Sway With Me!

I took the opportunity to play around with a new digital tool (for me at least!) for this digital resources reflection.  I hadn’t heard of Sway before this week, but thanks to a fellow classmate and teacher, I got to playing around with it and really loved it!

I used Sway to address crucial questions when reflecting on how digital technology has impacted my life both personally and professionally.  Additionally, I talk about ways in which educators can stay current on changes, updates and trends in education, and how we can continue to further our own learning opportunities.

Please take a moment and Sway with me!

A Final Reflection on Digital Citizenship

What a journey the last five weeks have been! This last class that I’ve just completed as a part of my Masters of Education in Digital Learning and Leading has been one the most challenging, yet informative classes I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of.  Considering myself a “digital native” already, I thought I already knew a great deal there was to know about technology and digital citizenship.  While I do remember a time before cell phones, GPS, Facebook and Twitter, the ability to navigate a website and learn the digital ways has become second nature to me, so I thought this class would be nice “refresher” on digital citizenship.  Boy, was I wrong to assume.  This has by far been one of the most challenging and time consuming courses that I’ve been a part of, but I’ve got to say, I’ve learned SO much.  Things I hadn’t even considered when talking about digital citizenship.

I’ll try to be brief, but in a nutshell, when referring to digital citizenship, one is referring to “the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2017).  With technology surrounding us at all times, often managing our day to day lives, it is important to consider digital citizenship when interacting with others online.  In my mind, digital citizenship meant acting and behaving appropriately online, but I soon found out that there was much more to it than that.  For example, Mike Ribble (2015) goes further than just defining digital citizenship and lays out the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.  This framework of digital citizenship is a great tool for teachers and educators as it helps them understand the connection between each element and how to address them when educating students. Briefly, the nine elements include: digital access, digital commerce, digital communication, digital literacy, digital etiquette, digital law, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health and wellness, and finally, digital security.  I learned that not one element should be addressed separately, but that they are all interconnected and when addressed as a whole, make up digital citizenship.

After researching and learning about the nine elements, I quickly gravitated to focusing on digital etiquette, because everyday in the classroom, we are teaching and reminding out students of how to be classroom citizens with their friends and peers.  We are teaching and instilling things like respect, humility and gratitude on a daily basis, in addition to the academic lessons we tackle every day.  With the world wide web at our finger tips now, there is a whole new realm of communication that needs to be addressed and not ignored.  I found Ohler’s (2012) comparison of the “two lives” and “one life” approach as a great example of whether bringing technology into the classroom is necessary and important.  Many schools and educators are still of the mindset that social media interaction and any internet access needs to be left for at home use on the student’s own personal time, however, in an ever growing digital society, educators need to look at how they might be able to implement digital technology in the classroom while also taking the opportunity to educate students on how to be good digital citizens.

In addition to the nine elements of digital citizenship, there was a completely different aspect of digital citizenship that I hadn’t even thought of prior to entering into this course, and that is the copyright and legal component.  Learning about and modeling correct copyright laws has helped me better understand the legal aspect of digital citizenship and will help me as I continue to teach my middle school digital photography class.  If I’m being honest, I think that the biggest accomplishment for me in this course was not a specific assignment, but was the active self reflections that I was required to make weekly.  While I’ve gotten in the habit to write thoughts and understandings I’ve taken throughout my courses, what set this course apart was that the self reflections for this course were to be make in APA format.  This forced me to pause and think about where I was getting my information from and how to give the authors of those articles the proper credit they deserved.  Additionally, I took the time to look for other applicable material that I could get information from and share with my audience to fulfill the requirement of adding 5 additional resources on my ePortfolio.

Again, this was a very rewarding and fulfilling course, my only suggestion would be to spread out or even omit some of the smaller, but still time consuming assignments that were included in the weekly submission documents.  Perhaps that was what made this course so challenging, was that there was never one big assignment to turn in every week.  Instead, there were 7-8 smaller, time consuming assignments to complete.  That coupled with family and our daily jobs made the course a little difficult to manage, however, I’m leaving this course having gained much more knowledge and feeling more equipped in teaching digital citizenship to my students.

Digital Citizenship Mantra: Molding A Culture of Responsible Digital Citizens

mantra

Digital Etiquette for a Digital Society : A Scholarly Essay can be found here.

References

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF: Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf)

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society of Technology in Education.

Ribble, M. (2017). Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately.  Retrieved from

http://www.digitalcitizenship.net

Ribble, M. (2017). Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from

http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html

A Personal Reflection & Analyzing Online Learning

What a journey the past 13 months have been.  I’ve spent a great amount of time in the last year focusing on the implementation of my innovation plan in our middle school grade levels, however, for the last 5 weeks, I’ve been able to focus some of that attention into creating a blended, online learning course called, “A Collaborative Digital Storytelling Project”, for my 8th grade photography students.

Storytelling
http://www.thescribo.com/storytelling/

In the process of designing any online course, I’ve come to the conclusion that the constructivist learning theory is one that allows the learner to gain knowledge and form opinions through the engagement between peers, rather than the traditional learning method of memorization.  I’ve given very careful thought to the materials that I have chosen to include in my course, and with the addition of the weekly discussion boards within the course, learners are able to gain knowledge and meaning through personal reflection and the exchange of dialogue between each other.

Fink’s 3 column table method allowed me to essentially plan this course using an backward design approach.  Rather than create this course from beginning to end, using my 3 column table allowed me begin with the end in mind.  In other words, learning goals were established long before the actual course was designed, and in turn, this gave me the opportunity to come up with various learning activities in which the learners could meet those learning goals.

I also found that the Schoology LMS was a great platform for creating this online course.  I love the way I was able to break down my course any way I chose while still keeping the interface fairly simple for my middle school students to use.  One thing that I’ve realized is that, while many learners are more receptive to learning through the use of technology, it is important not to come to the conclusion that students know everything about technology just because we live in a time where it surrounds us in everything we do.  It is still important to guide them, especially when using a system that they are not familiar with.  For this reason, I decided to create a screen cast video for my students to walk them through the basics of logging into Schoology, joining the online course and maneuvering the website/course.  I thought this would be a fairly short 3 minute video or so, however, by the time I hit finish, my video was 11 minutes long!  I contemplated whether it was too long for my students, but after watching it a few times, I think everything that I covered were things they need to know.. and things they might question as they go along.  I figured it was better for me to cover all bases than potentially loose valuable class time over tech issues.  I decided to insert this video in the homepage of my online course.  That way the students can’t miss it, and can go back to it anytime during the course, if they feel the need to.

While I don’t think online learning is replacing face to face instruction in our Pre K-8 school anytime soon, I do realize the importance of giving our students the online learning experience.  We want our students to go on to high school and college, and ultimately into the workforce, feeling confident and experienced with using technology.  By providing our students with these types of experiences, we are giving them valuable life lessons, as well as enhancing the learning experience for them.  I’ve said many times that the inclusion of technology in our teachings must be meaningful, purposeful and must enhance the learning experience for our students.  We simply cannot switch to digital “just because we can”.

While chatting with some of my peers, I’ve also come to know of various different online offerings that are available for both students and educators.  Some of the ones that I’ve been looking at include some FREE online courses through  iTunes U.  I’ve actually known of iTunes U, Apple’s learning and education “university”,  for quite some time, but admit that I haven’t been on and searched it for quite some time.  I was reminded of the incredible amount of free resources that are on there.  I’ve also looked at Canvas, an LMS that I wasn’t aware of at all.  Canvas is another learning management system, similar to Schoology.  I haven’t created an course on Canvas, but am glad to know of other LMS platforms.  Blackboard is another LMS, that I have come to know very well, as this is the LMS that Lamar University uses for all of it’s online courses.  Udemy, Edx and Moodle are other resources I’ve come to know through the discussion with peers.

The main thing that I have taken from this course is that we, the teachers and course developers, are never finished.  As I mentioned to some of my graduate peers this week, one thing that’s been replaying in my mind is that funny, but crazy annoying song we all know from when we were kids, “This is the song that doesn’t end… Yes it goes on and on, my friend..”  This process never ends for us.  There is constant feedback being received and tweaking and enhancements we continue to make for the sake of our students.  Creating an online course is something I have never done prior to this course, and now, I see the potential it has for our school and students.  I’m now thinking of different lessons and professional learning opportunities it has for even our staff!  This graduate course came along at the perfect time, and I’m both excited and thankful for it allowing me to open my eyes to another realm of possibilities!

 

Converting Courses to an LMS Platform

I’ve worked endlessly the last 4 weeks on creating an online course for a fun collaboration project between my 8th Grade photography students and my Betas.  I’ve been SO pleased with the outcome, and I’m ecstatic that my idea for this has been accepted by my department heads.  I’ll be starting this course THIS week in my fine art elective class!

The process of creating this online course has gotten my wheels turning.  I’m beginning to see the potential and the convenience an online course can bring for our students and even teachers and faculty in my school.  I’ve mentioned before that this year, Presbyterian School is focusing on looking at our assessments.  Is the way we are currently assessing our students in the classroom effective?  Are there alternative forms of assessment we should be looking at?  Throughout this year, PLC groups have been meeting monthly to brainstorm, research and present different ways we can be assessing in the classroom.  There’s a mathematical mindset, EC assessment, creative writing and ePortfolio group, just to name a few.  At the end of the school year, once school has let out, there will be a large group, professional learning meeting in which each group will have the opportunity to present their findings to all of the faculty.  I’ve started to think- What if we somehow created an all online PL course in which each of these “assessment groups” have a designated unit in the course so that teachers and faculty can access and complete the course on their own time?  I obviously haven’t worked out all the details yet, but I think it would be great to enter in all of this great information into Schoology, or another LMS and have teachers join the course on their own time, instead of losing valuable time in the classroom.  I think it’s something worth looking into!

Another idea I’ve had recently is to create an online course for middle school students as they prepare to begin creating their own ePortfolios.  I’ve had the opportunity to pilot ePortfolios in my 8th grade fine art elective, however the goal is to have all middle school students in grades 6-8 to have an ePortfolio.  One that they can use to house important artifacts and projects for their school work.  In discussing this with my supervisors, we realize that we do not necessarily want them to use a school template, or to create the ePortfolio through their school email, because we want our students to continue to use the ePortfolios in high school and college.  Trying to teach students how to create and maintain an ePortfolio during normal class time is challenging, because there is so much information to relay, and while I want to cover that information, I cannot afford to loose too much of my class time for ePortfolios and not be able to cover the class information I need to be teaching.  I’ve already said, teaching students about ePortfolios and helping them in creating one is another class entirely, and well, why not create an online course on ePortfolios?  I can break down the course in different units, and post all materials and assignments in Schoology.  I think something like this would be so beneficial for our students, and will not take away valuable class time from teachers.

There are just a couple ideas I’ve had since starting the process of designing an online class.  The possibility are endless!

Designing an Online Course | A Progress Post

I’ve spent the last 3 weeks carefully designing an exciting 5 week online course for my 8th grade photography students.  Last week, I mentioned that I was in the process of carefully selecting which resources I wanted to add into the course for my middle schoolers.  Things like videos, article readings and case studies.  Since then, I’ve uploaded just about everything into Schoology, the LMS platform I decided to go with.  I have all resources, discussion topics and weekly assignments and activities already in the course.  What I’ve focused on this week, is creating a screencast video for my students that will help them login to Schoology, access the course, and maneuver that course.  Schoology is a system that our school has not worked with before, and so I felt the need to help guide my students with a video on how to login in and access all course information.

In addition to the screencast video, I’ve also completed a very detailed outline of what will be covered and what will be expected of students each week.  You may access the full outline here.

It’s been a great experience designing this course so far, and while nearly all of the content has been uploaded, I’m still making some tweaks and minor adjustments here and there.  I know this will such a great collaborative project, one that our school hasn’t quite done before, so I’m excited the see that work and relationships that come out of my students.

Compiling Resources for an Online Course

Last week, I gave some insight on what I’d be up to for the 5 weeks as a part of my grad school course.  As I mentioned before, I am in the process of designing an all online course for my 8th grade photography class on Schoology, in which they will be collaborating with our youngest students, the Betas (3-4 year olds) on a storytelling project.

I’ve spent quite some time designing the framework for this course,week by week, including carefully choosing a variety of resources, including videos, TedTalks, articles, case studies, discussion posts, and assignments.  All of the selected resources and materials have been added in their designated spots within the Schoology LMS.  As this is a collaborative storytelling project using photography, I’ve added one of the videos that will be apart of my course below.  Is Photography Storytelling?

In addition to gathering resources, I’ve carefully planned out a detailed outline that covers about 50% of the course.  I will expand on this outline in the coming weeks and will update it here, but for now, this is what is being planned for this 5 week course.