Wednesday, 28 September 2016

PIDP 3260 - Feedback Strategies Digital Project

I've done the Feedback Strategies Digital Project on the One Minute Paper.

It's a neat info-graphic describing it in short but sweet, concise detail.

Here's the link:

PIDP 3260 - Reflection on my PIDP Courses

I've taken all of the PIDP courses now, just three of them within the last month (including this course, 3260!).

With each course has come a new learning experience, in a different learning environment. There have been challenges, both mental and physical, and I'm proud to say I'm ready to face the Capstone project.

Here is a brief summary of what I've learned, what's changed in my thinking, and how I will change my practice going forward for each course:

PIDP 3100: Foundations of Adult Education

  • I was introduced to the PID program in this course. I learned how prevalent online and distance learning is become
  • I learned what I can do to help people become a lifelong learner, through teaching computer literacy
  • I can help others adapt to the ongoing and ever-evolving technology trends in society, and to help them understand the 'meat and potatoes' so that they can continue to function without feeling lost or left behind
  • This course made me feel that I should introduce supplementary online portions to my course, to help facilitate students' learning

PIDP 3210: Curriculum Development

  • I learned through taking this class that designing a Curriculum is like designing other things I've learned in school. It's complex, has many more variables than I ever thought, and must be broken down to its roots.
  • After breaking down the curriculum and everything I want a learner to understand, I had to re-construct it with purpose and intent
  • This has affected how I think about students in their learning, and how much they need to learn per course, while not cutting out too much or trying to teach too much. There is time needed for learning, and a reason to the structure of each course syllabus.
  • I will make an attractive and easy-to-understand course outline that communicates directly what we'd learn in the course. Also, there will be emphasis on why my course will help students be directly better at what they may not already know.

PIDP 3220: Delivery of Instruction

  • This was one of the courses I just finished taking on Vancouver Island at Camosun College. It was an incredible experience as 7 of us got together in the smallest 'in-class' classroom I've had.
  • The learning was direct, and we taught each other mini-lessons on things that many of us had never tried or experienced before.
  • I got to teach the basics of Wi-Fi, signal interference, and troubleshooting in about 10 minutes. It was really successful, and it made me realize that "Yes, I can do this" in the real world.
  • It's helped me realize that in the future, I will use my experience to set up questions that most people will ask, and have the answer ready. This will help me look a bit more knowledgeable, but also solidifies that they are confident in what they're learning.

PIDP 3230: Evaluation of Learning

  • Many people didn't like this course as much, but I loved it. It taught me how I want to be able to evaluate and assess my students' learning.
  • I learned different ways to assess and evaluate their learning, based on a number of variables. It can be done during the course, during a lesson, during exams, or after the course is over. The most important thing is to maintain communication with students so they're never left in the dark.
  • In the future, I will design my computer literacy classes to assess their skill in-person. From there, I will provide constructive feedback and positive encouragement to help hone and develop their skills, leading up to the next assessments.

PIDP 3240: Media-Enhanced Learning

  • This is another course that I'm just finishing up. While I have a degree in Interactive Technology, this course taught me practical application of technology to the world of adult learning. 
  • I learned that info-graphics don't all have to be created in Illustrator or InDesign anymore, and that web-based programs are widely accessible to create some good-quality visuals.
  • Social Media and media communications tools have power to communicate mass amounts of information, but it's important to be careful when involving anything like this into the hands of a classroom. There are many unforeseen variables that can tarnish an instructor's reputation, or the overall learning dimensions of a classroom
  • As I'm teaching computer literacy, I will be very aware going forward about the technology used in the classroom, and how far I'd be teaching into each branch of technology (including social media).

PIDP 3250: Instructional Strategies

  • In this course, we learned about a variety of instructional strategies to facilitate learning. We learned which strategies were best applied to our own individual brand of teaching. How? We did this through breaking down each strategy to its roots and realizing what made it so effective or ineffective towards our field.
  • I learned that there are many approaches I can take to teaching my computer literacy course. However, it's up to me to decide on what will happen in my classroom to best facilitate learning. There will always be different people in the classroom that learn better through different strategies.
  • I will make sure there are back-up plans to teaching the course for different types of learners; my goal here is to make sure no learner feels left behind or anxious in their learning. I want to help everyone achieve the set of skills I aim to teach.

PIDP 3260: Professional Practice

  • One of the most important things I've learned in this class is that there will inevitably be a time where I'm faced with a moral dilemma of sorts, and I will need time to think it through. There are many variables to each situation, and they must be assessed and thought about.
  • Going forward, there won't be a simple answer to a "can I just have the extra few marks" or "may I have a reference" going into a field. I will need to understand how my input and decisions affect stakeholders everywhere, and that I need to think of myself in these situations as well.
  • I will have to set out some more solid ground rules in my classrooms, and make time for individuals with requests and questions. I'll let them know that I will need time to think things over, as I like to have the best game-plan for each scenario. This way they will be happier knowing I can get them the best information possible and put some effort into each situation.

Well, I hope that sums it up quite well! Up next, a link to my Feedback Strategies Digital Project!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

PIDP 3260 - Intent of Each Lecture + Lifelong Learning

In Brookfield's The Skillful Teacher, he states "When we use any teaching approach, we need to be clear exactly what it's intended to achieve. This clarity should not be apparent just to us, it should also be apparently to students."

One thing I wholeheartedly admired about some of my favourite professors and instructors is their ability to connect the why we were in each class. What we were going to learn that day tied directly to the practical outcome of the class, which in the end was what we signed up to learn. This knowledge or way of thinking was going to make an impact, and we weren't there just filling seats or making attendance. What we were about to learn had a purpose.

I aim to do this with each class I have when I teach computer literacy. The specific skills we learn each class will develop different areas students need for their understanding. Whether it's formatting text in word processing, or learning the consequences of information privacy when creating a social media profile, each session will connect with the outcomes of the course. I want to help my students understand this.

In relation, this type of intent is needed in many situations in life. Many of us need to know that what we're doing is serving a purpose for us. There is always a why behind the why, behind the why. Sometimes it works out that it serves Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and sometimes I just keep asking why.

For example:
Q: "Why am I at work?"
A: "Because I need money"

Q: "Why do I need money?"
A: "Because I need to purchase groceries, pay rent, and support my wife."

Q: "Why do I have to purchase groceries, pay rent, and support my wife?"
A: "Because I need food and shelter to survive, and my wife is everything to me."

My point is, we need to continually be reassured that what we're doing is not pointless, and that it serves purpose or intent.

We need to continually learn as we grow old, because so many things are changing. One main example is technology. New ways of interacting with people, information, and yourself are being thought of all the time. We will need to learn to adapt. There are new objects and materials created, and inspectors to inspect those objects and materials, and inspectors to inspect the inspectors (and so on).

The world is continually creating and shifting, and in turn we must learn to grow with it. We will meet more new people today than many people did just a hundred years ago. Learning their cultures, how to communicate with them, and how to be happy and grow with them is something we'll continue to learn for a long time.

Living a learning mindset will help us foster creativity and innovation, as we expand our minds to connect with more information. As a teacher, it will help me face new challenges, ideate towards innovation and new possibilities, and problem solve in a more creative manner.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

PIDP 3260 - Week 6 - Lecturing Creatively

In chapter 6, Brookfield talks about asking questions before your lecture, and framing the lecture around these questions. This lets comments and suggestions centralize around these questions, thereby guiding the attention of the class. Additionally, this lets the class know that these questions will be addressed through the lecture, and perhaps the class can brainstorm or stem more insight beyond the main points of the lecture.

Forming a lecture around a particular set of questions will be key in teaching computer literacy. I’ve taken some points from the University of Waterloo (UW) Centre For Teaching Excellence, where they summarize a section called Lecturing Effectively. While following guidelines including sub-topics on preparation, lecture notes, engaging students, and more, I can centralize the lecture around questions that may generate a buzz in the class.

An example would be “What is WiFi, and why does it work better in some areas versus others?” Another being “How can you make a professional-looking resume that won’t get tossed aside, in only 30 minutes?” These questions sometimes read like headlines, but it can get students thinking of possibilities, or perhaps peak their interests.

I can aid these questions and structured lesson plans with visual aids as well. From the same Centre For Teaching Excellence website through UW, I have taken notes from their Designing Visual Aids article. This will help reduce clutter and distraction in my visuals, while keeping the learners engaged while we go through lesson plans.

In terms of searching for a video that would supplement these ideas, below is a TED Talk from Osaka in 2012. Garr Reynolds instigates his 'talk' on lectures by engaging everyone right at the start. There's a thought thrown about into the audience, and he does a great job of connecting the audience to the ideas.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

PIDP 3260 - Ethics in Adult Classrooms

I found this article on that talks about Ethics in Adult Classrooms. It essentially summarises the basics of how to be open and positive in the classroom, while understanding that everyone will come from their own background.

For example, it encompasses questions like 'Do I respect everyone I'm teaching?', and 'Have I given enough attention to my own reflection in this practice?' It addresses ethical and moral dilemmas as well.

However, when it comes to teaching computer literacy, is there really a code of ethics? I mean, I'm sure there is when it comes to each individualised educational institution, but what about a personal code of ethics? The educational institution has the code to protect itself and its stakes from liability, but there should be a code for instructors as well.

Personally, I'd aim to be open and tolerant with all my learners. Computer literacy combines psycho-motor skills with a highly cognitive and emotional learning sequence. It stimulates many parts of the mind, which in turn can create anxiety, fear, and unwillingness to learn.

That said, I've yet to see a great example of a code of ethics when it comes to computer literacy as of yet.

PIDP 3260 - Resistance

As someone who went through too many years of undergrad before I saw the piece of paper in my hand called a degree, I can more-than-understand "resistance" in learning. Simon Fraser University had some of the worst (no offense) professors and instructors I've encountered at any educational institution. However, it also had a few of the best.

Brookfield's 2nd edition outlines resistance in chapter 12, and how to understand it. I'll mention the subheadings that Brookfield does, outlining the different types of resistance, and why it may happen. I'll also point out what I think I can do about it, and hope that it does work for the best.

Poor Self-Image as Learners

While many learners may have had poor experiences in the past when it comes to learning, they may have this notion thinking they're not intellectually gifted. When I'm teaching computer literacy, I expect my students to come from varying backgrounds. This means that some may have a lower self-image of themselves when it comes to learning.

This isn't something I encourage, and I intend to show everyone in the first class the basics of how I break down multi-faceted concepts in the classroom. For example, taking a bland document in MS Word and re-arranging it to look nice can be broken down into simple steps. I've done this before and it has had great results.

Fear of the Unknown

This is a common occurrence when it comes to learning computer literacy skills. What if you push a button and the entire computer shuts down? While this is highly unlikely and many operating systems have foolproof methods of preventing this from happening, it's still a common misconception among learners in this field.

From working in technical support, I've witnessed first-hand the fear of not knowing what can happen, or the fear of not knowing what kind of power you might be wielding when sitting at a computer with all the controls at your fingertips. I think I can help shake this misconception by challenging my students to try and tell me what steps they'd need to take to really crash a computer (outside of the Internet, of course). Chances are they won't be able to come up with a way, unless they've seen or done it before.

The Normal Rhythm of Learning

I want my students to realise that this new set of skills doesn't have to come with an uncomfortable feeling of being somewhere new. I want them to explore their skill-set after acquiring it, and let them know that the environment they're in was set up for just that. For example, launching Microsoft Word for the first time will produce a lot of anxiety. Once students learn to type and change a few things, they'll realise there are a lot of other options.

However, I can help them understand that clicking all of the buttons won't crash the computer, or really destroy anything. It's a safe sandbox environment, where virtually everything has an "undo" feature. This should help eliminate the "two steps forward, one step back" mentality.

Dis-junction of Learning and Teaching Styles

I will make sure that the style of teaching I choose is representative of how students would like to learn. Through research in other courses, and teaching experience, I've learned that students prefer an in-person classroom with a computer for each student. Then, they like to be walked through each task step by step, while they follow along the instructor's screen on a projector. This way, they can mimic each task, ask questions in person, and have individualised attention when needed.

However, I am open to changing and adjusting the teaching styles to help students learn in the best way possible. I will supplement learning with online videos for when students go home, as well as providing anything else I can do to enhance learning.

Apparent Irrelevance of the Learning Activity

Learners want their education to mean something, especially when it comes to learning computer literacy later in life. They are 'paying to learn computers', essentially. If they don't find the relevance in what they're learning, almost immediately, they can turn off like a switch.

One thing I've learned, is to make it personal to them. We can figure out who's learning to communicate with friends or relatives, who is trying to advance their careers, and other areas  of technology that people might be trying to break into. For example, I was only learning math in university because my degree required it. I had no interest in Calculus, and it showed. I still continue to have no interest, but it has proven to help my thinking process when approaching new problems.

Level of Required Learning is Inappropriate

As someone who is allergic to many plants and pollen-laden flowers, I'm a newbie when it comes to gardening. That said, if I were to take a class and my instructor asked me what type of garden I'd like to grow with what type of plants, I'd be at a loss. To organize and structure my own learning? No thanks. I came to class to learn something that was structured for me. Spoon feed me!

This is the same when it comes to computer literacy. It's such a vast world, and the instructor (me) should be responsible to understand the level of learning required, and the pace at which it should happen. I've designed my course (and re-designed it) in PIDP 3210 to the point where my own instructor said he'd want to take it when it becomes available. I'm confident I can resist the resistance here.

Fear of Looking Foolish in Public

Nobody wants to be the person who can't tweet or post an Instagram picture from their phone in public, right? The old days of "Hey, can I borrow your phone?" have gone away for many older adults and seniors, because they can't interact with a basic smartphone. 

I have parents, former students and customers that have this fear all the time. And they don't like to admit it until we're in a private conversation where they feel more comfortable admitting their weaknesses. Well, to be fair, we all get this feeling. My class would help with the basics that most people know, and help to diminish the things that we think we should know, but most people don't. For example, most people cannot code and design their own virus, despite what many people think when they lend their laptops to friends. This fear happens more often than I'd like to admit I've seen.

Cultural Suicide

I don't feel like cultural suicide is a huge concern for me, but I may have to learn this one the hard way. I see computer literacy as basic as numerical literacy for functioning in today's society in North America. If I cannot provide this to every living person without some sort of culture shock, then something in modern culture and society needs to change. I want to welcome my students to a wealth if information, not burden them with it.

Lack of Clarity in Teachers' Instructions

This is one I faced for years at SFU. There were language barriers with many professors, not just clarity-in-instruction barriers. There were also teaching barriers, one instructor in particular who flew away to SXSW festival in Texas instead of coming to lecture. We sat there for almost an hour before our TA got a hold of him while he was inebriated somewhere. We were pretty angry, but he got fired and I'm happy he did.

That aside, in a computer literacy class, I need to make sure that each concept is broken down in easy-to-digest chunks, and that each step precedes the next in a way that makes complete sense. For example, we need to turn on the computer, and then log into Windows. We need to log into Windows so the computer knows who we are, and that we are allowed access to the contents of the computer. That carries onto more complex parts of interacting with the computer. I never want my students to feel a lack of clarity or direction, and encourage questions in my classroom.

Students' Dislike of Teachers

This seems like one that I will have to take class by class. Each group of learners is different and unique in their own ways, and I will have to address this as such. Learning is very emotional, and if I do anything to disturb or negatively affect that, students will dislike me. It's something that is inevitable. However, I will have to do my best and inquire for feedback when necessary.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Teaching in Diverse Classrooms + Where I'll be in 5 Years

It's amazing how I'm taking this PIDP 3260 class on the edge of my last few months in Canada. I mean, I was born and raised here, but I'll be moving with my wife to Ireland (her homeland) near the end of the year.

We have connections to some instructors there, where I may be able to work with two main age groups: youth who have had poor life experiences, and older adults and seniors. I specialize in teaching computer literacy, and instilling confidence in people's public speaking.

Brookfield's 2nd edition book has a chapter called "Teaching in Diverse Classrooms". What better chapter to pick for a blog post? Diversity is discussed from "self-directed" to "highly teacher-dependent" learners in this chapter. There is diversity in "personalities ranging from extrovert to introvert", also in identity which can stem from sexual orientation, religion, and ideologies.

Being born and raised in the greater Vancouver area, I've worked with racially, sexually, and religiously diverse colleagues, students, and teachers through my life. I've been throughout Canada, and feel that I'm able to manage the soft skills involved with making everyone feel accepted and comfortable in the classroom. I'm very open and understanding, and work well with those who often would feel uncomfortable in many situations.

Students will come from varying backgrounds. There will be no "best-fit" formula for all students. It's important to understand that learners are all individuals, and will interpret learning individually. Brookfield states that the "Critical Incident Questionnaire" (CIQ) will be helpful in attaining feedback to better shape the classroom and provide the best quality of learning.

"Only by conducting some form of continuous classroom research such as the CIQ will you be able to know how diversity is manifesting itself and how successful are your efforts to address it."

That said, I believe I'll bring the right attitude towards a new challenge in Ireland. Whether I end up teaching youth who have had to deal with difficult situations, or older adults and seniors, each will provide their own diversity. Their role as stakeholders in the education they want to acheive may vary, but my responsibility will remain the same. My approach and how I conduct myself will make the most impact.

My other options include moving into Instructional Design or Technical Writing. I've had experience in both, and there are major companies with their EU headquarters situated in Ireland at the moment. I could save some money by working at these companies, and move towards a Masters degree in Education in the future. I could also move into corporate training, or acquire my Microsoft certificates specializing in teaching Microsoft-related software. These avenues may provide more monetary reward, but I'm less motivated by money and more by how I feel and what experience teaches me.

All that said: I have Crohn's Disease and my wife is a Type 1 Diabetic. We've got more on our plates than many people, jobs and education aside. My number one goal is to maintain her health, and mine. Outside of that, enough money to cover expenses such as medication, food, shelter is all we need as long as we have each other. I mean, sure, I'd love to have a car, travel a bit and all, but teaching others and helping them do things that I'll never be able to do makes me happier than a new toy ever would.