2012 Desire2EXCEL Awards Best Practices NASA Teaching from Space and Desire2Learn’s Learning Environment Provide Authentic Learning Opportunities and Influence Students’ Perception of STEM Elicia “Dynae” Fullwood, NASA Teaching from Space, Oklahoma State University Collaboration is the name of the game for Educational Specialist Elicia “Dynae” Fullwood when she teaches her blended Microgravity experience (Micro GX) class as part of the NASA Teaching From Space program at Oklahoma State University. Problem Solution The Micro GX course is an established Community of Practice consisting of K-12 educators and students who share a passion for teaching and learning about microgravity. It is a redress of the Teaching From Space (TFS) flagship Reduced Gravity Opportunity (RGO) for K–12 educators. TFS charged itself with improving the course plan to not only give teachers the experience of a reduced gravity flight, but also a look into the engineering design and scientific inquiry processes involved. This glimpse helps to design relevant course content which better prepares students for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics based (STEM) careers. A Desire2Learn solution was well positioned to meet the needs of the course. It could exclusively permit educators to interact regularly with each other, NASA education content on microgravity, and NASA personnel throughout the virtual environment. Desire2Learn Learning Environment is able to foster collaborative activities across a six month window before, during, and after the flight week, including: The improved model needed to address the needs of educators and students evidenced in the program evaluation while also being transferable to future flights. It also had to be cost effective and preserve existing operations that had proven successful in the past. • Documented discussions on NASA facilities that simulate microgravity • Content training on elements necessary to understand and teach microgravity • Scheduled or unreserved exchanges with assigned NASA mentors and education specialists • Post-flight experimental analyses • Demonstrated post-flight community outreach • Professional networking Process Face-to-Face and Online Thirty-four Micro GX participants were organized across seven teams of four to five educators each. These teachers engaged 1600 students. Each team was built on varying compositions which included representatives from a single school, a single district, or a collection of schools. The participants collectively represented six states, three elementary schools, four middle schools, and six high schools. Face-to-face meetings involved a trip to NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston for the reduced gravity flight and physiological training as well as tours of NASA facilities. Users of the community interacted based on requirements outlined for completing checklist tasks made available to them in Desire2Learn. The main banner and custom widgets on the Desire2Learn landing page were populated with imagery of people in weightlessness that uniquely branded the learning environment. To encourage the integration of technology, custom widgets were developed to showcase user websites and blogs, Twitter feeds, Flickr slideshows, and media coverage. Any community user was able to log in and participate in communication, locate resources, or obtain updates. Materials were available for download in the content section and users submitted links and photos associated with their experience to shape and populate the homepage. Desire2Learn features were also employed for self-assessment: attendance records, course checklist, drop box, and incentive grades capabilities allowed users to track their own progress around completed tasks in order to earn a monthly reward. Each team tested different subjects from a diverse list, including: • The effects of microgravity on the control and practical use of a remotely operated vehicle • Electron flow in microgravity • Convection in a sealed liquid model • Whether a bubble formed around an electrode can stop electrolysis • Multiple methods of wound closure (including stitching, stapling and liquid adhesive) • Density using liquid layering in microgravity making connections to air circulation and convection currents in Native American tepees • The formation of convection currents in microgravity and hyper gravity environments Micro GX uses a hybrid model where time was spent meeting both virtually and face to face. Online meetings occurred twice monthly. Four modules represented overarching themes from each of the twelve online meetings, including: Overview (general information), Guidance (questions and answers), Showcase (samples and examples), and Content Training (education resources and strategies). The Experiment Educators begin the experience by facilitating the design of an experiment originally created by their students. Educators perform these experiments on behalf of their students aboard an aircraft that performs parabolic maneuvers and creates a simulated microgravity environment. Micro GX permitted educators to interact regularly with each other, NASA education content on microgravity, and NASA personnel through the Desire2Learn environment. Oklahoma State University’s Desire2Learn implementation was used to facilitate and capture collaborative communication. Let’s Collaborate! Users interacted through six discussion boards highlighting alternative methods for achieving and studying microgravity on Earth. They interacted with each other, as well as NASA personnel, using the chat rooms, synchronous online meeting spaces, and email functionality. Online meetings using the Collaborate feature allowed for exchanges that were archived for review, while a special Collaborate room called “Playground” was opened so that any user could meet at any time during the program. Daily, the lead site manager would log in to provide service to other users during typical business hours. Participants received content training during which they interacted with six education concepts and resources throughout three online meetings. These content resources, as well as associated multimedia, were posted in the Desire2Learn community for viewing or download on-demand. Evidence of classroom interaction around one or more of these concepts or resources was required via the submission of student work in the drop box feature of the Desire2Learn platform. Desire2Learn technology remained an important aspect of face-to-face interactions during the reduced gravity flight at NASA Johnson. Beyond the physical experience of participating in an experiment during thirty parabolic flight maneuvers, users interacted with a collection of forms that demonstrated their flight readiness, a technical document describing the details of their experiment, a medical evaluation, and travel logistics. After flight week, Desire2Learn hosted online meetings used as platforms for presentations, final reporting, and evaluation focus groups. At the end of the program, users were expected to maintain the relationships developed within Desire2Learn. Special attention was given to user communities with an online presence, the intention being to keep them involved in NASA-sponsored education opportunities. Outcome Aspiring to maximize the value of a unique and authentic learning opportunity, Micro GX aimed to extend a service to educators in the areas of pedagogy, communication, and emerging technology. Historically, while educators have found the reduced gravity flight to be thrilling, attention has been more focused on ensuring that teachers master the concept of microgravity prior to flying so that their instruction to students would be enriched before, during, and after the flight. The use of Desire2Learn products improved on the model by enriching educators’ experiences on a reduced gravity flight. This facilitation demonstrated the transferability of the Desire2Learn platform to future reduced gravity flights and other NASA Education program activities. Its cost-effectiveness and ability to preserve existing operational tasks has been paramount in allowing Micro GX participants to use an online community as the main source of interaction. Educators sought to influence student perceptions of STEM careers based on their unique experiences associated with designing an experiment to be performed on a flight in a microgravity environment. According to feedback surveys, the use of Desire2Learn tools as the main conduit for communication greatly increased the ease of the collaboration between participants, their students, NASA mentors, and NASA personnel. The ability to deliver instruction through a virtual environment was both convenient and cost-effective. Desire2Learn technology effectively provided an avenue to exchange education resources, flight documentation, samples of student work, and evidence of outreach activities. The ability to hyperlink to mandated online surveys from the Desire2Learn content area also supported the tracking and analysis of groups affected by Micro GX activities, as indicated in the following graphic. Takeaways About NASA Teaching from Space Desire2Learn Learning Environment provides a wide range of opportunities for collaboration and sharing throughout the learning experience. The sharing of views, information, and expertise across peers, mentors, faculty, and industry experts is inherent to the learning process. With Desire2Learn Learning Environment, sharing functionality is integrated directly with the learning tools. This provides collaborative communication tools which can be customized to enforce an institution’s unique security policy while continuously promoting engaging usage. We are a team of former classroom teachers devoted to helping educators make science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, come alive for learners. Each experience and resource offered through Teaching From Space is intended to be unique and accessible and to provide real-life connections to the world of STEM. As seen in this showcase, these capabilities were introduced through a number of progressive activities which served as great examples of collaboration and students constructing knowledge together. For more information about Desire2Learn Learning Environment and its collaboration tools, visit: http://desire2learn.com/products/learningenvironment/features/collaborate-communicate/ or e-mail [email protected] About Desire2EXCEL Awards Each year, Desire2Learn honors the best of the best with our Desire2EXCEL Awards. These awards recognize organizations and institutions using Desire2Learn technology to deliver innovative and collaborative learning experiences that have had a high, significant, or extraordinary impact. This white paper showcases one of the year’s nominees who have used Desire2Learn technology for instructional purposes to enhance teaching and learning, focusing specifically on high class interaction and collaboration with a unique twist. It is through our clients that Desire2Learn succeeds, and because of our clients that we continue to develop the best products possible in an effort to transform education. Teaching From Space offers experiences and resources not found anywhere else. You can get involved in real NASA missions and research, gain access to NASA experts, and use NASA equipment to take learning to a new level. Imagine capturing images of Earth by remotely programming a camera aboard the International Space Station or launching your experiment on a NASA weather balloon. Would you like to travel to a NASA center where you can test your hypothesis in the same drop tower used by scientists for microgravity research? It’s all available. Teaching From Space even can put you in touch with astronauts aboard the International Space Station to answer questions related to your classroom studies. In addition to hands-on activities, we offer electronic resources designed with busy classrooms in mind. Quickly and easily find everything you need, from short video clips to lesson plans, to infuse your classroom with NASAunique content. About Elicia “Dynae” Fullwood A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Ms. Elicia Dynae Fullwood was the valedictorian of the 1994 Capitol Senior High School Class. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Houston main campus in Houston, Texas and a Masters of Education degree with specialties in secondary education and education administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. She is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University in Miami, FL. Dynae is currently working as an Education Specialist at the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX in the Teaching From Space Office. Prior to this, Ms. Fullwood worked as an Aerospace Education Specialist for six years at NASA Headquarters, Goddard Space Flight Center and Langley Research Center. Earlier on, she taught high school science in the Houston Independent School District of Houston, Texas at James Madison High School and the School for Meteorology and Space Science. With certifications in early childhood through twelfth grade level administration and secondary level biology, she was inducted into the National Honor Society for Education, Kappa Delta Pi. She has been recognized for several Teacher of the Year, Assistant Coach of the Year, and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers awards throughout her career in education. Ms. Fullwood completed the 2011 Shamrock Marathon and the 2006 Honolulu Marathon. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Her personal hobbies also include singing, song writing, paper crafts and playing volleyball. Her future ambitions include learning to speak another language and continued international travel. https://sites.google.com/site/dynaefullwood/ The Teaching From Space Office is located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. You can contact us at: Email: [email protected] Phone: 281-244-2320 www.nasa.gov/education/tfs Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Join our group in NEON. A global leader in cloud-based (SaaS) learning solutions, Desire2Learn provides an open and extensible platform to more than 700 clients and 10 million learners in higher education, K-12, healthcare, government and the corporate sector, including Fortune 100 companies. Desire2Learn has personnel in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil and Singapore. Desire2Learn Incorporated Phone: 1.519.772.0325 (Worldwide) Fax: 1.519.772.0324 0.800.452.069 (New Zealand) Email: [email protected] 1.800.656.210 (Australia) Web: www.Desire2Learn.com 0.800.891.4507 (Brazil) Toll Free: 1.888.772.0325 (North America) 0.808.234.4235 (United Kingdom & Europe) Facebook: facebook.com/Desire2Learn Twitter: @Desire2Learn Desire2Learn and the molecule logo are trademarks of Desire2Learn Incorporated, registered in the U.S. and other countries. The Desire2Learn family of companies includes Desire2Learn Incorporated, D2L Ltd., Desire2Learn Australia Pty Ltd., Desire2Learn UK Ltd., Desire2Learn Singapore Pte. Ltd., and Desire2Learn Brasil Soluções de Tecnologia para Educação Ltda. NA | EXCEL | 0213 © 2013 Desire2Learn Incorporated. All rights reserved. Desire2EXCEL Best Practices Desire2Learn helps improve our world by pioneering innovative methods and environments to engage and inspire learners throughout their lives. 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