A Community of Inquiry Infographic

Community of Inquiry Teaching Infographic

Rationale for Design

The Community of Inquiry model is a framework that allows educators to align their online courses/learning environments with research that shows positive outcomes in learning satisfaction and overall learning (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007).

In my own teaching context, I coach and mentor other teachers in the public K-12 education system. Since I am working with colleagues who are often knowledgeable and keenly aware of curriculum and pedagogy, the infographic I designed fosters their faciliatory skills in online environments using COI as their framework.

Teachers in the K-12 public system who are moving their learning environments from brick-and-mortar classrooms to elaborate digital spaces may not realize the impact of these three presences in how they engage their students. My end goal for this design was to have a concise and easy-to-use infographic with clickable links that enhance their understanding and usage of COI.

Breaking Down the Infographic

  • Introduce the context in which the COI will be relevant and show a graphic of the typical three-circle model, overlapping the educational experience as the common and important factor in the relationship.
  • Define each of the three presences: Social, Cognitive and Teaching.
  • A brief descriptor of the importance and relevance of COI to our practice
  • Give concrete examples of what each presence ‘looks like’ in practice
  • Create a section that links various learning modalities outside of the infographic
  • References

While this infographic is printable and in PDF form, its full functionality is meant for a digital platform.

Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. Internet and Higher Education, 10(3), 157–172. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2007.04.001

3-2-1 for 528

Facilitating in Digital Environments

Three thoughts…

  • I imagine if we looked at the google searches for this particular concept, the numbers would be drastically different in April 2019, then in April 2020 and beyond.
  • I also believe facilitating and teaching have two different meanings, but often get used as synonyms.
  • My final thought on facilitating in digital environments for the purpose of this post is a confession; if you’d had asked me 5 years ago if I want to participate in online learning, I would have said no.

Two(ish) Questions…

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash
  • What are some telltale signs that my facilitating is missing the mark?
  • How scripted is good facilitation?   Or   Can ad lib/spontaneous facilitation work well?

One Metaphor…

Digital facilitation is like cooking a meal from scratch; the ingredients should be fresh and following a recipe can be helpful. However, trying different ingredients and new proportions can lead to newly discovered favourites!

Solving a Problem of Practice

The End Result of Creating a Useful Digital Learning Tool

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

For this particular project, I started with an organizational Problem of Practice (PoP). The organization is a 10-12 secondary online school. The problem was; early identification of mental health barriers in online 10-12 students is not practiced effectively. The solution I designed aimed to capture student disengagement (often a symptom of mental health challenges) at the early stages by using a quick and easy, digital assessment tool. Below is the User Guide for the assessment, and the assessment, titled, Brief Assessment of Student Engagement (BASE).

Brief Assessment of Student Engagement MS Office Form

Click to link to MS Form

Reflections of LRNT 526

What Can I Say?….

“Tree Reflection” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The journey this last eight weeks of learning has taken me was both invigorating and exhausting. I was lucky enough to be a part of a perfectly eclectic team of individuals who needled each other just enough to bring about that great synergy of creative drive – so thanks Patrick, Shelley and Wendy!

Branching scenario technology was new to me. H5P was not. I had tinkered with it in past musings and found other applications for plugins to the LMS we use at my place of work. It was the discussions within my team meetings that really started to outline a path forward in terms of how I might use this technology in relation to my field of interest.

Youth in crisis. Trauma-informed practise is how I have been trained to work with my students. It is a lens through which to view an individual. That lens allows me to understand their past in order to help them move into their future. There are so many challenges to finding ways to reach youth who have chosen to learn online, due to high anxiety or depression. The tools we are using now (Teams, Zoom, Google Classroom, etc.) don’t seem to be working for these students.

Maybe branching scenarios – practicing being in a setting that is unfamiliar or uncomfortable, with various choices and outcomes, could help these anxious youth overcome past traumas? Maybe with enough coaching and practicing through skills training (like this), could bring online youth to a place where they would be willing to come into a school and practice working in a real group setting?

The way forward with my inquiry will be both exhausting and invigorating. What I will take away most from these last 8 weeks, is the reminder of the brilliant minds that I am so lucky to share this space with.

Where I Am Going With This Chosen Topic?

If There Is a Fork In The Road, Can I Help The Hungry?

“Fork In The Road” by Ian Sane is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The technology chosen by my team is H5P branching scenarios. At the heart of this technology, we see scenario-based learning (SBL). On her blog, Kokoulina (2019) defines SBL as, “… an immersive training environment where learners meet realistic work challenges and get realistic feedback as they progress since everything that happens reflects the learner’s choices”. I would venture to add, that the word ‘work’ could be replaced with other verbs such as life, worldly or personal and cover a broader range of learning parameters.

For me, branching scenarios and at a deeper level, SBL offer a tool to explore a digital technology to reach online learners. My focus is to bring a realistic, empathy-based, digitally embedded tool into online courses for secondary students who struggle with anxiety and depression. Can branching scenarios be that tool? Is there a place for scenario-based learning in mental health literacy for youth?

The literature is heavily weighted in healthcare usage of simulation teaching (Al-Elq, A. H.,2010). However, it was becoming clear as our team navigated the research, more and more work is being done with branching scenario technology outside of healthcare. Not just in terms of how to make it cheaper and easier to use (Bell et al., 2008), but how it works within learning frameworks (Battista, 2017) and how the brain responds to learning through simulations (Cardoza, 2011). Scenario-based learning is a fascinating field; I can already see the myriad of potentials and pitfalls and look forward to exploring them in greater detail in the coming weeks.

Useful links

https://eflmagazine.com/keep-students-connected-engaged-h5p/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfau7HiPq_c

https://www.elucidat.com/blog/branching-elearning-examples/

https://www.eidesign.net/branching-simulations-2/

References

Al-Elq, A. H. (2010). Simulation-based medical teaching and learning. Journal of family & community medicine, 17(1), 35-40. doi:10.4103/1319-1683.68787

Battista, A. (2017). An activity theory perspective of how scenario-based simulations support learning: a descriptive analysis. Advances in Simulation, 2(1), 23. doi:10.1186/s41077-017-0055-0

Bell, B. S., Kanar, A. M., & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2008). Current issues and future directions in simulation-based training in North America. International Journal of Human Resource Management19(8), 1416–1434. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585190802200173

Cardoza, M. P. (2011). Neuroscience and Simulation: An Evolving Theory of Brain-Based Education. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 7(6), e205-e208. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecns.2011.08.004

Kokoulina, O. (2019). Beginner’s guide to scenario-based learning, eLearning blog; Retrieved on April 15, 2021, from: https://www.ispringsolutions.com/blog/scenario-based-learning

 

Reflecting On Leadership

I Don’t Need A Pantsuit Afterall

“DIY Hanging Copper Hat Rack” by apairandaspare is licensed under CC BY 2.0

After reflecting and contemplating the knowledge given to me regarding leadership and change theory in this latest course, I have decided maybe a hat rack instead of a pantsuit would be a more useful tool as a leader. While the notion of the pantsuit was just a silly stereotype from a patriarchal time that I hope is passing, the hat rack is a metaphor for all the roles a good leader must portray. Think about it; Conway et al. (2017) say innovators “…must mimic the habits of entrepreneurs” (p. 14). At the same time, Weiner (2009) emphasizes the importance of a leader’s effective interpersonal skills. Then there is James O’Toole, who has us hanging our hat on values as a way to lead (2008). O’Toole (2008) explains, “values-based leaders create followers by enabling them to see clearly, and to achieve effectively, that which they hold dear” (p. 7). There are, of course, many more hats I could define us wearing as leaders. The point is the true knack is knowing which hat to don for each given leadership task. I looked in my closet just today, and while I still do not own a pantsuit, I think I may have gained a hat or two over the last nine weeks.

References

Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(1), 67. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67

Conway, R., Masters, J., & Thorold, J., (2017). From design thinking to systems change: How to invest in innovation for social impact. Royal Society of Arts, Action and Research Centre.

O’Toole, James (2008). Notes Toward a Definition of Values-Based LeadershipThe Journal of Values-Based Leadership1(1).

 

Digital Change ToolKit

Collaborative Digital Learning Platforms

As part of a team of professionals in a Masters’s candidate program, we were tasked with putting together a toolkit for those who might find themselves leading a digital change in an organization.

Our team of five created a website with a six-step/flow process that gives a simple tool at each step.

Have a look: click image

“Change” by Wiertz Sébastien is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

https://snorum4.wixsite.com/website

 

Leading for Change

From Proper Beginnings to Clear Endings: Implementing Change

“Reflexology Path” by alantankenghoe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I am currently in the middle of a  digital change project. And while I am not the project manager, I am part of the team leading the change. My school district is switching to an online, fillable, auto-populated Individual Education Plan for special needs students. The change was planned to happen over five years. We are currently in year two. Covid has stalled movement for change this year.

The old (what we now refer to as the ‘legacy’ IEP) does not fit well with British Columbia’s newly designed curriculum (https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/rethinking-curriculum). As the legacy IEP was based on students’ weaknesses and supporting those areas, the goal of education in BC has shifted to a strength-based model. This new Competency-Based Individual Education Plan (CB IEP) was developed over the last six years by various BC stakeholders and implemented across the province. These stakeholders included many school districts, school boards and the BC Ministry of Education. (CB IEP early template sample)

As far as project planning, I believe this is where issues arose. In 2015, after the redesigned curriculum was being implemented, a few districts, in isolation, started looking at revamping the IEP. Since there was no universal template, only ministerial requirements for audit purposes, the IEP follows; it was like the wild west out there regarding what an IEP looked like district to district. MyEdBC is the province’s online information system and operates as a central database for all student’s (https://www.myeducationbc.info/about/) data. The new CBIEP is embedded within this system and uses the data to auto-populate the demographics, and other information sets pertinent to the student’s designation. Also, because it is a fillable document, it has been coded with many drop-down choices for goals, objectives and strategies, which in the past were written by the case manager directly into the old legacy IEP’s.

Figure 1 – Creating Inclusive Plans shows what the purpose of CB IEP’s are

When I reflect on the beginning of this change path, I can see a few points where things may have been done differently to exalt better results. The Ministry might have created a task force/think tank to establish this process during the new curriculum rollout. As Conway et al. (2017) point out, the problems and questions need to be “organized” when looking at barriers to a change process. This step did not happen. The new curriculum was redesigned but gave no thought to how that redesign would have a trickle-down effect on the processes affected by that redesign, like IEP’s. Education in each province in Canada is a system. As such, the approach to elicit change would benefit significantly from “systems thinking” (Conway et al., 2017). This is relevant because education is such a broad and public system. We need to be able to step back and see the big picture. The small microcosm we, as districts, find ourselves in becomes stagnant. Systems thinking is a way out of that. “It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots” (Senge, PM. 1990), and can unify the tunnel vision that the separate parts of the whole we get lost into (Conway et al., 2017).

There are still two more years down this change path. I can hope to bring what knowledge I have learned here back to the team. Although this process has begun, modelling after the framework that the University of Calgary reported on (2014), may prove to be useful, even at this juncture in the journey. Especially in terms of a “supportive environment” and “learning spaces” (University of Calgary, 2014) for the users to become comfortable and invested in this change.

So far, the project’s most significant barriers have been resistance to the adoption of new technology, funding for ample support and a clear, concise path to completion. All big ones, I know. These are just at my district level. I am not privy to how the process began, so it is unclear if a framework or model for change was employed at this project’s genesis. At my district level, we have been working to empower users the best we know how. Is this enough? No, likely not. Our members are saturated, our funding is limited and tight, and our path to completion has been stalled due to a global pandemic. September 2021 will herald in a new school year, and with it, revitalized creativity and vigour within the district. This change project team will reconvene with purpose and possibly with a member that has a little bit more insight into digital change and project management.

References

Conway, R., Masters, J., & Thorold, J., (2017). From design thinking to systems change: How to invest in innovation for social impact. Royal Society of Arts, Action and Research Centre. https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/rsa_from-design-thinking-to-system-change-report.pdf

University of Calgary, Learning Technologies Task Force. (2014). Strategic framework for Learning Technologies

External Scan: Changemakers

When Change Happens

“Change” by Wiertz Sébastien is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For this assignment, I interviewed four colleagues, each in a different role within a K-12 public school district in British Columbia. While each of them described varying change events, common themes could be seen amongst their answers. Considering their four perspectives, research on change theory and models, and my own experiences and philosophy, the following brief synthesis is what culminated.

For ease of explanation, I will use the change event of COVID-19 forcing students and educators into digital learning spaces. This particular change event happened without time for reflection (Castelli, 2015) or delving into the organization’s readiness (Weiner, 2009). However, what COVID-19 did allow for in K-19 education and digital learning was a forced unfreezing as explained by Lewin’s 3-step method (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015).

Please reference the Change Graphic Below as I discuss the following concerning my K-12 public school district.

The antecedent event that moved all BC students and educators into digital learning spaces was a global pandemic. Stakeholder decisions were made at a provincial level, with data and information coming from the Centre for Disease Control, the BC Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Provincial Health Officer. At this level, it was decided to close schools and deliver learning from a distance. At this point, the Ministry of Education disseminated information to middle management (superintendents and other district staff), which had the arduous task of making the swift change work for their specific and uniquely different districts. With little preparation and no time to reflect or review the literature on, ‘best practices for teaching during a pandemic’, these folks did the best they could. The middle management now needed to train their leaders on the ground. Principals, vice-principals and other support staff were quickly and often not effectively told of new protocols and guidelines. They were shown new digital tools and platforms while also navigating a global pandemic for themselves and their own families. That brings us to implementation throughout the organization.

 In looking back at this rapid shift my colleagues and I made this last year, I am in awe of how well we are doing. Despite being thrown into approximately step five of Biech’s (2007), six-step CHANGE Model (p. 4.), my colleagues had some optimistic things to say about change in our organization. I have added some quotes from my interviews with them. The colours of the quotes represent where they would fall on the Change Graphic above. I did not interview anyone who fell within the green category

Said about leaders during change:

“There were many, many long hours and problem solving in real-time.”

“…provided the time and people…”

“…provide the support to the staff as they start … transitions.”

Said about their approach to change:

“I’m more open now to learning about new programs as I’ve seen how versatile and useful, they can be”

“I have realized that change is not only inevitable but necessary to help today’s youth survive and thrive in the present world.”

“I would say our approach has a greater awareness of wellness, but that also the people in the organization have also demonstrated an openness to embrace the changes.”

Said about challenges to overcome:

“…establishing appropriate boundaries for connecting [digitally].”

“Budgets and priorities have shifted, exposing many cracks in the system where families that are struggling are struggling even further in many cases. The divide is getting larger, and many cling to the hope of normalcy returning soon.”

References

Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234–262. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215

Biech, E. (2007). Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. https://ezproxy.royalroads.ca/sso/skillport?context=22651

Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organisational performance. Journal of Management Development35(2), 217–236. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112

Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science4(67), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67

Change in Digital Learning Environments

Ross Gellar Said It Best – “P-I-V-O-T!”

“Moving the couch” by kendrahw is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Weiner (2009) looks to “…define organizational readiness for change… (p. 6). In a perfect world, this preamble is necessary to make institutional changes that are costly and time-consuming. Readiness is an essential step in change-making, but as educators are keenly aware, organizations were not given a chance to ready themselves for COVID-19. This is especially true for K-12 education, which is where I find myself amid many changes. Online learning became a reality for the majority overnight; in a world where just days prior, online learning was a choice for the few. This rapid and necessary pivot that many educators and learners have made is nothing that any theory or model could have prepared us for.

Leading in this particular digital learning environment requires empathy, patience and grace. In reading and dissecting the various models and theories of change, Al-Haddad & Kotnour (2015) describe Lewin’s method from 1946 as “…unfreezing the current state of the organization… (p. 248)”. COVID-19 sure did that! I also appreciate the concision on Lewin’s method.

If we indeed are in the change stage of Lewin’s method, this is where good leadership plays a role. On a macro scale, folks look to political leaders in times of world crises such as these. On a micro-scale, in our jobs, for example, we need just as much security and reassurance. Castelli (2016) writes, “… archaic leadership practices and traditional thinking will not propel growth in an ever-changing and highly perplexing transnational marketplace” (p. 217). In the K-12 education system, the shift to digital learning has meant principals and other administrators need to be good leaders. Some are, and some are not.

For some K-12 institutions, their leaders are not digital natives. Therefore, the quick decisions regarding digital learning that needed to happen at the beginning of the pandemic were stalled and hampered due to leadership’s lack of knowledge and experience in online learning environments. Not all districts and leaders had these issues, but unfortunately, I venture to guess many did.

I look forward to moving through this change stage. The days when COVID-19 is in our rear-view, and we can begin to refreeze in the ideological, digital-learning-playgrounds we shall find ourselves enjoying together.

References

Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234–262. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215

Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organisational performance. Journal of Management Development35(2), 217–236. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112

Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science4(67), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67