A Beautiful Vancouver Sunset

A few weeks ago, I went for a walk around Queen Elizabeth Park and was mesmerized to see the spectacular sunset.  With my handy dandy smartphone, I immediately captured it and thought I share it with you today.

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How beautiful eh!  Enjoy.

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Understanding Creative Commons Licensing

I came across this video on Youtube that gives a very good overview of different Creative Common licensing options and talks about how to apply for a Creative Common License for your work.  I found it quite helpful, I am sure you will too:) Enjoy.

You may also want to visit http://creativecommons.ca/ for more information and to apply.

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Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation

Dan Pink’s Ted Talk on motivation.  This is  a fun presentation with a lot of really good examples.  Please watch!

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Brain Magic by Keith Barry

A fascinating video on Brain Magic!  I am still trying to figure out the hand trick—hopefully you’d have a better luck with it:)

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Eagle’s Bluff Hike

I recently went on a hike with my sons and a few of their friends and had an amazing time!  The day couldn’t have been any better; it was sunny with a perfect temperature for hiking!  In the beginning, hike was quite steep but around 1/2 way through it became a little more  balanced.

Along our way up, we came across a few lakes with beautiful flowers around the edges.  My son took a picture of me while I was just sitting on the edge and admiring the gorgeous view.

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About 45 minutes later, we arrived at the top.  The view there was beyond description!  I felt like I had died and gone to heaven:)  Here are some pics to prove it:)

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We stayed there for about an hour, had a great picnic, saw many squirrels looking for food; I even got to feed one with my hands!  It was all so surreal!

Climbing down was another awesome experience.  I really enjoyed being in the nature and the perfect company I had for this hike.  It truly was incredible and I can’t wait to go there again soon!

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Hybrid Education

Objective

“Our students want the convenience of some online courses, but a few prefer totally online courses” (Walker & Jorn, 2009b). Combination of the two is known as Hybrid education.  Some call it ‘Blended Education’ in which instructors employ a combination of face to face and on-line instructional methods to provide students with the best of both learning options.

According to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukie’s website, “a hybrid course is designed to integrate face to face and online activities so that they reinforce, complement, and elaborate one another, instead of treating the online component as an add on or duplicate or what is being taught in the classroom” (2014).

Alternative approaches to face to face education (namely hybrid and distance education) have been there since the late 1800 (Mclsaac & Gunawardena, 2001). Bowen believes that “most of our teaching is already blended or hybrid”.  He further elaborates that—–“for traditional courses, this means a regular class meeting three times a week, but with some content distributed  online, a learning management system (LMS) website, and perhaps a discussion board or some online feedback———-for hybrid courses , students may meet just once a week or month” (2013, p. 236)

While most students value the physical contact with teachers, they also want the potential learning and real convenience in online coursework.   “Weather in person or on line the emotional power of our subject and its human connection is an important part of what we teach.  This means that face to face instruction will always have deep value and that even in on-line classroom the art of teaching will still be at a premium (Bowen, 2013, p. 224)” Bowen further elaborates that, “most faculty have been performing only live, but they do not have to stop doing so to embrace online education”. In his opinion, “for more institutions, the primary questions will be one of balance between face to face interaction and online resources” (Bowen, 2013, p. 237).

Reflective

My immediate reaction to the notion of Hybrid education is a big fat YES.  I do believe that this is the future of our education and that it offers the best of both worlds to all the stakeholders.  This method of education allows students the autonomy they so crave for being self-directed learners, provides a safe environment to interact with fellow students and utilize available resources based on their preferred learning styles, promotes autonomy, leadership and responsibility and provides a platform for open discussions/debates to encourage higher order and critical thinking skills.  For faculty, this leads to innovating new methods of providing a meaningful learning experience for their students, flexibility around scheduling courses, better student interaction and the motivation to stay current with the technical advances for continued teaching excellence.

For the colleges/universities, this method creates a better use of the classroom space and equipment leading to efficient use of resources, enhances institutions’ brand name for potentially being leaders in innovative teaching methods, creates opportunities to offer focused programming for greater student access, enhances student learning and opens up international markets to increase revenue and boost sustainability.

Interpretive

Bowen writes, “The best education of the future will be a hybrid” (2013, p. 237).  Since hybrid courses require limited on-campus attendance, more people from more places can access courses/programs more easily leading to better access to education for those who otherwise may not be able to do so.  Going hybrid, however, means that instructors must embrace information technology as one of the key instructional methods and be open to adjusting the course content – in particular, their lecture materials into podcasts, videos etc.  A good example of this could by incorporating the ‘Flipping Classroom’ model into classroom teaching.  According to Te@chThought website, using the flipped classroom method” teachers and professors use online media to deliver notes, lectures and related course materials. Students review these materials at home and at their own pace. Classroom periods are then transformed into hands-on work periods where the teacher–who will have already delivered his or her lecture digitally–is free to field questions, engage class-wide discussions or offer other means of support” (http://www.teachthought.com).  This is just one of the many ways faculty can provide blended learning.  Since ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, I believe that faculty must be willing and able to create and customize the right balance of both in-class and on-line methods to construct an ideal learning environment for students.  In other words, “the best course of future will combine both online and physical instruction, but in different amounts” (Bowen, 2013, p. 241).

Decisional

In an article on the World Wide Learn website, Fanter calls hybrid as the “Future of Instructional Models” (http://www.worldwidelearn.com/education-articles/hybrid-education.html.  Bowen says that “higher education will need to morph from a locally delivered product to a hybrid model that includes both online resources and classroom interaction” (2013, p. 242).  As a student, I have been a part of three different types of learning methods; purely classroom focused, a combination of both and purely on-line. They each have their strengths and drawbacks but the ones that combined both classroom and on-line instructions turned out to be most effective for me especially for courses that were longer in duration.  As an instructor, I definitely see the need for me to become more proficient in the use of social media to be able to incorporate ‘hybrid’ methods of teaching in an efficient manner.  This course i.e. PIDP 3240 has been a tremendous step towards becoming comfortable with using social media as a teaching/learning tool but I do feel that I need to do more to strengthen my skills to incorporate hybrid methods in the future.  To achieve this, I have decided to pursue VCC’s certificate in Online Learning/eLearning Instruction upon completion of my PID.

Before wrapping up, I would like to acknowledge the powerful role our text book ‘Teaching Naked—-‘ has played in informing me of countless digital resources.  It has also provided me with excellent step by step approaches for incorporating these into everyday learning/teaching scenarios. I feel that this text book is one of the most valuable reference resources I currently possess in addition to the countless resources posted by my fellow students on the Assignment 2 Forum and of course the World Wide Web!  Even though I have a long way to go, I believe I am many steps closer to incorporating hybrid options into my future teaching strategies.

References

Bowen, J. A. (2013. Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Fanter, A. (2014). The future of instructional models. Retrieved from http://www.worldwidelearn.com/education-articles/hybrid-education.html

Mclsaac, M. & Gunawardena, C. (2001).  Distance education. In D.H. Jonassen, (Ed).  Handbook of research for educational communication & technology (pp. 403-437). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Te@chthought Website. The definition of blended learning. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/blended-learning-2/the-definition-of-blended-learning/

Walker, J.D., & Jorn, L. (2009b). 21st century student: Technology survey. University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Office of Information Technology.  Retrieved from http://www.oit.umn.edu/

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Technology for Information Delivery

Objective

As teachers, we strive to stimulate student learning and engagement through a combination of instructional strategies that includes the use of information technology, classroom lectures, group projects, simulations, role plays and reflective and self-directed learning.  We want our students to “master the  content of the course” and “learn how to use the content some way” (Fink, p. 130) to promote higher order processing of foundational knowledge – applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating” (Bowen, p. 103). Information Technology can play a significant role in helping us achieve this “as an out of class content delivery system”  and “can deliver content in better and more valuable ways then we can do live”’ (Bowen, p. 103).

According to Bowen, “by providing resources to students in advance of class sessions and requiring the students to engage with those resources, faculty will have more time in class to respond on other things” (2013, p. 104).

There is an abundance of available resources on the world-wide web for every imaginable topic so rather than spending so much time in class to lecture, why not allow students to utilize those resources outside of class and use class time to review, reflect and put their learning into practice through a supportive teacher assisted environment?  Bowen makes reference to a multitude of resources in his book “Teaching Naked—-“ but the ones that I believe can play a significant role in facilitating out of class learning(but certainly not limited to)  include https://www.khanacademy.org/, http://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm, http://www.ted.com/, and  https://www.youtube.com/.

Reflective

My personal reaction is an immediate ‘yes’.  We can’t deny the fact that we live in the age of digital technology and that it is here to stay!  So rather than resisting to open our minds to the tremendous possibilities, let’s embrace it and meet our students in their comfort zone to connect, motivate and stimulate their desire to learn and grow.  I am confident that a large majority of the educators also feel this way about integrating information technology with other methods of education delivery.  Here, I am reminded of a quote I saw on Graphite by Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/) that states that Information Technology in Education “isn’t optional, it’s essential”.  And that “overwhelmingly, educators have faith in education technology and there is a growing demand”.

Information Technology is making lives easier for both students and faculty in more ways than we can imagine.  A simple tweet by a student or the teacher can start a group discussion, can serve as a reminder about what to review before next class, can provide a link to useful resources and can act as a platform to post questions and possible answers on a study topic.  Podcasts, youtube videos, step by step tutorials can help students prepare for an upcoming exam in the comfort of their own homes.  And the list goes on and on.

Being both a student and an educator, I use information technology on a daily basis both to learn new things, complete assignments for my studies and to prep for my upcoming teaching assignments.  For example, last week, I taught Basic Bookkeeping for Small Business to a group of 18 students.  Prior to the class, I sent an email requesting students to pre-read the course hand outs and encouraged them to check out a youtube video link that explained the accounting/bookkeeping terminology with examples. I also asked them to write down concepts they would like further clarification on and bring them along for the in-class session.  The results were amazing.  Most of the students found the youtube video link very helpful.  Instead of spending too much time explaining basic terminology, we used the class time to clarify their ‘muddiest points’ and practiced making Journal entries and posting entries in General Ledgers.  Even though the course is introductory in nature, students told me that they felt more confident of their ability to apply their learning in real life situations as a result of this combined instructional method.

Interpretive

We live in an era where a multitude of effective tools at our disposal as educators, all thanks to the recent explosion information technology. I strongly believe that it would be a disservice to our students to shy away from incorporating these tools to enhance learning and engage our students both in and outside of class.  It is no longer necessary to spend countless hours to prepare for a classroom lecture when we have scholarly material available for use at our fingertips.  Merlot collection is a great example of this where educators have access to “tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials, learning exercises, and content builder web pages, ———-, all intended to enhance the teaching experience of using the learning material” (http://info.merlot.org/merlothelp/index.htm#merlot_collection.htm). Another excellent example is the Khan Academy, a not-for profit organization that offers “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere” (https://www.khanacademy.org/about).

Bowen (2013) outlines a number of ways for educators to use technology outside of class to ensure that class time is used more productively.  For example, using e-communication methods to make announcements, provide syllabus summaries, and sharing reading files, notes and handouts using a Learning Management System or a drop box available through ‘Cloud Computing’ are just a few of the ways we can incorporate technology both in and outside of our classrooms.  According to Wikipedia, Cloud Computing is “internet-based computing in which large groups of remote servers are networked to allow the centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing).  Other ways include making selected podcasts, videos and websites available to students for pre-class exposure to the topic contents (Bowen, 2013).

One cautionary note——even though in an ideal world, everyone should have access to the information technology resources—-this is not necessarily the case!   Not all our students have access to iPhones or personal laptops/computers.  So as educators, it is our duty to ensure that we are prepared to address this inequality head on before making it a requirement for our students to pre-read, pre-watch, pre-view topic related information that require the use of digital media. We can do this by providing a list of available resources for free information technology access.  For example, campus libraries allow students to borrow iPads and other electronic devices, local public libraries offer free access to computers/internet, some community and employment centres allow free computer access just to name a few.

Decisional

Reflecting back on my pre-information technology days of being a student, I sometimes wonder— had all this been available to me then, where would I be today?  Would my career path be same or completely different?  What other mile stones would have I been able to achieve, and so on—–.  As you may have noticed, I am a strong proponent of using a combination of instructional strategies to enhance both student learning and my own experience as a teacher.  I am always looking for ways to “leverage new content and new delivery systems into course designs” (Bowen, 2013, p. 127).  I have benefited from the integration of technology into course design as a student of the Provincial Instructor Diploma program at VCC and have received exposure to countless on-line resources and effective instructional strategies especially through PIDP 3240.  I can clearly visualize the role this combined information delivery system will play in my future teaching/learning and am looking forward to continuously sharpening my digital literacy skills to provide a meaningful learning experience to all my future students. I am excited about the limitless possibilities and the very bright future of education——made possible by information technology!   And ‘yes’, I am keenly aware of the fact that the ease of access does not always translate into quality materials, so being critical of on-line resources before use would always remain a top priority for me both as an instructor and as a student.  I have shared but just one example of how I have used technology to enhance learning above and can only imagine the role it will continue to play in my future teaching!  Long live the digital age!

References

Bowen, J. A. (2013. Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Fink, L.D. (2003), Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Khan Academy. Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/about

Merlot. Retrieved from http://info.merlot.org/merlothelp/index.htm#merlot_collection.htm

Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org

Ted Talk. http://www.ted.com/

YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/

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Skype

Objective

In this age of technological revolution, there are many social media tools available that allow the video chatting feature but Skype has undoubtedly become one of the most commonly used video talking tools among students and educators.  Microsoft introduced Skype in 2003 and since then, this social media tool has gained tremendous popularity worldwide with approximately 300 million users (http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/skype-statistics/#.VDocPPldVqU) from around the globe.  It offers many free options including video calling, international and local voice calling, file and screen sharing and instant messaging (http://www.skype.com/en/).  Skype is one of the many tools used by educators to teach on-line courses and provide virtual coaching to students from all over the world.  Teachers and students can have a face to face conversation from the comforts of their own homes as long as they have access to the internet, a computer/laptop or an iPhone.

Skype’s screen sharing feature is very popular among students and according to Bowen, ‘it can dramatically change the way faculty interacts with students’ (2013, p. 40). Skype’s official website https://education.skype.com/ claims that more than 94,000 teachers worldwide use Skype in their classrooms at present.

Reflective

I absolutely agree that Skype is among one of the best tools to enhance communication and interaction between students and faculty both for classroom and online learning environments.  Demand for the on-line education is growing exponentially as today’s students are looking for more flexible educational options and Skype is playing a significant role in addressing this growing need. According to the 2011 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, 74.5% institutions saw increased demand for on-line courses while demand for face-to-face learning was at 48.8% only (Bowen, 2013, p. 11). This only means one thing and one thing only, this trend is here to stay and we as educators must be prepared to get on board.

I have used Skype both as a student and as an educator and must admit that I am a fanJ  I have found it to be both a highly effective and user friendly tool. Thanks to Skype and other Social Media tools, I have been able to work full time and take several on-line courses during evening and weekend hours.  This flexibility is not only desired by working professionals, today’s students prefer to have the option to set their own schedules and study at their own pace.  Skype, in my opinion, has really revolutionized the way we learn, interact with others and experience the world.

Interpretive

Bowen (2013, p. 27) has said it really well that ‘technology has changed the availability and value of knowledge’.  It has turned the world into a global community where we can teach, learn, empower, and support each other regardless of the physical distance between us.  I strongly believe that Skype has played and will continue to play a crucial role in bringing the teaching and learning communities together to enhance communication and teaching/learning interaction.  Its use in the classroom is helping to increases student engagement not only in course material but also in local and global issues, therefore facilitating the development of successful learners and knowledgeable global citizens.  Skype in the Classroom website i.e. https://education.skype.com/ offers many examples that provide clear evidence of this.

Decisional

As mentioned earlier, I have used Skype both for learning and teaching in the past and have seen first-hand evidence of its effectiveness in promoting interactive, customized and user friendly learning environment.  I have used Skype to invite guest speakers to my classes for ‘career talks’, ‘interview tips’ etc. through Skype’s video conferencing feature and will continue to do so in the future.  I have used Skype to provide one-to-one coaching and tutoring support to my students outside of office hours when needed.  As a student, I have used it to brainstorm ideas with my study groups, conduct group presentations, teach peers and receive coaching from my professors when needed.  In the future, I plan to go further and use this tool in combination with twitter as a platform for my students to post their questions, come up with answers to questions posted by their fellow students, and participate in video discussions relevant to course topics. When coaching my student(s), I will use the screen sharing feature of Skype to help solve related learning challenges.  I also see Skype as a very useful tool to video conference with my fellow educators for peer to peer teaching/learning and for virtual coaching or peer evaluations.  While I fully believe that face to face teaching has a very special place for both students and teachers, I have fully embraced the fact that as an educator, I must strive to become social media savvy to maintain my credibility with today’s students, stay current on current events/trends/global issues and continuously sharpen my teaching skills.

References

Bowen, J. A. (2013. Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

DMR: Digital Marketing Rambling Website. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/skype-statistics/#.VDocPPldVqU

Skype in the classroom website. Retrieved from https://education.skype.com/

Skype Website. Retrieved from http://www.skype.com

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Twitter and Me –update

You may remember from my last post that I was feeling a little confused around how twitter works for being so new to it—you’d be happy to know that I am now a huge fan of twitter:)  I find it extremely easy to use and a fabulous way to communicate, resource share and stay current to the world around me!

I must admit though that if it weren’t for this course (PIDP 3240), I would probably never have learned how useful this quick tool really is!  In a way, I am grateful for the supportive push I got from my instructor to incorporate a variety of social media tools including twitter to communicate with him and my fellow students.

There is a ton of really good information about twitter on youtube but the one I found very useful is the video series by Anton Alexander.  Here is the link, please do check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h08SlngA2zk.    Until next time:) – Pam

 

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Twitter and Me

I am a brand new twitter user with very little understanding of how to use it effectively and have no idea what I should tweet about.  While looking for resources to understand this Social Media option better, I came across an article written by Shea Bennett and thought my fellow twitter newbies may find this helpful as well.  I certainly feel a lot better after having read this article and can easily relate to the five stages described in this article.  I am looking forward to the day when I can say that I have reached stage 5 i.e. Acceptance:)  At this point, I feel like I am at stage 4 known as Depression (it does not make any sense).

Have fun reading this article and wish me luck with getting twitter LOL:)

The 5 Stages of ‘Getting’ Twitter, by Shea Bennett

 

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