technology

Moodle Course Design

Photo: Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Montana, 2003 Attribution: Rmhermen at the English language Wikipedia

Recently I created an online course in Moodle.  I chose a topic that is pertinent to educators in Montana: the implementation and history of the Indian Education for All (IEFA) act.  The creation of the course required me to locate quality resources, videos, and to develop tasks, assessments, and rubrics to measure the level of understanding my students have achieved after completion of the modules.

My understanding of andragogy and adult learning theory was the primary foundation in regards to the various decisions I had to make when designing my course. First, I wanted the course to be asynchronous.  Students in the course would be people already familiar with education, and therefore would likely prefer a  course that is completed within their own timelines.  Additionally, I wanted to incorporate videos that invoked an emotional response, as transformative learning theory is a theory I consider whenever I make an educational decision.  The inclusion of the TED Talk called “Changing the Way We See Native Americans” by Matika Wilbur was deliberate as the emotional response invoked while watching the video will help educators change their frame of reference in relation to Native Americans.

As usual, I considered CARP design principle when designing the course.  I used the orange/blue theme available in Moodle as the contrast was sharper than the other themes. Alignment was mostly centered and left-justified.  Repetition was important to me, so each module begins with a little introduction, the objective of the module, and the tasks necessary to complete each module.  Finally, proximity was considered by choosing the left-to-right navigation model in Moodle rather than the vertical navigation model.  Often times, educators that use Moodle have difficulty with their courses looking like long overwhelming text-only documents, but I was able to adjust my proximity to avoid this.

I evaluated my use of cognitive, social, and instructor presence, as well.  I included resources that were cognitively-challenging, but integrated those resources in with other types of resources, such as timelines.  Social presence was included by implementing the use of forums for each module.  Finally, instructor presence was considered by including a teacher introduction block.  If the course were actually live, I would ensure that my presence is included by responding to students in the forums, and providing feedback on assignments.

Moodle can be a challenging program to learn, but I had some experience from using it in my blended learning sixth grade classroom.  As problems came up, such as glitches with not being able to use certain “assignment/resource” selections, I simply used a different option and made it work by using a link to the site I was needing the student to go to.  Moodle tutorials are available from a variety of educators, so simply Googling my problem was sufficient enough to bring up many resources on how to fix certain issues.

The most beneficial part of developing this course was the selection of quality resources and videos.  I did not realize just how much time it can take to evaluate resources thoroughly.  Sometimes it seems as if educators just link to resources without considering the amount of time it will take a student to read the resource, but I had the unique understanding of what it is like to both a graduate student and an educator with a limited time frame.  Because of my unique perspective, I was able to look at the resources I found and ask myself “What is really critical for my students to improve their understanding of the objective(s)?”, and select only the resources that are mandatory.

Out of all of the assignments I have completed in my Master’s program, I have enjoyed developing courses the most.  It is a beautiful blend of graphic design and content selection, and it makes me that much more passionate for my future career in Educational Technology.

The Community of Inquiry Framework and Online Learning Tools

As I reflect on the past two weeks of learning, I realize that there are so many web 2.0 tools out there that I have never even heard of before!  I consider myself to be pretty savvy technologically speaking, but I was blown away by how many learning tools are out there that I have never had the pleasure of playing around with.  Additionally, I had never heard of the community of inquiry framework, although I am quite familiar with John Dewey and his work.  We live in a very exciting time for education, and I cannot wait to experiment with some of the new learning tools I have discovered thanks to my edtech peers.  Most importantly, however, I now know how to evaluate learning tools in reference to the community of inquiry framework, thus ensuring I choose the correct learning tool for the task.

The community of inquiry framework refers to three presences within a virtual classroom.  The three presences are: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence. Social presence references the discussion and communication portion of the course, teaching presence references how the facilitator helps students meet the learning outcomes, and the cognitive presence references how students generate the knowledge throughout the course (Borup, 2014, YouTube community of inquiry).  A blend of the three presences is more effective than a classroom with only one or two presences (Stavredes, 2011).  Additionally, selecting the right online learning tools that can be used to meet the community of inquiry framework is key.  As a future online educator, I do not want to increase my student’s cognitive overload by introducing too many online learning tools.  If the tool is able to meet the needs of all three presences, that is the tool I will most likely choose.

I found myself somewhat overwhelmed with the number of various blogging resources out there, but I do believe blogs are an effective learning log/portfolio, especially at the collegiate level.  I want to remember to allow my students some choice in how they create their blogs.  It seems as if certain blogs are used frequently, but could Twitter even be considered a blog/learning log?  Many social media tools are really blogs with character limits (Hsu & Ching, 2012).

The fact that many of the web 2.0 tools used to meet the needs of the community of inquiry framework are publicly available to anyone searching for it concerns me.  Personally, I am a bit of a private person, and I do not like having to put all of my learning “out there” for the world to see.  Even having a WordPress like this one is out of my comfort zone.  I think anonymity and collegiate blogs are possible, but random people can still find the blog and comment.  I prefer to use something like Google docs to create blog posts as I have the choice regarding access to the blog.  I will allow my students to preserve their online anonymity by providing choices such as Google docs.  And, if I do require social (public) media as a portion of the course, I will allow students to use some kind of “tag” or screen name if they so choose.  Maintaining a social presence in a course should not require students to forfeit their online privacy.

In summary, the community of inquiry framework helps me narrow my choices regarding web 2.0 tools, and I would like to share some of the tools I plan to use in my future classes.  Feel free to check them out yourself, as all of these tools are free.

  1. Kaizena – a Google docs add-on for commenting (text and voice) on documents, record lessons, and monitor skills of students.
  2. VoiceThread – a presentation tool that allows voice, text, and visual aids.  Great alternative to PowerPoint.
  3. bubbl.us – free mind-mapping tool that is simple to use.
  4. Twitter – follow and view comments from a variety of sources, while posting about your education.  Name does not have to be public, and a unique tag can be used.

References:

Borup, J. (2014). Community of inquiry. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=273WuFa6Z04&feature=youtu.be&list=PLyRut5mNtP9mgWrxMyu5uNLe_ScfJTrP9

Hsu, Y. & Ching, Y. (2012). Mobile microblogging: Using Twitter and mobile devices in an online course to promote learning in authentic contexts. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(4), 211-227. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1222

Stravredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

 

 

EDTECH Graphic Assignment

For my last assignment in EDTECH 501, I was tasked with creating a graphic representation of the current definition of educational technology.  I used the book Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary as my resource while creating this graphic.

I found it important to specify that educational technology is not the same as instructional technology.  It is more than using technology to teach.  It is putting the technology into the hands of students to allow them to create original pieces, problem solve, and to facilitate their learning.  Educational technology isn’t the old “sage on the stage” teaching style; it is facilitating learning while allowing students to dive in to a variety of technological tools that will best demonstrate their higher level thinking.

As one of the technology standard developers of my district, I found it would be perfect to add a link to a youtube video I just showed my school yesterday during a meeting.  It really reinforces the “Why?” of educational technology.

In practice, educational technology does require focus on studies, ethics, and leadership.  The educator has to be well-rounded in their own technology skills to be able to select resources for students to use.

I chose to use the website bubbl.us to create my graphic.  It was extremely user-friendly.  I know my students could use it without much of a problem.  In addition, I loved that it was so adaptable; I felt I had a lot of choice in how my graphic would look.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my EDTECH 501 class.  I learned so much about educational technology, and I know it is only the beginning.

I hope you enjoy my mindmap.  https://bubbl.us/?h=2fdf0e/60012e/31jcKOs.cjosQ&r=542008123

Welcome to my EDTECH Learning Log!

My name is Carli Cockrell, and I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree from Boise State University.  I chose to create this site to catalog the various projects I will be creating.  I’m excited to learn more about educational technology, coding, and online education.  Technology is a true passion of mine, and I believe we need to teach the youth to understand the inner-workings of technology, as they live in a world where self-propelled learning is at their fingertips.  You can read more about me in the “About Me” section of the site.