I’m back at university (and back blogging after a wordpress meltdown). I’m looking forward to a great set of courses as I work towards a graduate certificate in Assistive Technology for Learning in the Inclusive Classroom. My series of courses with the University of Calgary looks like this:
EDER 679.08 Designing Inclusive Learning Environments
EDER 679.34 Universal Designs for Learning
EDER 679.18 Adaptive Technologies in Education
EDER 679.XX Designing Accessible and Enabling Learning Environments
I am really enjoying the course content and first session (notes – in Jen style using Notability on the Ipad)
Then I entered into the Blackboard discussion board and I’m am losing my mind. Is this really the best tool a university has for distance learning?!
The conversation is disjointed, hard to follow, and the requirement of having to respond to three classmates seems very artificial instead of having authentic conversation. Threads are all over the place and you can’t see what another student has replied or even the original post when you are trying to contribute to the conversation. Instant frustration and it actually stalls the conversation. I didn’t just automatically put in a hyperlink, I had to do it manually with a pop up window – that makes it easy to link the conversation to actual relevant sources. All of this with the impeding sinking feeling that you have lost your work because you can’t save a draft of your posts.
The worst part is that (I think) I am writing some really insightful thoughts and they are limited to feedback from a few (although very interesting, insightful) people. So in the interest of open sharing:
In response to a conversation about IEPTs (Individual Education Planning Tool):
My district level discussions echo Michaela’s statement that support for the IEPT tool is being discontinued, but the IEPT library will remain. After a two year pilot the IEPT tool and IPPs are being reexamined. In a presentation to our district by ADM Linquist we were told announcements are forthcoming on both tools, with an alternative being possible. What does that mean – who knows in government world. For me my ultimate criteria would be:
1) Develops a profile including strengths and needs for learners
2) Has an area to develop individual learning goals
3) Has an area to develop for targeted IPP style goals
4) IS LED BY THE LEARNER (most importantly) – teachers can fill in paperwork all day, or this an actually be relevant and student led.
Zoe Branigan-Pipe shows how it is done with her Grade 5/6 class – http://pipedreams-education.ca/2013/04/14/are-students-accountable-for-their-i-e-ps/
Branigan-Pipe, Z. (2013, April 14). Are students accountable for their IEPs? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://pipedreams-education.ca/2013/04/14/are-students-accountable-for-their-i-e-ps/
And a response (perhaps slightly less insightful, just trying to bring a current educational change into the discussion of the clas) to the professor’s discussion starter of:
“Certainly, most of us understand that the role of the teacher is central in student success. Nonetheless, it is easy to develop habits that lure us away from the reality that we are better teachers when we accept responsibility for the success of each student (my emphasis). . . We begin to live at peace with an “I taught it well so they should have gotten it” approach to our work. It’s a very different teacher who accepts the reality that if a student has not yet learned a thing of importance, the teacher has not yet taught it well enough. ” (Integrating Differentiated Instruction, p. 44)
We bring our knowledge, attitudes and skills to our work. Consider how often you stop and examine what these are. What impact might these have on the quality of our learning environments? On our students/colleagues/parents?
On page 40 in Integrating Differentiated Instruction, nine attitudes and skills are listed that typify teachers who help ALL learners. These same attitudes and skills are embedded in the Teaching Quality Standard Applicable to the Provision of Basic Education in Alberta (see Web Resource Links). Have a look at both lists and consider where you are. What areas of strength can you identify? What areas do you feel you need to work on? Are there any areas that surprise you? Any areas you feel are missing?
You might also want to have a look at the Teaching Effectiveness Framework and the ATA’s Reflect on Your Professional Practice (see Web Resource Links) or the self-assessment on pages six and seven in Making a Difference.
Many others have addressed the Teaching Quality Standard and McTighe and Tomlinson’s work so I want to bring a new document forward for the consideration of the class.
In May 2013 Minster Johnson signed a new ministerial order outline the goals and standards applicable to the provision of education in Alberta. As teachers I feel this carries great weight as we reflect on our professional practice. If what it means to educate students in Alberta has shifted, we as teachers need to shift.
Although the entire document is loaded with discussion inducing topics, in the context of this course and discussion, the statement, “WHEREAS education in Alberta will be shaped by a greater emphasis on education than on the school; on the learner than on the system; on competencies than on content; on inquiry, discovery and the application of knowledge than on the dissemination of information; and on technology to support the creation and sharing of knowledge than on technology to support teaching.” defines for me the shifts we need to embrace in our classrooms. This takes away the idea that the teacher must teach the concept and buts the emphasis on the learner and how we as teachers can assist the learner to inquire, discover, and apply knowledge.
Alberta Education. (2013). An order to adopt or approve goals and standards applicable to the provision of education in Alberta. Ministerial Order (#001/2013). education.alberta.ca/media/6950988/mostudentlearning.pdf
More homework to come, I just got so distracted by the tool I was using that I couldn’t focus on the content.
Where am I going with this – I am struggling with the learning tools provided to me and it looks like I am stuck with them for the four courses. I am really excited about the content and the expertise of my classmates and professor, but I am afraid that a closed, clunky tool is actually completely contravening the spirit of a course on Designing Inclusive Learning Environments.
Are we doing this to our students in our classrooms everyday?