The Navigate module gave me a wealth of knowledge to prepare me to meet standards B, I, and K for Quality Online Teaching such as learning about:
In reference to standard B, I feel the Navigate module really enhanced my knowledge of technologies involving types asynchronous and synchronous learning along with LMSs and SISs. Learning about the two different types of online learning enabled me to really think about what type of learning I would be most comfortable facilitating. Then, being able to see the tools and trends in LMSs and SISs really gave me insight into what online learning entails for all stakeholders, but especially the teacher facilitator.
In reference to standard I, I feel the Navigate module helped to show me the different resources and tools that an online teacher facilitator can utilize in using data to drive instruction and guide student learning. The specific videos within the modules from D2L were helpful in letting me see exactly what the teacher facilitators side of the data would look like in an SIS.
I had the most trouble with standard K. When attempting to choose an LMS that I could easily upload a course package to I became frustrated because many of the platforms did not support the data files I was trying to upload. Fortunately, once I found an LMS that supported the package the process was very simple. Through exploring the different LMSs I have found the ones that I would prefer using and the ones that I prefer not to use in the future. I am glad that I was able to do this exploration on the front end of my training for online learning because it will save me a lot of time in the future.
The strategies that I will take away from the Navigate modules were all found within the Delineating Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning module. This is where I learned the difference between the two types of online learning. I see my online learning experience being a possible hybrid between the two types. I would like to have some aspects of synchronous learning by holding Google+ Hangouts where all students will join at the same time and be a part of a lesson/discussion. I would also like to have my course pre-set with assignments and tasks that can be completed at a time of the students choosing allowing them asynchronous learning opportunities. I would have a Google+ Hangout that would coincide with each asynchronous learning assignment so I could formatively assess what students are learning and what they are having trouble with in the lessons.
The lessons that were most beneficial were:
- Delineating Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning because I was able to learn about the two types of online learning allowing me to make a decision about the type of learning I want to provide to my online learners.
- Roles in LMSs and SISs because I was able to learn about the different aspects I would be responsible for within both. It also taught me about how the different parts of each are necessary for a LMS to function properly.
- Course Creation within LMS allowed me to explore the different options and work through the possible choices I might use. I was able to try many of them and now I know which onces I am willing to use and willing to not use.
All of the lessons were valuable, but these were the three that I found the most information in that will directly effect my online classroom environment.
Explore: I wasn’t familiar with any of the course creation software so I briefly previewed each for a few minutes. I ended up downloading all of them in some shape, form, or fashion until I found one that was compatible with the package upload I was to use. I ended up choosing Haiku because several of them uploaded the package, but with many errors. Creating the course shell was simple. I just had to name it and give it a course code. Voila! It was created!
Create/Answer: I first had to create a class within Haiku before I uploaded the entire course package titled “Introducation to Digital Citizenship.” I had to give it a class name and class code. Then, Haiku created a class URL for me. I then had to write a brief summary of the class. Optional components were available such as calendar, comments, and messaging. Then, you can create a schedule for the class or not. I then simply went to “Add Content” and uploaded the zipped package. After the content loaded, it approximately five minutes for the content to become available. The process was easy and the steps I described were simple. I would think that following the steps is very important so the content will upload appropriately. I worked with a few of the other sites: Blackboard, Schoology, and D2L. I became frustrated with them because the content would upload, but it was always with errors. The process to upload was easy, but the result was not correct.
Explore: Consider the LMS explored.
Answer: There are several options in an LMS for reporting and analytics. There are four levels at which reporting can be completed: student, teacher, course, and program. I feel that teacher level and program level would be more beneficial to the administrative section of an LMS. It would enable them to keep up with teacher and program performance which will indirectly effect student performance. I believe the two levels that would be the most important and have the most impact to an online instructor in regard to student performance would be the student level and the course level. Student level grade reporting is necessary in a regular classroom as well as an online classroom. Teachers must inform students and parents about how they are doing on the content in their classes. Teachers can look at the student level data as a whole. If they see an issue with grades on certain content they can move to the course level content. The course level content can help a teache evaluate the content they are teaching or possibly re-design all or some of a course. This could include just an assessment or the materials being presented to the students. All levels of reporting are important aspects to keep an LMS running effectively for all stakeholders involved.
Explore: Through my exploration I found there to be eight major tool categories within an LMS:
- Tools: announcements, blogs, journals, glossary, email
- Course Administration: course home, syllabus
- Teacher Information: clas list, calender, bulletin board/class news
- Course Content and LOR: Import/export content, course authoring, course packages, Learning Object Repository
- Communication: email, discussion boards, notification system, instant messaging, blogs, social profiles, calendars, aler systems or agents
- Course Assessments: tests, quizzes, rubric, dropbox
- Grades/Gradebook: report generation, commenting/feedback, rubrics, data import, weight vs. percentage
- ePortfolio: (my favorite!) store, organize, reflect on, and share items that represent your learning
All these tools work together to create a strong LMS. With one of these tools missing, an LMS would not be possible. Some of the tools are more relevant than others, but are are needed to carryout online learning.
Answer: In my opinion, the most relevant tool features offered within an LMS that directly relate to effective online instruction are course content, communication, course assessments, grades/gradebook, and ePortfolios. All these features would be necessary for my online classroom environment. Course content would be absolutely crucial to an online classroom. The material being taught to the students needs to be well structured and accurate. There would be no classroom without course content. Communication is another tool that would be used on a daily basis. It would be used for teacher to teacher, teacher to student, teacher to parent, student to student communication. Teachers would need to communicate both with the students and with the parents about multiple topics on any given day. Students will need to converse/collaborate with other students if they have questions or if they are working together on an assignment. Course assessment and grades would go hand in hand. Teachers need to know if students are mastering content so they must administer assessments and record grades in a gradebook. A gradebook also provides proof that a student has completed the necessary tasks to receive credit for a course. The most outstanding LMS tool feature is the ePortfolio. This allows students to create their own platform for storing, organizing, reflecting on, and sharing items that represent what they have learned. There is no better representation of what a student has learned than letting them choose the items that they feel represent their learning. It is personal and can be shared with anyone. ePortfolios are also used in the 21st century business world making it a great segway into using something like this for a job interview.
Explore: I did my exploration of LMS trends in the LMS 2016 Forecasts by Craig Weiss. I found his “E-Learning 24/7 Blog” to be very informative on many topics, not just LMSs. Four trends stuck out to me as “big ones”: curating content, PLE (Personalized Learning Experience), gamification, and making it social. Curating content seems to be inevitable with the number of mobile devices in our classrooms. It will enable students to upload video and allow classmates to collaborate on the content. PLE draws interest because it makes the platform specific to each student and their likes and dislikes. Gamification brings gaming into the learning platform which is high interest at all levels of education. 21st century learner skills require learning to be social so the push to make it more social is pertinent.
Answer: The trend that I chose, which I believe will have an impact on online learning, is gamification. There will need to be some upgrades to it, but it can keep interest high in low interest academic topics. It is human nature to want something in return when you do something. Gamification takes learning and builds in a reward system. LMSs can use gamification to create a reward store or built-in badge library to reward students for completion of different lessons/modules. This draws in learners from all levels: Kindergarten through higher education. I know I enjoy seeing badges in my Diply account when I complete something for GAVS. I can see many LMSs including gamification in some form or fashion because not all students are intrinsically motivated to complete work because they are “supposed” to do it. Some students need that extra extrinsic motivator to give them the encouragement to start learning even if it is to play a portion of a game in return for completing tasks or assignments. I do not believe gamificationi is a passing fad. I have been in education for over 14 years and I have seen hints of gamification in many online learning tools. I think that gamification in its current form will transform into something even more personalized for each student in online learning. I believe with the way our society is moving toward more and more technological classrooms that the entertainment valuse in gamification is going to be necessary to keep student’s attention and focus on learning.
Explore: When considering which LMS is best for my organization I have to consider many things. The number one thing I have to consider are the stakeholders including: administrators, students, teachers and faculty, instructional technology, development, support, and parents. I researched the top 20 most popular LMS Software Solutions. I found the top five to be Moodle, Edmodo, Blackboard, SumTotal Systems, and Skillsoft. I was already familiar with Moodle and Edmodo, but knew little about the latter three so I explored them a bit. I found myself going back to what I knew best which was Google Classroom. Then I thought, is Google Classroom really an LMS? At this point I had to do a bit of research into my question. I found that it is not “labeled” an LMS, but can be utilized as one. One expert labeled it as a “Google Drive Management” System. It is the best of both worlds. It has pluses and minuses just like any management system. Pluses include: collaboration and feedback are easy, students learn Google Suite which is utilized by many companies worldwide, no time is wasted sharing files, and teachers can download apps and extensions to do many things including grading assignments. Minuses would include: archiving can be tedious if not well planned and it does not automate course enrollment (exactly). The best thing about Google Classroom is that it is ever growing and changing. It does not become stagnant. Bottomline is that Google Classroom is not an LMS, but it is better.
Answer: After researching many LMSs, I have come to the conclusion that Google Classroom is the best LMS. It meets the needs of all stakeholders within my organization by allowing:
- students/teachers to save drafts
- parents can be added to classrooms
- co-teachers can be added to classrooms
- assignments can be graded, commented on, and returned to students
- collaboration & feedback
- use of Google Forms to take tests and have real-time grading
- their is a mobile app
- user friendly
- continuously updates
- *Any functionalities that are not found within Classroom can be found in out Google apps.* Currently our county is working with Google to make our grading platform sync with Google Classrooms so grades will automatically transfer!
Google Classroom aligns with the initiatives, growth, and technological needs of my county. In our organization, our number one initiative is to create students that are ready for the world. It is not a secret that Google is a mainstay in industry worldwide. Our students are growing and learning 21st century technology skills that they will utilize not only in life, but in the workplace once they are productive members of society. As a middle school, our technological needs have to keep up with the growing minds of our students and Google is able to do that. Not a week goes by that something is not updated within the Google Suite.
Explore: Through my exploration of a Learning Management System, I learned that it is multi-fauceted. After I reviewed each individual role, I envisioned in my head a pyramid that built upon itself until it reached the student. At the bottom were the core components upon which the system builds: LMS Administration, Course Developer, and Instructional Administration (facilitation). These three things seemed to be the foundation for the digital learning platform. Without them, the platform would not exist or function. Then comes the second level with: Organizational Data Analysis and Teachers (SIS). These two sections can do their job effectively because of the base level that provides them with materials, guidelines, policies, and coursework. At the top are the students. They reap the benefits from a well oiled Learning Management System with a strong foundation because they receive instruction which is data driven and presented with best practices in mind for a digital learning community.
Create/Artifact: At the link below, see my digital resource that highlights the various roles in a learning management system.
Explore: My first observation during my exploration is to make sure I have a good microphone/headset or just a good microphone that is functional. it took me several tries to work out my technical difficulties with the mic. Once that was squared away I first tried Screencast-o-matic. It is quite simple to edit recordings and upload them to YouTube. There are not a lot of buttons necessary for the program and everything is clearly labeled. I attempted to use Explain Everything next, but unfortunately I am on a desktop and it is not free for PC. So I moved on to Jing. Once it was downloaded an icon rests at the top of the screen with three smaller menus for capture, history, and more. The actual process of capturing video and sound wasn’t difficult, but the processing of saving was a bit tedious. I have chosen to create using Screencast-o-matic.
Create: Educational Concept: Sharing a Google Document w/ Teacher (Prepared using Screencast-o-matic)
Answer: Screen capturing fuctions to create a real classroom environment for online learners. An online teacher can sit down at their laptop, open up Google Draw, and demonstrate anything from math concepts to editing marks with visuals and audio. Lessons can be recorded while being taught and viewed later if a student still has questions. A teacher can use screen capturing to modify teaching methods through differentiation. If a teacher sees many students having or making the same mistakes on a certain concept remediation could be completed by making a new screen capturing teaching it a different way. On the other end of the spectrum, a student may need enrichment which could also occur through another screencast. Screen capturing essentially lets a teacher differentiate for all the learners within a digital learning community.
Explore: I chose to explore Google+ Hangouts more in depth. I worked with the application for about 30-45 minutes just pressing buttons and keys to see what the capabilities were before really diving intoo the application. I encouraged two of my colleagues to join a hangout with me so I could actually see it in interactive mode. After that trial run, I feel this would be the perfect application to use to host a live lesson with students. I would be able to see them, hear them, and chat. It is also user friendly to all ages in my opinion. All I would need to do is invite them digitally, they join the hangout, and voila we are on the road to synchronous learning.
Answer: I chose Google+ Hangouts as my synchronous vendor application/tool. I experienced it to be user friendly, but you can’t record just a simple Google+ Hangout. However, you can record a Google+ Hangout “On Air.” My first impression was this is an easy application to navigate. I had no issues starting the hangout or adding people. I was able to use written and verbal commands. There were simple commands that led me through the actual set-up and beginning of the hangout. You can post a poll, tag your location, add links, and pictures. I can foresee only two challenges or problems. One there is a possibility of someone on the Google+ Hangout On Air having poor internet connection which would cause the synchronous session to be difficult. They could default to just using the chat option if necessary. The second challenge could be getting all the students on at the same time. Luckily, each Hangout On Air can be recorded and saved to my Youtube channel for later reference if someone doesn’t join.
Reflect: While going through this module, I realized there are both strengths and weaknesses to synchronous learning.open source versus commercial software in a synchronous learning environment. I had several questions about weaknesses floating through my mind about accessibility and affordibility. A student must have access to the necessary software to participate. If a certain commercial software is chosen by the instructor, instead of open source, a student could have difficulty affording the software making it not accessible to them. On the other hand, using open source materials requires IT work which takes much time due to upgrades, integrating, hosting, etc…
Answer: Open source applications would take precedence over commercial products when not all students could afford or manage to get access. Open source materials are free and students are guarateed access. Unfortuately, there are some issues when choosing between open source and commercial products. The commercial products sometimes have greater capabilities than the free open source materials. Teachers must spend time researching the different softwares before planning to use them in their online class. Bottomline, commercial and open source materials are good, but they have there pros and cons. Commercial can be expensive to the student; whereas open source is free to the student, but requires much IT work for continued success.