What are my final reflections on Blended Learning?
Prior to taking this course, I had limited interests in Blended Learning (BL) as I was involved and satisfied with my online teaching. However, just as this course began, I found out that my online teaching assignment will no longer exist next year, and I realized that implementing a BL model in my courses might be a way to get me excited to go back into teaching in the traditional classroom. I could use what I have learned about BL, what I know about teaching f2f and online, and my resources that I have accumulated over the years to develop blenderized Français Langue courses
Holt and Staker mention that it is critical to adopt an innovative mindset to succeed when teaching in a BL model. This should not be a problem for me as I have been working in an educational environment that never fitted a regular mold. Since our students’ needs are not usually met in a traditional school, we have had to be creative to provide them individualized learning plansDeveloping an online French Immersion program also did not meet the normal criteria of how these courses should be delivered. I think that it would be difficult to go back to teaching like I used to do before teaching online. In so many ways, I feel like this is the next step in my professional journey.
However, this does not mean that my courses will be totally blended when I begin teaching next year. As recommended by Holt and Staker, I will take my time and implement BL slowly. It will take time to develop the goals of the BL course, to “understand your students’ jobs to be done, (...) design the right set of student experiences, and (,,,) the right teaching experience to deliver on the goal and the desired student experience” (p284), and finally, to find the right resources, create online material, f2f learning activities, and project-based learning. It will require even time to intertwine the parts to create a comprehensive blended learning Français Langue course. Therefore, “the innovation should happen in phases.” I can see myself creating in the blended format one section in one of my courses, test it, modifying it as needed, and implementing it in the other sections of the course the following year.
I also think that since the students are the recipients in a classroom setting, I would like students to provide feedback on their experience of learning in this different setting. I am excited to develop and teach in a BL model but the ultimate goal for doing this is to “help students become successful lifelong learners.” There are some students interested in learning but usually they are few and far between. To reach all of the other students who are doing the work just to get a diploma, and get them involved in their own learning would be very rewarding for them and I, as a teacher.
This is the model that I would like to follow to create my blended Français Langue courses. I am very excited to be able to know how to go about developing this delivery model which will provide a different learning experience for my students and ultimately, help them realize that learning can be fun and engaging.
Horn, N. B., Staker, H. (2015) Blended: using disruptive innovation to improve schools. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Brand. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/viu/reader.action?docID=10955318
Question: In your present educational/teaching circumstances, what level of problem is most urgent to solve and why? What type of team would you need in order to solve it? Who would you place on the team, and who would lead it?
The question asks for me to focus on my own teaching environment. However, since everything regarding the structure of my school and the future of our French Immersion online program is up in the air right now. I decided to focus on another school that I know a lot about. Both my children have been students there since Kindergarten and I have been volunteering there for the last 10 years.
Six years ago, the school district to which my children’s’ school belongs implemented a one-to-one computer program for all students in grade 4 to 12. However, the technology was added as a tool to help in the classroom, but no goals on why it should be integrated were developed, nor strategy specified as to how to implement it. Christensen (2015) stipulates that “by just introducing technology in the classroom, the disruption is being missed which is required to arrive at a more positive outcome. ” From what I can tell to this day, the technology is mostly used for word processing, doing research online, and working on limited pre-approved computer programs. I cannot blame the school’s teaching staff as they were not informed of the goals of the implementation nor have they received any training on how to properly embed technology in the classroom.
“In his book Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, Larry Cuban reported that across a large sample of school in his study, computer had little or no impact on the way student learned.”
I believe that the school has access to the tools to implement a blended learning model. However, there are many steps that are required for this to happen. In other words, the district or the school would need to take “the necessary steps to change the norm through an intentional transformation” if they want to utilize to a greater extent the technological tools they have at hand.
First, they would need to identify the goals to make the change. In the case of the school, the goals could be to increase students’ success, offer more personalized learning to students, and to enhance the learning experience with the 21st century technology. The next step would be to organize a team that would design, organize and prepare the implementation of the blended learning model within the school.
However, I don’t think that this educational entity is ready to do the jump to blended learning. Therefore, I would like to present to them a project of a smaller scale. With the authorization from the governing body, I would like to assist a few teachers to implement blended learning in one section of their Français Langue courses. This could be used as a pilot project. I like the advice that Tucker (2013) gave in her article called: “Think big but start small”.
In order to run this pilot project, a lightweight team would be required. It would composed of two Français Langue teachers, a course developer, someone from the district’s technology department and someone in a leadership position. I would like to recruit one Français Langue teacher from my children’s school and another one in the district as content specialist. An administrator at the school level or at the district level would provide an administrative point of view. The computer technician would help with programs’ implementation The course developer would be me as I have experience developing courses and program for online learning. I would also be the one leading the project as I have a good knowledge of what blended learning is and I have an idea of what this model should look like in a Français Langue course.
At the end of this pilot project, data would be collected to see if teaching a Français Langue course in a blended learning environment has an effect on students’ success, an increase on personalized learning, and an improvement in students’ ability to use 21st century technology. A summary of the course would be prepared to present to the teaching staff and the governing body in hope to advocate for more blended learning courses to be developed and offered within the district. If more teachers are interested in this innovative model, either other lightweight teams or a heavyweight team would need to be created. This disruptive change within an establishment would require professional development and some funds to help with the transition. In consequence of this disruption, the technology would become more integrated in the teaching and learning which would be nice to see.
Up to today, I have taught in face-to-face and online environment. However, as I learn about blended learning and look how I could make changes within an educational environment, I am drawn towards this innovative model of teaching. Since I might not be teaching at my current online school next year, the idea of launching a blended pilot project in Français Langue courses is very appealing to me. I guess time will tell.
Christensen, Clayton. (2015). Blended: using disruptive innovation to improve schools. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Brand.
Tucker, C. (March 2013). The basic of blended instruction. Retrieved November 22, 2016 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/The-Basics-of-Blended-Instruction.aspx
Focus Question: If you could go back in time and design your own learning environment what would you create for yourself? Knowing what you know about education today.
Growing up in a rural French community in Quebec, I did not get much exposure to the English language. In school, we studied English as a second language where we learned basic conversations, grammar conjugation and how to write proper sentences. With Bill 63, 22 and 101, which were created to protect the French language in Quebec and as I lived in a remote area, I had no option of enrolling in an English Immersion program. This did not seem to be a problem until I began my Psychology degree at a Quebec French university. Every time I did research, most of the references found were in English which I did not understand. That was frustrating to say the least. To solve this problem, I decided to immerse myself in the language by moving to Vancouver and eventually, by enrolling in an English university. However, learning a language while learning university course content did not turn out to be the ideal. I immersed myself in the language which allowed me to develop reading, listening and speaking skills but I always needed someone to proofread my writing since I never learned the grammar rules of the language. To this day, I don’t feel confident in what I write in English. From my own learning journey, I recognize the importance of being in contact with the language in an authentic way but I also know that a learner needs to acquire knowledge on how the language works and to practice in a controled environment such as a classroom in order to be able to feel confident about his overall skills.
When I was in high school, it was already “recognized that an important relationship (existed) between experience and learning” (Knutson. 2003. p. 52). However, there was not much experimentation available in what was offered in my English classes. No one around spoke English and there was no internet nor technology to support the learning and to make it more interesting and authentic. These days, there is such a variety of online tools available online to assist with the learning. One student in my OLTD program learn Italian by using free web applications. She used Duolingo and Memrise to learn the basic of the language, to manipulate it, and to practice her skills. She also supplemented with News in Slow Italian. After three weeks, she was able to carry basic conversations in Italian with someone fluent in the language. Her progress tells me that someone can use online tools to learn the language basics, to manipulate and speak it, as well as to listen to it. I have to say that it would have been nice to have had access to such tools instead of having to do: grammar drills, activities of “repeat after me”, dialogue practice with another classmate who did not know more than me and listening activities from tapes played in the front of the class by the teacher. I would have liked to have had access to the application mentioned above but also, the teacher could have used French resources such as the 7 jours sur la planète de TV5 which offers videos and listening comprehension exercises for beginner to advanced learners. So, back in my English high school classes, I would have like to have lessons taught by the teacher, to familiarize myself on how to converse using online activities, to manipulate the language using web applications, to practice dialogues with classmates,to watch authentic videos on cultural aspects, and to assess my own understanding and learning. I believe that acquiring a second language requires some individual work as well as interactions with others while using the language.
My past experience in learning a second language has taught me that being immersed in a language is the best way to increase someone’s fluidity. However, I also learned the importance of knowing the syntax and structure of the language in order to be able to manipulate it correctly. This is why if I was taking a high school English Immersion course, I would listen to the teacher speak in class, watch movies, tv shows, and anything of interest available online, learn the grammar rules taught by the teacher and use the applications recommended to practice them. As for developing my oral skills, I would converse within a group in class but I would also use an online application to record my voice to practice. I could try to meet French speaking student my age in social media. If I was unsure how to pronounce a word, I would search it in an online dictionary as most of them include a dictation of it. Compared to a lot of high school students in French Immersion classes where they speak French only when the teacher can hear them, I would own my learning and not be dependent of what my teacher requires me to do. I think that if I would have graduated from such a high school English Immersion program, I would have the choice to attend a French, bilingual or English university and would also be able to read and understand what I find while doing research.
Basically, if I knew what I know now and if I had access to what is available online these days, my knowledge of the English language and my skills of using it would definitely be at a higher level. I would not doubt of my abilities and feel like I have to get someone to proofread what I write.
Behiels, M. D., Hudon, R. (July 31, 2013)Bill 101 (Charte de la langue française). Historica Canada. Retrieved Nov 4, 2016 from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/bill-101/
Crema, S. (June, 2016) Learning project summary. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2016 from http://screma.edu.glogster.com/learning-project-summary
Knutson, S. (Spring, 2003). Experiential Learning in Second-Language. TESL Canada Journal, 20(2). 52-64.
Reflections on LMS and non-LMS
How can Learning Management Systems (LMS and/or Non-LMS) help me develop courses where students learn in the best way for them (teacher-structured/personalized), while providing me with the tools I require for efficient and efficacious presentation, moderation, support, and assessment (for, as, and of learning)?
The evidence that I have chosen to show my learning in OLTD 504 is composed of two different assignments. My first piece is the unit teaching “Introduction to Photography” that I created in Moodle. My second one is my list of non-LMS tools that I assemble together. These two assignments demonstrate how Learning Management Systems (LMS and/or Non-LMS) help me develop courses where students learn in the best way for them (teacher-structured/personalized) while providing me with the tools I require for efficient and efficacious presentation, moderation, support, and assessment (for, as, and of learning).
As an online teacher, I have used two different LMS, such as Blackboard and D2L. I find that the purpose of an LMS is for presenting and organizing course content, delivering the material to enrolled students, managing submitted assignments, providing easy access to marking and holding the students’ grades. It almost seems more like an organizational tool than a tool to enhance learning. However, I believe that the way the course material is delivered in the LMS and the creation of a sense of belonging to a community within the course are what make learning engaging and meaningful. Some might think that an LMS does not provide much flexibility to offer choices for students to demonstrate their learning but with some creativity like having a few different sections of the same course with different options of assignments, it is possible to challenge the students through what interests them. A LMS is a tool and I believe that it is how the tool is used that determines if it beneficial for the student’s learning or not. When I began creating a French Immersion (FI) program online, I was told that it would not possible to engage students orally in an online setting. However, I have proven that it is possible. Over the years, I have created different types of oral assignments including a forum to promote a sense of classroom community in the LMS and I have noticed that as students move along in their courses, they begin to take ownership of the oral French and are more motivated to speak it.
Another reason why I prefer using an LMS is that it helps with organization. As a teacher who has many online classes and with several students in each of them, using a LMS keeps me sane. Everything is held in one place. I cannot imagine having to go to different sites to assess my students’ learning. Ideally, there would be an LMS that would allow embedding of different non-LMS tools which would make learning even more engaging. One drawback that I have against using an LMS is that the course content is contained within the LMS and every time, the LMS is changed, an enormous amount of valuable teaching time is lost to move the course content and to adjust the delivery of the material to still make it engaging and motivating for the students.
After going from Blackboard to D2L two years ago, my school is now contemplating a move to Moodle so I thought that I would experiment with this LMS to see if it was worth the time and energy. In Moodle, I created a unit on a “Introduction to Photography” with the course material provided by the instructor, Avi Luxemburg. Compared to the previous LMS’s that I have used, Moodle offers a variety of activities that I was not accustomed to such as the lesson, the survey, and a workshop for peer-assessment. As a teacher, I found that the settings offered more flexibility on where the students could go depending on if they had mastered the content of an activity or not. This option provides a way to individualize the progress of the student within the course. This experience of using Moodle allowed me to see how I could make my own courses even more engaging as long as my school would also get the extension for the oral recording to be embedded in the LMS.
As I have noted, I like using LMS so when I was faced to create a list of non-LMS tools that would fulfill the same tasks, I was skeptical. However, I decided to give myself a challenge. Besides working in an online school in a district that uses GAFE, I am also involved in another school district that has a policy of using educational online tools that are compliant with FIPPA. So, I decided to create two different lists that would provide tools to fulfill the functions of file and content sharing, building community, providing opportunities for collaboration and communication, assessing and reporting as well as a place for an e-Portfolio and gradebook.
Now, that I have search a variety of tools either FIPPA compliant or not, it has given me ideas on how I could use some of them to enhance the learning of my students. I am looking forward to the time when an LMS will allow other tools to be embedded within them which will eliminate the limitations that some teachers experience. This should heighten the students’ engagement and motivation in their online course by providing them different experiences while acquiring skills and knowledge.
Reflections on Screencasting
· Be familiar with common terms, definitions and elements related to Learning Management Systems (LMS) and non-LMS environments.
· Demonstrate basic competency with design and implementation within a variety of LMS and non-LMS environments and tools
The evidence that I have chosen for demonstrating my proficiency in regards to the learning outcomes mentioned above are my screencasts explaining how to build a lesson in Moodle. Compared to the spontaneous screencast that I created in OLTD 503 (to introduce myself and different parts of my French Immersion courses), the screencasts for OLTD 504 required to familiarize myself as how to properly use the Screencast-o-Matic tool, a thorough understanding of how to build a lesson in Moodle and more preparation.
Although, I had used the Screencast-o-Matic tool before to create videos for my courses in D2L, I realized that the first step was to learn how to create a lesson in Moodle. I have used other LMS’s before but it was my first trial at Moodle. Because Moodle is quite intuitive and since there are so many tutorial videos available online, I assumed that I would be able to create my screencast very quickly. However, it was easier said than done. Since I was not using my own course content to build my lesson, I initially had to become familiar with the course material. I also had to keep in mind how I was going to use the content to create an entire unit that would include a homepage, a quiz, my lesson, an online discussion, an assignment, a gradebook, and a calendar, all in Moodle. It took me a while to decide which part of the content would be used for which activity in my unit but I managed to figure it out. When all the designing was complete, I thought that I was finally ready to record my screencast. Once again, I hit a roadblock. There were far too many details to remember, I had to write a script for my recording so that I did not forget any important steps of the setting and building of the lesson in Moodle. There was so much information to share that It would be best to create shorter videos instead of one very long video. When the scripts for each of the videos were prepared, I thought that I would be ready to begin recording; however, I encountered another roadblock. I realized that reading out loud in English was taking me out of my comfort zone. I was so nervous to have people listening to me read that it distracted me from all the other aspects of recording the screencast such as framing my screen properly and opening new windows at the right time. Over time and with practice, I gained confidence in reading abilities and I felt almost as comfortable as when I did my spontaneous video. There are still some technical aspects of screencasting that I need to learn about, but I know that the outcome of future screencasts will get better with practice just like my reading did.
I really enjoyed doing this assignment as it provided me the opportunity to work in Moodle for the first time. From my experience using Blackboard and D2L at my school, I found that Moodle was quite easy to use. It seems like most of the common LMS’s used in education allow teachers to present information, build assessments and discussion boards and to store grades. However, Moodle also appears to have other activities available such as a survey that can be used for receiving feedback from the students on the course, a glossary, and a workshop which can be used for peer-assessment. I like that the teacher can scaffold and guide the student’s learning instead of letting the student go from one assignment to the other. I also enjoyed working on course content that I was not familiar with. As usual, every time that a teacher uses another teacher’s material, he needs to adapt it to what suits him. I was thinking of how I would adapt this course to use it in my French Immersion program. I would have to have the option of recording within Moodle which would allow me to set up the forum to be done orally. Furthermore, every time a student would submit pictures for practical assignments in photography, I would require the student to explain orally the background story of the picture.
The recording of my screencasts to teach how to create a lesson in Moodle was a valuable experience as it provided me some practical experience with a new to me LMS and help develop some skills that I will be able to use in the future. I definitely feel more comfortable recording myself teach something in English.
Here is a video introducing myself. http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cDnX1whSoH
It took me a few trials to make sure that I was looking at the camera. I think it is important to do that since no one wants to watch someone who is looking down at them. When you are in a f2f situation and you want to make a personal connection with the person in front of you, you look at them in the eyes. So, I think that in a video, you also need to do that. I imagined that the camera was my audience and it made it easier. For the rest of the recording, I knew what I wanted to say so I just record it without any major glitches. I probably made some grammatical errors but I also do it in person so it should not be different in a recording. A video introducing yourself should be real and not fake, so perfection is not required.
One interesting thing that happened during the recording of my video is that I had my hands on my lap which is really unusual for me. Anyone, who knows me, knows that I speak with my hands. It is a French Canadian thing (I think). I guess, I was trying to make sure that my hands did not show up on the camera and distract the audience.
Overall, I enjoyed creating this video and I am going to do one for my online courses to open another communication avenue with my students.
For this assignment, we were to try a new communication tool with a partner and reflect on it. Irwin and I decided to try Google Hangouts as neither one of us had used it before. Irwin had some difficulties to get it going on his laptop but the app worked fine on our iPads. During our video conversation, we both found that the image was sometimes freezing and lagging. Another reason why I would not use Google Hangouts is the fact that it does not allow you to share your computer screen with others. This is an important feature in my role as an online teacher as I can write on my screen and share it for my students to see. I have found that the best communication tool for video conferencing and screen sharing is Skype. It is also possible to record the conversation by using MP3 Skype Recorder if needed. I am glad that I tried Google Hangouts as now I know that Skype is the best communication tool for my needs.