My Inquiry Project

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Every now and then in our life we are asked to play outside of our sandbox of life and learn something new. I always found that my best emotion to go to, in times of stress, is “fear.” The next stage would be procrastination. These are definitely my strongest emotions. Once I finish putting off my “putting off,” I start thinking about what can I learn that would be both fun and practical, as an educator. I decided that in order to help my students next year, I would learn how to create my own instructional videos, just like the ones on Youtube. I found several different formats that I could use. I found Screencastify, Explain Everything, Live, and Youtube. So I researched what avenue I could use to create a good video. I looked at Screencastify, which took me into the realm of Google and just how useful it is.  I played around with it and made a lot of mistakes. I still have to work on refining the presentations. Explain Everything was good, however I had to constantly “use my son’s Ipad.” I found that I spent more time rationalizing the need to use his Ipad to my son, than actually creating the presentation. The other format I tried was LIVE which is part of the LEARN software from the college. Similar to Screencastify, I found both are probably the ones I will use in the future. Once you have finished the presentation, Youtube is a great format in which to share with your class. This process was a great journey into being a student again. The emotions the student face when learning something new, the frustration of not understanding something, the failure of not getting it right and the satisfaction of finally getting it right. All of this is a connection I will forever have with my students.

Webquest

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I had never heard of Web-quest until I took a course on “course implementation.” I was fascinated by the possibility of my students actually researching something on their own and coming back with their findings. If you haven’t heard of Web-quests then let me tell you about them. First, you come up with a topic for your students to study, such as Pharmacology. I know you’re probably saying “hang on Tim, that’s a very broad topic”. You are right. It is and that’s why you have to define the parameters of their search. You need to do a couple of things first; you have to have an introduction, a task, a process, an evaluation, and then a conclusion.

Your introduction will tell the students what they will be studying, So for me, I will be letting the students know there is a lot controversy about giving a fluid bolus to a patient who has lost a lot of blood, The next thing I do is let them know how to complete the task. For example, is it going to be a research paper or maybe a debate arguing the pros and cons of both sides? Then maybe I might have them do a demonstration (no wait, that might be too messy)! Once I advise them on the task, I have to give them the process. For this task, I’ll have them debate the pros and cons of giving a fluid bolus to a patient and each side will come up with five points for the pros and cons of giving a patient a fluid bolus. The students will have a specific amount of time to complete the task. Once they complete the process, we have to evaluate the students. This can be in the form of a rubric or a checklist. Finally the students are given the conclusion which they learned from the key points from this Web-quest.

Flipping the classroom

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Well the idea of flipping the classroom is a scary thought for an instructor, Philip LaRocco believes there are exciting challenges that will help instructors get out of their old train of thought which is;  B follows A, D follows C approach to educating students. LaRocco states how can we confirm the students understand the readings they have been assigned? while we don’t, he believes that most of the students in class have read the assigned readings however very few understand what they have read. LaRocco believes that pushing students and allowing them to explore the content on their own and creating questions on the content while they read the assignment provides the students the security in asking for clarification on the content.

Most instructors now are very proactive in finding new approaches to teaching. Flipping the classroom is just one of the ideas of modern education that has shown success. It allows the students to be more engaging, it gives the students power in their own education. We will always have students who believe they have paid for a program, therefore I should be taught not guided. Are those students really wanting to be taught? Not so, I think those are the students who want to be spoon fed their education.

 

Student Centered Approaches

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Recently I read a great paper from Mary Stewart  on the role of an instructor in student centered learning. Stewart states the old theories of distance learning were to “set the course up and it runs itself.” Funny thing is: this is the way it used to be.  I have taken numerous distance education courses and every time I asked for assistance from my professors, they all kept telling me (through email of course) that I had to try to use different resources. There was no clarification on the content I asked about, there was no “Tim, I understand you’re having a problem so call me so I can clarify things with you.” I was left to fend for myself.

Mary Stewart believes there should be three changes to our thoughts about distant education. The first thing is  “Authority.” We all know the professor has the final say for assignments, grading and so on; however if the professor uses his influence in a positive manner, creating discussions with the students and allowing the students to come up with their own consensus and then showing the students what the professionals believe with regard to their consensus (whether they are right or wrong); it gives the students the power to try something new without fear of failure. The next thing is “Guidance.” Guidance is truly an art form. The best professors and instructors guide the students. If we can guide our students in the direction we want them to go, instead of telling them where to go, allows the students to have that “Ah ha” moment. I have always found those students to be more confident because they found the their own way, to use the metaphor “I didn’t carry them there, they walked on their own.” The last one is; “Presence.” Presence is hard to define. Too much and the students become nervous; however not enough, then the students are left to fend for themselves. As an instructor, you have to know when to step in and when to adjust to the students needs. If I have the mindset that once I set the course up, it will run on its own, then I am no longer an educator; I’m just the IT guy who starts the course. I don’t want to be that guy. I like being an educator.

Technology in Education

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As technology in education evolves and we try to integrate it into our classrooms, I find myself like a runner who started the marathon fifteen minutes late. I always thought of myself as “computer literate” person and while not a professional techy in anyway, you know, a person who could make there way around computers and software.

I’m presently taking an introduction to technology in the classroom. It’s a great course taught by a person who can easily dance their way around a computer. What really surprised me was the things that are coming out now are moving faster than I can learn them. Which brings me to my point. Do you think there will be a time when technology just completely out grows society? Where we just stop being interested in it because it’s moving too fast. Let’s look at electronics, everyone knows why buy a T.V now the technology is only going to change. The iPhone is the perfect example, people stand in line for two days before the product comes out just to say they they the latest version when Apple is already develop a newer version and is already in BETA test for the next generation. The same with software every year my boys hassle me about buying the latest version NHL15, I don’t even get the game unwrapped and EA sports has the newer version ready to go

Tools like Google Docs, wiki-spaces, Popplet, Prezi were all foreign to me. At one point I actually thought I was going to be part of the Matrix and somehow and turn into Keanu Reeves. The more I work with these tools the more I find they’re not that daunting, and I see how useful it is for the students and how it enhances their learning. I know there is something else out there that’s coming, I just don’t know what.