Ontario Extend mOOC – Module 2

Open book with text "a little space to be creative"

I’m currently participating in the eCampus Ontario Extend mOOC focused on technology enabled learning.  As part of this medium sized Open Online Course (mOOC) it was suggested that participants keep an ongoing set of notes to document and organize their thoughts about the experience.  As a way to document my experience I’m going to be keeping informal blog notes that reflect on what I’m learning and the activities I’m engaging in via the mOOC.

Module 2 of the mOOC is called “Technologist” and is focused on digital literacy and using design-thinking to approach technology.   I’ll be working through this module’s activities this week and will be sharing my work below as I complete it:

What is your definition of digital literacies for teaching?
I’m a fan of the American Library Association’s digital-literacy task force definition, which notes: “Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” For me, digital literacy is directly connected to information literacy and the ability to locate, parse, and analyze information that is found online. Digital literacy also brings together a number of interconnected skills – it brings together the use of digital texts, digital tools, computer literacy, problem solving, and design.

Creating and using media and information that is designed for an online audience is fundamentally different than print resource use and creation. It is also ongoing and continuous. Digital technologies are constantly evolving and digital literacy is an ongoing process that requires constant reevaluation, engagement with new content and mediums, and a willingness to ask questions about how things work.

Empathy activity – create an empathy map
This activity asked asks “you to empathize with your user—your learner—to identify a challenge that could be solved through the purposeful use of technology in your curriculum.”  This is the first time I’ve made an empathy map – which is a visual representation of learner feedback. The map documents what learners “think, feel, say, do, see, and hear” and captures what learners are liking about a course or what they might be struggling with.

I decided to create an empathy map around some of the professional development programming I offer relating to Residential Schools.  This is programming I’ve helped run for the past eight years and we are constantly looking for new ways to engage learners, incorporate patron feedback, and deliver more meaningful programming.  My map highlights some of the ongoing challenges with our delivery methods — eg. when you’re taking a group of learners outside to show them where a building used to be, how can you make that more engaging? This activity also made me realize how important it is to evaluate why learners are participating in this program and what knowledge are they bringing into the session.  That prior knowledge can greatly impact how they understand the history of Residential Schools and the ongoing impacts of colonialism.

Empathy map drawing

Define a learner challenge and contribute your challenge, or potential solutions to the group Padlet
I decided to focus on one of the common challenges that plaque humanities faculty — students haven’t done the readings and discussion suffers as a result. I listed this challenge on the group Padlet and suggested using hypothes.is as a way to have students annotate and critically engage with readings as a group.  Ever since Shawn Graham wrote a couple of Active History posts describing his use of hypothes.is I’ve been thinking about how it might be integrated into one of my classes, particularly when we’re trying to work through some of the more dense challenging archival theory. I think having a group work through an article together, with an emphasis on asking questions and developing critical reading skills could work well with hypothes.is.

Screenshot of Padlet page, focused on student challenge not reading

I’m really interested to see what the Padlet looks like once more people have contributed. I’ve used Padlet a couple of times before, and it is great for mindmapping, collaboration, and connecting ideas visually.

Evaluate your Tool using the SECTIONS Model, refine your ideas about your planned technology use, and add you ideas into theLearner Challenge Bank Padlet
I evaluated Hypothes.is using both the SECTIONS Model and the Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation , personally I found the Rubric easier to use. I also really appreciated the feedback that came out of the discussion forums around the use of Hypothes.is in the classroom. Namely that there needs to be structure built into the annotation – so perhaps having a guided reading hand out as part of the annotation process.  It was also suggested that a group activity might develop around summarizing the annotations – I think this is a really good idea that could easily form an in-class activity and create a platform for in-class discussions.

Write a reflective blog post or discussion board post that includes an explanation of the context and reasons why you choose to use a technology-enabled solution for your learning challenge.
I decided to prototype an activity that had students engage in critical reading using hypothes.is. The idea behind this integration was focused on the development of critical reading skills, fostering discussion, and encouraging in-depth engagement with a text. It was also driven the chronic need to find ways to get students to do the reading in theory based courses.

I opted to create a visual representation of my planned implementation (yay for mind maps). The main thing this activity reinforced was how much prep has to go into preparing a class to use any digital tool – simply saying ‘use this tool for reading and making notes’ wouldn’t be received well. My implementation plan walks though all the prep as well as the classroom activities that this tool would directly feed into.  think there is a lot of possibility for this tool to work in my classroom spaces, but I think this activity really drove home the need to be very intentional about how I engage learners with technology and understand the reasoning behind that engagement.

mind map of hypothes.is use

Featured Image Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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