Ripples and Reflections

…and droplets of thought

February 3, 2017
by LindaJay
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Collaborative learning (Module 10)

Just as Prensky’s concept of digital natives has been challenged, so too I think we can challenge the assumption that if we give students technology, they will use it as we expect. Luckin’s study on students’ use of web 2.0 tools (2009) certainly illustrates that some students limit their uses of technology to what they know and what they are comfortable with. Few learners in this study stated (Luckin et al, 2009, p. 96) that they engaged in collaborative learning using Web 2.0 tools and were limiting their uses to things like sharing and viewing of photos, text and “swapping ideas about homework”.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wiki_new.jpg

Some students in the Luckin study spoke of caution about plagiarism issues (p. 97) which could arise from sharing work (worried about getting into trouble). I have certainly had students wary of producing work that is too much the same when participating in group work, and of course, others who are happy to benefit from the group work of others. But collaboration is more than that, and does not necessarily mean students all need to produce the same (or group) outcome. In other words, collaboration is part of the process where participants work towards collaborative “meaning making” (Chai et al, 2001) which can then lead to learning by the group, as well as the individual.

It would be interesting to complete a  similar study to that of Luckin (2009) to see if there has been any significant change in how students now perceive and use Web 2.0 tools in 2017. Have educators been able to encourage millennials to accept and use Web 2.0 more collaboratively and effectively for learning? Are students now using Web 2.0 tools in a more sophisticated way than in 2009?

Chai, C.S., Lim, W., So, H., & Cheah, H.M (2001). Advancing Collaborative Learning with ICT: Conception, cases and design. Ministry of Education, Singapore. Retrieved from http://ictconnection.moe.edu.sg/ictconnection/slot/u200/mp3/monographs/advancing%20collaborative%20learning%20with%20ict.pdf

Luckin, R., Clark, W., Graber, R., Logan, K., Mee, A., & Oliver, M. (2009). Do Web 2.0 tools really open the door to learning? Practices, perceptions and profiles of 11–16‐year‐old students. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 87-104. doi:10.1080/17439880902921949

January 24, 2017
by LindaJay
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ICT and classroom management (Module 9)

As the new year of school begins, it is timely to look at the elements of classroom management discussed by Lim, Pek & Chai (2005). There will be year 7 students introduced to their shiny new laptops next week, rearrangement of spaces within the Library and the learning of new ICT systems in the school.

While Lim, et al. identify 5 elements of classroom management, there were several key concepts highlighted.

Teachers are no longer the ‘sage on the stage’ but the ‘guide on the side’

With students now often working either independently or in small groups, along with the individual research projects, it is no longer possible for the teacher to be the font of knowledge in this information-deluge age. This has changed the dynamics of the classroom such that teachers now guide students to information sources, rather than providing the information – which results in the need for letting-go, as students become more fully engaged as participants (Morrison, 2014, p. 3).

With-it-ness

Technology is not a chance for educators to set a task and then switch off – it is actually critical to be alert and monitoring what students are actually achieving for a lesson to be successful; and to short-circuit any potential blockers to success. Since students can be working at a different pace, and some may experience difficulties, constant monitoring is important.

Student helpers

Student helpers are suggested as a tool for classroom management but I feel this will only work as long as the help is valued and does not distract from the helper’s learning or status at school. If, as suggested by Lim et al (p. 394), help is for routine tasks (which could be shared amongst several students), and students were happy to assist, then this could be a positive management strategy; particularly if the need for assistance in routine or basic ICT skills reduces over time.

Rules and Routine

Though the rules and routines when using ICT may be a little more specific than other classrooms, underlying are classroom rules of respect expected in any school’s code of conduct. Thus, the traditional rules of ‘how to enter a room’, engaging with a teacher through eye contact or listening, and end of lesson routines mentioned by Lim et al (p. 395) are really just an extension of normal classroom expectations.

 

Lim, C. P., Pek, M. S., & Chai, C. S. (2005). Classroom management issues in information and communication technology (ICT)-mediated learning environments: back to the basics. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 14(4), 391.

Morrison, C. D. (2014). From ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’: A good start. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(1), 4.

January 21, 2017
by LindaJay
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Planning a lesson (Module 9)

Lesson planning is a complex but essential part of teaching.

Simmons and Hawkins (2009, p. 42) provide a clear outline of the elements involved in the ‘Jigsaw of Lesson Planning’ – the learning objectives which, according to the level of experience will be tackled in different ways. John, P. (2009, p. 489) notes that there is variation in the time dimension of planning taken on by novice and experienced teachers; with the former engage in short-term planning, the latter more long term.

Look at the big picture. All teachers, however, have to consider how lessons need to fit into the larger curriculum and the whole school vision, because schools are dynamic places. Interruptions (planned or unplanned) can sabotage even a well-planned lessons. If someone needs a space you were planning to use, a group of students who are needed somewhere else or other unexpected demands on your time, you must be adaptable to these changes in routine and adjust the lesson accordingly. (Revisit, review, renew some elements for another time. Or provide missing students with access after class to discussions, notes or recorded details.)

Similarly, classes are dynamic. By getting to know your students’ personalities, interests, strengths and peculiarities you will know when you need to differentiate for individual needs and, how to capture their imagination (Simmons & Hawkins, 2009, p. 65). Using students’ interest areas or a school news focus can make lessons real and purposeful (their latest sports results as a focus for a maths lesson on statistical analysis.

Be flexible. There will be times when technology, networks or power may fail, so it is wise to have thought of alternative ways for a lesson to progress. Referring back to the main objective of the lesson, how might this be achieved another way. Because teaching and learning should be interactive, flexibility is also important as you respond during class as the lesson progresses (or not).

Haynes (2010, pp. 99-100) gives an important illustration of the need to start the lesson well – firstly, by being on time. Then, giving students some sense of where the lesson is going is advisable, (unless there is meant to be an inbuilt element of surprise) as it provides some sense of predictability for students and structure; so sharing some of the lesson objectives at the beginning of the lesson can be valuable.

Digital organisation. For those who may be interested in using a digital daybook, this video (produced by a colleague) outlines how to use OneNote – to incorporate your timetable, year folders, lesson plans, general resources and link discoveries all in one place. It also makes your planning readily available for reflection and review after the lesson is done – which of course is another critical element in the process.

 

Boughey, F. (2013, January 18). Digital daybook with One-Note 2nd tutorial. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ri1HzWuj6rA

Haynes, A. (2010) The complete guide to lesson planning and preparation.  Accessed: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=592444

John, P. D. (2006). Lesson planning and the student teacher: re‐thinking the dominant model. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 38(4), 483-498.

Simmons, C., & Hawkins, C. (2009). Teaching ICT. Sage Publications.

January 17, 2017
by LindaJay
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Time for review – and (back to) a ‘new’ look

At a point where I want to trackback to comments on others’ blogs, then looking at my own, I have noted only a few comments have been made here. And to find comments on the blogs of others is also variable in ease of access.

Not only that, I found it hard to find my Recent Comments list (there but it was hidden in the design). Thus, I have decided to change my blog design back to an earlier one, to make things clearer for all.

There may be others who might like to check how accessible their comments are:

a). to make in the first place, and

b). to find again later?

c). have you approved comments of others’ (if your blog is in ‘moderate’ mode)?

It is certainly a lesson in considering how a blog is to be used, and what it needs to offer its audience – ‘horses for courses‘? Sometimes, what is visually attractive doesn’t really meet the purpose. Something to think about when choosing a platform for my Resource Collection, too!

January 13, 2017
by LindaJay
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Web-based learning (Module 7)

Record in your blog some of the web-based resources that you may be able to use and how you will integrate them into your teaching.

Google Forms

Working with the aim to promote recreational reading among staff and students (particularly as they move through school and other reading pressures come into play), I like to survey students to evaluate:

  • how much they read
  • what they like to read
  • and what medium they prefer.

A web-based resource which enables this is Google Forms – a survey being one of many activities for which this can be used. I can create a simple one (too long and they are not completed), provide an easy access link on class pages and provide rapid feedback. This activity can form a small part of an introductory lesson to the library resources, or as part of an English lesson introducing genre concepts – with genre categories for students to select from. Feedback from students can identify areas of interest ( hence, purchase new titles in…),  or a need to promote reading to some students. (Along with this, I could Google Forms to create an online Suggestion Box for library purchases.)

Evernote

In an ongoing struggle to ensure students have a place to store both their work and the resources they collect online, Evernote could prove a valuable online tool. Used as a digital filing cabinet, it can capture their notes, documents, images and resources found online. I also enables access on several devices – the Evernote app is available for desktop, tablet and mobile devices – providing seamless access to resources saved. This would eliminate the sad tale of when a laptop is out of power, or a USB has been lost.

With access from multiple devices, it also enables the capture of things (say a photo on a SmartPhone) which can easily be shared or stored for later use – notetaking on the run. This connection would be invaluable for developing ideas for the creation of stories or discussions about books students are reading. It can also help eliminate a lot of angst about lost files while reinforcing good research practices which track useful readings for senior school studies (such as the IB Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge essays and other high-level research papers).

Introduction to Evernote would need to be part of a skills-based lesson on organisation, as concepts such as tagging and folder organisation (notebooks) are essential to understanding and developing the best use of this tool. While the video below shows some introductory concepts, I would prefer to create a student/school specific video for use in school. It does, however, introduce the basic ideas such as online storage, retrieval and sharing that is invaluable in the digital world.

Trove

From the National Library of Australia, Trove is an invaluable resource which provides access to materials for many different subjects across the curriculum. It is a resource which our students are constantly directed to, as it provides “content from libraries, museums, archives, repositories and other research and collecting organisations big and small.” It is particularly useful for primary resources for use in historical investigations, particularly when requiring  Australian content.

Access to items such as digitised newspapers, pictures, photos and objects is available using the appropriate filters. Users can also participate in Trove by text-correcting, tagging and providing content.  Thus, students can dig into and make accessible resources for the use of others. Potentially, this resource will be used by students studying an Historical Fiction unit to find authentic facts and images about a time in Australian history relevant to a novel they are reading.

January 13, 2017
by LindaJay
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Ethical Issues – using the creative works of others (Module 8)

Chapter 1 Educational technology in context: the big picture identifies social, educational, cultural/equity and legal/ethical issues in Table 1.3. The legal/ethical issues described include hacking, safety issues, the new plagiarism and academic dishonesty, and illegal downloads/software piracy.

All of these issues are significant at secondary school level, as millennials use technology 24/7. How do we guide their ethical use of all they can access?

In a 2010 study of university students’ perceptions of plagiarism, Gullifer identified “six themes relating to the perceptions of plagiarism: confusion, fear, perceived sanctions, perceived seriousness, academic consequences and resentment” (2010, p. 469), and we see these elements often. (Students’ comments within each of these themes are quite honest and a very interesting read.)

However, Roblyer & Doering speak of “the new plagiarism and academic honesty” (2014, p.25). As the ease of acquiring and using someone else’s work increases, the lines seem to blur in the eyes of students. The difficulty facing students these days is that outside of academia, they cut and paste to share ideas, photos, music and things of interest with their peer group, particularly on social media; Evering (2012, p. 38) states it is second nature for them to do this outside of school.

Brillinger, Moran and Sivell also point out that crowdsourcing and collaborative writing is also part of how millennials operate, as “written materials and visuals are scanned, grabbed, tweaked, added to through co-creation, and reshared.” (2014, p.36) This, combined with the ease of access to information, and tools or devices which enable the use of and recreation of other people’s creative works, means it is quite challenging to teach today’s  students an understanding of fair use of resources – whether they are ‘millennial’ or not.

A difficulty faced at my school is for ESL students, who initially struggle to write in English and often for whom, their cultural background has a different perspective on plagiarism. In some cultures, understanding of intellectual property varies and the emphasis may be on getting things right (using an authoritative source) rather than using your own words. Attempts to paraphrase quotes are sometimes quite interesting, as student use online tools which can significantly change the meaning.

An alternate view is presented by  Le Ha (2006), in response to the generalisations that certain cultures allow plagiarism, arguing that it is the referencing requirements that differ, and that these need to be explicitly taught.

How this message is taught will determine whether or not students take on an understanding of how they should act. ‘In context’ discussions, rather than lectures or Turnitin ‘punishment’, should take priority. For example, at my school, music and art students take pause to think how to protect their own creative works (including having discussions with successful past students whose music/art creations are well worth protecting), and Turnitin is used as for teaching, rather than as a punitive tool.

Brillinger, K., Moran, K., & Sivell, J. (2014). Understanding student plagiarism, and advice for practical action. CONTACT: English Learning Magazine, 40 (1), 36-43.

Evering, L. C., & Moorman, G. (2012). Rethinking plagiarism in the digital age. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy56(1), 35-44.

Gullifer, J., & Tyson, G. A. (2010). Exploring university students’ perceptions of plagiarism: a focus group study. Studies in Higher Education35(4), 463-481.

Le Ha, P. (2006). Plagiarism and overseas students: stereotypes again? ELT journal, 60(1), 76-78.

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating technology into teaching (6th ed.). Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

January 7, 2017
by LindaJay
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Web 2.0 resources and issues (Module 7)

Post to your blog the ways are you considering using Web 2.0 or social media in your lesson plans.

While school is on break, it’s a great time to consider some of the Web 2.0 tools we might utilise in the library program this year.

Screencast-O-Matic (http://screencast-o-matic.com/) is a free screencasting program which can be used to record from your desktop (both Windows and Mac) any content you want to present. It will be useful to create instructional videos to reinforce lesson demonstrations (such as how-to-use the MS Word Reference tab). It provides a tool to present information that might be needed with many web 2.0 tools, so students can check information multiple times (just as they might with YouTube tutorials to learn something new). It also enables revision and a checkpoint for students who may have missed some vital step in class. The videos produced can be saved in mp4 format, hosted on YouTube or saved on the Screencast-omatic server – with a simple link on the LMS.

This tool could also be introduced for students to use to create their own screencasts as a creative component of their work – e.g. where they explain to others the use of online tools and spaces they like to use!

Issues: whether students can access YouTube links without inappropriate links popping up nearby.

Another Web 2.0 tool to be employed early this year is one which generates QR codes, like QRStuff.com (http://www.qrstuff.com/). There are many uses for QR codes in the library context which include:

  1. provision of extra information about books/authors
  2. additional links to videos from/about authors/books/reading/research
  3. links to author’s websites or commentaries
  4. instructions or other text (information) – welcomes, series lists, what-to-read-next
  5. treasure hunt for stories/books in the library
  6. general library news or information
  7. students creating their QR codes to share information and comments or their own book reviews

The location of these QR codes will be varied, but include those on books, at different locations around the library space, in documents and occasionally online (though this is almost a superfluous location). Use of the codes is, of course, reliant on students using mobile devices with a suitable app (e.g. i-nigma) with internet access.

Examples of QR codes

Examples of QR codes (click for clearer image)

With a need for an audience, student readers, writers and reviewers at school can use the Edublogs (http://edublogs.org/) platform for many different purposes. A purpose-built educational platform (which uses WordPress), Edublogs provides a safe educational platform for students, and enables educators a reasonable level of control – setting up student blogs, which are able to be moderated and monitored. It can be utilised to provide discussion (of a current issue/book/area of study),  step students through instructions or a session of activities (e.g. search strategies and tools to use for research), and as a learning and reflection tool for individual students. Importantly, the platform also provides the external audience which is sometimes lacking in a secured school LMS blog. Issues: inappropriate comments/audience – can be monitored well in this environment.

Having implemented several different online bookmarking tools with classes in the past – e.g. Delicious and Diigo – Pearltrees (http://www.pearltrees.com/) is an option to introduce this year. As Web 2.0 tools ‘burst into the market’, there are always new developments and adaptations which occur. Pearltrees offers bookmarking to suit the individual – with a great visual recording of websites you would like to preserve via an easy drag-and-drop organisation.

Example of Pearltrees visual

Example of Pearltrees visual (click for clearer image)

Users can organise their ‘pearls’ (concept groups) to suit their needs, collect pearls from others and belong to a community with like-interests. Pearltrees can be used either as a starting point- TLs gathering sites for students to investigate,  or as a collation point as students find their resources online. It affords a great tool for those who like to ‘see’ their resources organised. It also enables collaboration, as users can gather ‘pearls’ from users with similar interests, which are delivered to their email address regularly for perusal. Issues: inappropriate links delivered.

How are you going to take advantage of the affordances of the participatory nature of Web 2.0 applications and address any potential difficulties?

Using Edublogs enables a wider audience beyond the school. Pearltrees could provide a challenge, depending on how ‘pearls’ are delivered when students develop their own collation point. There is also the possibility that QR code links may be hacked. Thus, it is critical that students are well endorsed on critical evaluation of anything they access on the web, even if these are accessed through a safe filtered school environment.

January 7, 2017
by LindaJay
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Cyber Safety and Digital Citizenship (Module 6)

Post to your blog your ideas for ensuring your students are “good digital citizens” and “safe” users of technology in your classroom. This is much easier said than done, however, there is a range of strategies you will have found recommended. This will need to be in your assignment of course, so it’s worth thinking about carefully. How will you address their use of technology at home? This is where a great deal of cyber bullying occurs and will often appear subsequently at school. What are your ideas, based on the policy documents?

The digital world should not be divorced from the real world. This is reflected in our school’s approach to writing policy documents, in that many refer to or impact on other policies. By this, I mean that the Welfare of Students, Student Code of Conduct, Discipline, Acceptable Use and Digital Citizenship Policies all cross-reference and reflect each other.

Just as students are expected in our Student Code of Contact to be “polite to others, speak using an appropriate language and manner” so they should also “practise responsible digital citizenship”. Part of the Acceptable Use Policy requires that students “use appropriate language when talking and working with others online and never engage in bullying or harassing behaviour” – in other words, treating others with respect online, just as they should in the classroom or playground. Therefore, is also reflected in the Digital Citizenship Policy, which is almost a subset of the AUP.

Students and teachers need to understand that the lines between school and home are now blurred. With access to the school network at home, combined with the mobility of access on various devices, students may struggle to separate virtual places (i.e. personal social networks and school networks). Increasingly students are alerted to the issues of cyberbullying, disciplined when ‘found out’ and educated about the potential legal implications online bullying.

danah boyd (2014, pp. 107-108) talks of how teens use online social networks in a way they once used malls as meeting places. Many of the teens she spoke with, talked about the norm of online dramas, just as they would have ‘dramas’ in person (boyd, pp. 129, 136) – however, the online world can magnify this in a way that has a greater impact. What used to be playground tit-for-tat has become a bigger issue online.

Though we have a formal Digital Citizenship program (based on Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements) which operates through the year in Year Group time, this is supplemented by information nights for parents, along with the integration of Digital Citizenship concepts within many different subjects within context. Just as we try to teach students safe behaviour on the roads, or in water safety, digital safety also means they have to ‘stop and think’ about their actions, to consider their impact on others so that they are good digital citizens.

boyd, d. (2014). It’s complicated: the social life of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Ribble, M. (2017). Nine Elements. Retrieved from Digital Citizenship – Using Technology Appropriately: http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html

January 6, 2017
by LindaJay
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A digital romance – marrying schools and technology (Module 4)

Though assessment task 1 was predicated partly on the need to showcase the selection of ICT resources, there was still a need for these to have an “acceptable educational use”. Bigum (2012) uses this term when discussing the initial arrival of computers in schools, and it is no less critical today.

As in the past, teachers are still key in enabling the use of technologies and their development in schools, which is why certain technologies take off while others don’t. As mentioned in another post, investment on a particular hardware in our school failed, as an alternative, concurrently available IWB-option proved easier to use and integrate. This disparity of use increased as more staff cross-promoted and shared their ideas for use (of the SmartBoard rather than the Mimio).

Similarly, it is clear that a judgement has to be made by educators whether a technology will be adapted or integrated (Bigum, p. 21); as often what is adopted are ICTs which others have successfully tried and shared in another school settings. Time-poor teachers get great value from professional sharing (as long as the ICT can be assessed for use in the local school context, rather simply than keeping up with the Joneses – i.e. other schools).

Many schools are technology poor. The contrast between what students have available to them outside and within a school is often great. Recent research by medical professionals aiming to promote limits on screen viewing (Houghton, S. et al, 2015), has shown that young people have access to many different screens and devices throughout their day. Then at school, students will often bemoan the speed of the school network, due to high use pressures during the day. It’s no wonder they feel like they are stepping back in time, or powering down in schools. Combined with controls or bans on devices and access, the contrast between schools and the outside old is about schools “failing to engage with technologies in ways consistent with the world beyond the classroom.” (Bigum, p.22)

Bigum suggests that most educators aim to ‘domesticate’ technology, and to do this, we try to translate the new into the familiar – but should this be the case? Certainly, in terms of the busyness and demands of teaching, this is often the approach taken. This also matches the idea of technology being a tool, not a purpose. However, what we can do with technology is not necessarily the same, as the power of creativity and collaboration reach beyond the classroom.

[P.S. Bigum’s analogy of schools’ relationship with ICT being like a marriage is challenging – especially when schools face maintaining costs of upgrades and renewals – for better or worse!]

Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and computers: Tales of a digital romance. In L. Rowan, & C. Bigum, Transformative approaches to new technologies and student diversity in futures oriented classrooms: Future proofing education. (pp. 15-28). Netherlands: Springer.

Houghton, S., Hunter, S. C., Rosenberg, M., Wood, L., Zadow, C., Martin, K., & Shilton, T. (2015). Virtually impossible: limiting Australian children and adolescents daily screen based media use. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1.

January 4, 2017
by LindaJay
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Learning theory and classroom technologies (Module 4)

Post to your blog your thoughts about the learning theories that may underpin the software you have been considering for your first assignment.

As I reflect back on the resources I selected for Assessment 1, it is clear that there is a mix of learning theories that can underpin different tools, and in some ways, it becomes a bit of a ‘chicken or the egg’ problem. Does the concept imply a particular learning theory, and thus demand a particular  tool/activity? Does it need to be digital, or not?

There are some digital devices/resources that provide a stable and directed scaffolding for students to use, and so represent the purposes of delivering and directing students to activities and specific resources. In this way, directions to the LMS, the class page, the lists of recommended websites represents a directed learning method, with certain information and outcomes expected to be achieved by students.

With more open-ended tasks, students are able to construct their own knowledge while collaborating. Thus, tasks such as using and commenting on a class wiki then editing this, involve connecting ideas collaborating and commenting on a ‘community’ knowledge base. The use of a Padlet to gather individual views for communal sharing also fits with this constructivist style of learning.

Siemens highlights the social connectedness and learning which exists with online collaboration and networks of discussion when he states that “when we are knowledgeable it is essentially a reflection of a collection of how we’ve connected concepts and ideas over time”. (2014). His overview of constructivism and how he has personally experienced this learning style is shown below:

As both Siemens and Starkey have reflected, the digital age has opened a wide wide world of information and ideas. We can now connect, interact and collaborate on a global scale. As a result, we and our students see knowledge constantly created, shared and reviewed (Starkey, 2012), and we will continue to develop new and different ways to connect information and ideas.

Starkey, L. (2012). Knowledge and connectivism. In L. Starkey, Teaching and learning in the digital age (pp. 20-28). Oxon: Routledge. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

USC Blended Learning. (2014, January 21). Overview of connectivism – George Siemens (video).
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5VHpaW8sQ

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