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ASSEsment 1

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Critical Reflection Journal

 

This 12 week critical reflection journal is a part of my program in Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) I am currently completing at Falmouth University. For the second study block of the program we are asked to create a weekly reflection on what we are learning on the topic of “Flexible Learning Environments” in context of our own practices, and to document it in online journal. As a teacher in graphic design, illustration and portfolio making I will be giving some suggestions for : Inclusive teaching and learning techniques; reflective teaching practice; assessment and feedback tools; designing flipped classroom approaches in different practices; integrating online and face-to-face activities. 

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WEEK 1

Introduction to Developing Flexible Learning Environments

First week of the study block we as a group have started reflecting on what it means to be an online student and a tutor at the same time. Since I started the program I have caught myself being less organized with my time in online studies as to F2F study environment. In my option it is partially due to the fact that it is sometimes hard to concentrate while working at home. I agreed with my classmates comments regarding lack of physical interaction, but for me the lack of a physical classroom is also as great.

 

The benefit of online learning can arise from constrains we identify. For example for me it would be time management when I am working solo. Getting away from distractions and focusing completely on the project I am working on is something I need and hope to ameliorate in my professional and academic practices.

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WEEK 2

Flipping the Classroom

Before I started the PGCHE course I did not have a lot of experience with the use digital resources. My experience was very basic, like many I have used online library recourses, articles, and university intranet during my undergraduate. For collective project we have mostly used google sheets to be able to complete a project with partners without meeting physically. And obviously Skype video calls to catch up on the progress. 

 

When I started the PGCHE course I haven’t considered the balance between digital learning, F2F and independent study. I have thought it was just online learning and independent study time. However, I am realizing now that I was wrong not to take into account that my work was an actual face to face learning opportunity. I realize better now the correlation of these 3 learning aspects and the importance of choosing the percentage of each depending on the task we are given as students or to be considered in a session plan when we are educators.

Image by Avel Chuklanov

WEEK 3

Designing a Flipped Classroom

In the beginning I would like to write down key elements I consider to crucial when designing a flipped classroom. As its just the start of attacking this essential topic in contemporary education my ideas might be little rough around the edges:

Clarity of LO’s (learning outcomes)

Students brief before any course telling a student what the objective or a session is is a vital part of any session. However, in my opinion we as educators have to be careful of not revealing too much beforehand and allow students to come to their own conclusions. To be clear on intended task and combined content of flipped classroom. 

 

Relevance to the course 

With introduction of new material to students I think a brief explanation how a certain session is relevant to their study module an important aspect. It is important to communicate the value of what has been/will be covered and how it is relevant to their overall program. 

 

Integration of all students 

From my own experience as a student during my undergrad studies and my experience as a tutor I believe inclusivity and integration of all students is a crucial point especially during online learning. When F2F (face to face) session is taken place and the tutor has a possibility to observe how students are completing a test (other than traditional lecture form), I think it gives a better understanding of how to better include all types of diverse learners. On the long run I believe that tutors will better facilitate engagement of all students.

Image by Gene Jeter

WEEK 4

Designing and Evaluating Podcasts

This weeks focus is on podcasts and video tutorials term IMPALA is used. 

 

IMPALA - The Informal Mobile Podcasting And Learning Adaptation project started in May 2006. I have already used audio podcasts in my previous practice. I believe it is a valuable tool to use for students to get familiar with the topic before the session. In graphic design activities I prefer to give audio materials rather than video. I believe combination of audio and visuals on separate medium is best. If for example you have a video with changing visuals rather than an audio plus visual representation on a worksheet you won’t comprehend material as well. But I am guessing “each their own”. We have all have different preferences. What works for you?

I like example of Jack Ma during his speech “Future of Education”. Here although visual is good to have, it is not necessary.  The speech itself has all the meaning and therefore can be presented as just a podcast audio file.

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WEEK 5

Integrating Online and Face-to-Face Activities

When I was completing my Bachelors degree in visual communication, like for most of my peers my favorite activities were the workshops. Working together around the table, either on personal or group projects was one of my favorite class environments to be in. However, there was always valuable time lost when tutors were presenting X topic. One way to ameliorate such situation would be to send students a workshop brief couple of days before. There are many online tools to use prior face-to-face meeting. Question is, what tool to choose? Does it help or distract? 

 

Some of the key elements to consider when creating a blended learning are: aims, learning outcomes, learning activities, differentiation, employability. When considering these elements its easier to choose your mediums, online and live. It is crucial to always come back to LO’s - learning outcomes.

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WEEK 6

Evaluating Blended Learning Approaches

Coming closer to finalizing our first assessments we were given time to go back and evaluate our flipped classroom approach. My idea is to implement this approach on the topic of “Introduction to Composition in Graphic Design Domain”. Tools I am using are following: checklist; vocabulary; exercises to do before and in session; podcast; quiz; further reading materials. 

 

We also had to reflect on what are the three key things to consider when evaluating a flipped classroom. I would say that for me iteration is the most important factor. Then structure and achievement of learning outcomes. We should watch out for “over designing”. Structure needs to be clear and simple. As many students have not yet studied with flipped classroom approach I am keeping the breakdown of tasks relatively simple. 3 main parts: pre-class preparation and exercises, session F2F and post-session feedback and materials. 

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WEEK 7

Reading Week

I decided to reflect on : What is effective in a flipped classroom when studying Graphic Design (Visual Communication)? Here is a list I compiled based on my personal experience and comments from my colleagues from Falmouth University: inclusivity; clear learning goals; how is it assed; employability (why it is relevant); #in-class #activities; #collaborative #reflection; #exposition of #works; #presentation #techniques from #students; #engagement; #podcasts; #note taking and personal #observation. Of course this list varies depending on the field in. Graphic design. It is adaptable. Furthermore my plan is to work on professional glossary which will help me in planning sessions in the future.

 

Further vocabulary and terminology to consider: 

#learner #analysis ; #context ; #mobile #learning ; #objectives ; #individualization ; #hierarchy ; #formative ; #feedback ; #web-based ; #storyboarding ; #pilot ; #adaptability ; #performance

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WEEK 8

Designing Online Learning Environments I

Constructing a purely online course can be a challenge, especially in creative industries where live examples have great importance. Graphic design is sometimes considered as computer arts. But if we are to design a course in visual arts or illustration it can be harder to accomplish with purely online tools and e-tivities. 

Face to face sessions  would have to be available on multiple devices and be suitable for PC, Mac, Smartphone, and Tablet so the students are comfortable to observe whist training or learning a technique. When considering to implement just online learning I would choose this session for students who are in their last years in graphic design. They would already be familiar with basic terms ad would need less support when executing their projects. As tools I will choose from: podcasts (for brief introduction), videos, recorded webinars from the past, detailed photos which will supplement the tutorial video and possibly examples of previous works of students for this project. 

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WEEK 9

Choosing Technology for Online Learning

There is such a large number of online tools to choose from that sometime it can be intimidating and confusing. All institutions use various combinations of platforms for different activities. 

However, there are platforms and applications which are more commonly used than others. Some of the most common ones include: #Zoom ; #Microsoftteams ; #Blackboard ; #Moodle ; #Adobeconect ; #Perlingo ; #Youtube ; #Audacity ; #Trello

 

Selecting appropriate tools can be an art. For myself, following factors are the most important: easy to integrate; allows for micro-learning; generates and promotes online discussion; can be used to create an eLearning community; is ideal for mobile learning

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WEEK 10

Designing Online Learning Environments II

This week we are looking at key pedagogic components and learning types.There are following main learning types: enquiry; acquisition; discussion/collaboration; practice; production. If I take example a class when I teach fundamentals in Adobe Photoshop I would use enquiry, practice and production as my main teaching components. 

 

Vocabulary from CED Framework: Explain - Discuss - Interpret - Critically  Appraise - Demonstrate critical awareness of -  Classify - Summarise - Compare  Reorganise - Generate - Plan Perform/Execute - Recognise - Retrieve - Recall - List -Define -  Differentiate - Organise

 

Key questions to keep in mind when constructing online or blended sessions are:

-Is learning session be fully online or blended?

- Is the learning activity work for individual or group work or both?

- Can the learning activity be delivered via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or Learning Management System (LMS), such as Canvas or Moodle?

- Does the learning activity require access to an external online tool or platform, such as YouTube?

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WEEK 11

Facilitating Online Learning Environments

I have found that characteristics of a successful online learner mostly include soft skills such as: commitment, open minded, communicative verbally ad through writing, critical thinking, self-reflection, time management etc. 

 

Becoming a student again was not easy. Especially when adjusting to a whole new online methodology PGCHE is offering. Learning new platforms like Canvas and My Falmouth took sometime. Then I discovered there is a tutorial, but only after the struggle. However, I have learned throughout the course what works best for me in online education. I have invented my own private process of studying, my schedule, note taking etc. Online studying at Falmouth has given me more flexibility and adaptability in study process thasn I have had before. 

 

It has helped me better uderstad what online tools work for me best ad which ones don’t. As I am a practicioer as well as educator in Graphic design field, these are very valuable pointers I can implement in my future sessions. 

Image by Nick Morrison

WEEK 12

Reflecting on Online Learning 

Unlike mid of last century in you would learn a certain number of tool sets which would give you profession you would likely repeat that same task over and over. Today, in contemporary world with constantly changing practices we become life-long learner. We have to get used to constantly being in the center of the learning process, it can be learning new program, new gadget, new education tool and so on.

 

Coming to the end of the course of PGCHE I have had many interesting moments on the journey. It was hard getting in the rhythm of studying after four years since my Bachelor degree. I found the course extremely well structured. The main difficulty for me at first was navigation of the platforms. One of the main things I have learned is that is if the course is planed correctly, decided into manageable pieces and has constant support from tutors and teachers - “the sky is the limit”. 

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Learning Conversations:

 

Based on: “14 Trends in Graphic Design for 2021” from Philip VanDusen

 

I decided to make a learning conversation brief on trends in graphic design because I believe it is a great video to help students get a wider perspective on what is currently in demand. In many pedagogical practices the aspect of “employability” is not obvious or recognizable. In other words - “Why are we learning what we are learning?”.

 

I found that jump start in introduction was very motivational, fresh and informative. Mr VanDusen is basically saying you can agree or disagree but you have to consider what is trending to make a “statement”.  Furthermore we get good terminology in the field of design along history of design, references and technique examples. 

 

Overall it is a very informative and well constructed session, with useful references to current practices. 

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