Creating my Professional Learning Network (PLN) has been a challenging but perhaps the most rewarding activity thus far in OLTD 502.
Screencasting is an effective option for utilizing technology in education. Lessons can be recorded and reviewed at the student's convenience when and where they want. Best of all, video clips don't get exasperated when they are rewound and asked to repeat what they have just said for the fourth or fifth time. The same can't be said for educators who, as human beings, can get a litle exasperated when constantly being asked to repeat themselves.
I was pleased to see that Steve Dotto had a webinar posted on screencasting. I was familiar with him and respected his expertise with technology as well as his ability to communicate clearly to people of all level s of expertise.
In his webinar posted on YouTube http://www.dottotech.com/screencasting-secrets-webinar-replay/?inf_contact_key=2a8e74d094cdefbf7cb82d0c51cf1628f8452f1ac0ffca2a64289b36619d4fea he addressed why screencasting has become popular. Access through mobile devices was a big advantage for this tool. A second advantage is the ability to use body language and vocal intonations to personalize delivery of the content and put it in context.
Dotto has been screencasting since the early 1990s. (Dotto on Data, 1990) In his webinar he emphasized the importance of a good audio track. He cites people's sensitivity to sound as a reason to ensure that audio embedded in a screencast is of high quality. He made a few recommendations for external microphones to attach to a laptop to address this concern.
Dotto also discussed the use of a green screen to achieve the "floating head" effect in front of the computer screen displayed in the screencast. He emphasized that lighting was key to ensure that the computer can read the colour to be masked properly. As with the microphone, he made some recommendations regarding green screens and lighting equipment.
Not having experience in video production, these were important aspects of the process for me to be introduced to.
I appreciated being given an introduction to the process by a recognized expert in the field and am inspired to try my hand at screencasting. So keep your eyes on YouTube for my upcoming appearance...
Technology and its many uses in education is definitely an issue worth exploring. Teaching is a very complex field and technology is but one issue affecting teaching and learning in British Columbia. An issue which informs virtually all aspects of teaching and learning at my school is poverty. Maslow's hierarchy of needs tells us that in order to access higher functions in the brain and process information and learn, basic physiological needs such as adequate food, clothing and shelter must be met and an individual must feel safe and secure. Too often my students come to school without having eaten breakfast; cold because they don't have a warm coat suitable for the season; or distraught over an incident occurring at home before class. As a community of educators we are tasked with meeting these physiological and emotional needs so that students are in a mindset where they are able to learn.
Recently a report card on child poverty in the province was issued. Check it out at http://www.bctf.ca/publications/BCTFNews-web.aspx?id=38642#1 I think you will agree that it is sobering. As we invest our energy into creating innovative and more effective models of instruction perhaps we should pause for just a moment and remember that as educators we don't teach reading, math and science. We teach kids. Let's take a moment to understand where these precious souls are coming from when they walk through our doors. They are carrying a lot more baggage than what is contained in their backpack.
Ruby Payne has written several books relating to poverty and education. Her insights have helped me to undergo a paradigm shift and better understand my students and how to help them progress in their learning and life.
Payne, Ruby. Framework for Understanding Poverty: A cognitive Approach. aha! Process, Inc. 2013
I was intrigued when I clicked on the link tweeted by @rlabonte regarding Embedly. The launch page for the site was very vague. What product or service were they trying to offer or sell? I was tasked with the challenge of learning more so….
In sifting through the site I found three intended uses (APIs) for the product: embedding, extracting and displaying. Embedly’s website states that ”Embedly has three API’s to choose from, each has a specific function. Read these descriptions to figure out which one is right for you.” 1 It was not clear exactly what each of the APIs involved. So far as I could tell, it was a tool for adding code to HTML (hypertext mark-up language) to embed images and videos.
The extract API “was created to parse as much relevant information from a page specifically entities/topics, related articles, ranked keywords, article text, and much more.”2 As an individual who has a basic understanding of HTML and web design but is not a professional web designer or coder this statement did little to remedy my confusion.
One of the products available through the site were “cards” which are purported to “provide you with responsive and shareable embeds to drive the reach of your websites, blog posts, and articles.”3 The second product offered is a button which “allows you to allow users to embed your site’s content with a single click. Get more impressions from all over the web. “4 Hmmm…..
The site offered tutorials but after scrolling and clicking through them I still did not have a better understanding of how this product would benefit me. I had as many questions as ever.
My assessment would be that for serious web designers trying to market a service or product this service might prove useful in simplifying the coding process. For an educator more interested in guiding students to resources to assist in their learning, this product/service would likely prove extraneous and unnecessary.
Check it out, play with it and formulate your own opinion. As for me, I am trying to find my way out of the rabbit hole....
The idea of the flipped classroom intrigued me. Wikipedia defines the flipped classroom as "instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional educational arrangement by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom. In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home and engage in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of the instructor." 1
In surfing the web I found the following videos and articles that explored the flipped classroom.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojiebVw8O0g (The Flipped Classroom Model)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_p63W_2F_4 (What a 'flipped' classroom looks like)
by PBS Newshour
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7VrfzxLxuk (Salman Khan, Founder of the Khan Academy) courtesy of Berkeley-Haas
The videos provided a good basic background on the concept, its origin and its effective application.
Do you see it working in your class or as a school-wide initiative? Do you see obstacles to its implementation?
I love the concept for older students. I wonder about its effectiveness for early primary students. Would their parents buy in and assist them in viewing their "homework?" What about those students who don't have access to the required technology? Will schools find the means to support those students without adequate access at home?