3 EXPLORE – Mobile Learning Lab

Looking at the advantages and possibilities of mobile learning, it is exciting to play with different ideas to make the curriculum more at the level of what students are doing in their day to day lives. So much in the world has changed, and so much in the classroom has stayed the same.

Looking ahead to the uses of mobile technology, such as cell phones, isn’t without pitfalls though (as I posted on the Classroom 2.0′s thread about Cell Phones).


In my school, student cell phones are banned outright. My students are picked up by van from their house, and shouldn’t even have a cell phone there because of school and court regulations. If they do have cell phones, they are confiscated upon entering the building and going through security (which includes a metal detector and x-ray machines). Because of this, I am limited in mobile learning possibilities that involve cell phones only outside of the classroom. Because of the rules surrounding cell phones at my school, I plan to further research cell phone contact with students before utilizing cell phones at all, but a potential application could be polling students about school content being used practically over a weekend. I have created a poll that could be used for this type of an assignment using Poll Everywhere.


This technology to help communicate with teachers in my building, but I am in a unique situation of working with only five other teachers in my school, of which I have daily contact. In time, I will look for appropriate uses of this technology and integrate it in some fashion to promoting educational outcomes.

Using links and descriptions provided in the Mobile Learning Lab of CEP 812, I looked into several mobile technologies that I plan to attempt to integrate. These technologies include MP3 players, USB drives, book E readers, Flip Cameras, and Laptops.

The use of MP3 players could be easily implemented in my classes. These could have lectures about different topics. If the MP3 players have a microphone, it could be used to record student answers. What excites me about MP3 players is that they are cheaper than an iPod and can be restricted to only the files that I want students to have access to.

USB drives are a thought to help students store projects and documents they are working on. My only concerns deal with USB drives walking away and use potential within my school. Student accounts on existing computers ban the use of USB drives, though teachers have access to student drives. Because of this, luckily, a backup of student files could be made by any teacher. We are also planning to purchase a Computer on Wheels (COW) lab that should allow USB input. The use of a COW makes USB drive use more practical, and would help keep student work more organized since access to the central school network might not be possible with the laptops.

Electronic Books are a promising idea after the cost of the available readers come down. Many textbooks are made digital these days, which would make e-books and interactive textbooks relevant media to be used with the readers. As I thought more about these options, I determined that other subject areas such as English and drama might have better uses because of the volume of reading material that is used in those classes, but it is something I will be keeping my eye on next time we are looking for textbooks.

When I looked into flip cameras, many ideas came to mind. Our school has a camcorder, which could serve the same purpose. I hope to use the camcorder in my forensics class to have groups record mock crime scenes and create tutorials for crime scene analysis techniques. The possibilities are quite endless in forensics, but it could also be helpful in core science classes. Whenever one is required to explain a topic, one must know more than if one was only asked to recite answers. Because of this, having students or groups of students record explanations of key concepts could greatly enhance student understanding.

Finally, I looked into the use of Laptops. Students bringing a personal laptop to school would fall into the same situation as cell phones, as they are a personal electronic device, and are banned. Even so, because our school is looking into a COW for next year, laptops should be there for students to utilize. With laptops, students can give and get the near instantaneous feedback that they would have using mobile phone polling. Students also would have a multitude of resources at their fingertips without the inefficiency of smart phones concerning typing and creating documents. Having online course-ware already in use before the arrival of the COW is just another benefit that I plan to take advantage of as soon as our COW arrives.

Given all of this technology and opportunity, I am thankful for the options that I have. Cell phones may never work in my adjudicated youth setting, but that doesn’t mean that mobile learning is out. A cell phone may do many things that a laptop can, but I will have laptops that can do more than any phone soon. Students might be able to use their phone to play music and listen to a podcast, but so can a laptop or desktop with headphones. In this day and age, many opportunities are out there for mobile learning, regardless of what type of technology is used. I look forward wondering what new applications will be thought of and made possible by our ever changing and advancing technological society.

WPP Part D – Findings and Implications

Hoping to increase instructional time and add instructional supports to my students, I implemented some online Moodle based coursework. Doing this I planned to pencil in about one day a week for an online activity for my physical science and physics classes. I decided to focus on physical science first, and then expand to the physics students as I roll out more physical science lessons. This decision was made because the attendance of my physics students has been sporadic to the point where data collection would be problematic. In the implementation of the physical science lessons I quickly learned that the messenger capabilities in Moodle (like AIM or any other instant messenger) can be quite a distraction. For the first lesson, many of the students spent time when they should have been watching videos chatting with other students. Even while roaming around, I was out-nerd-ed on several occasions by crafty IM-ers. I had the messaging capability turned off after this first lesson. The second lesson was a quiz on what the students had been learning in the new quarter thus far (which has been two weeks). That assignment worked out pretty well, because even if students changed their answers their first answers (and therefore what they probably thought first) were recorded. This was a simple true false quiz, but it gave data that most students were doing well, and one student needed some additional reinforcement. I plan to continue the once a week implementations of Moodle activities, but I will also vary the types of activities from just lessons to quizzes and reviews as well. This is mainly because I am able to gain a snap shot of the class knowledge base before moving on. Overall, I am happy that I was able to implement the Moodle lessons to my physical science class.

 

Putting together this project, I determined that I should see two things if this implementation was a success. First off, I would hope to see grades increase. I would also expect to see behavior points increase during the Moodle lessons, compared to the points earned while doing book work. In order to determine this I selected four students that had the chance to complete both integrations of Moodle thus far. I plotted their third quarter grades (Q3), fourth quarter (Q4) grades thus far, behavior points during Moodle lesson days (Points Moodle), and behavior points during book work (Points Book) days. These have been plotted on this table:

Looking at the data in the table, each student’s grade is better in the fourth quarter than in the previous quarter. This is promising and shows better comprehension than without Moodle integrations. I am hoping that the instantaneous feedback and multimedia integrations of Moodle are helping with this. For the behavioral points, three of the four students earned better points during the Moodle lesson days than on the book work days. One student did not, but this is partially because that student quickly found the messenger capabilities of Moodle on the first assignment and didn’t take well to redirection given. With these findings I can say that so far the Moodle integration is correlated to higher assignment scores and behavioral points. I am looking forward to continuing the data collection in this class to see how well the students do throughout the remainder of the quarter.

 

In implementing a project like this in the future, I am hopeful in creating more lessons that catch students wherever they are, and bring them to a higher level. With this project, specifically targeting Moodle, I had a preconception of what I wanted to do to help with my problems of low attendance and difficulty in attaining quick feedback on student understanding. Knowing that I will undoubtedly face new problems in my teaching career, I hope to refine my problem solving approach. As previously stated, I mostly knew from the start that Moodle is what I wanted to implement. Because of this, I spent little time researching other methods (or even people using Moodle) to meet my goals. In the future, I hope to spend more time researching problems and solutions on places such as MACULspace to make sure I am not re-inventing the wheel and am spending my time as efficiently as possible. It is also imperative to see things from different perspectives as can only be done by researching others’ work, so new ideas can be integrated and improved.

 

In addition to making sure that I do more research, I plan and would also suggest some troubleshooting before the launch of a project. I went through my integrated science Moodle lessons first, and even had my wife go through the lessons once. When my students actually went through the lesson, though, I received more valuable feedback than I could ever create without actually having students try the lesson. During the first “field test” of my Moodle lesson, I found that my students could have benefited from better explanations, or possibly even a screen-cast, of getting logged into Moodle and getting the lesson started. Once the students were in the lesson, most were quite adequate at making it through. Because of this, I plan to field test new educational expeditions with a student first if possible, so that I can work out more of the bugs and see what explanations I have over thought or have completely missed. Knowing the wealth of feedback that students can give, I also hope to improve upon each lesson that I create by the feedback that they give.

 

As I look forward to additional implementation of Moodle lessons and other online coursework throughout my classes, I hope to expand on the what I have started in physical science more methodically. I will be able to better plan this through the summer as I gain more information on the computer on wheels (COW) lab that our school is planning on purchasing. As it stands there are some periods in which only two computers maximum can be accessed at a time, because the computer lab is in use. With the COW in the picture, there would be up to twelve computers outside of the lab available throughout the day. Either way, I plan to integrate Moodle activities in all classes. Minimally I would use Moodle as a tool to gain quick knowledge on how students are progressing through the material. Optimally I would use Moodle to introduce topics and to expand upon material that a textbook is at a loss to cover. As I expand the use of Moodle within my classes, I will also teach other teachers how I and others have used Moodle so that more options can be available in all of the courses taught at the Ingham Academy.

WPP Part C – Implementation

Attached is a podcast describing my thoughts after having my 8th grade Physical Science class go through a Moodle lesson.  I also created a webpage for my students to access the Moodle pages that we will be using, and a calendar used to tell students what they missed if they were absent.  This can also help students to keep up if they are gone for an extended period and have computer access.  I am glad that I have launched this project, and look forward to expanding it in the future!

Attached Podcast: WWPPartC

Group Leadership Project: Part B – Storyboard and Script

Scott, Becky, and myself (Group 5) have been working together to get our presentation on creating a lesson in Moodle created. We tried to get a meeting going on adobe connect, but we couldn’t get Becky into the room. Scott recorded a little of our brainstorming HERE, but funny as it may sound, when we gave up on AdobeConnect and fired up Skype, our audio got better! I wish Skype had screen share in a conference call, but that is something I’ll look into in the future, because one on one, you can share your screen. I got around this when we were in our conference call in Skype by pointing my webcam at the screen.

We decided to put our thoughts together on a Google Presentation, of which I was a bit skeptical at first, but it worked out beautifully.  I picked up the first section, creating the Moodle Lesson, Scott is doing the embedding and adding text to the question page, and Becky is covering the questions and feedback portion of this.  We will be all individually screencasting our sections, and will then splice them together most likely with Windows Movie Maker.  I am looking forward to the finished product, and I have learned more about Skype, Google, and Moodle in the process thus far!  A PDF of our Storyboard and Script from our Google Presentation is HERE.  It is awesome that three people can create something like this without ever leaving their respective computers!

Group Leadership Project: Part A – Brainstorm

As our group gathered to iron out the details of what project we should teach to our colleagues, we used Adobe ConnectNow to meet and discuss. This allowed us to web-cam chat, share our screens, and take notes during our conference. Scott and I met to iron out exactly what we would do our project on, and we decided to tackle building a Modle Lesson with a video integration and a question with feedback. Our full video can be found HERE. In this discussion, Scott and I decided it would be good to split up the project into three sections, of which each group member would complete a slide-cast on using screencast-o-matic or jing. Both of these services output windows media player compatible videos, which we can then add together and create our final product. The three sections we will cover in our lesson on Moodle will be as follows:

1) Creating a lesson – lesson page setup.
2) Entering text and videos into the Moodle lesson page.
3) Setting up questions with answers and feedback.

We met later when Becky was available and again used Adobe ConnectNow and screencast-o-matic.  The second full video can be found HERE.  Becky was having some issues with her microphone, but we were able to continue with her using the chat box with Scott and I talking.  We decided that the three step video would be a good idea.  I showed Becky the Moodle lesson that I have created and the piece of the lesson that would be most easily integrated into a 10 minute lesson.  The question page setup should take that long, and not have any lack of detail in the parts.  Becky will be handling the creation of a lesson and initial setup page, Scott will be covering how to enter text and video into a lesson, and I will be covering how to add questions with feedback into the lesson.  It seems that both Becky and Scott have more Moodle experience than I have, so I am eager to learn!

All of this will require a dummy account of Moodle so that we can create this lesson, and so we decided to all check into getting a practice classroom setup so that we can all have access to it as we create our lesson on a screen-cast.  We were able to put down these roles and put a fail safe meeting time of Tuesday on the Shared Notes in the meeting.  Whoever gets our classroom created first will let the others know, and we will be using our Google doc with the group 5 forum to keep in contact throughout the next week so that we can get our storyboard and script for this presentation done.  Hopefully by Tuesday we will be well on our way to getting this project scripted!

Web-Conferencing

Scott and I just held a web conference using Adobe ConnectNow to discuss our project. We tried to use VYEW, but ran into a road block since registrations were down for the program. Scott, having signed up for a trial account, invited me into the room, and we immediately enjoyed the benefits of ConnectNow, because it at least appears more user friendly than VYEW. We will scatter our trial versions throughout the group so that we can keep in contact through this method. Scott recorded the video using screencast-o-matic, which allows up to 15 minutes of screen-casting to be recorded at a time.

As Scott started recording our conference, I tried to share my screen and I got dropped from the conference for a bit while I added the necessary plug-in. In the future, I will do my best to make sure that the plug-ins are installed before we start recording, to minimize dead time in a conference. Even so, I found it to be very useful to use ConnectNow. We were able to use our webcams and chat boxes to talk and troubleshoot audio problems that occurred. I was able to share my screen, after the plugin was installed, and show what I was thinking about our project in Moodle. It was very useful to be able to show exactly what the screen looks like, and it will be useful in the planning stages of this project as well. It was also nice to be able to take notes of what we were talking about, so that all wasn’t lost once we logged off of ConnectNow. This helped guide our conversation and keep us on the same page.

I could see this type of tool being useful in situations where teachers want to collaborate on teaching a particular lesson, but are in different buildings. With how my program is setup, I could potentially reach out to a fellow science teacher in a different program, and we could team teach using the projector, so that the students could get two perspectives on the same lesson. An expert could also be introduced using this technology, especially if that expert is far away or not able to be there in person. It would also be interesting to look into using this as a tool for when I must be absent due to illness, so that I could still lecture or at least check in with the substitute every now and again.

I don’t know about the logistics of how it would work, but it could also be a tool for parent conferencing or tutoring students, though integration of that might be tricky and would definitely need to be recorded. I am open to looking into new ways to use this in the classroom, but more research would need to be done to use it other than as a collaboration tool between teachers and staff.

WPP Part B – Application of TPACK

As I look at my Wicked Problem Project, using video lessons in Moodle to help guide students through materials that textbooks just don’t do well on, I see good agreement with TPACK for my situation. TPACK looks at how Technology, Pedagogy, and Content blend together in a lesson, and mostly because of the design of Moodle, this is all present. Adding interactivity and quicker feedback to students utilizing these lessons should expand the learning experience for my classrooms filled with individual learners and students with spotty attendance.

First off, Moodle is a platform that will allow students to quickly jump into a lesson covering the content they are in, gain guidance through the subject material, and are quizzed at the end of the video so students and I can both evaluate how well the information was learned. After a text lead in to what will be covered, the video will appeal to the audio visual learning side of the students, and will also be summed up in text after the video. The question or questions used for followup are also easily integrated into the Moodle lesson by design. Because the lessons are computer based, they are also accessible on dates after the lesson has been completed by the class.

Because Moodle lessons use text, visuals, and audio, sometimes all at the same time, it holds pedagogical advantages over textbook and lecture based learning. These lessons will appeal to more of the learning styles of each student, and interactive questions after the information has been presented give students instant feedback with explanations of correct answers, and support for wrong answers. This allows students to not only get the questions answered correctly, but know why!

Finally, this all ties into the content that will be covered in the Moodle lessons. By targeting introductory topics in a unit or topics that are difficult to nearly impossible to portray with a textbook, these lessons will allow more content to be covered than the same time put into reading a textbook and answering prepared questions. The feedback on the questions also helps guide content to the student because of the context that feedback to the questions can give. Another exciting content boost with using Moodle lessons is that particular standards can be the forethought of the lesson, allowing the Moodle lesson to more fully cover a standard than any lesson that is created first, and applied to the standard later!

WPP Part A – Need More Moodle!

My school, the Ingham Academy, is an individualized educational setting that contains students in different content areas (and different subjects entirely) within the same class period for most classes. This is due to the school being an alternative court based school. Of my seven class periods, only 3 of them are homogeneous in nature, which limits the ability for whole class instruction substantially. The problem is compounded by the fact that attendance can be sporadic enough that even homogeneous classes can become varied with students missing several days of work at a time, and needing to catch up in the coursework. As most of my time in the individualized classes is spent helping students as they get stuck and have questions, it would be greatly beneficial if I could have instructional tools available to students when I am helping other students. Even though I have a paraprofessional in the classroom to help, the more support that I can give my students, the more opportunities for learning they will have. If I can increase support by using technology to instruct even two additional students per hour, the amount of instructional support per student should increase noticeably.

I would like to use a blend of video lectures and demonstrations with follow up questions presented in Moodle to help address my classes’ instructional roadblocks. There are many resources available online, such as You Tube, MIT’s Open CourseWare, and Khan Academy that have instructional video that could be used to help introduce, reinforce, and answer questions about topics. For those subjects that don’t have an appropriate video easily found on the internet, I can create a video-cast covering the necessary information. Once the videos have been selected or created, they can be put into Moodle courses I already have (or can have created as I expand to different subjects in the future) with leading and follow-up questions to help guide the students’ learning. Using this method will take added preparation time in the beginning, but should pay off in the long run. Even if only two students using the two classroom computers I have each hour can benefit from instructional videos with guiding questions, the efficiency of the classroom should increase, as should the amount of learning and time engaged per student. The use of Moodle also integrates interactivity because of feedback with the questions asked. The financial costs should be minimal because I already have the equipment needed to create needed videos, the online resources are free, and I already have access to Moodle through my district.

Using this model, I would hope to begin by creating a few lessons including videos and guiding questions within Moodle. The topics covered in the Moodle lessons would be in the areas of the curriculum that target subject matter difficult to successfully implement with a textbook. Two students per class period would have the option of working on the Moodle lessons that would introduce the topics being covered in a particular chapter or section. The students would be asked a couple of questions guiding them to what the video will cover and will be asked questions at the end of the video(s) as well to ensure they understood the points being made. As the students complete the Moodle lessons, they will receive credit for completing sections of their coursework.

Using video in the classroom as part of the coursework, students will be exposed to information that would otherwise not be available because of access or time constraints as stated in Using Video in the Classroom. Instructional videos can help bring students into a subject in ways that give it relevance, focus, and that reinforce the concepts as outlined in Tips for Using Instructional Video and Public Television Programming in the Classroom. Audio visual learners will also benefit using this method of instructional delivery because it will appeal more to them than a quiet and inanimate textbook. There are also many built in tools with Moodle that allow interactivity for students who might not have as much interactive help as needed because I am helping other students.

I plan to implement this model of videos with guiding support covering topics in my Physical Science class which is a homogeneous group suffering due to attendance, and my Physics class which is scattered throughout several class periods. The aim will be to target subject areas where students coalesce in Physics, presenting information in a manner that is more intuitive and interactive (with the video and Moodle guiding questions). There are many topics that are just not effectively covered in a textbook. In Physical Science the same Moodle and video format will guide students into new topics and also allow students who are absent for lessons covered an opportunity to review a lesson after it has been performed. For both classes I will set a goal of target students completing a Moodle video lesson once a week. This will be possible because the Physical Science class has access to the computer lab, and the Physics students are scattered throughout the day in my classroom that has two computers available to students.

If this project is successful, I would expect to see my Physics and Physical Science students making it through more subject matter with greater understanding and performance. This will be measured by evaluating the number of chapters completed as well as grades on associated assignments. It is also hopeful that behaviors in the class would improve because of greater access to interactive instruction, which should be reflected in the behavioral points recorded at our school. If both the pace and performance have increased in these classes, I would consider the project’s implementation a success.

In the future I will expand this project to include key topics in all the classes I teach and will be teaching (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physical Science, and Earth Science). Because our school is working to get a computer lab on wheels, our computer access should increase. My future goal will be that each class has one class period a week in which a Moodle video lesson, or related technology rich lesson, will be utilized to enhance the curriculum.