Ten best practices in online teaching from the standpoint of a student-teacher

Isabella Villas Boas recently completed a ten-week online courses and reflects on different practices and their application – including

Making sure that people know each other well so that they can become a true community of learners….  For some cultures more than for others, images are very important to aid communication. In the course I took, for example, I resented the fact that we couldn’t see people’s photos next to each of their posts. Some of us had posted pictures to accompany our introductory remarks inside a folder called “Week 1”, but they were uploaded as documents and difficult to retrieve on a daily basis. Ideally, the LMS should have a sidebar with the participants’ profiles so that they can be consulted easily throughout the course. Instructors might also place so much emphasis on having students introduce themselves that they, the instructors, forget to do the same.

The other nine

 

The SHAPE Project, technologies to enhance learning for young people on the Autism Spectrum

The OpenSen blog reviews some recent developments for children on the autistic spectrum including a variety of humanoid robotics, kinectwiki, Cospatial, Reactickles magic and a virtual environment- Echoes:

Echoes is a technology enhanced learning experience, where young people with ASC can explore in a virtual learning environment by interacting with Andy an intelligent virtual character.  Andy encourages exploration and provides opportunities for social communication in a virtual magical garden and during some hands on time with the software I was able to sort and move flower pots, collect items, throw a bouncing ball, shake rain clouds to create raindrops that allowed me to grow flowers and burst bubbles, all with Andy’s encouragement.  Andy could helpfully look at items to prompt further interaction and sign to me using Makaton, even when we tried to be unhelpful by playfully soaking Andy with a rain cloud, we weren’t scolded or corrected, instead Andy continued to provide prompts to other areas of interest and opportunities that would create a more positive result from our interaction

 

Video and in full

 

Developing Alternative Research Assignments with Students and Faculty

Kathleen DeLaurenti looks at different options available through technology which can change how writing assignments are completed. She refers to a Music of the Civil War class where they completed alternative research assignments. There wasn’t a central learning portal so they developed an online bibliography where students could collect links and get feedback and also used a wiki to support the writing.

For the Civil War assignment, I focused on helping the students get started using the technology, but also on how to evaluate websites. Website evaluation was a significant part of the Worlds of Music project as well, but I also played a greater role in meeting with the students. Each group was required to sign up for a 45 minute meeting with me to make sure they were comfortable with the technology, but also to talk about the research resources and strategies they would need for the assignment. In addition to introducing them to key resources in ethnomusicology, we talked about how to narrow their topics (one wiki page in one semester certainly wouldn’t represent all of the music of China!) and how to present this material in the context of a wiki. For example, using slideshows if they built image collections rather than cluttering up their webpage with so many images it was confusing to other readers.

In full

 

Part one – 12 resources to discover and curate digital curriculum for teachers and students

Michael Gorman briefly looks back at using textbooks where he started his teaching career 35 years ago and what has since changed.

I first started my teaching career close to 35 years ago the textbook was not only the curriculum, it was also the center of learning. I was able to curate by finding an occasional article, ordering a 16 mm film several weeks in advance, finding a filmstrip with its exciting beeps between slides, and an occasional field trip.

He reviews a number of tools starting with Symbaloo and Diigo

 

The list in full

 

Fun is just a click away

Thabo Mohlala reports on the rise of use and appreciation of positive aspects of combining teaching with technology in South African classrooms. They mention the changes with lessons no longer being predictable but where the pupils have more choice and motivation about their activities. A competion was held for a number of pupil projects including:

One was by Sume Delport, who is artistic and whose goal was to make a painting for her room. The other one was by Michaela Zealand, a bookworm who wanted to finish a 170-page book in English, which is her first additional language. Delport did not know how to mix specific colours and had to do a Google search for a colour chart. In the process she learnt which colours complement one another. When she read the book, Zealand encountered some difficult words and had to use the cellphone-based dictionary to figure them out. “Both these pupils used mind maps to brainstorm and organise their thinking and knowledge-building.

 

In full

 

Software Evaluation

Sarah Cirella shares a screencast that she recently created reviewing software games for children. There are different characters to help, objects to click, missing words to find and a series of challenges. They discussed who the game might be appropriate for – what would be important at different ages

this game requires children to be able to use a mouse or track pad and to be able to understand the story and the concept of how the game is actually played. The only thing is if the child playing is between the ages of 6-8 we would recommend that an adult play with them, as some parts can be difficult (I played with my 6-year-old niece and she needed help, despite her stating otherwise).

She mentions the things they enjoyed, the good and not so good aspects including use of language

In full

The Anatomy Of A Puzzle-Based Learning Tool

Jared Cosulich blogs about a fractions puzzle game he is exploring. He unravels each area with a series of screenshots and explanations, including the simulator, option set, goal, feedback loops, explicit content, appropriate challenges,  editing / selecting levels and an escape valve:

The Escape Valve
The Escape Valve is simply a mechanism that makes it possible for a student to declare that a challenge is too hard and get additional help with it. This project will build out libraries that will make it easy to include a hint system that gives students one piece of the puzzle, allowing them to work their way closer to a solution. This technique only works if there are enough puzzles of similar difficulty so that a student can get hints on one and still be able to assess their proficiency by taking on another level of similar difficulty.

In full

The Final Product is a Process, not an iMovie – All about my Final Project

Joy Seed blogs about the experiences of integrating technology and learning in a movie project with Hosoi Sensei

We have had the goal of transforming learning through the integration of specialist subjects, core subjects and digital technologies. We wanted our students to discover important elements of Japanese culture, deepen their understanding of the design process, develop their ability to collaborate, understand that people learn in different ways, practice their instructional writing and experiment with presenting information with imovie

The post has videos that they watched and then describes how they worked with the children to encourage them to take on different movie roles and reflects on the how the students felt about taking part in these processes.

In full

Reflections on Education

Sue Magruder takes a look back at the changes that have happened since she was teaching in Missouri in the the 1950s. Her first post was working with students from different local rural communities who came to school in one place:

I learned more than I taught.  I learned how to approach parents whose language I did not understand to seek permission for their daughter to take part in a National Folk Festival.  I learned how to deal with foster parents who cared little for the children in their charge.  I learned when it was appropriate to call the state patrol when violence erupted with an older, unstable student.  I learned how to Bunny Hop down the hall with other teachers to relieve tension.

Later on in the post she takes a look at educational philosophy and the emphasis on test scores, wondering about their value in education of a child.

In full