Florida Virtual School

Mark & I worked with Florida Virtual School (FLVS) over 3 days of intensive PL.  We gained a good overview of their operations and what it takes to produce and facilitate successful online courses.
An interesting thing to note was that FLVS use something known as Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) to develop their own proprietary courses (using additional software) to make them Learning Mangement System (LMS) 'agnostic'.  They can then provide their courses to organisations regardless of which LMS they use, whether it is Canvas, Moodle, etc, and are also future-proofing their work.

The pedagogical approach and administration at FLVS was far more structured than with any other online courses that we had seen.  For example, there were weekly target quotas for student contact and 'evidence of engagement' for the teachers, that were also checked by a Lead Teacher.

There were prescribed amounts of interactive content built into each course, such videos, quizzes, physi…

Learning & Human Development with Educational Technology

A second course that I have been involved in over the last few weeks is 'Learning & Human Development with Educational Technology' with Prof. Bill Cope at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. This is normally a 16-week Masters-level unit, condensed into an 8-week structure, delivered in 6-weeks, so it was quite intense! (in fact, I am still finishing bits and pieces).

Activation of the student participants as learning resources for each other, creating original works and embedding recursive feedback mechanisms were key features of this course.  How this was facilitated through the CG Scholar system in a learning community was truly innovative (and impressive) in my view, in contrast to other systems and courses I have experienced.

Here is a link to the CG Scholar (a web application that is probably best described as a Learning Management System plus publishing platform):

Below is the course outline from the U of I webpage:
EPSY408 sets out t…

eLearning for Educators

This is one of several posts I will make about my Hardie Fellowship experiences.  As well as the specific foci of coursework, there are several other observations and insights that have implications for how online learning is perceived and what is possible as we explore best practices from leading institutions.

A through-line and theme that I am seeing is that the teacher is still vitally important as the learning facilitator.  Good teaching is good teaching - online and face to face.  Knowing your cohort, caring, differentiating and formative assessment are all good analogue practices which should and can be applied in the digital realm.  Technology helps to mediate these good teaching practices, but does not drive them.  Technology is a tool in a toolkit that teachers use to facilitate learning.

Introducing teachers (and students) to online spaces - teaching them how to use and apply technology tools for learning - could be a part of teacher (or student) training or Professional Dev…

Active Learning and Natural Language in Netmath

Netmath at the University of Illinois is a program with a difference.

It isn't that it's online (though it is).

It isn't that it flips the classroom (though it does.)

It's that at its core is a philosophy that really doing real maths is an active process that is best engaged in through constructing knowledge by doing, discussing, explaining and applying mathematics in unfamiliar situations.
"What is important is students' ability to construct knowledge - so that in the future they can reconstruct it more quickly and apply it in different situations - not rote learn solutions to predictable problems." Bruce Carpenter, Associate Director of Netmath at University of Illinois.
This is definitely not didactic learning - gone are the lectures, the solutions and and textbooks.

This is immersive learning; learning maths by playing with concepts and ideas in a supported online space.

Learners may find this challenging at first - as it goes against a model of learn…

Multimodality - Reddit, Gifs and Multimodal Representations

The post references below was created as part of the course e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

The original post is on CGScholar here and explores possible use of learner created augmented video clips in education using the example of gifs posted on link sharing site reddit:


Questioning in Online and Face-to-Face Environments

An (ahem) 'question' of pedagogy 😏 In my last post I discussed the idea that technology could be described as pedagogically neutral - meaning that you can use the same technology to do things that support both didactic (learner as knowledge consumer) and reflexive (learner as knowledge creator) pedagogical choices - both very different approaches - and further, that technology provides us with the opportunity to make reflexive pedagogies more practicable.
Kalantzis and Cope (2017) argue that Discussion Boards, when compared to I-R-E questioning demonstrate how technology can allow us to use reflexive pedagogies more practicably in both online and face-to-face classrooms. 
I'll compare these two (Discussion Boards and I-R-E) to two other techniques; Instant Polling and No-Hands-Up, both of which are intended to increase engagement.
In assessing the techniques - by engagement I am referring to learners being required to engage in thinking, rather than simply responding, an…

Beyond Blended Learning - It's all about the pedagogy...

Mark Sivills and Josh Dean are currently working with Professor Bill Cope at the University of Illinois as part of a Hardie Fellowship.
Its not the technology - it's the pedagogy There are two important ideas which I am encountering again and again on this fellowship (both of which were referred to by a colleague (@GrantRMac) in a reply to an earlier post on blended learning.)

The first is the notion that we are moving beyond the notion of blended learning as a separate entity. This is in the sense that while there are currently perceived differences between face-to-face, blended and online learning - Kalantzis and Cope (2017) assert that there ought to be and will be no difference between pedagogy in online learning, blended and face-to-face learning.

The second is the notion of technology as 'pedagogically neutral' meaning that whatever the technology is that we may use, in and of itself it will provide no 'real' benefit beyond efficiency. The 'real' bene…