Monday, February 24, 2014

Digital Learning Environments

“The more the [learner] becomes the [educator] and the more the [educator] becomes the [learner], then the more successful are the outcomes.” - John Hattie

What are digital learning environments?

Three types of digital learning environments are Blended Learning, Flipped Classroom, and Virtual Learning.  These can be used to offer voice and choice to learners through technology.  Learners access the learning activities they need virtually using a variety of technology tools.

Let’s look at how some of our fantastic CISD educators are using digital learning environments. Our first guest blogger is Lisa Timmerman, GTi educator at Lakeside Elementary.

The main method I use to scaffold the learning within my curriculum is by flipping the workshops based on skill, interest, or classroom structure on Edmodo. Because I’m a mainly a pull-out teacher, and only sees the kids once or twice a week, it’s vital that I use the majority of our face-to-face time for other learning experiences. I use Google Chrome App Store frequently, because I also like to give options for each platform/skill. For example, our curriculum needed a scale model of our classroom.  So, I posted several options for how to create one on Edmodo the week before we were going to measure the room: Floorplanner App- Chrome, and Room Sketcher-website.  I also gave the option of using graph paper for students without a strong technology base. I mean some kids just like craft-type stuff, and aren’t always given the opportunity to create stuff that communicates their learning, other than tech-based products. The students that explored the options discussed the one they preferred on Edmodo, and came to their own consensus before our class time. Learners who participated in the flipped lesson had a head-start on the “Architect workshop” when they came to class.

I also scaffold using Snapguide and YouTube videos. Many of my GT learners would prefer to have a visual guide for how to make things, or watch a video they can pause at will rather than sit in a whole class lesson in the computer lab on “How to Create a Google Form”. It’s been my experience that scaffolding skills like these are most successful in a flipped format.  

The attached pictures are screenshots from my Edmodo postings about their #Learning Environment PBL flipped workshops by skill/interest.
The Learning Environment workshops were: architect, accountant, media specialist, and project manager.

The Perot/E-Luminate PBL workshops screenshots from my Edmodo postings about (one of) their whole class workshops on locating deep and complex (but useful) resources for the research part of this PBL. The Perot/E-Luminate PBL workshops were: locating deep/complex/useful resources, parts of a book, using pictures to support vs. distract, and proofreading.

Let’s look at how Jennifer Greever from NTH@C is using a digital learning environment with her learners.  

For freshman enrolled in Virtual Business, we use a Digital Learning Environment for scaffolding in many ways. Learners learn programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop. Along with live classroom workshops, I create skill tutorials using QuickTime Media Player and upload them to YouTube. This allows learners who need to move at a slower pace, were absent, or just need more practice, to watch them on their own time.

I have found that by offering the live tutorials and the videos via YouTube, learners with all types of learning styles are benefited. Some need to see actual examples, while others can just listen and work while my voice is in the background. Learners who need the one on one tutoring or slower pace benefit greatly by watching the tutorials before the live in class workshop.

I have also found a way to utilize the YouTube tutorials for learners at different levels. I allow learners who already have skills in programs to create their own tutorials that cover skills we are not addressing specifically in classroom workshops. This allows them to teach their peers and for their peers to learn even more. I also open this opportunity up to learners who may have just learned the program, but spend their own time diving deeper.

Having done this for the past two years, I can say that it has allowed me much more time to spend on other areas of project planning. I can easily share the tutorials with learners who were absent or need more help instead of having to plan times for tutoring before or after school. This also helps our learners to be more flexible since so many are involved in extracurricular activities and have a hard time fitting everything in their schedule.

Are you wanting to see some examples of scaffolding activities? Visit our website full of examples.

Reflect on the example above. How could you implement a digital learning environment  in classroom? Is there one thing that really stands out from this example that you could implement in your classroom? If you’re already taking advantage of a digital learning environment, tell us about your experiences!

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