Featured

Educreations: Flip or Flop?

I decided to play around with a video recording tool called Educreations.  I had never even heard of this tool before so I was excited to try it out and see what potentials it had in store for me.  I am currently looking for a solid video recording tool to use for my own modules in this course and for my flipped lessons in my AP Calc course.  This tool was not it.  So, without further ado, here is my official review of Educreations!

giphy28129

Overview

The tool is a screen recording tool, much like Screencastify but more focused to a small area of the screen.  You essentially have a white board which you can pull up pictures on and draw all over the screen and them.  You can record your voice while you draw or type as well, which I thought was pretty cool.  It also allowed me to connect to my google account which is very slick!  I love when apps and websites do that!  There are different coloured markers, and an eraser as well.  You can even switch screens and load more pictures and diagrams while the recorder just pauses, waiting for you to continue with your lesson.  In theory, I think this is a great tool for quick little lessons, for student projects, or for digital storytelling.  I managed to find very few examples of quick lessons from students on Youtube.

Here is one example a student created:

Most of what I found were tutorials on how to use the website but I figured it would be better to make my own shorter one to give you an idea!

Strengths

It is very easy to use!  Within a matter of minutes of creating an account, I had access to the whiteboard and tools needed to create some simple videos.  You can also share the videos with students and upload items to the elusive “Cloud.”  There is the option to share videos on Facebook and Twitter but you cannot export them, which is probably why there are almost none on Youtube.  This would be a very easy tool for students to use and show their understanding of information in a creative way.  It works with iPads as well, giving more control and diversity to the writing technique.  I loved how easy it was to record, pause, and continue with your lesson, but there are also some things that just wouldn’t really work for me.

Weaknesses

I found there were more weaknesses in this tool than strengths.  For example, there is a fee for more tools.  In order to upload documents (which I need for my lessons), there is a monthly fee for a classroom, and then a higher fee for a school subscription.  I was limited to drawing on pictures that I had uploaded instead of writing or even scrolling through documents on the whiteboard.  Price is of course, another downfall, as not many of us would be able to access the full potential of this tool without paying for it, and not many of us would have the funding to access this tool.

edu
Screenshot of the Pricing for Educreations

There is also a limited storage space of 50 MB which would be small if you wanted to create a lot of videos.  As I was playing with it, some of the pictures I uploaded were too large for the whiteboard and wouldn’t allow an upload.  There was also not a plethora of examples to look at online, as I only found tutorials on youtube as I mentioned before.  There wasn’t a dashboard on the website and you cannot share videos with other teachers on the website or app.  I thought this was a mistake, and I think the app would be a lot more successful with this application added.  It would be awesome to view other teachers videos and lessons, and have some examples to look at and share with others.  I’m curious what it would be like to record longer videos, say 15 minutes on it.  Would I run out of space before I get to the end of my lesson?

Potential

Overall, I think this is a very neat tool.  I’m just not sure it would work for my needs with a needing more academic writing and explaining, and more time for videos.  I think this tool has a lot of potential to be very useful for teachers of younger aged students.  It would be especially useful for me to explain quick examples to students that are having difficulty, but again I need pictures of everything in order to actually use it.  I would love to try and use it with my English classes and see if they can use it to showcase some of their learning on it but some of them may feel it is more elementary.  I think my math students would find tremendous benefits of using this to help each other with problems and questions they have, I’m just not sure how it would work with daily creations and lessons.  If some of the features for the “Pro Classroom” were available, I would be all for using this program.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

download

Advertisements
Featured

AP Calculus Course Debrief

Well, here goes nothing!  Last year was my very first year teaching AP Calculus.  There were a lot of ups and downs, and I mean a lot!  Trying to learn the content myself, teaching myself how to teach the content, helping students understand things that I was still trying to master myself, prepping them for an exam I had never seen, and nervously awaiting the test results in July.  It was a roller coaster!

giphy

I know a lot more now, but do I have more to learn? ABSOLUTELY!  It was near the end of the course last year that I discovered the beauty of Khan Academy and I knew my life this year would be easier, which leads into my course outline for this project!  The timing couldn’t be more perfect and I am excited to really try out my ideas with different types of blended learning, using flipped lessons which my calculus students already showed an interest in last semester!  I’m looking forward to documenting everything that works and doesn’t work and really giving this course another shot, being a little more confident, and a lot more knowledgeable than last year!  I know lots of you are not going to understand one lick of this, but I’m hoping you can bear with me and my journey through my project.

1np3oj

To see my course outline, check it out here and wish me luck! 🙂

Featured

Blended Learning and Me

When I think of blended learning, I think of a teacher that has successfully blended the ideas of online teaching with that of a face-to-face environment.  I wouldn’t say I am quite there yet, but since beginning my Master’s journey, I have definitely taken a couple of leaps in the department of blended classrooms.  As I learn more and more about the benefits of blended learning, as well as the idea of setting up students for success in the future, the more I want to create this type of learning environment.  Many of my students go on to university, and will likely be faced with some sort of online class, where they will be responsible for their own learning.  And, even if my students are not continuing their formal education, in this digital age, what person could not benefit from learning how to navigate the online world and learn on their own in their future?

Currently, like Amy, I rely on Google Classroom as a management tool to keep my classes organized and accountable.  As I teach for English and Math courses, I have found tremendous benefits for both groups of students.  In my ELA courses, I post links to videos we watch, and any notes or assignments are posted for them to access at any time.  They have to options of handing any work online, and it has made editing much easier as I can open their assignments on Google Docs and edit away, even leaving comments if I need.  It has also made my students more accountable.  They know where the work is, they know where the guidelines are, and they can hand anything in at anytime!!  No more “well, I wasn’t here” excuses!  It’s also freed up my time in my giphyclasses, as students are not needing me to get them missing handouts.  They have access and can print them at any time.

 

My math courses are equally accountable as I post their daily lessons and assignments online.  Along with that, I post the answer keys.  As homework does not count for anything in our school system, I have found giving students full answer keys has freed up my teaching time to go more in-depth with lessons or review what they really struggled with.  It puts the learning in their hands, and they become more responsible for asking questions and clarifying misunderstandings.  I have also linked my Google Classroom to Khan Academy for my AP Calculus students and it is amazing! For those of giphy (1).gifyou who don’t know what it is, it is basically a website that has modules and online formatted courses for all math and science curriculum!  I can assign problem sets, and videos through Google Classroom and it logs my students progress on Khan Academy so I can go back and see who completed what, as well as how they did on problem sets.

Although my use of technology is not what I would call full blended learning, it has enhanced my classroom.  As Tony Bates said, “blended learning can mean minimal rethinking or redesign of classroom teaching, such as the use of classroom aids, or complete redesign as in flexibly designed courses, which aim to identify the unique pedagogical characteristics of face-to-face teaching, with online learning providing flexible access for the rest of the learning.”  What Google Classroom has provided me, is simplicity, and aids for my classroom environment.

what-is-blended-learning-how-can-it-be-used

This is of course, not without its challenges.  I really wish I could have parents access this information in its full format, instead of just by weekly emails.  The problem is that I set all my daily lessons as “assignments” which then show up as “incomplete” even though students have done the work on paper.  It can be frustrating for students as well, as they end up with notifications saying they are missing assignments they handed in, or completed simply as a class discussion.  Any ideas Google Classroom pros??

I also tried to get my classes to complete class discussions via Flipgrid, and they hated it!

ugpzefvw_400x400
Flipgrid

They felt vulnerable to their peers, which I do understand, and hated the interaction, and having to comment and like each other’s videos. I really like the platform, especially for an English classroom, but it is difficult to have students buy into it.  I’m looking for suggestions for improvements on this!

Overall, I am working towards a more blended classroom environment and although I don’t think I am where I want to be, I am slowly progressing in the right direction where technology enhances my daily teaching and more importantly, my students’ learning.

 

Featured

Intro to EC&I 834

tumblr_inline_niqsekhbjx1qgt12i (1)Hi everyone!  I am so excited for another semester and become one step closer to completing my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction!  This is my fifth course overall, and I can start to see the end!  This is my third class with Alec, and I’m looking forward to learning even more tools to test out in my courses.  I’m also looking for recommended courses to take next year so let me know if any of you have taken any gems lately!

me.jpg
Emerald Lake, BC

I teach at Central Collegiate in Moose Jaw, and am in my sixth year of teaching.  Over my short career, I’ve taught a lot of different courses, and have finally settled into my chosen path of senior English, and Calculus.  I know, total opposites!  But I have loved teaching such different courses and challenging myself to teach in these completely different mediums.  Along with teaching these courses, I coach basketball and track and field at the school, and somehow find time to take a course every semester!  In my free time, I love reading and exploring this beautiful country of ours with my boyfriend.

As I said before, I’m looking forward to learning all about online learning in this course.  My top three goals for the course are:

  1. Since I teach AP Calculus, I am hoping to be able to apply some of the learnings in this class to my own course as I would like to make it more of a blended course! Giving my students the best opportunities to prepare for the big exam is my main priority this year, as well as giving them as many resources as possible.
  2. I’m looking forward to learning about different mediums for creating/using online courses to further my students’ learning and my own.  Looking at different platforms will allow me to figure out what I like and don’t like about online learning as well as develop my own.
  3. I also want to further expand my Personal Learning Network by working with each of you, and exploring Twitter more in-depth.  I have a great network already, but I am always looking to expand it because, as I have learned since I started my master’s, that it is incredibly valuable for resources, support, and enhancing professional development.
43084937444_5cd4f9dbe8_n
Via Flickr

I’m looking forward to the learning journey ahead and connecting with you all more as the semester goes on!  If you want to connect on Twitter my handle is @mackeyshelby21.

Shelby

 

 

Featured

My Summary of Learning

This is it!  The end of EC&I 830!  I cannot believe how fast this course flew by, and I also cannot believe how much I learned over two short months.  It’s amazing the community we developed and how much we were able to challenge each other to grow and learn in such a short time span.  It’s been a pleasure to learn with all of you.

I loved the style of this course and how it enabled us to be in charge of our own learning.  We brought a lot of debate to the table, and I thank all of you for challenging my thinking and opinions.  There is no one right answer to any of the topics we discussed and I think that makes this course so great!

Without further ado, here is my summary of learning video!  Thanks again all for a fantastic class and I hope you all enjoy my video (I had a lot of fun making it)!

Featured

Technology Is Equitable; People Are Not.

This week’s debate had me all over the place.  Thinking of the phrase: “technology is a force of equity in society” has many sides and angles to consider and there is not one straight answer: yes or no.  I found there was a lot of mixed reviews throughout our 1.gifdebate, and many elaborations for our reasons we think it is or isn’t.  For example, yes, technology can be a force of equity because it is creating opportunities where they were limited before or no, it is not a force of equity because there is not equal access around the globe.  These types of ideas were incredibly important to our debate this week, and I think through a lot of thinking post-debate, I have established that we may not be there yet, but we are working towards solutions for this inequity.

The agree side this week did a fantastic job opening the floor and I found myself agreeing with all the points that Jen, Dawn and Sapna shared.  Their major points included the removal of barriers in education and skills, the use of open education resources creating equality through education, and then focused on the idea that the corporate system is the reason that technology is inaccessible for people in a lower socio-economic status and not the tech itself, and not the tech’s fault itself, showing that the tech isn’t creating inequity, but people by making these devices which have now become a necessity, cost too much money to afford.people using smart phones sitting at a table

The disagree side of Amy S, and Rakan countered well including some important ideas I would have never thought about in my internal debate.  Their main ideas circled around tech creating bias, gender abuse, and racism online, as well as digital colonialism and economic inequality.

As a said before, I found myself agreeing with all the points the agree team shared.  I see technology remove barriers all the time in the classroom.  I actually once saw a two men sitting at Tim Horton’s using their cellphones and a translating app to communicate with their voices and have a real conversation.  It made me so happy that technology has been able to reach a point where we can communicate with one another and create friendships with people that do not necessarily share a common language.2.gif

As for the classroom, I know I would have been in a real bind if I did not have my technological resources for teaching.  I have taught A LOT of different subject matter and without open resources and the World Wide Web, my knowledge would have been much more limited as well as the material for my students would have been much simpler as I would be scrambling for activities and ideas on my own.  For example, my first year I original-846541-1taught Law 30.  Where did I turn but to the internet to find different ideas and resources to help supplement the material.  I even found an activity to look at the laws often broken in different fairy tales and create a trial for the characters.  Would I have been able to come up with this idea without technology?  No way!  It helped make my life less stressful and created equity in a situation where I was at a disadvantage.

There are also many assistive technologies out there to help students including Google Write&Read.  Many students struggle with getting their ideas on paper and these types of apps help create an equity in the classroom so they too, can reach the outcomes of other students.  However, access to these apps can be difficult if you do not have access to the technology which is what the disagree side countered.

3.gifCost is a major downside to education as well as creating equity in the classroom.  And like Amy R. said in her blog this week, Technology should be accessible to everyone because it has become essential to live.  It has become a basic human right to be able to access this information and these devices yet corporations will not lower the price on devices, making it difficult for people of a lower socio-economic status to get access.  People may argue that there is free access in libraries, and schools, but not everyone has direct access to a building like that.  Sunny Freeman’s article states that even in Canada, only 62% of low-income quartile has access to the internet and it is difficult to dispute.  Have you ever gone camping in a rural/northern part of Saskatchewan?  Little to no internet access or even service exists! 4 So like, the agree group said, we can fix this!  We just need to lower the costs on devices, and create more opportunities for access in order to lessen the digital divide felt everywhere in the world, not just Canada.

Daniel also made a great point in his blog this week: “Some affluent people thus think by simply dumping the highest tech in the poorest places in society, inequality will be solved.”  This will not solve our problem when there is no education to help those educators or students use the technology and unlock its potential for the classroom and for their future.  If we are going to increase technology use in the classroom, we need to also increase the professional development and resources for teachers to USE the technology as well.

UNRWA_Gaza5(2).jpgI think it is super important that if we are going to increase technology and use programs like One Laptop Per Child, they need to be used appropriately in order to avoid digital colonialism which is what Amy and Rakan hinted at in their opening video.  It’s a very thin line between introducing and advancing a third world country and pushing Western beliefs on an already established society.  For example, in this article, Facebook is offering free internet to places with low economic status but with a catch.

The following statement is from ‘It’s digital colonialism’: how Facebook’s free internet service has failed its users, and can definitely be considered a negative for what should be a positive movement towards digital inclusion:

“Free Basics is a Facebook-developed mobile app that gives users access to a small selection of data-light websites and services. The websites are stripped of photos and videos and can be browsed without paying for mobile data.

Facebook sees this as an “on-ramp” to using the open internet: by introducing people to a taster of the internet, they will see the value in paying for data, which in turn brings more people online and can help improve their lives.”

The catch is that they cannot access all the internet, only a few select sites and they need to pay more for more access.  This in my opinion does not create equity, but increases the divide showing “you can afford this” or “you can’t afford this.”  This idea is also restricting language, with the majority options being only in English, and if that’s not a Westernized view/Digital Colonialism, then I don’t know what is!

Dhanaraj “Thakur believes a better solution would be to give low-income groups a limited amount of free data to access the open web” and I agree.  Why not?  What is the harm?  Unless the corporations in charge have a hidden agenda behind enabling these communities with a more Western view.

Another solution to the idea of making education more accessible is Open Education Resources (OERs), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and Virtual Classrooms.  Having these types of resources online have created a lot of opportunity for remote classrooms and cities.  They may not have the resources physically, but they can access the information online ending the digital divide.

8100966908_d5d94f96d1_o.jpg
Via Flickr

The article, Analysis: How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic shows how students and classrooms in Kotzebue, Alaska are able to still access high-quality materials within budget cuts and limited resources. Layla Bonnot says, “With OER, districts can adapt content to meet their local needs, maximize education budgets, and ensure access to resources and educational rigor. By being able to serve all students — whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income — OER supports the goal of educational equity.”

Of course, there are still other down-sides that are creating unequitable circumstances like the ideas of gender and racial bias online, and that AI could possibly be racist and learning its racist behaviours from humans, but I hope that we are moving in a positive direction away from these ideas.  Lizzie O’Shea stated in her article that technology’s biases are not bad necessarily, as long as we recognize them as such and move towards making these racial and gender roles more neutral.

0447f-thinkstockphotos-179079064O’Shea said,  “To make the most of this moment, we need to imagine a future without the oppressions of the past.  We need to allow women to reach their potential in workplaces where they feel safe and respected.  But we also need to look into the black mirror of technology and find the cracks of light shining through.”

And after listening to both sides of the debate, I couldn’t agree more.  We are imperfect, so our tech is imperfect too.  As long as we recognize our faults, and are trying to work towards solutions, then I think we are accomplishing something.  Is technology creating equity in society?  In some cases yes, and in some cases no.  Technology is not going anywhere, and it is becoming a more crucial part of life and should be demanded by all of society.  It has huge potential to create equity in all walks of life, but it is how we go about making sure it is accessible, fair, and neutral to everyone that is the most important part.

einstein