyMoodle. [Online.] Available: http://lewiscarr.co.uk/2012/06/ [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Carr, L. (2012). My Attendance Record (MIS) Integration [Online.] Available: http://lewiscarr.co.uk/2012/06/ [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Jordan, J. (2004) The Use of Orally Recorded Exam Feedback as a Supplement to Written Comments [Online.] Available: http://www.amstat.org/publications/jse/v12n1/jordan.html [Accessed 17/05/2014]

Killock, S. Hurford, R. Snowden, B. (2012), Staff Digital Communications Policy [Online]. Available:http://moodle.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/mod/book/view.php?id=101526&chapterid=2453%5BAccessed 14/5/14]

Leeds City College (2014). Moodle. [Online.] Available: http://moodle.leedscitycollege.ac.uk/ [Accessed 18/05/2014]

MoodleMayhem (2010) All things Moodle [Online.] Available: http://www.edsupport.cc/mguhlin/audio/podcast3_jridden.mp3 [Accessed 18/05/2014]

Moodle (2014), Moodle Plugins [Online.] Available: https://moodle.org/plugins/ [Accessed: 17/05/2014]

Phenomenal Explosion – Web 2.0 potholes

I never thought that I would ever see the term ‘phenomenal explosion’ in an official policy document. But that is what I have just seen. The digital communications policy of my learning institution recognises ‘the potential of this phenomenal explosion in social media’ (Killock et al, 2012 p.1), when referring to social media (specifically Facebook). The document appears to take a somewhat negative view to the use of social media in the classroom. The language used has a rather derisory tone in places. When looking at colleges that have banned Facebook use, they ‘concede’ this approach may be detrimental; the institution does not ‘actively encourage’ Facebook use, but ‘acknowledges’ that some tutors may want to use it.

Of course, such caution is not totally unfounded. I have witnessed first-hand how social media can, however innocent, potentially cause harm. A group of students on one of the courses I am involved in had been included on a Yammer group which had been set up by one of my colleagues. It had generally been a success until one particular thread walked a tightrope of what I would class as acceptable. No harm was done, the thread was removed and the group was hastily disbanded, but it gave us all a reminder of how social network can be unintentionally dangerous. The news stories of Britains first youth police commissioner resigning after details of previous Facebook comments were viewed (BBC, 2013, Online) shows the value and importance of proper behaviour online as well as in person.

Closer inspection of the policy document also led me to something I had not previously realised. You may have read in a previous post that I wanted to use social media to set up a network which could include former students as well as current students to share best practice. I had not realised that staff must ‘remove past learners from their active teaching and learning groups’ (Killock et al, 2012 p.3). Clearly I have a lot to learn with regard to social media and education. I always thought I was in control of my own online behaviour, but maybe I do not know as much as I thought.

To finish, I thought I would end on a high – this video makes a bit of a mockery of our Facebook culture (Warning, there is some bad language – they drop a ‘P Bomb’)

 

References:

BBC News(2013), Paris Brown: Kent youth PCC resigns after Twitter row [Online.] Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22083032 [Accessed 14/5/14]

Killock, S. Hurford, R. Snowden, B. (2012), Staff Digital Communications Policy [Online]. Available: http://moodle.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/mod/book/view.php?id=101526&chapterid=2453 [Accessed 14/5/14]

Youtube (2008). Facebook in Real Life [Online]. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrFdOz1Mj8Q  [Accessed 14/05/2014]

The fun has to stop sometime

Playtime is officially over.

After spending several weeks testing out new technologies and applications, and generally messing around on my computer, the realisation hits me that I need to link these technologies to theories of learning.

So much for having fun.

But, of course, these learning technologies are of no use whatsoever if no learning is taking place. If we simply incorporate new found technologies into our teaching with little or no thought to its impact on the learners, then it could have a detrimental effect on our performance and results – ‘knowing how to use technology hardware and software is not enough to enable teachers to use the technology effectively in the classroom’ (Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010).  We need to find a way to marry our pedagogical principles with our acquisition of new skills and tools. Pedagogical design needs to link our teaching methods with the learning environment, curriculum and assessment (Biggs, 1999). If our teaching methods and learning environments change, then does our pedagogy? While this discussion will not be concentrating on the different models of learning, it is important to consider them in the context of the new technologies, or e-learning.

Mayes, and de Freitas (2010, Online) suggest that the pedagogy of e-learning is, like all other pedagogies, based around achieving learning outcomes. However, Lawless and Pelegrino (2007) argue that ‘teachers’ uses of technology are rarely linked to the student learning outcomes they are designed to facilitate’. As I have been introduced to new sites and applications, I have been keen to try them in my students learning environment. I have, perhaps, been a bit hasty, and guilty of not applying the learning technologies to maximise their impact. Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010) state that ‘knowing how to use technology hardware and software is not enough to enable teachers to use the technology effectively in the classroom.’

Concepts of behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism are all theories which are concerned with how a person learns (Siemens, 2005, Online). Each of these theories can utilise e-learning effectively and in different ways. It is, perhaps, better to consider e-learning as a way of evolving these concepts of learning – ‘Including technology and connection making as learning activities begins to move learning theories into a digital age’ (Siemens, 2005, Online).What is important to understand is that the technology itself does not enhance these theories and move them into a digital age, but rather the teachers implementation of the technologies. Fisher (2006) argued that it is teachers that are the agents of change rather than the technologies they are using.

In the short period of time where I have been experimenting with some of the new technologies I have been introduced to, I feel that I have not yet had the confidence in my use of the technologies to implement effective changes and enhancements to my courses and modules. As confirmed by Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010), although knowledge of technology is necessary, it is not enough if teachers do not also feel confident using that knowledge to facilitate student learning. While I feel comfortable with negotiating the technologies themselves, implementing them into my teaching is a different task altogether. A major problem I faced when introducing new technology into my module is that it was met with scepticism or apathy from the students. Somekh (2008, p. 452) suggested that new technology ‘consistently destabilizes the established routines of classroom life including norms of time and space’. I put some of the blame on the timing of the implementation, as my students have now finished their studies for the summer. I remain hopeful that I can use the summer break to develop my pedagogy to embrace the technologies to implement at the start of the next academic year. While some of my experiments with new technologies have not had a great deal of impact on my students learning, this is something that experience and familiarity should help me to overcome in the future.

My goal is to develop my pedagogy to create a more student-centred approach – ‘Adopting a true learner-centred approach would imply treating each student as an individual case. In a sense this has always been the ultimate goal of educational technology: the achievement of individualised instruction’ (Mayes, and de Freitas, 2010, Online). At the very least, I aim to expand my knowledge to improve my pedagogy to allow my students to take control of their own learning. The new technologies can only help me with this.

 

References:

Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Ertmer, P. A. and Ottenbreit-Leftwich A.P. (2010) Teacher Technology Change: How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education 42:3 pp. 255–284

Lawless, K. A., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2007). Professional development in integrating technology into teaching and learning: Knowns, unknowns, and ways to pursue better questions and answers. Review of Educational Research, 77, pp 575–614.

Mayes, T. and de Freitas, S. (2010) JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study. Stage 2: Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models [Online]. Available: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/Stage%202%20Learning%20Models%20(Version%201).pdf [Accessed 10th May 2014]

Siemens, G. (2005) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age [Online.] Available: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm [Accessed 12th May 2014]

Somekh, B. (2008). Factors affecting teachers’ pedagogical adoption of ICT. In J. Voogt & G. Knezek (Eds.), International handbook of information technology in primary and secondary education (pp. 449–460). New York: Springer.

MyFace – the search for the perfect social network to use for my students

Lange (2008, p362), when describing social network sites, state two fundamental aspects – ‘constructing a public or semi-public profile within the system and [to] formally articulate their relationship to other users in a way that is visible’. Boyd and Ellison (2008, p 211-13), expand on this by stating that members share a connection, and that this ‘public display of connections is a crucial component of social network sites’. My previous experience of social network sites has been in the connections with family and old school or work friends. However, I can see the possibilities of using these sites in other ways. 

Since I developed an interest in using technology to enhance my teaching, I have wanted to use social networking to create a group of likeminded people with a shared interest to enhance the learning. I have a dream of students both past and present, sharing ideas, best practice and advice. So far, my dream has yet to become reality. My first attempt to create a Facebook group became bogged down with technicalities. The students didn’t want to use their facebook profile for the group so created a second profile, but quickly found friends being requested for a second time to the second profile, and stopped accessing the second profile and submitting opinion and/or content. This is a pity, because the vast majority of my students already use Facebook and are very familiar with it.

Perhaps the way forward was something which would be totally new to the students. Bradford college have been using Yammer as a social platform, and as an ophthalmics team we (somewhat unwisely) tried to use it as a social network with our students – not realising that the College did not want us to encourage this (our mistake, not the college). However, it was really well received by the students and very well embraced by the student cohort. All was going well until it transpired that some of the students had been invited to an open group so the posts were seen by all, rather than just the ophthalmics group. Unfortunate, perhaps, but not a disaster that cannot be rectified. It then transpired that a post by one of the students (albeit unwittingly) crossed the line of what is acceptable to post to a group. It became known around the office as ‘Yammergate’ and we disbanded the Yammer group shortly afterwards (ironically, I understand the students have set up their own Facebook group without the tutors being invited)

So, I continued to look.

MySpace? This isn’t the 1990’s.

I was introduced to Edmodo by one of my colleagues , as well as Google+ by my tutors. Both certainly have possibilities. Edmodo appears to be quite simple to navigate and has a very private feel about it – with an invitation code to each of the students you would like to participate. Google+ has more familiarity – Google is ubiquitous these days. I have decided to try both platforms with different cohorts of students – to get a feel for which the students engage with, and for which I prefer to use.

The next setback I have hit yet again is due to bad timing. I am in the unfortunate position of being in the last week of the course this week – the students are in examinations for the next two weeks and have then finished until September. As a result, my pleas to join me in an online community have fell on deaf ears. I currently have no students in my Edmodo account and one student in my Google+ circle. The students clearly have their minds on other things at the moment.

I remain resolute, and determined to proceed. I rather fear that the best time to set up a group is at the beginning of the academic year rather than at the end, and so blame my timing (and, perhaps, poor communication skills) for the current failure of my social network adventure. Zuckerberg I am not. But Pacansky-Brock (2013, p41) warns that ‘teaching with emerging technologies is, by nature, experimental and failure is an implicit step in an experiment. If we don’t fail, we don’t learn’. I don’t necessarily find any comfort in these words – I don’t like the idea of failing. However, she agrees that our fear of failure is inherent in education (p42) ‘educational society..has taught us to…be ashamed of mistakes, to always be right’. I consistently worry that if I try something that is unsuccessful, then will the students just lose a little bit of confidence in me. This is part of the learning journey.

 

References

Boyd, D. M., Ellison, N. B. (2008) Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. Vol 13 pp210-230

Lange, P. G. (2008) Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Vol 13 pp361-380

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2013) Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies. New York:Routledge

Audioboo to you too (and Padlet)

My first ever attempt at a podcast (full dislosure – this was actually attempt number threee after I was hit with some technical hitches). The audio is still a bit dodgy, but at least it worked.

My aim throughout the module has been to try to integrate as much of the new technologies and applications together – so, in the same spirit, I thought that rather than podcast about podcasting, I would podcast about Padlet.