Three Technologies I’d like to Use in My Teaching

Photography, webquests, and google forms are three technologies I’d like to use for teaching in my Legal Surveys course.

UAV (Helicopter) with CameraPhotography: I’d like to take still and motion photography of land surveyors and land survey technologists at work in rural and urban Manitoba and present the photos and videos to my class through presentation software like Prezi and Animoto. I’d use both aerial and terrestrial platforms to generate this photography, which would focus on Manitoba’s systems of survey, kinds of legal surveys, types of survey monuments and land boundaries, and forms of land boundary evidence. The aerial platform would consist of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles; i.e., unmanned helicopters and fixed wings) with cameras attached. The terrestrial platform would consist of a person using a handheld camera. This initiative will allow me to bring the field into the classroom to complement some modules and many lessons of study. The purpose of using this technology is to further my students’ knowledge of the physical elements that underpin legal survey work.

WebquestWebquests: I’d like to use webquests to explore land boundary law and have students present their findings to me and the class for grading. I’d give students the grading rubric. Students would work in groups of two or three with each group having a different land boundary dispute to investigate, analyze and conclude. I’d give each group a number of facts and opinions from a field investigation and websites of case law decisions relevant to their scenario to explore. I’d expect students to apply legal principles (doctrines) and rules of evidence to reach an opinion on the location of their disputed land boundary. The purpose of this initiative is to enhance my students’ knowledge of legal principles and the nature of evidence at an elementary level. It would also help students value the benefit of collaborative work.

Google FormsGoogle Forms: I’d like to use google forms for quizzes and student feedback. This course is challenging. It contains eight modules of complex material, delivered over 115 lecture hours at five hours per week. On a weekly schedule I’d use multiple choice, checkboxes, chose from a list, text and paragraph text questions to evaluate my students’ knowledge of presented material. On a weekly bases I’d use paragraph text, scale and grid questions to inquire about how the students feel they are progressing with the course assignments, projects and material. The purpose of these forms is to evaluate how students are progressing with course material and to examine students on their acquired knowledge. Their responses will give me insight for mid and post course adjustments.

Assignment 4 (WebQuest) – Point Pattern Analysis

I presently instruct three courses at Red River College: Algebra and Trigonometry, Statistics for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Legal Surveys.  Found numerous webquests on topics related to algebra, trigonometry and classical (traditional) statistics that could work with the math and statistics courses I teach, but couldn’t  find any webquests concerning spatial statistics or legal survey.

The second half of the statistics course deals with spatial analysis.  One of the early lessons in this portion of the course is Point Pattern Analysis.

Found many websites that would be advantageous in development of a Point Pattern Analysis webquest, which contained a variety of forms such as blogs, videos, slide presentations (PowerPoint), mathematical and non-mathematical papers, application software, tutorials, discussions forms (Qs and As)… Here are three –

Additional information needed for this webquest would include:

  • An introduction to the activity that would describe the lesson and catch students’ attention
  • An outline of the tasks that students would need to complete the activity, including learning outcomes
  • A layout of the process that would encompass the sequential step students would follow to complete the activity
  • An assessment/evaluation rubric that would explain to students how their assignment would be graded
  • A conclusion describing what students should have learned on completion of the activity

Student-centered Approaches for my Curriculum

I will examine three courses that I presently instruct at RRC with a view of adopting student-centered approaches for delivery of the respective curricula.

Algebra and Trigonometry – Most, if not all, of the lessons of this course could be delivered by a flipped classroom. The lectures, presently delivered by three instructors in parallel running class using teacher-centered approach, closely follow a prescribed textbook.  The textbook publisher has developed a comprehensive website to support student learning and instructor teaching.  This website contains for each subscribing student electronic textbook, homework assignments, sample tests and quizzes, animation video clips, lecture videos, PowerPoint presentations, a discussion form, ClassLive sessions, tutor services, graphing calculator help, announcement board, individual study plans, online testing, and gradebooks.  Essentially, the tools are in place for flipped teaching.  The challenge will be student, instructor and department buy-ins, all of which is needed to ensure a smooth, organized and effective delivery.

Statistics for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – Many, if not most, of the course-lessons could be delivered by either flipped teaching or inquiry based learning.  Substantial information on the course content can be found online at various websites where video lectures, blogs, slide presentations, tutorials, mathematical and nonmathematical papers, application software, discussions forms (Qs and As)… cover both classical and spatial statistics at the level presented in this course.  As such, inquiry-based learning may be a logical student-centered approach for the delivery of this course but a flipped classroom could be equally beneficial to the instructor and students.  Perhaps a mixture or blending of both approaches would work well.

Legal Surveys – This course may prove a little more challenging as to which learner-centered approach or approaches to use.  Case studies would be effective for some of the material, especially those portions that present legal cases that set precedents in Canada when dealing with land and water boundary disputes.  It might be best for other content to use inquiry-based learning when teaching/learning about the Canadian legal system, real property law and land registration systems. Scaffolding might be strong method for the teaching/learning of interpretation of legal (land) description.  Little is formally written on this topic and knowledge of this topic resides with experts in the land surveying profession who through years of experience have mastered this art.  The remaining topic in this course is the Dominion land survey system of Western Canada, which could easily be presented by a flipped classroom approach.

Flipping the Classroom – What are the Opportunities?

The Statistics for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course that I teach has the greatest opportunity for flipped teaching.  This course is delivered to a single class at three hours per week to students pursuing an Advanced Diploma in GIS Technology and as such is independent of other instructors.  In my opinion courses that are taught in parallel classes through multiple instructors would probably present a significant challenge for implementation at both the administrative and functional levels.  The delivery method of Statistics for GIS is subject to only the authority of the Chair, Civil Engineering Technology.   The development of online video lectures for out-of-class viewing and assigned problems for classwork, each having suitable levels of content and time parameters, would require a considerable effort but doable for next school year if initiated shortly.

The Algebra and Trigonometry course that I teach is also a good candidate for flipped teaching. As it turns out there are many resources already available on the publisher’s website that I could use for student out-of-class viewing of lesson content, such as animation clips, video lectures and PowerPoint presentations.  However, this course is currently delivered to seven parallel classes through three instructors at five hours per week.  Each year the number of instructors may vary.  This dynamic environment may present a buy-in challenge for the delivery of the course and a formidable task for coordination.

The Legal Survey course that I teach is more suitable for other learner-centered approaches of teaching/learning such as case studies and discussions.

My thoughts on the article entitled: 10 Pros and Cons of a Flipped Classroom by Mike Acedo

I chose to read the article “10 Pros and Cons of a Flipped Classroom” by Mike Acedo to further my understanding of this practice for possible application in courses I present.  Here’s the link to the article: http://www.teachthought.com/trends/10-pros-cons-flipped-classroom/.

Initial questions for me include: Does a flipped classroom work well for all students regardless of ethnicity, personality, or individual attributes?  Does a flipped classroom work well for all courses?  I’m currently presenting courses in Algebra and Trigonometry, Statistics for Geographic Information Systems, and Legal Survey.  Last year I presented courses in Management (Supervision), Human Resource Management, Diversity and Workplace Culture, and Legal Surveys.

So far in my teaching career I’ve used a teacher-centered approach (lectures) to present course material.  Virtually all courses I’ve taken as a student prior to CAE courses have been delivered by lectures.  As an instructor or student I can recall way too many instances of Mike Acedo’s description of some students in a classroom – idly sitting, eyes glazed over, half listening.  There must be a better way.

Of particular interest to me in Mr. Acedo’s five pros is the advantage of giving students more control over the timing and pace of their learning.  Another point of interest that caught my attention over others was the ongoing availability of lecture material when students or the instructor miss scheduled class time due to interruptions such as illness, family events/emergencies, sports…).

Regarding the five cons, the biggest challenge may be achieving student buy-in to the flipped classroom in that success, in part, will require students to active participation in this approach; i.e., consciously watch the online-lectures prior to the class time where the focus will be on further understanding the material.

On balance, I think a flipped classroom should be seriously considered for greater education of students.