Process vs. product

Assignment 2 constituted the build up of a learning process, and assignment 3 was the creation of a learning product. The effort that we invested to make our Introductory Module facilitated the build of our Content Module. Creating the content for our poetry module was fun. It is the part I enjoy most as a classroom teacher and to build this unit in collaboration with others was very satisfying.

The continued work that we invested into this OER highlighted the degree to which a good online course is tightly integrated in its learning objectives, instructional activities, and assessments given. There are so many pieces to consider. In a group, I found that the constant discussions we had ensured that the choices we made could be well-rationalized by both research and common sense. Working independently can often be faster, but I found that I wanted to be more careful and thoughtful about the ideas I presented. It wasn’t good enough to share an okay idea, I only wanted to present and suggest good ideas.

Working in Edge EdX was the second train of thought that has run through my mind for the past month. Even though I consistently engaged with the online LMS, I still feel like an absolute beginner in its application. Edge EdX is a comprehensive and in many ways complicated application. It’s sleek and streamlined appearance give the impression that work within it should be simple, but it is not. I also found that my participation in several MOOC’s has given my the idea of what it might be possible to create in EdX, but I am without the skills and knowledge to replicate that (easily) for my own purposes.

More personally, I would have to say that both the Introductory and Content Module projects felt like very big mountains to climb. I am grateful that I took on these expeditions with a team of skilled mountaineers. Kirsten was a leader and consistently led us along the most efficient and research-based path. Melissa was the outdoor explorer who brought us all the cool, new gadgets and who knew how to use them properly. Jenny was the team member who had us double check our maps and be sure of ourselves before moving on. Each of these fine educational adventurers deserves a full five stars for their collaborative efforts.

TouchCast – me trying to see video in a different way

For my digital storytelling discussion post I decided to use TouchCast, an interactive video application. This application is available for desktop computers from and from iTunes for iPads. I built my project on my iPad. I had intended to create my TouchCast using a desktop computer, but I found the software to be somewhat buggy. It crashed a number of times and the webcam did not work properly. It does state on the website that the desktop program is in Beta testing, so perhaps they are aware of these bugs. Here is a link to my Touchcast video.

As with any video production, I knew that my script needed to be written before I could begin filming (let alone enhancing) my video. The script took some time to write as I pondered what was most relevant to the selection of TouchCast and of ed tech tools in general. A point that I made in the video, and that I’d like to reiterate here, is that while I have usually only considered a new technology’s value by assessing it’s value to learning and the appropriateness of it’s logistics, I have learned in 565A that the logistics of the learning opportunity are what can define an effective instructional application. It’s the intersection between what a technology can do, and how it does it, that determines it’s worth.

Building out the project was frustrating at times. Some elements are less that intuitive to figure out. Once I accessed the Help documentation, things progressed much more quickly. I know, I know, if all else fails, read the instruction manual.

My finished product is acceptable, but not astounding by any means. I have been able to visualize how I could use this platform in a classroom and what pieces of my production work could use improving.

Here is the script to my video:
Hi there 565A’ers! This is a TouchCast. I have wanted to create a TouchCast as a project for ages, but I hadn’t found an appropriate topic, nor the time do so. Now, I won’t suggest I have heaps of time available at the moment, but it did seem the right time to get on with it.

TouchCast is interactive video. This means that while you are watching this video, additional media can be embedded and accessible within the same screen. I can add in pictures, webpages, Twitter feeds, polls, maps, and many other video apps, “vApps”, to augment the video experience. Interestingly, since I was first exposed to the application a couple of years ago, it has released a desktop version and many significant improvements. The uses for this technology are obviously wide-reaching and extend as far a user’s creativity. From an educator’s perspective I see this is as being useful in the flipped classroom for providing a video that connects students to their teacher with several links and activities to complete from within the video. It would also be an effective way for students to share their research or learning on a topic.

Since beginning my MET journey in September 2012, I have continued to fill my technological tool case with many innovative tools. These have been in the realms of communication, collaboration, web publishing, and content curation tools, among others.

In every interaction with a new technology, I try to determine its appropriateness for use in the classroom. In this sense, new media can be evaluated using Bates’ SECTIONS model, or in relation to Anderson’s Theory of Online learning, or by visualizing a tool’s position within the SAMR model. At the most basic level, I try to consider the ‘learning’ and the ‘logistics’ that are afforded by a new device, platform, or application.

LEARNING: Can this tool be used for deep and authentic learning? If a tool can contribute to the effectiveness of a learning-, community-, knowledge-, or assessment-centred environment, then it is possible that it would be worth adopting. I try to consider how a particular technology could contribute to my established learning environment; perhaps by augmenting students’ understanding of content, by providing a way for students to share what they have learned, by facilitating interactions between students, content, the teacher and the group, or by helping me to assess a student’s level of achievement in a particular area. Additionally, as per the SAMR model, I want to ensure that the use of technology offers something more than the substitution of a digital tool for a non-digital learning interaction. Ideally, the use of technology should ensure the augmentation of a learning interaction, and preferably, the modification and redefinition of what can be accomplished in learning.

LOGISTICS: What logistics surround this tool? Certainly, a tool needs to have been created for a platform I use, or that students will be able to use. Given that I have Android, Apple, Blackberry and Windows devices, this is rarely an issue. But the technology available in my classroom is both more and less diverse and should be able to run on multiple devices at once. Also, is an app free or paid? Is there advertising in the app? Is it age-appropriate advertising? Can settings within an application or technology be managed by me, and locked down if necessary? We’ve all seen applications where the structure of the app is fantastic, but there is very little content to work with, or the inverse problem where it could be a fantastic app, but the logistics of the app make it unmanageable for continued use.

The idea that has become most apparent to me from this course is the importance of looking for the intersection between the learning affordances and the logistical conventions of an application. As an educator I need to determine if the way in which an application offers an educational opportunity is in fact appropriate to the content being conveyed and the skills and attitudes I hope for my students to gain.

TouchCast can promote deep and authentic learning by providing a platform that encourages the multimodal expression of knowledge and ideas. Students can create presentations for various audiences, on various topics, while promoting the connections that they find between concepts. Touchcasts can be embedded into Google Sites, and otherwise stored on Youtube. To be fully interactive, a TouchCast should be viewed from within the app or on the website, where every user is a channel. Logistically, I’ve found the desktop version of TouchCast to be a bit buggy, but the iPad version is reliable. The app is free and considering the strengths of this platform it’s a fantastic value. One con worth mentioning might be the ramping up time required to learn the software.

Pedagogically I think that the app is effective at creating multiple representations of a concept, with entry points for diverse learners. This might be distracting to students who struggle to focus, but the video based nature of the app should help to keep a students focus.

Thanks for watching and I wish you all the best in the rest of this course and along your MET journey.

Weeks 9 & 10 (late posts)
Social media and our desire to share

As I continue to catch up on missed discussion forum posts, I have combined the topics from Weeks 9 & 10. I am of the opinion that a discussion surrounding the use of social media in the classroom also suits a discussion of copyright and the ways in which it can influence teaching and learning. I think that an examination of the intersection between social media and copyright shows us that when people share interesting ideas and relevant resources, it asks of them to attribute, to the best degree possible, the ownership of those interesting ideas and resources. Unfortunately, social media has made it so easy to share words, pictures, and videos that the more difficult task of figuring out where those ideas came from is often ignored. This is problematic for teaching and learning. In the use of social media for learning, educators need to teach students to cite and attribute creative works appropriately, to act with proper netiquette while on social media, and to help students understand the tensions and links between privacy and openness online.

One of the biggest benefits I have experienced in my personal of use of social media, including (and limited to) Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, is the build-up of my Personal Learning Network (PLN.) This has allowed me to connect with educators whose ideas I see as valuable and to also follow along with advances in the educational technology industry. At the least, it has been a self-curated list of interesting links, and at best it has allowed me to grow my perspective and my understanding of the use of technology in education. Students can also been given the opportunity to learn and to grow in this way. Age limitations and inappropriate web content aside (for the moment), students can be guided in the best way to adopt and develop a social media persona. The way in which students learn can be paralleled in the way that a new user adopts social media. Initially, people lurk and observe. Typically they next start to ‘re-share’ and to ‘favourite’ items of interest. This may lead to tentative dialogue with other users. Finally, students hopefully learn to create items of value that they initiate and share onto various platforms. This feels similar to an instructional strategy like “Watch me / we’ll do it together / you’ll go it alone.” It’s in the early phases of this model that educators need to teach how to accurately cite and give credit where credit is due. If nothing else, the spirit of attributing creative works properly should be ingrained in students. More appropriately, students can learn a system relevant to their understanding, to cite the work of others. Older students can explore this topic, as Kirsten mentioned in the discussion forum, by exploring the work of Lawrence Lessig, and his interpretation of Remix Culture. Being online in this way will also require significant support, scaffolding, and supervision during the gradual release of responsibility. Students in younger grades can operate as a whole using a class Twitter account, whereas older students may be asked to create ‘professional’ or school-based Twitter accounts for engaging with their peers without the noise of everyday teenage stuff.

One often discussed aspect of digital culture is a perceived openness, a willingness to share everything online. Cory Doctorow discusses in his video “Privacy and Trust in Open Education” the tensions that have existed between the fights for both privacy and the open sharing of information online. Whereas privacy and openness were once thought to be at odds with one another, we now see that they have merged and have become overlapping concerns (Doctorow, 2015). These are vast subjects to undertake, and as Doctorow points out, the issues that can be identified in our digital culture (i.e. privacy concerns, the need for freedom of information, big data, technology in education) are extremely intertwined with one another. Students need to learn that none of these subjects are black and white and the one aspect of digital culture can, and likely is at odd with another aspect of digital culture.

My aim will always be to keep anything that is mine as useful as possible to those who might be able to use it. This will consistently require checking out who can access information and how they can access the information. These are digital literacies that take time to develop and today’s teachers who use technology in their classrooms need to foster these competencies in their students.

Doctorow, C. (12 March 2015). A conversation about privacy and trust in open education. Retrieved from

Weeks 7 & 8 (late posts)
Learning Interactions and Assessment

Learning interactions and assessment go hand in hand. Bates (2014) highlights how intertwined teaching and assessment have become in the digital era, noting that they have “become even more closely integrated and contiguous” (p.469) than before. Thus, it is vital to think about assessment during the planning stages, the execution, and the culmination of a course. Every learning interaction that is chosen needs to have a relevant associated assessment.

During the planning of our introductory module we established our learning goals for the course and determined accompanying success criteria. These learning objectives (goals + criteria) contribute to a learning- and knowledge-centred environment. However, we did not create our instructional activities. We decided on a list of possible activities and decided to elaborate these further in our content module. Truthfully it was, and often is, a very circular process trying to determine which activities and assessments will best fit a set of learning objectives. By committing to a series of instructional activities, we will create an assessment-centred learning environment. The types and styles of assessments (possibly video-based presentations and discussion board questions) we intend to choose will hopefully contribute to a community-centred learning environment.

Some of the tools we hope to include highlight this heightened relationship between learning interactions and assessment. Google Drive allows written assignments to be submitted electronically, but this might be after a number of conversations and interactions have taken place online to improve a piece of work. Online quizzes may be set up to check for understanding and can be designed to provide additional explanations in the event of a wrong choice. Even in the event of a correct choice, students can read a short sentence that reiterates why that choice might be the correct answer. Online video presentations will allow a student to use assessment as learning, by sharing their work with other group members and by hearing their individualized feedback. Finally, discussion board posts will also foster learning opportunities and assessment opportunities, each set in dialogue with the other.

Outside of the online environment, physical bricks and mortar schools can use sites like PearDeck, a presentation software now connected to Google. This application allows for classroom presentations that include significant opportunities for formative feedback. Other sites similar to PearDeck include Kahoot(as mentioned in the Connect forums), and Socrative. These are all programs that facilitate interaction in learning while providing formative assessment to both teachers and students.

Another aspect of a course that is difficult to describe prior to launching the course is the type and quantity of feedback a student can expect to receive. Gibbs and Simspon (2005) identify ten conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning; seven of these conditions relate to the provision, scope, and uptake of feedback. Feedback is an integral aspect of all of Anderson’s effective learning attributes. Feedback promotes every aspect of a learner-, knowledge-, assessment-, and community-centred learning environment. Wiggins (2012) notes that “whether feedback is just there to be grasped or is provided by another person, helpful feedback is goal-referenced; tangible and transparent; actionable; user-friendly (specific and personalized); timely; ongoing; and consistent” (p.13). Feedback was highly prioritized at my last school. Teachers were provided with professional development to read and discuss relevant articles on the topic of feedback and to take time to practice with one another. Of further note, we spent time learning about the Growth Mindset, work by Carol Dweck, in an attempt to provide feedback that related to the process and the mind-set of students, rather than on the finished product or on characteristics of students.

Feedback is trickier to provide online than in a face-to-face setting. Tools need to be chosen to facilitate the provision of formative feedback in a manner that can be received and acted upon. The web has a series of tools that allow instructors to mark-up student work with written commentary. Further, comments can be provided in audio, or even video, format. To ensure students are being met at their level of readiness they can be asked to complete a Google Form to indicate their prior knowledge, skills, and attitudes on a particular subject.

Although it appears to be a rash, mish-mashed list of potentially useful applications, the most important consideration is whether a particular tool is appropriate for a particular activity. Ideally, an instructors choice of learning interactions, and assessment tools, will help students to ‘uncover the curriculum’ easily and in a straight-forward manner.

Bates, T. (2014). Appendix 8. Assessment of Learning Teaching in a Digital age. (online book)
Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C. (2005). Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), 3-31. (PDF)
Wiggins, G. (2012). 7 keys to effective feedback. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

ETEC565A – Assignment 4 – Final Reflection

In many ways, I think ETEC565A was structured in the way I visualized all my MET courses would be structured. Before beginning my journey three years ago, I expected that every MET class would drill me through a variety of technologies and applications in hopes of determining what systems had value, and how different systems could or would achieve different pedagogical and evaluative objectives. Now, at the other end of my MET journey, I understand that this has not been the point of the program. The MET program, overall, has pointed me towards frameworks for analysis and theories that can help me to use the best technologies for each unique context. Still, this course in particular, did try to put me through my paces technologically. I succeeded in some ways, and have continued learning to undertake in other ways. I now see that my original thoughts on what a course in the MET program would be, would have been too much for each course. And I think this course attempted to achieve more than was possible (at least for me) in one course.

In the description of my anticipated Flight Path I used the course title to visualize my learning. I wanted to improve my ability to select, design, and apply learning technologies. I have come to understand that the selection of technologies is at the root of effective pedagogy. The choice of a tool (using SECTIONS within either an ADDIE or agile design model) will determine what can later be achieved with that tool. I have also come to realize that both the restriction of choice, and the overabundance of choice can be difficult to navigate. My school board uses Google Apps for Education and Desire2Learn and in this regard choices have been made for me. I will need to work within the restrictions of those selections.

In terms of design, despite my intentions, I did not spend any time exploring how Inquiry Based Learning and LMS’s could work together. To incorporate Inquiry based learning into a learning management system would have been the synthesis and evaluation of many pieces of the puzzle. Unfortunately, I was too busy managing my learning at the other end of Bloom’s continuum, learning how to navigate an LMS and learning how to choose effective tools. Having attempted (without successfully building) an online course, it is clear that at this time I am better left to integrate tools individually rather than determine how to build them into one comprehensive course. I know that I am capable of building an online course; but I am now aware of how much time this can take. This connects significantly to my final point. In my flight path I had made the suggestion that I would be looking at a variety of LMS’s. In reality, I barely scratched the surface in terms of being knowledgeable about one online LMS.
These three pieces; my ability to select effective technologies and my improving ability to apply and design effective technologies, show me that I should continue to practice the implementation of effective instructional uses of technology in a blended classroom. My notions of moving towards a Google-based certification was laughable; I had no time to do anything but read up on that process. This is a certification I can pursue once I am consistently using technology in the classroom.

But all is not lost, I gained much from ETEC565A.

I became aware of the variety of online, cloud-based LMS’s. I believe that given the financial concerns and constraints faced by school boards, this will become the simplest way for schools to access storage and technologically advanced learning platforms. However, I have also learned that these platforms comes with significant privacy issues that must be resolved prior to asking students to use them and that, again, the use of a platform that only offers a specific set of tools can only afford certain resultant types of learning. These must be aligned to the learning objectives at hand. Working in Edge EdX was interesting, but it was difficult and time consuming. The MOOC’s that I have accessed personally within EdX had me believing that it was a slick and simple system – but it is not. A strong understanding about the behind-the-scenes features, uses, and coding of these programs is essential.

The two elements of ETEC565A that contributed the most to my learning were the discussion forum questions and the group work in which I engaged.

I have always found, and this course is no exception, that I learn so much from my colleagues in the discussion forums. Some students are better thinkers than me, some are divergent thinkers to me, some have more experience in a given area, and some students are in left field. Each has something interesting to offer on a topic and something that helps me to assess and grow my own understanding of a topic. Interestingly, I also like to assess my own reactions to my peers, their writing, and their shared experiences because it helps me to better understand learning and learners in general. Seeing a breadth of learners amongst my own class reminds of the diversity amongst the students I teach. It’s wonderful to be a part of constantly evolving social community.
Working in a group for Assignments 2 and 3 was also very satisfying. I always feel pushed to achieve more and explore more when working as a part of a group. Despite my strong affinity for collaborative projects, I think Assignments 2 and 3 should be completed individually, but with specifically-assigned cohort members for formative feedback along the way. By the time we had submitted our Assignment #3, any formative feedback that could have changed the direction of our project was irrelevant. More direction from other students working on the same project would have been relevant and worthwhile.

The result of the discussion forums, the collaborative projects, and this course in general, show me that rigour and a tight cohesion between what you want to achieve and how you’ll assess the achievement are vital. I think this course aimed to incorporate too many elements. While I found it difficult to choose one LMS to work within, I know that I would be dismayed if I were told which LMS to choose. Paralysis by choice is nothing new in the digital age, and the more I experience it personally, the more I can help my students to know how to navigate endless choices.
But again, rigour and tightly connected learning activities and assessments must drive learning, and I am keen to continue to use technology – well-selected, well-designed, and well-applied technology – to do so.

The affordances and constraints of group work

One of the first bits of jargon I learned in the MET program was ‘affordance’. I was taught swiftly and deeply that an affordance was not a tool, not a convention, nor something that could be done. Rather, an affordance was an “actionable propert[y] between the world and an actor” (Gibson, 1977, as cited in Norman, 1999, p.39.)  Affordances can be both perceived and real, are a function of design, and  “reflect the possible relationships among actors and objects: they are properties of the world” (Norman, 1999, p.42).

Group work involves relationships. It asks colleagues to connect with one another, to extend one’s ideas and thoughts towards a goal, and to trust that others have your best interests at heart. When everything goes smoothly, group work affords many wonderful properties to learning. Group work affords improved brainstorming and idea generation. Group work affords relationship building. Finally, group work affords a wonderful sense of belonging in the co-creation of knowledge. These were all the very tangible results of my group work in the development of our Introductory Module. Members were each committed to the goal of the assignment and to its logical production and presentation. They were thoughtful and clever as they tried to navigate new systems. We constantly helped one another to figure out features, tips and tricks along the way.

Of course, group work can also have its downsides and in this particular case scheduling, timetables, and time management threatened to do us in. With four people across three time zones, a variety of professional obligations that ramped up for some while others were just getting into the summer and some personal tendencies (mine at the fore) to procrastinate, we required a significant push close to the end to complete the project properly.

Technologically, I found this project to be incredibly useful. I moved towards some of the goals initially listed in my Flight Path. Specifically, I became more aware of the affordances and constraints of online LMS’s. I worked to integrate many Google Apps For Education into those frameworks. This helped me to see what is possible in an online course shell, to see how to use HTML to build some of these features, and to come to recognize what should be possible, whether or not I can figure out how to do it. By activating and embedding Google Hangouts, Google Documents and a Google Calendar, I moved one step closer to being a better Google user, which is relevant to my GAFE-based school board.

However, it does also highlight my woeful inadequacy in the world of coding and HTML. I am capable of searching online for some generic code, and then specifying it to my needs. But I know that this isn’t the most thorough, nor ‘clean’ way, to solve these dilemmas. My interest in using edX edge stemmed from enrolling in (and subsequently abandoning, for the most part) a variety of MOOC’s in edX. Seeing how the system performs at its best is inspiring, even if it is difficult to reach that same level of integration of features, course content, content and affordances.

I am looking forward to building out our Content Modules next, but first I will take a short moment to look up from my computer and see the beauty of summer around me. This should hopefully inspire more poetic words as we take on teaching poetry to students in grade 8.


Norman, D.  (1999). Affordances, Conventions and Design. Interactions, 6 (3), 38-41.

Pushing the limits

The workout scrawled on the whiteboard at my gym last week asked for 100 DU’s. These are double unders, a skipping style where the rope goes around twice for every time you jump off of the ground. These are not a strength of mine. I can manage a few double unders here and there, but I lack the rhythm, the stamina and the finesse to crank out dozens at a time. Many of my workout pals can do these, dozens at a time, with ease. As I asked my trainer how many single unders I should do to modify the workout, a friend looked at me with a spark in her eye and checked in with me,

“You can do some double unders, right? I’ve seen you.” I admitted that I could do one, or two, but that it wasn’t pretty. “Well, if you can do them, you should keep trying. Just do fewer.”

Hmm… How could I argue with that logic? I do want to improve my double unders, and I know that I can do a few. So I agreed to try.

As you can imagine (or perhaps you can’t, because you’re too smart to waste your time doing DU’s), I lashed myself a lot in the next twelve minutes. But I did reach a milestone. I figured out the rhythm of one double under followed by one single under, followed by another double under, and another single under. I’d love to report that I managed dozens, but I probably ended up being able to do about A dozen. Regardless, it was more DU’s than I’ve ever done in my life.

This course is pushing me in the same direction. I’ve had logins and access to a few LMS / elearning platforms for a while, but I haven’t invested the time to get better at using them. That is happening now. My interests are aligned with the curriculum I am trying to absorb and I am making more time to work in these online environments. This course has also given me the opportunity (read: pushed me) to learn about Connect and Moodle in a Blackboard Collaborate Session, and to add a comment to Bates’ ebook. These are not activities in which I would likely engage if not for the desire to maximize my learning opportunities at hand.

I also find people to be extremely motivating. When I see another person’s interest or passion for a topic it really encourages me to join in and get similarly enthused about either the same topic, or something I find equally interesting. A small piece of that motivation could be equated with trying to keep up. But I’m okay with that. I like to find the big thinkers, those with the big picture in mind, and run alongside them to collaborate, to share our journeys, and to push one another. In this course in particular it has hopefully led to a group for the second and third projects and for a side project I have joined (but, admittedly, may or may not complete.)

My group for Assignment 1 was a compelling mix of personalities and strengths. We worked together very efficiently. It is a trait within a group project for which I am always grateful. We met face-to-face to begin the collaborative process, and we stayed in fairly constant email contact through the duration of our time working together. Our comments on our Google doc numbered in the 1000’s (okay, okay, there were only dozens of comments) and I felt I was pushed along by the group to learn more about Moodle. On reflection, I feel I could have pushed my group further by being more emphatic about my desire to contrast Moodle with Eliademy. This is the prime time to explore and to play with different platforms. But for the record, I had plenty to learn with one LMS in hand. I am a big fan of group work. Only once in my MET career has it gone sideways. Working with Chris, Jenny, Melissa, and Stephen was interesting and rewarding and if this is their letter of reference, I would happily work with each of them again.

And maybe later, when we go outside to play, we can work on our DU’s together.

Courses within courses within courses

One of the Learning Management Systems suggested for exploration in ETEC565A was the EdX Edge environment. EdX Edge is the community of course providers that exists on the periphery of the more formalized EdX environment. Managed by MIT and Harvard, EdX and EdX Edge are Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers that offer free courses to anyone who has the means available to access the courses. As described on the EdX website, EdX Edge and EdX are distinguished as follows:

“The difference between the domains is that edX is the home for the large official courses, with discoverability and resource support, while Edge is the fringe, exploratory domain, where you can create your own courses and get to know the platform in a safe, low-visibility environment.”(

The description goes on to describe one of EdX Edge’s defining features as “security-by-obscurity.” Without the distinct URL, courses are not discoverable by the public. This offers the sandbox features of building and re-building courses until they are ready to be promoted to official status on the EdX side.

To support course developers in creating new MOOC’s EdX offers a course called EdX101. This course provides an overview of how to build a well-considered and instructionally sound online course. I completed this course and these are my impressions.

The course suggests a one to two hour time commitment for completion. This seems accurate to me. I completed my version of the course in about 70 minutes. To be clear, I read or viewed all of the materials in the learning sequences provided for each of five phases, except for one 17 minute video and the additional appendices. Also, I did not create discussion threads. While I read a few comments that had been posted I didn’t respond to or engage with other learners. Prior to the start of Edx101 I had printed and scanned through the appendices. These appendices include documentation for:

  • Building an about page
  • Using third party content
  • Creating accessible content
  • Promoting your mooc

These additional documents are extremely useful and provide very sound guidance for building courses that will be accessed by thousands of people. In terms of best practices, these guidelines would be entirely appropriate for a smaller offering and would significantly enhance the usability of an online course. I will refer to these in building my Introductory and Content Modules.

EdX01 breaks the course building process into five phases. The five phases include:

  • Phase 1: Getting the Word Out
  • Phase 2: Creating Course Content
  • Phase 3: Creating a Grading Policy
  • Phase 4: Introductory Material
  • Phase 5: Course Delivery

The first phase, while relevant to MOOC’s, is probably the least relevant to my current position. I am not trying to harness learners or sell myself as an online educator just yet. Any students using my online content will have already been roped in to my class. My goal, rather than to lure them in, will be to keep them motivate. Keeping them interested and motivated ties directly to the second, that of creating course content. EdX offers and describes the use of many navigation tools and strategies for organizing course content. Navigational tools include the use of tabs across the top of the page for different aspects of the course. Most EdX courses show a Courseweare tab (includes course content; the meat and potatoes, if you will), Discussion (the place for student interaction), Wiki (the place for student collaboration), Course Info (the landing page for the course), and Progress (the page designed to show assessments and course module completion.) Many strategies were suggested for organizing course content. These can be grouped under themes such as modularity, clear descriptions, and keeping the “learner in focus.”

Clearly, the EdX organization ascribes to the ADDIE model. It is suggested that a well-designed MOOC will take a team of developers six to eight months to produce. Each stage of the ADDIE model is considered, if not explicitly, then in some implied fashion. The first three steps, Analysis, Design, and Development are the basis of the EdX101 course. I am left to determine how can I create the best course possible for online consumption within the EdX framework? Once the content has been identified, the development of learning sequence can occur. Learning sequences are the pieces with which students will engage and, in the case of EdX can be one of four components: discussion, HTML, a problem, or a video. Discussion items foster communication between students. HTML provides opportunities to include pictures, links, and interactive course content. Problems are structured assessment opportunities that are already built into the EdX platform. These can vary from a basic true/false question to much more complex peer mediated assessments. Finally, videos are highlighted as a vital way to engage learners. The ideal video is expected to be between three and seven minutes and many guidelines are given for their creation. A transcript is mandatory and runs alongside all EdX videos. When I was enrolled in another EdX course called ‘Reconciliation through Education’ I found the transcript extremely helpful for understanding new terminology and for properly understanding what was being said. That being said, at times I turned the transcript off to facilitate my own listening for understanding.

It seems that many aspects of design and implementation are related to issues of scale. If I am designing a course for tens of thousands of people it would behoove me to ensure that each learner’s time is respected and is spent on useful and relevant activities. However, if I am working in a blended environment with a cohort the size of an elementary classroom, there is a little more leeway to attend to issues on the fly and with discussion and input from the participants.

It all felt very ‘meta’. There I was, taking a course about building a course for a course about building courses. It was absolutely worth my while to explore the EdX101 offering. As EdX101 described the requirements for creating courses in the EdX environment it was apparent that these are the best practices that are relevant to every LMS. I will refer to this course during the creation of my own modules and to the referenced materials to ensure I create the most accessible version possible.

Further ideas for consideration include exploring whether, or how, a MOOC can encourage online collaborative learning. Another course that now seems useful is the BlendedX course. It is listed as requiring 3 to 4 hours.


All the LMS’s in the world!

So I’ve just found out that an LMS is a Learning Management System, an application that assists in the development and delivery of educational programs. I find it interesting to consider that while I have spent time debating the merits of a course in Connect, compared to a course that operates more in WordPress, or through a wiki, I haven’t truly consider the design choices implicit with each different technology. Fortunately, this vague understanding of that which makes up an LMS will be built upon, both independently and collaboratively, as I move through ETEC565A.

This course feels endlessly practical. As my ninth course, I hope it will allow me to crystallize many learnings from the eight courses I have already completed. A more thorough perspective of what I hope to achieve in this course is visible on my Flight Path page.

I am very curious to explore a variety of LMS’s and to determine what makes a good LMS a good one, and in which circumstances that proves to be true. I suppose I can’t really explore and evaluate all the LMS’s in the world. Maybe instead I’ll try to just focus on the Learning Management Systems to which we have ease of access and which can be easily discussed with my current class colleagues: Moodle and Blackboard. I would like to note that my interests extend also to those relevant to my school board, i.e. Desire2Learn and Google Classroom. Despite being a GAFE board, we do not actually have permission to use Google Classroom. I hope that we just don’t have permission yet and that permission might be forthcoming this year. Additionally I am interested in some of the online LMS offerings, including those to which we were directed, EdX Edge and Eliademy, and another that has crossed my radar, Canvas.

So, the grand total (drum roll please) is 7 LMS’s for which I would like to develop some type of understanding. To recap:

1) Moodle
2) Connect

School board-related:
3) Desire2Learn
4) Google Classroom

Cloud-based LMS’s:
5) Eliademy
6) Edx Edge
7) Canvas

As the weeks progress I look forward to sharing what I have learned about the selection, design, and application of learning technologies.