Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Educational Uses for Augmented/Virtual Reality

After Bill and Logan's extensive presentation on a variety of tools that are available in this field for educational purposes.  As of now I feel these are mostly prevalent within the science, with the capabilities to incorporate writing skills into them.  With some of the tools that they demonstrated I really like the Augmented Reality ideas and I can see a quick and fairly smooth transition to these type of tools.

Rochelle discussed in our breakout room about how she uses Aurasma within her library as a tool for her students to be incorporating technology into their daily lives.  Her students complete a review of a book they enjoyed and then submit it to her.  Rochelle then takes a picture and adds it to her WSHlibrary and adds an Aurasma sticker to the book.  This allows her students to know which books have had reviews and they can see what their peers opinions of the books are.

Within our chat during our last class someone said they could see augmented reality be put to good use when geocaching.  I really liked this idea as when I go geocaching I always try to hit up as many of the key spots in our downtown tour to give the students more information about the heritage of many of these sites.  I would love to create an Aurasma account and add another layer to the educational experience to this outdoor ed field trip provided by Regina Public Schools Outdoor Ed team.

In terms of what VR tools are out there for school I found that Immersive Education had some great ideas and tools for how you can incorporate this into your science classes.  I would love to get some Google Cardboard head sets and find a way to utilize tools like these for my classroom.  I can imagine the students would love to use these.  I could even see us finding innovative ways to utilize these tools within a PAA class or two.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

My Experience with Teaching a Visually Impaired Student

I appreciated this weeks class on AT.  I feel that Heidi, Holly, Allison, Launel, and Benita did a great job on explaining the variety and the importance of these tools for not only specific situations but also the role they play in an everyday classroom.

In my short time as a teacher I have had the opportunity to work with a minimal amount of assistive technology.  I have taught a student who was legally blind and needed visual assistance.  The student was new to the city, and our division.  It was only my second or third year teaching.  Through my board office, school counselor, TA/EA's, consultants,my administration, the child's parent and myself we all worked together to ensure we were accommodating his needs and providing the best educational experience he could receive within our division.  

One of my main contacts for assistance in learning how to use the technology and developing lessons that were more visually impaired friendly was Dwila Nixon.  She is an invaluable resource within the Regina Public Schools Division in her specialized field of working with visually impaired students.  

The process for gaining access to the resources were difficult.  We needed an Ophthalmologist report to determine the level of support that the board would grant.  This was hard to obtain due to the lack of the physical report on the parents end because of a rushed move from their previous residence outside of the province.  So the parent needed to have a Saskatchewan Ophthalmologist take a look and do a report for the child.  While we waited on the report the Program for Students with Visual Impairments (PSVI) program ran out of Arcola Community School got us set up with a software program called ZOOM, which enabled us to have the student work on a laptop.

We also utilized a CCTV (page enlarger), which was bulky and sat at the back of our room.  This provided my student the opportunity to choose a book from the library and read it during our DEAR time.  This tool was not used often, I believe it was because he felt awkward using something "different" than the other students, and it also set off a loud hum when it was on, causing it to draw more attention than it needed.

Dwila has sent me some more sources that they are utilized when assisting those with Visual Impairments.  Here is an article on Assistive Technology forStudents who are Blind or have Low Vision by Jaroslaw Wiazowski.  The article goes through how to identify problems, what some possible solutions may be, and a variety of tools that can support.  It discusses the importance of environment, tasks that can help both at home and in the learning space, and a scale of increasing tools that coincide with the decreasing visual ability.

Adaptations Chart: Jaroslaw Wiazowski

The next source of information that Dwila sent me was to a site that discussed 21 Chrome Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs.  The top of their list was Google Read & Write, but throughout it it gave a variety of other tools that could be very useful for a variety of students as well.  I found similarities with some, such as the BeeLine Reader, which removes all the adds from a webpage and focuses the text for the students. The reason I like this is because if at home you do not use Chrome, or Google Apps you still have the ability to utilize some of the main functions of Google Read and Write.  I really do suggest checking out the Chrome extension article, especially if you do not have full access to Chrome books, or GAFE within your division, school, or home.

Finally the last site that I was sent to was a site that laid out an extensive overview of the variety of devices that are available for visually impaired people.  Teaching Students with Visual Impairments is a very overwhelming site as it has so many options to go through, but simply the home page is enough you help give an understanding at the breadth of tools available to make your classroom more accessible and higher functioning for people with visual impairments.  I really like the section "Overview of Assertive Technology".  This page gives a nice summary of what the main options for tools are and the inherit point of each type of device.

Overall I found that teaching a student who needed to utilize some AT only made me a better teacher.  The skills and techniques I had to employ to ensure my visually impaired student was understanding the concepts, and my lessons forced me to be more clear, concise and lay out my lessons plans in a very organized manner so that he would be able to revert back and understand what each lesson was about.  When doing these things not only did I help that one student but I had improved my teaching for all my students.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

New Assessment Tools

Photo Credit: Nicole Reeve
Over the course of the last couple of years I have been involved in a couple of ed tech classes and have had the opportunity to use a variety of assessment tools within my classroom. My students love the variety of tools that I have played around with. Kahoot is probably the students favorite, and it is great for a quick summative assessment tool to see where students are in the learning process. Similar to Kahoot is Plickers. I tried a couple of years ago to incorporate Plickers into my classroom, but the way I have my classes I found managing the 120 students I see daily difficult. This is a tool I would like to retry eventually because the students like the instant and interactive feedback they get from this tool. In regards to portfolio tools like See-Saw or a blogging tool such as Blogger, or Wordpress I have not incorporated either of these into my daily repertoire like Erin has, basically because of the setting I am in. In my school we have a pod of 4 teachers that co-plan and teach our ELA/Math and split our curriculum subjects (Science, Social, Health, Career and Phys Ed, with prep coverage for French and Arts Ed). So because we would all have to be on board with developing a portfolio tool or a blogging site I have not pushed to get us there yet. I have been working on my pod to incorporate GAFE within our classes.

Since GAFE has been my focus specifically in the last 8-10 months this is what I will break down in how I use it as an assessment tool. While this week has been a little hectic in my world... Between PD day, Remembrance Day, and a variety of interruptions in my regular daily schedule I was unable to attempt using a "new" assessment tool. I utilize GAFE often, most specifically Classroom, Drive, and Docs. I want to attempt incorporating Google Forms as a new assessment tool, mostly for a formative use to quickly gauge where my students are, but due to my busy week I am going to explain how I use Google Docs as a formative and summative assessment tool.

If anyone is interested this is the video I am using to help me develop my understanding of Google Forms

I use Google Docs mainly because of the accountability piece. It forces students to be organized so the don't "lose" their assignments. I also like it for the flexible learning opportunities that come with it. Google Docs allows my students to do their work outside of the regular classroom because of a variety of reasons: sports, dance, cultural, anxiety, etc. Another reason I appreciate using Google Docs is because of the interactivity piece to it. It allows me to interact with the students throughout the assignment to ensure students are on task and following instructions.

The major challenges that I came across when setting up have been varied; some have been physical limitations, bandwidth, enough technology for all students to be active, speed of technology to be effective, other challenges have been learning how to attach, connect, and use the tools properly. There are times where students are working on a word document that is not connected, or they have created their own document and not attached it to the specified assignment, so I am unable to check in on them and give them instant feedback.

Once the procedures have been put in place and the students understand how to create a document, link it properly and work within the GAFE network, the students have had mostly positive things to say about using Google Docs. Their accountability has increased and I am receiving more assignments on time than I have, the ownership piece when students have not completed the assignments is much more specific and they are typically on top of their assignments and have reasons for being unable to complete, along with parent contact explaining the reasons. I am not saying there are not "reasons"/excuses still occurring for incomplete work, but the amount of the "reasons" has decreased dramatically, and when students have not completed the work, they own up to it, typically before the class has even began. I take that as a win in the overall development of a student, and attribute it to the accountability piece that GAFE brings my classroom.

In terms of how I use the Docs as an assessment tool, I attempt to leave a comment in every students work for each assignment of merit (assignments that require thought, process, and development, not simple question and answer assignments). Within the assignments that are inquiry based, or longer writing pieces, students have the opportunity to work on, view my comments, make changes and develop their writing process more effectively. I also encourage my students to use the link option to show where they are receiving their information from so they can demonstrate how they are synthesizing their information. As we work together on their assignments through back and forth check ins and the student editing, changing, or adding to them, the work is developed to a higher quality than they have done in the past.

The interactivity of Docs allows me to see my students assignments faster than I would if I took the work in at the end of the class, viewed them over my prep, lunch or after school, then hand them back the next day to work on. I am able to leave comments while the students are working, or over my prep, lunch, or outside of school hours and that gives the students more time and opportunity to be working on their assignments on their own schedule. The negatives to using Docs is when other classes want to be using the physical technology of the laptops/iPad's we have at our disposal within our school. We have a 1:3 ratio of technology to students, and while that is a decent ratio, with a large portion of our teachers wanting to incorporate technology into their daily teaching it makes it difficult to ensure all students have a device at every time during the day. I am lucky to teach in an area where a variety of students have a device, but many times their "device" is an iPod or iPhone where working on a Google Doc is difficult. The occasionally students who are away for illness or any other reason, do not complete the assignments because they still have the attitude that since they were not in class they should not have to complete the assignment. I do work with pre-teens and early teenagers who sometimes have a difficulty understanding that their world is not exclusive to their needs.

As for how I use the Google Docs as a summative/formative assessment tool... Well as you can see I definitely use it as a formative teaching tool in how I interact with the students through the learning process, but at the same time the students do a lot of question answer, or exit notes, and other summative assessments through this as well. If I am doing a summative assessment I typically will have the students print off and "Turn In" their assignments so I can evaluate with a hard copy in front of me, and if I misplace a students work I am able to reprint to ensure each student has their piece evaluated.

Overall I feel that I am using Google Docs effectively and incorporating a variety of modes of communication to ensure my students are on the right track and gaining a breadth of knowledge through using technology as a tool for their independent learning.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

To Web 3.0 and Beyond!

How far have we come and where are we going?

When we began ECI 833 we started off discussing topics from the earliest era's of Plato, Socrates, and other early education theorists, then we moved into the major educational technologies such as having pictures beside the words in books, then came the printing press and how that changed the way education was taught for centuries. As we look at the last century we are focusing on the drastic changes in education. The concept of curriculum, and ways of teaching has changed more in the last 100 years than it had in the centuries/millennia prior. We moved from the radio, to tv, to Web 1.0, 2.0 and are now entering Web 3.0 in our lifetimes.

What impacts does the shift to Web 3.0 have?

Web 3.0 is the personalized, interactive and networked information that is based upon relevant information in terms of the participants needs. When looking at how we have come from Web 1.0 to this I find that this is improving the education system.  When I was young and in school I had access to Web 1.0 and the resources and concepts that I learned from utilizing those tools were not very different than me finding a resource in a card uncatalogued within a library, then reading, referencing and regurgitating the information back to my teacher in a formal looking report, essay, or other bland assignment that I despised doing, and barely remember the facts of.  

As I entered into University for my undergrad, Web 2.0 was taking off and the learning opportunities were beginning to expand.  School was not just taking place in the building, but online (while being responsive), either in real time or through chat rooms, or LMS (Learning Management Systems) such as MOODLE or eventually URcourses at the University of Regina.  In the Gerstein article she says:

"Web 2.0 also saw the development of social media which permits users to communicate directly with one another both synchronously and asynchronously."

I was able to take classes that better fit my schedule as a student athlete because I didn't have to be within the building at a specific time, as long as I managed my time accordingly I could take a class or two on my own schedule.  

As I began my masters program Web 2.0 is in full force.  So far all of my classes have had some form of component through an LMS or has been in the form of a distance learning/real time networked class that developed my personal learning network (PLN) to improve my learning opportunities.  This PLN I believe is what the next level or Web 3.0 is going to have a huge influence on.

To be learning effectively in a Web 3.0 world I believe you will need a strong PLN to help you be connected, a creator and a constructor.  Which is what Jackie Gerstein describes as the needs for a Web 3.0 learner.  What does that look like?

Who is privileged/disadvantaged with Web 3.0?

With this question I refer to Gerstein's last sentence of her article,

"Teachers became teachers to teach students, first and foremost. The learner needs to be central to all teaching endeavors."

With that being our guide or code as educators I feel that we need to make sure whatever we do, whether we continue to utilize Web 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 concepts it must be in the best interest of the students.  That being said there were some great comments from our #eci833chat last night.
Some of the responses to this were awesome.

Twitter: Erin 
Twitter: Andrew

Twitter: Amy

Twitter: Sharon

As with anything controversial there are varying sides.  For myself I will situate myself within my classroom in the community I teach.  I am fortunate to work in a very affluent community and I have the opportunity to use tech daily, the students are able to BYOD, so with that being my reality my students are very privileged and are learning quickly and becoming more capable with each tool I am sharing with them.  As of right now we are working at the high end of Web 2.0 and I am hoping that by the end of the year I will be transferring them into a 3.0 mentality.  

Certainly the disadvantaged in society are the lower socioeconomic status groups, those who do not have the access to appropriate bandwidth, or other infrastructure needed to sustain a Web 3.0 learning environment, or those who have other barriers in their lives.

What are some things you are doing with your class? Personal or professionally to move into the Web 3.0 world?