Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Using Google Plus to Save my Sanity ....

I have 30 students in my senior Design and Visual Commnication classes, which makes me happy that my Level 1, 2 and 3 courses can attract the numbers. These students come to me in 2 classes - one is a mixed Level 1 and 2 class and the other is a mixed Level 2 and 3 class. This sounds all good until you break it down further.

In my Level 1 and 2 class, I have a mix of level 1 students. Most are on the course from the start of the term. I have one student who trialed the online module for me last year, so he is starting the course this year further through than the rest.  I also have a student who has just started on the course, so he is behind everyone else. With the Level 2 students in the class too, that means there are 4 different things going on. I felt like I needed roller skates today!!
In my Level 2 and 3 class, I have a number of Level 3 student who are new to the subject and some who have come through Level 1 and 2. So that mix is in there with the Level 2 students too.
I am not daft, and with a limited number of students to fight over for senior courses, I am not demanding separate classes for each level and I am delighted with the 30 students who have chosen my subject. This is the reality, no problem, but I worry that my students are not getting the best of me at the moment. When we are more into using the new online course structure that I am setting up, this problem will be more. Until then, I seem to be turning into Mrs Grumpy at the start of the lesson.

I made a decision today that my Google Plus communities that I had set up to work collaboratively with the students will be their first stop as soon as they get in the class room.
I am going to put on there the instructions for each lesson, personalised / grouped, with links and examples included.
There is one ready for tomorrow for the level 3 students, which includes a link to the sample site so they know where they should be up to and a check list. How can two of them be so far behind so early in the course??  Seriously!!

If they get used to going here straight away, then they are getting more comfortable with the use of the community so going there to do group work will be more normal for them.
I will then not "go hulk" as one of my Level 1 students told me today :D
I always do examples of whatever I am asking them to do, so posting them here for them all to see together can only be a good thing as I am being open for opinion on my own work as well as expecting them to do it.

I've been re Certificated ...

I had to send "stuff" to Google to prove I have been using my certified status.
I just got the email through this morning... I am re certificated..
That sounds like it should hurt!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Level 1 students check out an Online Design App ...

I shared the link to Lucidpress with my Level 1 students today. I wanted them to see what it was like, how easy it was and if it would be any good for their first project. We had tried one last year, Pixlr, but I wasn't quite happy with it for what we needed. It was great for image manipulation but no good for layout with text etc ( desktop publishing ).  When we wanted to put text it in, we could only put in a big long sentence, not a block of text, without a lot of fiddling about afterwards. Lucidpress was great for this and even gave you place holder text when you put in a text box. The students seemed to pick it up really quickly and were soon laying out images, text and titles. They even found out that they could share a document and work on it together, which was interesting to know.

When you are putting in an image, there are quite a number of options, but the one that interested me was "team images". If you are all logged in from the same organisation, you can share research images that everyone has uploaded. Very useful.

Here is one of the layouts that my students made today. They shared it with me so I could see it in the app.

When you share a design with some one, you can choose for them to just view it of have editing rights. On the menu, you can click to copy a shared document. This then becomes yours and shows in your list of documents, not in the shared list.

This will be very useful when I want the students to do layout exercises. We tried this last year on Google Drawings and it worked ok, but this app has a lot more to it. I can share the sheet that has the elements that I want them to work with as a view only and they can make a copy themselves. They can then complete the exercise using design terms like scale, proportion, hierarchy, font, etc ......
This is a good layout tool and can be used anywhere on any device as it is online used in the browser.
And... it's free!!

I like this getting the students to check out the apps that they are going to use. We can quickly get rid of any that aren't going to work!!
They liked this one. I think this one is a keeper.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Slowly slowly.....

My big plan of getting my whole Level 1 and Level 2 Design and Visual Communication courses up online as MOOC style / distance learning models is happening slowly.
The first module for Level 1 was easy enough as that was the standard I trialed last year so It was a simple case of copying and pasting from here to here with a few tweaks and adjustments here and there.

The fussy graphics teacher in me then came out as on the trial module I had the menu down the side of the site for easy access ...

This was ok for the trial one as the students only needed quick, easy access to the steps for the one
standard / project.
I now want to put all projects for Level 1 and Level 2 together on one site so I cant have this menu choice, as it would be too much to have down the side bar.

I have decided on a task bar across the top of the project pages that links to all the pages within that one project. This is a table with one row that goes across the top of each page. The task labels are linked to the appropriate pages. This table can change according to what project is being done as it is put in separately at the top of each page. The down side to this is that I have to manually put it in on each page, as it is not an automatic menu system like the side bar. The positives are that I can change and link them how I like and it does not take up page width.

I know this is a really nit picky thing to spend time fussing over but if I can nail down this layout from the beginning then I can concentrate on the important stuff...... like content.....
I have to keep reminding myself that I am designing a site that I want the students to access and follow while they are away from the class room. This means a really clear flow through the projects for them to understand, so if this then means me taking nearly a day fiddling about with different menu and navigation ideas, then that is a good use of time and thought.

MIT15 Day 1 - Teaching as Inquiry

We are here at the lovely Spark building in town, an our first meeting day for MIT15.
The topic of our conversation at the moment is "Teaching as Inquiry" and how we are applying this to our research this year.

Here is "Focusing Inquiry" :-

Stage 1 - The Focus

What is the crisis?
What is the underachievement?
Why is this important to spend time on?
Which group of students will be affected?

My focus is to improve the NCEA achievement of my Design and Visual Communication students.
My students are weak in the analysis skills of the course and this lets them down with the achievement of the standards.
This is important is as it is a skill that is across subject areas and it is these skills that are needed for the students to achieve at merit and excellence. The analysis of design work is key to understanding their own work and knowing how to improve upon it.
The group of students will be all of my Level 1 and Level 2 DVC students. I will also include any Year 10 students who want the opportunity to start some Level 1 credits.

Stage 2 - The Question

I plan to see how the use of online courses, in a MOOC style can affect student outcomes in these areas:

  • Starting the DVC course early, in Year 10. This will get them an early start on Level 1 credits.
  • Doing the online components in their own time at Level 1 and 2 and using more of the class time for group analysis work and skills practice, as it is these elements that will gain the higher levels of achievement for the students.
  • Offering the courses to students who do not have space on their timetable due to other option choices.