Discussion on Instructional Media

These are my postings in the PIDP 3240 Discussion on Instructional Media

Re: Chalkboard. Is it still an option? – Thursday, 24 April 2014, 12:30 PM
Thanks for bring this up Philip. Sometimes in our rush to use the latest gadget we forget that the old ways sometimes work best. Here is a paper that describes how they went from using PowerPoint to using chalk-and-talk to teach the Signals and Systems at the Griffith School of Engineering. In their assessment of the study “many students identified the advantages of ‘chalk-and-talk’ lectures over PowerPoint-based lectures”.
One thing that I have learned from the PIDP program is to define my learning objectives for my students and then decide what is the best method to achieve the desired results. In the study of the engineering students it was found that:
“the desired objective is for students to gain a solid and deep understanding of the content. This paper aims to show that presenting to students in a way that highlights the step-by-step process in deriving equations or solving problems is central to achieving this.”
So as we look to all the new tools and technologies that we have available we still have to think of our students, what they have to learn and what is the best method for us to help them learn it.
So, S. (2012). Refined’chalk-and-talk’of lecture content: Teaching signals and systems at the Griffith school of engineering. In Profession of Engineering Education: Advancing Teaching, Research and Careers: 23rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education 2012, The (p. 1087). Engineers Australia.

Re: eTextbook – Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:58 AM
This is such a good point Warren. I was amazed at the cost of technical textbooks, as an example here is a welding textbook, Modern Welding Technology 6th Edition, available on Amazon for $170. Needless to say I didn’t find the price of the textbook for the 3240 course pricey at the VCC bookstore.
Another advantage I see for etextbooks in the trades is that technology is changing so rapidly, notice we are on the 6th edition of this particular book, that etextbooks would let us rapidly update material without having to print a whole new book.
Another thing we have to consider is the environmental impact of printing all those new books just because of a few new changes, all the trees being cut, energy expended, toxins from the inks and chemicals used in their production.
As someone who came late in life to digital technology I prefer a printed paper book. But my students have grown up using digital devices and are glued to their smart phones so they would have no problems using etextbooks.
For the trades it means we could incorporate video demonstrations into the text books to accommodate the visual learners amongst our students. Also in this age of a global network of content available on any subject matter isn’t the concept of a textbook, a single source of knowledge and expertise on the subject, obsolete?
As for quick referencing, tablet technology is rapidly evolving and I am sure there is probably an app for that.

Re: youtube is great  – Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 9:45 AM
As someone in the trades I find that youtube is an incredible resource because I can usually find a video that demonstrates any competency I want to teach my students. Also when I am designing my lesson plan I try to imagine how I can produce it as a series of podcast videos on youtube. This makes me structure my lessons into shorter, self contained units that build on one another.

Re: Using the Last Class effectively – Tuesday, 22 April 2014, 11:54 AM

 I like the idea of using the last class to engage with the students to assess if the course has met the performance objectives outlined at the beginning of the course.  Here is an exercise that ties the last class to the first class:

” As an example, in our courses it is common practice on the first day to ask students to write out their own expectations and objectives for the course on index cards. The cards are then mixed up, and each student is asked to read one card (not his or her own) either to the entire class (if there are fewer than 40 students) or to each other in groups of five. This activity provides the opportunity to compare their course objectives and expectations to our own, to note and reflect upon similarities and differences. The cards are gathered and saved for a review exercise during the last class.”


As I learn more about teaching in the PIDP program I am starting to learn the power of the performance objectives and how instruction has to be centred on achieving them.  Using the last class to assess whether we have met our objectives or not allows us to critique the courses we are teaching an

Future Tense – Thursday, 17 April 2014, 11:00 AM

 This is a partnership between Slate.com, the New America Foundation and Arizona State University that describes itself as “The citizen’s guide to the future”.  On Wednesday, April 30 they are organizing an event “Hacking the University: Will Tech Fix Higher Education?”  You can join the conversation online using #hackhighered and by following @FutureTenseNow.

Future Tense also has a blog hosted by Slate.com that has a variety of articles on the world wide use of technology.  They also publish in-depth articles.  Paula Krebs, a dean at a small regional university in Massachusetts, writes about the use of technology at smaller state universities and how technology can be used in liberal arts programs to enhance the job skills of graduates.  As she writes:

“We who educate the majority of college students in this country need to provide the skills with technology that allow students to see its place at the intersection of the culture and the economy.”

I like the idea that our use of technology in the classroom has to mirror its social and economic uses in order to be relevant both for our students and to prepare them for life after graduation.

I look forward to learn more information from Future Tense that I can incorporate into my instructional practice.

Re: Why Consider e-Appprentice? – Wednesday, 16 April 2014, 11:11 AM
Thanks for posting this Daniel. This seems to be the future of apprenticeship training. Here is a report by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum on “The Impact of Technology On Apprenticeship Training in Canada”. Where I work at Vancouver Shipyards we are undergoing a $200 million expansion with lots of that invested in new technologies that workers will have to be trained to use. Younger workers will have to be more computer savvy as automation will play a bigger role in the shipbuilding industry.

Re: LinkedIn – Tuesday, 15 April 2014, 11:30 AM

 I have a LinkedIn account that I used when I was involved in alternative media production.  I was trying to set up a new account now that reflects my new career as an instructor but am finding it problematic.  Any suggestions?

Re: Schoology, the Facebook for Instructors. – Tuesday, 15 April 2014, 11:13 AM

 Thanks for sharing this information Nicolette it looks like something I might be able to use for the courses that I am developing.  I like the simple interface as you don’t have to learn a new system as it sticks to the format that I am already familiar with on Facebook.

Re: Video Games and Education – Tuesday, 15 April 2014, 11:34 AM

 I don’t know if this is pertinent to video games but the Operating Engineers Training Institute in Ontario is using simulators in order to train people how to become equipment operators.


Re: Why Blog? – Friday, 11 April 2014, 8:08 AM

 In reading about blogs one thing that is repeated over and over again is how blogs are the digital equivalent of a journal or a diary.  Over the course of history journals and diaries were used by people to not only record the events in their lives but more importantly they were used to record and express their feelings and emotions.  They acted as an important release, a place where people could blow of steam and let go of their feelings and frustrations.  It gives us a good insight into people’s thought processes.

By encouraging students to blog about what they are learning and how they feel about their learning it would give the instructors a good way of assessing student engagement and getting feedback on the course material and their instructional strategy.  If students are having problems in class but are too intimidated or too timid to ask for help in class it would allow them to let the instructor know how they are feeling so the instructor could offer help or further guidance.

I feel that instructors using blogs in their classes should encourage students to write about not only their thoughts but also their feelings.  This would provide the instructor with valuable feedback that they could use to further student learning.  Here is some more information regarding the use of blogs in classrooms.

Re: Is your podcast good enough? – Wednesday, 2 April 2014, 10:40 AM

 I have created a podcast before for the NFB (check episode 101) using Audacity a free, open source application that allows you to convert, import and edit various audio tracks.  It’s multi-track format allows you to mix your audio so you can put music into the background or sound effects or whatever your imagination can come up with.  I must warn people that there is a bit of a learning curve involved but you can create professional quality audio podcasts.

I am not sure if this will work on iPhones but you can use your phone to record and then import the audio file and edit it using Audacity.

OERu – Friday, 28 March 2014, 12:39 PM

Most of us have heard of MOOC (massive online open courses) that are offered on the internet using closed licensed material.  Recently however a newer service was launched at Thompson Rivers University.

OERu is an independent, not-for-profit network that offers free online university courses for students worldwide using open educational resources and is coordinated by the Open Education Resources Foundation headquartered in New Zealand.  Using open source software this is a free service although students have the option to pay a fee to have their work assessed for academic credit and have these credits recognized by the partner institutions.
OERu builds on the UNESCO 2012 Paris OER Declaration which encourages the release of teaching materials funded with public money under open licenses.

OERu is very involved in western Canada partnering with Athabasca University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University as well as Thompson Rivers University.

Re: Social Media for Learning – Friday, 28 March 2014, 12:14 PM

Last night while discussing the use of cell phones in class with two recent college graduates I mentioned how in Media Enhanced Learning we were trying to integrate digital technology in our classrooms and build on student’s use of cell phone technology. This led to the comment that this would only increase inequality in learning opportunities as many families have a hard enough time affording school supplies let alone iPads, smart phones and other digital devices.

This is an important discussion as there is a general consensus that inequality is increasing around the world and that it poses a threat to our future. 1 The question is what causes inequality and can we correct this through our educational system.

One school of thought is that inequality is caused when technological advance vaults ahead of educational change. This skills biased technological change (SBTC) pays a premium for workers with the required skills and since the rate of college educated workers has decreased from 3.8% from 1960 to 1980 to 2% from 1980 to 2005 this accounts for their increased wage premiums 2 Others argue that inequality is caused by government policies that favour the wealthy 3, 4

As technology becomes an increasingly important part of the educational system I wonder if it will lessen equality or increase it. In the ‘flipped classroom’ students will need to have access to digital media at home in order to compete in class. 41% of teachers stated that learning gaps between students were, according to their observations, being accentuated by disparities in access to digital tools. 5

As educators we should be aware of this possibility an design our courses so that our use of technology enhances our students learning but not disadvantage students and create an unequal playing field in our classrooms. The way I see doing this is assessing our students access to and plan our courses accordingly.

Re: Google Glasses – Wednesday, 19 March 2014, 9:00 PM

I guess I am dating myself that in my youth it was the transistor that was the technological rage and actually made the digital age possible. No more fragile, bulky, vacuum tubes producing immense amounts of heat that had to be disappated. Devices could be downsized where you could carry a battery powered radio around in one hand.

Television was entering every home and new form of mass media was remaking our society. Mind you computers were huge and there were relatively few of them in the world back then.

Derek Bok in “The Politics of Happiness” states that happiness in North America peaked in the 1950’s and that neither the rise in material goods and advances in technology have really made us any happier. One thing that disconcerts me about our modern technology such as cell phones and Google Glass is that is tends to disconnect us from our immediate environment. Studies have shown that for most people “happiness is greater in natural environments” (MacKerron, G., & Mourato, S. 2013 p.13). I don’t see that viewing a natural environment through digital technology would bring the same sense of happiness.

At the risk of sounding like a grouchy old technophobe I will end my post here but it makes me wonder what the purpose of learning is if it doesn’t increase our personal satisfaction and happiness.

MacKerron, G., & Mourato, S. (2013). Happiness is greater in natural environments. Global environmental change.

Facebook and Higher Education – Wednesday, 19 March 2014, 7:49 PM

Social networking sites have become a major part of young people’s lives. Many professors are angered when students will check their Facebook feeds while attending class while others are embracing the technology and incorporating it into their teaching. They posit that the interactive nature of Facebook allows students to collaborate and share information. While many studies have done on the effectiveness of using Facebook in education, the conclusions vary.

In his 2009 paper Neil Selwyn found that students use Facebook to:

1) recounting and reflecting on the university experience
(2) exchange of practical information
(3) exchange of academic information
(4) displays of supplication and/or disengagement
(5) ‘banter’ (i.e. exchanges of humour and nonsense) (Selwyn, N. 2009. p.161)

He found that students saw Facebook as being part of ‘their’ internet and resented its appropriation by the hierarchal university and suggested that his data showed that Facebook as a “backstage space” that augmented their university education.

One way that Facebook has found to be effective is when it uses Facebook pages to form online study groups. An example of this is the School of Instructor Education Facebook page allows students to share information that they have found on the internet. This allows students to access a portal that has much relevant information to their studies rather than tedious searches through a search engine.

Dr. Nisha Malhotra at the University of British Columbia uses Facebook groups to answer student questions, post relevant articles and engender online discussions. Dr Leah Donlan in her 2012 paper concludes that students are happy using Facebook for academic purposes when it is on their terms as they wish to keep their private and academic lives separate. This suggests to me that any teacher that wishes to use Facebook in their courses might want to have the students collaborate in designing and defining the Facebook group and how it is to be used.

The use of Facebook and other social media in a formal institutional environment is still in its infancy and much study still needs to be done to assess their effectiveness. Searching the anecdotal information available one finds many successes and failures, but we have to realize that Facebook is a vital part of student’s lives and it is where they spend much of their time. As Susan Erdman writes “Perhaps the bruising immediacy and startling intimacy of Facebook will indeed offer a way out of the ritualized arena often found in traditional learning environments.”

Donlan, L. (2012). Exploring the views of students on the use of Facebook in university teaching and learning. Journal of Further and Higher Education, (ahead-of-print), 1-17.

Erdmann, S. (2013). Facebook Goes to College; Recent Research on Educational Uses of Social Networks. Nordic Journal of Modern Language Methodology, 2(1).

Selwyn, Neil. “Faceworking: exploring students’ education‐related use of Facebook.” Learning, Media and Technology 34.2 (2009): 157-174.

Selwyn, N. (2012). Social media in higher education. The Europa World of Learning 2012.

Education, Technology & Business – Monday, 24 March 2014, 12:11 PM

Education, Technology & Business is a blog managed by Scott Moore an associate professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan since 1993.  I would like to share his posting on “Digital and multimedia alternatives to traditional written reports”.  This posting lists a number of tools that he uses for student reports as an alternative to the traditional written paper.

As we move into the future it will become ever more important to use new tools in our teaching in order to engage our students.

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