Lesson plan for “Your digital footprint” Planning my Micro-teaching activity
The last few weeks have been extremely busy! One of my tasks to complete was the microteaching activity for the “first steps” MOOC. The actual Microteaching presentation took place last Friday, the 22nd of June, and since I am still reflecting on the experience, I thought it’s not too late to post my thoughts on it.
For this activity I chose to design a lesson plan for a session I would like to deliver to my students in the coming academic year, entitled: “Your digital footprint”. I may modify the title a bit to capture the students’ attention but the aims of the session will still be to
- Provide a space to the learners for reflection around their digital identity and the trails they leave in cyberspace;
- Introduce the idea of the level of control learners can have on what exists on the web about them and how to deal with the uncertainty.
Up until now, I would jump straight to the PowerPoint to use it as a blank canvas for inspiration while designing an Information Literacy session. Ideas, activities and structure were gradually shaped as I was filling in the slides with images, activities and colours.
In this case I decided to do things differently and experiment with a tool called the “Learning Designer”. I had the opportunity to attend a workshop delivered by Patricia Charlton and Liz Masterman, in which all participants brought our thinking about learning designs and lesson planning, and of course used the “Learning Designer” tool (LD in short).
Why I opted for the “Learning Designer” tool
Despite my long experience in helping Higher Education students to become information literate citizens, I consider myself as a new professional in teaching, mainly because I haven’t been trained to be a teacher. The tool helped me to ensure that the learning activities were designed with pedagogies in mind. It kept me focused on designing with pedagogy theories in mind.
The tool proved to be very useful for designing a lesson plan in a more structured fashion. I need to admit I like structures because they make expectations and processes clearer. Librarians have been debating on modelling and whether the provision of Information Literacy structures and models is useful or not. The tool’s aim is designing for learning.
Designing for Learning
This tool helped me retain focus on the learner throughout the design of the session. Instead of only thinking how I am going to teach something, my starting point was how the learners will learn and what kind of activities will ensure that they are learning.
Aligning goals, activities and reflection
While keeping the learner at the centre of my session design, one of my main considerations is how to ensure that my anticipated learning outcomes will be met. The tool helped me align these outcomes to activities that would offer a fertile space for reflection. For each of the activities the tool provided alternative ideas, enhancing the balance between acquisition, inquiry, practice, production and discussion.
For example if my initial thought was to provide space for a group discussion, the LD would explain where the emphasis is and how students would use digital tools to get the most out of the activity and interact with digital literacies.
I also realised that a good way for the learners to feel that the designed session was made for them and therefore it’s up to them to get the most out of it, was to provide opportunities for reflection even if that meant we needed to reduce the amount of content.
Get a visual representation of the final product
It is obvious I am in favour of visual aids. I found it very useful that the LD provides a separate screen called “Analysis” where you can see a visual representation of the learning experience.
The “Analysis” provides a graphic representation of the amount of opportunities for acquisition, inquiry, practice, production and discussion the whole session offers the learner.
While designing various activities I kept checking whether the opportunities for inquiry and practice were not enough so that I could go back and modify the session by adding more interactivity and space for production (in this case production is the reflection worksheet).
I realised that in order to push the “one-size-fits-all” part to its minimum, I needed to increase the opportunities to bring learners together in groups (social) and for them to practice individual activities. In theory, it does make sense but how can I minimize the grey “one-size-fits-all” area to meet the needs of mature students who are less confident in group discussions and expect to learn through more didactic approaches of teaching?
Another interesting area was estimating the teacher’s preparation time. The LD can estimate how much time the instructor needs to create the session from scratch and how much they may need if they reuse learning materials. In my “Digital footprint” example, according to the tool I would need 38 hours 12 minutes to prepare everything from scratch or 5 hours and 48 minutes if I was reusing learning materials.
I have to admit that this is another grey area. What do we mean by “reusing learning materials”? Are these our own materials we recycle to serve our purpose or are they OER (Open Educational Resources) which we need to find, evaluate, repurpose and reuse?
If the latter is the case, I actually needed more that the estimated 5 h 12 min to find, repurpose and reuse OER for the specific lesson plan. I also needed more than the estimated time to create the lesson plan from scratch and I am still in the process of refining it. To be honest though, I spent some of my time to get familiar with the software and make sense of the terminology.
Engaging with Open Academic Practice
The LD is an Open Educational Resource (OER) and one of the aims of the creators was to enable educators to share Technology-enhanced learning (TEL) designs and to “complement the value of Open Education Resources”. I am not quite certain how I can share the design of my lesson plan via the LD community but I would like to release it as OER, as a contribution towards my short-term SCORE fellowship.
Designing technology-enhanced learning (TEL)
Talking about digital footprint and digital identity I wouldn’t of course plan a session without engaging learners with digital literacies and technology!
Some of the TEL activities I included are:
- Web-based e-voting activities with the polleverywhere.com
- A web-based reflection worksheet on Google docs
- A wed-based bookmarking platform for websites only2clicks . Learners will be given a link to visit an online platform where I have saved a collection of website for them to start searching their online identity and footprint.
The content will include:
- YouTube and TED videos,
- Flickr images, and
- other case studies from online newspapers,
- infographics shown statistics and
- tutorials explaining privacy settings.
What to pay attention to:
- The current version was designed to serve the needs of the Further Education (FE) curriculum. Although I practice in Higher Education (HE) I found the tool very useful. You can specify the level of the session you create on the properties screen and choose your desired one from a scale of 1-8. For my Lesson plan on “digital footprint” in the HE context, I chose a level 4, bearing in mind that some of my students will be undergraduates in their first module of studies, without necessarily any prior experience in HE studies.
- To open the .exe file and use the tool you need to navigate where you have saved the file and find the actual .exe within a folder called bin.
- You will need to download two more files in order to export your lesson plan as a word document. Make sure you save both files inside the “bin” folder.
- To use the LD tool make sure you regularly save your work and at the end you export your file before closing the application. (This will have an extension .ldse)
- In the “Downloads” page of the Learning Designer Support Environment there is an important disclaimer in bold fonts; the tool is still in prototype form and some of the elements may not work properly. In my case, I lost the actual Lesson plan of my session or for some reason the application cannot open it. I was lucky because I had exported the plan in a word document and had taken many screenshots for my microteaching presentation. It would be fairly easy to re-model my plan by transferring data from my document. So I would personally say that it’s definitely worth playing with the tool but as the Project team advises don’t “use it for any work that you can’t afford to lose.”
In my next post I will be talking about the actual microteaching experience and the feedback received from participants.
Resources and further reading:
- Rebbeck, Geoff; Charlton, Patricia . Reflect – ePortfolio for the Learning Designer Tool. . Accessed: 5 July 2012. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/68vgQzTwo)
- The LDSE project team. Learning Designer Support Environment. Accessed: 5 July 2012. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/68vg2lmd3)
- Zazani, E. 2011. Trends on Information Literacy discussed at LILAC 2011. Journal of information literacy, 5(1), pp 91-94, http://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/ojs/index.php/JIL/article/view/CC-V5-I1-2011-2