EdTech 512: Choosing a LMS

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I’m not necessarily a traditionalist, but sometimes I miss the simple things. I have been a registered number since birth, but I never had to keep track of such numbers until life introduced me to pass-codes and later passwords. For me, it all started with a 4-digit code to give my ATM card access to my first bank account. I’m not naive to think that codes, numeric or otherwise, are something new to the world, but in this age of digital identity, there are many pass-codes and password requirements that sometimes it can feel overwhelming.  I do remember what life was like before passwords.  Even though I have adjusted fairly well to this new age of digital identity, it is important for me to be aware of my students, who likely have not transitioned yet to this stage in life.  Once you start down the path of passwords, there is no turning back.

Edmodo appears to offer what I am looking for in an LMS.  First, it does not require email addresses to register and for the group and for 4th grade students, I think this is an important feature.  Even though it does require passwords, it seems to be a fairly user-friendly system, ideal for someone using an LMS for the first time.  Moodle and Blackboard are much more robust and can easily overwhelm a fourth grader.  I expect there will be varying levels of digital competency, but for some students, this will be their first exposure to digital tools and digital platforms.  Secondly, I need a LMS that is versatile in language selection because the course will be delivered in Spanish and English.  I have also sought out Callaborize Classroom, but English was the only language available.  On the contrary, Edmodo offers multiple language selections.

Even though Edmodo is unfamiliar territory for me, there are other benefits to choosing this LMS.  There are other teachers within the district (where I will be working) that have used this LMS with their students.  The district utilizes Edline, but a few teachers have chosen to use Edmodo because it better supports their objectives.  Even though I have used Edline before, I have not officially started with the district yet, so I don’t have access to the Edline system, therefore, I do not know if it is a viable option.  For now, it is better for me to develop my course through Edmodo.

EdTech 512: Problem Analysis

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This is a problem analysis for developing an online course for a dual language program for 4th grade students.  The following points are response activities from the course textbook, “Web-Based Learning: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation” (Davidson-Shivers & Rasmussen, 2006).

  • What problems are you trying to address?  What are the symptoms of the problem? What is the root cause of the problem?  Is instruction an appropriate solution for the problem?  Is WBI an appropriate instructional solution?

Based on information that I have gathered in interviews the district has upgraded their philosophy on technology integration and 21st century skills.  Many teachers in the district are lacking in preparation and therefore the students are not being prepared. One problem this course is addressing is developing these skills in the students while preparing them for state standardized testing.  By developing one course for online delivery, we can address the root cause by allowing teachers to view successful integration strategies with the students.  The instruction is appropriate because it is preparing students for state writing tests with personal narrative and expository writings skills and WBI is appropriate because it is developing 21st century skills in the students.

  • Instructional Goal

By the end of this course students will be able to plan and organize their ideas in written form to produce personal narrative and expository compositions according to grade level standards.  Through the use of iPads and web-based tools, students will create and organize their ideas while developing 21st century skills.

  • Contextual Analysis

  1. Organizational Infrastructure
    1. Resources: iPad carts available at grade level, teacher issued iPads, wifi ready campus, and IT support services
    2. Management functions: report activities and lessons to program coordinator and principal.
    3. Organizational Culture: Instructional Level-team teaching with English instructor for the dual language program, Grade Level-form part of the Grade 4 teachers who share the use of the iPads, Campus Level-working with other dual-language instructors and other grade level teachers, District Level-access to teachers from other campuses that teach the same subject matter and the same program.
    4. Ownership of WBI materials: File storage belongs to the teacher, course materials belong to the school
  2. Allocation and Competencies of personnel
    1. Instructor: Dann Mosteller has significant knowledge in technical aspects and content knowledge, and he has considerable knowledge of instructional design.
    2. Teaching Partner: extensive knowledge in instructional aspects and partial knowledge of technology integration
    3. Technical Support: IT staff department and on campus support.
    4. Administrative support: Campus administrators provide significant support for the course content and resource access.  District administration has made a firm commitment to technology integration and development across the district.
  3. Learner location and technology
    1. Location: Learners are all local (blended learning environment)
    2. Urban setting, White Settlement is a urban suburb of Fort Worth, TX.
    3. Technology Infrastructure: Filtered content with certain limitations, yet a strong network capacity for wireless learning environments.
    4. IPad carts are available across the grade level on the campus.  Preset apps are already on the IPads but requests can be made to IT for adding more apps.
  • Learner Analysis

  1. General characteristics
    1. Mixed Gender
    2. Mixed ethnicity of mostly Hispanic and non-Hispanic students
    3. Generally age 9
    4. On grade level in reading and mostly on grade level in math
    5. Previously tested on state tests in reading and math
  2. Motivations
    1. General interests in a variety of activities
    2. General curiostiy
    3. Students are proficient to semi-proficient in 2 languages, English and Spanish
    4. Students have achieved successful academic levels in previous years.
  3. Prior Knowledge, Communication Skills, and Technical Skills
    1. General writing instruction, but prior to this school year, students have not been tested in this area.
    2. Keyboarding skills are limited due to previous limited access to these computers.  IPad is perhaps not the best tool to start students for developing keyboarding skills, but this is an X-factor.
    3. Limited knowledge of digital files.
    4. Limited exposure to email and threaded conversations
    5. Moderate skills with Internet, apps, and search engines
  4. Abilities and Disabilities
    1. There are group wide indications of impairments of disabilities, however it is reasonable to assume that in the population of students there will be isolated cases of specific impairments and disabilities.
  5. Other Learner Characteristics
    1. Because the groups are integrated across ethnicity, some students are not accustomed to cultural tendencies from home.  These cultural tendencies appear among student interactions of similar cultural background, however, other students may find these cultural tendencies strange.
  • Texas State Writing Standards for Grade 4

Reporting Category 1: Composition

The student will demonstrate an ability to compose a variety of written texts with a clear, central idea; coherent organization; sufficient development; and effective use of language and conventions.

(15) Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Students are expected to

(B)  develop drafts by categorizing ideas and organizing them into paragraphs; Readiness Standard

(C)  revise drafts for coherence, organization, use of simple and compound sentences, and audience; Readiness Standard

(D)  edit drafts for grammar, mechanics, and spelling [using a teacher-developed rubric]. Readiness Standard

(17) Writing. Students write about their own experiences. Students are expected to

(A) write about important personal experiences.

Reporting Category 2: Revision

The student will demonstrate an ability to revise a variety of written texts.

(15) Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Students are expected to

(C) revise drafts for coherence, organization, use of simple and compound sentences, and audience. Readiness Standard

(18) Writing/Expository [and Procedural] Texts. Students write expository [and procedural or work-related] texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to

(A) create brief compositions that

  • establish a central idea in a topic sentence;
  • Supporting Standard
  • include supporting sentences with simple facts, details, and explanations; Supporting Standard
  • contain a concluding statement. Supporting Standard

§126.7. Technology Applications, Grades 3-5, Beginning with School Year 2012-2013.

(b) Knowledge and skills.

(1) Creativity and innovation. The student uses creative thinking and innovative processes to construct knowledge and develop digital products. The student is expected to:

(A) create original products using a variety of resources;
(C) use virtual environments to explore systems and issues.

(2) Communication and collaboration. The student collaborates and communicates both locally and globally using digital tools and resources to reinforce and promote learning. The student is expected to:

(A) draft, edit, and publish products in different media individually and collaboratively;
(C) collaborate effectively through personal learning communities and social environments;
(E) evaluate the product for relevance to the assignment or task; and
(F) perform basic software application functions, including opening applications and creating, modifying, printing, and saving files.

(5) Digital citizenship. The student practices safe, responsible, legal, and ethical behavior while using digital tools and resources. The student is expected to:

(A) adhere to acceptable use policies reflecting positive social behavior in the digital environment;
(D) protect and honor the individual privacy of oneself and others;

(E) follow the rules of digital etiquette;

(F) practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology;

EdTech Week 10: Sampling Discussion

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The professor gave us the following for reflection:

Whether you are looking to choose students from a class (or from employees in a workplace) for a special project or you are looking for a pool of people to take a survey, the first thing you will need to do is decide on how you will choose your sample, or group of students or employees.

So, based on this week’s readings (The ABC’s of Evaluation, Chapter 8),

  • What are some ways you could choose that sample?

The book identifies two categories for gathering sample groups: probability sampling and non-probability sampling.  Once I determined what I wanted to evaluate, the process that I used most resembled a non-probability sampling and more specifically a purposive sample.  For me it was a practical and efficient decision.  Since I already knew the framework of the program that I want to evaluate, I decided to chose my own group of students and evaluate the program with them.  I could have sought another teacher to run the program with his group of students, but this would have been a major time imposition for both of us, considering the training and the information exchange that would be involved.  I have a former colleague who is running a version of my same program with his group of students, but we are so far away geographically that the observations and information exchange would be limited.  Nonetheless, the sample student population would not be random in either of those cases, unless you determine that the administrative scheduling was done in a random sort of way.

  • What experiences have you had in choosing samples?

I have never been in a situation where I was able to pool a sample group from a greater population.  In my limited sampling of populations, I have always had smaller manageable groups so, I could survey the whole group.  In the program that I am evaluating, I had to make decisions about groups and student leaders, but my decisions were based more on track record than anything else.  The program that is being evaluated is based on student hierarchy, which creates a social dynamic and the students are usually not accustomed to it.  However,  I have set up the survey in such a way that I can measure attitudes, opinion, and impact based on student roles. 

  • What are some things to watch out for and/or avoid in selecting samples?

When I think of my own evaluation project, I have to laugh a little when I read this question.  Because I decided to evaluate a program in which I am the facilitator, I had to be very selective of my group.  I work with students at a very volatile age of 14-15 years old.  I was with the same group of students last year.  All of them have matured, but some more than others.  Also due to culture and family issues in some students and the administration, there are variables that I cannot control, making it difficult to initiate some educational endeavors among several students.  There was really only one group that I could depend on in terms of maturity and responsibility, so it was a no-brainer when it came to selecting that group. 

In the case that a sample needs to be random, there are so many uncertainties among the people that are selected.  If it is crucial that everyone in the sample needs to give feedback then I don’t know if the sample can truly be random.  There are always people who are not able to participate or do not respond in a timely manner, which makes it difficult for evaluators to depend on them.  In general education, a sample of a particular class has a good probability of having a mix of skills and academic level, but as education levels become more specific, you will likely have a group of students with similar goals and interests.  Regardless, most educational sample groups are preselected groups that neither the teacher or the evaluator has selected.

EdTech 523 Reflection: Voices About Social Media

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In this week’s activity, we were suppose to assume the role of a school board member, principal, teacher, parent, or student (our choice) and choose a side to support or oppose the use of social media in education.  I will respond to the teacher’s questions with regard to this activity.

Can you recognize one or two voices and/or tones from the in the activity you completed this week?

I suppose that I do, but I am not in the thick of this discussion, as most of my online colleagues are, who are States side in the USA, while I am living abroad in Saudi Arabia.  It really makes a difference in perspective.  I’m sure there are many cases reported in the USA concerning the misuse of social media.  Ironically, most people automatically associate social media with Facebook first, then Twitter.  I was glad to see that some professional educators, no matter what their role was, were promoting alternative options for social media, some of which are more appropriate for school environments. 

This is the second country that I have lived in, within the Middle East, and I have also lived for periods of time in Latin America.  Living abroad has given me an interesting perspective of society in general.  I have a lot of respect for American society, based on what I have seen elsewhere, but we (American society) are struggling to make sense of the social media revolution, just like many other places in the world.  However, (in my opinion) the USA culture seems a little more hypersensitive about the negative social effects of social media.  I’m not sure if that is related to the news culture of the USA being more transparent, or possibly  more “scandal seeking”, or if we have a higher regard for the risks. Nonetheless, we hate to hear of victims of the abuse of social media, but that is exactly what we are talking about, the abuse of something that is intended to be used for good.

One time in this region, in Egypt, social media made international news; most people in America probably gaped when they heard that the government shut down the internet to keep the message of protest spreading.  We in America really cherish our freedom, and like it or not, banning social media is a form of infringement on freedom, even if it is for a good cause.  The difficult task is deciding when it is justified and when it is not.

Do you notice these voices and/or tones in your current discussion board responses with students, if applicable?

No, these issues haven’t come up, despite the fact that I have used Facebook and Google+ with my students and I have seen very little problems with inappropriate postings.  It’s not that my students are angels, it’s has more to do with the student discrepancies not playing out in school dramas, at least not yet.

Discuss potential changes in your approach to discussions in the future. Take into account the need to rely less on hearing your own voice in favor of supporting participants reflections and learning.

The landscape of education is changing is such a way that the term “social media” is either going to branch off or broaden to include “social virtual education”.  In my opinion, “virtual-osity” cannot be avoided in formal education.  Too much of our society is developing on its foundation.  In order to maintain a competitive edge in the world stage, the next generation must be considered for driving the machine. 

EdTech 505 Week 5: Evaluation in Program and Planning Cycles

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ADDIE Model

ADDIE

I remember learning about ADDIE in the EdTech 503, Instructional Design, and the evaluation component was easily understood within the whole ADDIE cycle.  As an educator, my mind is already trained to see evaluation as a component of instruction.  Now that I’m taking EdTech 505, Evaluation, that component has become harder to grasp.  I feel like I have been trying to cut out the piece of the pie called “Evaluate” to see if it tastes different from the rest of the pie.  In other words, even though the pie does have separate pieces, it is all made from the same ingredients; one piece cannot be completely independent from the others.

The ABCs of Evaluation, p.51

Evaluation: Program Cycle

This model does not stray much from the ADDIE model, but you can make the distinction with the purpose of the model.  ADDIE relates more specifically to instructional design, whereas the Program cycle on the right can relate to instruction or any active part of a system or organization, whether it relates to instruction or not.  This model does account for both formative evaluation and summative evaluation, which the ADDIE models does not distinguish.  Also, this model suggest that implementation strategies can change according to the formative evaluation during one rotation of the cycle.

The Planning-Evaluation Cycle

The Planning-Evaluation Cycle

This model does not fit as easily into an educational or instructional situation.  Even though the components of ADDIE and the Program Cycle appear in this model, it is distributed quite differently from the other two models.  For example, this cycle includes analysis and design as part of the evaluation phase.  Nor, does this model clearly distinguish between formative and summative evaluation, it almost suggest that the whole evaluation process is formative.  It appears that this model would be good to analyze some function or feature of an established system, and based on the results in the evaluation phase, the ADDIE model could be applied as an instructional model within the planning phase, which would address the needs that were discovered during the evaluation phases.

References:

EdTech 523: Collaboration Web-Based Style

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This is a unique position; I’m looking at education from the simultaneous perspective of a teacher and a student.  There are many advantages to this dual perspective; one in particular is that, as a teacher, I can imagine the challenge of a student trying to balance the many tasks that he or she has.  When it comes to collaboration in education, I believe that the teacher’s perspective is quite different from that of the student.  Teachers are often quite considerate of the variables that can affect collaboration negatively, so they carefully plan the tasks to avoid the pitfalls as much as possible.  During this process the teachers become invested in the expected outcomes and, if like me, begin to form fairytale images of how it all plays out.  However, many students groan at the though of collaboration, but after the student becomes invested (usually motivated by a grade), they get to encounter all of the unforeseen problems that even the teacher did not anticipate.  So, what to do now?  As a teacher, I try to offer support, but as a student, I try to solve the problem.  The maturity level of the student also plays a big part.

Fortunately, as an EdTech student, I have worked collaboratively with some very mature and capable students. These experiences have all been online and it served my professional skills to participate in these collaborative tasks.  As a K-12 teacher, many of my collaboration fairy tales have not come true, yet, it has been the challenges that help me to plan and facilitate more effectively.

  • Do you see value in Web-based collaborative tools?

I have experienced first hand the value of collaborative tools both as a teacher and a student.  My “student” benefit is more obvious.  If it weren’t for the web-based collaboration tools, I would not be able to study this program and collaborate with my peers, while living in Saudi Arabia.  As a teacher, I have also been able to use web based tools, even though I teach in a traditional classroom setting.  Web based tools have helped me communicate better with my students by creating an online network, sending detailed instructions, and recording information multimedia.  Additionally, some of these tools have helped me track accountability, especially in the collaboration tasks.

  • What are potential pitfalls in implementing collaborative activities using Web-based tools?

As a teacher, the pitfall has been the digital inequality of my students.  Even though all of my students have access to most of the latest technology, not all of them are accustomed to using it in the way that I require, or they just don’t know how to navigate through web-based tools.  Many of the issues have been related to maturity level.  Students don’t remember their password, or they prefer to be spoon-fed the instructions rather than trying to be problem solvers.  Also, when students have the opportunity to be sneaky, they always seem to find the capacity.  Some web-based tools are not set with accountability measures so it is hard to track fraudulent identities or other undesirable activities.

EdTech 505: Week 4, Project Evaluation Design Format

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For this week’s assignment, I decided to fill out the chart suggested in our textbook, but the data that I input in the chart is part of my evaluation project.   The chart is called “Evaluation Design Format” and the data represents my evaluation of the Peer Structure and Support program, which divides students in groups that create informal assessments of the content for their peers.

I have inserted the table below, but perhaps it can best be seen in the attachment.

505 Project Evaluation Design Format

Peer Structure and Support

Evaluation Project, Spring 2013

 

Evaluation Questions

Activities to Observe

Data

Source

Population Sample Design

Data Collection

Responsibility

Data Analysis

Audience

  1. Are students able to collaborate effectively to assess their peers’ ability to understand and interpret text information?
  • Assessment departments
  • Group Task Analysis
  • Collaborating on effective assessment objectives.
  • Prepare sample responses
Elements of Literature Textbook (Selected Short Stories) One group of 20 students from the advanced English Class.
  • Student directors checklists
  • Classroom observation and notes from the teacher.

 

  • Teacher determines student leaders.
  • Leaders share expectations with their group
  • Teacher observes class activities

 

  • Student Directors feedback
  • Teacher’s feedback
  • Assessment content

 

  • Teacher
  • LRC Director
  • MYP Coordinator
  • English Department Chair
  • Parents
  1. Are Google Forms used effectively for students to evaluate their peers’ literacy and reading skills?

 

  • Creating and sharing a Google Forms
  • Appropriate question styles for objective.
  • Peer Share the questionnaire.

 

Google Accounts

  • Forms
  • Spreadsheet

Selected Short Stories

One group of 20 students from the advanced English Class.
  • Students digitally share data with the evaluation process

 

  • LRC director observes online activity of students
  • Teacher reviews peer assessment submitted
  • Assessement content
  • Assessment format
  • Digital sharing
 
  • Teacher
  • LRC Director
  • MYP Coordinator
  • English Department Chair
  • Parents
  1. Are students able to collect, interpret, and, present anonymous assessment data from their peers?

 

  • Review results in a Google Spreadsheet.
  • Share selected results in a Google Presentation
  • Present results anonymously.

 

Google Accounts

  • Forms
  • Spreadsheet
  • Presentation
  • Google+
  • YouTube

 

One group of 20 students from the advanced English Class.
  • Presentation checklists
  • Shared presentation material.

 

  • Students collaborate on peer responses that meet standards
  • Teacher observes student presentations

 

  • Student Peer response and content
  • Teacher feedback about presentation

 

  • Teacher
  • LRC Director
  • MYP Coordinator
  • English Department Chair
  • Parents

 

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