Sunday, August 17, 2014

Online Research Media Skills (ORMS) Model

This model was created by Ian O'Byrne Assistant Professor University of New Haven and Greg McVerry Assistant Professor Southern Connecticut State University. The model has 3 cornerstones:
Online Reading Comprehension
Online Collaborative Inquiry
Online Content Construction

The follow is a final reflection for each of the 5 ORMS learning modules.

Module 1 Reflection

Reflection: How can I use the Internet as a text in my classroom?

In what ways do you now authentically and effectively use digital texts and tools in your classroom?

One way I use digital text with my sixth grade class is when I teach them how to evaluate websites for credibility and usefulness.  The objective of the lesson is to teach students to critically think and evaluate a website for validity and usefulness.  This lesson helps prepare students for future research tasks that use Internet resources.  Evaluation of website resources is an information literacy skill that is needed to help students sift through the information available to them online. This skills is part of a larger frame of skills that help students to weed out websites so that they can focus on information resources that will meet their needs.     As identified in the Online Research Media Skills Model’s principle of online reading comprehension, the evaluation skill is part of a skills set students need to effectively and successfully use the Internet for reading and research.  I use the 5Ws of website evaluation to teach this skill.

In another lesson I teach students about various websites that they can use during a research activity.  The objective of the lesson is to show students where to go to find a list of reliable and credible resources they can use for their information needs.   The links to these resources are located on the school’s library web site.. The  resources include  almanacs, atlases, and databases of magazine and newspaper articles.  As part of this lesson, students learn to use Connecticut’s Internet Library, ICONN.  Links to tools, such as the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and links to various educational games are also shown to students.   Havings students use predefined resources is suited to research projects that emphasize the content in resources over the research process of finding the resources of content.  When I work with classroom teachers, I try to provide opportunities to experience both using predefined links to resources and allowing students to search.   

The “screenagers”, as identified in Dawn of New Reading by Richard Allen, are motivated to learn by technology.   I try to incorporate as much technology in my instruction because I know my students like it.  I have availability of tools, a cart of Acers,  a Smartboard, and Beyond the Question remotes. What I need is to harness these tools and think of how I can use them to address the new literacies and the 5cs of change.  I agree with  Richard Allen.  As educators we have to embrace the fact that many of our students are using technology to find, create, and share information outside of the classroom.  We need  to take advantage of the knowledge and skills they have to teach educational content.  If we do not do this, we run the risk of not properly teaching students how to learn from the Internet.   By embracing the skills and knowledge of students and guiding them to use these skills in school,, we are empowering our students with the skills and knowledge they need to become lifelong learners in a digital world.  

Module 2 Reflection

Reflection: What challenges exist as students work collaboratively as opposed to working individually?

As presented in the video introduction for  Online Collaborative Inquiry by Ian O’Bryne, today’s technologies are  transforming the way people work, learn, and socialize.   Online communication technologies, such as video conferencing and wikis, remove the constraint of distance in the process of communication and collaboration.  People who use these technologies work collaboratively, regardless of location, toward a common goal.  Students using these technologies are engaged in meaningful and authentic learning because it reflects the way society is using the technology.  

Grace Rubenstein’s The Way of the Wiki - Building Online Creativity and Cooperation identifies the many benefits received from having students working online collaboratively.   Through the use of wikis and blogs, students can share ideas they are interested in, and can communicate with others that have similar interests.  Their knowledge of the world is extended by the ideas and information shared by collaborators of various backgrounds.  

Online collaboration by students  has its challenges.   Teachers beginning an online collaboration project must consider the particulars of online work and collaboration.   

Teachers must select the appropriate technology tool that will meet the specific goal of the project.  Teachers must teach the technology to their students.  A potential challenge involved in teaching students how to use a technology tool relates to the different levels of knowledge and skills, in using technology, held by the students.   

Monitoring student work and progress helps teachers provide feedback to their students.   In an online collaborative environment, a teacher’s ability to monitor student’s  communication is essential.    Proper online etiquette will leads to positive collaboration which will promote creativity and cooperation.  Proper online etiquette is part of being a good digital citizen.   In Mike Ribble’s article, Nine themes of Digital Citizenship, he identifies 9 areas that are key in digital citizenship .  His REPs model for teaching digital citizenship is a clear and encompassing way to teach students about digital citizenship.

Students should be made aware of the consequences associated with inappropriate behavior on the Internet and what effect it has on their digital footprint.  As Ian O’Byrne discusses in Creating and Curing An Online Brand, your digital footprint is your online identity.  It lets others know about you and your interests.  As online users and collaborators, students are forming their digital  footprint.  Students should be taught how to manage their digital footprint to highlight their interests and talents in order to create a positive online identity.

Collaborative learning challenges students to cooperatively work with others.  Students who work together online collaboratively will need to develop the skills of synthesizing, organizing, and building on the work of others.  When designing an online collaborative lesson, teachers must guide students in developing these skills.  Students might find these skills challenging as they practice and use them.

Access to equipment  to use for online collaborative projects may also pose a challenge.  Students who do not have the technology at home are only able to use the technology provided by the teacher.  Teachers must consider equal access of technology and  its availability in assessing student’s work.  They must consider how having limited access to technology for collaboration impacts the progress of the project.  A student may face the challenge of locating  and accessing technology to participate in collaborative projects.  

Online collaborative work motivates students because its a social environment.  Students are able to communicate and in cooperation work towards a common goal.  When students are motivated teaching is easier and learning flourishes! 

Module 4 Reflection

Reflection:  What challenges occur when students are empowered to create online “text” and share globally with others? In Online Construction Content, we are empowering teachers and students to use the reader/writer nature of the Web to create and publish information. What are the “soft skills” and discussions that we need to have as we conduct this work?

Moving from being a consumer to a producer of Web content is an empowering shift for our students for multiple reasons.  Among the many reasons are:

    • online writing in the form of commenting and discussion leads to increased comprehension on a subject matter.
    • in practice, it makes students better communicators
    • in collaboration, it improves analytical skills needed to synthesize information
    • develops teamwork and cooperation  
    • When students write online about subjects that interest them, they are motivated and excited about learning

Teachers are excited about offering the Internet as a medium of expression.  However,  they are faced with challenges as they move to use the Internet as a medium for expression.  

Many students are outside the classroom online contributors already. They are using online tools to further their interests.  As Mimi Ito mentions in the video, Connected Learning, Children, and Digital Media, many students are gathered in online spaces to socialize and chat.  There is a subgroup who are using these tools to actively pursue and build their knowledge about things they want to know more about.  Educators have the responsibility to help students practice online safety and maintain a positive online identity. Educators also need to develop and build upon the skills and interests students have outside the classroom.  One very important challenge for educators is to make learning meaningful by “mashing up” student’s out of school online participation and interests with curriculum goals.  In this way, teachers can monitor, guide, and validate student’s online participation as Henry Jenkins suggests in the video, Participatory Culture.  In doing so, educators can guide students to become involved in matters that serve to promote society.  

As students become “RW” they gain a voice in the world.  We know the world is comprised of various cultures and economies and that people have varying perspectives and dispositions. In some cases, meaning is lost or misinterpreted because the readers do not have the background knowledge to make sense of what is being presented.  Both teachers and students must be sensitive to the cultural and economic nature of their intended audience.  As mentioned in Further Notes on the Four Resources Model by Allan Luke & Peter Freebody, research has found students perform better on certain meaning based programs in classrooms whose teachers share similar backgrounds and culture with their students.  Teachers have a challenge to effectively present materials to learners of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.  It is equally important that students develop this awareness of who their intended online audience is and how that impacts their work in authentic learning.   

The remixing of online content to create new content is especially powerful for students. It is very exciting for students.  Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy by Lawrence Lessig, reminds us of copyright law. Even though Lessig feels copyright law inhibits creativity we must make students aware that laws exist to protect authors and artists.  The challenge educators face is monitoring and guiding students to only use media that is free to use and share. Students must be made aware of the principles of Creative Commons and the implications it has on their construction of content.  As Kirby Ferguson explains in the video  Embracing the Remix, all content is a mashup and a remix, we must accept this and then move on to create and construct. Attribution and respecting the work of others is essential to the creativity, development, and progress of free to use online content.

Another challenge for teachers posed by student’s online construction of content is monitoring and ensuring that students display appropriate online etiquette when providing comments and feedback.  Communication should be clear and meaningful.  In the video, Learning STEM Skills by Designing Video Games, we see how important comments can be to the process of improvement and development. The young game creator featured in this video laughs at and disapproves of comments that are meaningless and that lack constructive feedback. Students must learn to provide constructive feedback in order to engage with the learning process.  They must do so appropriately, no “trolls” allowed! On the converse, students should be reflective and learn to improve and develop from constructive criticism.  

Module 5 Reflection

Module 5 - Reflection:  How can I effectively use my online identity to support my offline teacher identity in the classroom?

My offline teaching identity is what I represent to my students, parents, and school community. It is marked by my professional philosophy and my goals as an educator in the library. It is perceived through my interface with my patrons.  It varies in scope from collaborating on learning units with other teachers to  answering questions on how to use a technology tool, teaching research skills, and helping students locate appropriate materials.   By establishing an online identity in the form of a digital learning hub, I can support my offline teaching identity by providing access to resources that I curate and create for my patrons.

As Ian O’Byrne suggests in Creating and Curating Your Online Brand,  by establishing a digital learning hub, I will set aside a space in which I can host content and tools to help my patrons with their various information needs. For example, the site will host video tutorials on how to use tools and will also contain links to free resources for my students to use in their research. The possibilities of the content and tools that can be hosted are numerous.  My digital learning hub would be an extension of what I provide students and patrons in face to face interaction but online. My online identity is available to my patrons 24/7 whether I’m physically present or not.

As I reflect on the practice of creating a digital learning hub, I feel it will be beneficial to both myself and my patrons.  My digital learning hub will empower my patrons to locate needed resources without my assistance.  They are in control of their learning. They will know where to go to find the information they need. This type of learning is authentic and is similar to how students and others are using the Internet to find information and learn.  I will benefit from my digital learning hub because I can shift attention from reviewing, revisiting, and repeating where to go and how to do something, to building and maintaining content. By doing this for my patrons, I help them to take control and empower their learning, and at the same time it empowers me.  I am very excited at this prospect.  


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