I’ve gotta start this post by saying that there is a distinct difference between a Community of Inquiry (CoI) and a Community of Practice (CoP). The Bektashi article defines a CoI as “any group of individuals that have a commitment to address a shared issue, problem or interest through a method similar to scientific investigation” where as a Community of Practice (CoP), as defined by Wikipedia, is a group of people who "share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly." The main focus of a CoP is to look at data about student achievement and seek out ways to improve student learning. The main focus of a CoI as is articulated in the Bektashi article, is that “the most important thing is that this community produces knowledge.” So, CoI and CoP are entirely different beasts. That said, I believe that social, cognitive and teaching presence can be built and maintained in online and blended courses by 1) by including collaborative experiences that utilize the concepts of SLT (Social Learning Theory) and 2) by being careful to build learning experiences that scaffold and that meet the needs of 21st century learners and 3) by avoiding creating learning experiences that follow the old paradigm: cram, memorize, regurgitate and forget. The elements of social, cognitive and teaching presence can be used to support disciplined and creative thinking by empowering students to be partners in their learning – to help chart the course of their learning journeys and not just knowledge dumpsters. This is a key tenet of 21st century teaching and learning and are an inherent part of effective curriculum design.
The top 4 elements of my electronically-mediated unit and why they’re so crucial?
3 specific guidelines I feel ethically obligated to communicate to those future teachers of my unit to ensure that every student who takes my “class/unit" has a learning experience that is safe and integral are:
Well it seems to me that the concept of “The Disciplined Mind” parallels pretty closely with constructivism and SLT as both have to do with acquiring knowledge/skills. Further, to achieve the “The Disciplined Mind” there has to be some interest on the part of the learner. For example in my world, the world of drama, students who are not interested in performing arts can succeed on course work and pass the course with an A. But for some, they’ll really enjoy the work and will really want to go the extra mile to acquire the discipline above and beyond course requirements for simply passing. That all said, it’s important that I provide learning experiences that accommodate those who just want to get through it, as well as those who are really engaged with it and want to take it to the next level. I’ve always tried to do this anyway because many of the students in my class are there because the class they really wanted was full and they need to fulfill their VAPA requirement to go on to a UC or CSU and I’ve always needed to provide an authentic experience for both sets of students, concurrently. I do this within my paradigm in a few ways. First, I always have a sort of next level of work. That is, I provide parameters for a project, but include ways to go above and beyond that for extra credit and I include clarification of that in my explanations which are generally written, video recorded and verbalized and posted for their reference in Google classroom.
I have developed to incorporate 1) student constructivist engagement with content first be becoming aware of constructivist theory in general, but also by trusting my instinct to give students as many choices and options in lessons and units as I possibly can. I remember when I was a student in 7-12 and I always engaged so much more authentically when I was able to make choices and I want my students to engage as much as possible. That’s also why I’m so liberal on late submissions – my priority is for them to do the work, not to get wrapped in deadlines etc. Of course, I understand that learning to work with parameters such as deadlines is important, it’s not as important, at this stage of their lives, as grasping and mastering content. I’ve also developed to incorporate 2) student constructivist engagement with peers through experimentation with peer critiquing and collaboration. The latter of those is a huge part of who I am anyway because I’m in dramatic arts field and as a director I’ve learned that collaboration is everything! As for peer critiquing I was a bit nervous at first, but I learned that with a provided framework and modeling, it’s a very powerful and very effective tool! Developing to improve student engagement (overall) with the electronically mediated environment by slowly embracing and incorporating technology in my practice is perhaps the most notable benefit I’ve gained from this program and from being forced in virtual learning. I’m still no expert and I’m still learning new things, but with each passing day I’m feeling more and more competent and willing to try new technology with my students. I’ve already begun to use Canvas to host a threaded conversation with my Drama 2 kiddypoos. I’m only using it, so far, for that purpose but again, as I continue to use it I’ll continue to grow comfortable with it and will use it more. I’m excited and grateful that this program is affording me the opportunity to grow in this way and expand the opportunities and learning I can offer my students. Finally, I see myself in the second of Cuban’s scenarios, the “preservationist” scenario both before this program and now. I really don’t see that changing because it’s the one that is open to any and all tools available being utilized. Hillary Clinton said about raising children that “it takes a village”, well for best practice teaching and learning it takes variety of tools and I’ll not ever stray from that.
My experience designing and building my DEMO UNIT was pretty authentic! I figured it would be a breeze because I’ve done a similar unit in the past. But, once I really got into the meat of it and that paperwork of it, I started really thinking in a much deeper way than I have before. That plus all that I’ve learned thus far in this program, I think I created a pretty strong unit! It’ll be interesting to actually deliver it and see how that feels and works! I feel pretty excited about doing that and I’m looking forward to 629 where I’ll actually do that, so by the end of this program I’m gonna have an amazing unit ready to deliver! YAY!!! I for sure felt like I was doing the work of a 21st century teacher because I know so much more now about 21st Century learners! There’s pretty much no going back now – and really, why would I even want to? I didn’t have changes when I imagined a student going through the unit because I was pretty careful to consider that in the design in the first place. It didn’t make it to the paper until I had put myself in my learner’s shoes – like that would even be possible with my size 15 feet! LOL. But I did spend time with that before finalizing anything, so I was pretty good on that front. My experience with this project and this program in general has been transformative! The word “authentic” has a whole new meaning for me and it feels great by the way! I love teaching and learning and I just love the educator I’ve become! In some ways I’m doing what I’ve always done, BUT, I’m coming at it in a much more informed and knowledgeable way! I can back up/clarify/explain anything I design now because I have so much knowledge behind me. As for what more we could have done in this class to make it more authentic for me, very honestly, nothing! As the prompt states, short of going out and doing it, this experience has been incredibly rewarding and transformative, sometimes repetition is called for!
How do I feel I “did” thus far in my “first stab” at instructional design in relation to UDL? Well, I feel this is not my first stab at instructional design in general, it is however my first stab at instructional design that digs this deeply into the preparation steps. I’ve designed lots of units but I’ve never gone through this process before, so in that respect I think I did pretty good. I have multiple elements to my summative assessment, I have tons of formative assessments, students have many opportunities to make choices about the work, there is SLT going on in multiple ways, I have tons of student reflection and I have feedback coming to students in multiple ways. I also think my unit scaffolds pretty well; it gives students lots of background information and build skillsets that culminate in the final artifact they produce. All the activities are UDL friendly and there is room for assistive technology to be utilized with little to no modification. UDL was definitely on my mind when designing this unit in a way it never has been before and I believe that’s a good thing! As for what elements that we’ve learned about so far will I bring with me into the next and final course, SAMR (which really should be RMAS according to the graphic hehe) is an area where I think I’ve made lot of growth and I have a new ease of mind when considering how to bring tech into my practice. Even now I’m using MOTE to give feedback to my students as they navigate their SDP projects (student driven project) and I’ve added the creation of a collaborative slide deck into my existing Fallen Stars activity which has made it MUCH better, MUCH more interesting, MUCH more UDL friendly and much more engaging. These things will be sticking around and I’m pretty confident that I’ll continue to seek out and experiment with technology in my practice. All in all what I’ve learned in these courses has made me a much better facilitator of learning experiences and has awaken my mind in a way that has been very transformative. Ed.D. I’m comin’ for ya!
Well I must say I was intimidated by Canvas as I am with any new technology but it is something I want to use not only to satisfy requirements for 628 and 629 but for my practice in general. If for nothing else, I very much want to start using threaded conversations with my students. I’m happy to report that I was able to get everything done rather quickly – Canvas is indeed very easy to navigate and operate which helps me not feel intimidated by the huge amount of things it can do. I did approach the sample stuff tonight with humor which always makes things easier for me, but I was able to do so quickly and with ease as I do when creating a PowerPoint – that makes me a happy camper! I really do want to dive in and start using Canvas with my students but I also think it would be wise to not jump into it prematurely. I think using Canvas is something I can bring into my classes next year, regardless of what the model is at that time. I do have a Chrome cart in my room since I teach APEX, so I’m lucky that I’ll be able to incorporate technology into my Drama classes in a MUCH more significant way than I have previously. This program in general has really opened me up to embracing new technology. Just tonight I came across a new technology called “Kritik” which sets out to be “transforming students into critical thinkers through peer assessment.” Peer assessment is such a huge part of my demo unit and my practice in general, I hope to be able to find some time to dig into this a little and see what it’s all about. As for Canvas, I really was left in a good place after playing (and I really was playing hehe). While it has such a vastly huge array of functions, I’m not scared because everything I’ve played with so far has gone very smoothly and I feel like I have a high degree of confidence that if I get stuck either Canvas itself will help me, or I can track down help. Canvas is working out to be one of the big takeaways of this program!
Now having received feedback on my summative assessment, I began to think deeper than I has originally. I found Susan’s feedback to be interesting, that is the idea of doing a podcast. I hadn’t considered asking students to do a podcast which is a much bigger part of their world than old radio shows. Still mulling that one over. My only concern is the live performance aspect that would be lost and I really want them to experience that part of it. The demo build this week also got me to think a tad more specifically about things. All in all – it’s been good! As for how it felt to record myself talking about something still in progress, it felt ok. Explaining something gives one a pretty intimate insight into one’s work! I liked making the video – I enjoy making Screencast O Matic videos! I’ve been using that tool with my current students as well and making the video actually gave me some inspirations, real time! I’ve had the experience when I’ve made videos for my students as well, as I’m going over the written instructions I’ve given them in the video, I’ve often heard myself saying things and sharing perspectives that I hadn’t in the written form! Bingo!!!
I chose to work with Screencast-O-Matic. I bought an account and have already been using it, but I haven’t been utilizing it to its fullest potential and I haven’t made my videos fully accessible yet. I learned that captions can be added to videos, but so far it appears they have to be typed in manually in the editing room. I really wish it could just record voice to text. There appears to be a way I can do that by using Google voice – but apparently it requires Google creating that after the fact, then presumably I’d have to add the file to the Screencast-O-Matic video after the fact in the editing mode. I haven’t yet mastered that yet. I also learned that I can do a green screen and put anything I want behind me. I can also include music played from my computer, during recording as well as adding sound effects. Most of the accessibility features I learned about have to be done after the video has been recorded in the editing process. This creates an extra chore and doubles if not triples the time I’d have to spend making the video. I wish it was easier and that I could at least have the captions record, voice to text, right in the recording process – that would make things so much easier. Just the ability to make videos while going over written instructions is tremendously helpful and really is all about accessibility in and of itself I suppose. It’s been a GREAT tool and has allowed me to flip my class room which has been hugely beneficial because it’s allowed me to have more time actually working with my students. I will continue to play with Screencast-O-Matic, but I’m allowing myself to take my time so I don’t become overwhelmed. The videos I make may not be pretty yet and they don’t have closed captioning, yet, but eventually they will!