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“Money is NOT the root of all evil. The love of money, is.”
“A dollar saved is a dollar earned.”
I am a freshman MA student in UP, and EDUC 294 is the first course I was able to take in my pursuit of being an EdTech major. Certainly enough, EDUC 294 proved to be a great way to start. Coming straight from earning my college degree, I can clearly see the difference in teaching approach as compared to college courses. In the capable hands of Professor Elenita Que, we were greatly nurtured on exploring new innovative ways towards the modern classroom while making effective use of collaborative learning.
Before I started on this course, I was already using social networking in managing my classes. Thanks to EDUC 294, I was made aware of vast new ways to further maximize the use of technology in the classroom such as Quipper. I only found out about Quipper during my EDUC 294 course; and to say the least; me and my classes are now avid and regular users of this innovative platform.
All of us were greatly encouraged on making effective presentations. I myself became more adept in the use and exploration of new presentation materials such as Prezi. It was also through this course that I was encouraged to attend the International Conference on Teacher Education 2014 last August 21-23. Not only did I learn a ton from the speakers, but I was also able to meet and connect with many other educators from the country. Needless to say, my PLN (Personal Learning Network) got a whole lot bigger.
The use of educ190.edu20.org greatly eased the handling of the course where you never miss an update (which is a chore in classes where you rely on note taking) and most relevant resources are available online. The use of Mahara undoubtedly made me more proficient in handling and writing blog content. All in all, EDUC 294 was a great eye-opener for me and I could not have asked for more on the way it was handled. And of course, the fact that there was always delicious food inside the class didn’t hurt
The journey of our EDUC 294 course has been both challenging and invaluably informative. And to conclude this journey, we were up for another fitting challenge; a lesson study that would allow us to put what we learned into practice.
In developing our lesson study, the first step was to agree on one specific subject to cover. This was not particularly easy considering that the individuals in our group came from different teaching practices (English, Mathematics, Physics, Computers). To start, we agreed on a Science topic to cover since we have two members (out of five) on this discipline and allow us to have greater support on the lesson study. Personally, I thought a Science topic really would be a great ground to cover to its already wide base of tech materials that we can use.
For the specifics of the study, we aimed to develop conceptual understanding of science concepts through computer mediated activities. As per Teacher Joni (a Physics educator), this would be a great issue too cover considering the difficulty of conducting science experiments in actual classroom settings. In actual classrooms, not only are experiment materials limited, but working on real equipment/materials may poses hazards to students. Working on actual experiments may also bring about non-ideal environments/factors that may hinder the results and understanding of the activities. And our group believed that with a computer aided simulations for these experiments, we may be able to present ideal and controlled activities with little to no hazard to the participants.
Sir Joni was kind enough to offer his class in Batangas State University Integrated School as the participants in our conducted study. His fourth-year class was a great choice since their classroom was already equipped with sufficient computer/equipment resources that we used. We finalized our specific lesson to be about specific heat so as to follow the schools lesson curriculum. To present the concept, we decided on a lecture on specific heat followed by an online simulation of the topic (http://employees.oneonta.edu/viningwj/sims/specific_heat_s.html).
Probably the main setback of conducting the study was the venue and time of the study itself. Since all of us were already practicing teaching on different areas of Luzon (me coming from Quezon Province), we were limited to conduct the study on Saturday; on which the school and the students kindly agreed to accommodate us.
As for the day of the lesson itself, the study was a breeze thanks to the masterful teaching skills of Sir Joni and the cooperation of the class itself. At the end of the study, we really felt that we were able to accomplish our goals and was able to impart the lesson (and method) that we wish to convey. If anything, we actually wished we had more time since we felt that the students were enjoying the simulation activities we prepared for them. And in this environment where the students acquire and enjoy learning, is what we believe what the modern classroom should be like.
“For the first time in history, we know now how to store virtually all humanity’s most important information and make it available, almost instantly, in almost any form, to almost anyone on earth.” – Gordon Dryden
The world is now smaller than it was ever before; thanks to the phenomenal development of technology. Within the vast extent of the online community, no person or information is ever truly far away, and that is what drives the concept of a personal learning network. Educators have always preached that we should strive to go beyond the four walls of the classroom, and I cannot stress enough how helpful this can be when we now see how big yet so close that world outside is.
What is a Personal Learning Network?
n. – the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online.
n. – an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from.
Having a PLN is about making connections and building personal relationships with teachers, school administrators, university professors, and experts around the world.
There’s always someone online available to answer questions, share their expertise, and simply chat about what’s happening in their lives and classrooms.
Having a PLN is about sharing ideas and resources, collaboration, and learning. We may share our learning, ideas and expertise in different ways; using different media and tools.
The defining feature of the PLN is that it is a global learning network, enabling people to tap into and share diverse, global perspectives on teaching strategies, educational issues, and technologies.
One of the best things I like about having a PLN is that no resource is ever truly unobtainable, which I have proven countless times. With a reliable PLN at your disposal, if there’s a resource you do not have, chances are that someone in your network either has it or knows someone who does.
Building your PLN
If you’re interested in expanding your PLN, here’s a directory of some of the best web 2.0 tools:
|Category||Value||Examples and Guides|
|Social Networking||Keeping up with personal, more social contacts like friends, family, and former students||Facebook, Myspace|
|Microblogging||Populated with educators from around the world who share best practices and resources in short bursts||Twitter, My guide to Twitter, Plurk, Utterli|
|Professional Profiles||Find other professionals and experts in your field||LinkedIn, Brightfuse|
|Wikis||Community-monitored sites that can function as websites or for group organization and projects||Wikispaces, pbwiki,wetpaint|
|Blogs||Great sources of information such as classroom best practices as well as personal opinions; Blogs monitor the heartbeat of new trends in education and the commenting back and forth leads to many great ideas and relationships||WordPress, (check out my ‘Blogroll’ to the right – they’re my favorites),Blogger, Typepad, Alltop – top blog headlines by subject, Technorati – a blog search engine|
|RSS Reader||RSS means “Real Simple Syndication” – an RSS reader is a tool that allows you to keep up with many of your favorite blogs, all in once place
(see this video ‘RSS in Plain English’)
|Netvibes, (My Netvibes),PageFlakes, Google Reader|
|Nings||Communities of people interested in similar topics, with forums and messaging||Classroom 2.0, Future of Education, Ning|
|Social Bookmarking||Share bookmarks with others, see what others are bookmarking; you can join groups and get email updates on new bookmarks||Diigo, Diigo Groups,Delicious|
|Webinars||Live, on-line presentations or conferences, with real-time chat, hosted by experts on specific topics; Great way to learn about new things and to meet new people||Classroom 2.0 Live!,EdTechTalk Live,Elluminate – host your own!, Dim Dim|
|Backchanneling of conferences||When there are neat (and expensive) conferences that you can’t attend, follow conversations and links about the highlights||Twitter search – use acronyms like ‘NECC’ or ‘SXSWi’|
Tips for Building your PLN
CONNECT and CONVERSE
The growth engine of your learning network is your willingness to reach out and make connections with new people. Leave a comment on a blog post, reply to a question on Twitter, or share a post on Google+.
Merely reading, listening, or watching is not connecting.
Your expertise (and even your struggles) are valuable to others who don’t have your experience. Anything you create for work (or your own schooling) might as well be shared, and might be valuable to someone else.
If you’ve made and cultivated connections over time, then when you make requests, they are more likely to fall on fertile soil. You’ll find that you’ll receive much higher quality answers and support by asking your network, than you will by simply searching online.
SET A ROUTINE, BE PATIENT
Choose a time to do this daily or a few times a week. It takes time to make connections and build relationships. It’s takes perseverance to continue when you receive no replies to your requests, and it requires patience to build up social capitol before you begin to feel part of a community. But it is well worth the investment to one day have a 24/7 global network to tap into whenever you’re in need.
Like all of us, we all started without Facebook yet now we barely move through the day without at least checking a post or liking one comment. I myself now holds 2 Facebook accounts, one for personal ties and one for professional use, simply because my professional network became too large and active that it literally swallowed my personal account content. Believe me, your PLN will always get bigger than you dreamt it to be, it all starts with a little time, and a lot of patience.
Wagner, M. (2012). Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips – Getting Smart by Guest Author – edchat, EdTech, PLN | Getting Smart. Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://gettingsmart.com/2012/01/personal-learning-networks-for-educators-10-tips/
Ronnie Burt et al. (2014). Building your PLN | Edublogs Teacher Challenges. Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/creating-a-pln/
PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from https://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/
Nowadays, students and children are highly visual learners. They get bored if majority of a teacher’s discussion is plain text. Whenever I prepare a lesson, I make sure that I include images that not only give them clue to the text presented but also make them think and process some puzzles embedded in the pictures.
When I was a high school student, we only have 4 macro skills namely, Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Now, one macro skill is added, and that is VIEWING. My students always request me to have a film viewing once in a while for I incorporate short films to my class whenever possible. I accompany each viewing session with guide questions about the film. The guide questions are divided into 3 parts: pre-viewing, while viewing, and post-viewing questions. This way, there will be processing of what they are going to watch, watching, and have watch, and not just a film given to them to kill time. I always make sure we have a discussion of what transpire during the film viewing and I answer questions of the students about things that aren’t clear to them.
Since almost 65% of our population are visual learners, I make use of GRAPHIC TOOLS to aid me in producing instructional materials for my daily lessons. Here are some tools that can help you in pouring some artistry in you work:
The interface of Paint.net is easy to pick up, and it has an unlimited undo function that makes correcting your learning-curve mishaps in a snap.
Lightroom is a tool you can use to process huge batch of images from a photoshoot that need to be cropped, corrected, and made print ready as soon as possible.
Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphics editor developed and published by Adobe Systems for Windows and OS X. Photoshop was created in 1988 by Thomas and John Knoll. Since then, it has become the de facto industry standard in raster graphics editing, such that the terms “photoshopping” and “photoshop contest” were born. It can edit and compose raster images in multiple layers and supports masks, alpha compositing and several color models including RGB, CMYK, Lab color space (with capital L), spot color and duotone. Photoshop has vast support for graphic file formats but also uses its own PSD and PSB file formats which support all the aforementioned features. In addition to raster graphics, it has limited abilities to edit or render text, vector graphics (especially through clipping path), 3D graphics and video. Photoshop’s featureset can be expanded by Photoshop plug-ins, programs developed and distributed independently of Photoshop that can run inside it and offer new or enhanced features. (Source: Wikipedia)
GIMP or (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, resizing, cropping, photo-montages, converting between different image formats, and more specialized tasks. (Source: Wikipedia)
Picasa is an image organizer and image viewer for organizing and editing digital photos, plus an integrated photo-sharing website, originally created by a company named Lifescape (which at that time may have resided at Idealab) in 2002 and owned by Google since 2004.
There are still a lot of graphic tools available online. The top 9 online picture editors are featured in this blog >>> TNW
In effective teaching, getting the attention and interest of students has always been fundamental need, and keeping that interest an even bigger one. With the ever increasing upsurge of interest on recreational games, some educators may feel threatened in this development; but we don’t have to be. In our quest for a more effective and modern day classroom, we can now ride this development by employing a new and innovative teaching approach – game based learning.
Game based learning describes an approach to teaching, where students explore relevant aspect of games in a learning context designed by teachers. Teachers and students collaborate in order to add depth and perspective to the experience of playing the game.
Within an effective game-based learning environment, we work toward a goal, choosing actions and experiencing the consequences of those actions along the way. We make mistakes in a risk-free setting, and through experimentation, we actively learn and practice the right way to do things. This keeps us highly engaged in practicing behaviors and thought processes that we can easily transfer from the simulated environment to real life.
Obviously, not all games are suitable for use in the class room environment. Although the main force in games is “fun” and “play”, there is a vast amount of physical and mental variables/activities involved. Which is why in choosing the right game for your class, it would be best to characterize what principles we can follow in gauging a games effect.
Good Game-based Learning Environments
SUBSET PRINCIPLE: Learning, even at its start, takes place in a (simplified) subset of the real domain. it must be a simplified version that omits unimportant details, so that players can focus on aspects of the simulation that are relevant to the learning objective.
Remember Pac-Man? The space ghosts were named Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. They were red, pink, orange, and cyan. You can’t win at Pac-Man by remembering facts; you win a game by being able to assess phenomena, recognize systems, interpret possibilities, and iterate solutions. The ghosts’ names are decontextualized facts. Playing the game involves systems literacy.
ACTIVE, CRITICAL LEARNING PRINCIPLE: The learning environment must encourage active and critical, not passive, learning. players do not merely watch correct and incorrect examples, followed by a quiz—they actually think, act, experience consequences and pursue goals in a variable game environment.
PROBING PRINCIPLE: Learning is a cycle of probing the world (doing something); reflecting on this action and, on this basis, forming a hypothesis; re-probing the world to test the hypothesis; and then accepting or rethinking the hypothesis. The goal is to find the right course of action via experimentation—making choices and experiencing the consequences.
Remember Space Invaders? Players learned very quickly to hang out at the sides, shooting the approaching aliens before they advance to the next line. The player learns, through trial and error, which responses are most effective, most efficient, and most likely to yield the desired result. In the process, the player becomes intimately acquainted with the system, understanding it comprehensively.
PRACTICE PRINCIPLE: Learners get lots of practice in a context where the practice is not boring (i.e. in a virtual world that is compelling to learners on their own terms and where the learners experience ongoing success). Games gradually increase in difficulty level, this keeps players engaged and encourages them to continually hone their skills.
Another major factor in game based learning is your learning scope and time. Is this game good for one lesson only? Or could I actually use it in the course of the whole curriculum? There are specific games that can satisfy specific needs and time constraint.
Short-form games tend to resemble the kinds of casual smartphone games that even adults tend to fiddle with during idle time. Short-form games tend to work best for learning when they’re focused on a specific skill set or concept.
I personally use these types of games as quizzes or evaluation after the lesson proper. Short games not only end a lesson on a vibrant note, but they also tend to reinforce the student’s interest on the subject. Examples of these games are mini-trivia challenges (tons of choices on app stores) with my favorite being the classroom “Pinoy Henyo” (played on two Android tablets J).
Long-form games tend to be more open-ended and intricate. These games often start simply and expand over time, so they can easily form the backbone of an entire curriculum. In addition, long-form games tend to foster skills like “critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, and communication.”
CROSSOVER CREATIVE GAME-BASED PLATFORMS can fit into either one of these categories. They are flexible in the way they can be implemented. Teachers can create short one-time simulation-based assignments, or longer multi-period projects.
After establishing your time frame, you can then choose form a variety of game genres available.
Puzzlers are probably the most familiar kind of game. They involve identifying a pattern or system and arranging objects according to a certain set of rules.
Ex: Tetris, Solitaire, Sudoku
DRILL AND PRACTICE. All video games, like puzzlers, are about pattern recognition. And once the player understands the pattern, the challenge comes from either more intricate puzzles (more complicated levels), or from changing the speed or circumstances in which the player needs to solve the puzzle.
STRATEGY GAME. When developers add compounding puzzles to be solved through a series of moves. Strategy games are also often multiplayer. And when it comes to learning games, it’s common for them to be focused on history. When students control the armies, key moments in geopolitics suddenly feel substantially more dynamic than just a chronological account of battles.
Ex: Historia – core curriculum aligned, social studies simulation and strategy game.
ROLE-PLAYING GAMES. Strategy games that ask players to embody individual characters.
Ex: “Mission US: Cheyenne Odyssey” – players become Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy whose life is changed by the encroachment of white settlers, railroads, and U.S. military expeditions from 1866 and 1876.
SANDBOX GAMES. Games that offer a world of experience without clear objectives.
Ex: MinecraftEdu – a pixelated world of blocks that users manipulate with tools — plus the ability to add customizable maps, educators can drop students into a world of ancient cultures, Chemistry, English, and more.
These genres mentioned highly encompass digital games, but they are not exactly exclusive to virtual mediums. Despite the abundance and availability of digital games, we are not restricted to them and I highly encourage the integration of physical or manual games as well. Numerous times have I employed the use of simple “buzzer” and “dice-roll” games to my classes (where participants need to run towards a buzzer to answer trivia questions and rolls a dice after to get either rewards or losses ); and I have never seen them have so much fun.
Practical Steps to Get Started
Step 1: Assess Your Resources
What platforms do you have available in your class? Is yours a BYOD (bring your own device) classroom, or do you have school-owned hardware to work with?
This is especially true to the Philippine context where our resources are not yet standardized and sometimes even insufficient. Use what you have. Games need not be to be high-tech to be fun.
Step 2: Find Games
Once you know what kind of hardware you have at your disposal, you can begin to search for games. But you probably already know from trying to find apps for your smartphone that searching the Google Play Store or the iOS App store can be overwhelming.
Graphite — a crowd-sourced, teacher-sourced site full of listings and ratings of educational apps and games.
Step 3: Play Games
The goal is not just to add games; it is to integrate learning games into existing curricula. It means investigating the world of the game and feeling the frustration, flow, and fiero that goes along with playing it. When you engage with the game, you not only try to see the game from the perspective of your students, you also understand how the game presents the material.
Step 4: See How Others Do It
Get an idea of what other teachers are doing with games in the classroom.
Ex: Teaching with Games: Video Case Studies
Step 5: Find Support
For more general support and resources, there are a number of websites cropping up specifically for the purpose of providing teachers with resources around ed-tech.