Friday, 7 August 2015

The Fruit of ETEC 510

Introducing the ETPD Resource: Collaborative Technology Tools

While the regular blogging I had hoped might occur for the duration of my third UBC MET course did not manifest, at the conclusion of ETEC 510 "Design of Technology-Supported Learning Environments" this month, my colleagues and I created some very useful online learning spaces that are well worth documenting.  Check out the extensive Design Wiki we were able to contribute to by clicking their image below and look for a future post here providing a curated list of the sites created by the other team's in my cohort.

My team consisted of myself, Lexi Nichols, and Briar Jamieson.  We initially began collaborating over a shared Google document devoted to our course readings, and our partnership for this final design project grew naturally from this experience.  The topic of technology-supported collaboration was well-suited to our own situation, as the three of us hailed from three different provinces and timezones and were it not for the affordances of digital technology, would never have been able to accomplish the work we did.

Our resource, Collaborative Technology Tools, is an online learning experience designed for teachers, in some specifics for middle school, but easily scaled for K-12 and Higher Ed.  Our site targets the need for increased exposure to/experience with using online edTech tools for student collaboration, both within the four walls (metaphorically speaking, if you teach in an open-concept school like I do) of their specific classroom and then deliberately beyond.

We each selected a particular edTech tool and developed a complete module of study for teachers who may not have heard of using this tool in their classroom and/or who are interested in integrating it but want to see some examples and ideas of what other teachers are already doing.  We then combined these three units of study into one learning site, stringing them together with introductory research and information on the value of collaborative learning as a 21st Century skill, and closing with additional cross-curricular examples and resources for those wishing to dig even deeper.  An acknowledgement of the need for digital technology standards, such as those provided by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), provided support and guidance for the direction of our design.  As a caveat to our preference for open-source resources, we ensured the licensing of the Curriculum Guide that accompanies the online component was as an OER (Open Educational Resource) free to reuse, remix, and redistribute.

The three tools we chose to showcase were Skype in the Classroom (myself), Kidblog (Lexi), and VoiceThread (Briar).  As you will discover if you choose to engage in our learning experience, these three online tools offer distinct, yet similar, capabilities as digital collaboration tools.  All of them have the potential to open your classroom to the world in a variety of ways, yet each tool caters to a slightly different learning style and affords a variety of synchronous or asynchronous collaboration options.

We also wished to model the value of collaborative learning as professionals by blending the units within an environment deliberately designed to encourage the building of communities of practice for those choosing to learn with us.  Expanding PLNs was encouraged in a number of ways, through the embedding of relevant hashtags from the active and useful Twitter communities, by the creation of a series of inter-activities which provide deeper learning and contextualization to the ideas presented, and by including a forum for colleagues to share that learning, as well as tips and questions, with us and with each other.

It is our hope that you will explore this resource, integrate these tools into your classes, and connect with us when you do!

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