Flipped classroom using Homework Help

The flipped classroom model is a student-centred approach to learning. Students can be introduced to learning content at home with the use of products like screencast-o-matic or camtasia. Students can come to class and apply the lessons they reviewed at home and work through problems. The teacher provides assistance as needed.

Last week my colleague Mike Mastragostino and his team created a video showcasing
Math Homework Help and how it can be used in a Flipped Classroom Model, 3 Part Lesson and Reciprocal Learning (windows media format, 5 min).

Grade 7 & 8 students were asked to work in groups of 4 and each group received a math question on a topic not yet covered by a teacher. Each student in the group had to go into Math Homework Help and ask a tutor “each had to use a different tutor” for help on a specified math problem. The next day they met within their groups and reviewed and assimilated the different sessions, which are now stored in their lockers, into one best practise. Next they were asked to work together to create and design a 3 Part Lesson which they would present to their peers."
click on image to start video

TED-Ed Customized Learning Web Initiative

I had a chance to examine the Customized Learning Web Initiative by TED-Ed. So far, the content seems to be targeted at post-secondary students but the one video I looked at on How Folding Paper Can Get You to the Moon could easily be shown to elementary or secondary students studying exponents. By watching the video students would get a very good idea as to how exponential growth occurs. I also like the ability to do a comprehension check in the form of the 'quick quiz' and to promote higher level critical thinking skills through the questions posed in 'dig deeper'. The ability to flip the video and customize the content to create your own lesson is a very valuable feature. Therefore, teachers could customize the video, the quizzes and the dig deeper questions to include examples and content relevant to their particular students. I will be interested to see if and how this gets adopted by teachers in our board due to the increased popularity of You Tube videos to support classroom instruction.

Facilitating eLearning with "bring your own device"

Our board has recently opened up WiFi access to our students and teachers so they are able to use their personal devices to facilitate eLearning. It has also been interesting to hear about what other educators are experiencing with this initiative, BYOD in primary. This opens up some very exciting possibilities for engaging students. Of course there are some challenges for schools wishing to implement these kinds of initiatives. Below are but a few;

1) Equity - what does one do about students that do not have/ can't afford mobile devices? Perhaps it would be possible for school council to purchase some inexpensive tablets so these students could participate in the collaborative activities. Schools with more fund raising capability could donate some devices to other schools. Combined with computers that already exist in the class/ computer lab it may be possible to have at least one device for every two students.

2) Inappropriate use - yes, with mobile devices in classes there is potential for abuse, but where better to learn about how to use the technology appropriately and effectively than in school. Students need to be given specific instruction about how to use social media to communicate in constructive and cooperative ways to achieve educational outcomes. Students who are distracted by the technology (i.e. surfing websites, playing games) can be told to put the device away and to do the low tech version of the task.

3) Theft - teachers can lock away devices in cabinets when they are not being used in class, but students may still become targets to/ from school. I'm not sure there is an easy solution to that issue.

We will see what other challenges present themselves when I actually engage in a BYOD eLearning activity with a group of students. Below are some technical and pedagogical issues I am working through. I would like to base the activity on one of the resources in the Ontario Educational Resource Bank.

As an example, there is a learning object called the Confederation Challenge in which students review politics, personalities and events that led to the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. It's in the format of a game show hosted by Sir John A Macdonald.

        Students could use the computers in the library to access the learning object (this is not possible on the mobile devices because of the complications with Flash and iPad/ iPhone (extremely popular with younger students). In a subsequent class they could bring their mobile devices and work in small groups to co-edit a document that would provide additional questions and answers for the game show, or do a mini-presentation on a significant event or key personality they learned about in the Confederation Challenge. I am thinking about using google docs for the co-editing/ presenting which means the student would need to install an app on their device to access google docs (variety of different apps depending on their device). More to come as I work through the details and their implications.

Any thoughts or ideas are welcome....

Improving Student Success Online

The recent announcement that Desire2Learn will partner with IBM and use 'predictive analytics' to improve educational outcomes in e-learning is interesting on a few fronts. Tony Bates would like to know, "who is designing the algorithims and the questions they are intended to answer, what assumptions are driving the design, who has access to the data, what rights students and instructors will have, and how institutions plan to use analytics from online teaching".

I am interested in the announcement for the following reasons. Currently Desire2Learn is the platform that we use for our online and blended learning course delivery as part of eLearning Ontario. They also provide the platform which houses the Ontario Educational Resource Bank. Therefore, we stand to benefit directly from this relationship and the tools that will be developed to improve student success. The Smarter Education Solution, will, "offer early-warning systems for at-risk students, instructional intervention plans, insights on teaching effectiveness and other features."

Currently, when we discuss work with students we identify 'success criteria' - what strategies need to be employed, what tasks need to be completed, what resources need to be utilized, in order to achieve high levels of success in a specific task. It is intended to be explicit so that students become better at understanding the process of learning and improving their ability to learn. At staff meetings we also discuss specific instructional interventions in order to help students move from lower levels of achievement to higher levels of success on a more consistent basis. We also attempt to measure the effectiveness of our interventions with the hope of identifying which ones are more likely to produce the desired results.

So, the Smarter Education Solution is replicating a process that is already in place, but applying it to the online environment. Hopefully, it will provide the means of improving meta-cognition among students and providing educators with more precise means of evaluating instructional methods. Here is a thought, will the new solution afford us the means of prescribing a more individualized learning experience for students based on their 'learning profile' which would enable them to be more successful?

Des succès de l’intégration de l’apprentissage électronique dans les salles de classe

Le mois passé j’ai lu an article qui a parlé des obstacles de l’intégration de l’apprentissage électronique dans les salles de classe. Je suis d’accord qu’il y a beaucoup d’obstacles – les enseignants sont très occupés avec les initiatives du ministère et du conseil, ils font plusieurs activités avec les élèves à l’extérieur de la classe (les clubs, les sports…), ils n’ont pas beaucoup de temps à évaluer les ressources électroniques et de trouver une façon de les intégrer dans leurs classes.

J’ai travaillé dans le domaine de l’apprentissage électronique depuis 16 ans et j’ai trouvé que beaucoup a changé pendant ce temps. Oui, il y a toujours les enseignants qui vont continuer à utiliser les méthodes traditionnelles et qui ne sont pas intéressés à adopter les nouvelles techniques d’apprentissage – mais je trouve parmi mes collègues plus de personnes qui voient que l’apprentissage électronique est une autre façon efficace de différencier l’instruction.

Notre conseil et ministère ont réalisé des initiatives pour améliorer l’accès aux ordinateurs et offrir la formation et l’assistance aux profs qui sont intéressés à utiliser l’apprentissage électronique.

On a installé les projeteurs avec le logiciel interactif dans chaque salle de classe et ils sont branchés aux ordinateurs avec l’accès de l’internet. Les élèves et les enseignants peuvent apporter leurs dispositifs électroniques aux écoles et les brancher aux réseaux sans fil pour faire les activités collaboratives.

Mon rôle est de visiter chaque école et de montrer aux enseignants les ressources électroniques que le ministère a développées et d’aider les enseignants à choisir les bonnes stratégies pour en faire la mise en œuvre. La Banque de Ressources Éducatives de l’Ontario (BRÉO) (en anglais) contient plusieurs exercices interactifs pour une variété de sujets et niveaux que les enseignants peuvent utiliser avec leurs élèves. Par exemple, dans la Banque il y a une unité pour le sujet de vol en sixième année. Par les interactions avec les éléments multimédias et les activités de manipulation les élèves peuvent apprendre les propriétés d'air et les forces de vol. En collaboration avec leurs pairs les élèves entreprennent des enquêtes, font des observations et créent des designs de machines volantes qui montrent les propriétés d'air et les forces de vol. Quand j’ai montré les ressources aux enseignants, ils ont commencé de les utiliser dans leurs classes le lendemain.

J’ai plusieurs autres exemples des profs qui sont intéressés à utiliser l’apprentissage électronique et les medias sociaux parce qu’ils savent que c’est une compétence critique pour les élèves (consulte l’édition de Pour parler profession).

Notre ministère de l’Éducation offre un service où les étudiants reçoivent gratuitement de l'aide aux devoirs de mathématiques en ligne (en anglais). Le site Web fournit gratuit, en direct tête-à-tête le tutorat de professeurs de l'Ontario. C’est une partie de leur stratégie pour l’apprentissage électronique.

Alors, on a encore des obstacles à l’intégration de l’apprentissage électronique mais, la situation s'est énormément améliorée.