Saturday, 28 September 2013

Module 3 (web2.0 online course)

For Module 3 of the web2.0 online course we were required to start using Google Drive/Docs - again, as with the previous two modules, these are tools that I commonly use with my colleagues, for sharing professional documentation, as well as with students, as part of the teaching and learning process. Indeed this semester I set up a new subject with another colleague, called Future Energies and Sustainability (FES) and we have been using Google Sites as the base for students to gather resources, interact and blog their own learning process. In addition, I use Google+ hangouts as part of the Early Chemistry Careers Network, where we use it as an online message board to collaboratively plan our professional development events and share ideas for resources for teachers of chemistry.


                                   Here is an example of the work we share

So far I have used Google Drive to share spreadsheets for planning with colleagues; collected marks and assessment feedback into a spreadsheet; set up numerous surveys for staff or students; created quizes for students and written and shared various working documents.

I find it for the most part extremely user friendly. The ability to run surveys easily and collate the results is very useful. I have used it throughout this year to gain feedback from students about how particular units were run and to see what they thought I could improve.

I have tried running Flubaroo on multiple choice test results and was able to grade the test without having to mark every single paper, which was a pleasant time saver.

 I think the biggest benefit comes from having instant collaboration with colleagues. I look forward to further development from Google!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Module 2 (web2.0 online course)

Well without further delay, here is the second post for the web2.0 online course. I had completed both of these modules back in July, just after signing up for the web2.0 online course, but had not been able to blog them without our school allowing us to use most of the associated google functions.

In this module, the focus was on setting up this blog, finding other blogs and then familiarising oneself with twitter. I am glad that I was finally able to set up this blog so that I can continue on with the course. I have been a long time reader of various blogs, but my experience with either running one myself, or participating actively in many, is limited.

During the Dip. Ed. course at Monash, I had the chance to use wikispaces to set up a wiki for use in the biology classroom. I have continued using wikispaces in my teaching, as part of my chemistry courses in senior school, and have mixed feelings about it. Whilst I particularly enjoy curating the contents of a subject course online, and providing students with all the relevant documents, I have found that students find wikispaces frustrating to use. Part of this is probably because they do not use it in all classes, part of it is because it is another password/login combination to remember, part of it is because the number of times the school server has blocked students from accessing it... Imagine if IT came into my classroom and stop students from receiving a hard copy of the notes, or feedback. Uproar would ensue. But not so with the restriction of digital resources. I just get more grey hair!

In using wikispaces with my students I had a severalfold purpose. Firstly was to provide a common place for all their learning resources. Secondly was to allow communication between the class members outside of the classroom. Thirdly was to increase reflective learning practices by my students, and allow them to demonstrate their own learning to others. I really wanted this third purpose to take off, and empower my students through seeing the common mistakes they were making, that others were making, and what successful students were doing. Sadly, I found this generally did not take off. There was always students who couldn't/didn't/wouldn't access the page, and if they did so would not write to any prompt there. I am still reflecting on how to set up a page more successfully to allow some of these good learning behaviours to develop.

Here is an example of the wikispace working somewhat effectively (and providing me with some great feedback!)
In terms of twitter, I have found it to be a great networking tool, but also it is an echo chamber and I find that frustrating. I also find the endless slogans and chanting to take away from the tone of some conversations/debates that I would like to be part of. For me the verdict is still out, I will continue to use it, but it does not supplant actual networking and professional engagement (nor should it!).

Module 1 (web2.0 online course)

Wow - finally here! My school admin settings have meant that I have not been able to set up this blog using the school gmail login. I have set this blog up with a twofold purpose; to complete the online web2.0 course through CEOM, and also to start my own teaching/learning/education blog. Whilst I feel this is a rather protracted start to my blogging - having been teaching now for some 20 months, I do not think that blogging immediately, for the sake of blogging is necessary. This thought may change...?

The purpose of the web2.0 course is to familiarise teachers with web2.0 technology and connect them to wide audience. I already use wikis, google sites, google drive etc, so I think I have less to learn about the uses of such technology, and more to learn about other educators using these tools.

Completing Module 1, I was surprised at how basic some of the activities were; obviously targeted at teachers who are not using the internet daily beyond basic web browsing etc. Having set up wikis whilst doing my Dip. Ed and using them since in my classroom, I feel comfortable using web2.0 tools. My introduction to things such as google+ have also come through professional experience - as a member of the Early Chemistry Careers Network we have used this tool to help collaborate projects to help teacher professional development and resources.

I am hoping that as I continue through the course I will be exposed to other tools, and in particular, examples of how they can be harnessed effectively to improve teaching and learning outcomes. I feel that there are a veritable host of online tools (I have delivered PD on several occasions about several such tools including the Google suite) but knowing what is out there is not always sufficient for teachers to be able to readily incorporate them into their already busy schedules.

I am also hoping to document some of my own professional learning outside of this web2.0 online course, as this is an ongoing struggle - having time to curate the learning is the hardest part!