Irregular Vowel Movements

A distance education teacher making her way in the microcosm of Barrhead.


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I had all these great ideas in my notes that I meant to say yesterday, and I need to put them somewhere so I don’t forget them. I have a habit of making notes for the sake of process and cognition, meaning I’ll write pages and pages of stuff that I will never look at more than twice. In any event:

1. Symbaloo— I have mentioned this in the past as a great tool for teachers in an online learning environment, simply for the possibilities of an ease in workflow, and an enhancement of creativity. The GUI aspect of it is similar to an iPad, and personally, I make hundreds of bookmarks in Mozilla that I never return to, simply because it’s not all immediately in front of me visually. I doubted Symbaloo at first, but it’s a very work-friendly and much more efficient place for all of these things. The concept that I like about it is that it makes itself so readily useful that there is no question that I wouldn’t return to it, and that level of engagement alone is valuable, especially in terms of our students.

The opportunities it presents to students are wonderful. In keeping with UDL, as an online teacher, I could hypothetically make a custom webmix for a student with custom tools tailored to what they need in various subjects. They could have a tab for each subject, and a common tab with applications that would be relevant to all. If they work on online projects, they now could have an entry point that is easy to organize and recollect when it comes to returning to the project. The console itself in terms of student workflow is pretty smart. The links to enclose are extremely customizable, and while there is a lot of talk about what CISCO will do for us, this is a small-scale approach to giving access to a diverse and yet very specific set of learning aids for students on an individual level, subject level, and beyond.

And speaking of beyond, there is nothing saying we could not extend the same opportunities of this interface and the resources we ourselves are constantly finding to our team teachers. Some of you have seen already that this is a readily shareable application. I really like the idea that we could just give 100 tools to team teachers that would help them grow on their own terms in areas they intend to go with their own teaching goals.

Overall, as far as personalized learning goes, this is a tremendous application.

Other ideas not Symbaloo-related:

Forming packages of tools for engagement for Team Teachers (okay, somewhat related) that include not only tools, but strategies and instructions accompanying these tools. As well, the delivery of this should be flexible to accommodate the time (limited) that team teachers have at their disposal. I like the idea that a teacher could load up a preview of a course as an audio file on their iPod or phone– they could learn about the features of a course as they go for their morning jog (because that’s what all classroom teachers do, right? They jog? Kidding…).  The delivery needs to suit their context, and we should have more control over that.There’s something to be said about UDL as we communicate with our peers about learning, and the more access points in delivery we provide, the better.

Other ideas I had were to utilize social media within ADLC more effectively. The way that social media has worked for us so far seems to be kind of a sprawling attempt. The possibility that we could be a more tightly knit team through social media exists, and I think I’d like to see more people on board with that. What I was going to bring up in my presentation (and forgot), was even just the idea of Twitter could go a long way in ADLC, both in terms of staff communication and engagement, and even student communication and engagement.

As an aside– the way that the world is going (this ties into “Fun Theory“) is that as “tech” as things get, the human element never disappears. In fact, the human element is getting a lot more valuable. Sincerity, empathy and connection are valuable, and not just from a marketing standpoint, but from a global citizen standpoint.

That’s what Twitter has going for it. All of a sudden, I could talk to a celebrity if I wanted to (Douglas Coupland, omg, he’s so dreamy). The bottom line to Twitter too, is the follow-up to the connections we make. It’s not all static and one way– it’s a two way connection. I reached out, and Douglas Coupland said, “you’re awesome. Thanks.” On the basis that I could do this with a novel-writing superhero, we can obviously do this with anyone, especially our students. A concern that comes up immediately with some people using Twitter is the tracking ability of the thing though. Twitter literally stops for no man– it is a constantly flowing river of information and stuff. But, individually, you can jostle your account settings to collect follow-up from certain followers, and you can also set it up so you are given an email for every contact directed to yourself personally (every reply, every retweet, etc.).

Another idea: The social collaboration in students at ADLC is something that is lacking. ADLC kids can collaborate at this point through VC, teacher arranged synchronous sessions, discussion forums and blog postings. Rarely can they collaborate as a “class” or even as small subject specific groups. Wiggio is a possible approach to that, and it could be a teacher managed thing, or even a student managed thing. The bottom line however, is that one outstanding quality of a 21st Century learner is based on collaboration, and this is something I think we need to figure out in a more concise and workable way. That idea of a DL learner being “isolated” is still a pervasive thought of many, and that should be an outdated concept by now.

I think that’s all for now…. I still feel like crap about my interview, but at least these ideas will stop being on re-run in my head, lol.


Author: Kyla Coulman

English teacher at ADLC.

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