Reflections

Its nearing the end of the semester so EDC3100 is drawing to a close. I just posted my assignment. Boy that was a lot of work. Prac came and went quickly but was not at all stressful as I have been teaching for nearly 5 years now. I hope the pre-service teachers are going well as most of them are on prac now. EDC3100 has been an extremely productive unit for me. I’ve tried so many things online that I was too afraid to even attempt before doing this unit. I’ve really found that using new online tools is like ripping off a bandaid – sometimes its painful (just joking………kind of) but the best way to work it out is to just go for it and work out the problems as they come up. I got quicker and quicker at working out new things online and am not afraid to try anymore. I’ve really come to appreciate the advantages of integrating ICTs into education.

This was my last unit for the completion of my degree, so to anybody reading this, all the best for the future. I hope you enjoy and are successful in your studies and career.

Kindest regards,

Scott.

Digital Signature

I created my digital signature yesterday. What is a digital signature? Its a way to sign digital documents like PDFs in a digital fashion that is a very secure way to sign and is an acceptable way to sign legal documents.  I’ve been trying to work out how to  do this for some time now and have watched a few confusing youtube clips that haven’t helped much. What I’ve been doing up until now is print the document, sign it with pen, scan it and then send it on. This is a bit of a chore, and the finished document is of lesser quality due to the scanning process. I found out that a colleague of mine posted a clip on youtube about a year ago that is very easy to follow.  I wrote my signature on a piece of paper then scanned it. I then went in to Adobe Acrobat and used my own scanned signature to create my digital signature. Now I can attach this digital signature that is password protected to a document that includes all my details; where I work; my position etc and the date of the signing. It only took a few minutes.

B. F. Skinner and Behaviourism

I was reading an interesting blog by Peter Brabyn where he talks about B. F. Skinner and Behaviorism. During the latter part of the EDC3100, there has been a lot of talk about the advantages of using positive reinforcement with students over negative reinforcement or punitive methods. I have been teaching for several years and have been using this to my advantage for some time now. I have found that it is far more productive to teach students when I am considered a friend rather than foe. I find that students just switch off and become resentful when they are spoken down to or treated like naughty children. Its refreshing to find that this approach is now being encouraged and that I have been on the right track at least in this area. I remember not-to-fondly that this was not the way it was done as I was growing up.

Peter also pointed out that even though we are not aware of it, we all use positive reinforcement and that it good for us to recognize this and try to choose positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement. I wholeheartedly agree with this.

 

Practical Physics

I came across a really great website when reading a blog from a fellow student; Scott Tibaldi. It contains several experiments for students aged 11 – 19. These include among others; simple electric circuits; problem circuits; experiments with switches; circuits from circuit diagrams; using ammeters; investigating the current around a circuit; water circuit; and learning to use voltmeters. These could be used during the single electric circuits unit that I deliver and possibly the batteries unit as well. It could also be used to give to students as reinforcement as homework or as a way to challenge students that want more. There is also tons of other cool stuff that I think many of my students will enjoy as much as me.

Edison

A program that is new to me that I love is called Edison. I teach motorcycle apprentices and one the units that I deliver is Single Electric Circuits. It can be difficult for students to get their head around and not just a little bit dangerous if done incorrectly. I read in a blog by Scott Tibaldi that he uses a program called Edison that allows students to build circuits virtually that eliminates danger and allows for safe experimentation. I downloaded the free version of program that my students will also be able to and will be using it quite extensively with the delivery of this unit. I won’t do away with the practical component altogether, but will use this for learning the fundamentals and for constructing and testing circuits before making the real thing. Edison also provides equations like Ohms law and Watts law that we use in this unit. Trully a great find. Thanks Scott.

instaGrok

instaGrok is an amazing tool that I found out about when looking at a blog by Katie Reed. All you need to do is type a work into instaGrok and it comes up with a 3D mindmap called a Grok full of information, web sites, facts, videos, images etc. It can be personalised by pinning information to it and can be shared. There is a teacher control panel so the teacher can keep track of what students are up to. Looks like a really fun tool that I will be exploring in the future. Thanks Katie.

Here is a short video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOkOnWnAX8o&feature=player_embedded

Abundance of short videos

I was reading a blog by Peter Brabyn in which he shares what he has learned from another of our fellow students. He lists a summary of points that he has picked up from her post:

  1. the delivery of  information in video format is a brilliant way to go
  2. there is no end to the number of great video’s available online
  3. I will probably not need to produce video so long as someone else has done it before me
  4. Other people have better video creation skills than me
  5. With the right presentation comes the right message.

I have not viewed her blog but totally agree with Peter’s. There is an abundance of short videos on the internet that we all have free access to that can help with the delivery of our programs. At my TAFE, there is a push for us to create our own videos, but I don’t see the point of this when so many before me have created great presentations that get the message across and my students don’t have to listen to only me all day. I don’t think we should download enough videos to create a lesson in which we don’t need to prepare or give our own presentation, but a short video can serve as an effective tool that keeps a student’s attention and also give them another point of view. Sometimes the videos present a point graphically in such a way that a student will remember it. I think its an effective tool if used appropriately.

Scott.

Google Forms

I only heard about Google Forms a couple of weeks ago and have only started researching it now.

Google forms is an ICT that could be used extremely effectively for assessment. It is incredibly intuitive as are most of the Google products and would not require a great amount of time to create an effective and aesthetically pleasing assessment. It can be used to create a tick the box assessment or a written response assessment. Users can even make changes to the form to give feedback or ask questions.

Once the form or assessment has been created which should only take a few minutes, it can be shared through social media or emailed directly to the recipient.

The responses to the form or assessment can be viewed directly from the form, sent to a Google spreadsheet or viewed as a summary of responses that can be displayed numerically or graphically.

In my context (which is VET), I could create an assessment, email it to my student’s TAFE email address and then mark it when it is returned to me. I could look at the summary of responses as part of my reflection of my own pedagogy.

My only concern is that it may not meet our audit requirements for assessment as Google is not our central assessment environment, but a way around this would be to print the responses and staple an assessment cover sheet to it (or even include that in the form) and then place that in the student’s file.

A really good description of Google Forms can be found here and a great video (also found on the site) can be viewed here.

A fellow student named Jennifer Walsh created this mock Google form and posted it in the forum.

 

Universal Design in Education (UDE)

Burgstahler (2012) explains here that the term Universal Design was coined by architect Ronald Mace who challenged the conventional approach to design which only considered the average user and provided his own approach for more usable and accessible products and environments that would cater for minorities. A group of architects, designer, engineers and environmental design researchers established seven principles for universal design of environments and products. They are as follows:

  • Equitable use
  • Flexibility in use
  • Simple and intuitive use
  • Perceptible information
  • Tolerance for error
  • Low physical effort
  • Size and space for approach and use
Universal Design has been applied to Educational products:
  • Computers
  • Websites
  • Software
  • Textbooks
  • Lab equipment

It has also been applied to educational environments:

  • Dormitories
  • Classrooms
  • Student union buildings
  • Libraries
  • Distance learning courses

Universal Design in Education is applied not as accommodation for a specific person with a disability but as an accommodation for all, regardless of whether they need disability support or not.

Universal Design of Information Technology

ICT has the potential to level the playing field for education and career attainment between members of the majority and individuals who have disabilities or are from other minority groups. The following is a list of design guidelines for the development of software and ICT products:

  • Ouput and Displays
  • Input and Controls
  • Manipulations
  • Documentation
  • Safety

Universal Design of Instruction

In 1997, a group of researchers and product developers during a pecial project funded by the U.S. Department of Education recommended the following for curriculum developers and teachers:

 

  1. Provide all text in digital format.
  2. Provide captions for all audio.
  3. Provide educationally relevant descriptions for images and graphical layouts.
  4. Provide captions and educationally relevant descriptions for video.
  5. Provide cognitive supports for content and activities:
    • Summarize big ideas.
    • Provide scaffolding for learning and generalization.
    • Build fluency through practice.
    • Provide assessments for background knowledge.
    • Include explicit strategies to make clear the goals and methods of instruction.

References:

Bergltahler, S. (2012). Universal Design in Education: Principles and Applications. Retrieved from http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Academics/ud_edu.html

 

PLNs

I think that at this stage of the course, its time to consider the future beyond this course. We should have established our PLN and be receiving regular feeds through our RSS feed readers. Those of us that are using Google Reader should be thinking about merging our feeds to another reader so that we don’t lose our feeds when Google Reader Retires in July. We should also also be keeping contact with the people who’s blogs we are following. We should also be keeping an eye on Diigo as fellow students continue to add to it and try to remember to continue bookmarking sites on it as well to keep the PLN alive. I hope that everyone is realizing the importance of being part of a PLN to continue to share new findings, advancement in technology and fresh ideas.