Monday, 9 May 2016

Smarter Learning Delivery with Digital Technology

I agree that the term 'work smarter' is becoming somewhat overused and lacks meaning to people.  In my opinion work smarter means using your time, knowledge and skills more effectively on tasks than you have done previously that have a positive impact on the outcome.

I'll allow you to creatively interpret the illustration below that I created in 2014 to decide how you can approach your curriculum(s), course(s) and lesson(s) for a better blend of delivery by utilising digital technology more effectively.

Content and design
This is aimed more at the structure and administration and is usually done by the tutor with little digital technology input.  Perhaps learners could be creatively involved in the process.

Review of previous topic/subject
Digital technology can be used in a less timely way to ascertain what learners have understood previously.  This can be done before the next lesson or just at the start of it to make it visible to learners.

Introduction of topic/subject
Use digital technology to connect to previous knowledge and build upon it by introducing stimulating content to spark interest and curiosity.

Delivery of topic/subject
Great balance of digital technology and face-to-face teaching methods.  Most of the knowledge could be delivered outside the classroom giving learners more time in the classroom to practice what they have learned.

Analysis of topic/subject
During learning learners are required to make connections from previous to new knowledge.  As before knowledge can be delivered through digital technology allowing learners more time to absorb it and relate to personal and professional aspects.

Evaluation of topic/subject
Acquiring information from learners to inform future tutor practice is crucial.  Digital technology can again make this a less timely task and easier to capture and handle the information.

Extended topic/subject
Stretch and challenge can be enabled through the tutor's or learner's choice of digital technology to enable learner's to self-regulate additional or extra-curricular activities as required.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Etivities for blended, flip or distance learning

This post on Etivities comes hand in hand with a learning technology course I have previously delivered and managed between April 2013 to August 2014, I created a range of Etivities (online learning activities) to engage and support learners learning.  However, you can use these in many other ways for learning, teaching and assessment tasks.  It's a creative method to integrate a range of digital technologies into one activity.  Below illustrates what I created when merging Gilly Salmon's 'Etivities' with Ross Morrison McGill's '5 Minute Lesson Plan'.


You can make these more appealing on the eye with the use of other software and graphic design and imagery.  However, with the time and resources I had I made quick and simple ones using Microsoft Word.  I downloaded related images and used shapes and colouring in the style of the 5 Minute Lesson Plan.  I saved them as PDFs so that they can be more accessible across a range of operating systems.  I placed these on the College's Virtual Learning Environment which was Moodle and named them in line with project tasks.  One of the main benefits in this format is that it holds all public links in one place rather than learners typing in one site to the next and logging into them.


I issued the Etivites out through the online social network Yammer before every workshop that link to the PDF on Moodle.  Learners were expected to participate in them beforehand, then we had a discussion about their experience and results to build and develop their understanding. The remainder of the workshops was to focus on practical skills development in using technology to raise confidence and skills in using it with their own learners.  So the majority of knowledge was delivered outside the classroom and putting it into practice was applied inside the classroom.

Learners are expected to read the invitation at the top to gain a sense of purpose of what the Etivity is about and what is in it for them.  Learners are expected to work their way through all steps and contribute where required.  Each step has an instruction that links to either a resource or an activity via a public link.  Step 2 is a short animated video called 'Teaching and Technology Change' that our department created that illustrates these changes over centuries (but this could be YouTube videos which I used in later Etivities).  Step 3 asks learners to make contributions from their own experiences and practices on a Padlet wall.  Step 4 is a short video I recorded called 'eLearning Today' that I recorded via the recording system Planet eStream we have in College.  Step 5 linked to a Moodle quiz so that I could check learning had taken place.  Step 6 linked to an evaluation form to capture their feedback of the resource and experience to inform future ones.  After this learners had a choice whether to be stretched and challenged to make a word cloud or end the activity.  In later Etivities I used articles, Yammer notes, eLearning packages, wikis, QR codes and Google Docs.

A structure of a blended course

I thought I would share an old course and it's online structure that I designed on Moodle.  During April 2013 to August 2014 I designed, planned, delivered, assessed and managed the Level 4 Certificate in Technology in Learning Delivery (which I named L4TLD) qualification.  I last mentioned this in a summary of that year.  The course enabled learners which were mostly teachers to choose their own digital technologies and practice and develop their skills in using them.  As a result learners improved their understanding and practical application of Technology Enhanced Learning.   Below are the course aims and objectives I created:

Course aims:
  • To successfully use, facilitate and manage technology for learning delivery tasks and/or activities.
  • Daniel Scott’s personal aim of the course: “Learner led, self-exploration and discovery of own project(s), making excellent creators of innovation in learning and teaching and in your subject areas.”

Course outcomes:
  • Develop your IT skills into Information Learning Technology skills
  • Use, plan, prepare and manage technology for learning
  • Apply and demonstrate technology in learning delivery skills
  • Establish how to enhance learning through the use of technology
  • Share your learning, knowledge and skills of technology in learning delivery

The course was offered as a part-time 20 week blended delivery and learners attend workshops and participate in online activities.  The course ran for two cohorts and the second one was redesigned as Project Based Learning, which is illustrated below of how I structured the online learning aspects.

This was the home page of the course.  I used the 'grid view' feature to make it more visually appealing rather than a long linear list of resources.  When you click on a tile it opens up a box with the content in.  Activity Completion was enabled so that I could see who had interacted and done tasks.

The Start section contains all generic getting started material for the course.  My course handbook was very detailed and replicated my Scheme of Work for accuracy and consistency of timescales.  Each stage of the project had a brief that outlined the aims and detailed tasks of what needed to be done.  In both the course handbook and project briefs I hyperlinked various sections to Moodle.  One of which was the example ePortfolio (Google Sites) in which learners had to create for their summative assessment for the course.  Other links included the online social network Yammer where some discussions were held and where I communicated resources to Moodle.  I also send out an Initial Assessment via Google Forms before the course starts.  I ask learners specific questions about their knowledge and skills that relate to the qualification.

Project 1: Ideas for your project got learners to think of ways to use digital technologies and decide which ones they would like to implement into their practices.  As part of the blended delivery I created online activities called Etivities which I explain more about in this post.  Workshop presentations were uploaded for anyone wanting to review the content again or for absentees.  I structured resources in each section with meaningful titles and used the description fields that provide learners with better direction of what they are and what they need to do with them.  Resources were titled against the project briefs for consistency.

Project 2: Design and develop your project got learners to learn practical and online safety aspects and to start planning, preparing and managing their digital technologies to deliver and facilitate learning.  As part of this project I introduced Instructional Design for learners to create their own eLearning package.

Project 3: Do your project required learners to carry out their projects with their own learners across different situations so they can get a broader experience with different groups of learners and activities.

Project 4: Exhibit your project required learners to share their learning technology projects within their departments in the style of Continuous Professional Development and the impact it had on them and their learners.

During the first cohort I experimented with giving feedback via a screencast.  Here is an example of screencast feedback I gave to learners for their first project.  This was well received by learners and was a better way or presenting feedback to them.