To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with
I watched Dean Shareski's video this week on sharing and open education with great interest. His main idea surprised me. Dean states that he's a composite of all the learning networks he is in. By not sharing, we take away from the network that basically compiled us into who we are. He quotes Ewan Mcintosh:
"Sharing, and sharing online specifically, is not in addition to the work of being an educator. It is the work." - Ewan Mcintosh
This is food for thought that I had never considered before. Sure, I love using free online resources, they are wonderful! And yes, I like posting things online when I think they are useful (for example, I've been slowly uploading every direct instruction lesson I've done in Grade 11 Pre-calculus for my students to my YouTube Channel... I suppose they could be useful to other people besides my students)... but should teachers ALWAYS be sharing online? Is it actually our main directive in today's world of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0?
Ah, yes, maybe the best things in life ARE free? And maybe if we've ever used free online materials before, As Dean says, we should be giving back and sharing our knowledge as well?
I'm slowly realizing that maybe as teachers, we should be a lot more mindful of the fact that we have benefited so much from others posting online, that we should ensure we set aside some time to share things we have created as well.
Dean shares quite a few powerful stories about teachers (wanna see powerful teachers in action? Check out my classmates' blogs... yea, I just gave ALL OF YOU a shout out! That's love!) who have shared things online and really changed education for the better because of it. Quick highlights:
1) Dan Meyers is a resource I have used in the past in my math classes. He started off by sharing things on his blog for free. Ironically, he now tours around and makes money with his ideas... the last idea he posted on his website is from 2017, but he is a busy man as seen on Twitter! He currently works at Desmos (a great online math resource!). I honestly don't begrudge him that monetizing his ideas. He got started by sharing his stuff for free, in the true spirit of what teachers should do. His free material continues to be available to this day!
2) George Couros (twitter here... I follow him, you should too!) is also featured, sharing his identity fair idea, and connecting his school with another school in Texas that decided to run the same fair. A student with Tourettes Syndrome also gets some worldwide attention. It's a great story.
Massive Open Online Courses
The next part of my post will briefly deal with the history of MOOCs, and what I think of them. MOOCs are part of the Open Education Movement, which is generally free education offered by various bodies and allows anyone, anywhere to learn.
I'll briefly highlight some history, which I originally didn't want to do, but then got interested as I read more about it. Some people think that MOOCs all "sort of" started with distance education... but if you think about it, mailing students textbooks to learn from in the mid 1800s was about as a good as distance learning could get.
Below you'll find a picture overview, because pictures say 1000 words, am I right? Yeeees!
EARLY YEARS: DOWNES & SIEMENS
According to MAUT (McGill Association of University Teachers), it was these two dudes, Stephen Downs and George Siemens, who in 2008 who sort of really coined the term "MOOC" and actually nailed down the MOOC concept, which was loosely floating around somewhere on the internet in open education literature from before the dinosaurs.
MOOCs were different from traditional distance learning because they truly allow for interactions between all the participants of the course, which was only possible with the new advent of certain online tools during the Web 2.0 era. There was much fervor over the support students could get in support groups in forums and other mediums online, besides the delivery methods of the course which could use Twitter, YouTube, etc...
Eventually, all sorts of universities were offering free, open, online courses, a la MOOC style!
Honestly, if you want to read a good, more in depth synthesis of MOOCs, I recommend this Wikipedia article (which started with the open education movement back in 2001, of course!)
It's funny, even though a quick google search for MOOC will usually bring up Downes and Siemens, if you go read about Downes, his one blog post actually mentions that Alec Couros ran one of the first MOOCs way before Downes did, back in 2007, which brings me to my next heading....
EVEN EARLIER YEARS: ALEC COUROS
MOVING ON... MY TEACHING PRACTICE
So, what else can I say about MOOCs? How have they effected my teaching? How has the whole concept of open education changed my practice? I have to say, many of the amazing changes in my mind happened in my computer science classes:
1) The grade 12 class entirely makes use of free web resources to learn their chosen topics or to pursue their educational interests in computer science. Students have...
-Used Unity to make games
-Used EdX to learn Python
-Used Roblox Studio to create games
-Used other online resources to learn C#, C++ on Codecademy
2) My grade 12 class also learns how to use Scratch, a coding language for kids. They develop 5 or 6 lessons on it, and then they spend 1 hour each week out in local K-8 schools teaching Grade 7 and 8's how to code. The first year we did it, the newspaper picked up the story, and the kids were very excited about it. Everyone has a blast! I now have so many local teachers interested in having my classes teach their kids that I actually have to turn teachers away!
3) My Grade 11 class (also my major project for this class) has been making YouTube tutorials on how to code. We have so far created tutorials for Scratch, but I have a bunch more videos I need to upload, as the first batch of videos is in!
4) I upload my terrible (but according to my students, apparently handy) lectures for grade 11 and 12 precalculus math to my YouTube channel. It first started as something I would do if I was sick or had to be out of the classroom for whatever reason, I'd record the lecture the students would miss so the sub (who often can't teach math) could play it for the class.
This semester, my challenge to myself was to get every single individual lesson recorded and online for Grade 11 Pre-Calculus. I have been a little lazy in uploading them, I only recently started uploading them. BUT I have actually recorded every lesson on my phone this semester so far, and I am slowly going back and uploading them! I've been doing one a day mostly. Next semester I will to the same for Grade 12! Perhaps I'll blog when it's complete!
5) I'm also part of MANACE, an organization that provides ideas and inspirations on best practices around educational technology. We actually recently interviewed Alec Couros (here is part 1 and part 2 of the interview) as part of a series of podcasts called Dial I. T. The idea is to have some conversations with education movers and shakers every few weeks. I like them.
So, I'd actually say the open education movement and MOOCs has actually greatly affected my teaching practice. I didn't even really realize it, but now I think it's my job to ensure I continue to make my progress and resources available to the world via my blog, YouTube, and Twitter (I just hate tweeting... I like to stick stuff up on YouTube and call it a night. I am trying to expand my network).
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
It leaves us in a place where really, I think if you are an educator, you need to JOIN US in sharing your wealth of teaching knowledge with the world! Giving back only makes you a better teacher, and could mean the WORLD to someone out there! Even if it's just one person, that's amazing! And likely, over time, I reckon you will reach more than just one soul!
Here's a quick little survey to wrap things up, I am curious how you guys go about sharing your knowledge with the world!
Alrighty! Whew, I'm tired now.
Stay motivated, share, be nice, and mostly....
Matteo Di Muro
Quick update on the major project: doing YouTube Tutorials for Computer Science.
I made a quick 3 minute video to update on the progress so far:
In case you didn't feel like watching the video, the summary is thus:
-Microphones are in!
-Microphones don't like connecting to computers, but we figured it out eventually! They connected great to the students' phones.
-This is taking longer than I thought.
-I have the first few videos rolling in slowly.
-I briefly interview a few students on their tutorial making progress.
-Students didn't critique each other this round--I'm going to do it, so they have an exemplar of what I'm expecting. They'll do it on the next video!
-Next two weeks will be quiet as we learn the next unit of material.
I've been so inspired by Dean's journey of "coding with the agent", and Curtis' TwitterBot. that I've decided to do another blog post. Specifically, on offline coding activities.
Many teachers I've talked to either don't have access to a computer lab, or devices to do actual coding on. Or, they are intimidated by coding in general and don't want to read vague 24 page documents with "suggestions" on how to get started. That's pretty daunting. Well, there are alternatives!
England has been doing a great job (wake up, Canada! Everybody else has a solid plan on incorporating coding into their curriculum) on incorporating computational thinking skills and coding concepts into their grade school curriculum. It's genius, actually.
So that brings us to today's menu item. Barefoot computing. This website offers a variety of coding activities for grade school students, both online and offline! Who do we have to thank for this wonderful resource? Well, apparently it's a program that was developed by Computing at School, The Chartered Institute for IT and the (UK) Department for Education.
I love how the UK implemented coding into their grade school curriculum (click for curriculum document), but also how they have created a bunch of workshops and resources for teachers to learn how to implement it into their classrooms. I feel that largely in Canada we are left to our own devices, and all the provinces work fairly independently of one another instead of in unison.
The thing I really like about Barefoot is the totally complete lessons, with all the resources you need, some even come with power-points if they are more involved projects.
Barefoot also ties in a bunch of other curricular outcomes as well, so there is a lot of incentive for teachers to use them. I have reviewed a fair number of them, and they would seem appropriate for use in Canada.
Probably one of the biggest hurdles for students in Grade 10 Computer Science is dealing with algorithmic thinking, breaking down tasks into smaller and smaller steps, and just "thinking" like a coder. What the UK has done is tried to embed these concepts into their curriculum, so that these types of thought processes are not so foreign. I really think it's a good thing, and they've found a really fun way to do it! It doesn't even feel like coding, some of these lessons.
That's it for now!
Well, it's been a few weeks, so I figured I'd give an update on the progress in my class.
I am having my class make YouTube tutorials for each unit as their major assessment. Permission forms are slowly trickling in, so that is good. Most student parents are opting to have them upload the videos to YouTube.
I didn't feel like doing a bunch of typing, so I put together a quick video on the process so far. We watched a few videos on the elements of good tutorials, and then we brainstormed what elements we thought would apply most to our particular class. Then I made a rough rubric, which the class then commented on. Then I made a final rubric based on class feedback. All of this has been documented in the video I created.
All that being said, the major highlights and insights so far are:
-This is taking longer than I thought it would.
-Students seem to not mind the process of making the videos, although it's time consuming.
-students are being forced to really know the material, since they have to present on it and make a video. This is an easy unit (with their prior grade 10 knowledge anyways), so I'm not liking how long it's taking to make the videos. On the plus side, when we get to the much harder units on classes and inheritance, I think this will be a big plus as those are tricky concepts to truelly understand the first few times around.
SO I think this will pay off. Time will tell. Does anyone see any flaws or ways to make this process faster or better? Let me know!
Till next time internet people, stay curious!
As the snow comes piling down on brandon and manitoba in general, I find myself cooped up inside (after a nice snowy run outside, of course), I find myself going through my classmate's blogs and reflecting on how lucky I am to have had a chance to meet and learn from all these amazing people.
I'm so lucky to be in #eci831 with Alec Couros (find his webpage here) and a very diverse and intelligent group of teachers and others involved in education!
For example, Ms. Moffatt has a very detailed post on the nature of knowledge today, and in particular I really enjoyed the chart on some popular epistemological perspectives that are relevant today.
I could literally feature everybody's blog here, but one more that I'd like to highlight is Altan's recent blog post on the quandaries of knowledge explosion. A very detailed breakdown of the various schools of knowledge is presented as they progress, ending with our current so called "digital age" and social learning. The discussion presented for thought is great, and makes me want to stop searching Google, and just staying on Blog Hub in our eci831 course!
I wish I could add more! So here's my quick review of Screencast-O-matic, a screen recording tool that is not new for me but is new for many of my students, who are creating tutorials for each unit we complete in Grade 11 Computer Science. The students are writing scripts, making story boards, creating examples to use in their tutorials, coding them, and putting it all together. They will also critique one of their peers' videos while in the editing stage so that the suggestions can be added to the video.
To cap it off, it seems like every parent will sign off on the waiver form, so we will be uploading the resulting videos to YouTube for public viewing. Here is a quick video review of Screencast-O-matic below:
If you didn't feel like watching the 2 minute video above (yikes, it's hard to compete with those 10 second tik tok videos) I'll quickly summarize:
I like Screencast-O-matic for a few reasons:
1) the watermark on the free version is not intrusive
2) it is super easy to use
3) you can record the screen and also the webcam at the same time
4) it's easy to select the screen area you'd like to record
5) You can upload directly to YouTube if you like to live on the edge or you can save the video for later editing
Really, how could we complain? It's a great, free, educational tool that empowers teachers and students. Using the built in video editor in Windows or Macs, you can really step it up to the next level.
I've started using it to record any demos I do in my computer science classes, this way my students (or perhaps other people out there on YouTubes) can use them whenever they need a refresher or need to learn something new.
What an amazing time we live in. I feel like I've been taking all our Ed Tech for granted the last few years, but really being in this class is helping me be amazed every day what just how much is possible today.
I'm going to link to an interesting post that features 92 EdTech tools. Can you envision using any of these in your own classrooms?
Till next time, stay curious, and have fun!
A special thank you to Kurt Campos, a student of mine who is clearly very talented, and created the logos for my blog at the top of every page!! Thanks Kurt :D
Pavan Arora scaring the children, and telling us that everything we learned (because most of have been out of university for at least 4 or 5 years...) is now obsolete. Run for the hills and hide your degrees!
I'm going to do something CRAZY here and combine my extra post on this additional reading with our prompt for the week: "how do you take up teaching in a world where knowledge is becoming obsolete?"
Of course, the title of the TedXFoggyBottom video is a bit sensational... knowledge is not becoming obsolete, but rather, it's becoming a commodity. Certainly our access to knowledge has exploded... I remember the world before YouTube was more than just cat videos, around 2005/2006.... it was much harder to learn something! You had to find a book or article about it, or track down someone who could teach you.
Pavan argues that knowledge is getting updated all the time, and that the Pluto you learned was a planet is no longer a planet. We are trying to prepare students for jobs that don't even exist yet, a claim that I think goes unchallenged all too often. For example, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019), the fields that have the highest number of new projected jobs are in health care (specifically, personal care aides), food preparation and serving, registered nurses, followed by software development for the next 7 years. None of those things are new jobs. Working your way down the list also doesn't seem to yield any mysterious unheard of professions or jobs. Now, are there jobs that are dying because of technology, or changing because of it? You betcha... but we aren't seeing a reinvention of the wheel. In fact, as Trump pointed out once, cars have 4 wheels.
A fun exercise is googling old ads for things we thought would exist in about 10 years, and which still don't exist 65 years later. Here is a magazine cover from around 1965. Can't wait for my flying hover car, made possible with the power of plastics!
Pavan says that our knowledge has an expiration date, and that augmented reality will allow us a quantum leap in educational possibilities (I happen to agree with him there, when the tech gets good enough).
However, I'd argue that if you want to master something, that still does mean you need to internalize a LOT of facts and knowledge. There are certainly professions that require a lot of updating your knowledge, but you always start with a very large base of knowledge that is mostly unchanging. Math is still math. Mechanics still fix cars that still have moving parts. Now they swap out computer chips too sometimes, but the base job is the same, for example. Carpenters are still building houses out of wood and concrete, not zeros and ones. Sure, the tools they use are cooler and fancier, but the base job remains intact. Computer programmers have been coding since the 1950's. I've heard the prediction that computers will be coding themselves in 5 or 10 years... speaking to a former student of mine (find him here) doing his Masters in Computer Science has put my mind to rest. We are far away from that if he is to be believed. Technology IS creating new jobs, and changing old ones, but I feel like the headline always gets over sensationalized. Does the technology available to teachers nowadays have massive potential to change what and how we learn? I'd say YES!
However, you don't spend 10,000 hours becoming an expert at something by not committing anything to memory. At the same time, I'm not saying that YouTube isn't the best thing since sliced bread, because it is. I see the power of social networks, and the GREAT potential of all this knowledge we have at our finger tips. What is a teacher to do?
I would argue that learning how to learn is and always was a very important skill to have. As teachers, we can now offer students the ability to choose their own curriculum and learn whatever they want. I have experimented with this in my Grade 12 Computer Science class, which is completely project based. Students write me a proposal for what they want to learn, I provide them with resources and they also identify their own online resources (my school is nice enough to always allow me to spend money on the students if they need books, programs, parts, whatever) and the students learn whatever they choose to learn. There is a lot of dialogue, reflection, and documenting that goes on, and most students seem to enjoy the process of choosing what they learn. This is the power of the technology and knowledge (YouTube) that we have today!
One of my favourite videos of all time is actually Derek Mueller's "This will revolutionize education" (Derek Mueller has been on various TV shows, including Bill Nye Saves the World. He has a successful YouTube channel and a Ph.D in Physics Education--Love the way he explains things).
I've always loved history (even though I haven't studied nearly enough of it!). I believe there is value in examining the past, and what Mr. Mueller does in his video is investigate why the teaching profession has failed to live up to all sorts of wild claims about how a new technology will change education forever. He then discusses a bit about where we are going, the power of social learning and YouTube, and what he thinks is the best way forward for educators in our tech-driven world. Worth a watch, it clocks in at around 7 minutes.
Derek Mueller laying down the law.
One of the things that strikes me the most in the video is when Derek says "...we are not limited by the experiences we can give students. What limits learning is what can happen inside the student's head ... No technology is inherently superior to any other ... researchers have failed to investigate how to use the technology to promote meaningful thought processes ... so the question really is, what experiences promote the kind of thinking that is required for learning?" (Derek Mueller, 2014, 4:10-4:49). He goes on to list some recent research where these processes are being investigated. His video isn't all doom and gloom!
At 5:30, he discusses why we need teachers at all in the YouTube world, where I suppose one could say, knowledge is obsolete. He basically says that a teacher's job is to inspire and challenge students to want to learn. They guide the social process of learning and keep students accountable. He believes that YouTube will revolutionize education, being the gateway to knowledge, and accessible at any time by anyone with an internet connection.
And this post has become too long. End it here. Love to hear what you guys think.
Arora, Pavan. (2014). Knowledge is obsolete, so now what? YouTube video, retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWR5YXm2mRg on October 4, 2019.
Mueller, Derek. This Will Revolutionize Education. YouTube video, retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEmuEWjHr5c&t=2s on October 4, 2019.
United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm and https://www.bls.gov/ooh/most-new-jobs.htm
Flying Car picture retrieved from https://alexandruduta.com/tag/1960s/ on October 4, 2019.
My name is Matteo Di Muro, the original Prairie Boy, and I've been teaching since I was 14. I currently teach mathematics and computer science in Brandon. I try to keep on learning things, and I'm getting onboard with sharing with others, hence this site!