Monday, July 29, 2013

W4 - SP4Ed and MOOC Declaration

Wow - a lot of new things for me in this first session of the SP4Ed MOOC:

  • First Twitter account
  • First time working in a MOOC
  • First time using WikiEducator (even though I somehow already had an account? haha!)

I think as far as change goes, I am experiencing a lot of it first-hand!

I am looking forward to this new and different learning environment, mostly because I feel like if I can get my head around it over the next two weeks, I will be inspired to utilise these types of courses again and again. Plus, I am now pondering the possibilities of blending something like this into my classroom teaching one day - how great would it be to involve teenagers in this type of environment?

One of my best friends shared this (music teachers, it is a part of our philosophy) but I started to see how this could apply to an online learning environment where students connect with people outside of their immediate class/community and are able to share and develop ideas and accomplishments.

I hope that maintaining a blog for this course will help me develop my ideas in an organised way - being able to reflect back on where my thinking was vs. where it is will allow me to move forward more effectively in my learning and understanding of the content.

Another thing I hope to gain both from EDEM630 in general, but also the SP4Ed, is connections with other people of various professions and experience. I do hope that I am able to keep in touch with the people I learn with here through social media (like my new Twitter account!).

Here's to new experiences!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

W3 - Learning Reflection

The last three weeks have been filled with new experiences for me in online learning. I started by feeling frustrated – having spent the last two years studying e-learning, I think I have gotten to a point where I want to know how these tools are going to help teach the actual skills our students will need in today’s society. Skills like creativity, problem-solving and independent learning are essential for success in an evolving job-market. This focus on the bigger picture made it difficult to focus on one tool in particular, therefore my initial research topic was incredibly broad.

Once I started reading the change models, I realised that I needed to narrow my topic in order to successfully carry out my research. It made sense to focus on Moodle, as I believe it to be a tool which will last for years to come (not just a fad) and it is constantly evolving, which fits in with the topic of change. In addition, in my own context, Moodle was just introduced as a replacement LMS at my school, which allows me to analyse how this change has affected the players in my “arena.” Wayne pointed out that the fact that Moodle is replacing Ultranet gives me a unique perspective on this change. I also decided to focus on independent learning as the main skill for my research. If students feel that they can successfully learn independently, they will be able to grow and learn, utilising new and changing technologies with confidence.

The adoption models got me thinking about how my school could have better prepared for the change and evolution of our technologies. It also inspired me to be proactive and try to be a more active positive influence to my peers/staff and my students. I feel like I still need to review these models and analyse how they connect to my context.

Overall, the organisation of the course has been great – I agree with Kevin that the use of the blog to organise my learning journey is quite different, but good in many ways. In the past, the use of forums made it difficult to look back and reflect on my learning and thought processes throughout the course. I prefer being able to follow the blogs of my classmates and be able to see their thought processes as well. The forums are still a good place for discussion, but not nearly as overwhelming as they have been in other courses.

I am looking forward to the experience of being a part of the SP4Ed and broadening my experience with online learning. One of the amazing things about the internet and all the tools we have at our disposal is the ability to share knowledge and learning with a wide variety of peers. Learning outside of a face-to-face environment has been a challenge for me, but now that I have done it, I feel like the skills I’ve gained will allow me to confidently take advantage of online learning in the future.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

W2 - Provisional Essay Plan

This is my provisional essay plan - I am starting to get through the initial "fog" of my research topic brainstorm and see more connections to change in my educational context. Any feedback welcome!


The aim of this essay is to demonstrate my knowledge on the models of change in asking "how can teachers cultivate problem solving, creativity and independent learning using Moodle in NCEA classes?" Through this essay, I will demonstrate my ability to apply theory to inform practice.

Information & Organisation:

Summarize the topic, key findings and conclusion

Describe my context of change and research question including:

  • The nature and characteristics of Moodle
  • An explanation of the importance and significance of the change for teachers and learners (i.e. the why?).
  • The research question/central thesis: How can teachers cultivate problem solving, creativity and independent learning using Moodle in NCEA classes?
  • Main question in my review of the diffusion of innovation: will knowing how to incorporate these "big picture" skills have a positive effect on adoption of Moodle by teachers at Waiheke High School?
Main Themes:

Here I will include a description/summary of the diffusion of innovation with connections to my topic and context. I will then review  implications of the change model for my own context (covering both strengths and shortcomings or pros and cons of the model).

  • How does Moodle size up using Rogers’s  5 Factors?
  • At what point in the diffusion process are the teachers at my school?
  • How can early adopters effectively influence teachers in cultivating these skills using Moodle?
  • How is our school social system effecting the rate of diffusion?

I anticipate that adoption will be increased as teachers gain confidence and become invested in Moodle as a tool for cultivating creativity, problem solving and independent learning (including recommendations for the future or lessons learned).

Friday, July 19, 2013

W2 - Further Thinking

As I have been mulling over the readings, I realize that my research topic needs a lot of focusing.

I feel like currently, I am delving into a bigger issue (perhaps too big) for me to be successful in my research - especially in this time frame.

In order for me to  “demonstrate knowledge of change with ICT in education and training contexts and be able to apply this knowledge within familiar ecosystem(s),“ I need to connect to my own context.

The new plan is: How can teachers use Moodle to help cultivate problem solving, creativity and independent learning in NCEA classes.

Moodle has been introduced into my school (after a bit of a failed venture with Ultranet) and the change, although it has been nearly a year, has been slow and many teachers are still not convinced/motivated to utilize the LMS.

This topic will allow me to look through the different lenses more effectively :)

Any comments/advice always welcome!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

W2 - Arena of Change Mindmap

I think that the answer to our technological woes in education lie far beyond how to effectively use a blog or an LMS or start a wiki. Of course, these tools are important and can be used in wonderful ways in the classroom. However, I feel that teachers are spending too much time talking about HOW to use these tools in the classroom that we don’t stop to think WHY we are using them, or what bigger skills they are helping our students gain. Chances are that when my year 9 students leave school in year 13, the programs I used with them will be long forgotten; but the skills they gain (especially the more abstract abilities they may have practiced), will last far beyond that course. I am talking about the ability to learn independently, to think creatively, and to problem solve. We know how crucial these skills are, and yet they are sometimes difficult to teach and to measure.
Technology is a part of our society, and I believe that it is not about helping our students “cope” with the rate that these technologies evolve, but about giving them the power to take control and utilize these technologies in ways that we may not even be able to imagine now. If “the only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible,” than we need to give our students the foresight to do so (A.Clarke).
My research will be based on exactly HOW problem solving, creativity, and independent learning have been successfully combined with use of technology and implemented into classrooms with a focus on how these skills can be utilised to navigate evolving technologies.

The phrase “the big picture” keeps coming up as I brainstorm about the ecology surrounding this topic.
The students need to understand that when they are using a technology in the classroom (as in any other activity) that they are using it for a bigger purpose, and not just for the sake of using the technology alone.
The teachers need to feel that they are not being asked to teach with technology for technology’s sake, but that these tools can be used to cultivate creativity, problem solving, and independent learning.
The school administration and board of trustees needs to look at the best use of their time, money and resources in regards to technology with a bigger picture in mind. Just because a school is offered a good deal on a new technology, for example, does not mean that this will benefit the students.
At the professional level, the organisations offering PD in particular should be communicating with schools in regards to technology so that they can offer support in the best areas, not just the latest fads.

At the political level, there also needs to be more communication (perhaps via technology, as Pinelopi Zaka suggested) so that the people with the most power in regards to funding and driving national education initiatives are the most well-informed from all perspectives.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

W1 - Annotated Bibliography

Tillander, M. (2011). Creativity, Technology, Art, and Pedagogical Practices. Art Education, 64(1), 40-64.

  • Description: This journal article focuses on both how new technologies affect creative practices in art education, as well as these technologies are being used in new and creative ways. 
  • Evaluation: The information comes from a reputable source and is based upon observation and research into appropriate literature. This article was useful for my research as it helped support my idea that it is the creativity of a user that will determine the scope of the use of a technology, not simply the technology itself.

McGreal, R. & Elliot, M. (2004). Technologies of online learning (e-learning). In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and Practice of Online Learning (pp. 115-135). Athabasca, Canada: Athabasca University.

  • Description: This book chapter focuses on explaining a variety of e-learning technologies and their educational uses.
  • Evaluation: The information comes from a reputable source. This article was useful for my research in that it describes real, in-class uses for technologies. However, being written in 2004 makes the information somewhat dated and not completely relevant to the technologies being utilized in classrooms today.

W1 - Research Topic

How can teachers cultivate creative thinking and problem solving skills in the classroom in order to equip secondary-age students for the diverse, evolving technologies in our society?

I chose this topic because I want to use e-learning technologies in my classroom, but not simply just for the sake of using them. I want the skills my students learn while using e-learning tools to help give them confidence in navigating the diverse technologies we experience in the 21st century.
My opinion is that as teachers, we need to understand the skills our students need to be successful in a society where computer technology is a huge part of the way we live and work. For example, I don't think that students need to make a Prezi to understand how Prezi works; they need to have the problem solving skills to find new and interesting venues of presentation or the creativity to develop a program to do so.
It needs to be bigger than the programs alone. This area of education needs to be about how technologies can be used to better society and giving our students the tools and confidence they need to be a part of this.

So far, I have found relevant information from a variety of sources, including the Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia and Educational Technology Research and Development. However, most relevant I have found is not on this topic specifically, but on linked topics such as coping with technological change and important digital literacies in the 21st century. I am hoping to connect the research in these areas to answer my questions.
This topic affects students, teachers and wider society/employers and deals with all of their needs.

The main questions for this topic include: what skills are most sought after for jobs in the 21st century? How are teachers/schools already helping students gain these skills? In what areas are there gaps in skills? What does it mean to successfully utilize technology? How is creative thinking and problem solving beneficial to students in using technology successfully?

This is relevant at the local level (school) for the most part, but also at the national and international levels as it affects how young adults can be successful in a technological society.

I am still deciding on a scope for the “when” of my topic. Many of the relevant articles are more than 10 years old; therefore it might be worth looking at how things have developed over the last decade in this particular digital literacy (creative thinking and problem solving). However, I want to focus on the future as well and explore how I can best prepare my students for success when they leave school.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

W1 - Introduction

Hello Everyone!

This is Sarah McNabb writing from Waiheke Island!

I have created a blog before, but I have not always been good at keeping up with posting and updating. This time around I found creating the blog itself to be quite easy - Blogger is intuitive and I felt that there was enough choice in layout for me to personalize my front page.

In maintaining this blog, I hope to create both a visual representation of my learning as well as give myself something to reflect back on throughout; both my own posts as well what others will share with me in the process of this course.

I found the instructions on UC Learn useful, as knowing where to find "gadgets" wasn't clear just by looking at my main blog page. Once I was on the layout page, I could see the potential for making the blog my own.

For future learners, I would say that a combination of following the given instructions as well as exploration worked well for me. There is something to be said for trial and error in an activity like this one! I think one if the best ways to get used to a new program/website is to just simply have a go.

I am really looking forward to using the blog in this course. It will be a new experience for me to use a blog in a class setting, and perhaps this will give me the motivation to update on a more regular basis.

Have a great week everyone!