As distance learning pushes on, I keep revising and refining my list of tools. Because "tools" in many ways, represent our primary means of interacting with our students, I feel a professional obligation to always share. I'm sure this list will change in like 2 freaking days, but whatever...I'll share again :) l
Over the past decade I have been vocal about my struggle with viewing the "Flipped Classroom" as an innovative strategy.
As an educator who began his exploration of educational technology experimenting with various forms of video instruction in 2006, and who wrote his dissertation on the technique and the associated cognitive implications, my relationship with the community, tools, and discussion around leveraging video as lecture device is a strong yet dissonant one.
Over the years, as my own reflective practice has led me down a path of student inquiry, placing less emphasis one WHERE lecture happens (in class vs. video) and focusing intently on WHEN lecture occurs in the context learning cycle, my interest in the flipped classroom discussion technology began to slowly fade away.
The "Explore-Flip-Apply" model of merging Flipped classroom strategies with inquiry is a solid representation of my need to hang onto the movement as I ventured away in search of more impactful, and in my mind, more important/essential methods of teaching.
This is all a complex way of saying that, in the current climate of 100% distance learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic, I am so thankful for my the skills I developed in creating video screencast for my students during my time spent obsessing over the ins and outs of flipped instruction.
Introducing a topic and sparking student curiosity via a Zoom check in, sending them off to watch a video I have created, then gathering them back together via Zoom to reflect, has proved to be an essential skill that has made this time much less painful.
Breaking up Zoom, and creating asynchronous experiences to view a lecture in the middle of a class period is working very well, and because the practice used to be the center of my vocational existence, I have easily been able to brush off my old skills, and enjoy the act of creating asynchronous video moment for my students once again.
A simple post, but one that my gut felt was worth sharing. The below response from a student during a self reflection inspired this post.
Although difficult beyond belief, this time of distance learning/online teaching has inspired me to do a better job at sharing and curating my resources for fellow teachers. To that end, click here for a new page I created where I will be cataloging all my work and resources during this time of 100% distance learning. I hope you find it useful.
While PhET and cK-12 HTML5 simulations have proved to be essential in facilitating 100% distance learning in my chemistry and biology classes, creating a meaningful distance learning system for my robotics elective course was much more difficult to dream up.
First, although the new VEX VR coding interface provides a fabulous coding/simulation environment for teaching robotics in a distance format, the thought of not doing hands on robotics during this time, resorting only to online simulations does not sit well with me.
Because there are 20 students in my class, and we only have 10 sets of the VEX V5 system used in our traditional face-to-face course, current quarantine rules do not allow students to work in groups, and thus, creating take home kits composed of our pre-existing materials was not a possibility.
In search of a cost affordable option that could be easily packaged and delivered to student homes, contained the ability to learn skills in coding beyond drag and drop interfaces, and could be programmed on a myriad of different devices, I stumbled across Edison, and its Python (EdPy) coding interface.
Within a few days of discovering Edison I was able to secure enough funds to purchase one Edison and one add-on kit for each student. I am currently about to embark on Week 4 of the program, and although I haven't once seen students in person, they have interacted with their Edison Robot and the EdPy coding interface every day!
There have been no coding hiccups, uploading of code issues, or the many different technical malfunctions that are traditionally associated with learning a new robotic system. Distance learning in robotics, once the subject I feared the most teaching remotely, is not my favorite class to implement thanks to Edison!
Click here to scroll through the curriculum that I am currently implementing (scroll down through the document to see all lesson plans leveraging the Edison robot).
Below are links to examples of public Padlet boards used to house student products for each challenge. Check them them out and view student video products for a more observable/tangible idea of how Edison has been transforming my distance robotics class.
Although I am very much looking forward to jumping back into our face-to-face VEX V5 curriculum in the coming months (fingers crossed), Edison has provided added so much value to a class that I feared would struggle the most in the distance learning format.
I wrote daily about my experience during triage distance learning last spring here. My system in the fall was heavily dependent on Google Forms as the primary learning interface.
This year I have significantly simplified the system to involve weekly Google Doc "Notebooks" templates pushed out to students each Sunday. In this revised system, Google Doc responses and public products posted using Padlet (click here for an example in my Robotics class), provide the primary interfaces for learning and assessment.
Material is batched weekly as I do not know when we will be returning to school, thus a weekly gives me flexibility in planning a system that honors our content but is designed for the online learning structure.
I use this hack to make my templates.
Below are links to examples of "Weekly Notebooks" for my three classes following this distance learning schedule. I am hopeful that sharing an "under the hood" view to my materials and planning process will spark ideas in your own process, and hopeful create opportunities for collaboration and growth for me!