Lauren Bisset

Ed. etc.

Category: Communication

Video Conferencing/Multi-Access Learning

man standing in front of people sitting beside table with laptop computers

Should we allow flexibility in modality accessibility? What are the implications within a classroom context? How is this a human rights and a social justice issue? These are all questions that we discussed in EdTech on Friday.

I think that sometimes, as teachers, we can get locked into our own preferences and biases. The binary that exists in high school and most universities is courses are either taught face-to-face, or online. In online learning, there is not usually a set time and dates for the class and the professor to meet online, even though the resources to have “face-to-face” learning online very much exist, and are actually becoming more accessible and affordable. Students have to self-regulate, deciding what times they are going to go online to do coursework, so their self-accountability is huge.

Another method includes blended learning: a mix of face-to-face time and online learning. There are benefits to this method, but the learning is not increased in this scenario. It does not meet mobility needs.

Multi-access learning is seemingly the best solution. It includes video-conferencing, face-to-face, and online learning. It is inclusive rather than exclusive because everyone’s preferred method is addressed.

There are so many different needs that learners have, including many different physical and mental health needs that some learning styles obstruct. Using multi-access learning can help learners that are normally barred from traditional classroom settings learn like the rest of their community.

Minecraft in the Classroom: EdTech Presentation

Yesterday in class we had the privilege of having a Grade 7 teacher from Colquitz Middle School and some of her former students come in to our EdTech class to teach us about the advantages of Minecraft in the classroom and how to use it!

As I have been exploring Minecraft in education for my EdTech inquiry project, this class was very valuable for me. The teacher explained how much success she had found ever since she incorporated Minecraft in her classroom and shared so many different ways to use it.

The students were so knowledgable about Minecraft, and we had so much fun learning from them, flipped-classroom style. The room was so loud as all of us struggled to figure out the game and our “teachers” running around to help us as much as they could. They were absolutely the experts in that room yesterday, and they seemed to feel so empowered by having the knowledge and the opportunity to share it. One of my classmates joked to me that they were more comfortable and confident up in front of a class than we were as pre-service teachers, but it was actually true. The experience definitely brought home the message that learning from my students happens more often than I may have previously thought and how valuable that can be to a classroom.

Here is a screenshot of a castle one of my classmates made in the minutes it took me to figure out how to place a block, showing me how much I still have to learn in the world of Minecraft.

EdCamp: Bottom-Up Learning

Today in EdTech we had a mini edcamp/unconference. We were able to write down on post-its some topics we felt we wanted to talk to or to learn about in a small group setting, then we narrowed it down to three main mini conferences that we could choose to attend.

man standing in front of group of men

I chose to join a group that wanted to talk about our favourite teachers and why they were our favourites. I liked that I was able to choose the topic I was most interested in instead of sitting in on something that I wasn’t as engaged with. We had a great conversation, everyone was engaged and contributed a lot because we were talking about something we were passionate about. The more casual, small group, conversational setting I think really lends itself to people feeling more comfortable to share their opinions and experiences. We were able to hear each others perspectives and have deeper debates than sometimes is possible in a lecture setting.

Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry

This Friday, I had the opportunity to explore the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. Jeff Hopkins, the founder of the school took the time to talk to us and explain the concept of the school and how it looks on a day to day basis.

Up until this visit, I understood what inquiry-based learning was but wasn’t completely convinced of how it could be more beneficial to learners than any other method of instruction or learning. Jeff explained how the learning at PSII is completely individual: the students decide what they are interested in learning and have the agency to pace this learning however they would like. Using monitoring services such as Trello, the teachers are able to keep track of each students inquiries very easily. Students who wish to work on one subject all day are able to do so at PSII, instead of being interrupted by bells and refocused into different subjects in 60-minute blocks. There are teachers constantly circulating, so the students are able to get help when they need it.

One aspect I was surprised by was the amount of activity and conversation among the students when I walked in. I expected almost a silent work environment, with each student staring at a screen. Part of the reason why I was hesitant about the school’s philosophy was that I thought students were missing out on this social aspect. However, I was glad to see that this was not the case. Although the students learning is individualized, they are not sequestered and alone in their learning environment. There are opportunities around the school for students that would like to work alone silently, but the main area of the school looked like a lively group of kids working and socializing together. Jeff also explained to us that they strive to facilitate events and activities that involve the whole school, such as group hikes, in order to further establish their school community.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by Jeff Hopkins presentation. He has such a passion for allowing learners to reach their fullest potential, and I commend him for the amazing job he has done setting up PSII. I encourage everyone to explore PSII‘s philosophy and to look into the benefits of inquiry-based learning.

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