Flight path for the summer of 2009

Assignment:

Write a weblog entry that describes your proposed flight path during ETEC 565. Tell us a bit about yourself, your experience, and your goals for this course (or, perhaps, the MET). Explain what you want to learn about Learning Management Systems (LMS), synchronous communication, assessment, social software, and multimedia. Give your best estimate (guestimate?) about what resources you would need to master these technologies as a novice professional. Be sure to cite relevant literature to support your decision.

As I recall, my plan for this course was to focus on learning the LMS Moodle, and to learn more of the theory behind why we use various technologies in education. These two goals to me seemed a lot for a summer course, and I felt that trying to do too much would be over-ambitious.

My experience with the use of technology in education goes back to when I started working in NYC. I built a website for a project we were working on as a class using Geocities free websites. The website itself wasn’t great, and the project worked well without it, so I abandoned technology at that stage for another two years. I did lots of stuff with it myself, but my learning with it lagged, and I didn’t use it in education at all.

When I started working in London, I had a friend who mentioned he was learning how to build websites. He showed me a couple of examples, and they were so much better than I had worked with, I felt compelled to try it myself. Within a few months I had taught myself the basics of HTML/XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. About a year later I had added PHP and MYSQL to my repertoire. As part of the learning exercise, I began to create online activities for my students, mostly using HTML + JavaScript.

My goals with the MET program in general are to solidify the learning I’ve done already in terms of technology use with students, and to find ways/best practices for things I can use technology in education. The fact I’ll end up with a credential as well is just bonus.

I want to learn how to effectively use an LMS. I’m not interested in just substituting content I would normally write down on a blackboard into an eLearning context. There are some best practices that should be implemented when using an LMS (Bersin, J., 2004) , and I felt that this course would help me find them. Since I will still be teaching a face to face course, I want to find ways to use my LMS most efficiently as a course companion to my regular course. One way that Tom Wulf (2004) suggests that one way to use an LMS is an archive of the class discussion, which I would like to explore as well.

Synchronous communication is something I’ve "experimented with" quite a bit, using various tools to keep in touch with my family over the years. I am a bit interested in learning how to safely use these in education, but given that I have a F2F course with my students already, these tools will probably be less useful to learn more about.

Online assessment is interesting to me. I would love to find a way to efficiently create secure online assessments for my students. It might be a bit of a time-saver at the end of the day to do my quizzes online. As long I don’t use the quizzes for more than verifying the understanding of my students, I should be okay to use them with my class.

Multimedia is less interesting to me, mostly because of my content area. I’ve found that when it is used (ineffectively) with mathematics, it can hurt the understanding of the students. It is so easy to create bad math videos or uninteresting math videos that I have hesitated to use them with my students. However I learned about the use of video word problems with students as a way to improve their understanding of the problem solving process. I am interested in learning more about this process, and wonder what other possibilities I have been missing.

In terms of resources needed to master these goals, I think the best resource I have will be the community of learners. We will be able to bounce ideas off each other, and share ways of using resources that I will not individually be able to come up with. As well, just the process of reflection required to complete this course is going to force me to practice skills that I don’t normally have a chance to use in my day to day teaching. This I think will be the most important aspect of this course.

References:

Bersin, J., (2004)., The Blended Learning Book: Best Practices, Proven Methodogies, and Lessons Learned, Retrieved from http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=chhoH9BlORgC&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=lms+best+practices&ots=TvyqvsMYJg&sig=n6hBVZiMotj2-zYQj1HfayGLnyI on July 28th

Wulf, T., (2004)., Using learning management systems to teach paperless courses: best practices for creating accreditation review record archives, retrieved from http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1040231.1040233 on July 28th.

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