Collaborative Networking with students

There are a number of ways to get students up and active, sharing notetaking and working together.

A3 paper:

This can be a wonderful tool for getting information out of their minds and into shared space. Some examples, which may be hard to read, but which give you an idea of how it works are below. They come from a VCE History revision lesson in 2015. Preparation involved picking up on the skills that were lacking – in this case the provision of evidence to support contentions that had been made – and writing a target in the middle. Each student then had a time frame of 2 minutes per page, before they had to move on to the next page.

A3 speed note sharing 2A3 speed note sharing 1

Collaborative cube:

This was a recommissioned TV trolley which a colleague and I decided to use as a frame for four sheets of whiteboard  material. We kept the wheels so that it could be moved as required. Students of all ages and genders really enjoy using the markers to complete tasks.

Cube

This was an activity with mixed age groups from Years 5 – 8 and from a range of schools, where they had the opportunity to draw pirates!

A4 paper:

Getting students in pairs to list ideas relating to a topic within a really tight timeframe can provide an active change of pace, stimulates competition and often draws out concepts that I have not connected to each other in quite the same way enhancing multiple interpretations of the same content.

Plastic Blocks:

This activity has been blogged about here

In a time when some people are recommending standing desks, it provides a real alternative if you can get them up and moving!

Final Report

Case Study Research Report:

Learning Management System utilisation by teachers and students at a regional Victorian school.

How well are the affordances of the SIMON LMS being used by teachers and students in one specified school setting?

Executive summary:

 

Learning Managements Systems (LMS) are web based products which have been used by most universities for a significant period of time. Increasingly schools, particularly at the secondary level, are also investing in such digital tools. This study compares the potential usage of a specific LMS in a small, regional, kindergarten to Year 12, Victorian Independent School with those aspects that teachers and students are actually using. Information was garnered by use of online surveys, and the findings suggest not only wide acceptance of some affordances by both teachers and students, but also ignorance of the potential of others. The Primary Campus usage is minimal, for a number of reasons. The data were comparable with results obtained by researchers working on LMS reviews in other institutions, predominantly universities.

 

The Nature and Context of the Case Study:

 

This case study report presents the results of an empirical inquiry investigating the extent to which the SIMON (LMS) (SIMON Solutions, 2009), as one example of a contemporary educational phenomenon, is being used to improve teaching and learning within the context of a specific regional Victorian school.  The inquiry was framed to discover the degree of usage by teachers and students, the individual uptake of those functions offered by the LMS compared to features not adopted, and the perceived advantages, problems and potential of this specific educational software. The underlying purpose was to understand user needs and perspectives, thereby identifying aspects of usage with which users of this LMS may require support, in order to improve the school’s knowledge networking and opportunities for digital innovation.

 

 

Terminology:

LMS, also referred to as Virtual Learning Environments, Digital Learning Environments, Course Management Systems or Electronic Learning Environments are web based applications which are accessible wherever an Internet connection allows (De Smet, Bourgonjon, De Wever, Schellens, & Valke, 2012, p. 688).  While a significant amount of research has been conducted on the impact of such systems in universities, where, for example, uptake in Britain by 2005 was reported at ninety five percent (McGill & Klobas, 2009, p. 496), there are fewer examples focused on schools, and these are not K-12 settings. The circumstances of the chosen setting are therefore different to those institutions reported on in other academic literature.

 

SIMON is a learning management program, created in 2000 by practicing teachers at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat (Simkin, SIMON, 2015 c). It is now owned by the Ballarat Diocese and the original developers are still involved in managing its evolution. Whilst originally used in Catholic schools within this Diocese, SIMON usage has extended to other educational jurisdictions and Australian states. The school on which this case study focuses, was one of the first Independent Schools to adopt the program, moving to SIMON from Moodle about five years ago. It has also developed a relatively collaborative relationship with the founders of the LMS, by suggesting possible changes; an aspect of the specific context that does not apply to many other schools using the same product.

 

Constraints:

The decision to focus on reviewing one LMS in a single school, was selected to meet the constraints of the timeframe available for conducting the research, and the stipulations outlined for the writing of the research report. The chosen school has been using SIMON for six years, however employment of the system has been observably inconsistent from both a teaching and learning perspective. There is, therefore, potential to use the findings of this investigation to lead to improvement. Three forms of understanding are required before educational transformation can occur: a critique of the current, a vision of the desired and a theory for guiding the situation from where it is to where it should be in order to achieve better outcomes (Robinson & Aronica, 2015, p. 58). This sentiment encapsulates the intention of this case study research as investing in an LMS should result in measurable return on investment (Leaman, 2015, para 1).

The Process:

Literature Review:

The process necessitated commencing with a review of relevant literature, taking guidance from Thomas, the quality of material and the publications it was coming from were the first criteria,  including following up references to literature reviewed within the sources investigated (Thomas, 2013, pp. 60-61).  Most titles were retrieved from the university library, but one was provided through a Twitter connection which led to Professor Harland (Maleko, Nandi, Hamilton, D’Souza, & Harland, 2013) and another from a colleague, an intriguing and very specific research proposal highlighting issues which apply to segregated education, but which also reminded of the challenges of mixing methodology, and that awareness is not the same thing as use when it comes to LMS (Algahtani, 2014, p. 16).  These papers revealed some common themes surrounding LMS research, as outlined below.

 

Commonalities:

Research has predominantly considered the major LMS providers, notably Blackboard (which now incorporates WebCT and ANGEL (Islam, 2014, p. 252)), but also Dokeos, Smartschool (De Smet, Bourgonjon, De Wever, Schellens, & Valke, 2012, p. 689), Sakai (Lonn & Teasley, 2009, p. 687), Desire2Learn (Rubin, Fernandes, Avgerinou, & Moore, 2010, p. 82) and the popular open source Moodle.  Some papers analyse usage of several LMSs, while others compare the utility offered by different options such as Facebook (Maleko, Nandi, Hamilton, D’Souza, & Harland, 2013, p. 83), and SLOODLE (Moodle incorporated with Second Life as a 3D virtual learning environment) (Yasar & Adiguzel, 2010, pp. 5683 – 5685).

 

The majority of the literature was based on surveys, so the decision to collect information through online surveys was validated. Given that the SIMON interface is different for teachers compared to students, two surveys were required. These were constructed using Google Forms.

 

Limitations:

A Parent Access Model survey is being developed for future use to strengthen the evaluation process and enhance the practical application of the recommendations. Lack of time and access to this module for the researcher precluded it from the case study. Use of SIMON by the Primary Campus would benefit from further discussion also. Analysing the purpose and style of the questionnaire was a vital stating point  (Elias, 2015), therefore the main elements of Elias’ work informed the overall structure (Simkin, 2015 a).

 

Survey Methodology:

Qualitative and quantitative surveys elicit very different information, and the literature review resulted in the decision to incorporate both styles of questioning. Qualitative methodology enables detailed descriptions to be provided that are not constrained by the researcher, enabling the respondents to elaborate on the things that matter to them (Ritchie, 2013, p. 4). The style of qualitative questions accessed aspects of critical theory enabling an understanding of the intersect between material conditions and their influence on human behaviour (Ritchie, 2013, p. 12). For example, the last two questions on both surveys (Appendix pages 23-25; 34-35) were ontologically focussed, aiming to compare realistic responses with idealistic possibilities.

 

Selecting the right tool for the anticipated outcome also required quantitative data gathering: deciding appropriate topics to assess by checklists (Appendix pages 20 &  ) compared to items that needed to be evaluated through Likert scale questions (Appendix page) followed (Thomas, 2013, pp. 209-215). It was important to set such questions up in a neutral manner, rather than in a way that directed the result to meet preconceived ideas; commencing with the Likert style questions using a scale of one to five (with one the lowest and five the highest level of agreement) allowed participants to proceed quickly through the quantifiable elements while offering a nuanced range of responses (Thomas, 2013, p. 214). This style of “scale” question allows for opinions to be presented easily; for those who like to explain in more detail, and to have open ended and creative thoughts, the qualitative examples were provided later in the survey (Thomas, 2013, p. 215). Questions needed to cover contextual, explanatory, evaluative and generative options (Ritchie, 2013, p. 27) to allow this report to describe and critique the current, suggest what might be possible and enable recommendations that might be educationally transformational (Robinson & Aronica, 2015, p. 58). The final questions were designed to evoke creative responses and raise the potential for the future of LMS for the next generation of learners, where the ideal system should be more of a learning environment or ecosystem, fitted together in the manner of building blocks to suit subject specific requirements (Straumsheim, 2015, p. 7).

 

In order to ensure clarity and precision (Thomas, 2013, p. 207), the surveys were trialled with fellow university students and work colleagues, including the school’s technical staff, who have strong knowledge of SIMON. Despite this there were some elements that might have offered a different insight: gender and year level of students for example and teaching methods of the staff; such omissions are typical of mixed method research, and hard to avoid in short time frames, especially by relatively inexperienced researchers as myself (Algahtani, 2014, p. 16).

 

The anticipated findings were targeted at establishing the overall satisfaction and learner engagement with SIMON’s functions in terms of organisation, pacing of work, access to resources, collection of materials, class discussion, and feedback, as outlined in the work of Rubin et al (Rubin, Fernandes, Avgerinou, & Moore, 2010, p. 82). The study had to identify the enabling functions as distinct from the hindrances, and whether they were impacting on design of and access to course materials in a positive or negative manner (Rubin, Fernandes, Avgerinou, & Moore, 2010, p. 82). Ease of navigation and number of clicks to access items can facilitate learning, where the inverse will frustrate users and lead to avoidance of features; this is particularly true of feedback. If Blackboard v.12 took twelve click to achieve something that Moodle could do with one, how did SIMON compare (Rubin, Fernandes, Avgerinou, & Moore, 2010, pp. 82-83)?

 

Critical Evaluation:

The Survey Findings:

The survey resulted in thirty-three teacher and sixty-eight student responses, or 47% and 31% respectively. All teaching staff were invited to participate, but only one Junior Campus teacher accepted the opportunity. Another emailed and said it wasn’t really relevant to them. Given that these teachers generally only use a small number of SIMON’s features this was not unreasonable. Teachers on small part-time loads were also not expected to participate; therefore this result was better than expected in the last week of term. Students from Year Nine to Year 12, who have one to one device access were the target population, and the number of respondents for the busy last week was also pleasing.

 

While every recommended avenue had been explored in terms of how to set up a valid survey instrument and pretesting had occurred (Elias, 2015), there were still unexpected outcomes. Omissions and problems arose from the survey’s construction. It would have been helpful to know the gender of recipients given that this has been a factor in a number of other research results, not only Algahtani’s where such issues would be expected (Algahtani, 2014). It would also have been helpful to ascertain the teaching areas of the staff, relative age group of each teacher (or years of experience), and the year levels of the students as was done by Kopcha (Kopcha, 2012, p. 1116).  Including questions to elicit this information would have enabled more targeted recommendations.

 

The use of Likert scale questions in the introductory part of the survey worked well, and respondents benefitted from having a five point scale. The usage responses indicated that 28% of teachers (see teacher and student results below) believe that they use SIMON to some extent or a great extent, while 53% of students (see teacher and student results below) reported that their teachers used SIMON at this level. This is an example where interpretation of results would have been more meaningful if the subjects being taught were known. Staff and students were generally more positive that SIMON supported their teaching and learning in some manner than they were negative.

 

Another anomaly of the type referred to above was revealed by the yes or no option relating to the uploading of work question (see teacher and student results below) where 81% of teachers reported that they did not ask students to do this, but 31% of students said that they did provide work to their teachers in this manner. An astonishing percentage of students reported video and audio feedback being provided (71%) where only 24% of teachers said that they provided this (see teacher and student results below). A follow-up question here on which subjects were making use of this facility would have been beneficial in terms of recommendations, especially if responding teachers had been asked to indicate their faculty.

 

Moving from Likert scale questions and yes or no option to open-ended responses proved valuable on both surveys, as had been anticipated. The number of respondents who completed these optional questions was very pleasing. The slight difference in questions between the two surveys was deliberate to allow for the differing access teachers have to the LMS compared to students. The responses to most of the common questions demonstrated a close correlation between teacher understanding and student use, with a couple of exceptions such as those outlined above.

 

A summation of feelings towards the LMS elicited by the surveys indicated a strong acceptance of the technology. This has been written about by researchers reviewing usage through technology acceptance models (TAM) (De Smet, Bourgonjon, De Wever, Schellens, & Valke, 2012, p. 689). As the school community concerned is technologically experienced, this was expected.  Results also demonstrated that while many users verbally describe a love-hate relationship with SIMON, the use of survey methodology produced more considered feedback (Straumsheim, 2015, para 3). Of the eighteen affordances Schoonenboom lists as desirable in an LMS fourteen are possible using SIMON; only meetings, online examinations, peer feedback, and open hours are not possible in the same manner as she describes (Schoonenboom, 2014, p. 248). Interestingly, the questions aimed at improving SIMON (17 – 19 for teachers and 18 – 19 for students) did not request any of these aspects be made available.

The broad overview of the findings from the open-ended comments (Appendix page) indicated that teachers enjoy the reporting facility because it links to the assessment module and saves them work. The most frustrating facet for both teachers and students is the number of clicks it requires to access work (51%). Students highlighted the inconsistent usage of the LMS by their teachers, and sometimes indicated that components are being incorrectly used: all student work should be in the “curriculum documents” section but some teachers are placing it in “general documents”. While there is an historic reason that may have led to this, it should no longer occur. Reporting live through assessment tasks should indicate more clearly that work is linked to the curriculum module.

 

Facets identified:

Five equal facets should  be provided by any LMS: interoperability, personalisation, analytics, collaboration and accessibility (Straumsheim, 2015, para 6), and, according to the findings, SIMON delivers all of these to some degree. Taking interoperability first, it most elearning tools that teachers currently use with their classes can be accommodated, either by linking the document to the system (such as collaborative OneNote notebooks), locating a file in the system, or providing a weblink.

 

Personalisation is also possible and has led to some confusion as evidenced in the responses.  The school concerned has added a number of links, for example, to library services, which some respondents find bewildering. It does however correspond to the findings reported by Horn et al that a range of “library help objects” and links to resources accounts for user differences and support needs (Horn, Maddox, Hagel, Currie, & Owen, 2013, pp. 238-240).

 

Analytics are available to teachers for administrative use, such as knowing if a student is present or has submitted their work, and also to the LMS administrator for checking the number of log ins for example. The teacher who suggested that it would be good if SIMON could calculate School Assessment Percentages (currently done through Excel 365) would be surprised to know that with teacher education in derived scores, it could.

 

Collaboration was not raised by respondents, although some referred to using the forum space. This is probably SIMON’s weakest suite, but looking at what is planned for the next software update, school, parent, student interaction should be improved (Simkin, 2015 c). Lonn and Teasleys’ research indicates that few users used or rated the interactive tools, preferring to comment on the tools that push out to or collect work from students (Lonn & Teasley, 2009, p. 693).  Collaboration through internal communities of practice and self-organising networks should become more common in the near future as more teachers look to make global connections, and the Senior Campus moves to a one-to-one device model in 2006 (Archer, 2006, p. 67)

 

 

In terms of accessibility, one teacher, who followed up on his survey by sending an email with more detailed information (Budenberg, 2015), found that most of his issues were due to lack of instruction during orientation. In a meeting to resolve some of his issues, Tim passed a comment that SIMON was like a Swiss army multi-purpose knife, citing almost word for word a comment from Alier et al which alludes to the fact that numerous tools, while helpful, may not offer the best solution for the purpose  (Alier, et al., 2012, p. 107).  His prior experience with Daymap, an LMS with the ability to email parents of a class with one click, was raised face-to-face. SIMON is a much cheaper solution.

 

 

Recommendations:

The case study has achieved its goal of leading to a number of recommendations for the school under evaluation. Given that no LMS will answer everyone’s needs, it is better to work with the one that is currently provided and maximise its strengths while minimising its weaknesses (Leaman, 2015 para 7).  In this setting there is the added benefit of access to the developers.

The following recommendations will be passed to the designated, relevant groups.

For SIMON developers:

  1. While interoperability between a range of platforms and SIMON is good, retrieval of information in terms of convolution (number of clicks) and lack of search functionality is a hindrance. This requires simplification in some form.
  2. Collaboration through a range of means: chat, peer assessment and an improved forum interface would be well regarded as beneficial to communities of practice.

For the School Executive:

  1. More effective mentoring of new teachers and ongoing in-servicing of all teaching staff would improve usage for students, thereby enhancing learning.
  2. A clear and consistent statement of expectations for usage by teachers appears to be unclear. Teachers need to model SIMON usage to students more effectively.

For the Teaching and Learning Committee:

Discussion is required to consider the following:

  1. Options for the provision of face-to-face assistance with SIMON mastery need to be provided for teachers and students (beyond their faculty or subject teachers).
  2. Opportunities for learning new aspects of SIMON at relevant times, for example when software is upgraded.
  3. Which LMS facets that may be suggested in other systems are missing from SIMON that are considered desirable.
  4. These survey findings – to enable improved practice.

 

For the Information Services Department:

  • That the location of library related information within the LMS be revisited and evaluated in terms of the most effective location/s for accessing them.

 

Conclusion:

The school studied has been using the SIMON Learning Management System for several years   yet the uptake varies enormously. Some teachers and students rarely use it, others use all aspects of it really well. The reporting package is compulsory and has been effectively used and appreciated by most teachers. Usage of the other features has been inconsistent. This report reveals those elements that have been used, the users’ experience with the LMS, and the outcomes that have been enabled for them through such use.  It is important to determine why some elements have been used, and others avoided. Steps should be taken to improve use, and consider the potential impact of change for learning.

References

Algahtani, M. (2014). Factors influencing the adoption of learning management systems in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabian Universities by female academic staff. Research proposal for confirmation of candidature (PhD) DR209 16th July 2014. Received by personal communication from Bradbeer, Susan, through a dropbox link provided by a lecturer at RMIT, 17 September 2015

Alier, M., Mayol, E., Casan, M. J., Piguillem, J., Merriman, J. W., Conde, M. A., . . . Severance, C. (2012). Clustering projects for interoperability. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 18(1), 106-222.

Archer, N. (2006). A Classification of Communities of Practice. In Encyclopedia of Communities of Practice in Information and Knowledge Management (pp. 21-29). Informationn Science Reference (an imprint of IGI Global).

Budenberg, T. (2015, September 16). personal email. A request for your assistance.

De Smet, C., Bourgonjon, J., De Wever, B., Schellens, T., & Valke, M. (2012). Researching instructional use and the acceptation of learning management systems by secondary school teachers. Computers & Education, 688-696. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.09.013

Elias, L. (2015, February). Intelligent Questionnaire Design for Effective Participant Evaluations. Training and Development, 8-10.

Horn, A., Maddox, A., Hagel, P., Currie, M., & Owen, S. (2013). Enbedded library services: Beyond chance encounters for students from low SES backgrounds. Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 44 (4), pp. 235 – 250. doi:10.1080/00048623.2013.862149

Islam, A. N. (2014). Sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with a learning management system in post-adoption stage: a critical incident technique approach. 249-261. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.09.010

Kopcha, T. J. (2012). Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development. Computers & Education, 1109 – 1121. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.05.014

Leaman, C. (2015, August 20). What If Your Learning Management System Isn’t Enough? Retrieved from eLearning Industry: http://elearningindustry.com/learning-management-system-isnt-enough

Lonn, S., & Teasley, S. D. (2009). Saving time or innovating practice: Investigating perceptions and uses of Learning Management Systems. Computers & Education(53), 686–694. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2009.04.008

Maleko, M., Nandi, D., Hamilton, M., D’Souza, D., & Harland, J. (2013). Facebook versus Blackboard for supporting the learning of programming in a fully online course: the changing face of computer education. Learning and Teaching in Computing and Engineering, pp. 83-89. doi:10.1109/LaTiCE.2013.31

McGill, T. J., & Klobas, J. E. (2009). A task-technology fit view of learning management system impact. Computers & Education, 496 – 508. doi:10.1016/j.compendu.2008.10.002

Ritchie, J. L. (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Great Britain: Sage.

Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2015). Creative Schools: Revolutionizing Education From The Ground Up. Melbourne: Allen Lane.

Rubin, B., Fernandes, R., Avgerinou, M. D., & Moore, J. (2010). The effect of learning management systems on student and faulty outcomes. Internet and Higher Education, 82 – 83. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.008

Schoonenboom, J. (2014). Using an adapted, task-level technology acceptance model to explain why intsructors in higher education intend to use some learning management system tools more than others. Computers & Education, pp. 247 – 256. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.09.016

Simkin, M. (2015 a, August 17). Article review. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/17/article-review/

Simkin, M. (2015 b, October 6). SIMON. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/10/06/simon/

SIMON Solutions. (2009). Retrieved from SIMON: http://www.simonschools.net/about-simon.html

Straumsheim, C. (2015, May 11). Brick by Brick. Retrieved from Inside Higher Ed: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/05/11/educause-releases-blueprint-next-generation-learning-management-systems

Thomas, G. (2013). How To Do Your Research Project; A Guide For Students in Education and Applied Social Science. London: SAGE.

Yasar, O., & Adiguzel, T. (2010). A working successor of learning management systems: SLOODLE. Procedia Social and Behavioural Sciences 2, 5682 – 5685. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.928

Teacher surveys

Student surveys 

PLE & PLN – it’s us!

Open and Social Learning according to Alec Couros:

An open course entitled Education, Curriculum, and Instruction: Open, Connected, Social using Free Ope Source Software through the University of Regina, was implemented in 2008. (Couros, 2010, p. 109). It was based on personal learning networks, and participants quickly realised the value of sustainable knowledge networks. This led to a context built around a series of events which quickly absorbed participants in an engaged community of participation (Couros, 2010, p. 110).

The theoretical foundations of the course were

The open movement (Couros, 2010, p. 111).

Complementary learning theories – social cognitive, social constructivism, andragogy, connectivism, and open teaching (Couros, 2010, pp. 112-115).

The primary learning environment was established collaboratively in the weeks preceding the course. The tools considered were:

Web CT (now Blackboard) – pros: familiar to students and the university had a strong infrastructure of support; cons: proprietary (modifications needed vendor support); directed learning favoured over constructivist; expensive licensing fees.

Moodle – pros: free; open source; modifiable, strong community support; touts a constructivist and social constructivist approach; available. Cons: needs PHP server infrastructure; requires technical expertise leading to hidden costs; software not as available as hoped; course-centric not student-centric; top-down instructivist approach.

Ning – pros: ease of use; freely available in 2008; familiar functionality similar to Facebook; community and individual privacy levels; user-centric spaces; content aggregation; communication tools. Cons: no wiki feature; awkward to add core content material.

Wikispaces – pros: senior, best-known and most stable of wiki providers; solid technical support; theme modification options; simple user interface – see http://eci831.ca/ (Couros, 2010, pp. 117 – 119).

The course required the establishment of a PLN, and it was mandatory that participants developed a personal blog/digital portfolio, participated in a collaborative wiki resource ( no longer active but was located at  http://t4tl.wikispaces.com; this is what happens when such a site is not paid for!) and completed a major digital project (sound like INF 530!) (Couros, 2010, pp. 119 -120).

The course was based on the following tools and interactions:

Synchronous activities: two events per week of between 1.5 and 2 hours in length; the first based on content knowledge (like our INF 537 colloquiums); the second on teaching skills (Couros, 2010, pp. 120-121).

Asynchronous activities: researching and blogging; shared bookmarking; artefact creation; participation in open professional development opportunities; creating content and uploading it to sites such as YouTube; microblogging; collaborative lesson design and contribution to the course wiki (Couros, 2010, pp. 121-122).

Knowledge networks and digital innovation’s forerunner?? Just like INF 530 and INF 536, students developed authentic, dynamic and fluid interactions both within the designated course spaces and in spaces they chose and shared themselves.

Defining Personal Learning Environments, and comparing them to Personal Learning Networks was an exercise undertaken by Couros through Twitter and recorded at http://educationaltechnology.ca/couros/1156. Key agreement indicated that PLEs are the tools, artefacts, processes, and physical connections that allow learners to control and manage their learning (Couros, 2010, p. 125). PLNs explicitly include the human connections that result in the advancement and enabling of a PLE (Couros, 2010, p. 125).

Couros makes the following recommendations for those wishing to use PLNs for teaching and learning:

  • Immersion by participants
  • Social media literacy
  • Active contributions strengthen your PLN
  • Know your “followers” or “friends”
  • PLNs are central to learning for sustained and long-term growth in both facilitators and students(Couros, 2010, pp. 125 -126).

The participatory learning communities developed by courses such as the one Couros describes continue to exist because they are not based around courses per se, but around communal learning (Couros, 2010, p. 127). Those of us taking the Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation course can already attest to that in terms of the subjects we have already finished because for many of us the content continues to be shared and discussed. If Couros is correct, this course will never have to end – now there’s a challenge to my PLN!

Reference

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed.), Emerging technologies in distance education (109–128). Athabasca University: AU Press.

New LMS

Learning Management and Knowledge Networking:

Coming to grips with a new learning management system, based on Blackboard, particularly after the long summer break, was a little confronting. Just when I thought I knew where to find what I needed, I found I had no idea.

Discussion forum
Discussion forum

The topics were all there, but the email notifications for responses did not seem to work all the time, and it became a case of checking in at log on and working out which thread had new messages.

Threads on Interact 2 were a little tricky
Threads on Interact 2 were a little tricky

Yes, there were fewer students in the cohort, but few participated in this type of networked learning in the manner peers had communicated in INF530 and INF536.

A sub-group of the subject became very active in their own PLN, using Twitter for regular question and answer sessions, and touching base with issues and concerns.

Tweeting Example

Tweeting

Connected Education Through Twitter:

Twitter is a great space for developing and nurturing a PLN.

I have been a member since 2009

My Twitter avatar
My Twitter avatar

I have used Twitter to enhance my personal interests and my professional life with increasing degrees of success. It is quick and easy and seems to work when low Internet connectivity prevents other means of communication.

My Twitter account

My Twitter account

Since commencing the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation), I have increased all aspects of my Twitter membership as shown in the above image.

Tweeting a range of topics
Tweeting a range of topics. Twitter offers a range of topics from the amazing to the ridiculous. It enables serendipitous discovery of many gems of wisdom and leads to the development of knowledge.Tweeting connection April

 

 

Tweeting connection April

Connection with past and present study companions makes the learning journey more enjoyable and deepens understanding when links are shared.Tweeting connections

Tweeting connections May

 

Reading over the connections through Twitter this semester is another means of reflecting on the nature and depth of learning it has enabled.

 

The Future

Knowledge and Wisdom
Knowledge and Wisdom

 This course has continually reinforced our school motto!

 

Transforming knowledge to wisdom
Transforming knowledge to wisdom

It has challenged me to think about the difference between Knowledge and Wisdom and this slide from http://www.slideshare.net/timbuckteeth/the-changing-face-of-digital-learning sums up the challenges inherent in this intellectual exercise.

The past:

(an imperfect piece from a tertiary student, but it sums up the overall journey of my teaching career – which spans several decades)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pp47qGZhHk

My blog posts for INF532 sum up the position I now occupy in terms of my teaching and resource provision. Where to next?

The future of learning:

may look like that envisioned by 2Revolutions

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoSJ3_dZcm8

or like this from AITSL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoSJ3_dZcm8

Either way I feel that I am now able to participate in more meaningful ways than I knew existed at the beginning of this year.

 

Types of Learning

Personal development of instructional design for my students:

As our students are equipped with devices whole new ways of learning open up to us. Over the last few years I have exposed my students to PLN construction through offering lunchtime introductions to Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as using these tools, Facebook, and access to learning materials in online spaces.

In our region Internet provision is patchy and until recently I have used this as an excuse not to develop too much online material. Aaron Sams in:

Bergman, J. & Sams, A (2012) Flipped learning founders set the record straight in T.H.E. Journal. from: http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/06/20/flipped-learning-founders-q-and-a.aspx , offers a range of easy to provide solutions to the issue of Internet access: provide the content on a flash drive, CD or DVD for example.

For a number of years, I have experimented in a somewhat ad hoc manner with flipping my classroom using a class wiki and exporting lessons from my interactive whiteboard software and adding links to other materials. In the last two years, as senior students in my History Revolutions class have had access to devices I have given them blogging as a means of accessing and reflecting on material.

In the last 12 months, in addition to student technology, there have been a number of improvements to Microsoft Office products that have sped up the process of adoption. The most impact has been achieved with the collaborative OneNote app, which, as a Microsoft school, allows me to seamlessly add my students to a class notebook. In image 1 below you can see the different sections, and part of the name of my first student, with the rest of the class along the top in alphabetical order. The notebook offers me a space to create their “textbook” type materials, (teacher notebook) and each one of them gets their own “exercise book” for working in (you can see Harry’s tab), and we all get access to a collaborative space where I can set up work for them to do together.

In the collaborative space you can see who has added or altered which contribution by the colour-coding, and the student’s initials which automatically appear.

collaborative OneNote
The options within a collaborative OneNote notebook

 

Collaborative space
Collaborative space

 

Sharepoint home page for History Revolutions
Sharepoint home page for History Revolutions

 

Using Sharepoint I have been able to set up a Mosaic Live Tiles page (which still requires work) that is like a website but is only accessible within the school. This gives me the option of collecting any video clips I make and add to YouTube; any photographs that I have taken, and podcasts I create. This is a space that I am still conquering but which will allow seamless collection of data for student access.

Office Mix, an add-on for PowerPoint, which I investigated as an option for my artefact: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/04/28/artefact-design/,  will be very useful for converting my interactive whiteboard  flip-chart exports from previous years into film to support students through the subject timeline.

The learning from INF532 has pushed me to develop a greater range of supporting materials to assist my students to master their material. Referring to the table below I can now see a holistic and valid reason for using as many combinations of the different types of learning models in order to assist all learners and learning styles.

An approach to developing new learning
An approach to developing new learning

Adapted by June Wall from Michalowski, A. (2014). Planning for blended learning environments and measuring progress. Retrieved from: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-289794-dt-content-rid-651236_1/courses/S-INF532_201530_W_D/module6/6_3_Instructional_design.html

As with all learning, the critical process is the designing the materials which will support students to develop their understanding. http://www.instructionaldesign.org/ is a very useful resource which collates all the theories, concepts and learning domains into a series of hyperlinked definitions and gives a ready reference to understanding the processes involved. http://www.slideshare.net/MikeKunkle/basic-instructional-design-principles-a-primer Adds some simple summaries which are of use as a quick reference.

Another easy to apply process is the ADDIE model (ADDIE Model, n.d.)

Instructional design supports the processes promoted to us at our school, such as Grift and Major’s Teachers as the Architects of Learning (Grift & Major, 2013).

The critical issue now is having the time to complete resource creation – a common complaint of teachers everywhere.

References

ADDIE Model. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2015, from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADDIE_Model

Grift, G., & Major, C. (2013). Teachers As Architects Of Learning: Twelve Considerations For Constructing A Successful Learning Experience. Moorabbin: Hawker Brownlow Education.

 

 

Survey results

Current technology use in the classroom
Current technology use in the classroom

This question did not give me any indication of what aspect of technology to target for my artefact.

2
Adoption of Social Media

This supported my personal observations and discussions with teachers and students.

6
1 = not at all 5 = to a great extent

This indicated that there was some understanding of what could be achieved by developing some social media components for teaching.

7
1 = not at all 5 = to a great extent

Of all the possibilities blogging seemed to be the most likely target social media to succeed in classrooms.

1 = not at all 5 = to a great extent
1 = not at all 5 = to a great extent

Teachers at my school are generally very disinterested in Twitter. Only two others that I am aware of have accounts.

10
1 = not at all 5 = to a great extent

This gave me confidence to proceed with my proposal for the artefact.

1 = not at all 5 = to a great extent
1 = not at all 5 = to a great extent

Like me, my colleagues use Facebook more for personal connection rather than professional.  Interestingly our school has a very active Facebook following which the marketing review realised was well worth tapping into. Some teachers use closed Facebook groups through this medium, but many students are not comfortable sharing this space with their teachers.

3 4 5 11 12

The answers overall confirmed that Social Media was an appropriate focus for the artefact, and blogging was the best platform to emphasise.

The next phase was to consider the best platform to use for artefact creation – a time consuming and frustrating process! Products evaluated are presented here.

Here is the artefact.