Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Always On" Education with Project Share #SXSWedu

Notes from a breakout session at South by Southwest Edu 2011

Presenter: David McGeary, Harris County Department of Education, Digital Learning Specialist

McGeary helped build the first version of the Texas Tour in ProjectShare

Hybrid or blended learning fills the gap between what we teach in the classroom with what they do in the real world. It helps students create within online spaces and solve authentic real-world problems.

Godin: "If you think the fall out in the newspaper business was dramatic, wait until you see what happens to education."

Project Share is one of a multitude of resources out there. It is unique because it is statewide. New York and North Carolina are also starting to use Project Share, widening the collaborative community.

Students at school spend 240 minutes every day processing printed information. 31 minutes per day doing digital interaction. At home, they spend 38 minutes per day using print media, but 429 minutes per day accessing info via digital resources. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Study - m2 Millennials Study)

An online digital resource helps bridge the gap between what is going on at home and what is going on at school.

By 2014, every single student in college will take at least one course online. By 2020 50% of all college material will be online, and K-12 students will be taking at least two courses online.

To see where technology and the value of online spaces are going, watch what teenagers are doing. This can be awe inspiring AND terrifying! (Why we need digital citizenship in our curriculum).

There are multiple models of hybrid learning, but it all boils down to interactions. (See Anderson and Garrison, 1998, interaction triangle). In 2004 the model had to be revised because social networking and peer interaction. Student interaction with students, content, and teachers all contributes to the online learning experience. Having them all in the correct balance makes learning very rich.

Students understand they can get their voices out on the Internet. The interactions are very potent - and sometimes negative when outside of well defined social circles. EX: YouTube video commenting...

Collaboration, Moderating, and Leading are the pinnacles of online learning.

The models of hybrid learning we borrowed from higher education don't necessarily work well in K-12 education.

Effective hybrid models:
  • System provides some way to support students
  • Does not rule out the role of the instructor, it magnifies it 100%. F2F time becomes critical for processing. (Large criticism of totally online courses is students miss classroom interaction).
Types of hybrid models
  • Extended Course Model
    F2F Course is taught, as usual
    Additional resources added online
    additional activities are added to support new content
    course time extended well beyond F2F
    Student involvement must be optional
  • Comprehension Coupling Model
  • Content Support Model
    F2F course is taught, as usual
    support/review resources added online
    content provided makes use of digital nature of the LMS
    Course time not effected beyond F2F
    Student involvement must be optional
  • Social Collaboration Model

Considerations for Every Unit
  • Small group socialization - research says 3 is minimum, 6 is maximum
    Building Trust between members of a collaborative group
  • Set small, measurable goals early. Break them in easy and have them accomplish tasks in small chunks
    Help students track their independent contributions
  • Will your students be able to complete all tasks in time? Create focused online objectives. Be specific in your expectations and make sure students know exactly what is expected of them.
    Can you grade and provide feedback in a timely manner?
Connectivism - a new model of learning. Value of information increases as we share it.

Epsilen Features

See sample course in Epsilen: http://www.epsilen.com/crs/1114923

Reliable courses have a syllabus that students interact with at least twice per week.

Drop boxes are a good place to keep a large amount of course content because students frequent the area.

Announcements area is one of the most overlooked and underused areas of an online course space. Epsilen makes announcements difficult to ignore which is a nice feature. Research shows students are more likely to pay attention to an announcement than they are to a course email.

The notes area can contain multiple types of media, are date and time stamped, and can be sent out to other course members via email, mobile phones, etc. Very clever system for having students keep up with their content. It could be used as a simple assessment of what students are learning. Have them take simple notes and send them to you.

Wiki area - The more you can keep learning in the LMS shell itself, the more successful students will be. (See sample collaborative wiki in McGeary's sample course in Epsilen).

Forums - asynchronous so students don't feel pressure to be there at a certain time. Provides for student/student, student/content, and student/instructor interaction. Student to instructor interaction is very important in these areas. Research shows student to instructor interaction here is very powerful. If you are not participating in the discussions in your online classes, you are doing your students a disservice. Research shows that discussion forums are the most frequented areas of online courses in K-12 online learning, especially right before a test or when a project is due.

Tests/Quizzes - Great ways to do pre-assessments to see what the students know before they ever walk through the door. Can help you focus your F2F content.

Lessons - Provide simulations and real world materials that you could not normally bring into the classroom.

How do classroom teachers do this stuff?
  • Start small
  • Pick a tool that makes sense for what you are teaching and master it
  • Goal is to instill in students that online collaborative spaces are useful and powerful for learning
David M also helped create Earth to Space, a fully online TEKS aligned course. Can be counted as a senior level science course on the 4 X 4. You can go through professional development in Project Share. Earth to Space online group in Project Share will give information for getting access to this course. Can be used for blended learning or fully online. Contains a huge amount of NASA material.

Also offer a course for teachers interested in becoming online instructors. They also do consultation trainings for school districts

dcmcgeary - Twitter