Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reflections on Deeper Learning

The Deeper Learning MOOC has helped me improve as an educator.    The concept of deeper learning has given me a new and improved perspective on teaching and learning. Deeper Learning in students is characterized by:
  • mastering academic content
  • being able to think critically and problem solve
  • collaborate
  • effectively communicate
  • self directed learning
  • possessing an academic mindset
The resources provided through DLMOOC helped me reflect and think about how I can lead my students into deeper learning. The following are links to Storifies I created on the weekly topics of DLMOOC. 
I am working to use the consultancy protocol used in DLMOOC for reviewing and improving students’ work. I have begun to share the protocol and the concept of deeper learning with teachers in my building.   I feel the consultancy process will help identify opportunities to improve projects and help students reach deeper learning.

The DLMOOC was my first MOOC. I feel it was an awesome professional development opportunity. I would recommend this MOOC for teachers who want to improve their practices. I was able to communicate and exchange ideas, and I expanded my personal learning network. It was a great learning experience! I am looking forward to the next one.

Copyright, Fair Use, and the Public Domain

Copyright is a difficult concept for students of all ages to understand. Copyright law states you must give credit when credit is due.  The Internet has made access to information and digital media easy.  The Internet has provided authors and creators an inexpensive and free way to publish. Creators of digital media can easily publish their work online, and share it with the world.  The Internet is growing and expanding constantly. Similarly, today's technology and software allows us to embed information and multimedia objects created by others with a few simple clicks.  Laws are in place to protect the authors and creators that are publishing their work to the Internet.  These laws support the many authors and creators of digital media by recognizing their efforts and protecting their work. The law allows authors and creators can to specify how they would like to be recognized, and specifies how we can give credit when using the digital media of others.

My colleague, +Tim Flanagan and I collaborated to develop an online unit to help students understand copyright and how they can respect the law when creating online content. The module contains resources and lesson activities on copyright, fair use, public domain, and creative commons.  We owe the authors and creators of online content proper attribution.  The modules resides on the Digital Text & Tools website.  Here is the link to the Copyright Learning Module

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Personal Case Study of Distance Learning Trends, Issues and Practices ED722

I am a lifelong learner. I believe the Internet and  Communication Technologies are supporting my learning.  The Internet has an abundance of knowledge that is readily accessible and is free.  Today’s technology and the Internet are revolutionizing education.  Trends in online education are  emerging.   

Some of the characteristics of online learning that are beneficial to learners include.
  • Flexibility - learners are able to engage in learning activities regardless of time and place
  • Low Cost  - Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) are offered to learners at no cost
  • Expanded course offerings - Course Management Systems offers learners a greater choice in courses and learning opportunities
  • Student centeredness - learners have more choice as to what and how they want to learn.
  • Different learning styles can be readily addressed
  • Accessible to all

My participation in the Distance Learning Trends, Issues and Practices  ED722 at the University of New Haven has given me an insight to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions associated with online learning.

Through my participation in the course, I have had the opportunity to learn about various online learning systems, to participate in a MOOC, and to learn and use new technology tools. The assignments have been informative and relevant. I have been able to explore areas of personal and professional interest, and I have been able to discuss and share thoughts and ideas about online learning and the concept of deeper learning.  I feel these experiences have made me a better teacher.  

My participation in DLMOOC was a valuable learning experience! It was a self guided online learning venture.  I enjoyed the flexibility of selecting the learning resources I wanted to engage in and work with. In addition to experiencing participation in a MOOC, I learned about the concept of deeper learning. The DLMOOC has given me a different perspective on pedagogy that I feel has helped me improve as a teacher. I am very interested in the deeper learning process of the consultancy protocol for reviewing and improving students’ work. I plan to employ this process with colleagues after collaboration on projects.   The topics I explored in DLMOOC have been documented in a series of Storifies I created.

As part of the ED722 coursework, I also developed online tutorials and collaborated on the creation of an online learning module. Creating online tutorials to show students how to accomplish a task is an essential skill in developing online and blended learning courses.  I have created several online tutorials that can be found on my website. These are:

In addition to creating online tutorials, I collaborated with a classmate, Tim Flanagan, to develop an online learning module on copyright, fair use, and the public domain. We designed the module using Understanding by Design and Universal Design for Learning concepts. Our online module focuses on a real life and authentic problem, citing attribution. The online module is a student and teacher learning module.  Both students and teachers are able to utilize the information about giving credit and respecting copyright.  

During Distance Learning ED722, I also began to use Twitter and learned how to use Storify.  I didn’t understand the value of Twitter until I began to use it.  Twitter is a powerful communication tool.  I found it easy to organize information and the 140 character limit helps those viewing the tweets get a brief description or link to the information.  I am following organizations, ideas, and people that share my similar interests.  Visit my blog to learn more about my experience with Twitter.

Storify is a online creation tool that allows you to create stories from social media. It is an easy tool that allows you to curate information about a topic. The stories can be shared through social media. It has a nice built-in feature that notifies those mentioned in the story.  Storify is a useful tool. I found myself referring back to my stories and reviewing the progress I have made in this class.

As a library media specialist, I teach media skills which includes online literacy.  I am presently building a curriculum that will help students become online literate.  I believe the topics I’ve explored in Distance Learning ED722 will help me build a curriculum that is engaging and meaningful for my students and that will produce 21st century learners.
I presently teach students how to:
  • find copyright free to use images
  • research using the Internet
  • locate and validate online information

This year I have collaborated with social studies teachers and Integrated Language Arts teachers to introduce 7th grade students to  ePals. Through ePals, my students are communicating with students from other countries through email. Their learning includes:
  • using Google apps
  • online digital citizenship
  • proper online communications
I am pleased with the direction I am taking as I feel my teaching is addressing 21century skills that our students should learn.

As an educator committed to providing online learning opportunities for my students, I will be considering the following when designing online learning activities:
  • Designing learning units that organize and utilize multimodal learning resources
  • Guided resources in the form of tutorials
  • Opportunities for students to interact and collaborate
  • Developing performance tasks that are relevant and meaningful
  • Providing an audience for student work

As an educator committed to integrating technology,  I want to empower my students with the knowledge and the skills to effectively engage in online learning.   I recognize that students are using the Internet to learn more about their interests, and much of this is happening outside the classroom walls. I am excited for my students because they have this wonderful learning opportunity available to them. I am also excited for teachers because we have an opportunity to share in this enthusiasm and deliver curriculum.  I believe curriculum needs to be taught using today’s tools and technology in order for learning to be relevant and meaningful to students. Teachers can help their students on a journey of lifelong learning by guiding them to develop effective online practices. These practices include good digital citizenship, participating in proper online cooperation and collaboration, practicing effective online communications, evaluating online information, and respecting copyright.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Using Twitter

I have recently begun to use twitter. Honestly, I thought it was not going to be a tool for me.  As part of my ED722 class at the University of New Haven, my class was asked to participate in a social poetry experiment using twitter called #walkmyworld.   I have been tweeting now for a few months, and I now see the value  and usefulness of twitter. It is a great tool for sharing information.  The 140 character limit keeps messages fast and concise. It is most helpful in processing information.  The ability to attach multimedia helps to add meaning to messages.  I recommend that when you begin using twitter you also look into software that will help you organize and capture your tweets. I use tweetdeck to organize my twitter account.  Using Storify, I've curated the tweets that I sent to the #walkmyworld poetry project.   Enjoy the examples!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Curating and Displaying Student Work

This week in ED722 Distance Learning  we learned about exhibiting and curating student work. Students may learn from participating in a process that uses their final project as a learning source. Students can reflect and talk about their work. When possible, school work exhibits should be as authentic as possible.  

I found the Week 9 of DLMOOC  panel discussion very interesting.  Here is my storify on creating and exhibiting student work.

Using Thinglink In the Classroom

Thinglink is a free software tool that allows the user to add/embed multimedia files to an image.  It offers teachers a way of integrating multimedia information in lessons, and it allows students to practice 21st century skills.  In the video that follows, I present the benefits of using Thinglink in the classroom.

Teachers interested in using Thinglink will want to share with students how to quickly get started using Thinglink. I developed the next tutorial as an introduction on how to build a Thinglink multimedia project. This video is suitable for students and teachers who want to get started using Thinglink.

Thinglink allows students to be creative in interpreting and presenting information.  It provides the tools for students to present their ideas and understanding using multimedia content.   It is also a helpful tool for teachers.  The program's multimedia characteristic enables teachers to address the needs of the various learning styles that may be present in their classrooms.  Thinglink's educational platform helps teachers collect and organize their students projects, and allows younger students access to use the program to create multimedia projects.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Assessments that Encourage Deeper Learning

This week's topic of learning in  EDU722  was Digital and Open Badges and assessments for deeper learning.  As I  was preparing this post, I asked myself,  how can assessments and badges encourage students to gain deeper learning and promote student agency? I believe both badges and assessments can encourage deeper learning, help develop student agency, and promote life-long learning.

Digital and open badge systems validate both formal and informal learning.  They encourage learners to follow a personal path of learning.   I believe badges are powerful in that they capture and validate  the learning that is achieved using non-traditional pathways to learning.  What +Verena Roberts  refers to as "Mastery of Passions". This is very important and beneficial for learners who are increasingly self-directing their learning and turning to the Internet to learn about what interests them.  This type of non traditional learning has been, for the most part, unrecognized and untapped by potential employers and others charged with the task of reviewing credentials. With badges, learners can now document non traditional learning for potential employers. Recognizing this informal learning is motivating for the learner because their learning is validated. It  has meaning and is recognized by others.

Badges are motivating to all learners because they can provide immediate feedback at all stages of learning. The hierarchy of awarding badges requires much thought and consideration by the designer of the learning opportunity that offers the badges. As badges are new to the educational setting, much thought and discussion surrounds the criteria in developing badges.

Badges, as a system for assessing skills and knowledge, supports learning in and out of the classroom. Badges support self-directed learning and promote life-long learning. Through my interactions with this week's learning materials, I earned the Mozilla 101 Badge. I encourage you to learn about badges and go to to earn your first badge.

This week DLMOOC week 7 discussed deeper learning assessments.  I think, similar to badges, traditional assessments should be created to provide feedback at all stages of learning, not just at its finale.  Feedback and assessment are most helpful when it is meaningful and relevant to students when it is integrated in the learning process. Once a task is completed, it loses meaning for the student who doesn't care about a grade.  It is the iterations and process of review and assessment during learning that will help  students produce quality work. This is assessment for deeper learning and it is the process that I want my students to practice and use. 

Similar to badges, assessments should be more student centered.  In addition to project based learning tasks that are meaningful and relevant to students, the process of assessment should also be engaging and meaningful to students.  Student centered assessment include self-assessment and peer-assessment. These are two powerful ways to have students take a more active role in their learning. Reflection is a key component of meaningful assessment that leads to deeper learning.   Students who reflect on their work can more readily internalize what they did right and how they can improve. This reflection process in assessment will promote student agency and is a soft-skill that will help students in their journey of life-long learning.

Here is a storify of resources I found about badges and assessments that lead to deeper learning.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mindsets and Learning Dispositions

In week 9 of my EDUC 722 class, we looked at the current model of education used in today's classrooms. The model of learning used in our classrooms reflect the thoughts and ideology set forth by industrialization. It clusters together students by age and grade and attempts to educate masses instead of individuals.   In Educating the Heart and Mind, Sir Ken Robinson presents the need to move away from an educational paradigm that standardizes learning to one that educates individuals and promotes individual growth.  Our current system is not working as our high school dropout statistics suggest.

In  Education 3.0: Breaking the Mold With Technology by William R. Watson, Sunnie Lee Watson, and Charles M. Reigeluth, the authors call for a needed change in education. The authors review various learning models that utilize technology and evaluate how well they meet and address the  learning needs of students. The authors conclude that each of the learning systems, Learning Management System, Course Management System, and Personal Learning Environments fall short of offering a learning paradigm that is truly student-centered and that addresses all the personal learning needs of today's students.  The authors propose a new conceptual educational framework called Personal Integrated Educational System (PIES).  PIES is proposed to include the  best characteristics of existing educational systems (LMS/CMS/PLE) and also includes benefits to teachers, parents, and others who are involved in the learning process of students.  PIES is a concept that the authors admit will be very costly to develop.

In my opinion, education may not have the "perfect system" and solution for a new model for educating students, but educators need to embrace a new mindset and disposition towards education to help our learners.  We need to move away from the educational philosophy and methods of an industrialized society to one that utilizes technology and information to better meet and address the learning needs of our students.  We need to move educational norms practiced in the classroom closer to how learning is occurring in the real world.  We need to engage our learners by making learning dynamic, social, and relevant.  Educators need to be willing to relinquish control and create a learning environment that is student-centered. 

Week 6 of DLMOOC discussed growth and academic mindsets for deeper learning. Effective educators recognize the power of a growth mindset in learning. I found the topic fascinating. The panel's discussion was meaningful and relevant for helping students. One statement made by panelist, Camile from the University of Chicago, gave me a different perspective of my students. Camile expressed the notion that our students are already entering the classroom with a disposition and mindset about learning. They are looking for ways to affirm their disposition and mindsets.  For me this was an eye opener. Recognizing the dispositions and mindsets students are bringing into the classroom will help me engage my students and motivate them to learn.

The following is a Storify that integrates my thoughts about growth mindsets with resources and strategies for promoting a growth mindset in the classroom.