TED and Me

Technology, Education, Design and Me.

Archive for the ‘learning’ tag

Animate This: Using What’s Free to Motivate

without comments

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted!

Below is the PPT from my presentation in Cambodia at the CamTESOL conference last week. Despite massive food poisoning (not from eating in Cambodia, but Hong Kong just before flying out), I managed to present! The talk was about using free online animation tools for teaching English as a Second Language. Enjoy.

Written by seanmcminn

March 6th, 2010 at 4:31 am

An attempt …

without comments

I haven’t been able to write about what I want to lately, but I would still like to share with everyone what I’ve been working on.

This is an elevator pitch for the My Words series of applications used for learning the English language. This pitch is part of an assessed task for UBC’s MET ETEC522 course. Thanks to John Milton, creator of the My Words applications, for giving me permission to use them for my assignment.

There’s a longer pitch, but I think this elevator pitch is more enjoyable to watch.

Enjoy.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny28OsZcojE[/youtube]

Written by seanmcminn

November 29th, 2009 at 8:04 am

Schoology, OSS, oh my …

with 3 comments

Go figure that, after submitting my MET assignment (see previous post), I would discover alternatives to the “traditional” CMSs (Blackboard) and OSS CMSs (Moodle).

A new form of CMS in the market is the Social CMS, which I believe to be following the infrastructure of online social networks like Facebook. The example I’m talking about is Schoology.

From their brochure:

Schoology has created a course management system built on a social network. While current course management systems utilize some social network features, Schoology has taken a unique approach by first building a social networking platform and then adding in the essential course management tools.
A social network provides objectivity, allowing searchable profiles for users, groups, courses, assignments and schools. Instead of interacting with just an interface or website portal, users can interact with dynamic profiles, greatly enhancing the learning experience.
Schoology provides students and educators with all the  essential course management tools, including an online gradebook, student roster, course assignments, school events, class attendance, user management and online report cards. These tools are seamlessly integrated with Schoology’s social network to create the ultimate digital and interactive educational environment.

Schoology seems to be taking into account what I expressed early: Web 2.0 technologies need to be considered as competitors/alternatives among the more “traditional” CMS.

Good. But I’m still not convinced. The infrastructure still seems to be restrictive, limiting pedagogy. True: they’re going with the online social network trend; and, yes, communication and collaboration opportunities seem to be seriously taken into account. But what about being able to incorporate other online technologies, like Second Life, animation-making tools, or wikis. It seems, in this case, that a CMS is just a CMS. Students and teacher are restricted to a set/narrow pedagogical approach within 4 digital walls.

Do we really need another confined digital learning space? Or should we find new ways to harness the affordance of digital technologies for learning.

Written by seanmcminn

October 24th, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Web 2.0 language learning

with one comment

I’m giving a short presentation for staff develoment tomorrow and thought that I’d share my abstract and slides. Comments most welcome.

Abstract

In this session, we will explore the affordances and limitations of Web 2.0 technologies in today’s language classroom. Wikis, podcasts, machinima, animation, storyboards – in many ways these free online resources give learners new opportunities to be independent in their study and research; they encourage a wider range of expressive capability; they facilitate more collaborative ways of working; and they furnish a setting for learner achievements to attract an authentic audience. But this does not mean there are no consequences or issues when using them (for example: copyright and Terms of Use).

After a 20-minute introduction of some of tools and the theories behind
why and how they can be used in the language classroom, we’ll open the discussion to everyone to talk about how we can (or whether we should) use Web 2.0 technologies in our language courses. We’ll also discuss the concept of “digital literacy”. What does that mean? And whose job is it to teach students how to be digitally literate?


Written by seanmcminn

October 8th, 2009 at 6:24 am

Digitally storytelling the possibilities!

without comments

In ETEC565, we were asked to:

Select one of the web 2.0 tools from the ones listed on the page (or others that you know of if you want), and create a short media piece that tells a story.  You can tell a story about yourself or about some issue.  You can also use the tool to tell a story that could be used in your classroom in relation to an activity or part of your curriculum.  You choose.

I chose goanimate.com to tell my story. You can read more about why here.

I also said in an earlier post that I would comment a little on Jenkin’s book. I’m about halfway through and i think that it’s been a very informative read Here are just a couple of points from the bookthat I’d like to highlight (I also talk about this on my digital story page).

Jenkins identifies four activities youth should develop skills in, especially in today’s media changing word:

  • Affilitations: Memberships, formal and informal in online communities centered around various forms of media, such as Friendter, Facebook, metagaming, etc.
  • Expressions: Producing new creative forms such as digital sampling, skinning and modding, fan videos, fan fiction, ones, or mash-ups.
  • Collaborative problem-solving: Working together in teams — formal and informal — to complete tasks and develop new knowledge, such as through Wikipedia, alternative reality gaming, or spoiling.
  • Circulations: Shaping the flow of media, such as podcasting or blogging.

I believe goanimate.com offers students a chance to develop these skills. However, Jenkins makes a good point that in order for activities to work, and to create an effective participatory culture, cultures (that is educational, national, etc.) must support them (2009); the curriculum must recognize and support these types of technologies and activities. Jenkins also says: “inter-activity is a property of the technology, while participation is the property of culture”. I think that that is an important point to remember.

Jenkins also identifies and discusses three problems:

  • the participation gap (similar, but not identical to the digital divide)
  • the transparency problem (do youth have deeper understanding of hoe media shapes their perception of the world)
  • the ethics challenge (i.e. copyright issues)

Written by seanmcminn

July 18th, 2009 at 1:38 am

Wiki-ing it in Moodle

with one comment

This post is reflection of my ongoing process of comleting the MET ETEC565 assignment.

I added a wiki to my course in Moodle today. It wasn’t that difficult to set up, although I did hit a bump when trying to figure out how to add new pages in the wiki. Thankfully, Moodle Docs is quite comprehensive and easy to follow, so I figured out how to solve the problem fairly quickly (I wonder how other students and teachers would do).

The wiki is based on an exercise from ETEC510, which I found to be quite a successful learning experience. Here are the instructions for students in the mock ESL course that I am designing, called Styles of English for Science and Engineering Students:

Welcome to the Language Centre’s, Styles of English: A Student’s Guide.

In your course, you are both an author, and an editor, of Styles of English: A Student’s Guide. During LANG101 and 102, you are responsible for authoring one major entry under one of the topics listed in the course syllabus (e.g. the five canons of rhetoric). You will be an active editor of your own solo entries. During LANG 202 and 204, you will also edit/comment on entries written by your LANG colleagues, both from last year’s cohort and from this year’s cohort.

What struck me as being  important about creating this wiki exercise wasn’t about the technical know-how of setting up a wiki in Moodle frm the administrator’s point-of0view. As I set the framework of the wiki I kept asking myself — is the Moodle wiki application the best for the purpose that I want.

Moodle’s wiki is based on ErfurtWiki, and it doesn’t seem to have all the nice features that MediaWiki has. By keeping students and teachers in mind, I’m not convinced that it is the best option. I found its functionaly and usability to be lacking. I would prefer to use MediaWiki or another wiki application that is more intuitive, has better navigation, and has more multimedia options. Still, for simplicity, Moodle’s wiki is fine. I’ll admit that I like the WYSIWYG funtion and the HTML editor. But if you’re looking for more complex collaboration, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Written by seanmcminn

June 11th, 2009 at 6:09 am

What LMS should I use?

without comments

There is no question: the MET programme is teaching me a lot.

We are currently reviewing Learning Management Systems —  something that I am not completely foreign with, but have had only minor experiences with. I have used different LMSs as a student and as a course designer at my university. The exercises in the MET programme have us comparing LMSs (particularly WebCT/Vista and Moodle), discussing questions we may ask ourselves if we were in the position to choose a LMS, and creating a rubric according to a scenario given to us. It’s an interesting and thought provoking exercise. In some ways, thinking of the questions has been an eye-opener. The breadth and depth of issues that you should review when deciding what LMS to use is vast! I would like to provide some of the questions that have appeared in our discussions; ones that I think important for anyone shopping for LMSs. These questions are a mix that considers single courses to departmental and institutional issues.

  1. Will the courses have face-to-face lessons? Or are they entirely online? The answer to these would lead to different questions. Assuming that a course has less F2F interaction, which LMS  provides  the best and most intuitive communication tools (synchronous and asynchronous)? Are the tools easy to manage/moderate from both students’ and teacher’s perspective? What functions do the communications have (do they allow students to create groups? etc.)? Are statistical summaries available of discussions? In what form? These are important questions for various learning objectives, such as tasks that may require students to interact with one another and/or need to collaborate and create something online. Course, It may be important that students are give autonomy with how they organize there discussions. And, if these tasks are being assessed, management and moderation are important.
  2. Is the LMS easily accessible for students on/off campus (depending on how much traffic, size of files being shared, streaming videos, etc.)? Depending where students are, they may have bandwidth issues (or even lack a computer!).
  3. What tools allow for more student involvement? How much can students personalize their environment, create webpages, blogs, wikis, etcs. Again, some of these tools may have sound pedegogical value for certain courses. Can students create their own and personalize their learning needs?
  4. Cost (Financial issues)? This one should be obvious.
  5. What support/assistance (personnel & equipment, migration of course and content, ease of use by faculty and students) does your department/insitution have? This is imporatnt for a variety of reasons. Servers go down and someone will be needed to fix things. But it is also important because there is a strong possibiltiy that some teachers do not feel comfortable with technology in the classroom, and they will need more tehnical supprt than others.
  6. Can content be shared across courses and/or departments? If so, how easily?

These are just a few of the questions one should ask. Of course, there are many, many more. A good site for comparing LMSs is http://www.edutools.info. You an compare the learner tools, support tools and technical tools among numerous available LMSs (unfortunately, Moodle is not included).

Another note: keeping frameworks like SECTIONS in mind (mentioned in a previous post here)  is very useful.

Written by seanmcminn

May 22nd, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Spam prevention powered by Akismet