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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Thornhill

Back to School - Reflection 4 (4.5)

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

So, for the first time in 20 years, I am taking a legit class! This is the last part of a continuing conversation a friend, who is also a teacher, and I have been having about it.

So, this is your last week of TTLO! How did it go overall?

Yes! I'm sad to see it end, but also kind of glad to escape Canvas, no offense.

Not a fan, eh?

Canvas is great, but it's a lot of reading black text on a white background. My eyes and brain are tired, dude.

Do you have one last reflection in you?

Of course, and this week was really fun too. We got to try out all kinds of tech tools.

I've always thought you were somewhat apprehensive about using tech tools to teach. What's changed?

I'm not sure my apprehensions, perceptions, or expectations have changed. I'd say that they've been validated, to a certain extent. My perception of technology prior to this course was that, as long as the tool you choose enhances your teaching, then the tool will most likely be useful. That has been borne out in examples of all kinds of interaction (presenting, conversing, reading, listening, etc.).

So, what did you get to play with?

We got to try out tools like PlayPosit, Edji, Book Creator, and H5P and see how they can be used to improve student-to-content interaction. Then, we talked about how tools like Google Docs, Flip and VoiceThread can serve to boost student-to-student interaction. And regarding student-to-instructor interaction, efficient use of LMS tools (including replacing some text with video) and use of any of the tools I just mentioned can facilitate more contact with learners in online contexts.

So, are you still apprehensive?

Well, I have to say that my apprehensions were also validated. While the tools have come a long way over the last decade or so, many are still glitchy. Also, it's very easy to make a small mistake while composing technology-enhanced activities, and then the whole activity won't load or it starts malfunctioning. These small errors can be very difficult to find - I've struggled to get activities to work because I missed a character in a link or forgot to click Save every 90 seconds. I've also seen my colleagues' struggles with tech over the course of these lessons. My advice would be to practice with a new tool very thoroughly before using it.

So, some cautious optimism there, a grain of it [laughs]. Any surprises?

So, I expected the tools to be challenging to master, but what I didn't expect was the level of creativity I saw in them. The breadth of function and capability of tech tools has increased significiantly since I did my last research on the topic (2019, pre-pandemic). I plan to "borrow" many of the ideas shared here, including using Kahoot for polls, delivering instructions and feedback via video, and embedding videos directly into learning objects.

Do you think you'll need extra support from a technology or instructional design perspective? It can be a lot to take on.

You know, my program has pretty robust tech support, actually. I foresee focusing more on instructional design, and I am the support in that regard [laughs]. There is no one for me to turn to. But, I don't back away from challenges. I plan to incorporate much of what we have learned here into the professional development I deliver to my team. I have already scheduled two workshops based on what I have learned here.

Wow, that was fast! What specific technology tools are you going to talk to them about?

So, I appreciate the idea of using an ePortfolio to collect artifacts as, like, a final exam. I'm definitely going to talk about that. It'd be cool if the learners could make stuff, like PowerPoints, that they could later use when they themselves are instructors. I would pair this with an integrated performance assessment. Then, tools like Edji, Book Creator, and PlayPosit could be used for the interpretive part. Edji, Screencast-O-Matic, and even PowerPoint could be used for the presentational part. And then for the interpersonal part, we could use our native teleconferencing system.

That's good for the "quizzes and exams" summative assessment part, but what about everyday activities? What tools are good for them?

I'd use many of the same tools with each one paired with a communicative mode. You know, though, that I consider every activity a form of formative assessment. If we aren't examinining how our students carry out and complete the activities we plan, then why did we plan them in the first place? Any activity that doesn't inform both the learners and me the instructor is busy work and should be tossed.

That makes sense. So, what's left to do?

Well, I gotta upload my final artifacts to my website and then I have a couple of wrap-up activities to complete.

So, would you recommend CARLA and the TTLO institute?

Most definitely, I've met some great colleagues and learned a lot. It's been worth every missed character, broken link, and Canvas mishap!

I'd like to thank my professors Marlene Johnshoy, Frances Matos, Ritu Jayakar, Shannon Quinn, and Leslie Pyler. I'd also like to thank all my classmates, especially Kelly Atwood for looking over my ePortfolio for me. You all are the best. Don't be strangers!
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