It’s Not How You Start…

Day 28: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?

I could give you a list of reasons why I haven’t done all of the blog challenges, you know, things like taking an intensive online training course, preparing for not one but two teacher workshops, handling a major PD event for my professional organization, but I won’t…  (see how I did that?)

Instead, I have chosen a question from the challenge.  It poses an interesting dilemma, one which I think already has the answer embedded in the question.  I’d guess the majority of teachers would suggest the vice versa approach, i.e., that curriculum should drive technology.  This makes sense; you want the technology to fit in with a predesigned curriculum.

I think that the opposite needs to occur, at least for my learners. Mine enter the workforce via a volunteer co-op placement.  Within their workplace, the technology that they will need to use includes a Learning Management System (with copius amounts of online training re:health and safety, product knowledge, company policies and procedures).  Communications are done mostly via email; communication during synchronous online training is via chat.  And that’s not all; my learners need to be able to problem solve and use technologies that we wouldn’t have had access to in class, such as an internal data base search, a program that will match colours for paint, etc.

I originally tried to fit the tech into the curriculum, but now have found it much easier to prepare the course around a LMS, giving the learners plenty of opportunity to use it, to familiarize themselves with it, and to practice in a safe environment (especially the “chat” function, lots of practice in what language is appropriate, etc.)

Tech… Can’t escape!

Classroom TECH

I have been teaching Literacy now since December.  35 classes taught.  I know.  I have been keeping track.  I have been using a media cart that was neglected, lonely, and had been gathering dust in an unused computer lab (the computer lab, sadly, is now off limits due to an active directory that requires student login codes, which we don’t have.)

Not having direct access to a Smartboard, I do have access to their software and began to develop lesson plans using their interactive lesson plans and activity tool kits.  It brings some life to the class.

OTHER RESOURCES

I have been playing around with Powtoon.  It is an animated presentation site geared mainly towards the marketing and business community, but with a growing education sector using it as well.  I have used it in my Literacy class for our morning greeting chain.  I created a series of cartoon characters (not many to choose from, unless you pay, unfortunately) to represent the students, recorded them saying “good morning, how are you?” to each other.  There are only 10 learners, so this was done in under 2 minutes, which is a good amount of time to do a video for.

Okay, it wasn’t perfectly smooth sailing, but the learners loved it, and when I played it back to them, they could hear themselves speaking and could tell me where they think they can improve.    All I did was hook up a headset to my dated media cart, and pass the mic part to each student, and recorded using Audacity.  Saved voiceover as MP3, or whatever, and then uploaded to the video site.  Am planning other animated presentations for the group.

PLANBOARD

Over the holidays, I googled for a lesson planning app, and stumbled on Waterloo-based Planboard.

Here’s why I like it and will explore it further:

  1.  It allows instructors to upload CLB competencies, and then track whenever they’ve used one ( and gives a very good overview of what competencies were used, and when, so you can discover the gaps)
  2. Planboard is easy to save as PDF and share a lesson plan with a supply instructor, or whoever else you want to see your lesson plans
  3. It allows for daily, weekly or monthly views
  4. There is an assessment app that goes along with Planboard, but I haven’t looked at that yet

The one issue with Planboard was that it suddenly became a hot commodity, and the site almost crashed the Sunday night before returning to school in January.  It was only down for about an hour or so, but it did cause a little panic.  But as long as I’ve got backups of everything saved as pdf files, no problem!

Planboard is a great organizing and visual element, which I need.  I am teaching Literacy right now, as I’ve mentioned.  When planning over the holidays using Planboard, I was too optimistic and thought that I would be getting through way more material than was realistic for a Literacy class (albeit, one with mixed “Literacy” levels).  For example, I had planned on a “Canada” unit with listening/speaking.  I was to do the basic geography – provinces, regions, capitals.  I gave myself a week to do this.

Okay, seasoned Literacy instructors, I will give you a moment to stop rolling around the floor in a fit of laughter..  It is now February 4th, and I have yet to get to the West Coast or the North.  I never realized that the concept of “region” would be so difficult to understand.  They get “provinces” and “territories”, but “region” was a nightmare.  Important, though, because the citizenship tests that they will eventually take ask about regions.

I have this group until the end of March.  Then I return to SLT, Stage 2 learners.  I can’t wait to get back into the LMS.  Too much to do!  Glad Planboard can help put me on track…