HOW CAN I IMPROVE THE WAY STUDENTS LEARN FROM EACH OTHER USING A VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT? WHAT HAVE I LEARNED ABOUT LEARNING? I have learned that by incorporating technology into my practice, the gap between the teacher and the learner becomes smaller. •Who is the teacher and who is the learner? (article) • Students learning more from each other through discussions, collaborative work •21st Century skills (how to build a webpage) •Learning from students / Students teaching me editing skills, how to use various programs, animation with wikis. “As I incorporate more technology in my classroom and shape my assignments around collaborative learning, I find myself learning much from my students as well. A good example can be seen during my 3rd field study. In this study I am attempting to improve how students learn from each other through the use of an online learning environment. My students have been creating Wikipages on various topics which they will use as study resources. During our time in the library completing this assignment I found myself excited about what my students were doing with their webpages. I have been using wikis for various reasons for a number of years, however what my students were creating was far better than anything I had ever done! I began to ask them technology based questions about how they were doing certain things. I soon found myself learning how to create more professional looking wikis.” I have learned that incorporating a VLN into my practice gives the students another opportunity to learn from each other. •An overwhelming majority of the students learned from each other through the wikispace. •Most agreed that if it was used on a more regular basis and regulated properly that it would help them learn from other students. •Most also agreed that they enjoyed this type of assignment and learned a number of things from each other, including content material, interesting facts and trivia, and how to build and use a wikipage. Whether using the wikispace improved how they learn from each other or not has yet to be seen, however more time using assignments like this would probably produce a more clear answer. •It is clear that the students had the added bonus of learning about 21st Century skills while doing this assignment, such as creating and using wikis. It is also clear that much of this learning came from each other through collaboration and trial and error. 30 25 20 15 Yes No 10 Maybe 5 0 Was Wikispaces easy to use? Did you like this type of assignment? DID YOU LEARN FROM THE WIKIPAGES YOUR CLASSMATES MADE? Yes No 20 18 16 14 12 Yes 10 |No Maybe 8 6 4 2 0 Did you like the discussion question? Would more online discussions help you Do you think a class wiki used regularly learn from students? helps you learn from other students? 30 25 20 Yes 15 No Maybe 10 5 0 Was Wikispaces easy to use? Did you like this type of assignment? DID YOU LEARN FROM THE WIKIPAGES YOUR CLASSMATES MADE? Yes No 20 18 16 14 12 Yes 10 |No Maybe 8 6 4 2 0 Did you like the discussion question? Would more online discussions help you Do you think a class wiki used regularly learn from students? helps you learn from other students? WHAT HAVE I LEARNED ABOUT TECNOLOGY? I have learned that frustrations are inevitable and that it takes time to implement technology properly into my practice. •Not all students had complete success using wikispaces. Some of the problems they encountered included editing issues, html vs java script, formatting, and collaboration issues. •Wikispaces isn’t perfect. I find it a very good medium for creating wikipages on various topics; however as a discussion forum something like Ning or Facebook might be better for threaded discussions. In spite of this, the classes almost unanimously agreed that wikispaces was easy to use. The majority also noted that they did like this kind of assignment. •When incorporating technology into an assignment, I have learned that criteria for students is just as important if not more so than when not doing this. The wikipages were quite varied. Students had certain criteria to meet but also had a lot of freedom as to how and what to display on their webpage. Some students commented that a few of the wikipages were not well organized, difficult to read, and had way too much information. I think this is partly due to a lack of guidance on my part. I may have given them a little too much freedom, especially since this was the first time doing an assignment like this. When I attempt this again, I will tighten the criteria in order to achieve the desired result. I will also have examples to show students which will give them a visual idea of what the final product will look like. This learning supports the view I have gained on using VLNs during the LTT program. In order to achieve maximum potential from students and create an effective and engaging learning environment in the 21st Century, a mixture of online and f2f must be included when delivering curriculum to students.