In this weeks class Alec covered how blended learning can be delivered using the SAMR Model (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition). I was first introduced to this model in 2017 in my EADM 820 class with Stephen Wihak. I also went to high school with Bart Cote who was able to shed some light on this model and how the Catholic high schools have implemented it into their curriculum. Alec also reviewed the TPCK Model (Technological Pedagogical Content). Regardless of what model you follow there are different depths of technology use that educators can infuse into their curriculum. This is dependent on the technology available to the educator, the LMS used by the organization, the educators experience and comfort using the technology, type of learner you have, and course material being delivered to just name a few. The ultimate goal is to transform learning experiences into higher levels of achievement for our learners. Technology should not be used for the sake of technology but rather the focus must remain on the learner and the outcome desired.
Alec also showed us the different LMS available and compared some of the pros and cons of each. The first one we were showed was the Blackboard system which has been around for a long time and owned a majority of the market share.We were shown Canvas, Moodle, Google Classroom and WordPress as other options. Many of the educators in this class had experience with one or more of these platforms. Canvas seemed to be the best one in my opinion as far as being easier to use, cost and set up. At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, we use Brightspace for all of the courses we deliver. It was introduced in 2015 for online programming replacing WebCT and Blackboard that was used in the past. In 2018, all faculty were encouraged to use Brightspace to augment the courses that they were teaching even though if it is delivered in a face to face format. I have been using Brightspace for 2 years now and I have had experience with Blackboard and WebCT. My preference is Brightspace because of its ease of use and versatility for both me and my students.
The weekly readings this week brought some critical perspectives to LMS integration. The article, “Beyond the LMS” by Audrey Watters (2014), referred to education and technology as being imperialistic and having a Western influence. Watters states, “we often find ourselves adopting new tools that simply perform old tasks a wee bit better, a wee bit faster”. I agree with this statement and it emphasizes the importance of implementing technology for the right reasons. The author continues by arguing, “the learning management system has shaped a generation’s view of education technology” and “it does not reflect the needs of the teachers and learners”. It is easy to get caught up in technology and implement it without fully evaluating if it truly was a more effective way of delivering content. I agree with Watters (2014) question, “Who exactly the LMS was meant to serve?” The learner must remain the focus of the approach taken ensuring that they will be successful in the learning process. I really like the reference to the University of Mary Washington’s approach on building one’s own “rich professional portfolio” and “we must become the holders of our own data”. One of the issues with LMS is the restraints it can impose by controlling what is being entered and what can be taken out. Students should have more control of their learning and be able to regain control of the content and knowledge they create. This will contribute to life-long learning that we as educators are trying to encourage!
The second article that Alec shared with us from Twitter dealt with thoughts on Class Dojo. I have not used Class Dojo but after reading the article I can see both points of view on why is can be beneficial but also the potential harm that it can create. My initial thoughts are, “Are we getting too soft and is it not our job as educators to encourage proper behavior?” There is ample research to show the benefits of using rewards with kids and I have used it as a parent and dental professional. Many kids do not like going to the dentist or looking after their teeth and rewards can be very powerful to change their behavior. Are we not trying to enlighten our students to challenge their current beliefs, attitudes,values or knowledge? I do see the argument of creating a “conformist society” but our laws, policies and rules in life and work ensure we are acting in an appropriate manner. Without these guidelines and people to enforce them, our society will be in a state of anarchy.