Essential Question Week 2 – Open Learning

I believe that open learning is an emerging technology, pedagogy, and philosophy because it allows for the exchange of thoughts and ideas on a local or global scale. Many students already engage in a form of open learning for activities they enjoy, such as gaming. The pedagogy would open up that kind of collaboration for academic purposes inside and outside of the classroom. As a primary (kindergarten) teacher who just finished her first year of teaching, I would love to be able to collaborate with people from all different areas of the state, country, and world to help me strengthen my teaching practice.

I have spent some time thinking about an open learning classroom and how it differs from our current classroom. The most difficult part is figuring out how to set up an open learning environment in my classroom because “open learning generally takes place in structured settings, is overseen by a teacher and has defined objectives for student achievement. While student choice and autonomy are important to an open learning environment, this autonomy is significantly controlled in the K-12 environment simply by the nature of the curricular and policy demands of the educational system” (Graham, LaBonte, Roberts, O’Byrne, & Osterhout, 2014).

It would be quite easy to have my kindergarteners engage in open learning with other students of all ages within our school, which is why I would love to have a makers space or robotics club that is open to all students, but I am unsure of how to implement an online or more global open learning environment for primary students, like my kindergarteners. With this in mind, I looked for information on blended learning because I am curious if that would work better with primary students. I was able to find a course on coursera.org that is an open learning course about blended learning and personalizing education for students (Coursera, 2015). I have decided to take this course to learn more about blended learning in an open learning environment. I also found a slide show created by Francesca Ravanelli, who is a PhD student in Italy. In the slide show, Ravanelli shows how she set up a blending learning primary classroom using an open source learning platform called Moodle. Her guidelines for online students were very straightforward and included that “every child has an Internet connection, every family accepts this experience, every student receives a student name and password to connect to the platform, and children and parents were taught some simple steps in order to work with Moodle” (Ravanelli, 2012). I wonder if I could use a platform like this to incorporate students from around the world into my classroom. I know my students would be very excited and engaged.

References

Coursera. (2015). Blended Learning: Personalizing Education for Students . Retrieved May 27, 2015, from Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/learn/blended-learning

Graham, L., LaBonte, R., Roberts, V., O’Byrne, I., & Osterhout, C. (2014). Open Learning in K-12 Online and Blended Learning Environments. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/10311797/Open_Learning_in_K-12_Online_and_Blended_Learning_Environments

Ravanelli, F. (2012, July 05). Blended Learning in Primary School – Online Class. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from slideshare.net: http://www.slideshare.net/franceframes/blended-learning-in-primary-school

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4 thoughts on “Essential Question Week 2 – Open Learning

  1. Cherie, Next fall I will teach 4-year-old students for 4 hours with a rural Alaska school district. In spite of limited bandwidth and availability of computers/devices, this district is striving to make its students globally connected even at the primary level. They allow access to online books and recommended online apps through several Symbaloo galleries.
    Symbaloo (http://edu.symbaloo.com/home/mix/13eOcMQ1TB) appears to be a way to set a computer screen to look and work a bit like the homepage on an iPhone with icons that direct your to online programs and materials. A district IT person linked a couple pages for Pre-K to K users to our school’s website.
    ( I have a screen shot but don’t know how to get it into your blog page.)
    With our young learners, I feel it is important to teach them how to take turns and play nice in the actual world as well as the virtual world, but I also think that using technology will reach some learners more efficiently. “Open” in our case needs to be closely supervised for our students but can be useful to us as educators. I gave away my shoebox of index cards with fingerplays and seasonal songs when I became an intervention specialist. Maybe you can help me recreate it digitally with links to useful resources!

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    • I would love to help you recreate your fingerplays and seasonal songs digitally! It would be awesome and fun! Thank you for cool ideas and I am definitely going to check out Symbaloo. Where will you be teaching? I love working with young students, which is funny because I really thought that I would rather work with 4th, 5th or 6th graders. Kindergarten was my last choice, but now I love it.

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  2. I can appreciate the fact that you see blended learning working well for younger students. I have seen many kindergarteners with a curiosity willing to take on tasks independently. I have experienced that many younger students have a strong affinity for creativity; however, by the time I get some of those students as second graders they are not as willing to attempt tasks without teacher direction. This could be attributed to certain students, but my second graders often need time to build up their independence before I have been able to incorporate blended learning tasks. I also noticed that students felt fairly comfortable completing tasks on iPads or just having free time on the iPads with our educational apps. Have you experienced students becoming more accustomed to technology?

    Another way I have seen open learning work well is pairing older students with younger students. This past year for our science fair projects, our older grades worked with the preschool students to complete their project on gravity. Though it didn’t include too much technology, it was a blended learning experience in terms of blending the ages. Have you ever experienced anything like that?

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    • My students love technology. They can sign into and navigate to their favorite learning games on the computer and Ipod touches we have in our classroom. Technology engages them, they seem to have no fear when it comes to it and taking risks with it, such as figuring out how to use the SmartBoard without direction from me. I have not had any older students come work with my kindergarteners, but I think it is a great idea. I love it! I think that might be the way for us to go this coming year for our own science project or even our book project. I am going to have my class write a book each year. My kindergarteners wrote and illustrated a book this past year and I’ve already decided we will write a “How To” book this fall and get it published. We use Bookemon for our books and it is very reasonable in price, even if shipping is a bit expensive.

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