Thursday, May 5, 2011

CEP812: The Wicked Project Proposal - Final

The Problem: Instructors receive phone calls or visits from former students during computer lab hours.  These former students ask job-related or project-based questions which require attention and time.  This takes away the focus that instructors should be spending with the current students in the lab.  Also, we have been hearing budget cut plans in the news which may affect funding or grants to institutions including our school.  Therefore, it is time to be proactive and start reinventing and retooling our services by widening our scope of audience like self-payers and small business owners.

The Solution:
To have a “just-in-time” training solution for students who seek project-based online learning through combining a learning management system (LMS) like Moodle for self-paced learning and web conferencing using WizIq for real-time interaction and individualized learning.

The Technology-Pedagogy knowledge. I am proposing the use of a learning management system (LMS) like Moodle with a web conference tool using WizIq to support the teaching strategies and methods I use for teaching online courses.  It is an instructional goal for an educator like me to promote learning retention.  To meet this goal, an LMS and web conferencing have interactive features such as polling, chatting, screen sharing, and discussion posts which can always keep the learners engaged in learning. Discussion is an instructional strategy that encourages active participation among adult learners.  Also, the chosen technology allows me to easily design, organize, and arrange customized training modules based on specific learning needs.  I can assign online projects that provide learners an opportunity to apply the computer concepts and acquired skills to practical situations. Learning contracts is also an effective strategy for an online course.  Due to diversified educational needs and interests, online courses can help the educator and learner share the responsibility for learning.  This can be accomplished by having an agreement between the learner and the teacher to plan and act on how to effectively perform the assigned projects and how to successfully meet the learning goals.

The Technology-Content knowledge
. An LMS provides accessibility of the course content to learners through the internet.  An LMS makes the course available anytime and anywhere to one or more students.  This technology ensures the consistency of the instructional design and content when retrieved by students. Scheduling virtual sessions with students through the use of a web conferencing tool adds value to the course content because it enables both the learner and the teacher to focus on specific issues that are related to the course. The technology facilitates the agreement between the student and the educator and it encourages problem solving after brainstorming ideas with other classmates.  The course content in an online environment communicates relevant and updated information on concepts, instructions, activities, and assessments that enhance project-based skills. Online sessions are used to discuss details on what will be learned, how the learning will be accomplished, and the specific evaluation criteria to be used in evaluating the completion of the learning.

The Pedagogy-Content knowledge
. The proposed project will support me as I reinforce student performance by making the syllabus, objectives, expectations, and learning path accessible.  Student progress can easily be tracked and the generated reports can highlight their success and help strengthen the skills that students need to develop.  Students receive a set of completion dates for projects or activities, and this is a great approach for planning and time management.  The pedagogy and the course content can also be easily evaluated by receiving immediate feedback from students through forums, surveys, emails, chats, and real-time interactions. After a learner completes an assigned online project, it produces a sense of accomplishment. The course content is supported by links to additional resources, audio and/or video clips, step-by-step instructions, and practical applications and examples that further clarify key learning points.

Applying the TPACK strategy to my project proposal had helped me recognize the interconnected nature of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge.   I was able to work on a wicked problem project in which I implemented a technology to address a problem of an educational goal which is now a part of the solution!
Sunday, May 1, 2011

CEP812: Group Leadership Project - Final Part

What tool did your group use to deliver the PD tutorial? Why?  Our presentation starts with a rationalization why there is a need for the tutorial and how our technology of choice can assist in adult learning. We have incorporated several tools to deliver our tutorial for professional development:
  1. Jing - to capture the screen and to record short clip videos on step-by-step instructions on how to use WizIq. 
  2. iWisoft Flash/SWF to video converter - to convert the short clip videos (.swf) created in Jing to a video (.avi) format so we can upload the files as non-Flash videos to SlideRocket, an online presentation tool. 
  3. SlideRocket - to bring together all the elements for the tutorial. Elements include: 
    • the short video clips that were created from Jing 
    • a couple of YouTube videos on WizIqVirtual Classroom, its features, and uses 
    • a comparison chart of several web conferencing products 
    • animated text frames to lead you through the flow of the tutorial  
    • embedded real-time Twitter updates from people who uses WizIq
What did you learn during the development process of the final product? It was our initial plan to use PowerDirector, a photo editing tool, to tie all the elements together. It was used to trim the videos but unfortunately, it did not produce quality videos and its limited features on text animations made us find another option. It is always a great idea to have alternative options just in case something during the development process fails.

Communication is crucial in a team project. Sharlene and I did call, email, post on discussion forums, and we conduct web conferences in order to keep updated on the progress of our assignments. Our phone conversations could be just talking about other school projects and how we are handling the challenges in completing the other projects and then have a short talk on our group project. 

What would you do differently if you had to develop a similar product again? If I had to develop a similar product again, I would like to explore more online tools that encourage collaboration. I was glad that we did not settle for using PowerDirector, a standalone software, and decided to use SlideRocket, an online presentation tool, instead. If the project requires teamwork, It would be very ideal to have all team members meet at a scheduled time and use the collaboration and interactive tools that are now available online to make the project more of a team effort.
Monday, April 25, 2011

CEP812: Wicked Problem Project: Part D - Findings and Implications

My project is to provide a training solution for students who seek individualized online learning.   It is focused on adults who have specific questions regarding projects that they are working on at home or at their workplace.  A potential customer could be a former student, a small business owner, or a self-payer.  The plan is to conduct virtual sessions through the use of a conference tool called WizIq.  An instructor will be teaching the course based on the subject matter and the computer skill level of the student in order to accomplish the project-based training.

Formative: Did the project get implemented as planned? The implementation of the project took place as soon as it was approved by the Director.  There was a challenge in getting volunteers to attend the free sessions after I posted the invitations on our bulletin board for students who are currently enrolled in our program. But after reinventing my approach to finding students by posting the invitation on Facebook, and by inviting them in person or through email, the online session turned out to be a success and I received positive testimonials.

Summative: Evidence of success in addressing the problem of practice.  To test implement the project, I have conducted a virtual class on “The Practical Use of Excel” through the use of WizIq.   I received positive testimonials from the attendees about their learning experience. I also received requests from students to conduct more virtual sessions like this.  Because of its success, the tool also became a serendipitous solution to a scheduling problem when not all staff members could make it to a staff meeting.  We were able use WizIq to conduct a successful meeting.  

During the 1st session, three students attended,  2nd session: six, and 3rd session: two.  There were four students who went through the recorded first session, and five students requested to have more sessions.  We now use WizIq as a conference tool for our marketing meetings.

Trying to address this problem becomes an opportunity to provide a dedicated service to individuals who need training solutions to their work-related projects and questions.  In addition to retaining our former students as customers, this new service might attract a new set of students like small business owners and self-payers who have similar training needs and requirements and who need help with work projects.

How would you approach another project of this type differently given what you’ve learned here? As educators, regardless of what project we have to undertake with regards to integrating technology in education, I have learned that it is always rewarding and worthwhile to initiate ideas and plans to make teaching and learning more meaningful.  We could have proposed a well thought out project but we should still prepare ourselves not to expect to have it approved nor implemented right away or maybe not even at all.  It could be due to factors like budget cuts, wrong timing, technology issues, and staff issues.  What matters most is the never tiring desire to keep on thinking of better solutions for education.  Teachers should live out the essential tasks of being the leader and accept the challenge of being sensitive to the ever changing learning needs of our students.

What are the lessons learned that others might benefit from knowing about? I have learned that it was not easy to have adult learners get excited about this technology.  They immediately were intimidated by the thought of joining a web conference and right away began to think that it was going to be complicated. BUT, after going through even just one short virtual session, their attitudes changed and they became so eager and willing to tell others about their learning experience. Getting volunteers did not work well for me, I had to talk to my students in person and post an invitation on Facebook.  Adult learners may include teachers, school administrators, and parents.  Therefore, we have to be resourceful when talking to parents like doing a short demo during the parent-teacher conference or an introduction of this tool with written step-by-step instruction included in the parent newsletter.  I suggest teacher be innovative when involving other teachers to test this tool out.  One teaching strategy is to conduct a short demo on how to use this tool during a staff meeting. Another way is to schedule training in WizIq for professional development, or use it with a small group of teachers when tackling a project.  Remember, they will eventually understand and appreciate the value, benefits, and advantages of this technology but we have to be creative in finding an approach to get them try and join a web conference first.

In what ways will you endeavor to do the same project again, and what will you change or not do?  It requires passion, dedication, and discipline to continuously explore different ways to connect with my students. This project has promising value by using web conferencing for different teaching/learning approaches.  Examples on how it can be used are the following:
  1. An educator can have a one-on-one interaction with a student to discuss a specific question on a topic.
  2. A teacher can create and assign a session for special interest groups to let members collaborate when working on a project.
  3. A teacher can make up a missed class though a virtual session.
  4. A teacher can pre-plan and record a class session which can be viewed by students anytime that fits their schedule.
  5. A teacher can create online classes that can serve any student from any part of the world.
  6. An Instructor can incorporate this approach in a hybrid classroom.
If this project will be used again for these purposes, it will be a great idea to have a step-by-step tutorial on how to get started and how to use a web conference tool.  Another initiative is to get this project to be compatible for mobile learning. 
Friday, April 22, 2011

CEP812: Wicked Problem Project: Part C - Implementation

My wicked project is to add virtual sessions into my online courses by using the web conference tool, WizIq.  To implement this project, the plan is to conduct free online sessions about the practical applications of Microsoft Excel. One session was held on Monday, April 18, 6:30pm – 7:30pm.  Listen to the podcast!

Surprise. A big surprise is not only was I approved by our Director to run these as test sessions, but she is also looking forward to the whole implementation of the project for all online courses this fall.

Unexpected bumps in the road (What you would revise). At first, I didn’t get any volunteers after I posted invitations on our bulletin board for students who are currently enrolled in our program. I had to change my approach to finding students by posting the invitation on Facebook, and by inviting them in person or through email. I understand that this can be an intimidating technology for adult learners.  I have assured the volunteers that this should be an additional learning experience and an opportunity for them and not something they should be reluctant to try.

Delights (What went well). Overall, the web conference using WizIq turned out to be a success and I received positive testimonials.
  • The students were able to join the session with ease and were able to use the interactive features without any technical issues. 
  • During the training, I was able to share my screen with the students to demonstrate the different functions and commands in Excel. 
  • I was able to embed a YouTube video to show additional tutorials.
  • I received a few requests to have more sessions like this.
  • Our receptionist also joined the session and she was very pleased with the training. 
  • We will use WizIq for our next instructors’ meeting to talk about project assignments and time management on Friday, April 22, since not all can come that day. WizIq to the rescue!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CEP812: Mobile Learning

Visit Classroom 2.0

I have a growing interest in mobile learning.  I use mobile tagging through the use of Quick Response (QR) codes to market our school’s programs and services.  Mobile devices with QR readers can scan these codes to direct the user to our school’s website or to a YouTube video showing the courses that we offer.   I also have a QR code on my blog to direct people to my LinkedIn profile.  A challenge for me though, with regards to using QR codes, is I have not clearly seen how it is used for education.  Another tool for mobile learning is an iPod which I personally use quite a bit to get things done fast.

Since I am currently working in a computer lab where cellphones are not allowed, I cannot use POLL EVERYWHERE.  But in next few months, I have been scheduled to conduct a series of customized instructor-led training sessions.  I can embed Poll Everywhere survey and results in my PowerPoint presentations for skill pre-assessment.  My students will be teachers and school administrators – they’ll have cellphones.

I also checked out a blog post on “99 iPhone Apps for the Best, Brightest, and Brainiest Kids”.  I may be teaching adult learners but they are also parents who tend to get intimidated with new technology.  Through conducting free Lunch ’n Learns, I can try out and demonstrate some apps that can help parents relate to and connect with their kids.  Also, I am a mother who should teach these educational apps to my two iPod-owning daughters to prepare them for their school starts being open-minded about mobile learning. 

I have been a member of Classroom 2.0 since September 2010, but joining the Cell Phones in Education group would definitely help me expand my personal learning network.   I foresee rapid developments in integrating technology into learning and teaching; but my fear of not knowing what’s next or getting behind with technology updates becomes less by making sure I’m connected with the right learning network. 

Besides, no one should ever be stuck and left in a cage with Angry Birds ;)  
Monday, April 18, 2011

CEP812: Take a short survey ... and see the results, instantly!

I currently work in a computer lab where students can come anytime during lab hours to work on their projects.   Cellphones are not allowed in the lab, therefore this makes it a little bit tough to let my students try a survey in Poll Everywhere.  Fortunately, I was given the additional tasks of maintaining our website, social media, and other marketing practices to promote our school’s programs and services.  This gave me an idea to create a survey to find out what courses people would likely sign up for if our school offered it.  I posted the survey on Facebook and on Twitter.  This approach to finding out what people want will definitely help us as we plan our future courses to offer in fall 2011.  The survey is still going on …