Let me tell you a story … about teaching and technology

I’m teaching a class on creating a radio show and podcasting. I’m working with 11 enthusiastic and interested adult learners and I’m quite excited about it myself. Yesterday was our 2nd meeting.

Let me tell you a little story about teaching and technology…

My plan was 3-fold:

The first two parts were easy, the components were me and them. It was the last section that proved…challenging. And guess what? That last section involved a 10 minute presentation. It required technology. And the technology wasn’t cooperating. I realized it wasn’t cooperating an hour before the course so I did have time to place the presentation on individual laptops for students to view at their tables. The thing was, I wasn’t planning on needing headsets. There was audio. At one point in the presentation I say, “You must be fed up of hearing my voice by now …” When I heard it an asynchronous 6 times I laughed out loud and so did the students. It’s a good thing they have a sense of humour!

Other little things… laptops kept logging out (need to remember to shut off the logout feature) during the class, some of them decided to do the Windows update thing and re-started mid lesson.

Like I said, at least we all had a sense of humour and I knew what was going on nevertheless it was still very frustrating. I had spent a week preparing for this class, not a week straight but on and off for a week. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and it really should have gone off without a hitch but it didn’t.

And. Capital A ‘And’ here… I am a technology consultant. I understand that things sometimes don’t work and the majority of the time I can work around that And still, I was met with this frustration.

Computer RepairWhen teachers tell me their own stories of how technology trumped their lessons I know that they are less and less willing to try it again. It is frustrating to put so much time into something to have it fall apart because a wire is missing, a network is down, a button they don’t know about needs to be pushed, an ActiveX control needs to be allowed to run, a program needs to be updated, a this, a that.

So where do we go from here?

Is it about teaching teachers how to troubleshoot all of that? It would be nice if everyone knew how but I’m not sure if that is a very practical answer.

The largest protest I hear from teachers about their day is that there is not enough time to do anything. We know that there isn’t. Teachers have so many responsibilities, a mere fraction of which is the hours of time where they are physically tied to their classrooms and the rest generally gets done on their own time. We know that. So throwing more training at them that requires them to use their precious out of class time in order to learn how to troubleshoot technology that they perhaps do not even want to use well…I think that is problematic.

So again. Where do we go from here?

For myself, I am in the process of creating a webpage for the course where I will drop any resources. I’ll be expecting the learners in the course to access any presentations there. It’s something they can do during class time, at home if they have computers, on their phones, whatever their preference or requirement. This way the theory won’t be trumped by the tech. As well, the class time will be reserved for collaboration, creation, and questions.

But that is me. I teach one little course a week. And I am a technology consultant.

Where do we go from here when it comes to working with educators and supporting them with not only the opportunities but the challenges of using technology in the classroom?

Funny story about making educational video

I know what makes a boring, didactically challenged video. I even spent some time not two weeks ago talking about this, analyzing this with other educators.

And yet, today I struggled with creating a video (multimedia presentation…actually glorified powerpoint, whatever) that didn’t fall into that description. The presentation is just a little thing but I still feel there is too much text, that it’s not dynamic enough, that it is just…dull.

And it took me more than a few minutes to create. Many more.

So if I had such difficulty and I am aware of what not to do. And I have a desire to create the video. And I have some time in which to do so as part of my job…imagine how daunting the task of creating relevant, didactically charged video would be for educators who don’t have those luxuries.

Scarier thought…wonder what their classrooms look like unplugged, so to speak.


Flipping the Classroom, Day 2

2nd day of a 2-day workshop facilitated by Avi and Marc-Andre around the concept of flipping the classroom. Here are my notes from Day 1.

Don’t you hate being late? I do…this morning I ran in late…didn`t know how to connect to the internet so began writing on a notepad and am now pasting in, to be added to. I hate being late. Somehow I ended up on a long, windy road by the water to get here. And once I got here I could see the autoroute close by so there has to be a quicker method. Ah well. then couldn`t find parking and was lost looking for the entrance to the building…

en tous cas…here I am. Once again, these are my notes. I’ve highlighted certain key ideas that interest me in particular.

Talking around how to intro this to teachers
– do we show teachers how to use this even if they are not teaching program?
Or should we say you need to be teaching program to work with me?

(program being current and / or reformed curriculum…)

Pushing Hands

as consultants we are working at different levels with different teachers
important nuance between meeting educators where they are and guiding them to a brighter future ( within their own goals, a bit past their comfort zone )– reminds me of pushing hands exercise

Pushing hands works to undo a person’s natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it.

With pushing hands, the two participants end up looking together in the same direction. I like this and use this as a model for the work I do with teachers. Important to note that the direction is not always the one I envisioned.

my goals for today – learning and finessing my technical skills

My experience can become a model for the work I do with educators.

(did not really happen. I learned a few new tools, but spent the majority of my time thinking, talking, planning…)

In making videos…Educators often recreate a traditional classroom lecture (standing in front of white board, lecturing)

(Question asked to the group from Avi) How would we approach working with teachers to avoid this? (our answers, below)

Task today – produce a capsule on something that we want, that will be useful in our practice

We were asked – what would we prefer, get little intros to different tools first and then start to create or start the creation process 1st (planning the concept) …

I think we informally decided to look at diff`t tools first…yes, it was informal and then formalized.

We said we need to see tools to help form the content and suggested that at the end of the 1st day or section of this atelier they should provide a quicky – maybe 10-15 minutes of introducing tools – 10 tools in 10 minutes kind of thing.

(I`m taking notes only on what interests me, what is available to me with the tools I have or are available at the centres where I work.)

Explain Everything (iPad app) – like educreations or show me but in slides and seems more editable. Can be exported to mp4, which can then be manipulated with sound or other editing…

Jing – remember Jing? I think I used it a few times a couple of years ago…is this possible? Yes, it is. I explored it then gave it up because it is not linux friendly.

PowerPoint – we (I) am so quick to dismiss powerpoint because it seems to have been used to death but it’s the boring, one-dimensional side of PowerPoint that has been used to death. The reality is that it is available to all of our teachers. And there are many things that can be done with it. I need to explore this further…

I started to think about my task – created a popplet once again. Not sure how much I love popplets BUT they are so easy to do.


Discussion around the 90/10 idea – the reality might be 99/1… (teachers who flip their classrooms to use 90% found video/resources and 10% self-created)

Criticism of flipped classroom

Lisa Nielson: Five Reasons I`m Not Flipping over Flipped Classroom

Personal reaction – I felt her 5 reasons were based on an assumption that flipping the classroom is 1 thing – homework in class, lecture at home. I see flipping to be very different. Anything that gets us away from using our valuable face time with students in a way that promotes passivity in learning is part of a flipped process.

In other words – if I am allowing students to access theoretical material (the lecture, the bits of knowledge) from a place other than me, either at home the night before or in class via computers or even their own phones or whatever other sources work, and then using our face time to apply, create, collaborate, etc.. then I am ‘flipping’.

In that case, I’ve been flipping for a while…I used to say it was because I was a lazy teacher and didn’t want to prepare a lecture but really it was because I didn’t want to waste my time reinventing the wheel. I wanted to work with my students.

Biggest Takeaway for me

Seems to be in the area of how can I use this in Professional Development? I see this concept as being a wonderful, powerful way to make PD more meaningful, more relevant. I’ve started to look at this more on a separate page on this blog, Resources for Flipped PD. Not sure if that is where it will stay but that is where it lives for now.

Flipping the classroom workshop, Day 1

I’m in the middle of a 2-day workshop on Flipping the Classroom for educational consultants and lead teachers. Since this post is really about my notes as I experience the day, a lot of it will be in note form. (makes sense, eh? :) )

Here are the notes for Day 2

The workshop took place bilingually, mainly in English, but everyone just spoke in the language they were most comfortable in and people jumped in to translate when someone needed explanation. Loved it.

Facilitators: Avi and Marc-Andre

Pre-workshop learning – Avi and Marc-Andre sent us these resources to view:

The Flipped Classroom, by Aaron Sams (2m15s):
The Flipped Classroom, by Jonathan Bergman (1m59s):
 Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education:
The Flipping Classroom Infographic:
Link <http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/>


Morning Notes
We are here to give our honest feedback – as guinea pigs for future teacher workshops. `We` are a collection of consultants and lead teachers in tech at our centres / board. Mainly from the Adult Education sector but at least one person from the youth sector as well.

Their desired outcome — teachers get better at didactics

Word Swatch activity:
Discussion around difference and hierarchy of illustrate – show – explain

and…if one is done maladroitment … what is the impact?

Idea given by Marc-Andre that consulting could be flipped, too.

Asking us to watch videos and to create a rubric re: communication and concept (form and content) about these videos.

1 – form — hard to hear, whiteboard teaching about English concept … dry. Video equivalent of pedantic drivel. Long winded explanation. Even more painful on video than in real life.

2 – brought about convo around being cognizant of not making boring videos for students to watch at home
“no amount of rewinding can make up for weak pedagogy“ – Marc-Andre

talking about how teachers may need to go through the process of making `bad` videos in order to realize what is needed. Il faut trouver la bonne balance entre laisser les apprenants suivre leur processus et de jumping in and guiding them towards what works best. –> Facilitation – the dance between what people want and where we/they/their teaching practice needs to go (like in recent conversation around change models on HSI net…I may write more about this in another post)

3 – Conversation around what is a good and bad video = revealed that it is somewhat subjective. And sometimes our judgment of a video is coming from where we are at and not necessarily where a learner is at.

A big criticism of some of the videos (in particular the Kahn video) is that there is no reason for watching the video given. There is no context, no `why`. —> Creating the why, so very important in all learning situations, especially for adults? perhaps…

Importance of being cognizant of audience – and the why they are watching this. I see that this is no big difference between this and good teaching in general….

Conversation around teachers finding time to create presentations like this

idea of judgment came up…Flipping the classroom in more ways than one

If you are offering the idea to flip the classroom you have to be ready to receive constructive criticism
— fear for teachers? – when making video, we are more open to criticism and judgment. We can no longer close our doors and feel “safe“, in a sense.

Again – no matter the delivery, love of your students and of your subject shines through

(Paul offers – Barry Bennett (beyond Monet) has videos of good / bad teaching.)

Afternoon Notes
Looking at criteria for a `good` video

Our first task:

First capsule – Audio Only (why? forces us to focus on explanation without relying on visual)

—> Explain how to determine the tip for a meal at a restaurant

Here is mine – I organized my ideas with popplet , a mind-mapping program that Avi showed us.
how to leave a tip

And then I started to talk and realized I needed a script, so wrote a script, then recorded it with audacity
And THEN, when I thought it was all done I found out that after I left the room to start working on my little mp3 the question was CHANGED. So my audio didn`t really answer the task per se but it does go into the idea of how to explain a concept. I used narrative, story-telling as my starting point. Others used role-play, others were more didactic.

Looking forward to tomorrow! Well, now it is today, so looking forward to later today when we continue :)