CILP [Collaborative Inquiry and Learning of PADI Online Diving Course]

As I make my way through the 15+ hours of online learning prior to become certified for closed and open water diving with my family (holy time commitment Batman! Sounded like a good idea at the time when we booked our trip…), we find ourselves having an obscure out of body experience of sorts. As we read through and listen to the content, watch the ‘at point of use’ videos, branch off to outside links should our interests take us there, we have collaborative a-ha moments where we realize maybe THIS is what personalized learning is supposed to be???

The PADI online course, but my favourite feature is the short checks for understanding that I get to do after short chunks of new learning. Learning goals are stated right up front for me as I move along to the next set of ideas, and there are guiding questions in the top right hand corner of the screen where the content can be found. I have been called ‘old school’ in my approach to learning, because I still find it necessary to take notes on pencil-paper (my kids don’t do this, and interestingly enough, neither does my husband), but this system works for me.

After I complete each section, the program provides me with a summary of BIG ideas that I then compare to my own notes. The little quizzes help prepare me for the larger end of unit assessment and when I score 100% I feel great. I really like the way the automated-scoring final assessment works too. With each answer, I get more information about why my answer is correct. If I answer it incorrectly, this feedback box tells me why my answer is wrong, provides me with the correct responses AND directs me to the whereabouts in the course I can review to consolidate my learning. Imagine if students could be provided with such timely feedback? Imagine what I could do as an educator, seeing how many times certain students needed to revisit certain concepts? This would be so helpful for guided instruction…

I’m only on module 2 of 5 but I can’t get over how each of my 5 family members is going through the course differently. The boys click on videos whenever they are available, whereas Julia and I are task masters, want to keep a steady efficient pace, and so we avoid the extras but keep notes to be accurate. Gender difference maybe, hmmm?

To date, because of individual extra curricular and work schedules etc…, we have not worked on the online course work simultaneously. I think it’d be interesting if we did because we could experience the benefits of ‘blended’ learning. Due to the number of computers in our house, this would require someone doing it on a mobile device. Wonder what that would be like? If we completely the modules concurrently, I wonder if they will turn to discuss ideas with one another? Will save those thoughts for the next CILP reflection…

Sure has been an interesting snapshot into how we each approach the task differently. PADI has got it right: technology is allowing us to customize the learning experience.

Yours in SCUBA newbie-ness,
Tania

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Student readiness

Some may know that the computer-based vs. pencil-based testing debate has become near and dear to my heart; so dear that it is actually the main thrust and focus for my doctoral study for which I will begin collecting data next week actually 🙂 Insert happy dance here!

Out the Classroom Window

Out the Classroom Window By Elfboy CC

And so as I am transitioning into the world outside of the classroom to my new exciting role as Pearson Canada‘s Digital Learning Research & Communications Manager, I have been learning even more about how districts are tackling this debate.

In my reading, I came across an online social networking community actually created and maintained by the larger Pearson in the US called FWD.  [SIDE NOTE-I encourage you to check out this online community as it hosts a lot of topics, like next generation learning,  educator and leader effectiveness, and instructional improvement that I know will resonate with my fellow Canadian educators and thought leaders. Besides which, we have a lot to add to the conversation from our perspective]. In one post by @bryanbleil last year entitled, Lessons Learned, he shares first-hand tips and tricks from the field to make the transition to online testing more manageable from an implementation point of view. Some practical suggestions include ensuring the district has necessary bandwidth, and testing the testing instrument ahead of time. Prudent moves indeed, but one other BIG caveat I would offer is to FIRST ensure students have the pre-requisite skills  to complete online assessments. Before assessing a district’s readiness for administering online tests, I might suggest educators need to ask themselves, “Are my students ready?”

At the very least, shouldn’t both conversations happen simultaneously?

Student Readiness a REAL factor
In its joint feasibility study and report with the Texas Education Agency regarding Texas’ readiness for state-wide implementation of online testing, Pearson researchers noted:

A majority of districts discussed “digital gaps,” such as the lack of equitable access across the student population to computers and the technology skills necessary for online testing. The digital gap was perceived as being primarily attributable to the student body’s socio-economic status; districts reported a belief that students from lower socio-economic families with more limited access to computers outside of school might be at a disadvantage with respect to online testing when compared with other students. (2008, p. 5)

I am encouraged by the recommendation that before online testing occur, that staff AND students receive the training they need to set the testing experience up for success. How much and how to access student technology training is another blogpost for another day…

Thoughts?
Tania

Texas Education Agency. (2008). An evaluation of districts’ readiness for online testing (Document No. GE09 212 01). Austin, TX; Texas Education Agency.