Monday, April 10, 2017

Stretching Ourselves for the Summary of Learning

Stretching Can be Painful 

Ever go to a yoga class and even though the instructor tells you that it's not a competition, we all have different limitations... you push yourself to the point of potential injury, just because. That is the Summary of Learning in a nutshell... Yoga for Competitive People.

The first time I did my Summary of Learning for ECI 831 a couple years ago, I kind of stretched myself, but still stayed comfortable. I was happy with my digital story that explored my learning journey in that course. I had included cartoon images that I created, photos and videos that reflected my journey and soft guitar music. Within my comfort zone, yet meaningful and reflective (the soft guitar music helped with that...)

Then last year, in ECI 832, my colleague and friend, Genna Rodriguez, thought that we should write a song, record it and make a video. The song writing and video creating part was great. When I was teaching grade 7-8, three years ago, I used to write songs and raps with them all the time. (Then I would of course get the students to perform them of course). So when it came time to singing the song, I happily volunteered to sing backup, as I was convinced that all the auto-tuning in the world would not save my voice. In any case after recording, I was relieved to not hear my singing voice too much as we put together the video. Thank goodness Genna has a great voice!

What Was I Thinking?

My Home Personal Learning Network
So this year, I thought I should write a song again. I remembered how much fun it was to compose the lyrics. Perhaps I got so caught up in the song writing that I forgot about one MINOR DETAIL. I don't actually like singing. Well I like it - I just don't like recording myself singing. After I composed my song, bought the instrumental version on iTunes, I sat down to record in Garage Band. My oldest daughter happened to come in while I was listening with horror to my recorded voice, then laid on the floor and cried laughing, "Oh mom. I think it's going to go viral." At that point, I really went into a cold sweat. I was waaaayyyyy too far down the path in the project, and there was no turning back. So, I told my giggling-hyena daughter that since she had a singing voice (she gets it from her dad's side of the family), she needed to accompany me. Fortunately she took pity on me... and I bribed her. Once she joined in, then it became a family event and my youngest daughter volunteered to help out too. Of course my husband was there to offer constructive feedback... The rest... well you just need to watch and see. So with sweaty palms and trepidation... Drumroll...

Here is my Summary of Learning for ECI 834!

A couple people had asked about how the animations were made. Well... the secret is out (sorry Genna), you need to get a Biteable license. There is a price, but it's worth it (the home page will tell you it's free, but the free version will not let you access very much).  After you construct and arrange slides to go with the song, you will need to download it, then carefully splice up the Biteable video to match the lyrics to the song. It is a long process, and quite frankly, works best in iMovie if you have access, especially if you want to bring in Greenscreen or screen-in-screen video.

So What's Biteable All About? 
Let's you create animations, bring in stock footage and choose a colour scheme. It is also really easy to arrange slides prior to downloading.
Biteable Editing Mode

Green Screen
Use a chroma-key green piece of fabric or paper. If you are in a pinch, try testing any Rider blankets that you might have and use as a green-screen. Ideally it should be ironed to prevent wrinkles. Tape to the wall with painters tape, then start recording! It's always best, when working with kids to have chocolate nearby to act as bribes...

Splicing and Editing the Video
Once I brought in the video, it then meant a lot of splitting videos and fine tuning to match the singing to the soundtrack. For moments like those, you need lots of soothing camomile tea.
iMovie Editing Mode

So you might be thinking... Do I see pics of Jenn's kids? Did she just shamelessly add photos of her kids on this blog? Yep, I did. My family are part of my home-based Personal Learning Network, and have been part of this journey. So these are images of a few out-takes...

Well that's it. It's been great taking these classes. And quite honestly Alec and Katia, if you were to host a MOOC, I might just enrol. Maybe not right away, but in a few months... or a year! All the best everyone! I look forward to our f2f meeting!

Close to the End... Reviewing Feedback on Prototype & Comments on the Journey

Looking Back on the Journey...

The process of discovery is often messy by laurakgibbs, on Flickr
I imagine many would echo my thoughts, that it's hard to believe that this class is done! Whew! About 3 weeks ago while I was in the middle of creating the Course Prototype, making the videos for the modules and experimenting with embedding features into Moodle, I felt like I would never finish. But here we are! Initially when I started the course, I thought I knew exactly what I was going to do. My vision was to continue developing the vision for the Faith Based Digital Citizenship. I had some experience building resources in Moodle, but I was still pretty overwhelmed every time I worked in the platform. And quite frankly, I was quite reliant on others like my colleague, Kyle Webb to help me.
Soon I started to realize that I had to do this myself, and that I needed to stop worrying about "messing things up", and instead tried to figure out things for myself (although admittedly, it was nice to have Kyle around to call upon if I was really stumped).

This change of mindset really seemed to make a difference in my adoption of Moodle. (Which is kind of funny, as teachers we always preach the importance of Growth Mindset for our students, so you would think that we would naturally demonstrate this! Hmmm...). When I changed my mindset from the whole notion that Moodle was limited, and there was nothing I could do about it... to instead, that it was up to me to make it better - things changed. I stopped feeling limited in this platform, and instead started seeing it as just a solid foundation that I could build upon with what I wanted. This was definitely a turn around - a liberating moment in my design process. Soon I started looking for ways to bring in tools like Mentimeter, Flipgrid and Office 365's Sway, which allowed for unleashing even more student voice. I didn't have to just stick to the Discussion Forum in Moodle which seemed a bit awkward. So instead I looked for ways to connect conversations online and offline in platforms that would work better.
I shape the technology; it does not shap by laurakgibbs, on Flickr
"I shape the technology"
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by laurakgibbs

The Course Profile assignment was a great way to really solidify my intentions for rolling out this course to my school division. A few individuals who provided feedback commented that it was quite detailed (in a positive way!), but I'm okay with this. I started to see the Course Profile document as a way to provide information to teachers and administrators about every aspect of the course. From the vision and rationale to how we would accommodate EAL learners. Admittedly, it was long, but I started to see the document as information as to how teachers will want to approach the course. Initially when I had envisioned the faith-based digital citizenship course, I wasn't sure of the best way to explain the rationale and considerations for teachers implementing the course, but this document could provide a good beginning. I might consider hyperlinking anchors within the document, so that teachers may skip down to areas they are interested in, thereby making it easier for teachers to explore the content they found most relevant.

Feedback from the ECI 834 Community on the Prototype and Profile

First off, I was really impressed by the feedback that I received. It's very rare as a teacher to receive detailed feedback on instruction, so the time and effort in providing such thorough comments was appreciated! The following were a few points that I noted and will be acting upon in improving my course.
Priority #1
Change the Navigation menu
that is hard to hide...

Course Shell
A few people commented that the Navigation menu on right was very confusing. Yes, I totally agree. I tried to hide what I could, but I don't have the administration rights to change this for Learning Online. I will have to talk to the RCSD Learning Online Coordinator about options to hide more. Overall, the comment that seemed to be echoed the most was the challenge of navigating Moodle, which was what also bothered me about this platform. Although at this point, I am limited with how much I can do to fix this. I will definitely pursue how to make things less overwhelming with the Learning Online Coordinator. It is possible, that this can all be easily fixed, and I'm just not sure how to do it. In addition to this, it might be beneficial to have a video screen-cast for students that would provide a quick overview in how to navigate the space. I have an interactive e-book with that information with an audio file and images, but perhaps a screen-cast would be better. One person suggested a teacher reviewing how to navigate the course, prior to students getting started. This was a great suggestion, so I will be sure to include this in my information to teachers.  Others noted that in spite of the navigation debacle on the side, there was a flow to the overall content of the course.

Course Modules
Note the Essential Questions
and Faith Quotes 
Those giving feedback stated that they liked interactivity for grade 7/8 which made it really engaging (polls, blogging, vlogging via Flipgrid and interactive games), the e-books, the content videos, and the variety of formative and summative assessments.  Others liked the essential questions (that connected to the Digital Citizenship Continuum) at the beginning of each module, but did not like the Religious Memes or Digital Posters, and found them distracting. However, I really liked incorporating these biblical passages and quotes from Pope Francis (or other spiritual leaders) as they connected to each content theme from a faith-perspective. So going forward, to make the images less distracting, I might just make them

smaller, so they don't break up the content as much. I don't want to eliminate them all together, as I want to reinforce the faith connection to the course. Overall the feedback on the actual content was very positive. I appreciate the critical eye that my evaluators took in examining the prototype. As I mentioned before, I will definitely act on the feedback!

Course Profile

J. Stewart-Mitchell
I appreciated the feedback on my course profile. Indeed it was long, but overall it was noted that the detail will be beneficial for teachers intending on integrating the course into their plans. One comment that one evaluator made was that they could see the potential for teachers to personalize the course to the needs of their classroom because of the blended approach. Hopefully this is the case. I don't want to go on and on about the feedback. It was just nice to see the comments about how the course would definitely engage students and be easy for teachers to implement (with a little Moodle training of course!).

Major Project Update Links

In order to see the journey from a blogging point of view, here are the links that show the process, as well as the general topics explored in each blog post.

Launching Another Course
  • Setting up my learning goals
  • Learning how to use Moodle and developing a faith-based Digital Citizenship Course
Time to Power Up for the Project
  • Goal 
  • Course Details
  • Audience/Learners
  • Implementation goals and number of modules
  • Why Moodle? Rationale for this platform in Regina Catholic
  • Moodle Offerings
  • Shortcomings with every LMS
  • Who owns the students' content in an LMS
Building Relationships Through Online Connections
  • Exploring how to connect with students in an LMS
  • Tips in creating community
  • How to help students develop identity online in an online learning environment
  • Incorporating video to increase engagement and personalization of course
  • Exploring different platforms for connecting communities
  • Establishing norms in spaces that are constantly evolving
  • Ensure all voices count
  • Never assume what students know about navigating and engaging within online spaces
  • Expectations and Guidelines for students in creating a community of learners in all spaces

To Be Open or Closed in Online Learning
  • Reflecting on learning in the open
  • What are the intentions behind using the platform? 
  • Student voice and the importance of not filtering their thoughts
  • The importance of safeguards in ensuring all are comfortable with an online learning environment
  • How to access and navigate the course prototype
  • Course profile document
  • Outcomes map for Course profile

Good Bye for Now or Until the Summary of Learning Post

See you on Twitter!
Well that's it. Sort of... I still have yet to share the Summary of Learning. This might be my last online course for grad studies. Over the last three classes of the Couros-Hildebrandt variety, I have maintained this blog. Even when I felt pressured to move to Word Press and join the masses who were having fun with their ping-backs and Wordpress-frivolity, I'm glad I stayed on with antiquated, non-updated Blogger. It's been a good space for the final chapter in my slightly outdated book. When I started blogging as a classroom teacher, back in 2007, I used Blogger (and alas, it hasn't changed much). So it seems right to make this the final chapter. Okay, this is really weird, I'm feeling sentimental over a platform. Anyways, even though we're at the conclusion of this class, and there will be no more blogging (sorry, but... whew!) I look forward to connecting with many of you on Twitter!