Learning2gether Episode #441
The sun had set over the sea and mountain jungles in orange tendrils emanating beneath darkening blue skies, which had long since transitioned to darkness in Penang, Malaysia when my old friend and long-time online colleague Jeff Lebow, himself half cloaked in darkness in his workspace studio in Pusan, Korea, popped by my Zoom chat to see how things were going with my eLearning course, Creating and Using Blended Learning Classrooms, based at https://tinyurl.com/blended2020. Jeff had caught me at one of my scheduled late-night “office hours”, midway through the 3 week course, in the middle of Week 2, which focuses on tools for digital storytelling, on the assumption that these tools can be useful in creating and augmenting blended learning classrooms.
Because of that focus, I’m trying to spin everything I post this week as a digital story, hence the scene-setting introduction above. But here’s the digital video storytelling part:
The video is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/rIm1mhlIUhk
Jeff is teaching at a university which, as with many around the world, has delayed start of courses for a month due to the presence of corona virus in Korea, and like many teachers in the countries most affected, Jeff has been put in the position of having to gear up to meet classes at a distance. In his case the transition was minimal because he has for years been keeping his courses on Blogger.
Each course has a tab or category, as Jeff shows us here:
I do something similar in my PBworks site where I can archive previous courses and run the current course from the front page, but the concept is similar. Jeff can keep old courses up onine and bring the material into current courses which can then be topped up with new material. Here’s what one of mine looks like at http://vancesclass.pbworks.com/
If you were in one of my classes when this page was current you would find your section to the left of the plane, and if you clicked on your class, you’d find what you were expected to do in class that day, and in all the classes all term leading up to the present.
Classes that were completed could find records of their learning journeys with me in the archives at right, going back years from when I began this wiki. I showed this example because it’s one where the archives are at the top of the sidebar, so I could capture new and old in a single Jing screenshot. But I have many wikis like this; for example:
- A multiliteracies course I ran from 2004-2014, at http://goodbyegutenberg.pbworks.com/
- A course in Minecraft running from 2015 to the present, at http://missions4evomc.pbworks.com/
Jeff and I use Blogger and PBworks for counterpart purposes, as portals for our courses, where students can go for information about what’s coming up, what they didn’t understand, or what they missed. As teachers we can use these portals as repositories for materials that we can recycle and repurpose into new courses. A portal is an essential part of a DIYLMS.
Now what, you might ask, is a DIYLMS? That’s my term for a do-it-yourself learning management system. Why do it yourself, why not just buy one? Well, that would be expensive and might not meet all your needs; whereas you can utilize free tools to take the place of, or augment, an LMS portal, such as Blackboard (very costly) or Moodle (free, with the catch that it has to be hosted), or Schoology (which we are using in my current blended classroom course). As I explained in the video, even when course materials are on Bb I find it convenient to send my students to those materials via direct links in my own DIYLMS portal, where I can collate all the activities I plan to use for a given day, and the students can operate from and return to a single site order to keep straight what I have planned for them in a given class.
DIYLMS is the topic for Week 3, the last week in the blended classroom course, so while I had Jeff with me I asked him how he managed the other parts of his blended classroom environment. His first contact with his students appears to be in Kakao, a Korean company that makes social connectivity tools, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakao, and which is managed for all students at Jeff’s university by the IT department. From there Jeff gets them into a Band site, which he mentions was created by another Korean company. I had never heard of Band, https://about.band.us/, which has more information at its video channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo4nNxPug24w15_YhvYMYoQ. It appears to be completely free, functions similarly to Edmodo, and looks at first glance like Facebook.
Here’s where Jeff talks about how Kakao gives way to Band and then where Blogger and Google Drive fit into his blended learning classroom.
In keeping with the narrative of the digital story, this video is queued to start at the moment Jeff starts describing his DIYLMS, 19:10 into the video: https://youtu.be/rIm1mhlIUhk?t=1149
So far we’ve described a CMS or content management system, a space like PBworks or Blogger where materials can be stored. An LMS or learning management system hosts content but also has ways of allowing students to submit work and for teachers to track their progress. I asked Jeff how he handled that in his DIYLMS and he mentioned Google Docs, Google Forms, and Quizziz as being useful for this purpose. Schoology teams with Dropbox in its enterprise version for submissions, but I find Dropbox a little awkward to work with (and a DIYLMS assumes you don’t have access to the enterprise version) so in this course I’m asking students to mount their work online and write in the course forums or comment on the assignments (what I call missions) and then Tweet on our course tag #blended2020 the URLs where we can find what they have done.
Recap and response
Basically Jeff had always in recent memory run his university courses on his Blogger site where each course has its own tag or label, while course materials are in Google Drive. Jeff has dozens of courses, and ports from earlier ones to the more recent iterations, and changes those to keep them current. This blended learning classroom system was in place before corona virus came along and the only addition — now that students are staying home and face-to-face teaching is not possible — is that synchronous work now occurs in Zoom.
Moving on to the last week in the course
The 4th office hour of the 3-week course on Creating and Using Blended Learning Classrooms that took place on March 1, 2020 in Zoom was intended to
- help anyone with the Week 2 materials on Digital Storytelling,
- or catch up with the Week 1 mission on coming to grips with digital tools and how to mount a digital “poster”
- or anticipate DIYLMS in the third week of the course.
When Jeff Lebow dropped in we took the opportunity to do the latter and discuss how an expert in blended and online learning creates and uses blended learnng classrooms in his current context. And I hope you have enjoyed this digital story about how he has moved from a blended environment where students usually met face to face to add Zoom so that now the students can meet in a completely online environment until regular classes resume where he works in Korea.
You can read more about Jeff here:
Lebow, Jeff. (2006). Worldbridges: The Potential of Live, Interactive Webcasting. TESL-EJ 10, 1. http://www.tesl-ej.org/ej37/int.html .