Saturday, February 28, 2015

Face to Face Reboot, Reenergize, Reaffirm & "Reconciliation"

I just came back from a two day site visit with my online students in Cumberland House, SK and Creighton, SK.  I have a unique opportunity to teach both adult learners in Adult 12 programs and High School students who are both school age and adult as well.  I found that I easily fell back into my familiar joking around and using Cree language and expressions to help my students feel comfortable and relate more easily to me.  I definitely get a reboot and am able to "recharge" my batteries when I am around people face to face.  This is a special treat for online teachers to go out and connect and engage with their learners in the contexts of their homes, schools and communities.

I am also finishing up my EdX course "Reconciliation through Indigenous Education" through UBC. It has provided me with many resources to help incorporate my Aboriginal students' "Ways of Knowing."  This is becoming a more accepted way to teach all Canadian students at every grade in a way that recognizes the First People across Canada.  It has been said that it will take seven generations of respectful educational experiences to undo the damage of the previous seven generations of Residential School ethnocide.  I believe it, as I actually never heard about residential schools until University although my mom's generation was the last to be a part of this unfortunate legacy.  It also involves all Canadian's education as this is their shared Canadian history.  In moving forward we have to understand the historical contexts that have shaped so many lives and have caused cultural trauma for Aboriginal people that continue to share in a sad state of affairs across Canada today.

I have plans to incorporate and encourage a model of acceptance for the Aboriginal stories and experiences throughout my course.  I will include opportunities for students to share narratives that are tied to the land or their traditional/cultural knowledge (including interviews of their Elders/Grandparents).   I also want to put in a portion about the Residential School and the "Apology" Stephen Harper gave.  I am going to include the use of the Medicine Wheel as a graphic organizer and find ways to intersperse Aboriginal traditions, cultures and perspectives throughout the course.  I find that my Native Studies course presently is based on the Eurocentric and Western Philosophy model of learning and I have the opportunity to use the Aboriginal education model seamlessly in this online course by allowing students the opportunity to be successful in both ways of learning.
#ecmp455 #reconciliation #Indigenous Education #edx #indedu200x #ubcx

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Short & Sweet Models using the "Human Factor"

Recent Understandings of Personalizing my Online Classroom

To date on my major project I have completed the following changes in my revamp of my online courses.  I have incorporated FlipGrid into my forums so that it appears in the introduction of the forum.  The students can either answer the question/share their opinion in the FlipGrid and/or type in their answer in the forum discussion area.  Either would be great in contributing to the class but I of course would prefer that they express themselves in the FlipGrid as it adds to the "Humanness" of the course.

You can pay for the subscription for a year and although it has ten grids these have unlimited "question/answer" areas that have their own unique URL/embed code.  This is extremely handy for me as I can put the same grid in my regular English Language Arts 30 assignment which has many students as my Project Based ELA A30 which is generally a lot smaller.  You can also use it to have students show their projects in other subject areas such as Math & Science.  They may have to have 2-3 scenes if they need to present more than 1 minute 30 seconds.  However that in itself allows them to be concise and articulate in their presentations.

I also learned that although I  usually do not enjoy being in a video recording (such as the big production ones that I develop in Camtasia) I actually enjoyed recording these short and simple Flip Grids.  I feel that my students will also feel more comfortable responding to my example in a short and sweet manner.  Thus the focus will be on the message rather than the media.  I find that am able to relax more and add a bit of humour to my online presence and to online education.  This is something that I definitely have lost since I transitioned from the face to face classroom to the online classroom.  Although I am relaxed enough to practice it the odd time I am face to face with students, on initial phone in assignments and in student feedback it does not come across consistently in my online practise/lesssons. #flipgrid #personalizing online classroom #ECMP455

Humour in the Online Classroom

Humour adds Humanness to the Online Classroom

The other understanding that I finally am coming to grips with in trying to add the Human Touch to my online space is using memes in my course.  There is very little humour in my online courses as I have taken this type of learning style in a more serious and formal approach.  I am overly concerned with having a straightforward and direct learning methods/styles so as not to distract my students.  In a way I guess I do this because I am not there to help them synchronously face to face.  The other reason is that it takes a lot of independence and commitment to do online courses and I worry humour would lead to "goofing off" as the online world is overly distracting as it is.

However I think this straight-laced style does not provide "comic relief" for my students.  In my pedagogy I believe that humour adds to a well balanced educational style.  As in my past face to face   classes I practised  "edutaining" my students as it both relaxed them and allowed them to enjoy their learning in a more comfortable and inviting environment.  I truly am working hard to get back to that style and am taking these "baby steps" to get there.  With more positive feedback from my students and by using appropriate methods/tools I am creating the courses that truly reflect my personality and welcome and invite my students to a more "human" online course.

The meme generator that I have used so far is at memes.  I tried to make a meme using my own image however I couldn't seem to get it down pat.  I will be making one soon but for now I am utilizing the stock images provided.  You can uncapitalized the words as well which helps get my point across in the grammar/capitalization memes that I created (see below)  #online classroom humour #memes #human online class #ECMP455

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Full Circle
Embrace Challenges and Find the Enlightenment You've Always Had

  As I am working on improving my online courses it seems I am coming full circle.  I was reviewing some articles on motivating students in Edudemic and came across the article, "Creative Hacks for Increasing Student Productivity" by Aiden Wolfe.  One hack is to decode your students to help alleviate Student Apathy.  This takes me back to my first online course I had a PowerPoint called "How are you Smart?" which students went through to find out their learning styles.  Do you know your strengths and weaknesses as a learner? Nowadays there are quite a few online surveys such as this one to use:  Find your Strengths
Image result for staying positive with obstacles cartoon

Interwebicly:  28 Norman Vincent Peale Quotes To Help Create Positive Change


I would like to bring back this lesson/survey as I feel it is important for students to understand how they learn best in order to help motivate them.  It is vital for students to develop a positive self-identity as life-long learners in order to fully engage in online courses.  I know that the majority of my students have had very negative experiences in and out of formal education to the point that they feel negatively about themselves.  I always point out to my adult learners who have been out of school for years that they have a lot of Prior Learning as we are constantly learning.

30+ Famous Success Quotes for Women and Men | Stylegerms
Personally I feel more positive and in control when I am able to understand the "big picture" and the historical reasons or contexts that have impacted my life.  It helps me focus on moving forward when I recognize there are some obstacles /challenges that you can never move but you can find more than one way around and away from them.  What are your personal/professional/educational obstacles?  Can you remove them? go around them? ignore them?  Should they impact your self-image? Why or why not?  I personally struggle with making sure others are "comfortable" at my own personal expense ( I try to remove obstacles for others).  I am learning the life lesson of letting others' be uncomfortable in their own struggles.  These practice sessions allow them to build their personal strength of character in preparation for the bigger personal life battles they will inevitably encounter. #learning styles

Living & Learning in a Digital World

In response to the presentation in I was quite surprised that the video came on immediately.  Was anyone else taken off guard?  I was prepared to not turn on my webcam as I had just had a bath and was in my  I was a classic fail for me personally but no one seemed to notice.

I was also surprised about all the new social media sites that the youth are using today that I wasn't aware of (ex. Tinder, YikYak, Kik Messenger, Tumblr, Whisper, etc.)  I thought I was in the know with Snapchat and Instagram.  However the other online students were quite aware as they were quite recently in face to face schools experiencing requests from their students.  I have the odd Facebook request from my online students who are for the most part adults.  However unless I am ready and willing to have a coffee with them outside of work I do not add them as a friend.

I found this great article/website called Common Sense  "Common Sense is the nation's leading independent non-profit organization dedicated to empowering kids to thrive in a world of media and technology." I enjoyed this site as it has "Parenting, Media, and Everything in Between."  The article is called "15 Sites and Apps Kids are Heading to Beyond Facebook.  I particularly enjoyed it as the headings included "Why its Popular" and "What Parents need to know"  which could easily apply to educators. See an example section below:
8. Kik Messenger is an app-based alternative to standard texting that kids use for social networking. It's free to use but has lots of ads.
Why it's popular
It's fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you just use the basic features, making it decidedly more fun in many ways than SMS texting.
What parents need to know
  • It's too easy to "copy all." Kik's ability to link to other Kik-enabled apps within itself is a way to drive "app adoption" (purchases) from its users for developers. The app also encourages new registrants to invite everyone in their phone's address book to join Kik, since users can only message those who also have the app.
  • There's some stranger danger. An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. There's also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages (sometimes displaying users' full names) to contests.
  • It uses real names. Teens' usernames identify them on Kik, so they shouldn't use their full real name as their username.

In the classroom it would be great to have an open discussion about these apps and ongoing discourse as to why the app maybe helpful and how they could also be harmful.  In most cases the apps have not been blocked at the school level....yet.  In other cases it may be peer pressure to be in the "in crowd" with that particular app on the user's mobile device.

Perhaps discussions around the ability for an individual to be able to "quit" the app for a day, week, or month could be discussed.  Has anyone ever tried to have this conversation with their students?  Addictions to media are a reality and they should be handled with support and understanding similar to any other addiction.  Teaching "balance" and "rights" and "responsibilities" would go hand in hand with this discussion.  By using "Common Sense Media" you will you be able to know what you are talking about and be a little more unbiased than parents to discuss the pros and cons of the apps.

On a happy note my son cleaned up his Instagram and I am one happy momma.  At first I felt awkward about looking at his Instagram (similar to looking at his diary/journal) without an invitation or permission.  However we must remember as parents/educators that the rest of the world has access to these social media websites at all times, thus we shouldn't feel bad ;-).