Final Project – Reflection
My final project started out as a fairly standard school blog. I included separate pages for all the classes that I teach and included additional pages to represent every other aspect of my identity as an educator. I immediately knew that what I was developing was a one-dimensional blog. The blog was serving one purpose…an information board. I immediately decided to develop an additional page and “experiment” with my weekly learnings. The addition of Exercise Science: Virtual Journal became my immediate focus and the center of my ECI831 Final Digital Project.
The purpose of the Virtual Journal Page was to encourage students to read, reflect, research and share! I posted weekly journal topics on the blog (journal articles, Youtube videos, website links) and had the students respond to a variety of prompts. Students were expected to extend their knowledge base and develop critical thinking skills as they critiqued their fellow classmates posts. I am so impressed with the results of the project, as each week passes my students continue to amaze me.
As the semester at school is beginning to wind down, I begin to reflect and plan for semester 2. I would describe the Virtual Journal as a total success but plan to make changes in order to streamline the overall process.
What Worked Well….
- The overall purpose of engagement and critical thought via Social Media was a definite success. The blog served as a “safe place” for students to express themselves. Students who in the classroom generally sat back and observed were dynamic contributors. Every week the product became more alive, it was like a wave….and the students were catching it!
- I incorporated a variety of Social Media tools within the posts, encouraging the students to participate, experiment and utilize the tools as a means of sharing. Although I was faced with early resistance, my persistence elicited great responses and ultimate success.
- I tied twitter to the blog, focussing 2 separate journal posts on the set up, tricks and tools to twitter and tweetdeck. Again, the students had a difficult time identifying the validity of twitter in an educational environment. I dedicated a class session to twitter as a tool and the tweets more than tripled in a matter of four days!
- My students are beginning to “weave” it all together. Their journal posts contain Youtube videos that support their responses, they are linking scholarly articles and tweeting daily about class related content.
- Add #exscileibel to your tweetdeck and check out the amazing sharing that is taking place!
- I asked the students to provide some feedback to the incorporation of Social Media in the class, the following is a small sample of what I received:
“I think that using the online world is a good strategy for a lot of kids who really don’t bother looking for books or asking people in person for help. For example, when you use a blog (twitter or whatever) that allows chatrooms, being that almost everyone has access to that on their cell phone, we can form an online classroom community. So if there’s ever a question that’s needed all I’d have to do is post in the chatroom and hopefully a classmate or the teacher can answer me fairly quickly (because of the cell phone thing). Here’s a good video (has parts) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej1c7Ztu8pQ&feature=related I know from past experience, last year in Chem20 IB our teacher had the same thing going where we had a chatroom just for our class. It was actually very beneficial for receiving missed assignments and updates in general. I think we should be doing that in this class, and in every class to say the least. It’s as if the classroom doesn’t end simply at the doors of the school. With social media we are always connected and I think that’s great.” (Exercise Science Student)
I just wanted to take a second or two to comment on your use of social media in your exercise science classroom. I guess first I would like to congratulate you on your leadership period this year, the innovations you have spearheaded have rejuvenated the phys ed department and has made it accessible to so many more students.
As far as the use of social media in your class I applaud you for working in the milieu that our kids operate in. The digital world our students function is so vastly different from the one we know. In many ways it makes sense to meet the students where they are in order to engage them. When I read the blogs of your class I see students who are passionately and intensely engaged with the content of your class. As an educator that is the best thing that we can hope for: through engagement learning occurs. (School Administrator)
For me, I love the idea of using social media to learn, share ideas, and enhance the experience for everyone in the class. Honestly, if I had the time to be blogging about the things that interest me, especially topics related to this class, then I’d be on constantly! Because of the recent push you’ve given us to give social media a try, I have had many interesting topics land right in my lap. Tying in the purpose of our next field trip AND (what I realized today) the area of physiotherapy that includes rehab for breathing, I found this great bit of information on increasing lung capacity. I love to surf, but because I am barely in the water most of the year, my lung capacity is terrible and I always find myself struggling for breath while immersed in the ocean. However, while reading up on how to increase lung capacity I found and interesting technique called hypoxic training. This training is what a lot of big wave surfers use to relax and be able to use the oxygen within their bodies. The idea is that throughout training, short bursts of energy (like short circuits in which there is rest time in between exercise) while holding your breath teaches your body to use the oxygen it has, instead of your brain wanting an infinite amount of it. This is essential for big wave surfers because after being barreled there is a high chance that you will be thrown deep into the ocean, disoriented and without the chance to get a breath for sometimes minutes.
I know that this piece of information is not entirely relevant to what we’ve been learning, but through social media I get to share with you some of the things that are important to me! (Exercise Science Student)
Reflecting on Changes
The process of implementation, learning and facilitating has resulted in definite areas to change as I plan for semester 2.
- Currently the entire class operates off of one blog and I am the creator and moderator. All thirty students respond weekly on one blog….on one page “Virtual Journal”. As a result of the way in which I have set the journal up, all the comments bundle at the bottom of the page. The students have expressed some concern in regards to the “lay out”. Currently I have eight journal posts which fall in chronological order at the top of the page and all 250 comments group together at the bottom. The “chunky” layout creates some confusion when students attempt to comment on their classmates posts. In semester two, all my students will create their own blog, post to their own blog and subscribe to a Reader Group (ECI831 Style!).
- Early in the semester I experienced some disappointment as a result of a group of students lacking Digital Citizenship Skills. I immediately turned on the moderation, which has resulted in delayed posts and interrupted dialogue. Future classes will focus more heavily on the digital citizenship piece. Social Media nd Technology is the present and the future, rather than accepting these skill deficiencies it is important to teach the appropriate manner in which students operate when online.
- The student blogs will serve as much more than a journal posting, they will become the student notebook. All class work and correspondence will center around the student blog…including a “digital story final portfolio”!!!
Initial implementation was somewhat “chaotic”. Through an amazing process of learning and experimentation – SENSEMAKING and WAYFINDING – my students have become engaged in a learning community and have begun the process of developing PLNs! They are learning to share, providing assistance to one another and developing amazing educational connections! Their participation in my journal has proven to be beneficial for us all! An amazing experience that will guide my future practice as a connected educator.