done

the journey continues

the journey continues


Yes, the MoRe pilot has come to an end. This pilot was conducted to establish if mobile and web-based technology could be used to introduce a more inclusive approach for developing reflection during Year 1 Initial Teacher Training for dyslexic students and attempt to match their needs and the way they feel comfortable and confident during the learning process to achieve their learning goals.

During this pilot, I had the opportunity to reflect on the current model used to record and develop reflection within ITT and experiment with technology to improve it. After initial data analysis and evaluation of data collected throughout the pilot, it became clear that audio reflections seem to be beneficial for participating students and their progress confirms that. Both participating students enjoyed taking part in the MoRe pilot and felt that they were learning. Audio reflection captured their attention, made reflection more accessible, natural and engaging.

The MoRe journey and encouraging results are evidence that natural ways of reflecting, such as audio and sharing reflections within a community can make a difference to the practice of dyslexic student teachers and enable them to develop and grow as practitioners.

There were some drawbacks, mainly linked to technology, which could be addressed in future applications through additional initial training, guidance and ongoing support.

Overall, the MoRe pilot provided food for thought and opened new paths for further exploration for using mobile and web-based shared audio reflective journals in mainstream ITT, with a focus to enhance the reflective process and the development of reflective skills for dyslexic students and others who face a variety of other challenges.

last audio feedback

eggs
That felt so much better. A few minutes ago, I provided my last group audio feedback to the MoRe pilots.I have to say that I was more relaxed and seem to be able to just talk into the phone without focusing too much on what I wanted to say. I definitely feel that I have made some progress with recording. I must add a question about audio feedback in my final MoRe questionnaire.

The pilots will now provide their self-evaluations about their learning during the pilot. I am really interested to hear how they feel about what they have learnt. Do they feel that they have learnt something? That they have become more reflective practitioners?

I will wait for their responses before sending out the final MoRe questionnaire. The report is going well… too long at the moment… but I hope to provide a shorter and longer version and make this available online for anybody who would like to read it.

I am also interested if there are academic developers out there, who would be interested in trialling the MoRe approach.

Happy Easter to everybody who is celebrating!

still a bit to go and a new beginning


We are now in week 7 of the original MoRe pilot. Participating students still feel positive and keep the reflections coming. Sometimes it feels hard not to respond immediately after posting but I haven’t done it because I wouldn’t like to overpower the conversation. For me it is more important to listen, step-back and allow students to be at the centre of the action.

I am writing the report and over the last few days, I was focusing on finding out a bit more about dyslexia. There seems to be some disagreement with what dyslexia is among researchers or maybe they just can’t agree on a definition. Maybe I am wrong. I am not taking any position and I know only very very little about dyslexia. There seem to be different types of dyslexia. However, from my readings, I discovered that there seem to be contradicting views. While some researchers agree that dyslexia is a difficulty in translating sounds into letters and affects written languages, others argue that it also affects the use of oral language and as a result of this auditory skills are effected too. I also read that receptive language disorder is/can be? linked to dyslexia and others disagree. Confused!

I can, however, see how these 2, oral and written language, are or could be linked.

The interesting thing is … and I am using audio to develop reflection for dyslexic student teachers within the MoRe pilot. But then again, there is assistive technology out there and audio is one of the media used to engage dyslexics. Also, a number of pilots and other projects have been carried out and show that audio can indeed help dyslexics to engage more and make learning more accessible. I have to admit I am a bit confused at the moment… I must do some more reading on this. Added some useful links about dyslexia to my delicious collection.

The reality within the MoRe pilot seems to be that participating dyslexics find it natural to talk and record their reflections using their (mobile) phones and this is reflected in the natural flow of thought, the use of language that I have been listening to over the last 7 weeks and their statements that they really find it easy and natural to talk and find it much better than writing.

Maybe somebody could explain this to me? I definitely need some help to understand a bit better the conflicting views. Could it be that there are different types of dyslexia? Could it be that the students involved in this pilot have strong auditory skills despite the fact of being dyslexic? Is there a test that would prove that? How could I find out beyond my observations? Is their statements that they find it easier and more natural to talk than to write not enough? I have loads of questions at the moment.

The MoRe pilots has an offspring ;o). Yes, a brand new pilot just started within Geography Education in collaboration with the Programme Leader at the University of Sunderland. The MoRe approach has been used within a year 2 cohort to develop reflection. This time, it is used for the whole cohort and not just for a specific sub-group of students. The cohort consists of 4 students. So, small and manageable again. Really exciting times. The new space is available at http://youngpeoplesgeographies.wordpress.com/

incomplete post

fruitful

sweet and juicy
Conversation last night with MoRe pilots. We are in week 6 now, 2 more and the MoRe pilot is coming to an end. Will there be more More? This seemed to be the question in our online skype meeting last night.

Wow! One of the students said that the MoRe pilot has become a good part of his teaching life and the other one agreed. I smiled and was really happy to hear that it is working and that there is a need for more of it.

It was really great to hear that both students feel so positive about their involvement in this pilot and that they will miss it when it won’t be there anymore… in a few weeks time. Can there be a continuation? How would or could it look like? I have started thinking about the ‘after’ and have suggested to discuss it at the end of the pilot. I agree, that it would be a shame if the closure of this pilot would mean the end of what students have built so far. It doesn’t have to be the end. However, which model could be adopted so that it is sustainable and evolves dynamically? Can a 100% peer support model work? I am wondering if I should place an open invitation to people who visit the MoRe space asking them if anybody would be interested to get involved… I could also find out if there are other students teachers who would like to participate and get a taste of MoRe. Not sure. My biggested question is, can it work if there is no community, no glue, so to speak, that would hold peoeple together. But is this really a problem, or can the glue come a bit later?

The report writing is going well. Also working on the presentation. Still a lot work to do but I am happy with some of the sections already. Some trimming will be necessary but that is fine. Still materials to study and data and evaluations to feed into the report. Last night’s conversation made me think a bit more about inclusive teaching and learning, reasonable adjustments and the DDA (1995).

I am going to do some more thinking on the above. In the background of my mind, I am also using a CPD event I am organising at the moment as a possible stepping stone to link a bit of MoRe. This might lead somewhere… we will see.

I think the MoRe end should be a new beginning.

working again

the net

the net, our net


We are now all able to access the mp3 files (technical problems have been solved! This is super!!!) and have started listening to each other’s contributions. NO more emailing mp3, which I would do, but only if necessary. This is really exciting now since we are in a dialogue and learning with and from each other is happening too.

Over the last few days, I focused on assessment and what I really wanted to get out of this pilot, or what I wanted the students to get out of it. I decided to continue providing formative assessment to stimulate further reflection and learning. This is the most important part for me and I can already see that the students are learning from the process. At the end, I am going to ask students to evaluate their journey based on specific criteria which I am putting together at the moment…

Focus on the following about your audio reflections and make a judgment for each of the following elements:

1. Regularity
2. Length
3. Expressing thoughts, ideas and issues in context
4. Self-awareness, Emotions
5. Ability to step-back
6. Viewing thoughts, ideas and issues from different perspectives
7. Evidence of taking responsibility and reviewing practice
8. Testing ideas in practice
9. Engage in a dialogue with each other
10. Anything else you would like to share ;o)

I could give students a scale for some of the above but I am more interested in qualitative data…
Should I do both? Not so sure. I could have maybe one general scale about one of the elements in the above list.

Also, I need to think what I am going to ask participating students to evaluate the MoRe Pilot. Currently on my list of questions is:

What are you taking away?
Do you feel you have learnt something? What is it?
What did you enjoy most?
What next?

The above are not final, just some initial ideas. I need to think a bit more about the questions and what I want to find out. I need some questions on the support, the technical side of it, the feedback, the interaction… but don’t want to have a long list of questions. Asking about everything.

Also, I am not sure if I should ask the questions during our final discussion, use an online survey builder such as www.surveymonkey.com or ask students to provide their answers as another audio file or just add a text post to the MoRe space. I think it would be better to ask students individually and give them time to provide the answers, so I will probably go with surveymonkey.com

5 March: and I did create a survey with surveymonkey. It has more focused questions. I will review it over the next few weeks before distributing it to participating students.

temporary solution

it works for now

it works for now


We managed to sort out the problem with listening to the mp3 files. Well, it is a temporary solution until we really get to the root of the problem (I suspect an issue with the browser but am not sure what can be done, use another browser? there is probably a compatibility issue). I have decided to email the mp3s to make them accessible to both participating students and have received confirmation that this works? Great! So some comments will be on its way very soon.

In my mind are the 7 questions and how best to get the data. I have to admit that I wasn’t very clear from the beginning. Well, that is not true. I had created these mini booklets, yes, real booklets, that I gave to participating students. However, we lost one of the original participants and a new one joined us who missed the face-to-face session and didn’t get that magic booklet. I think if both had the magic booklet, there wouldn’t be an issue, or the issue wouldn’t surface during the project. Now that one has the booklet and the other one doesn’t, it makes it a bit more complicated with getting the data. Not that it can’t be managed but I need to keep track of how everything is recorded and most importantly if it is recorded. Am I policing?

I suggested to the student who doesn’t have the booklet to add the data directly to the MoRe space and that seems to work. If they would be directly linked to the audio reflections that would make things a bit easier. Easier? I am a bit concerned that I will make a mess of the data, that is all. So, I decided to create a speadsheet where I have recorded what has happened so far. It is a quantitative approach and more about numbers but still I can see some really interesting stuff imerging. Now the problem is that the data that will be in the magic booklet is missing. I know that I will get it in the end, but I am now thinking that it would actually be quite useful to get the data immediately after each posting. Yes, I have a dilemma. Should I, or should I not ask the student to suddenly provide the data in another way? I have changed so many things already… but is this a bad thing? Well, it might be too much. My speed of change is not necessarily somebody elses and I wouldn’t like to upset anybody. No, I think, I am going to wait for the booklet to keep some normality going and not check everything, all the time. I can learn from that and develop a better way of collecting these specific information if I run a similar project in the future.

What I could do? Well, I think I would go with adding the 7 questions and answers as a comment to each audio reflection so that they are there, and directly linked to the file. Having them online and in public, will also allow participating students to check each others and engage in thinking and conversation, probably around the data, which is another bonus, I feel at the moment. I dediced, at that moment in time, to go with the above (I might change my mind…) instead of the booklet that I used and creating a survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com (both these option wouldn’t enable an immediate exchange of information, but I still can see advantages if I would, so I might be wrong…

I am going with my initial plan, magic booklet for the student who has one, and copying answers into the MoRe space.

well…

boat

the journey


… yes, we finally managed to have a skype chat, all 3 of us and it went well ;o) I feel more positive now about my latest changes (the skeleton etc.) and talking it through helped to clarify the new approach. I now start feeling that I did the right thing by introducting the skeleton and more structured approach because the first evidence suggest that it does help students keep more focused. There was a misunderstanding about keeping audio reflections short. Maybe I wasn’t clear about it but it is now resolved and I have encouraged participating students to talk as much or as little as they want to.

Participating students had the opportunity for the very first time (we are in week 3 of the MoRe pilot) to talk to each other directly and the conversation was fascinating. I wish I had recorded it. After the initial getting to know each other part, the discussion moved to art and the exchange of ideas and thoughts became richer and richer. Really good stuff! I just wish we had the opportunity to do that earlier and face-to-face but I can’t change the past, I can’t turn the clock back… what will happen though next week is that participating students will meet face-to-face and that is a very positive development because I can sense that there is mutual interest in a professional dialogue.

Back to our skype meeting. Participating students stated that they enjoy the MoRe pilot so far and find the audio reflections a natural way of expressing themselves and learning from their experiences. Below you will find some of the comments they made.

“I get it off my chest.”

“I response better, really enjoy it. It is a tool I can use all the time. It is a natural way and I learn from it.”

“This approach is a natural way, I can listen back and have another chance to filter, what I can take away from the learning process.”

One of the students has currently a problem with listening to the mp3s and this needs to be resolved as quickly as possible (technology again!!!). It is important that we will all be able to listen to each other’s audio reflections and comment and respond. I wouldn’t like to see personal audio reflections as a monologue but have encouraged participating students to turn them into a dialogue and a starting point for further explorations. It was good that one of the students supported this approach strongly and felt that this should be the next step. We are humans and humans are social beings and we do love social learning too. Learning with and from each other. Getting some feedback on what we do and giving feedback to others, recognising own and each other’s strengths and being constructive and positive and encourage further learning.

What also came out of the conversation was that audio reflections, the way we are doing them, recording without editing the mp3 files, capture raw thinking, messy and unstructured and unpolished. It would be really interesting to investigate if there are similarities and differences in the ‘messy-ness’ in reflective writing and reflective talking. Is reflective writing a more polished approach in which reflective thoughts are blended into each other, melted together, and overwritten by consecutive thinking that can alter/do alter the content and context of reflection that occured in a very specific moment in time? Is reflective writing closer to the definition of a product (even if it is not an end-product) and reflective talking really raw and un-edited thinking. And if that is the case, does it make a difference that these reflective talks are actually shared with a wider or even global community and that there is an audience out there which we don’t really know?

What I also find fascinating is that both students have started using blogs in their own teaching. This demonstrates that modelling the use of an approach or tool to educators in a student context really can work.

I am really happy with the conversation and what we have achieved so far. All three of us are committed to this little project.

We talked about 1 hour but it didn’t feel that long.

week 3 and still a long way to go

a long way

a long way


The MoRe pilot is in my mind quite a lot these days. I am now not sure anymore if the recent structural changes will help… Should I just left it in a more organic way… as we started? I will never know. Too late now. However, I have encouraged the students to check the new additions out and do as they wish. I will be happy if they go organic or not. I could sense that the changes were not very welcome…

The interesting thing is that suddenly a very minimalistic audio reflection was recorded and I am sure that was after my latest comments. Did I interfere at the wrong time? I know that less can be more but I somehow felt that if I provide some guidance on how to, this would enable participating students to use their time more effectively to develop reflective skills. Is it though better to speed up the process by making/causing interventions that wouldn’t happen? So many times we hear and read that we learn so much from our own mistakes, our own experiences. Did I just disable this feature? I have to admit that I am confused and while I wanted to do good, I am not sure if what I did will be bad…

We tried to meet online but it was not possible last week. I just hope we can get together this week to clarify the above and anything else.

I will have to do some reading as well and start shaping the report and the presentation. Well, I have actually started both but there is still a lot of meat missing.

a skeleton

framework

framework


I spent the past few days thinking again a bit more and a bit deeper about the MoRe pilot and decided that a skeleton or framework, a bit less organic, would be good for everybody involved.

As a result of all that thinking and reflecting and evaluating, a weekly calendar was introduced and I added a few new pages so that we all could check what would happen when and in what way. There is some help there now about what reflection is how to do it, useful links and I am going to ask participants to make comments about each other’s reflections and then evaluate themselves as well. All the materials can be found at http://morepilot.wordpress.com and are located within the MoRe pages section in the right column.

What else? Well, participants will also be able to use a template to stimulate their reflection and the plan is to start using it in week 3 and establish if this template makes a difference and does indeed stimulate reflective thinking and talking in our case ;o)

I just hope that the new skeleton won’t feel too restrictive and that participants will still be keen to explore and experiment and continue with the project which will last until the end of March.

We are in week 2 currently and there is still a lot to do, but it is all good stuff… well, we will see what the participating students think.

Discovered that the materials presented within the MoRe space are very much text-based and am in the process of changing this too at the moment.

moving

the journey begins

the journey begins


We have made good progress with setting up accounts and are now almost ready to start our MoRe project. It is all very exciting and I am really happy that I found students who are interested and keen to trial this approach. We will all learn from it. Great!

I have to say that the process of setting it all up took much longer than expected, but then again, I was probably too optimistic. However, I am lucky that the project is carried out in a micro-scale and enabled supporting individual participants effectively and smoothly.

The face-to-face workshop didn’t resolve all the issues and it was actually afterwards when the real issues were identified. The whole setting-up process might have seen easy for me, because I had done it before, but it was certainly more complicated for participating students who didn’t use these tools before. I have to admit at some point, I thought, I have overcomplicated it all and that it won’t work. But we are almost there now and ready to roll. We will have the first reflective mp3s next week, which is SUPER!!!

For larger scale projects, I would suggest that additional detailed self-study guides should be made available in printed and electronic version and include animated screen captures as well. I think I made it too hard for everybody. But we are all learning from it. Also, I would, in the future if I would start a similar project, try and use at least an online tool they are already familiar with. I could have introduced for example http://www.wordpress.com for recording the written reflections at the beginning of their studies. Then everybody would have an account already and would be a bit more familiar with blogging. Never mind! Live and learn.

It was though, or is good, I think, anyway, that everybody is using their own phones. It will be very interesting to discover which phones are used more, mobiles or landline… and why.

One more little detail to sort out with one of the pilots and we can press ‘go’.