All posts by Beige B

Distance Education=Opportunity for All?

I’m currently enrolled in a Masters of Education from the University of Saskatchewan that is presented completely as distance education (DE).  The nearest university to me is a travelling distance of one and half hours one way.  Realistically a short drive compared to others in my same situation but still a distance I could not commit to multiple times a week. I knew I was at the point in  my career where I was ready to continue my education and began looking for masters programs to enroll in.  I was lucky enough to come across the Educational Technology and Design Program at the U of S.  It was right for me.   I chose DE learning because as an adult learner I needed to be able to continue to work full-time and needed time flexibility within my learning.

I’m currently taking an ETAD course about distance education that is presented as distance education.  The course has really got me thinking about access to education and how important the idea of “online” has become for education. Online university options, cyber schools, and moocs are quickly becoming recognized and preferred forms of education.  So is distance education the answer to educational opportunity for all?

I recently watched this Ted Talk from one of the founders of Coursera, an online collection of free courses, that helped me to put the global need for education into perceptive.

When I think of distance education I think first of the way universities are doing it through course management systems. You enroll and pay for the course as you would do in a face to face environment but then are provided course materials, asynchronous and synchronous interaction, discussion, and assignments all typically through a course management system such as Blackboard.  I have had success in my program through this way of learning and have very much enjoyed the experience  I never thought of distance education as moocs before and am currently very interested in the idea of a mooc being educational opportunity for all.  I am currently enrolled in a mooc which I will use my completed work and learning as partial credit for a university course.  What other ways have you used a mooc?

I recently read through a few other blogs about moocs as I realized I was taking one but knew very little about them other than they were online and open to anyone.  Tony Bates does an explanation of what a mooc is and an interesting comparison of strengths and weaknesses of moocs on his blog about distance education resources.  There are also some great links on the Ted Blog about moocs that are worth a read and view.

This is just the beginning of looking into distance education for me but what do you think about the move to distance education, is it opportunity for all or still as education has been in the past opportunity for some?


Four Horsemen of the what?????

A fitting title for today’s post it being Halloween and all, but no this title has nothing to do with anything scary unless you find giving feedback to fellow teachers scary.

The focus of my mooc this week was all on coaching teachers to move from a fixed mindset where they are convinced that skills are innate and cannot improve to a growth mindset where attitude and abilities are not fixed and with effort and feedback skills can be improved.  The focus of coaching is on growth mindset but the question is how do we get fellow teachers to embrace that growth mindset and not be stuck in a fixed point of view.  The answer according to my learning this week focused around the need for teachers to be open, willing, and able to accept feedback and the need for coaches to be able to recognize those teachers who are not open, willing, and able to accept feedback.  This is where the Four Horses of…wait for it…Fixed Mindset come in.

The Four Horses of Fixed Mindset

According to what I have learned the Four Horses of Fixed Mindset are the barriers that teachers who struggle to separate self-identity from their performance which in turn causes them to react poorly to feedback and reduces their ability to grow, learn, and change. So, the first step to improving coaching situations is to be aware of fixed mindset behaviour and work through it with teachers.  Below is a quick overview of the Four Horsemen but a more detailed description as well as video examples can be found on the blog of Mike Goldstein, founder of Match the company giving my mooc through Coursera. There is also a great video provided through the mooc that gives a polished example of each for use with coaches and teachers, let me know if you are interested and I can send it to you to view.

1. “You’re right, I suck.”

Teachers responding this way are beating themselves up and taking feedback personally rather than on their teaching performance.

2. “You’re wrong, I rule.”

Teachers responding this way argue feedback being given is not accurate and become defensive.  These responses often give a different version of happenings that don;t threaten their self-image in any way.

3.  “Blame it on the rain”

Teachers responding in this way are blaming external factors for their performance.

4.  “Optimist without a cause”

Teachers responding this way are not listening and internalizing feedback at all.  Teachers let it bounce right off without another thought.

The idea behind coaches being able to recognize these behaviours is that through the simple act of sharing these named behaviours with teachers it may make it easier to help teachers recognize them within themselves through normalization and conversation.  Coaches can promote more productive behaviours to grow growth mindset for teachers struggling with fixed mindset.

I really related to this section as I know I have used the Four Horsemen before and seen in it in my peers, pre-interns, and interns.  I think as teachers we sometimes don’t want to admit we are struggling so we “blame it on the rain” or are “optimistic without a cause” or maybe just plain feel down on ourselves and are “you’re right, I suck”.  What should be acceptable is making mistakes and struggling, knowing it and learning and growing from it.  The most important thing is the learners and their education and that should be at the forefront of teaching.

What are your thoughts on these descriptions; have you seen them? have you been them? how do you overcome them?

Coaching Growth Mindset

What I found particularly useful was the included ideas for strategies to help ourselves grow our own mindset.  I sort of see these strategies working to improve positivity in a number of situations not just from a coach/teacher standpoint. Check out some of the list of strategies you can use to grow your own mindset.

  • Smile-smiling even a forced one improves your mental state
  • Body Language-sit-up, lean forward, make eye contact, stay active and engaged
  • Voice-when you sound positive you build positive energy
  • Take notes-notes help you to not block out important feedback you may be reluctant to get
  • Ask Questions-clarifying questions help you to ensure you are getting out of feedback the most you can

Mindset really is an important factor when thinking about making changes that stick in your teaching.  I think when coaching others being aware of a person’s mindset and allowing time and support to change and grow will improve the percentage of change made through effective feedback.

Again this week I referred to Silvia’s blog, I just love her sketches for organizing ideas.  I can’t help giving her a ping back from my blog now that I know what that is.  Maybe I will get brave and make my own for my next post, maybe.

Digital citizenship, our responsibility.

Teachers teach citizenship in the school and classroom everyday.  Overlying themes of honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage are engrained in the way we model and set up our schools and classrooms. It used to be enough to teach students how to interact appropriately face to face but not anymore.  As society advances and we focus more on our digital world it is also necessary for us to teach and model the citizenship of our new digital world.  I do try to present a positive online identity, so much so that I sometimes think I look better online than in real life.  For instance no make-up, baggy sweatpants at the grocery store versus strategically chosen photos for my social network profiles haha! Really on a more serious note, I recently completed a project for my masters program around the idea of digital citizenship. It is an important topic for me as a middle years teacher I see so much misuse of technology and absolutely no regard for digital identity and footprint.  In the current course that I am taking we recently had an amazing guest speaker, Bonnie Stewart, who discussed with us the idea of networked identity. Throughout her presentation my mind kept coming back to the idea of digital citizenship and our responsibility to guide students through their digital world just as we do their face to face world.

Where do we start with digital citizenship in our school and classrooms?

I think first we need to understand the concept of digital citizenship.  What does it mean?  What does it look like?

“Digital Citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.” This is a definition from Mike Ribble author of Digital Citizenship in Schools. His ideas are based around the nine elements of digital citizenship and their organization into three categories.  For sure some good information for organizing, understanding, and teaching of the concept of digital citizenship.

nine elements

“Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.” This second definition comes from the International Society for Technology in Education or ISTE. My division has been using ISTE as a sort of guide for teachers to help them with the teaching and use of technology in their classrooms.  It includes student and teacher standards.  I think the big goal is to try to get educators to move in the direction of teaching about technology use and citizenship not specific tools of technology.  Digital citizenship is about what we want students to learn not about what we want them to do.  The graphic below is a description of what I mean.

What do you want...

More resources to check out!

Here are a few I came across when researching for my project.

  • 5 Reasons You Should be Teaching Digital Citizenship Paul Barnell (2014)
  • The Ministry of Education in the province of Saskatchewan has recently begun the process of purchasing license agreements for Media Smarts. “MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit centre for digital and media literacy. Our vision is to ensure that young people have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.” (Media Smarts 2014)
  • Sasktel’s “I am Stronger” campaign focuses on anti-bullying, community, and networking of young people in Saskatchewan.  The Ministry of Education in the province of Saskatchewan has set a deal with Sasktel’s “I am Stronger” campaign to set up space to house digital citizenship resources for educators, parents, and students.
  • The DCMOOC in Saskatchewan was a massive open online course about digital citizenship facilitated by Dr. Alec Couros and supported by the Government of Saskatchewan.  The entire focus is on digital citizenship.  Although the course is currently over there is still an abundance of resources for educators and parents on the site in the form of recorded Blackboard Collaborate sessions, as well as on google+ community and Twitter (#DCMOOC, #dcmchat).
  • Common Sense Media is a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.” (Common Sense Media 2014)  Their digital citizenship section includes tool kits, printable posters, and units available at no cost for educators and parents.

I also recently watched this Ted Talk Video then saw it on my fellow classmate Kelly Christopherson’s blog and wanted to share it as a close to my post.

Your Life Online – Permanent as Tattoo – Juan Enriquez



Do you have any great resources to add to my list for learning about and teaching digital citizenship?  I would love to check them out so please feel free to add them in the comments section.

My effective coaching project is underway!

As you may have read in earlier posts I have decided to do my project through a mooc.  This week was week one of “Coaching Teachers. Promoting Changes that Stick” and I am happy to report that I am throughly enjoying the learning so far.

This week the focus of my learning was on the introductory section.  This section included videos, readings, and discussion boards to present information and because the mooc is promoting changes that stick I am going to tell you what stuck with me this week.

The first thing in the course that stuck with me this week was a description of the purpose of effective coaching.

QUote 1

The class began this week with a role play video of an instructional coach and a new to the profession teacher.  Although the video showed a positive relationship between the two participants it was easy to pick out what was ineffective about their interactions.  The instructional coach (Mr. Goodcoach) was consistently positive and open to sharing with the new teacher (Miss Rookie) but offered little in the way of suggestions and opportunity to practice for improvement.  The interactions made Miss Rookie feel supported and positive about her work but it did little to offer an actual coaching for improvement opportunity.  I quite enjoyed watching the role plays this week as it gave me some visual examples of what to look for as effective and ineffective coaching as the course continued or the week.

The second thing that stuck with me this week were the elements of effective coaching.

The course included four elements of effective coaching; highly intensive, sustained, individualized, as well as high teacher buy-in.  They explained them a bit and moved on but I was left unsatisfied with this section and so I will explore this area more on my own.

The third this that stuck with me this week was The Coaching Formula.


It does look a bit strange to me using a formula to describe teacher coaching but I guess the visual helps us to put into perspective the steps we must have in place for effective coaching to take place.  I’m sure I will be able to describe each section in detail as the weeks go on but here is the quick overview I was provided with in the course this week.

Clarity of Instructional Vision

  • shared idea of the optimal classroom
  • “student facing” articulates what students are doing, saying, thinking
  • agreed upon by both the coach and teacher

Quality of Feedback

  • structure of feedback
  • components of feedback

Fixed Mindset Tax

  • change occurs depending on mindset tax

mindset tax

I did do a bit more exploring on my own this week into the topic of feedback and came across this Ted Talk Video about the need for real feedback by Bill Gates and even though it is based on education in the states I liked the message.

As a bonus I came across Silvia’s blog when searching for additional resources and ideas.  Silvia took the same mooc as I am and completed it earlier this year.  I love her use of Sketchnotes  to summarize each week so wanted to link to her blog as I feel like this is something I want to try a version of next week!

Google Apps for Education, how I love you!

I found this weeks class session on Google Apps for Education completely fabulous.  I loved the hands on aspect of the evening. I felt like time flew by!  Michael Wacker genuinely engaged me in the learning process.  I’ve been using Google Apps for a year or so and love the collaborative, easy to share aspects of it.  It has been especially useful as I engage in distance education courses to fulfill my masters requirements.  I find as I use it more in my own learning I have been more apt to use it with my students and they also are loving the new ways of sharing and working together.

What I loved before the presentation:

I loved that students no longer had to save collaborative projects on one user profile. With Google Docs it doesn’t matter if one group member is absent all members can still access a project.  No more wasted class time for students with missing group members.

I loved the paperless aspect of it all.  No more buckets of assignments to haul home.  Just logging in and sharing feedback with the comments options.

What I loved after the presentation:

I loved learning about the research option.  How quick and easy for students and me.

I loved learning about the revisions option.  Great ways in addition to comments to assist students with their work.

I also liked the tidbit of information regarding the 50 person limit at one time for editing.  Nice to know when working with entire staffs.

I am currently using Google Docs with another course I am enrolled in this term and am looking forward to trying out a few of my new skills.

It is time… to mooc!

I officially started my mooc today for my major project.  I chose one though Coursera called “Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes That Stick”.  The description can accessed through the link below.

Today was the course welcome and introduction of students on the discussion boards.  So far so good!  I am amazed at how many people are taking it from all over the world!

I chose this mooc because as I move through my career I have been becoming more interested in pursuing other aspects of the educational system.  Career positions such as Teacher Consultants, Teacher Coaches, and School Administration within my division have really started to appeal to me.  I feel having skills to be able to effectively coach and assist teachers would be an asset in any of these positions.

The mooc is a five-week course running from October 3rd to November 7th with a one week addition to November 14th for evaluation.  I’m still on the fence about going for the official certificate so if any one has experience in this sort of thing could you let me know if you feel it is worth it to pay for the certificate in the end?

Feeling more comfortable!

I’ve been avoiding my blog a bit as I was unsure of really where to get started.  After our session with Sue Waters on Tuesday I think I’m wrapping my head around educational blogging.  I took some time this week to watch the recommended video by Sue called “What is a blog?”  and I also went through some of the resources she recommended through Edublogs.

So, what stuck with me this week…

“Blogging isn’t publishing! It is about social learning.”

This quote made me think about the Blogging Cycle Sue showed us and about my participation in this class.  The creation of the blog wasn’t just for me to post but for others to comment and for me to comment to others.  The importance of feedback for all of us in what we are sharing stuck with me this week so I set up Feedly to help me better manage our class blogs. Clive Thompson’s Audience Effect is something else I explored this week.  In the article Thinking Out Loud he discusses how we take things more seriously when we have a valid audience.

From this information this week I have recommitted (even though it is mandatory for this class and only October) to being a better blogger.  I will blog, respond to comments made on my blog, and comment on my fellow classmates blog.  The assignment isn’t to make a blog it is to engage in social learning and that I will do.