LT1 – 1st Draft of Article Critique

Article Citation:

Kay, R. & Edwards, J. (2012). Examining the Use of Worked Example Video Podcasts in Middle School Mathematics Classrooms: A Formative Analysis. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 38(2). Retrieved from            http://cjlt.csj.ualberta.ca/index.php/cjlt/issue/view/79

Examining the Use of Worked Example Video Podcasts in Middle School Mathematics Classrooms: A Formative Analysis

Summary of the article

In their article, “Examining the Use of Worked Example Video Podcasts in Middle School Mathematics Classrooms: A Formative Analysis” Kay and Edwards make a case for the benefits of using video podcasts to teach math concepts to middle school students. The authors chose students from grades six, seven and eight to show them math video podcasts that were related to the specific grade curriculum and were unknown to the students. The students were given a pre-test on a math concept; then the students were shown “worked video podcasts” which demonstrated through video and audio a step-by-step procedure for solving a specific problem (Kay & Edwards, 2012). After watching the podcast students were given a post-test on that same concept. The article theorized that students who view video podcast in mathematics will be able to personalize their learning. As well, they wanted to answers questions about students’ attitudes towards using podcasts to learn math and whether there were any differences in attitudes and performance between gender and the age of students (Kay & Edwards, 2012).

The findings of this article were that the middle school students who were studied had a favorable attitude to using podcasts to learn math concepts. They liked that they could see examples and the instructions were clear. Most of the students thought the length and pace were useful for them and they liked that they could view the video if they were away from school. The authors also found that using video podcasts to teach a previously unknown math concept to students resulted in considerable gains in their performance on a post-assessment. No differences in performance were found between genders or ages. The main negative outcome that the authors came across was that the majority of students surveyed found the podcast were boring or uninteresting and did not engage them.

I chose this article for a variety of reasons but the main one was to challenge myself. I teach social studies and math in my grade five classroom and I have noticed from my previous courses that I have solely focused on how to incorporate blended learning into my social studies class. The concept of using blended learning in a mathematics course was of interest to me, especially since I feel this an area that I have not explored or understand much about.

My first reaction to the article is cautious enthusiasm. The authors do an excellent job of summing up the study’s strengths and limitations. The results are very positive. The authors found that middle school students had a good reaction to watching video podcasts that teach math theories. This is reassuring to me because as I try to move my tradition classroom to a blended learning one, I am looking for tools that will work with my age of students. Another potent benefit of using podcasts was the increased understanding of the concepts that was taught.

As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to increase student comprehension, especially in math, where I find a lot of students struggle. Video podcasts can come in especially handy when a student is away from school, needs extra help or the teacher is unavailable. This was noted in the article that students were positive about using of podcasts for outside the classroom and for review. A current “buzz word” in education, at the moment is “flipped classrooms”. Some teachers are moving away from a less traditional way of teaching and learning, so tools such as video podcasts may become more prevalent in classrooms.

The authors were very upfront about the limitations of their study. They and I would question the small sample size. Only one hundred and thirty-six students were surveyed and the authors did not personally interview the students. They handed out survey and based their results off of the survey and pre and post-tests. For me, the concern with not conducting personal interviews is the inability of the researchers to know what middle schoolers were actually thinking. I have found that when middles schoolers are asked to complete surveys, there are some that do not take it seriously, rush through and give the expected answers. The study would have come off as more effective and authentic if interviews had been conducted.

A final weakness of this article is the lack of research in using video podcasts in middle school math classrooms. The majority of research work has centered on higher education or high school. Middle school students are an entirely different breed of students from students in higher education and even high school. The article does admit that there needs to be more longitudinal studies in this area and I would even suggest there needs to be research at the elementary level, as well.

What struck me as I read the article was some of the findings, in particular that the majority of students surveyed found the podcasts either “neutral or boring in terms of engagement” (Kay & Edwards, 2012, p. 12), although 90% said that using videos was better than using a textbook. This is interesting because the authors cite studies done in higher education where students found that using podcasts were fun, interesting and engaging (Kay & Edwards, 2012). This finding certainly needs further investigation into why students were not engaged. There are a number of factors that might play into lack of engagement: including maturity level, the quality of the podcast, the newness of a learning strategy, etc. The bigger question may also be whether teachers are more focused on entertaining students or making sure that they learning.

Another question that I would have liked investigated further was the lack of using the pause feature on the video, “10% of the students used the pause feature while they watched the worked example video Podcast” (Kay & Edwards, 2012, p. 8). As teachers are encouraged to personalize learning for students, this result would seem to suggest that students themselves are not taking advantage of the option to personalize their own learning. There are a number of reasons as to why students may not have used the pause button but this needs more investigation.

Finally, the article does not go into detail about the design and presentation of the podcast and I would like to know how the design and presentation affected learning. The article noted that students appreciated “clear, slow, step-by-step explanations, clear writing and visuals that support the learning process” (Kay & Edwards, 2012, p.13) but there are many other design elements that can enhance and hinder learning; a few being: voice, the gender of the person, the relationship to the person on the podcast, colors, background, etc. It would be interesting to find out what design elements middle school students most connect with and if that benefits their learning.

Something that I, as a math teacher, can take away from this article is that there might be a new way to engage and challenge students in math. One of my concerns about design and presentation but might circumvented by having students create their own videos teaching a math concept, that way they can begin to understand how the choices we make with design can affect our outcomes. Something else that I took away from this article is the fact that just because adults think a tool is useful; students may not (In the case of the pause feature. I would have said that was great tool for students to personalize their learning but from the results, the majority of the students were not interested in using it). Maybe as educators we need to show the benefits of using tools, rather than just expecting that students know how to use them. I think using video podcasts can open up a lot of opportunities to explore how to personalize learning in the math classroom, which will, in the end, benefit the students we are teaching.

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EDER 679.20 – Blended Learning: Learning Goals

My goals for this course are:

  • To have a clearer understanding and be able to define blended learning, specifically in elementary classrooms.
  • To be able to better implement blending learning aspects in my classroom to support learning.
  • To redesign a course, using course redesign principals, that will provide deep understanding of concepts and that will motivate learners in my classroom.
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Creating Digital Media

Being a student for the first time in ten years has been an interesting endeavour. Previously when I gave technology assignments, I expected my students to complete them and move on. Minimal whining about the difficulty and small amounts of frustration expressed were preferred but by creating my own digital media projects I have come to sympathize with students about how challenging it can be to complete this type of  project. I think the greatest lesson that I have learned from creating my own digital media is that patience and perseverance goes along way. When I first looked at some of the assignments, I thought, “There is no way I can do,” but I did. I pushed myself to create things I didn’t think I could and I think have done a good job on my projects. I think this process of learning is something my students can relate to also. It was good to be reminded of the learning process and how annoying and rewarding it can be to create digital media. I know that next time a computer freezes on a student and all their work is erased, I will understand how they are feeling and share in their frustration.

Something else that came as a surprise to me, especially in creating my website, was my
over focus on the design of the site and my under focus on the content. I do think my content is good on my site but I am uncertain about how my grade five students will receive it. Since designing a website is new to me, I think my main focus was the design and I took my content for granted. I have to think that there are a lot of sites out there that fall into this same category. I know that I have been on a few of them. They are all show but no content. In the future when creating digital media, I know that I am going to be more conscious of creating a balance between content and design. Both are equally important to site being functionally and educational.

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Blog #3: Digital Citizenship

I am not sure how it happened but I have now reached the age where I say things like, “When I was young we didn’t do that or behave like that.” Every generation believes that their way is the best and correct way. It is not surprising that in an age of rapid advancement people are hesitant to accept that the way the world communicates and operates has changed. Children growing up in this digital age will communicate and interact completely different than children who came of age 20 years ago.

Is communication better or worse in 2012? This is an argument for historians to make but regardless of the way our students communicate the importance of teaching character still remains, despite the medium. Teachers have to become innovators and leaders in the area of digital citizenship. Educators should not be afraid of technology. They need to adapt to the times. The values stay the same, you are still teaching responsibility, respectfulness, kindness, tolerance, etc. but the format has changed.

My responsibilities, as a teacher, are still the same, but the way that I deliver and interact with my students, their parents and my colleagues has changed in my nine years of teaching. Technology has improved some aspects of my professional life and has had a negative effect on others. Ease and speed of communication has improved but  understanding and time spent on devices have increased. My personal life has become less private and now anyone can read my blogs, tweets, post on my Facebook page and follow any of my online activity. As I am teaching my students about their online identity and activities, I am also monitoring and adjusting mine.

Amber Case states in her TED Talk (2010), “The most successful technology gets out of the way and helps us live our lives.” Technology has certainly helped me live the life I want. It has made my world smaller and at the same time given me limitless possibilities. Regardless of how you view the digital age, whether you embrace it or are fearful of it; the fact remains that technology is in our lives and those of our students. Digital citizenship should be taught in our schools and should be modeled by adults.

TED Conferences, LLC. (2010). Amber Case: We are all cyborgs now. TED Conferences LLC. Retrieved November 12, 2012 from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/amber_case_we_are_all_cyborgs_now.html

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Blog #2: Response to “Five Key Questions Form Foundation for Media Inquiry”

The Centre for Media Literacy focuses on five questions to guide teaching practice. Question 2, “What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?” (Center for Media Literacy, n.d.) concentrates on how media is formatted. The Centre contends that teachers should ask students what they see when media is presented to them. Media is formatted by creator to convey a certain message or point of view. The people who are creating media use sounds, colors, camera angles, lighting, images, etc. to get their message across to the audience.

Students need to be taught the skills to recognize how a message is formatted and how the message is visual communicated to provoke a feeling or emotion in the viewer. Teaching students how to spot media formatting is important because students can use those skills with any form of media. Students are then aware of the techniques that are being used to shape and manipulate their experience. By having students create their own media, they can begin to understand how using different formatting techniques can convey their message.

Since media is so visual, it is important to understand how creators format digital content to transmit a certain message or idea.  When people create a video, presentation, image, etc. they need to think about how their message will be received by the audience. All the little details that go into the creation stand out in the delivery. Audiences consciously and subconsciously are constantly interpreting the message and when formatting is considered the creator of the media can guide the viewer in a direction they want the viewer to follow.

Formatting techniques are very important when I create my own materials. I know that I would choose different font, colors and images for different audiences and the different messages I want to express. I think the best to learn about formatting is to create your own media presentations. You can then practice using all different techniques and afterwards see if the message you wanted to convey was actually conveyed to the audience. The details
can be just as important as the message, sometimes. This is especially true for students, who love to use fancy font and colors but are often surprised when no one can read their information. By giving students and yourself opportunities to practice formatting and thinking about how to express messages you will become better at it in your presentations and in spotting it in other’s work.

References

Center for Media Literacy. (n.d.). Five Key Questions Form Foundation for Media Inquiry. Retrieved October 13, 2012, from http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/five-key-questions-form-foundation-media-inquiry

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Blog Post 1 – Photo Editing

The photo I chose to edit was one I took of the Queen’s Guard in front of Buckingham Palace. I took this picture when I lived in London eight years ago. I used www.photoshop.com to edit my pictures.

Original Photo

The first edit I flipped the photo horizontally.

The second edit I erased the rail in front of the guard.

The third edit I used the crop and rotate feature so the photo follows the Rule of Thirds.

On the final edit I wanted to play with color so I used the saturation button to lighten the color. Then I used the pop color button to make the jacket green. Finally, I used the saturation button again to intensify the green on his jacket.

Using photoshop.com was fairly straight forward. It is an easy to use free website but I found that some of the editing tools were too limiting. If I wanted to do more specific editing, I would purchase the Photoshop software.

 

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Final Blog

Sitting down to write my final blog, I am contemplating where my mindset was at when I started this course and where I am now. Looking back over my previous posts I can definitely see a pattern starting to emerge. One of the key features of the assignments we have completed over these past six weeks is reflection. In all assignments we were asked to reflect upon a topic and then relate it to our own practices. Another recurring key theme throughout the readings was the personalization of learning and this theme has also played an important part in my postings.

My blog entries, I think, show how I viewed the distributive learning continuum from when I started to now. I made a comment in my second blog about being worried about my students having blogs. I expressed my concern that there would not be enough interaction offline and students would be in a “technology bubble”. Now through my reflections and feedback from others, I realize that I was the one in the technology bubble. I was very comfortable using the same technology that I always have and very unwilling challenge myself to look beyond what I was comfortable with.

Having read other people’s opinions and reflections and having had to comment on their writing, really made me think about my opinions on technology useage. I especially think the journal articles had a lot to with that. I was able to read a number of different articles that I probably would never have been exposed and being asked to comment on them, really made me think about my initial stance and where my practice goes from here.

My final research paper, has also lead me to reflect on my practices. I choose to focus on using ereaders in classrooms to provide a more versatile learning experience. This was a topic that was very new to me and really made me think about how literacy is taught in classrooms and the personalization of learning for students. I have a new appreciation for teachers who are taking chances and using opportunities in the classroom with technology.

Although I found Elluminate awkward at first (talking into dead space was a little strange to get use to), I enjoyed the collaboration element. It was very interesting to meet with people from around the country and to hear their point of view. A suggestion I would have for the makers of Elluminate is to add the ability to view video of people. For a visual learning, like myself, lack of images was very difficult to get use to but at least I worked on my auditory listening skills. Feedback provided by both Doug and my peers has helped me to look closely at my personal perspective on technology and how it affects my use of technology in my classroom. I am excited to begin implementing some of what has been discussed in blogs, the articles and in my research paper.

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E-Intensive Learning

During our readings I came across this quote from Williams, Karousou, & Mackness (2011), “Unless institutions…broaden their learning spaces to allow greater flexibility and more self-organization, they might fail to address the possibly growing dilemma that ‘even when students are in school, much of their education happens outside’” (p. 40). When institutions offer e-intensive learning they are capitalizing on flexibility
and student self-organization. E-intensive learning connects education to students’ outside world (Williams et al., 2011) and it is flexible so people can personalize their learning to suit what work best for them.

I don’t think e-intensive learning would have been possible ten years ago. Ten years ago, I was in university and when I wanted to take a distance learning course, my assignments were mailed out to me, I completed them and mailed them back. Now I am taking a course that is completely online with no face-to face contact. I feel that I have control over my learning and cannot imagine going back to the distance learning format. I have transformed into a learner who wants instant access to information, with the ability to learn when and where I want.

How is e-intensive learning affecting our school system? Ben-David Kolikant (2009) states that schools should go beyond just teaching information. Schools should be teaching students how to be critical consumers of the information that is readily available in their lives. E-intensive learning gives students the opportunity to work at a pace that is comfortable for them and a place that is comfortable, as well. When learning falls to the furthest part of the distributive learning continuum, it allows for a completely different learning experience than what has previously been possible.

Is the e-intensive learning experience better than the traditional classroom method or even a blended learning environment? It is hard to say because this is all new to me. In five to ten years, learning may have move beyond e-intensive to something that we cannot even comprehend. I think, though, what will remind the same is people’s desire to move beyond passive receivers of information and into a more interactive, personalized and collaborative space. At this time e-intensive learning offers learners that opportunity.

References

Ben-David Kolikant, Y. (2009). Digital Students in a Book-Oriented School: Students’ Perceptions of School and the Usability of Digital Technology in Schools. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(2), 131-143. Retrieved from http://www.ifets.info/journals/12_2/10.pdf

Williams, R., Karousou, R., Mackness, J.(2011). Emergent learning and learning ecologies in Web 2.0. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3),  39-59. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/883/

 

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E-Focused Learning

My understanding of e-focused learning is: it is learning where the learner can choose the time and place of their learning and it is a blended learning environment; where students and teachers both participate in a physical classroom and a digital one (Hastie, Hung, Chen, & Kinshuk, 2010). As I began to think about what e-focused learning was, I began to think about my situation. This year I am moving to a classroom that has blackboards, no SMARTboard, two outlets (front and back of the room) and a room where I have to be careful that I don’t operate my microwaves while the desktop computer is on or a circuit will blow. I am not sure where e-learning will fit into my new room.

It is very easy in a situation such that I find myself in to give up and go back to the textbook, tempting too. I could be one of those teachers on the ATA report (2011), “The Impact of Digital Technologies on Teachers Working in Flexible Learning Environment” that finds lack of resources a “mountainous barrier” (p. 32) but I have decided to see the possibility in my room and what my students and I can make of it. I have put in a request for a SMARTboard and whiteboards but I plan to look beyond the tools and see the potential to try something new, like blogging that I mentioned in my pervious blog.

Williams, Karousou and Mackness (2011) comment on Mitra’s use of computer stations in rural India, “What is remarkable is how much they can learn, with how little guidance, if their self-motivation and self-organization is encouraged and enabled” (p. 53). It is my responsibility to encourage and enable my students and allow for a learning experience outside of an outdated classroom. I am still trying to figure out how to do this. It may mean reaching out to my colleagues and my PLN (personal learning network). I too need a little encouragement.

Classrooms don’t stand in teachers’ ways; it is actually often the teachers themselves. I am cautiously optimistic that at some point my classroom will become an e-focused room where students are able to personalize their learning and learn at their own time and place. At this point I can only focus on what I have. This may sound contradictory (based on the course I am in) but maybe as you move along the distributed learning continuum it becomes less about the “tools” and more about the possibility of student learning and success, as well as your own.

References

ATA Research Team (2011). The Impact of Digital Technologies on Teachers. In ATA Research Update. Retrieved from http://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Research-Updates/PD-86-21%20Impact%20of%20Digital%20Technologies.pdf

Hastie, M., Hung, I-C., Chen, N.S., and Kinshuk. (2010). A blended synchronous learning model for educational international collaboration. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 47(1), 9-24. doi:10.1080/14703290903525812

Williams, R., Karousou, R., Mackness, J. (2011). Emergent learning and learning ecologies in Web 2.0. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 39-59. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/883/

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e-Enhanced Learning

As I started to think about what e-ehanced learning meant to me, I thought about how it might look in my classroom, how I could move beyond the SMARTboard and challenge and motivate my students. Next year, I will be teaching math and social studies to grade five students. I am quite excited to try some of the technologies that have been in our readings, in particular blogs. Frye, Trathen, and Koppenhaver (2010) in their article make a good case for why blogs can be a powerful tool in a classroom.

I have to admit that when I first thought about using blogs, my reaction was negative. I was worried that moving conversations online would create a technology bubble around the students and their socialization skills would suffer. My reaction was a tad too extreme. I wouldn’t be moving all conversations to blogs. Students would still be meeting face-to-face and socializing in small and large groups. Blogs would not take over my teaching practice but enhance it. I decided to draw on a blended learning approach; one where my students could be taught the skills and how to use the skills of a 21st century learner. I am excited to see how the students will react to using blogs to discuss outcomes in social studies. I am hoping that more students will be pulled into the conversation and students will be able to work together and form a dynamic
learning environment.

I have started the research on how to use blogs, ideas to write about, and safety concerns. One of the major concerns that I have is about privacy. The articles by Hyo-Jeong and Bonk (2010) and Frye et al. (2010) both state that blended learning and blogs are perfect opportunities to collaborate with people around the world. I am not sure how that will work with a class of ten year olds. Certainly communication with parents and administration is needed. Regardless of the concerns, this could be a perfect opportunity to teach digital citizenship to students.

I know that I will probably hit some bumps in the road but I am pretty committed to giving this a go. As Ferriter (2011) says I will have to be “digitally resilient” (p. 86) and teach that resiliency to my students. I can’t wait to get started. The only question I am left with is —how do I move my math practice from beyond pencil and paper and onto the distributed learning continuum?

References

Ferriter, W. M. (2011). Becoming Digitally Resilient. Educational Leadership, 68(6), 86-87. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c5fb805a-230f-47d7-a075-43546e4b0a71%40sessionmgr15&vid=2&hid=25

Frye, E. M., Trathen, W., & Koppenhaver, D. A. (2010). Internet Workshop and Blog Publishing: Meeting Student (and Teacher) Learning Needs to Achieve Best Practice in the Twenty-First-Century Social Studies Classroom. Social Studies, 101(2), 46-53. doi:10.1080/00377990903284070

Hyo-Jeong, S., & Bonk, C. J. (2010). Examining the Roles of Blended Learning Approaches in Computer- Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) Environments: A Delphi Study. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 13(3), 189-200. Retrieved from             http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b631ade4-0741-4ccc-8be6-7b4307cb73b7%40sessionmgr15&vid=2&hid=25

 

 

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