EDU 807, Tech Review

Tech Review: “Voxer” – Using Gifs to Build Community

“Rather than see these forms of visual media as leisure-time pleasures, we believe they hold potential to engage students in class and provide another vehicle by which to demonstrate concepts and communicate with each other.” (Reyes, Kaeppl & Bjorngard-Basayne, 2018, para. 1)

In 2018, Faculty Focus published an article titled “Memes and Gifs as Powerful Classroom Tools” where the authors argues that these types of media allowed students to interact with their peers and faculty in a non-threatening (and less awkward) way. Instead of students fumbling for words to express their feelings about specific classroom content they may choose to post a gif or a meme that more succinctly communicates their message (with a dash of humor). This is even more crucial when teaching an online class where engagement and community building are often a struggle. That’s where Voxer comes in!

Voxer is a free mobile application (but can be used on desktops) that allows for team communication in a forma very similar to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The application allows for users to send messages in a variety of formats such as text, text-to-speech, audio clips, videos, photos, and you guessed it  – gifs! While Voxer is primarily marketed to businesses who have project teams, it also works well for small groups and classroom discussions in an online environment. Initial setup is quick and the user-interface is straight-forward and user-friendly that it does not take long to begin using it. Once an individual has downloaded the app and signed-up for an account that are able to search for other users and create chat-groups to begin communicating with one another.

So why should educators care about Voxer and using gifs in their online classroom discussions? In 2015, Rebecca Glazier conducted a study to understand how student rapport can be increased in online classes to increase retention rates. Glazier’s (2016) results strongly suggest that faculty who build rapport with their students have greater success in terms of their students performing well in the online classroom. Glazier comments “students notice a difference when a course is taught with rapport-building measures,” such as implementing a tool like Voxer (Glazier, 2016, pg. 13). By utilizing Voxer, faculty and students are able to engage in a much richer format than just emails and standard discussion boards housed within an LMS. Voxer provides the tools for a more ‘human’ feeling connection that includes real-time responses and expressions of emotions and reactions through the use of emojis, images and gifs. Do you have to utilize the gif and image feature to enjoy and benefit from Voxer? No – but you will be missing out on a really engaging feature that sets the tool a part from traditional LMS discussion boards.

I have experienced Voxer first-hand in my doctoral class and found it to be far more engaging (and dare I say fun!) than other discussion based applications that have been used in my program thus far. While it may cause some initial push-back from students who already use a variety of messaging apps, once they start to use it to discuss course content and engage with their peers – I strongly believe they will forget that they were ever resistant. As an instructor, I believe that I will utilize this in my online classes moving forward, rather than the standard discussion board posting as it seemed to create more meaningful and natural conversation about the topics at hand, rather than students simply mirroring what they read in their articles/textbooks. I can not recommend this tool enough for online discussion with adult learners!

giphy

 

References

Glazier, R. A. (2016). Building rapport to improve retention and success in online classes. Journal of Political Science Education12(4), 437-456.

Reyes, M., Kaeppel, K., & Bjorngard-Basayne, E. (2018, November 26). Memes and GIFs as Powerful Classroom Tools: Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/memes-and-gifs-as-powerful-classroom-tools/

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Video Games, Storytelling, and Education – Oh, My!

Padilla-Zea, N., Gutiérrez, F. L., López-Arcos, J. R., Abad-Arranz, A., & Paderewski, P. (2014). Modeling storytelling to be used in educational video games. Computers in Human Behavior31, 461-474.

Summarize. This article explores the relationship that storytelling within educational games and student motivation. The authors created a model for educators on how to implement storytelling effectively within educational games as refer to their model as VGSCL (a reference model for educational game development incorporating collaborative activities). The authors were very mindful about trying to find balance between fun and education in terms of the games they were implementing in their study. The authors took an interesting approach to the storytelling aspect of the games, and used it as a reward in that the more students participated and completed, the more story they were exposed to which is fairly common in popular video games.

Evaluate. I felt that this was a well-rounded study in that the authors clearly defined the problem and ideas that they were going to be exploring throughout their article. The authors also created a clear framework with which their study and results were framed. The article itself was broken up into logical pieces that provided the reader with easy navigation. The authors were aware and candid about their small sample size and the age of their participants not necessarily being applicable to broader types of education. However, the authors still worked to give suggestions for broader groups of students even while admitting limited data.

Application. Storytelling plays a crucial role within Native American culture and is primarily how information was passed on throughout the generations. Considering my topic of research for my doctoral program is how to implement technology and culturally responsive pedagogy within online courses, this article was of great interest. While not all courses are appropriate for educational games, I do want to look at all options for implementing storytelling while using technology in a meaningful way. This article provided me some information on what practices are already in place and the impact they are having on student motivation.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

TPAK & Design Thinking

Koh, J. H. L., Chai, C. S., Benjamin, W., & Hong, H. Y. (2015). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and design thinking: A framework to support ICT lesson design for 21st century learning. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher24(3), 535-543.

Summary. The authors of this article define design thinking as “the reasoning process used to manage the various demands underlying acts of creation” (Koh, Chai, Benjamin & Hong, 2015, pg. 535). Using this definition, the authors argue that in order for faculty to achieve twenty-first century learning in their classrooms, they must “construct TPACK using design thinking as a strategy to address the complex factors surrounding information and communication technology (ICT) integrated lesson design (Koh, et. al, 2015, pg. 535). The authors suggest that in order for faculty to use design thinking and TPACK, faculty should make themselves part of the “knowledge-creating culture” to ensure they can develop and grow their ideas and then implement (Koh, Chai, Benjamin & Hong, 2015, pg. 541).

Evaluation.  This article is not a study or literature review, but instead a conceptual paper which contains some bias from the authors in addition to research from studies. The structure of the paper is very compartmentalized in that a read can easily skim through and review headings to read small chunks that may pertain to their own research. The paper itself reads a bit disjointedly in that concepts don’t smoothly transition from one to the next. This paper, like the literature reviews I have discussed in previous posts, may be more better suited to brainstorming and laying foundations for ideas, rather than being explicitly used or cited in an academic paper. This paper lacks any qualitative or quantitative research.

Application. While I would more than likely not use this paper in my writing, it did provide me with a good overview of how design thinking could be paired with TPAK and ICT. The article also provides some broad background knowledge on other common instructional design practices/concepts such as ADDIE and ASSURE which are important for me to keep in mind throughout my doctoral program.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

What Can Videos Offer in Modern Higher Education?

Laaser, W., & Toloza, E. (2017). The changing role of the educational video in higher distance education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(2).

Summary. This article takes in the consideration of previous works concerning the usefulness and effectiveness of video usage in the classroom, but moves its focus to how videos are used in environments such as a MOOC and how they can create collaborative learning. The authors argue that video has “become the dominant media” in the online classroom environment (Laaser & Toloza, 2017, pg. 264). The authors then go into discussing the history of video use in classrooms followed by an explanation for different types of videos to be used, such as ‘explainer’ videos to show or explain a process/concept (Laaser & Toloza, 2017). By the end of the article the authors argue that in order for videos to be effective in an education setting they must be engaging, short, and often student produced rather than simply mimicking an in-classroom lecture.

Evaluation. The overall organization of the article provides easy skimming for readers and keeps focus.  While this article is very accessible to someone interested in current research on video in online classroom settings, it does not posses any solid research outside of brief literature reviews and historical analysis. This would indicate that this article is a good jumping-off point for more in-depth research but does not provide much else from a research standpoint.

Application. This article could be utilized as a foundation from which to find similar articles that contain quantitative and qualitative research regarding video use in online classrooms. I can also use this article as a means to brainstorm best practices for utilizing video in my own classroom or creating instructions for faculty on best practices for creating videos. There also seems to be a good bit of information on what not to do with videos in online classrooms, and this could be explored further in my own research.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Designed Videos as a Means for Storytelling?

Schwartz, D. L., & Hartman, K. (2007). It is not television anymore: Designing digital video for learning and assessment. In Goldman, R., Pea, R., Barron, B., & Derry, S.J. (Eds.), Video research in learning science (pp. 349-366). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrance Erlbaum Associates.

Summary.  The authors of this chapter look to explore the effectiveness of designed videos for assessment in classroom learning. The authors define a designed video as a video “where the author of the video decides on its components and features beforehand,” and then the video is used as means of assessment (Schwartz & Hartman, 2007, pg. 2). They then provide a framework that can be used to map various uses of designed video in the classroom. The authors also point out their frustrations of the limited amount of research that has been conducted on video for learning or designed videos. The authors urge educators to put careful consideration on learning outcomes when decided what type of video to design for assessment and learning.

Evaluation. A strong and obvious disadvantage for this chapter is a lack of research in the area of designed videos being used for assessment and learning, and this is a weakness even the authors acknowledge. Another weakness of this paper is that is was more or less a literature review, and the authors never performed a study. The authors mention that the chapter “would have been much more effective if [they] had used video in an interactive multimedia context” during their research (Schwartz & Hartman, 2007, pg. 23). A major benefit of this chapter are the high quality figures that were created by the researcher, particularly, Figure 1, which is a map of sorts to help readers see different types of videos that can be used and the skills or purposes desired when using those types of videos. This figure serves as the framework from which the rest of the chapter is focused on.

Application. This article is applicable to my research, particularly in creating media for online courses with Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in mind. More specifically, the Native American Culture is a culture that puts a high amount of value in oral communication and storytelling – a designed video may be a means of recreating traditional storytelling methods in an online environment. Perhaps I can design videos or create instructions for faculty on designing videos using the framework set-forth by Schwartz and Hartman (2007) while still utilizing Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Exploring Ecology in Educational Technology: The Role of Instructional Desingers

Hokanson, B. (2017). A New Ecology for Education: Refocusing Educational Technology Beyond Content. In New Ecology for Education—Communication X Learning (pp. 1-6). Springer, Singapore.

Summary. Bran Hokanson’s (2017) paper makes the argument that current education and educational research focuses on students retaining content/information, and while this is useful information, researchers should begin to widen their scope and review more cognitive traits. Hokanson likens this new approach to research and learning to instructional design, in that designers focus on “finding” and “redefining” problems: “curiosity applied and formalized” (pg. 2). A designer, similar to students, in solving problems, doesn’t simply need to know content, but needs to also know how to use the content (Hokanson, 2017).  However, Hokanson then points out that even instructional designers have a bit of disconnect from really looking at content in a meaningful way, because they are forced to separate the learning experience from the content but a subject matter expert (Hokanson, 2017). Hokanson proposes that instructional designers should instead begin to focus on developing “instructional methods for persistence and grit, fairness, and curiosity,” rather than just focusing on content retention (Hokanson 2017, pg. 6). In order to ensure continued innovation of education, Hokanson ends by calling out to all instructional designers to develop “an ecology of learning” rather than concepts, practices, and pedagogies that are only focused on content.

Evaluation. This paper is very short, concise, and accessible to any level of academic reader which makes it ideal for an introduction for further research on new ecologies of learning and the role of instructional designers. The paper was published for the HKAECT-AECT Summer International Research Symposium and so it is meant to be reasonably short, but it does read similarly to a literature review with a shorter list of references. With literature reviews there is not any research or raw data included to further show gaps or needs presented by the author, and so the reader has to take the calls-to-action at face value.

Application. This paper is very different from the previous two that I have read and reviewed, in that it does not focus on culture, diversity, or inclusion. However, I believe, as an aspiring instructional designer in a doctoral program, this provides me with the opportunity to brainstorm how instructional designers can utilize the concept of learning ecology and apply it to research on the various cultural contexts that can impact student learning. Learning ecology can be defined as “the set of contexts found in physical or virtual spaces that provide opportunities for learning” (Barron, 2006, 195). What types or sets of contexts do students of color have that are different from their Caucasian peers and how does the effect their educational experience? And in turn, how can instruction designers address these differences in a meaningful way, using educational technology, to innovate and improve the learner’s experience?

Reference
Barron, B. (2006). Interest and self-sustained learning as catalysts of development: A learning ecologies perspectiveHuman Development, 49, 193-224.

OERs

On the OER Hunt!

This week in the edX course, Introduction to Open Education, there is a strong focus on “creating, finding, and using OERS.” This is a nice change from the general focus of copyright and creative commons. I have decided to look into different OER databases and provide them to you with short summaries. Not only could this help you in your future courses, but, it serves as a nice reminder for myself.

OpenStax

According to the “About Us” page, OpenStax “is a nonprofit based at Rice University, and it’s [their] mission to improve student access to education” (OpenStax, n.d. pp.1). While exploring this site I found that it only covers five different categories of materials: math, science, social sciences, humanities, and AP.  Looking deeper into the resources they are fairly basic in the nature of their content – this content could be used in a entry level course or a general core course at a university. These OERs look and operate just like an eBook from a commercial publisher. While I personally would not use this site as it does not cover the subjects that I teach, I would recommend it to those in the previously states disciplines.

OER Commons

This website is a digital public library and covers a wider range of topics and concentrations than OpenStax. This website also offers instructors the ability to create using their resource builder, lesson builder, and module builder. The types of material available for use are very diverse, anything from case studies to simulations, you could find anything your academic heart desires. Under each OER there is a “conditions of use” which lets the user know how the user can manipulate the artifact – most are remix and share. I personally plan on using this website for my future courses as there are so many artifacts to choose from and all are at no cost to the student!

OER Knowledge Cloud

At first glance this site does not offer much visually which could turn-off some viewers who are already familiar with the previous two resources. The website does have an FAQ which does a decent job of answering the most basic questions regarding OERs and creative commons. When searching their database the list of items that appear are hard to read and uninviting despite how good their content may be. Honestly, this website did not offer much and I would not really recommend it to anyone searching out innovative OERs for their classes.

Keep in mind there is a vast amount of OER databases and I only covered three for the sake of time – plus no one wants to read while I drone on about my opinion on websites all day. Instead I will include a link where you can find a list of high quality OER databases that I hope you will enjoy:

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/infotech/chapter/oer-database-list/