Tech Grant Updates
Welcome to our Newsletter! Please read the list below to see this month's updates related to the website and the deliverables.
The Wakelet: Blast Off! and Forms for Student Onboarding, Exit Tickets and Feedback 2 PDs took place in the last two weeks. Both sessions are scheduled to release in Canvas next week. You can request access to view the recordings and resources by going to the Past Recordings section under the Professional Development tab on the website and submitting the request form on any of the sessions available.
We created a one-page hyperlink document that overviews the different services and resources available through the Tech Grant. You can click on the Digital ATDN Hyperdoc to access the overview. Feel free to share this document with your coworkers and peers to help spread the word on the different services available to all agencies in Connecticut.
The Digital ATDN On-Demand Videos App has been updated and now includes a tutorial video on how to navigate through the app, how to use the bookmarks feature and some interface adjustments. You can access the app by clicking on the website https://digitalatdnct.glideapp.io/. To download the app to your phone, you can type the website on your phone's browser or scan the QR code on the right using your smartphone's camera.
You can schedule an appointment with tech support to receive assistance in instructional programs or in any of the resources that we have available on the website. Click here to schedule your appointment.
The AllSides website offers "balanced news coverage, media bias ratings, civil dialogue opportunities, and technology platform" to everyone. They provide a list of current issues and events where they offer news articles from different media outlets that are labeled in one of 5 different media biases categories: Left, Lean Left, Center, Lean Right and Right. Each bias focuses on political perspectives or point of views on the listed topics. The goal is to create awareness on how writers/reporters in different news outlets present the information based on their bias and allow readers to identify them through the different topics.
This website offers many articles that are suitable for debates, compare and contrasts activities, pros and cons and practice on identifying point of views on articles that are reporting on the same topics. They include a Media Bias Chart to help identify political perspectives in media, as well as a how All Sides Spot Media Biases.
Create Distance Learning Opportunities using OER Resources Part 1
Open Educational Resources (OER) are more accessible today as they are becoming more popular through websites like GCFlearning, Google Applied Digital Skills, Digital Learn and many more. As education practitioners, we have relied in these resources to enrich our lessons in the classroom. In the next two newsletters, we will be exploring how incorporating OER resources as a distance learning alternative can assist agencies in providing relevant content for students to help develop soft skills that will aid them for college and career pathways.
Before we can go into how to cover the types of OER, we need to divide this topic in two parts. Part 1 will focus on developing the framework on how you will build the foundation so that you can prepare OER resources as an asynchronous option. Part 2 will focus on OER content that you can use, as well as several examples from several websites to get you started.
Why offer this to students? What is the benefit?
There are a few reasons how this can be beneficial for students.
It offers multiple opportunities for students to apply their skills to relevant and new scenarios.
Students have the choice to opt in on deciding what skills they would like to develop that align to their career or college goals.
Even when students do not participate in specific OER distance learning lessons, students can make connections with how learning in class can help build success in other venues like a masterclass or Skillshare.
Let's take a look at some of the key factors that impact the success rate with distance learning. While this is presented as an asynchronous option, the setup can be easily adapted as a blended learning option as well. Also, this allows for a generalize approach that agencies can later use to edit and align to the different needs.
The delivery method. The way teachers and students will access the OER materials will vary drastically based on the resources you select for your content. Your goal here is to make it simple for students to access by being consistent in the delivery. This will allow students to follow a structure, know where to access the content, and understand what is the task that needs to be completed. Since students would access the lessons and content "the same way" each time, students can focus on completing the assignment on hand vs. trying to figure out where to go to find the link for today's lesson.
A learning management system (LMS) offers a great way to streamline the resources. You can use Google Classroom or Canvas to organize resources and manage student submissions. Although some OER resources have their own management systems, it is important to have a common structure across all your offerings. This allows students to move from one course to the other with a smaller learning curve since the organization of the course is the same across all available offerings.
I like to compare this to the use of textbooks in a classroom. When you begin a class and are assigned a brand new textbook, you can locate the title, find the Table of Contents and look up a specific unit, lesson or a set of pages. Teachers will use textbooks to discuss topics, assign pages to be read and questions that need to be answered throughout their lessons. In spite of this being a new textbook for you, you are still able to find these with little to no assistance because you have experienced this multiple times. In order to translate this to our use of a LMS, we need to support students on building the skills and the muscle memory. The "Student support and monitoring" section will cover more on assisting students on their development.
Decide on what skill(s) to develop. There are a few questions you can take into consideration to help narrow down what skills you can start with:
What skills students are looking to develop?
What career opportunities are available?
Do you have OER activities and modules that help students develop the skill?
Offering a survey through Google Forms to explore what skills students are looking to develop or career opportunities they would like accomplish can be very useful when making the decision. Also, My Next Move is a great website that can help frame your survey to be more intentional in collecting the data you need. The website is also essential for students to get more information to understand their career paths and give you answers that are more intentional and relevant to what you need.
Scheduled work. While students have flexibility in completing the course, offering soft deadlines adds accountability, expectations and structure for students. Agencies that are planning to offer support for students or are looking on having blended learning also benefit by having deadlines since there is a timeline on what students are working on at a given time. Support can be offered in context of what is happening in the course, like presenting a new OER website for example.
Student support and monitoring. This is one of the most challenging to fulfill, specially since this varies from students and cohorts. As a rule of thumb, make sure that you cover all the basics to allow all students to be on the same page and offer the support needed for all students to remain on the same page. Some suggestions that could work are listed below however, all of these should be easily accessible at any time for students in the LMS:
Orientation. A mandatory session where students can receive expectations, instructions, procedures, walkthroughs, access and any other relevant information that can aid students in the program.
Help center. A section in the LMS for students that is dedicated to assistance on anything they may encounter. This can include:
Tutorial videos on navigating the programs, submit assignments, etc.
Video walkthrough on how to access the OER material.
Student expectations document.
How to contact a teacher for support.
Schedule for lab hours.
Lab hours for in person/virtual. These can be set as a required check-in, scheduled as a one-on-one, or as open-office hours where students can stop in to ask questions.
Email or messaging through the LMS. Sometimes students need a quick referral to a specific section or clarification on what needs to be done.
Start with 1 course. Creating multiple courses offers students choice in learning skills that they are interested in developing however, you may want to work on one first. This provides the agency the opportunity to build a strong foundation that will frame subsequent courses. When working on one course, you can focus on:
Monitor work, feedback and challenges for both students and teachers.
Create Help Center resources for the LMS and OERs.
Identify what skills can be taught in the in-person classes that allow students to be successful online.
Take notes on what did and didn’t work and apply any changes to the new course(s).
Just as a reminder, we will be exploring some OER resources in our next newsletter!
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like assistance.